Saturday, July 4, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 79: Speed City Sisters in Crime

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Mystery writers Lillie Evans, Tony Perona, C.L. Shore, and Janet E. Williams are all prominent members of the Speed City Sisters in Crime, which has just released its newest anthology, MURDER 20/20. We chat about how the stories in the anthology were selected, the benefits of belonging to an organization for writers, such as the Sisters in Crime, the ins and outs of writing short and long mysteries, and much, much more. We also have an extended chat about flying saucers and ghosts you won’t want to miss.






Speed City Sisters in Crime is the Indiana chapter of the world-wide mystery/crime writers' association Sisters in Crime. The Speed City chapter was founded in 2005.

Members of the organization are published mystery and crime authors, writers working on mysteries and thrillers, and readers and fans of the literary genre. There are currently 40+ members who live in Indiana or the Midwest.

Speed City Sisters in Crime hosts monthly meetings with speakers on topics of interest to mystery and crime writing. Past speakers have included police officers, prosecutors, investigative reporters, forensic specialists, weapons experts, researchers, and publishing and media professionals.

Chapter members have published 6 short story anthologies over the years with the themes that are related to Indiana or the midwest. Members of the organization have also written and produced a play, Deadbeat, which was performed at a local fringe festival and will soon be available to for others to produce.

The chapter also hosts writing and other educational workshops for its membership with well-known authors and publishing professionals.




Lillie Evans is an author, playwright, and storyteller. Under her pen name, L. Barnett Evans, she is co-author (with Crystal Rhodes) of the cozy mystery book series, Grandmothers, Incorporated. In addition to the novels, she is co-writer of the plays Stake Out and Grandmothers, Incorporated, based on the characters from the book series. The play Grandmothers, Incorporated enjoyed a very successful Off-Broadway run. Lillie is the writer and producer of the play, Take My Hand, which was chosen for a reading at the prestigious National Black Theater Festival and was performed at the 2018 OnyxFest at the Indy Fringe Theatre Festival. Lillie has appeared as a crime commentator on TV One’s “Unsung” and is a member of Sisters in Crime. See more at: lilliebarnettevans.com and grandmothersinc.com


Tony Perona is the author of the Nick Bertetto mystery series (SECOND ADVENT, ANGELS WHISPER, and SAINTLY REMAINS), the standalone thriller THE FINAL MAYAN PROPHECY, and co-editor and contributor to the anthologies RACING CAN BE MURDER and HOOSIER HOOPS AND HIJINKS. Tony is a member of Mystery Writers of America and has served the organization as a member of the Board of Directors and as Treasurer. He is also a member of Sisters-in-Crime.






C.L. Shore began reading mysteries in the second grade and has been a fan of the genre ever since. Maiden Murders (2018), a prequel to A Murder in May (2017), is her most recent release. Her short stories have appeared in several Sisters in Crime anthologies, Kings River Life Magazine, and Mysterical-E. Shore has been a member of Sisters in Crime for more than a decade, serving as a board member of the Speed City chapter for several years. A nurse practitioner and researcher, she’s published numerous articles on family coping with epilepsy as Cheryl P. Shore. Cheryl enjoys travel and entertains a fantasy of living in Ireland for a year. She’s currently working on Cherry Blossom Temple, a women’s fiction novel. See more at: clshoreonline.com



Janet E. Williams has been writing since she could hold a pencil. Her first work of fiction was a collection of stories she wrote and illustrated by hand to entertain her mom and dad. In college, she majored in English and became an award-winning journalist, covering politics and crime in Pittsburgh. When the newspaper folded, she landed in Indianapolis where she worked as both a reporter and editor at The Indianapolis Star. Today, Janet teaches young journalists as part of a college immersion program while continuing to work on her writing. She has had short stories published in four anthologies. She lives in Indianapolis and remains a faithful companion to her dog, Roxy.


