Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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Hi Everyone! For those of you doing NaNo, I hope your writing is going well. With my daughter's high school swim schedule, it doesn't work for me. We were at the pool all day last Friday and Saturday for the championship meets. Can I brag a bit? She's on the high school State team for a relay! She had a great meet last weekend but didn't get her state cut for backstroke. She needed to swim 100 yards in 101.49 minutes and made it at 101.66 minutes. We didn't even think she might make it until the meet the week before when she cut more time. She handled the disappointment really well. She was sad for about an hour, but then got over it and realized how much she accomplished this swim season. I was so proud of her. Then the next day her coach called her to be on the State team. So we'll be going to the State championships this weekend.

It reminds me of when we come so close to getting an agent or a publishing contract, but it doesn't work out. We need to pick ourselves up and appreciate all we've accomplished and move on to the next good thing in our writing life.

So before I get to our interview,, I have some winners to announce.

The winner of THE CRIMSON CROWN is Tricia C!


The winner of NEVERLOVE is Jody Lamb!

The winner of GIVIN UP THE GHOST is Donna Weaver!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. If I haven't heard from you by the end of Wednesday I'll have to pick a new winner.

Today I’m excited to help debut author J.A. Souders celebrate the release of her book RENEGADE, which releases in the United States tomorrow. I’ve been so excited to read her book that I checked NetGalley daily to see if it was up there yet. Because of NetGalley upgrades and Hurricane Sandy, I haven't gotten it yet, but Jessica is going to send me an ARC. So I'll be checking my mail daily.

Here’s a blurb about RENEGADE from Goodreads

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.

Her memories have been altered.

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

See why I'm dying to read this?

Hi Jessica. Thanks so much for joining us.

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer.
I don’t think I became a writer, I think I always was one. ; )  It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed doing.
I lived in Wisconsin for the first 13 years of my life and I loved it, but when I moved to Florida, I knew I was “home.” I met my husband in high school and I joined the Navy when I was 18.  A few years later, I was medically discharged and I came back home to work in the nursing field in Oncology. A few years later, I had my daughter and stayed home with her. Eventually, I realized I was missing writing and I got back into it with a vengeance.  Now it’s like air. I’m not sure how I lived without it before. ;)

  1. I can so relate to feeling you have to write. How did you come up with the idea for your story and how did your experiences as a marine biologist and living on a ship while in the Navy help you, if at all?
 I was half watching my son play the video game BIOSHOCK and half watching a documentary on the world’s fascination with perfection.  It all meshed in my head and the story was born.  The Navy and living on a ship for a while was a HUGE help while writing RENEGADE.  It gave me a huge font of information and personal experiences to draw from, including how large certain things would have to be for the amount of people I had living in Elysium, how they’d get food, what kind of sea life is out there, etc.

  1. I love hearing how authors get the inspiration for their stories. Many like you get their ideas from something in their everyday life. Share a bit about the Daughter of the People and the utopian world of Elysium.
Evelyn, or the Daughter of the People, is a little different than most people. She’s been raised to believe she’s the perfect person and she’s being groomed to take over for Mother the Governess Of Elysium, so she doesn’t really have a whole lot of friends. The only friends she has is a childhood friend she doesn’t get to see very much and a slew of suitors, Mother keeps throwing at her. Like all the Citizens, she’s actually quite content with her life—even if she knows there’s something wrong with her--and believes she’s on the fast track to having the perfect life. 

Elysium is a beautiful underwater city that’s split into different “Sectors.” Each Sector has it’s own purpose—like Medical, Engineering, the Palace, etc--and is set apart from other sectors in case of an emergency.  It’s sprawled across the bottom and sides of the trench like a giant octopus. 

  1. Ooh, I love your world building. What were some of the challenges you faced in creating Evie as a character, especially since she discovers that everything she knows is a lie, and how did you overcome them?
Evie’s character was extremely challenging, I think mostly because she’s unreliable as a narrator. Not to mention, I had to show all her facets and she’s so different at times, it was like writing two different characters. It was extremely hard to show how she sees things and how perfect she thinks she is without making her an unlikeable character. And how perfect and beautiful she sees her world, when in fact, it’s not.  Plus I wanted to show how strong she is, even when she’s not that strong and it was hard striking that balance.  Plus, because of certain things in her past, she’s fairly emotionless. Not on the inside. Inside she’s bursting with so many emotions it was hard to get through them to her core, but outside she always had to appear calm and cool. Collected. And it’s hard to show her emotions, when you can’t use simple body language to convey it.

