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.


Hi Everyone! Hope you're having a good day. Just to give you the heads up, my mom is here and we're having a great time. Today's her last day here so I probably won't get to many of your blogs today. Hope you understand.

Next, the winners of TEXTING THE UNDERWORLD are DM and Emily King!

Congrats! E-mail me your addresses so I can have the publisher send you your books. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I’m thrilled to have C.J. Redwine back to share about her new novel, DECEPTION, which is the second book in her series and releases tomorrow. You can read her very popular interview when her first book, DEFIANCE, was released last August HERE.

This is a fantastic second book in this series. I really loved how C.J. took the story in a totally new direction that I didn’t anticipate. There were also twists and revelations about Rachel and Logan, the main characters, which I didn’t expect. And even if you haven’t read DEFIANCE, C.J. has given you just the right amount of back story so you could read and enjoy DECEPTION.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander's whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father's death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it's up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington's army, who is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.

But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one. The chaos and uncertainty of each day puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn't long before they feel their love splintering. Even worse, as it becomes clear that the Commander will stop at nothing to destroy them, the band of survivors begins to question whether the price of freedom may be too great—and whether, hunted by their enemies and the murderous traitor in their midst, they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.

In this daring sequel to Defiance, with the world they once loved forever destroyed, Rachel and Logan must decide between a life on the run and standing their ground to fight.

Hi C.J. Welcome back!

1. For those who haven’t read DEFIANCE, tell us a bit about it.

The short summary is this: Defiance is about a girl who commits treason against the brutal leader of her city-state in order to escape into the Wasteland beyond and rescue her father. She ends up starting a war that was twenty years in the making. It has swoony almost-kisses, tragedy, swords, explosives, and a dragon that tunnels up from underground. It also has a hot boy who is a genius inventor and who can kick butt in a fight.

2. I love that description. It’s so full of words that make you want to read the book. I’m always interested to know how a writer develops a series. When you wrote DEFIANCE, did you know it would be a series? How much of the rest of Rachel and Logan’s story did you know as you wrote your first book? What advice do you have for the rest of us thinking of writing a series?

I didn’t know Defiance was a series until I was halfway through the first draft and realized there was absolutely no way I could fit all of the plot into one book. I sat down to write the full synopsis and realized I couldn’t fit all of the plot into TWO books either, so I planned it as a trilogy. I knew the overall plot arc for the series. I knew the major things that would happen and why (what drove the characters to make those choices), but I got to discover all the stuff in between the major plot points as I was writing.

My advice to those thinking of writing a series is … don’t. No, not really. But seriously, it’s hard. That second book has to accomplish so much more than the first. You have to hit the pacing just right so that the book has its own story arcs but also fits perfectly into the overall series arc. You need to continuously provide emotional growth for your characters. And you have to keep the action and the stakes as high or higher than your first book. It’s a challenge! If you’re going to do it, make sure you’ve got plenty of plot, plenty of problems, and plenty of emotional conflict to sustain the entire series.

3. That’s great advice—know the arc of your story and have problems, plot, and emotional conflict. When I started DECEPTION, I thought it might be about Rachel and Logan rebuilding Baalboden, the city-state they lived in. But you decided to take the story in a completely different and fantastic direction. What made you decide to do this?

Most of my decisions are because of what my characters are doing. I like my plots to be very driven by
the choices my characters make. In the case of Deception, my characters didn’t have the time (or the resources) to stay and rebuild. They have two formidable enemies after them, and their only chance for survival is to gain allies as fast as possible. The only way to do that is to leave Baalboden and strike out for other city-states. I hope the readers enjoy seeing another city-state! Each one is so different from the others.

4. I really enjoyed seeing more of their world. Rachel is an even more fascinating character in this book. Not only do we see her fiery nature but also all her pain. And you show it all in the midst of the action. What if any challenges did you face in showing her grow as a character in this book?

I knew Rachel’s emotional arc in this book better than I knew the plot, actually. The challenge for me was to balance her pain and how she deals with it with action so that the reader doesn’t get mired down in Rachel’s difficulties, but can still relate to her and feel empathetic for her.