The 7th anthology by the Speed City Sisters In Crime presents fresh thrills and kills in this collection of short stories that span over a decade, to the far past and the not so far off future. Another great collection by a fine group of Indiana authors. Introduction by Susan Furlong; Edited by MB Dabney, Lillie Evans, and Shari Held; Authors Andrea Smith, Janet E. Williams, J. Paul Burroughs, Ross Carley, Elizabeth Perona, D.B. Reddick, Stephen Terrell, Shari Held, T.C. Winters, Mary Ann Koontz, C.L. Shore, Hawthorn Mineart, B.K. Hart, Elizabeth San Miguel, S. Ashley Couts, Ramona G. Henderson and Diana Catt.











Saturday, June 27, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 78: Editor Sara-Jayne Slack and Author Dorothy A. Winsor

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In a Middle Grade Ninja first, editor Sara-Jayne Slack AND author Dorothy A. Winsor discuss Inspired Quill’s latest release, THE WYSMAN, how they came to work together, and the ins and outs of their professional author/editor collaboration. We also chat about publishing contracts, book marketing, working with authors rather than above them, self publishing vs publishing with a small press, Armageddon, spilling tea, and so much more. And here's the link to that online course Sara-Jayne mentioned: https://sjslack.teachable.com/p/casual-to-committed Esteemed Listeners can use this coupon code so they can get it for $47 (rather than $147) - IQSCHOLAR
Don't miss Dorothy A. Winsor's fantastic guest post Chronology V. Plot: Dawn of New Years (yes, I was the one who titled it, why do you ask).





Sara-Jayne is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, SEO nerd and lover of all things stationery-related. She works as an SEO Project Manager by day, and manages the not-for-profit publishing house Inspired Quill by night. Sara can regularly be found discussing inbound marketing, skills development, and non-tokenistic diversity in publishing, but strives to listen at least as much as she talks. She’s also scarily comfortable talking about herself in third person, and believes that ‘To Do’ lists breed when you’re not looking.





Dorothy A. Winsor writes young adult and middle grade fantasy. Her novels include Finders Keepers (Zharmae, 2015), Deep as a Tomb (Loose Leave Publishing, 2016), The Wind Reader (Inspired Quill, 2018), and The Wysman (June, 2020). At one time, Winsor taught technical writing at Iowa State University and GMI Engineering and Management Institute (now Kettering). She then discovered that writing fiction is much more fun and has never looked back. She lives in Chicagoland.







"The Grabber is just a fright tale."

Former street kid Jarka was born with a crooked foot and uses a crutch, but that no longer matters now that he’s an apprentice Wysman, training to advise the king. When poor kids start to go missing from the city’s streets, though, Jarka suspects that whatever’s causing the disappearances comes from the castle.

Now he needs to watch his step or risk losing the position he fought so hard to win… but when someone close to him becomes the latest victim, Jarka knows he’s running out of time.

His search takes him from diving into ancient history to standing up to those who want to beat or bleed the magic out of him.

Will Jarka succeed in uncovering an evil long-hidden, or will he see friends and family vanish into the darkness? And whose side is the King on, in his determination to bind his nobles to him no matter what black arts they’ve dabbled in? If Jarka fails in his search, his own future won’t be the worst thing lost.

The Wysman follows Jarka after the events in The Wind Reader, but this YA Fantasy can be read independently.





Saturday, June 20, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 77: Author Tracy Wolff

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Tracy Wolff and I discuss her new young adult paranormal romance novel CRAVE, which has already been optioned as a film and a video game. We admit to being book hoarders and Tracy explains her highly unusual (and also highly successful) process for writing a novel. We also talk about how she was able to become a full-time author, saving stories from life for fiction, various magical creatures, defending Texas against wild coyotes, Nora Roberts, writing fast, the terror of being attacked and violently murdered on an open Alaskan tundra, how she chose her literary agent, and so much more.







Tracy Wolff is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixty-four novels that run the gamut from young adult action adventures to new adult romance and from women’s fiction to erotica.  A long-time lover of vampires, dragons and all things that go bump in the night, Tracy loves nothing more than combining her affection for paranormal creatures with her love of writing tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines.

