Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


First I'm going to announce the winners of my Children's Book Week Blog Hop. Before I do, I want to say WOW! Your response was amazing. There were 222 comments, lots of spreading of the word, and 100 new followers. Since this is so popular, I will try to do more of these hops as my schedule and budget permits. Now onto the winners:

Jemi Fraser who chose INSURGENT and Beth who chose UNRAVELING. Congrats! Your books are being sent to you.

Today I’m excited to be part of Misty Provencher's blog tour for her debut book CORNERSTONE that she independently published. It was released on November 7, 2011. 

Here’s a description of her book from Goodreads:

Nalena Maxwell has been branded ‘The Waste’ at her new school, due to her mom's obsessive paper hoarding. Nalena desperately wants something to change in her life, but when she receives a sign (and it's the wrong dang one) inviting her into a mysterious, ancient community, too much changes. What she knew of her family, what she thought of her life and what she believed about her future, is no longer applicable. Seventeen years worth of family skeletons come crashing into Nalena's life and it is the boy...the one that smiles at her like he wants to hear everything she'll ever say...that already knows her powerful secrets. But it is only Nalena that can choose between protecting the life that is already crumbling beneath her feet and the one that might sacrifice everything she could ever have.

Hi Misty. Thanks so much for joining us.

1.  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer. 

Thank you for having me over to hang, Natalie!  Not sure what to tell you - I’m just a regular chick with the generic jones for paper and ink.  Not much different than anyone else, well, besides that I spend waaaay too much money on office supplies and mustard.  There’s that. 

As far as how I became a writer, hmmm…I’ve just always told myself stories.  Like the other day, I was sitting in my kid’s swimming class and someone came in wearing a trench coat and I started making up a story about how the person was selling contraband spaghetti tongs under there, and then I thought, no, not spaghetti tongs…they’re smuggling in an alligator for a free class and then I thought, no, I bet the guy is dried up like old seaweed under that coat and he’s stopping in here to get moisturized the way some folks drive thru at McDonalds.  I’m either a story-maker or just super suspicious and paranoid, but either way, it still works for me.

2.  It's amazing how we can get inspiration from everyday life. I was immediately interested in your story when I saw that Nalena’s mom is a paper hoarder. As an attorney, I’ve seen a few cases where people hoard things, often with serious negative consequences. What made you decide to include this in your story? Did you draw on personal experiences or research in crafting this part of the story?

Spoilerish:  The idea of collecting memories started the ball rolling and then I found Evangeline, scribbling away, and realized the real story wasn’t hers, but how hoarding all the memories effected her daughter. 

I had an aunt who had trouble with hoarding, so it was really important to me to present more than just the easy negativities associated with the problem.  Strange behavior is always a little scary, but a major theme in most of my stories is encouraging readers to try on a different paradigm.  I like to present someone else’s shoes, let the reader stomp around a while, and hope that I can present enough of a new view that the reader might consider a change of gait.

3.  That's important in writing a story about something like this--not to stereotype it. What were the challenges in developing Nalena as a character, especially since she has a dysfunctional single mom as a parent?

Nalena came to me as a complete package, so I didn’t really have to develop her as much as get to know her.  She had all my answers right from the start.  Her personality is one of living in the moment and just dealing with what is thrown at her.  She wasn’t happy about her mother’s hoarding because it sucked up money that could’ve made Nalena’s life easier, but at the same time, when you only have one parent available, you tend to cling to them.  The dysfunction is just something to deal with, in Nali’s eyes.  As Nali gains more and more understanding of her mother’s past and present life, Nali becomes stronger and stronger in herself.  

4.  I bet that made it harder with her with only one parent. It does force a kid to deal with something like that more. Tell us a bit about the Ianua and the bloodlines and how you came up for the idea of them. 

Here’s a gob of spoilers for ya: 
The Cornerstone Series came from a dream I had, but the dream is actually the last book in the series, so Cornerstone was actually a process of thinking backward.  I had to discover the story that led up to the dream, so the bloodlines were present and I just had to unearth them.

The Ianua is made up of 13 world-wide communities (called Curas) and supposed to be the nirvana of the human race.  The Ianua was designated when the Earth began, to look after the intellectual evolution of the human race.  Their work is in stacking up knowledge, like building blocks, allowing humans to climb up quickly and add another layer.  It’s similar to thinking of how we came all the way from the invention of the wheel to the Lamborghini.  We built and improved on knowledge of those before us.  That’s the Ianua in a nutshell.

The four bloodlines of the Ianua (Alo, Contego, Addo and Veritas) work together to maintain the flow of knowledge.  The Alo record the memories of the dead (those knowledge building blocks);  the Contego protect the Alo from any threats from the opposing community (the Fury) and also provide finances since the Alo spend all their time recording the memories.  The Addos are the wisemen/managers of the individual communities within the Ianua.  They keep the peace in their Curas.  The Veritas are the spiritual balancers, those who manage the energy patterns in the world’s core.

