Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Natalie Lakosil & Tracie Badua Guest Post & Freddie vs. The Family Curse & Query Critique Giveaway on 5/23/2022
  • Mary Moore & Ema Watanabe Cohen Guest Post & The Lost Ryū & Query Critique Giveaway on 6/1/2022
  • Chelsea Hensley Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/6/2022
  • Kayla Cichella Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/13/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.


First, I’m going to announce the winner of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis.

The winner is:


Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can mail your book to you.

Okay I promised a party today. So let’s get partying!

Today is the reason I’m glad I’m blogging. I get to interview Elana Johnson, a friend I’ve watched get an agent and then sell her book. I’m so excited to participate in her debut as an author. Her book, POSSESSION—one of my favorite debuts this year—will be released tomorrow. We’re going to celebrate!

Here’s a blurb of POSSESSION from Goodreads:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a
game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Hi Elana. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your book.

I write angry teen girl novels set in the future. I watch too much reality TV. I cry at the lamest things like rainbows and roly poly bugs. I like bacon, and twitter, and email. I think everyone should laugh really hard at least once every day.

2. I know this wasn’t the first book you queried. I read you wrote the first draft in 17 days. Can you believe that guys? And then you put it in your drawer. What made you pull it out and how long did it take you to revise before you started querying it? Did you ever get a sense that this would be your first book to be published?

I did write POSSESSION in 17 days. It was 90,000 words. Then I let it cure for several months while I wrote other things. I pulled it back out because my first novel had failed in the query stage, and I wanted to enter the ABNA contest.

I did several rounds of revision before the contest, and a couple after. Then I started querying.

Then I did some more revisions. And some more. And some more. It’s the story of my life (which I am okay with; it’s the life of a discovery writer). All told, from the time I started revising POSSESSION to the time I stopped with my editor was probably about 22 months. It was about 13 before I started querying.

And strangely enough, as much as I loved my first book, I knew it wasn’t “the one.” And with POSSESSION, I knew it was. Isn’t that weird?

3. That’s great that you knew POSSESSION was the one. And it’s amazing that you had the self-control to put it away for awhile. I love Vi’s voice. She speaks her mind but remains vulnerable inside. How did you nail her voice so well and is there any of you in her? What part?

I have no idea how I nailed it, but thank you for saying so! I think she just formed on the page into who she is. Is there any of me in her? Well, I am a bit on the sarcastic side, so yeah, there’s a little of me in there, but I think she would’ve been snarky without me as the author. Other than that, she does and says things I only wish I had the guts to say and do. Sad, but true.

4. Ha! I can see your sarcastic side in her. And I love it. You’ve created a unique world where everyone is controlled. How did you create all the technology for this, like the silencer, the comm, and the tag implants? When in the writing did you create them?

I, uh, made them up on the spot. *holds up hands* Before you cry foul, it’s really true. I was writing along, and Vi swears, and the next thing I know I’ve written that a guard slaps on a silencer, and hey cursing is always silenced.

So it was tech and world-building all in one. And not premeditated. This is my process. As you can imagine, it’s quite messy, and I’ve had to comb the MS for consistency for many months.

5. I don’t want to give away any spoilers. But I will say there are a lot of plot twists and surprises throughout the story. Did you know them when you started them or did they come to you as you went? Do you have any advice on keeping the plot so fast paced and full of surprises?

I’ve always known how the book was going to end (shocking, I know), so the villain and the destination were always solid. Everything else was up in the air. Whatever happened while I was writing that day, happened. I had to then form it into a cohesive whole later.

As for the pacing, that was one of my biggest issues when submitting. Many an agent commented on it. It’s too fast, it’s too slow, it’s too long, etc. I actually pored over writing books on pacing. (And those of you who know me at all, know this is a BIG DEAL.) I cut large chunks of my story out and rewrote them with half the words, anything to A) get the word count down, and B) quicken the pacing.

I labored over the pacing. Labored. So to read reviews where a lot of the commentary is on the pacing, is interesting. I like a fast-paced book, though, so I haven’t been too devastated yet. (Of course, I stopped reading reviews months ago, too, so that’s probably helped.)