When she’s not writing (which is a rare occurrence), she can be found trying out new recipes, offering make-up tips online, wandering comic book/gaming stores with her sons, and watching movies or plotting stories with her besties. A one time English professor, she now writes full-time from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family.







“Crave is about to become fandom’s new favorite vampire romance obsession. If you need any further evidence of how much you’ll enjoy this book, Universal Studios picked up the film rights… I will absolutely be first in line.” -Hypable

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.
Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally―as the bait.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 76: Author Anne Nesbet

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Anne Nesbit tells the tale of how she met and secured her editor under bizarre, high-stakes circumstances. She shares some excellent insight about writing historical fiction for children, including her newest middle grade novel, DARING DARLEEN, QUEEN OF THE SCREEN. She also discusses her writing habits both before and during quarantine for COVID-19, her passion for silent film and cinema history, her concern about evil goblins, her fear that plotting is an illusion, and much, much more.






Anne Nesbet writes books for kids and watches a lot of silent films. She lives near San Francisco with her husband, several daughters, and one irrepressible dog. She is an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Her books include The Cabinet of Earths (HarperCollins 2012), A Box of Gargoyles (HarperCollins 2013), The Wrinkled Crown (HarperCollins 2015), Cloud and Wallfish (Candlewick 2016), The Orphan Band of Springdale (Candlewick 2018), and Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen (Candlewick 2020).




When a publicity stunt goes terribly wrong, twelve-year-old Darleen Darling, star of the silent film era, must defeat villains both on screen and off in this edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Lights! Camera! Kidnapping?

It’s 1914, and Darleen Darling’s film adventures collide with reality when a fake kidnapping set up by her studio becomes all too real. Suddenly Darleen finds herself in the hands of dastardly criminals who have just nabbed Miss Victorine Berryman, the poor-little-rich-girl heiress of one of America’s largest fortunes. Soon real life starts to seem like a bona fide adventure serial, complete with dramatic escapes, murderous plots, and a runaway air balloon. Will Darleen and Victorine be able to engineer their own happily-ever-after, or will the villains be victorious?





Saturday, May 30, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 75: Author Hugh Howey

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Hugh Howey, author of the mega successful perennial novel WOOL, which everyone loves and wants to hear more about, and I discuss one of MY most favorite books, I, ZOMBIE. But we also talk about WOOL, because of course we do, it’s great, and Hugh hints at what we might expect from an upcoming television adaptation. We chat about how he finally wrote beyond the first chapters of manuscripts after 20 years of stopping, self publishing (naturally), his belief in maximum efficiency with all tasks, dealing with enormous success (his), simulation theory, flying saucers, our fundamental lack of free will, STAR WARS, authors retaining control of their IP, the future of publishing after COVID-19, and so much more. I joke that this is the last episode of the podcast, which of course isn't true (I love it too much), but this would be a great episode to go out on.

Make sure you read Hugh's original 7 Question interview.

And his second (he's the only person in the history of the site to face 14 questions).





Hugh Howey is the author of the award-winning MOLLY FYDE saga, the horror classic I, ZOMBIE, and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series. The WOOL OMNIBUS won Kindle Book Review's 2012 Indie Book of the Year Award -- it has been as high as #1 on Amazon -- and 40 countries have picked up the work for translation. Television and film versions of WOOL, SAND, and BEACON 23 are all in development.







***WARNING: NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION***

This book contains foul language and fouler descriptions of life as a zombie. It will offend most anyone, so proceed with caution or not at all.

And be forewarned: This is not a zombie book. This is a different sort of tale. It is a story about the unfortunate, about those who did not get away. It is a human story at its rotten heart. It is the reason we can't stop obsessing about these creatures, in whom we see all too much of ourselves.




Thursday, May 28, 2020

GUEST POST: "I Never Went to School in My Pajamas: The Story of a Homeschooled Author" by Kristiana Sfirlea


Hi, everyone! My name is Kristiana Sfirlea, and I am the author of Legend of the Storm Sneezer, a middle grade fantasy involving time travel and things that go bump in the night. Oh, and I was homeschooled.