5. I thought you did a great job of combining Rachel’s emotional growth with the action of the story. And some books don’t do such a great job of this and their characters sound whiny.

So it’s been a year since your first book was released. In retrospect, what worked marketing-wise and what didn’t? What advice do you have for other authors who signed a book contract and are looking ahead to the release of their first book?

What worked: Being a cheerleader for others often. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I’ve been doing it for years. I love sharing books I’ve read with others and talking them up both online and in person. I still do that. I don’t know that it markets my book, per say, but it continues to build a community of book lovers around me, and whether they choose to buy the Defiance series or not, that community is pretty awesome.

Also, I spent my marketing “gold” carefully. I made the cover reveal an event, I did fewer book giveaways but made them a huge thing, I did an annotated ARC giveaway to make it something special, and I did blog tours with bloggers I’d developed relationships with. Also, I got to know my local booksellers and librarians.

What didn’t work: I took on too many guest posts last time around. Those are actually really time-consuming and difficult to do in the midst of editing the next book. It was hard to force myself to be creative and interesting for a guest post and then turn around and try to be creative and interesting for my draft. The book has to come first. Always.

Advice for authors getting ready to debut: Remember that you don’t have to care what everyone thinks of you or of your book. My motto is “If I wouldn’t cry for you at your funeral, I don’t have to care what you think of me now.” Don’t read reviews if it kills your creativity or makes you nutty. Write consistently because inventory is more important than blogging or social networking. And above all else, don’t be a douche to anyone.

5. Not overdoing it sounds like a good approach. And I love the shouting out about other authors and books ideas since I already do that here. Are you promoting DECEPTION differently than DEFIANCE? How so and why?

A little bit. I’m doing less guest posts and less blog tours. I’m doing a four city tour. It’s a little easier to do the whole less-but-epic-when-I-do-something this time around because I have more of a built-in readership than last time.

6. I notice that you’re not blogging that much. What are your favorite ways to engage in social networking and why? What tips do you have for the rest of us on using this type of social networking?

Yes, I had to stop blogging midway through last year. I hated stopping, but it was that or get a straitjacket. My personal life derailed last year (two kids in serious accidents and hospitalized/therapy for months etc) right before Defiance debuted, I was traveling constantly, and I was rewriting Deception for what felt like forever. Something had to give.

I use Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook, and Blogger. Blogger is now mostly for updates and news. Tumblr is for random stuff I happen to feel like throwing on there. Could be a very personal post (like the one I did to explain why I regressed women’s rights in Defiance) or could be a Benedict Cumberbatch gif. I put no pressure on myself for my Tumblr. It’s random and spontaneous. Pinterest is crack, so … yeah. I don’t use that to network. I use it for story boarding my projects and for fandoms and recipes. I mostly network on Twitter and Facebook. I check in a few times a day, respond to people who’ve talked to me, and maybe say a few things. I try to be accessible and interesting, without being whiny or TMI about personal stuff. I also work hard to balance self-promo with promoting others or with just fun, random stuff. If I promote my books, my signings, or my workshops, I then make sure I focus on other stuff right away too. I personally loathe seeing my tweet stream (or FB page) filled with nothing but self promo and ME ME ME LOOOOOOOOK AT ME. So I avoid that. I guess I just treat it like it’s a way to be fun and accessible. And I give myself time limits on all of it because I don’t get paid to tweet. I get paid to write books. 

7. So sorry about your kids being in accidents. That must have been hard to just write then. And yeah, I don’t think anyone likes the ME, ME, ME, tweets or posts. That’s a great idea to promote someone else right after you promote yourself. And I so need the time limits. At the end of DECEPTION, in the acknowledgments you thank your readers. How are you reaching out and engaging them?

My readers are AWESOME. I’ve met so many incredible people through this experience. It’s just humbling and amazing. I engage my readers via social networking, for one. I always respond to tweets or comments. I also respond to email. I have a newsletter (sign up is on the sidebar of my blog) that goes out occasionally, too. And I try to do enough events (both online and in person) to give my readers a chance to connect with me if they want to.

