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.


Happy Monday! I hope all of you on the East coast are safe and have heat and electricity. I've been thinking of you all weekend.

Also, Happy Chinese New Year to any of you who celebrate this. We had our annual Families with Children from China adoption support group (I founded it before I adopted Anna Li) Chinese New Year Party on Saturday. It was a fantastic time. Over 100 people and kids attended. Anna Li and her best friend did an awesome job running the prize table. We didn't have that many volunteers but we got it all done and everyone had a great time.

Before I get to our interview, I've got a few things to share. First, there's two free online conferences coming up.

WriteOnCon has announced the agents and genres for their Mid-Winter Pitch-Fest. And the forums will be open from February 18-March 10. There will be posts, advice, and tips from top industry professionals too. I can't wait! Go to the WriteOnCon website HERE for details. (FYI, it's not up as of Sunday am on the website, but should be up there soon. I found out from their newsletter, which you can sign up for on their website.)

IndieReCon,, the indie online conference, is happening February 19-21. I'm not planning to self-publish right now, but I'm thinking that I can learn a lot from the conference, including about marketing. So I'll go when I can as I'll also be at work. You can register and find out more info about the conference at the IndieReCon website HERE.

Finally, Ellen Oh, the debut author of PROPHECY, wrote a fantastic post about the need for diversity in kid's literature and has some great book recommendations. Having a daughter adopted from China, I totally agree with her that there aren't enough books that minority kids can see themselves in. Read her post HERE.

Today I’m excited to interview debut author Elsie Chapman about DUALED, her dystopian book that releases on February 26, 2013. I really enjoyed the dystopian world Elsie created where everyone has a genetic alternate and sometime in their youth, they are forced to battle the alternate to see who is stronger and will survive. It’s a fascinating concept. I enjoyed watching West once she gets her assignment and only has one month to kill her mirror self.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

Hi Elsie. Thanks so much for joining us.

Hi Natalie, and thank you so much for having me!

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

I remember as a kid wanting to grow up to be an author. But it seemed very unattainable, nearly impossible, and authors never seemed entirely real to me, so over time I stopped writing creatively. It wasn’t until my kids were older and I had more time to myself that I started thinking about writing again.

2. It's awesome that you've gotten to do what you wanted as a kid. How did you come up with the idea for your story?

My son asked me one day how could we be sure we all didn’t have twins out there who we just didn’t know about? It came out of the blue, and even as I answered him as well as I could, it got the wheels turning.

3. That's a funny way to get an idea for a story. And it's one I'm sure your son will cherish too. One of the things I found interesting about DUALED was that West’s journey was very much one of being alone much of the time. There was much more narration and less dialogue than some stories. Share why you decided to tell the story in this fashion and the challenges of writing your story this way.

It actually just happened that way on its own. The bones of the story have remained the same, even during revisions and edits, and they’ve always been of a more reflective nature. West being alone so much of the time really is the best fit for the story since it’s about her learning how to fight one-on-one, against an enemy who is essentially herself.

4. Well, you did it very masterfully. I read that you were a panster with this story but with book 2 in the series you plotted it out. What have you learned from using both techniques and what advice do you have for the rest of us?

I love the fluidity of pansting, where you can just write and write and simply focus on getting everything from your head onto paper, so to speak. It’s only afterward during revisions and edits that plot holes and inconsistencies will pop out. The biggest problem in having to fix all that is that whatever you change will most likely also alter anything that happens afterward, as well. It’s very much a domino effect. So with DUALED, while the first draft went very quickly, revisions took me longer. With DIVIDED, I decided to try a heavily detailed outline first. It made drafting a much more structured, controlled process that took longer, but hopefully it also means lighter revisions. Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses, and I think each writer needs to find what works best for them. A lot of the time it ends up being something in between.

5. Yes, I think we learn what makes the revision process take too long and try to correct it in our next book. Share a bit about your world building and why you developed the story as an internal struggle for West versus a struggle against the world as many dystopian stories go?

I did know I wanted something a bit different. A lot of dystopians involve a large-scale rebellion of some kind, and I still really love stories that do this. So with DUALED, while I wanted to keep that sense of struggle and having to fight, I just put a bit of a twist on it by having West’s main conflict be with herself.

6. Yes, that definitely made your story unique. Your agent is Steven Chudney. How did he become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I was very fortunate to have multiple offers of representation, all from incredibly fantastic agents. But Steven was the first to get back to me, and his enthusiasm for DUALED really left an impression. After I signed with him, I worked on some minor edits before we went on submission. Random House came forward with an offer a few months later, and I have to tell you, getting that phone call from Steven was one of the best moments of my life. Because it’s really hard, that waiting period in between—on some days you feel absolutely delusional about your own abilities, and you’re so low you can’t even think about trying to work on something else; on others you realize how very lucky you are to be on submission, that it wasn’t just luck that got you that far, and it’s actually motivating.

7. Wow! That's awesome you had multiple offers from agents. What’s your advice on steps to take in marketing during the year leading up to the release of your book?