However, being in the Ianua doesn’t mean the people aren’t all still painfully human.  The Fury is the opposing community to the Ianua.  The Fury is made up of people that either that left the Ianua or that were never called to be in it at all- those who were not called to the community with a sign (or opted out of their calling) are called Simple.  Fury members have one common trait:  their utter selfishness.  Being so self-centered, that have no concern for building on knowledge.  They want to eradicate the Ianua so that they will be free to live lives with zero responsibility to anyone else and zero consequence for their actions.  The Fury is usually an easy opponent to defeat, since their selfishness makes them lazy, unorganized as a group and incapable of functioning effectively since everyone insists on being the boss.  However, something’s cooking with The Fury and they aren’t operating like usual…hmmm.

5.  That's so interesting that the idea for the last book came first. In some ways, I think it'd make the plotting of a series easier. I read that you had an agent at one point and then lost him/her. Tell us a bit about this experience and why you decided to independently publish your book.

I had a rough ride in the agent realm, but I’m not sure anyone slides into the Traditonal Publishing home base without pulling some tendons.  The whole crazy up and down of my quest for traditional publication is on my blog, but the short version is this: The agent I signed with a completely different vision than I did, which became clear after completing the first round of revisions.  She wanted a less complex plot, less mythology, less of the metaphysical.  We parted ways and at that point, I was really worn out from the agent-go-round.  I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I had planned to just release Cornerstone for free, chapter by chapter, on my blog, but when I became aware of the threat of losing credit for my work, I literally published the book almost overnight.  That was a wild ride.

6. That's too bad about your agent. But good that you were able to decide how to keep your vision for your story alive. What have been some of the challenges in independently publishing your book? Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are trying to decide whether to go the traditional or independently published route?

 The challenge is time. In the beginning, all of my time had to go into getting Cornerstone formatted, covered and published, and this happens even while family and work and life commitments still demand attention from the wings.  Then came the work of getting the word out.  Wowza.  That’s the real work.  It takes a lot of time to let people know you’ve got a book out.  I contacted book bloggers, local schools and any book-related events that I could find, in order to get Cornerstone into reader’s hands.  I guess it’s successful because I’ve had decent sales.  I haven’t been in it long enough to really figure out what is and isn’t working though.

I do know that getting people to trust that you have a good read for them can be tough, because self-pubbed books still have the stigma of being piles of crap that the writer slapped together and then dumped on the world.  Some of them are.  But I work very hard to get my work out of that category.
            One of the challenges lately is that I’ve had to pull back from promotions so I can work on the next book.  It stinks that there’s only so much time in a day, you know?  Cornerstone was only released a few months ago, so it takes a while for word-of-mouth to spread.  I’ve worried that Cornerstone wasn’t rooted enough to continue to sell, but so many readers have written, asking me for the second book.  It’s a great problem to have.  

The other beautiful thing is that some book bloggers and my Twitter Mates have picked up my torch for me and continued to tweet me and let people know about Cornerstone while I’ve been working on Keystone.  In this way, I can say self-publishing has given me a breathtaking view of how kind strangers can be.  People I’ve never met have helped with re-tweets and doing blog posts and posting photos of the cover.  One woman wrote to say she hand-sold Cornerstone to someone who was waiting for the bus with her.  Writers and readers have written me with their own stories and encouragement and advice.  Self-publishing may not have been my intention, but it’s become a gift.

         The only advice I have for other authors is follow your gut and above all, hang onto your joy.  There are pros and cons to both traditional and self-pubbing routes, but I think everyone has to make their own decision about what is right for them.  All I can tell you is that listening to my gut and following my joy has been successful for me.
7.  Time is a big problem for everyone--me too! But I can imagine it's more of an issue when you self-publish and are responsible for it all. It's too bad about the self-publishing stigma. But that's so awesome how much support the blogging community has given you. For whatever way you publish, word of mouth is the key. What are you working on now?  
I’ve got three books cooking right now.  Most of my time is dedicated to finishing Keystone (the second in the Cornerstone series) but I’ve also drafted the detailed outlines for two more books that won’t leave me alone.  I’ve got a million books in me and I’m just working on getting them out, one by one.

Thanks again for having me over, Natalie.  Literary Rambles was always my go-to info source when I was querying agents and I still swing by for your author interviews and (of course) photos of Casey’s doxies.  I’ve got a thing for doxies. 

Thanks Misty for sharing all your advice.  You can find Misty at: her blog, (there’s 5 free chapters of Cornerstone there too, if you’d like to try before you buy!)
I’m all over the Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/mistyprovencher
Oh yeah, I Facebook like a fool:
I love email:  misty_pro@msn.com
And hey, I’m on Goodreads 
Oh, and so is Cornerstone 
And if you’d like to try out Cornerstone, there’s always Amazon
and Barnes & Noble:, but it’s pretty much everywhere you can buy it.

Thanks again for the interview, Natalie.  I really enjoyed your questions!

Misty has generously offered a paperback copy of her book and an e-book for a giveaway. If you don't have an e-reader, don't worry. I don't have one either. I've read a number of pdf versions of books and recently downloaded Kindle library on my computer. It's free!

 To enter, 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 May 28th. I'll announce the winner on May 30th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

Don't forget my contests for Kim Harrington's PERCEPTION and two books in her SLEUTH OR DARE series and for STARTERS, TOUCH OF POWER, and FRACTURE. The links are at the top of the blog.