6. Okay, I’m a little scared to ask this question because I may have to break some sad news to my daughter who loved your book as much as me. Is there going to be a sequel? If you haven’t thought of doing one, is there anything we can do, like beg, to get you to consider it because my daughter and I both think this is a trilogy.

Yes! Although POSSESSION was written as a stand-alone novel, there will be a companion that Simon & Schuster will publish in Summer 2012. I’m not sure if everyone knows what a companion novel is, but it’s a story that takes place in the same story world, but with different characters. So Vi will not narrate the second book, but it will take place in the same world as POSSESSION. You’ll get to meet two new characters who go on their own journey.

I will say that you will get to see some of the same characters in the second book that are in POSSESSION. I will not say who.

7. Yea! I’m so glad there will be more about this world even if it won’t be about Vi. Let’s move on to the marketing of your book. Your book is being marketed as a crossover adult book right? How was that decision made and has it affected your marketing decisions?

Yes, it was selected by the marketing team at Simon & Schuster to be a cross-over novel. It hasn’t really affected my marketing plans, but I know they’ve done things in that arena. (They put it in the adult section of their Galley Grab newsletter; POSSESSION is part of a eSampler for book clubs that includes 6 adult novels and 3 YA novels.)

8. I know you answered this question of mine in a video. It was awesome. In case people didn’t hear the answer, I want to ask it again.

Okay guys, if all goes well, you will be able to see the question and Elana’s answer. Because this is my first time posting a YouTube video. Gulp.

9. Do you have any other advice that you’d like to share with us aspiring authors?

Allow yourself to write badly so you can figure out how you write best. Practice, practice, practice.

10. Great advice. What are you working on now?

Not dying. No, seriously. But if I were writing, I’d be working on something new that’s been plaguing me for a few months. Something with time travel. And kissing.

Good luck Elana! I’m so excited for you. You can find Elana on her blog and her website. If you aren’t a follower of her blog, you want to go right over there after you enter my contest.

Okay so now comes the presents! I have a fabulous mega giveaway today. I’m giving away two copies of POSSESSION. If at least 75 people enter my contest, I’ll give away a third copy of POSSESSION. And Elana has agreed to send signed bookplates to all of the winners. So the books will be signed!

But to get to the 75 entries, I need your help. I usually don’t ask you to mention my contests on your blogs, Facebook, or Twitter. But I need you to do that so I can give away 3 copies of POSSESSION. I’m not asking you to do it for me. Do it to promote Elana’s book and spread the word. She’s given so much to the writing community—query critiques, awesome advice to us new writers, her awesome book From the Query to the Call for free, and is an organizer of WriteOnCon with my awesome blog partner Casey. That is a HUGE volunteer effort by both of them and the other organizers of WriteOnCon.

That’s why I’m trying to give away 3 copies of her book. To help in my little way to increase the buzz for her book. Help me do that.

I’ll keep the contest open for two weeks to help reach the 75 entries.

All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on June 18th. I’ll announce the winner on June 20th. International entries are welcome.

Next Monday I’m be interviewing another kid between 5th grade and 12th grade about how they find out about books for my ASK THE EXPERT series. It’s a great interview you won’t want to miss.

And I’ve been dying to tell you about my interview on June 20th . I’ll be interviewing Nathan Bransford. You know, THE Nathan Bransford, who used to be an agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. He’s a debut middle grade author.

I’ll be interviewing him about his book JACOB WONDERBAR and the COSMIC SPACE KAPOW and doing a book giveaway. So be sure to come back next week and June 20th.


  1. Yay I'm first. Unfortunately, that counts for nothing in random.org and probably makes it even harder for me to win. Oooh, maybe I should wait. (neurotic much?)

  2. Thanks for helping spread the word, and the wonderful giveaway :)

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  3. This was a fantastic interview Nat. You asked some really great questions. Hey, maybe you should become a reporter! (Smiles) I loved reading Elana's answers and she is always so encouraging and helpful to fellow writers. Have a terrific day.

  4. Jumping up and down. Doing a very poor rendition of a happy dance!! Elana is not only an amazing writer but a person, as well. Heart her. She's a major inspiration for me. Thanks E and so many CONGRATS!!

  5. Thanks so much Elana for letting me interview you. I'm so excited for your debut. It couldn't happen to a nicer person.