8. What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing the edits on Defiance 3. I’m also working on two new series. One is high fantasy inspired by fairy tales (but not strict retellings). One is urban fantasy that is basically … Percy Jackson meets Supernatural. We’ll see which series I end up selling first. 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, C.J. You can find C.J. at

C.J.’s publisher, Baltzer + Bray, generously offered an ARC of DECEPTION 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 September 7th. I’ll announce the winner on September 10th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday, I’m giving away a copy of ITCH, THE EXPLOSIVE ADVENTURES OF AN ELEMENT HUNTER by Simon Mayo. He’s a very popular DJ in England. It’s a middle grade story about a boy who needs his science know how to keep him ahead of a malevolent corporation and a top-secret government agency. It’s gotten great reviews and I’m hoping you and your middle grade kids might enjoy it.

Next Monday is Labor Day and I’m participating in a Sequels Blog Hop Giveaway. I’ll have lots of great sequels for you to choose from. Don’t worry if you’re busy on Monday having fun. The contest will run through September 9th.

Next Wednesday I’m thrilled to share an interview with Mari Mancusi and a giveaway of SCORCHED, a dystopian/fantasy/time travel story. I’ve been excited about this book since I read the book sale blurb in PW Children’s Bookshelf. And I was not disappointed. It’s fantastic and I can’t wait to share it with you. I’m sure Mari with have lots of advice for us because she’s also the author of another 8 book series.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Caroline Carlson and giving away a copy of MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT. It’s a fantastic pirate adventure story with a bit of fantasy as well. It’s my first pirate story and I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday next week I’ll have a special Tuesday tip interview with Daniel Alexander who is the 20-year old author of two books and a new picture book, A SWIM THROUGH SPACE, which he’s offering for a giveaway. He has 28,000 Twitter followers and he’s going to share some advice on Twitter. I’m really excited for the tips because I’m not sure exactly what to do on Twitter and I’ve heard this from a number of writers.

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

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


miki said...

Sometimes real life really comes in the way and things looks impossible to overcome... i'm glad the children are better now

thank you for the international giveaway
gfc: miki
bloglovin username: mikilectureaventure


Mark A Morris said...

I'd love the ARC of Deception. (And I've also mentioned the competition on my Facebook account.)

It sounds such a good book. And well worth buying Defiance whether I get the ARC or not!

Joni said...

I haven't read book one- but after this interview I'm looking forward to! These sound really good... Thanks for the giveaway!
blacklaceblonde (at) yahoo (dot) com

CG @ Paper Fury said...

I'm tweeting the giveaway! notebooksisters AT gmail DOT com

I love the sound of this series. I've heard a loooot of good things about the first book. Eeep! Delicious! I need to find myself a copy and eat it. Er...I mean, read it.

Old Kitty said...

All the best with the adventures of Logan and Rachel, CJ! Gosh how they suffer!!

Great advice for budding writers too!

Enjoy your mum's visit, Natalie! Take care

Beth said...

This was a really interesting interview. I loved that she knew the character arc better than the plot! And so sorry to hear about her kids' accidents - that must have been traumatic. Wishing her all the best with this book!

Beth said...

Also, I just tweeted the contest!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great interview - CJ is terrific and I loved Defiance! Looking forward to Deception too :)
Hope the kids are well now - sorry to hear about the accidents

Vivien said...

CJ is an awesome lady!! I love reading her motivational posts, especially when it comes to women and their rights. I cannot wait to read Deception :)
GFC: Vivien

kellis_amberlee at yahoo dot com

Martina Boone said...

I just recently read Defiance and love it. Looking forward to Deception. I did tweet this, but I'm happy to wait and buy the book when it comes out, so please give my entries to someone else. I mostly wanted to say that I hope you have a fantastic last day with your Mom!

S.P. Bowers said...

C.J. Love that cover! So pretty, it's just the color that would catch my eye. Sorry about your children's accidents. Hope this release goes better.

Have fun with your mom, Natalie.

Patchi said...

I bought Defiance last month and it's next on my TBR pile. I'd love to win Deception, it sounds like a great sequel :)

Crystal Collier said...

