Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024
  • Miriam Cortinovis Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/6/2024
  • Jenniea Carter Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/8/2024
  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/24/2024

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.


Happy Monday everyone! If you missed Erin Moulton's Guest Post on Marketing and giveaway of TRACING STARS, you can check it out here.  Everyone who read her post commented on how helpful it was so you might want to check it out.

Before we get to my interview with Carolyn Turgeon, I wanted to share a few things with you. The next two weeks I could use your help. I'll be on vacation the rest of this week and not following blogs because I won't have internet access except for on my phone. But I have a fabulous interview scheduled for next Monday with Laurisa White Reyes and a giveaway of her debut book THE ROCK OF INVANHOE, a fantasy I really enjoyed. She's also sharing some dynamite marketing tips. So I hope you'll come by next Monday and show her a lot of support even though I won't be commenting on most of your blogs that day like I usually do. 

The next week I'll be sharing and giving away two popular YA books from Harper Teen--UNRAVELING and THE SELECTION. It'll be with an interview for my Ask The Expert  series with Lenny Lee, an amazing middle grader who writes and blogs. Some of you know him and know what an inspiration he is. 

Anyway, I'm starting to try to get more ARCs of popular upcoming books where I might not interview the author. Harper Teen just sent me two fantastic ARCs that I'll be sharing and giving away later this summer and early September. But to continue to get ARCs, I need to show a good response to the reviews and giveaways. Because that's what the publishers look at in deciding who to send ARCs to. So two weeks from today, I hope you'll help me out and be sure to stop by and comment and spread the word about the giveaway. Because I want to ask Harper Teen for an ARC of Lauren Oliver's upcoming book and I need to show a good response to my reviews. Thanks so much in advance for your help.

Now onto the winner of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS. The winner is:


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

Today I’m excited to interview Carolyn Turgeon about her middle grade novel THE NEXT FULL MOON that was released March 13, 2012. I really enjoyed this fairytale retelling and Carolyn portrayed so accurately how it would feel for a 12-year-old girl to suddenly start growing feathers.This is Carolyn's first middle grade book, but she's an established author in the adult/crossover YA market as you'll see from her interview. So she has lots of great advice to share with us.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

This thoroughly compelling, gorgeously told tale, begins as the weather turns warm enough to swim in the local lake, twelve-year-old Ava is looking forward to a lazy summer, and her crush, Jeff is most definitely taking notice of her. Everything is going beautifully. Until Ava starts to grow feathers—all over her shoulders, arms, and back. Horrified, mortified, and clad in a hoodie, she hides out in her bedroom missing her dead mother and worrying about the summer, and the rest of her freakish life. Carolyn Turgeon has a gift for imagining magical worlds. In Ava’s case, this other-worldly place belongs to the Swan Maidens, one of whom is Ava’s mother. Ava goes back and forth between middle school and this magical realm taking the reader along for an exhilarating, extraordinary ride

Hi Carolyn. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I think I always wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid I read all the time, loved going to the library, loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins and all kinds of other stuff. I loved the Betsy-Tacy-Tibb books by Maud Hart Lovelace, too, and, in them, Betsy wants to be a writer and sits in trees and wears long dresses and scribbles feverishly into notebooks. If I didn’t want to be a writer before reading those books I certainly did after. I always thought that being a writer was the best, most wonderful and romantic thing to be.

I have this terrible book I wrote when I was eight, called “The Mystery at the Dallas Zoo,” about a group of kid detectives trying to figure out who stole the zoo’s tapir. I wrote stories and poems as a teenager and in college wrote the story that would eventually become my first novel, Rain Village. That took ten years, though, off and on, and when the book was finally done and I finally found an agent, it took another four years to sell. Rain Village was published in 2006, and by then I was nearly finished with my second novel, Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story. That came out in 2009, my next book Mermaid came out in 2011, and then The Next Full Moon, my first middle-grade novel (the other books are all for adults but can cross over to a teen audience), came out this year. My fifth book, The Fairest of Them All, which is about Rapunzel growing up to be Snow White’s stepmother, will be out in 2013.