The funny thing is, with editing and revising and drafting, I have less time than ever before. And there’s so much information and advice out there about what you’re supposed to do, or should be doing. It can be overwhelming. So to be honest, I believe that in the end, it’s going to come down to simple word of mouth and your book just finding readers that way. I think teens, especially, talk to each other about what they’re actually reading, and make recommendations and suggestions. My advice in terms of marketing is to do what interests you, or what you find enjoyable, but to not let it frustrate you or get in the way of what’s really important—writing your next book!

8. Great, non-stressful advice. Thanks. What are you working on now?

Edits for DIVIDED and also drafting up something new.

Thanks Elsie for sharing all your advice. You can find Elsie on her author Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Website. Also you can find her book at:

Elsie's publisher, Random House, 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 February 23rd. I'll announce the winner on February 25th. 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.

Here's what's coming up: 

On  Wednesday I have a fascinating interview with Chuck Sambuchino of Guide to Literary Agents about his new book, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM: THE KEYS TO BUILDING AN AUDIENCE, SELLING MORE BOOKS, AND FINDING SUCCESS AS AN AUTHOR, with a giveaway of his book. His book really got me thinking about how I can improve my platform and social networking. I'm really excited to share Chuck's advice and his book with you. Chuck's interview is filled with awesome advice whether you're an author or book review blogger. I can't encourage you enough to read his interview.

On Thursday I'll be doing a cover reveal for my friend Terry Johnson. I hope you'll stop by and congratulate her on her awesome cover.

Next Monday, I have an interview with a high school teen for my ASK THE EXPERT series and will be sharing and giving away THE CADET OF TILDOR, a fantastic debut fantasy and OBSIDIAN MIRROR, an urban fantasy by Catherine Fisher, one of my favorite authors. Even if you don't love the fantasy genre, I think you'll really enjoy these books because they don't have much magic and just great stories.

And Wednesday next week, Casey and I have a super awesome 3000 follower mega giveaway. You won't want to miss it.

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

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Steve MC said...

Awesome premise. Maybe I should get a kid of my own so he can tell me these things. :-)

But really, I like how you went with the internal conflict as much as the external. Like that Dylan line, "I fought with my twin, that enemy within, till both of us fell by the way."

And cool cover, too - it looks like they moved the shadow's hands up to make room for the text, but it also gives the feeling that there's someone else there in the picture, as close to her as her shadow.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a fantastic book! I'm going through the pantster-trying-to-be-a-plotter thing - so glad to hear of someone who's doing it successfully! :)

Psyche said...

Interesting story. I would like to join the giveaway.
GFC: Maly

Martina Boone said...

What a chilling premise! And I love that Elsie picked up her dream when her kids were older with an idea from one of her kids! That is completely wonderful. Thanks for another great interview, Natalie!

Stina said...

I'm looking forward to the Indie Con. It's sounds great.

That's great that your group has a party. The local hospital has an annual Christmas party for the NICU graduates. We haven't been in years.

The one thing I've learned, the more you plan the book in advance, the less revisions you'll need in the end. So while it might sound like would take longer to write a book if you have to plan it first, that's not necessarily so. :D

Bethany C Morrow said...

Dualed sounds wonderful! Can't wait to read it!

middle grade ninja said...

Happy Chinese New Year! I'll definitely be back for Chuck Sambuchino.

This is a great interview. You always ask the best questions and Chapman's thoughts on revision were exactly what I needed to hear this morning.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Your book sounds amazing, Elise. Very fresh! I love that. Best of luck with it, and thank you, Natalie, for an informative interview!

Linda Gray said...

Wonderful interview,Natalie. Many congratulations to Elise. It's so inspiring to read about the roads debut authors travel. I do love how the idea came from her son. That has a lot of resonance.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Whoa. What a trippy premise. I'm adding this book to my to-read list.

Jessy said...

Dualed sounds great, and I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win an early copy.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/JessyB015/status/300983444895326208

Niqab Lovers said...
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Lydia Kang said...

Hooray for Elsie and DUALED! I can't wait to read this. Elsie also such a great human being--I'm honored to be in the same debut class as her. :)

Ashfa said...

Sorry, wrong account.

Looks absolutely great!! I've read lots of good things on this book.
Tweeted- https://twitter.com/TopsyTurvy_Ash/status/300996988961439744

Unknown said...

Sounds like a good read. As a kid I was convinced that I had a doppelganger out there somewhere, but I never thought to kill him.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Terrific interview, Natalie and Elsie. I've heard of this, of course, and would love to read it.

Heather said...

Wow that is one heck of a concept, I love it! It was nice to meet Elsie and to hear about this book. I'll be checking it out for sure!

Barbara Watson said...

What an intriguing premise! When I was growing up, I was certain I had a twin 'out there somewhere.'

Jessie Humphries said...

These interviews are so awesome! Getting into these amazing author's heads is so interesting. I love Elsie's insight as to what its like to be on sub. And the hope of what that phone call will sound like when it comes! Thanks Elsie.