OH, Defiance is totally on my TBR list, and has been for forever. Bumping it to the top, now. MUST PERFECT TIME STOPPER! ;)

Anonymous said...

I love this series and can't wait for Deception!

GFC follower name: Ruthsic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ruthsic/status/372062296081592320

Thanks for the giveaway!

Angela Brown said...

Thanks for the interview. It was wonderful learning more about C.J. :-) Though the accidents with your children occurred, it sounds like things have gotten better, and continue to do so.

Jessie Humphries said...

Absolutely interview gold! I have been searching for this kind of advice lately. Leave it to you, Natalie, to red my mind and do the community a solid! Chest bump!

Unknown said...

I loved defiance and can't wait to read Deception! And I just adore the covers on this series!



Congrats on the new release!

Cherie Reich said...

Defiance and Deception sound like great reads! Congrats, CJ! By the way, I love what you said on marketing. Making something an event sounds great as well as not overdoing the blog tour.

Brenda said...

Congrats to CJ on the new release, Defiance sounds to good to skip reading first so please don't enter me. I hope you have a great last day with your mom Natalie.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Great interview, and oh, I love that cover! Enjoy your last day with your mom.

Lydia Kang said...

I feel very similarly about social media, though I'm trying to be better about blogging lately. Great interview!

Gwen Gardner said...

Wonderful interview, CJ and Natalie. It really makes me want to read it - I especially love dystopian type novels. Congrats on the new release. I'm so glad you kids are alright.

Leigh Covington said...

Congrats to the winners & C.J's book sounds great! Definitely going on my TBR list!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Twitter streams with nothing but self-promotion make me cringe as well.
Congratulations on your book, CJ, especially after what you went through last year.
And yes, that second book has to be so much better and the third even more!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats to Emily. Lucky her.

The books sounds awesome and the cover rocks.

cleemckenzie said...

Very nicely done interview and the book sounds intriguing. Good luck with it.

Rosi said...

Very interesting interview. The book looks great, but please don't enter me in the drawing. My TBR list is just too long right now. Thanks for the post.

Carina Olsen said...

Yay! Awesome interview. <3 thank you for sharing :) I would love love love to win an ARC of Deception <3 Cannot wait to read the book, loved Defiance.

MeganC said...

C.J. I just have to say that I am HUGE fan! I loved Defiance, and can't wait to read what else you have up your sleeve. If any of you love her books, you should check her out on Pinterest. She posts a bunch of cool images that sparked ideas for her books. Thanks for another great interview, Natalie! Hope your mom had fun!

Natasha said...

Great interview!
I can't wait to read Deception!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

I loved C.J.'s discussion about all the things that have to be in a sequel. She's so right. Wishing her much success with her new book! :-)

Mary Preston said...

Always great to learn some background info thank you.


Ashfa said...

Love the cover of Deception and dying to get my hands on it

GFC-Ashfa Anwer

Tweeted: https://twitter.com/TopsyTurvy_Ash/status/372673797452599297


_Sandra_ said...

Great interview, absolutely loved the first book and super excited for Deception. :)
Thanks for a giveaway!
sandra.zg.13 @ gmail.com
GFC - Sandra K
tweet - https://twitter.com/_Sandra_R_/status/372784616303628288
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/107598100375357110332/posts/QEEvot1xRwU

Christine said...

So excited to read Deception.


Btw. I followed you on GFC under the name Christine H.

Jill the OWL said...

Percy Jackson meets Supernatural!!! That I've got to read!

Danielle H. said...

I can't wait to read Deception! I will post this on Facebook. Thank you for the giveaway!

Shannon said...

Following via GFC (email - maechlingsl AT gmail)

Shared via Twitter: https://twitter.com/maechs/status/374625341693652993

Thanks for the giveaway!!!

Tia ShadowRealm said...

Bloglovin' Tia ShadowRealm

email: theshadowrealmt(at)gmail(dot)com

Shared: https://twitter.com/tiashadowrealm/status/374653343584358400

Thanks for the giveaway! :D

Ari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sarah said...

Thanks for giveaway I loved book 1.
gfc:sarah kozlowski

Rachna Chhabria said...

Deception sounds like a great read. Looking forward to reading it.