Almost all my novels are based in some way on classic fairytales, which I love. I love the combination of grit and magic, of glitter and pain, that you find in those tales. Also, the same semester in college that I wrote the story that would become Rain Village I had to do a paper on story cycles in medieval Italy, analyzing a story that appeared in Latin, in the Novellino, and in the Decameron. Rain Village actually began as a modern retelling of that story (though the final book didn’t include it at all). But ever since then, I’ve loved the notion of these powerful old stories being told and retold, over centuries and throughout the world.

2.  I so wish I had an inkling that I'd love to write when I was a teen and in college. It sounds like you really honed your craft then. Share with us how you came up with the idea for your story and why you picked swan maiden fairytale to retell.

Originally I had the idea to write a book about a 12-year-old girl who begins noticing strange, embarrassing things happening to her body, like shimmering scales appearing on her skin and webbing between her toes, and eventually discovers that her mother (whom she thought had died when she was a small child) is a mermaid. I loved the idea of linking an actual magical transformation with the real experience of puberty.  But I ended up writing an adult mermaid novel that had nothing to do with that original idea, and so didn’t want to turn around and write another mermaid book before Mermaid was even out yet! Then one day I was looking through a book of classic fairytales and realized that swan maidens were even more perfect.

3.  I loved Ava’s reaction to her experience of suddenly growing wings. How did you nail her reaction so well and share a bit of how you developed her as a character.

When I was 12 I was 5’8”, over-developed, and looked much older than my age. Plus that year my family moved from a suburb of Dallas, Texas, to East Lansing, Michigan, and there I was with long feathered hair, bright blue eye shadow (I was coming from Texas), and clothes that were much more formal than the t-shirts and shorts the kids were wearing in my new school. AND I was incredibly shy and self-conscious. So even though I didn’t actually grow wings, I might as well have! In writing the book, I just had to imagine myself at 12, what that felt like, to imagine how a girl like Ava would feel having such a strange, uncontrollable thing happen to her own body. I imagine that plenty of 12-year-old girls feel the same way, and I wanted to show how Ava slowly comes to realize that something magical and wonderful is happening to her body, rather than something terrible.

4.  I could have grown them too. I was short, overweight and like you, incredibly shy and self-conscious. My tween and teen years were pretty unhappy. Your other three novels—RAIN VILLAGE, GODMOTHER, and THE SECRET CINDERELLA—are adult crossover YA novels. This is your first middle grade novel. What were some of the challenges in writing a middle grade novel and nailing Ava’s voice, which is so critical in middle grade stories, and creating a realistic budding relationship with Jeff? How did you overcome them?

Honestly, it wasn’t very hard for me to remember being 12, being that dramatic and self-conscious and embarrassed by so many things, and I just wrote as authentically as I could from my own experience. Out of all my books, Ava is more based on me (though me at 12, not 40!) than any other character. So the voice came very easily.

5.  That's great it came so easily because the voice is hard to get right for many authors. Share with us a bit of your journey to obtain an agent and publication.

I signed with my agent, Elaine Markson, over ten years ago. I’d finished Rain Village and knew I needed an agent. I didn’t think I had any “connections” at that point but a friend suggested I write to my old college professor, the novelist Paul West, to ask for his advice. I felt foolish since I’d been out of college for about eight years and didn’t think he’d remember me, but I wrote to him anyway and sent him a chapter, and to my surprise he forwarded that chapter along to his own agent and she ended up taking me on. (I had also queried agents cold and ended up having one of them offer me a contract as well, so you don’t have to have connections! But you may have more than you think.)

I thought publication would be easy, since I’d heard that getting an agent was the toughest part and here I’d landed a really amazing one. But Elaine sent out Rain Village to one editor at a time and I ended up getting about 14 or 15 rejections over the course of four years—very annoying ones, too, one editor said it was the best book she’d ever rejected!—before finally getting a book deal. As I mentioned, I’d nearly finished Godmother by the time that happened. Fortunately, things have gone more smoothly since then.

6.  I think we'd all love your experience of getting an agent. But your story is a good reminder that having an agent doesn't guarantee that publication will come easily. Are you finding any differences in marketing adult crossover YA novels vs. a middle grade novel? What advice do you have on marketing a middle grade book and marketing in general for us aspiring authors?