Once upon a time, that statement would’ve drawn out the usual reactions: 1) The dubious, “How did you socialize?” 2) The horror-struck, “Did you go crazy spending that much time with your family?” and—my personal favorite—3) The secretly wistful, “Did you get to do school in your jammies?”

Reactions such as these were once pinnacles of the homeschooling experience. Amazing what a world-wide pandemic can do to even the longest-standing traditions. What was originally thought of as a peculiar subgroup of students across the U.S. is now, for the moment, the majority. (That maniacal laughter you hear in the background? That isn’t the sound of a thousand vindicated homeschoolers. Honest!) But in all seriousness, homeschooling is no walk in the park.

Actually, I take that back. My mom took us on many walks in the park to explore science lessons with our own hands, and it was the best!

My point is, homeschooling is hard work and a big responsibility. So, to all the homeschoolers out there—parents and kids—who are experiencing this form of teaching for the first time, I’d like to encourage you. I’d like to share how homeschooling helped make me the author that I am.


The Guidance of Personal Attention

My siblings and I have very different interests. My sister is a hairdresser and a mom of three. My brother manages a storage facility and has crazy good—and much sought after—skills in tech support. I’m a full-time writer. We’re all proud of what we do, and we knew early on what we wanted to be when we grew up. How? Because our amazing mom (and incredibly supportive dad) worked with us daily, paid attention to our strengths and growing interests, and helped us focus and excel in those areas.

No, that doesn’t mean my mom let me skip Math lessons just because I liked English ten zillion times better. It means she made sure I learned the basics of all my subjects but encouraged me specially in my writing.

The power of a parent’s personal attention cannot be overstated. By helping me discover my passions and talents, my homeschooling mom helped shape the course of my life at an age where most kids aren’t thinking any further than what’s for lunch that day.


Love of Reading

Reading changes lives. It wakes up the brain to imagination and creativity. It enables you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from another perspective. It opens the door to compassion and empathy. It challenges you to form opinions and support them with a sound mind.

Reading. Is. Important.

And reading is often forgotten about.

But not by my mom. She read books out loud to us during lunch every day. We read books out loud at night as a family. We checked out so many books at the library that we had our own dedicated box in the back. She made reading fun.

But more than that, she made reading essential. And in doing so, she armed her kids with one of life’s greatest weapons: the ability to pursue knowledge.

My love of reading, which grew its roots during my homeschooling years, has blossomed into a love for creating books aimed at reminding readers why reading is so important. And it’s a calling I thank God for every day.


Thinking Outside the Box

Homeschoolers are oddballs.

You can say it. We really don’t mind! The truth is, homeschoolers do come across as different. We’re known for branching out from mainstream ideas and accepted structures. Independent thinking comes more easily when you aren’t part of a system or lunchroom clique or the expectations of stereotypes.

I think deep down every person wants the world to know that they are their own unique self with their own unique thoughts and their own unique gifts to benefit the lives of those around them. But not everyone grows up in an environment that encourages such thinking. I was blessed to grow up in such an environment through homeschooling.

As a writer, this independent mindset gave me the joy and freedom to spill my imagination across the page as wildly and as passionately as I could without fear of rejection because I had always been encouraged to be myself and nothing less. Of course, the reality of an adult is that I was rejected many times while querying my manuscript on the very basis of my story’s imagination (“too quirky” was a phrase that came up all too often during my years in the query trenches). But because as a child, my mother—my teacher—embraced my imagination, nurturing and encouraging it, teaching me through her faith in the God who gave it to me that it was something good, I was able to persevere through every rejection. My confidence shook and my heart broke over and over, but I kept going.

And the amazing agent and amazing publisher I found along the way were worth every blow to my ego. With their support, I hope to produce all sorts of quirky, imaginative stories that will help kids unlock their own imaginations and dare to think differently.