  6. What a great interview! Elana is the best, thanks so much for featuring her, Natalie.

  7. Congrats,Elana!!!
    I'm inspired by your story!
    THANK YOU for all you do for the writing community. Your success is well deserved. :)

  8. This is on my must read list! Great giveaway : )


  9. Another inspiring interview! Thanks, Natalie and congrats to Elana. I didn't realize publishers were starting to market some books as YA/Adult cross over - that's great news.

  10. SUPER SUPER interview!!

    Elana: is it odd that I think it's easier to write about time travel than it is to write about kissing??

  11. Awesome! Can't wait for mine to arrive in the mail!

  12. Great interview, thanks. <3 haha.


  13. YAY Elana!! Huge CONGRATULATIONS. I'm so, so thrilled and excited for you.

    Great interview, Natalie!

  14. Congrats again to Elana and her most-beautiful-cover-ever book! I can't wait to see it in stores! ^_^

  15. great interview. elana is doing so much right in promoting her book--she's helping to teach us all how it's done.

    count me in for the contest. i've been waiting to read this since she announced on her blog that it had sold!

    -- Tom

  16. Elana is made of awesome! She is one of the nicest people in the YA community and want to wish her a mountain of success!

    I'll put up a blog post this week and tweet it!

    Congrats Elana! Beautiful cover!

    amcelfresh (AT) hotmail.com

    Reading, Writing and Waiting


  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. (Oops, I deleted my post accidentally. That was stupid)

    Congrats to Elana! I can't wait to get my hands on POSSESSION! I've been wanting to read POSSESSION for the longest time, and now I want to read the something with time travel and kissing nearly as much!

    Loved the interview (I've got one with the ever-awesome Elana scheduled for tomorrow, so excited!) and congratulations again to Elana!


  19. Ahhh, it's finally here! I can't wait to finally read it. That's also so cool that there is going to be a companion novel.

    findjessyhere at gmail dot com

  20. Great interview! Being a new writer, I am especially drawn to the comment - allow yourself to write badly. LOVE it!

  21. Thanks for the great interview/giveaway. Possession really seems to be the book of the moment!
    I follow the blog Andreat78

  22. I really love how packed your blog is with great information, interesting interviews and reviews. (I'm not just saying that to win)I really enjoy it every time I drop in. Elana is amazing.

  23. I freaking love Elana and this was an EXCELLENT interview. I'll be sure to spread the word far and wide!

  24. I must have possesion! great interview

  25. I can't wait to read Possession! :)
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  26. I so can't wait to read this. I'd love to win a copy, as it would mean that I'd have an extra to give away. :)

    I love hearing about Elana's methods, because that means there IS HOPE FOR ME!!! LOL

    Congrats, Elana!!!

  27. Thank you for this lovely interview! Elana seems incredible, therefore I'm sure her book is too. Very interesting, indeed. :)


    Thanks again!

  28. Great interview. So happy for Elana. Tweeted and a follower. :)

  29. Yay Elana!She has given so much to the writing world!

  30. Wonderful interview, Natalie.

    Judging from the blog buzz on this, POSSESSION is going to be HUGE.

    Elana, richly deserved.

  31. Loverd theinterview. Loved the questions. Posted to our Author and Facebook pages on Facebook. (still haven't figured out how to make those pages flow together. We have friends on Pen N. Ink (attached to our gmail address that we don't have at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Pen-and-Ink-Blogspot/209573925731957.
    Go Figure!

  32. Consider this copied, saved, and memorized: "Allow yourself to write badly so you can figure out how you write best."

    P.S. The pacing on this interview was perfect. :-)

  33. I will def be spreading the word! Great interview! I tweeted and am a follower!
    janaevw @ gmail . com

  34. YAY ELANA!

    I've been tweeting, and I have tags and POSSESSION covers on my blog. I SO want to help ELANA!

    I am DYING to read this book. I would really loved to win a signed copy!


  35. I really really want to read this book! Thanks for the giveaway!

    jlkalman26 at gmail dot com

  36. I read Elana's blog often and would so love to have her book, with her autograph. This is a lovely giveaway.

  37. Great interview. Elana crackles just like that breakfast food she likes. =D

  38. I can't wait to read this. Thanks for the giveaway!


  39. I'd love to read this!! I also retweeted a link spreading the word about this contest :) - https://twitter.com/#!/Casey_McCormick/status/77869217164177408

    twitter - @star_light91

  40. Thanks for the interview!

    Great advice and I can't wait to read your book!