Here's what's coming up next.  On Monday I'm interviewing debut author Marissa Burt and giving away an ARC of STORYBOUND. Wednesday next week I'll be interviewing  Stephanie Guerra and giving away an ARC of TORN.

And in June I have two awesome interviews you won't want to miss. On June 4th I'm helping Elana Johnson celebrate the release of SURRENDER. It's one of the most awesome second books in a series that I've read. I'm giving away my ARC (only because I bought a book for my daughter and me. She loves it too and would not let me give it away otherwise). On June 11th I'm interviewing debut author Jennifer Bosworth and giving away an ARC of STRUCK, another awesome book.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Agent Spotlights on Thursdays.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Creepy Query Girl said...

Ha! Love Misty's imagination with the dried-up trench coat guy selling alligators. lol:) Great interview! Loved learning more about her and her work!

Angela Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela Brown said...

The storyteller in today's author spotlight is apparent from the word trench coat :-)

Thanks for highlighting an indie author as well. I know some blogs will only stick to Big 6 or small press but it's nice to see a well rounded approach as on Literary Rambles can do!

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great interview - thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for having me over, Natalie. I appreciate all the information you and Casey give us on Literary Rambles. You two are priceless!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Love this interview. Harry Potter came to Jo Rowling complete as well. How nice would that be?

The baseball analoogy to the agent/traditional publishing issue made me smile.

mshatch said...

that's how I get my ideas, too; I see something/hear something and pop! There it is.

Great interview :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Great interview with Misty. Thanks for sharing.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Misty, looks like your determination to get your story into people's hands has paid off. I admire that you didn't let your dream go.



Unknown said...

Thanks so much, Donna! You don't get your stories in packages? Mine come USPS. LOL!

Unknown said...

So you know what I'm talking about, mshatch. Pop! Story. Thanks for reading!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much, Angela, and I agree...I am so excited to be here today as an Indie author! Thanks again, Literary Rambles. You guys rock!!

Unknown said...

Thanks Creepy Query Girl. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview- Natalie asks great questions!

Unknown said...

Thanks for reading, Rachna!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much, Sia. That you're here reading and commenting means the world to me!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Misty for sharing all your great advice with us. Good luck with your book.

Unknown said...

Thanks again for having me, Natalie!

Julie DeGuia said...

It is always nice to hear publishing success stories - however you get there! Great interview.


Kelly Polark said...

What a great interview!
And can I just say I love that photo of Misty! It's so vivid and colorful and jumps right out at you! Love it!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Kelly! A friend of mine (she's a professional photographer) took it for me before I went to a steam punk party!

Unknown said...

I always like the success stories too, Julie! Thanks for saying hi!

Jessie Humphries said...

Great interview! I love learning more about interesting people. And I would say Misty is definitely interesting, in all sorts of good ways :)

Casey McCormick said...

Great interview, Misty and Natalie!!! I loved this closer look at CORNERSTONE and can't wait for KEYSTONE. Off to tweet.

Stina said...

Great interview! It's very important to make sure yours and the agent's vision are the same. Good thing you parted ways before you ended up with a book you no longer believed in. :D

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Congratulations to Jemi and Beth.

And best of luck to Misty! Great interview :)

Unknown said...

Awwww, thank you, Jessie!

Unknown said...

The only thing that could make my day better is a picture (or two, or twelve, or 100) of a couple of my fav doxies. *whispers* Say yes...say yes...

Unknown said...

You are absolutely right, Stina. I didn't see it at the time, but the longer I am away from the situation, the more I can appreciate what I'm doing now.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Carolina! And yes, congrats Jemi and Beth on your wins!

Jessica Salyer said...

Wow, congrats on the success of your blog hop. Great interview. Sounds like a great book.

Natasha said...

Great interview! Thanks for the chance to win!!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

You definitely had a wild ride on your way to publlication, Natalie! Reminds me of the mine ride in the second Indiana Jones movie -- fast and barely under control. However, they were successful in getting out of the mine so I hope you are also successful with your book! Thanks for offering it for a giveaway.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Jessica! I hope you'll enjoy the story!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Natasha! Good luck in the drawing!

Unknown said...

Whoops, that was me, PuttPutt! Good luck in the drawing!

Mary Preston said...

Always fascinating to read the hows & wheretos.


Gale Nelson said...

Thank you for the wonderful giveaway. Gale

Unknown said...

Wow--cool premise. I've never read a book with a character that "hoards." Looking forward to reading it.


Unknown said...

Thanks for entering marybelle, Gale and Cathe! Good luck in the drawing!!

Beth said...

Thank you so much for this great prize. I can't wait to read the book. And I can't believe I beat the odds to win it!

I'm not officially entering the new contest with this comment ... that would just be greedy!

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

You're right, authors should follow their gut and be happy! lovely interview!

aliasgirl at libero dot it

Unknown said...

Agreed! Thanks so much Reading Mind!

Veronika said...

Awesome interview, thanks for doing it! It's always fun to know a little the authors! I'm dying to read this book!
GFC: Veronika
verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com