Self-motivation and Discipline

I never went to school in my pajamas.

Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with homeschooling in your pajamas. But for me, personally, whenever someone who went to “regular” school asked me if I did school in my jammies, the righteous indignation that flared inside me made me feel like a ten-foot bonfire. What did they think homeschooling was? An excuse to laze around the house in our PJs, watching TV and doing our schoolwork whenever we “felt” like it? Like weekdays were one big extension of Saturday mornings? “We have structure!” I wanted to scream. “My mom gives us chores and schedules and goals everyday—that’s how you get stuff done!” I was furious that my friends thought my schooling experience was inferior…and madder still that they seemed to want this “pajama schooling” lifestyle themselves.

Yes, I learned all the basics of Math, Science, English, Social Studies, History, and Geography through homeschooling. But my mom didn’t just teach us school skills. She taught us life skills. She taught us all about self-motivation, discipline, and setting goals. Her dream as a homeschooling mom wasn’t to simply build our minds. She wanted to build our character and our faith so that her well-loved and well-taught children could step into the world as thoughtful, purpose-driven adults.

Her lessons led to me receiving my first offer of publication for Legend of the Storm Sneezer at age 17. Those same lessons helped me see that it wasn’t the right fit for me, that there was something even better if I had patience and the perseverance to work for it. And many years later, what my mom taught me during homeschool would help me recognize the right offer of publication when it came along.


So, if you’re out there trying homeschooling for the first time and you feel overwhelmed, don’t quit! Keep at it. If I could redo my schooling experience a hundred times, I would choose homeschooling every time. And remember, it isn’t about keeping a perfect schedule. It’s about learning—and learning to love learning in every moment.

And if you love learning in your pajamas, go for it! No judgement here. ;)




Teacher Guide

Some of my best memories from being homeschooled are of the teacher guides and Unit Studies my mom put together for the books we were reading. So of course I had to construct one for my MG fantasy novel,Legend of the Storm Sneezer!My sincerest hope is that this guide will be a tool in helping families experience the same joy of homeschooling that I had all my school years with my own family.





Legend Seeker. Part-time Ghost Hunter. Time Traveler.

Thirteen-year-old Rose Skylar sneezed a magical storm cloud at birth, and it’s followed her around ever since. But when "Stormy" causes one too many public disasters, Rose is taken to Heartstone, an asylum for unstable magic. Its location? The heart of a haunted forest whose trees have mysteriously turned to stone.

They say the ghosts are bound to the woods … then why does Rose see them drifting outside the windows at night? And why is there a graveyard on the grounds filled with empty graves? Guided by her future selves via time traveling letters, Rose and Marek—best friend and potential figment of her imagination—must solve the mystery of the specters and the stone trees before the ghosts unleash a legendary enemy that will make their own spooks look like a couple of holey bed sheets and destroy Heartstone Asylum.

Letters from the future are piling up. Rose can’t save Heartstone herself. However, five of herselves, a magical storm cloud, and a guardian angel who might very well be imaginary? Now that’s a silver lining.

But will they find what killed the ghosts before what killed the ghosts finds them?



Bookshop.org - https://bit.ly/2AuY6U6


Barnes & Noble -https://bit.ly/2y4dA0v



As an author, Kristiana Sfirlea knows what it means to get in character. She spent five years volunteering as a historical reenactor and trying her best not to catch her skirts on fire as a colonial girl from the 1700s (leading cause of death at the time next to childbirth). Working at a haunted house attraction, she played a jumping werewolf statue, a goblin in a two-way mirror, and a wall-scratcher—so if she’s standing very still, growling, checking her reflection, or filing her nails on your wall, be alarmed. Those are hard habits to break.

Kristiana's speculative flash fiction has been published by Havok, and her debut novel Legend of the Storm Sneezer is a whimsical Middle Grade fantasy involving time travel and things that go bump in the night. She dreams of the day she can run her own mobile bookstore. Or haunted house attraction. Or both. Look out, world—here comes a haunted bookmobile! (And this is precisely why writers should never become Uber drivers.) She loves Jesus, her family, and imaginary life with her characters.