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Great Interview..
    thanks so much for this AMAZING Giveaway!!

    GFC: frinda florentine
    twitter :@friendaflorentz
    florentine_frinda AT yahoo DOT com

  43. Elana is awesomesauce incarnate! Can't wait to read her book . . . and so cool of you to add to the party. :)

  44. Possession sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it.

  45. Thanks a bunch!!!


  46. Me :) Thank for the fun interview!


  47. Hey thought I'd let everyone know we at Boxing With Pencils are having a weekly 100 words or less flash fiction contest with a cash prize of 5 dollars.

    So come on and check it out all you poor ass writers you know you need the money!


  48. Great interview! Really looking forward to reading Possession -- it's on my must-read list already! :)

    sharigreen.ya AT gmail.com

  49. I think Elana is AWESOME and I know her book will be too! Can't wait to read if I win...but I'll head to the bookstore if I don't! :)

  50. Such a great interview! Elana is so funny and real. I adore her. I'm so excited for her in her launch. Great contest, too!

    Congratulations, Elana!

  51. Great interview! I can't wait to read Possession! :)

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  52. Possession does sound awesome! :D

  53. I hopped over here from Elana's blog, and I'm your newest follower! Great interview and fantastic piece of video too. I'm posting as part of Elana's web-splash later on Daily Dodo, and I'll be sure to mention your contest and put a little banner in the side bar if I can figure out how to!
    Good luck getting your numbers and great to meet you!
    Laura x

  54. I enjoyed the interview. I'm already a follower of your blog. I'll post about your giveaway on my blog later this week.

  55. Yesss! would love to win!
    I'm a follower~

  56. Congratulations, Elana, and fabulous interview!

  57. Great interview. It was so much fun to learn more about Elana and Posession. I'm so excited to hear about the sequel. Thanks for the giveaway!!

    GFC Follower: Sakira

  58. Thank you for doing this giveaway! Elana seriously rocks. I'm so excited to read Possession!

  59. I read the Query to the call for help with my query writing skills. It was a huge help. I also had the pleasure of reading the first chapter (tagged contest winner). Grats Elana!!

  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

  61. Huge congrats! Can't wait to read it!

  62. Reading the first two chapters online was a teaser. I so want to win and finish reading the book!

  63. I agree with, Renae! I'm gonna finish reading one way or another! So generous of you to give away so many copies! And already there are so many comments!

  64. Yay, Elana!!!!!!!
    Can't wait to read your book--and I love the cover!


  65. Elana is awesomesauce! So was the interview.
    congrats on the book release!

  66. Yay for putting things in drawers! Books are like wine, they're better if they age. :)

    Congratulations Elana!

  67. I like that: Cursing is always silenced :)

  68. I don't think it's possible for Awesomesauce Elana to give a bad interview.

  69. Thank you for the interview and for making this awesome contest international. I can't wait to read Possession!

    Giada M.

    fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

  70. This is definitely on my most read list as well! This was a great interview and just got me more excited for the book.

    breakingthebinding (at) me (dot) com

  71. This is definitely on my most read list as well! This was a great interview and just got me more excited for the book.

    breakingthebinding (at) me (dot) com

  72. Awesome interview! I can't wait to read this book! Thanks for this contest, and I'm following your blog now! :)

  73. Great interview! Can't wait to read the book!

    julia.darcey AT gmail dot com

  74. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

    GFC: Zareen T


  75. Can't wait to read this..I am a new YA fiction lover. I don't know what took me so long but now I'm hooked!

  76. Loving the story so far! Hoping my comment adds to the giveaway extravaganza!
    Love the thought that went into this story!

  77. OH M GEE!!! I've been waiting and waiting for the day this interview posted and now I'm late for the party. Well there's still plenty of you here still celebrating so CONGRATS to Elana J. And Natalie, GREAT inteview!!!