S.P. Bowers said...

Dualed sounds really interesting and I enjoy books with a lot of narration or introspection.

I've been wanting to participate in writeoncon but I think it will have to wait until the kids are a little more self sufficient.

Beth said...

Great interview. I can totally relate with her answer to #1, that being a writer seemed impossible when I was a kid. It's so gratifying to actually make it happen!

Chey said...

Children have the best imaginations. I'm glad that the idea for this book came from her son's question!

Laura @Bookish Treasures said...

I think this book sounds amazing! :)
GFC- laura @Bookish Treasures

Anonymous said...
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CG @ Paper Fury said...

I love dystopian! DUALED sounds like a really fresh idea! I've followed and my email is notebooksisters(at)gmail(dot)com.

Unknown said...

Love the twin concept! So creepy and endearing at the same time. Sounds like a great read!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Great interview . . . I will check out that book! And I can't wait for next week's interview from Chuck too! Wow--congrats on 3,000 followers! This is my first time visiting, so you have another new follower:-) I look forward to keeping up with all the happenings here~cheers!

Joshua David Bellin, Sci-Fi Author said...

Really interesting concept--I like the new spin on the old trope of the doppelganger/evil double. Should be a fun read!

cleemckenzie said...

Thanks for the interview and introducing us to the book. I might check out the WriteOnCon this year. I've never tried that.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Loved hearing the story behind Dualed! So much great stuff going on these days. It's hard to keep up, but awesome.

Anonymous said...
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Llehn said...

The premise is so intriguing!


Anonymous said...
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The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

I loved this interview. The story sounds fascinating and I love love LOVE that you had multiple agent offers. Congratulations!

Khanada said...

GREAT interview, Natalie - thanks!

This really sounds like a book I have to check out. I like that kind of marketing -- you love your book, you get out there and talk about it, and you just increase your chances of reaching someone who will love it, too.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Love this marketing advice!! Great interview! Can't wait to read this one! Would love to win a copy of Dualed!

Jill the OWL said...

I just love the concept of this book. Different than other things I've seen. Can't wait to read it.

Great interview. She has lots of knowledge to share!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the info on the events. Dualed sounds really interesting! Great post :)

SA said...

Sounds like a great book, and great interview.(phireife@gmail.com)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Elsie's book Dualed sounds wonderful. Good luck to her!

Silverlight said...

I cannot wait to read this book! Thanks for sharing this terrific interview!

GFC Follower

Pnrurbfantasyreview @ Hotmail.com

Carina Olsen said...

Ohh! I think that Dualed seems like an amazing book :D This post just made me so much more excited for it. <3 Thank you for sharing :D
Love, Carina

Neysa Kristanti said...

I really love the concept of this book! Nice interview, thanks for sharing :D

neysakristanti (at) yahoo (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview! Love the premise of this book. Thanks for the opportunity win a copy.

Raina @ The LUV'NV
(New GFC follower)

Unknown said...

Ah thanks for the interview! I'm really looking forward to picking up this book.

My email is: leavingforchicago@gmail.com
I mentioned the contest on twitter: https://twitter.com/herondalesduck/status/303007503627722753

Thank you again!

Na said...

It would be something if we all had a twin in this world! I like the insight you gave on your revision process. i also like seeing an internal conflict of some kidn with the characters, whether it's a big or minor thing.


Chantelle said...

Thanks for such an awesome giveaway! Really excited about this one, the interview was great.
email: chantelle(dot)ip(at)me(dot)com
GFC: chip
Shared on twitter: https://twitter.com/Readingfordays/status/303523922459111427

Nara said...

Thanks for the giveaway!! I'm excited about this one.
email: naralee94(at)hotmail(dot)com
GFC: naralee94
Twitter: https://twitter.com/greengp01/status/303662276609708032

Anonymous said...
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Rima said...

I've heard some great things about this book, would love to get my hands on it!
GFC: Rima
Tweet: https://twitter.com/rima1166/status/304131344529764352

Eli Yanti said...

sounds a great book :)

Anonymous said...
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Holly Bryan said...

Thanks for the great interview! I have been anxious to read this book ever since I read about it MONTHS AND MONTHS AGO, I think as someone's "waiting on wednesday" post. Really can't wait to read this - the concept is just fantastic. I hope that my own son can give ME an awesome idea like this someday....but seriously, I'm sure your son's very excited and very proud :)

My email is hmbryan(at)alumni(dot)duke(dot)edu

Also, tweeted this great post: https://mobile.twitter.com/hmbryan/status/304310017211920385

Unknown said...

Awesome contest!

I tweeted about the contest as well:)

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Heard good things about Dualed.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/queendsheena/status/304453674615324672

GFC: Sheena-kay Graham

Email: queendsheena@hotmail.com

Texas Book Lover said...

This book sounds like an interesting twist to the norm! I am really looking forward to reading it!

Thanks so much!
GFC: Texas Book Lover

Tweet: https://twitter.com/TexasBookLover/status/305024726068248576

mmafsmith AT gmail DOT com

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