Saturday, May 23, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 74: Authors Josh Berk and Saundra Mitchell

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Authors Josh Berk and Saundra Mitchell tell the terrifying tale of how they collaborated to write CAMP MURDERFACE. We talk about how they met, tips for working on a project with another author, the importance of being dumpster rat-y, finding time to write (even while sleeping), being a phone psychic, launching a book during the quarantine for COVID-19, an actual ghost story, and so much more.




Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture-deliverer and a layout waxer. She’s dodged trains, endured basic training, and hitchhiked from Montana to California. The author of nearly twenty books for tweens and teens, Mitchell’s work includes SHADOWED SUMMER, THE VESPERTINE series, ALL THE THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK, a novel forthcoming from HarperTEEN and the forthcoming CAMP MURDERFACE series with Josh Berk. She is the editor of three anthologies for teens, DEFY THE DARK, ALL OUT and OUT NOW. She always picks truth; dares are too easy.





Josh Berk is the author of the teen novels THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN (named a best book for teens of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and Amazon.com) and GUY LANGMAN: CRIME SCENE PROSCRASTINATOR (2012) as well as the middle grade mysteries STRIKE THREE YOU'RE DEAD and SAY IT AIN'T SO.







Summer camp turns sinister in Camp Murderface, a spooky middle grade read perfect for fans of scare masters like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike.

The year: 1983. The place: Ohio. The camp: Scary as heck.

Camp Sweetwater is finally reopening, three decades after it mysteriously shut down. Campers Corryn Quinn and Tez Jones have each had more than enough of their regular lives—they’re so ready to take their summer at Sweetwater by storm.

But before they can so much as toast one marshmallow, strange happenings start…happening. Can they survive the summer? Or will Camp Sweetwater shut down for good this time—with them inside?









Saturday, May 16, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 73: Author Claire Swinarski

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Claire Swinarski and I discuss Wisconsin badgers, Nancy Drew, Star Wars, and parking lot brawls. We also make time to chat about her new book, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, her amazing podcast MAKING A MIDDLE GRADE, her success as a freelance writer, time management, advocating for your author career, the importance of her spiritual faith in her writing, and so much more.




Claire Swinarski is the author of multiple books, including What Happens Next (coming in 2020 from HarperCollins) and Girl, Arise: A Catholic Feminist’s Invitation to Live Boldly, Love Your Faith, and Change the World. She’s also the founder of the Catholic Feminist Podcast, a top-ranked spirituality podcast with half a million downloads that discusses the intersection between faith and women’s issues. She has degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Seventeen, Milwaukee Magazine, and many other publications. She lives just outside of Milwaukee, WI with her husband and two kids.





In this heartfelt and accessible middle grade novel perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish, a young girl throws herself into solving a local mystery to keep from missing her older sister, who has been sent to an eating disorder treatment facility.
Astronomy-obsessed Abby McCourt should be thrilled about the solar eclipse her small town of Moose Junction is about to witness, but she’s not. After her older sister Blair was sent away for an eating disorder, Abby has been in a funk.
Desperate to dull the pain her sister’s absence has left, she teams up with a visiting astronomer to help track down his long-lost telescope. Though this is supposed to take Abby’s mind off the distance between her and Blair, what she finds may bring her closer to her sister than she ever thought possible.






Saturday, May 9, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 72: Editor Sarah LaPolla

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Sarah LaPola shares her thoughts on editing, writing, and publishing based on more than a decade of experience as a literary agent. We discuss her freelance editorial services and query consultations, as well as the business of being an author in the time of COVID-19. And we do a deep dive on perfecting a novel’s opening, how to fix its lagging middle, writing proactive characters with a life beyond the page, avoiding stereotypes and clichés, enhancing a story’s theme without becoming preachy, and so much more.

Click here to read Sarah LaPolla's original 7 Question interview.