  78. Congratulations, Elana! Excited to read the book myself....when I make it to the store this weekend! :)

  79. You write that she's talking to me, but she's really talking to you!

  80. congrats on the release! can't wait to read it!


  81. Thanks for the great interview and giveaway, and congrats to Elana on the book release!

    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  82. I'm writing my 1st book & I'm finding that blogs like this one are the most helpful. Becoming more of a reader is my biggest challenge, but I realize that in order to be a successful writer, I must be a sincere reader. Thanks, for the nuggets of info!!!

  83. What a party. Am I a day late and a dollar short. You can tell I'm a writer by my ability to turn a phrase eh! LOL

  84. Elana Johnson rocks my world!!! Great giveaway, ladies. I have already tweeted and I will FB and sidebar as well. :-)

  85. Great interview, and awesome give away! I can't wait to read this!!

    jennimerritt.writing (at) gmail (dot) com

  86. Yay! I am so excited about POSSESSION and thrilled for Elana!

    I would love to win a copy. So, yeah, convince random.org to do it's thing well. :P

  87. I tweeted your contest in hopes you could reach 100 comments! Its fun to exceed your expectations. ;)

    Thanks for the awesome chance to win Possessions. Elana must be an incredible woman, there are so many bloggers and authors that are pimping her book this week.

    BTW I found you on Shannon Messenger's website (from your comment) and I followed your trail. You had me at my kids are adopted - mine are too!
    Have a great day.

    kjovus at gmail dot com

  88. I'd love a copy.
    tahlia.newland at yahoo dot com

  89. Woohoo! Can't wait to read it!!

    cheri at cheriwilliams.com

  90. So looking forward to reading this. And I'm so happy for Elana, who has given the blogosphere so mcuh.

  91. Ooh this book looks really cute. Reminds me of Matched(Which is NOT a bad thing) :)
    thanks for the contest!

  92. Congrats, Elana! I actually saw your book today on a HIGH SHELF at Barnes & Noble. ;-) Love the storyline and can't wait to read it.

  93. Elana, you are such an inspiration!

    Best of luck. Can't wait to see your book on the NYC best seller's list.

    cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca

  94. I loved that interview! What I love most about it is hat I read Elana's blog religiously, and I sill learned new things about her and he rprocess. Because you asked some great questions. Thanks to both of you, Natalie and Elana, for the interview and the giveaway!

    I'll be blogging and tweeting this for sure!

  95. Great interview, like normal!! It's fun to see Elana talking after knowing her through 11sies, her blog and Twitter! Can't wait to read Possession!

  96. Possession sounds like such an awesome book! I'm loving all these dystopian books coming out!


  97. Cool interview! I can't wait to read Possession!!

  98. I can't wait to read Elana's book. And I had no idea about the companion novel. That's so cool!

  99. Great Interview. Sounds like a wonderful book.

    Looks like you have plenty of entries. Is there room for one more, lol.

    Cher Green
    cher438lynn at hotmail dot com

  100. What a great interview. Elana is really awesome and supportive! It's so great to see someone so deserving make it to this point in the processing. It is also very inspiring!

    Yay Elana!

    lilkaidoo at yahoo dot com

  101. Oh, gosh, so many people have commented that it's not making me feel any better that you're giving away more copies than usual. My odds are about the same: approaching zero.

    I definitely plan on reading this book, though, regardless if I win or not.

  102. Great interview! Sounds like a very interesting book too!

    All the best...

  103. This sounds like a good book- I'll definitely add it to my to-read list on Goodreads and look into it, even if I don't win :)

  104. Oh, oh, enter me, please! :)

    yahongchi @ gmail . com

  105. sounds like a great read, enter me please!

  106. Oh, she sounds awesome! And so does her book! :)

    sharpestsatire @ gmail . com

  107. Count me in! tmilstein at gmail dot com

    I'll share this on FB.

  108. Love the video with Elana! Thanks for sharing. Good to learn even more about her. :)

    Would love to be entered; I'm following now. :)


  109. She is amazing!! I was able to go to a book signing earlier in the Summer for Abandon and she is one of my favorite authors! I adored this series, (I know some people have mixed emotions about Surrender) everything about it was amazing, she is hilarious! Loved the interview! (Even though I'm 2 years late! ;)

    Morgan @Remembered Deservedly