Oh, it’s so different! For me, this has been the hardest part about going from adult to middle-grade. I’ve done many bookstore events over the past few months, the way I would for an adult novel, but very few actual kids have come to them; it’s been almost all adults. I’ve just started doing school visits, which I think is so much fun. But I haven’t yet taken books to a school to sell, so that’s an issue, too. So I wouldn’t say I’ve really cracked this! My publisher and I are putting together a website specifically for The Next Full Moon, which will have materials for teachers and information on author visits and Skype visits and so on. But this isn’t a world I really know too well, and right now I’m working hard to finish The Fairest of Them All, so haven’t been able to spend as much time on marketing as I’d like to.

As for marketing in general, I think you just want to draw attention to your book in ways that are seductive, engaging, fun, and not obnoxious..! Like for my last book, Mermaid, I put together a mermaid blog where I’ve interviewed all kinds of people about mermaids, from Tim Gunn to the Magnetic Fields to Alice Hoffman, and I’ve also been working on a special-edition magazine about mermaids that should be out this summer. Those projects aren’t just to market my book, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to create content people like that will lead them to your book. For The Fairest of Them All, we may release a short story related to the book a month or two in advance. And tons of other stuff: I’ve made temporary tattoos for all my books, I’ve tried to do very fun, cool events (like for Rain Village, which is about an old-time circus and sideshow, I did several events with circus/sideshow/burlesque performers), I’ve tried to reach a variety of audiences (from appearing at fairy festivals or places like Weeki Wachee Springs, where I did a signing last summer, to writing for/getting reviewed by teen and fantasy and fairytale and romance blogs as well as more general women’s/literary fiction ones), I’ve put ads on Facebook, I’ve made videos, I’ve sent out cards and special signed bookplates to booksellers. Lots of things! I don’t think you ever really 100% know what works and what doesn’t.

7.  Wow! You've figured out a lot of great ways to market YA books. I'm sure you'll find strategies for the middle grade market too. I’ve read that MERMAID is being developed by Sony Pictures as a movie. How exciting! Can you tell about this and what input you have into this.

Yes! It was optioned by Sony Pictures last year and Shana Feste, who wrote and directed Country Strong, is supposed to write and direct. I’m not involved at all in the script or the film, but I did read a finished script a couple of months ago. It’s a weird but very cool experience, seeing your own book retold in this way (Godmother was optioned a couple of times but never got to the script stage). But then, the novel itself is a retelling, so it’s only fitting! I really hope Mermaid ends up on the screen, but you never know what will happen.

8.  That's so exciting that the script's been written. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m revising The Fairest of Them All. And then I hope to go back and complete this crime novel I’ve had on hold for years. After that, I don’t know! I have a bunch of ideas lying about, including a kind of prequel to Mermaid and a sequel to The Next Full Moon, so we will see what happens!

You're definitely productive and full of ideas. Thanks Carolyn for sharing all your advice. You can find Carolyn at her website and her blog.

Carolyn generously offered a signed copy of her book to one lucky winner. 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 July 21st. I’ll announce the winner on July 23rd. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by ShannonWhitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check out the other Middle Grade group:

Brennan and Meyrick Murphy
Andrea Mack
Laurisa Reyes
Kim Aippersbach
Akossiwa Ketoglo
Julie from That's Swell
Jemi Fraser

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I'm interviewing Laurisa White Reyes and giving away a copy of her amazing book THE ROCK OF IVANHOE.

Wednesday that week Casey has a guest post scheduled with Shannon Wiersbitzky on staying focused and she's giving away THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS.

The following Monday I'm interviewing Lenny Lee for my ASK THE EXPERT series and sharing and giving away UNRAVELING and THE SELECTION.

Then Wednesday that week I'm interviewing Leigh Bardugo and giving away a copy of her fantasy SHADOW AND BONE. I've heard such amazing things about her book. I've been saving it to read this week and I can't for her interview. 

And don't forget Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday Agent Spotlights.

Have a great July 4th and see you next Monday!


Matthew MacNish said...

The idea of suddenly sprouting wings sounds like an incredible premise!