  1. It sounds like you had a lot to balance in creating Evie. Natalie Lakosil is your agent. She’s one of the agents that I’d love to be represented by. Share about your road to obtaining an agent and a publisher.
I LOVE Natalie! She’s an awesome agent. Anyone (including me) would be extremely lucky to be repped by her.  My road was fairly simple and fast, and I’m so grateful for it, but it still seems like it’s all a dream. Basically, I wrote a book ( a really crappy book) and queried it just knowing it was the next best-seller. Not surprisingly it was rejected. A lot. So I wrote another. This is when I found my first crit partner. She helped me make it shine and taught me so much about writing.  I queried it, got a few bites, then decided it just wasn’t what I wanted to debut with. Then I wrote yet another story. Shined it to perfection and queried it. I found Natalie through Absolute Write and got a little buzz, so I sent her a query. About a month later, she asked for a full, and after a short “beauty contest” she became my agent. Unfortunately, that book hasn’t found a home yet, but Natalie didn’t give up on me and I kept writing. I wrote a second book, but the market was too glutted with angel stories for it to sell. Finally, my third book sold to Mel Frain at Tor Teen after about 5 weeks on sub.

  1. That's great how you and Natalie kept at it until you wrote a book she was able to sell. We all hope to have an agent like that. RENEGADE already debuted in Germany on August 20, 2012 and I’ve seen a number of reviews on Goodreads in German (which I can’t read). How did your book release in Germany first and what’s it been like debuting in a different country? How are you reaching out to your readers there?
Well, the situation for getting a foreign deal is the same as getting a domestic one, so I won’t bore you with the details, but basically Piper had an empty slot in their fall releases and the editor, Beatrice, loved Renegade. They asked me if it was all right that Renegade released first there and I said yes.  It was strange debuting in a different county, because…well, it’s hard to read the reviews! LOL. I was extremely worried about the release, because I just didn’t know how it was going to be taken, but Piper—especially Beatrice—and the readers over there have just been fantastic and I’m so glad I debuted over there first because it gave me a taste of how my launch would do here without all the stress. LOL.
I haven’t really been able to reach out to readers there as much as I’d like, but I’ve offered them a free short story and Piper is doing a fantastic job without me. ; )

  1. That's awesome that Piper did such a great job promoting your book in Germany. What are your plans for marketing RENEGADE in the United States? What advice on marketing as a debut author do you have for us aspiring authors?
I love reaching out to readers, so I plan on doing a lot of signings and talks, going to schools and conferences. That kind of thing. I also have a street team (The Elysium Underground) set up that’s similar to Gretchen McNeil’s Army of Ten. Mostly I’m just going to play it by ear and see where it goes. I love social media, so twittering and Facebooking is a huge part of my marketing plan. I think the best piece of advice for any writer is to only do what you’re comfortable with. There’s no sense in stressing yourself out about marketing your book when you should be writing your next book.

  1. I love the advice not to stress out. What are you working on now?
I’m working on a SEKRIT project that I’m really excited about and also book 3 in the Elysium Chronicles.  

Thanks Jessica for sharing all your advice. You can find Jessica a:

Jessica has generously offered an ARC for a giveaway.  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 December 8th. I’ll announce the winner on December 10th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. 

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

And don't forget to enter my giveaway contests for THE SPINDLERS, CONJURE, and ROOTLESS. The links are at the top of the blog.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday I'm interviewing agent Mary Kole and giving away a copy of her new book, WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Reader. We'll also be talking about what she's looking for in submissions so be sure to stop by.

Next Monday I'm interviewing Victoria Strauss and giving away a copy of her new YA book, PASSION BLUE. I decided to interview her when I saw her author blurbs from Robin McKinley, Jane Yolan, and Megan Whaeln Turner. Victoria is also the co-founder of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that watches and reports on literary fraud and scams. We'll discuss Writer Beware as well.

The following Monday, I'm interviewing Corrine Jackson and giving away a copy of her new book, TOUCHED. And she just had her debut book, BEFORE I LIE, release in September. So it should be an interesting interview.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you Wednesday!


Beth said...

Congratulations to all the winners, and special congratulations to your daughter! Isn't it wonderful to see your child work really hard and achieve personal bests? Be sure to tell us how she does in the states!

Andrea Mack said...

Natalie, your daughter is inspiring! Thanks for sharing about her determination and success!

Renegade sounds interesting. I enjoy reading about the ideas behind a book and how it develops. Thanks for the interview.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I can't even tell you how excited I am for Jessica. She is an amazing writer, Oasis for YA sister, and all around person. She so deserves this!

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats to Jessica for sticking it out and continuing to write - that was a great agent story to share - sometimes it takes several books before one sells.

Congrats to your daughter, Natalie. She's got such a supportive mom!

Creepy Query Girl said...

OMG! Huge congrats Jessica! RENEGADE sounds like such a unique read with tons of high stakes. (right up my alley). Totally devoured the story behind it and how you and your agent kept going until it happened! And how funny (and frusterating) it must be to have a book release but have the reviews be in a foriegn language.

And congrats to your daughter Nat! I can tell you're one proud momma!

Martina Boone said...

Another fantastic interview, thanks, Natalie! Congrats to your daughter. State! Wow, that's wonderful -- and yeah, so time consuming for you and her. Good luck to her with the swimming. (I love that you're bragging about her ;))

Congrats, Jessica! I'm so excited to read RENEGADE and so excited for you! Love Natalie's tenacity and your belief in each other!!!!