Sarah LaPolla is a former literary agent with over a decade of experience in the publishing industry. Starting in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd. in 2008, she became an agent there in 2010. Most recently, she was a literary agent at Bradford Literary Agency, where she continued to work with talented MG, YA, and Adult fiction writers.

Sarah received her MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from The New School in 2008, and has a BA in Creative Writing from Ithaca College. In 2020, she started Next Chapter Editorial and Consulting, and regularly teaches writing workshops and offers consulting services through Inked Voices, Manuscript Academy, and various writing programs and conferences.

Editorial areas of expertise include the following markets/genres: Young Adult fiction (all genres); Middle Grade fiction (all genres); Adult (Literary Fiction; Science Fiction; Low/Contemporary Fantasy; Paranormal/Supernatural; Horror; Upmarket/Contemporary fiction; Mystery/Suspense; Memoir/Essay.

Sarah *would not* be the best match for non-fiction (with the exception of memoir), category romance or erotica, children's books (younger than MG), high/epic fantasy, or religious/spiritual books.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 71: Author Carlie Sorosiak

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Could mankind one day communicate directly with prairie dogs? If so, what will we talk about and will they appreciate their depiction in INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL? Carlie Sorosiak and I discuss this and many other issues, including keeping academia and writing in perspective, imagining the perspective of animals, dystopian fiction in the time of COVID-19, the importance of not making assumptions about people based on appearance, her book, I, COSMO, and so much more.






Carlie Sorosiak grew up in North Carolina and holds two master's degrees: one in English from the University of Oxford and another in creative writing and publishing from City, University of London. Her life goals include traveling to all seven continents and fostering many polydactyl cats. She currently splits her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, hoping to gain an accent like Madonna's. Visit her online at www.carliesorosiak.com.




The story of one dog's attempt to save his family, become a star, and eat a lot of bacon. Cosmo's family is falling apart. And it's up to Cosmo to keep them together. He knows exactly what to do. There's only one problem. Cosmo is a Golden Retriever. Wise, funny, and filled with warmth and heart, this is Charlotte's Web meets Little Miss Sunshine - a moving, beautiful story, with a wonderfully unique hero, from an incredible new voice in middle grade fiction - perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead and Kate DiCamillo.

"I adored this, a genuine feel-good delight with the most lovable animal narrator I've read in ages." - Fiona Noble, The Bookseller

"Like any good dog, Cosmo is so funny, friendly, and loyal that he quickly became a dear friend, so much so that when I finished reading the book, I missed hearing his voice and picturing his shaggy face. Come back, Cosmo!" - Jim Gorant, author of The New York Times bestseller The Lost Dogs

"This gem has all the warmth and joy of Homeward Bound and is making me want to get a Golden Retriever immediately." Catherine Doyle, author of The Storm Keeper's Island




Saturday, April 25, 2020

Middle Grade Ninja Episode 70: Author Mitali Perkins

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Mitali Perkins and I chat about her classic novel, RICKSHAW GIRL, its uncertain and difficult path to publication, its steady rise to prominence, and the new film based upon it. We also talk about the ups and downs of her career writing for children, cultural differences and code switching, the benefits of rereading favorite books, the benefits of arranged marriages, my discomfort with Nicholas Spark’s emotionality, flying saucers, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and more. Note: This was recorded before the quarantine for COVID-19, so we don’t discuss it.





Mitali Perkins has written many novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award) Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years, film adaptation coming in 2020), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers. She currently writes and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.





Daring and determined, teenaged girl Naima longs to earn money for her poor Bangladeshi family, but her unrivaled artistic talent is of little use. When her father grows gravely ill, Naima feels she has no choice but to leave her small village for the bright lights of Dhaka.

In the big city, Naima finds the same the economic, societal, and gender pressures faced by most young girls in Bangladesh. She cleverly disguises herself as a boy and takes the difficult job of a rickshaw puller.  When her gender is revealed and her livelihood vanishes, Naima finds an unconventional – and transcendental - solution to her problems. Based on the acclaimed novel by Mitali Perkins.