Barbara Watson said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! From the limited bit I know, the MG audience is a tough place to market. It's the librarians, teachers, and parents with the buying power but the kids who need to know about the book.

Vivien said...

This sounds like such a fun read. I could only imagine if I were younger....because I'm pretty sure this was one of my fantasies as a child :p Definitely intrigued!!
GFC: Vivien

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Mrs. Brown said...

This sounds like a great book. Middle School students need more books and this sounds like a great one to add to the classroom library!


Rachna Chhabria said...

Sounds like a good book. 4 years is a long time to find a publisher. Your determination and patience is amazing.

Kristin Lenz said...

Another great interview. Carolyn's stories remind me of Shannon Hale. I think it took a very long time for her first story (a fairytale retelling) to sell too, but she's gone on to great success. Congrats to Carolyn, and enjoy your much deserved vacation, Natalie!

nutschell said...

This book is right up my alley. Thanks for another great interview!

cleemckenzie said...

Fairy tales are a great resource for writers. They have all the elements for captivating stories. I enjoyed reading about this one with wings and feathers and fantastic change!

Beth said...

This book sounds charming!
And I'll try to remember to stop by the blog while you're on holidays. Sounds like you have some great giveaways coming up.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Can't wait to read Laurissa's interview next week. This one was awesome too! I love fairy tale retellings and it's always fun to hear journeys of others. :D

Shelli (srjohannes) said...


Thanks for stopping by the blog again. Hopefully this marketing e-book will help you find ways to utilize twitter and other social media.

Liesel K. Hill said...

Great interview! I'll try to stop by and comment on your reviews! :D

Steve MC said...

"The best book I ever rejected" - ACK! That's like the guy you like saying, "You're the best girl I ever rejected." What was it - your sneakers? :-)

Stina said...

I'll be here next week!

I couldn't imagine querying 10 years ago. There weren't too many agents excepting e-queries back then.

Thanks Natalie and Carolyn on the great interview and marketing tips.

Martha Ramirez said...

Your books sounds great! Fairest of Them All sounds very intriguing! And wow four years for your agent to find a publisher. Talk about patience. What a great story!

Rosi said...

Wonderful concept for a middle-grade book. I hope I can read this one soon.

Anubha said...

book sounds gr8... :)

thanks for the giveaway... anubha56(at)gmail(dot)com

Natasha said...

Sounds like a really good book! Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Linda A. said...

Please register me in this great giveaway. I want to read it. Who could resist a book where the character grows feathers and visits other worlds? Much continued success to you Carolyn. How wonderful to see your books go big screen. Thanks for another great interview Natalie!

Mary Preston said...

"Best book she'd ever rejected" - talk about good news, bad news.

I would love to read THE NEXT FULL MOON thank you.


Angela Brown said...

This was such a wonderful interview and true...a very helpful reminder that an agent does not automatically mean immediate publication. But it's cool reading about your journey, Carolyn. Thank you so much for sharing :-)

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks for a great interview! There is so much here I think I'll have to come back and read it again to learn some more.

Carolyn, I'll be looking for your novels - I love books that incorporate fairytales.

Anonymous said...

agreed with andrea - i don't think i could get all this good info down in one swoop! thank for sharing :)

Cathy Mealey said...

I'm sure your shy and self-conscious undertone will win THE NEXT FULL MOON many fans. Would love the ARC for my DD!

cathy54321 at hotmail dot com

Carolyn Turgeon said...

Thank you for all your lovely comments -- and thanks for the great interview, Natalie! =)


Unknown said...

Thanks for the great interview and giveaway!

bookwormsusanna AT gmail DOT com

Cheap Laptop bag backpack said...

Great advice good for all ages. Must inportant to develop a happy way of life.

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

I'd love to read the book you wrote as a child!!! lovely interview and what a great book!

aliasgirl at libero dot it

Veronika said...

Great post! My TBR pile is growing all the time I visit this blog :DD Awesome work!

verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

Books4Learning said...

I am loving reading your blog and hearing about all these experiences in publishing. The Next Full Moon sounds like a fascinating read.

Anonymous said...

Great interview- the marketing ideas alone are so fun and different.

Llehn said...

I'd love to play please.

Already a follower.