Unknown said...

Thanks for the interview and giveaway, and congrats to your daughter!

bookwormsusanna AT gmail DOT com

Kessie said...

Oh wow, I think your daughter should have won anyway. That's amazing.

Also, Renegade sounds reaaaaallly interesting. I might just add it to my Christmas list. :-)

Pili said...

Renegade is on my TBR list, so I'm super happy of the chance to get an ARC!

Big congratulations to your daughter, I'm sure she'll do great!

Barbara Watson said...

Love the personal update on your daughter!

And every time I hear stories like Jessica's -- the keep at it variety -- I'm encouraged. I know it takes work, work, and more work. Along with a whole lot of writing. :-)

LTM said...

First, super congrats to your daughter, Natalie! That's a fantastic time! And Yay for JA. Renegade looks like a gorgeous book. <3

Lydia Kang said...

That is an exciting premise. Sounds really good!

Carina Olsen said...

Ohh. Want this ARC. <3 Cannot wait to read Renegade :) It sounds amazing :) Thank you for sharing. <3 :) Also! Congrats to your daugther :D So amazing ;)
Love, Carina

Lili said...

This book is at the very top of my TBR list! Thank you so much for the opportunity to win! I've been following for a while as Lili via GFC.

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview. Sounds like a great book!

Stina said...

That's one way to keep from reading your reviews--have them in a language you can't read. :D

Thanks for the great interview, Natalie and J.A. I always love hearing the agent stories.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Congrats to your daughter! That's fantastic.

Nice interview, Natalie and Jessica. Natalie Lakosil is one of my dream agents. And the book sounds cool. But please give the ARC to someone else since I won three books last week.

The Clements Family said...

Thanks for the interview. I like the concept of the book. Can't wait to read it!

Neysa Kristanti said...

The blurb sounds really intriguing!
I would really love to read this. And it's nice to read that Evelyn was not all that perfect protagonist. Nice Interview!

Email :mnkbooklife(at)yahoo(dot)com

Eli Yanti said...

Congrats to your daughter, Natali.

Happy Release for Renegade, J.A, love the exerpt

Laura Pauling said...

What an encouraging story for writers still on submission or writing another story for their agent. It's not always the first book that gets a deal or makes the sales. All we can do is keep writing! Congrats to JA souders!

Jennifer G W said...

Great interview and thanks for the giveaway!!
GFC - Jennifer Wheeler
Tweet - https://twitter.com/JenniferGWI/status/268648615784886272
jenni_bearz at hotmail dot com

becca fowler said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

Veronika said...

I've heard amazing things about this book! I definitely want to read Renegade! Thank you for the interview!
GFC: Veronika
verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

Rachel Hanley said...

Just finished Renegade. I thought it was amazing, particularly both the beginning and the ending. They have a similar creepy, eerie "wait. what's going on?" sense.

And I loved that Evie is an unreliable narrator. The fact that she can't even trust herself contributed to the suspense of the story.

Vivien said...

GaH!!!! This sounds like such a great read. I've been following her on twitter and the anticipation for this novel is just killer. Glad she got to word out to international readers!
GFC: Vivien

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Rachna Chhabria said...

Intriguing premise. The title is cool and I love the cover.

"Her memories have been altered.
Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.
And the person she knows as Mother is a monster."

These three hooks are super intriguing.

Sabrina said...

Renegade sounds really interesting, it's been on my wishlist for a while now.

Thanks for the give away!

sabrix333 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Oh, I can't wait to read this book! Renegade sounds absolutely amazing. :) It's very interesting that the book has been published in Germany first. :)

Thank you for the awesome giveaway! <3

my_saphira (at) yahoo (dot) co (dot) id

Mary Campbell said...

Sounds like a really interesting premise. Want to read.
gmail - marycampbell1975(at)gmail(dot)com

Jillyn said...

GFC: Jillyn

Thanks so much for the giveaway!

Videoclimber said...

I have been looking forward to this book.

Kayley said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

GFC: Kayley Freshman-Caffrey

Natasha said...

Thanks for the chance to win!
I can't wait to read this one!!
I follow by email.
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Cricket said...

This sounds great!
GFC Cricket
lilcrickit at gmail dot com

Jana said...

Thank you so much for the chance to win!
GFC: Jeanne

Stephanie Garber said...

Renegade sounds great! I also loved reading about how Jessica came to be represented by Natalie, and the journey she went on after that! Her perseverance is so encouraging!

Thanks for the giveaway and the interview!

sngarber (@) gmail (dot) com

Christina Marie Morales said...

Sounds like such a great read, can't wait to get my hands on it. Tweeted and posted on Facebook About this awesome book.

Gigi said...

YAYYYYYYYYYYY! Renegade!! Oh my! Pick me!
GFC: Gisele Alvarado


Anonymous said...

This book sounds fabulous :)
I follow via GFC- Kirsten!