Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • 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 Everyone! Hope you're having a good start to the week. I'm hard at work these days on my online Office class in preparation for a job search later this year and I'm actually getting some writing done too. That's one good thing about the frigid weather. I just want to stay inside and work.


Bish Denham recently published a picture book, ANANSI AND COMPANY. It looks like a really sweet story and I love the cover.

Here's a blurb:

How do you escape a hungry tiger? Why do ram-goats smell? What happens if you get too greedy? In this collection of ten retold Jamaican stories, Anansi the spider tricks, sings, and dances his way into and out of trouble. 

And Donna Weaver has a new book out, HOPE'S WATCH. It sounds fantastic.
Here's a blurb:

This little offering tells the story of Elle's first days after being kidnapped during a cruise excursion and then rescued, while the Coast Guard searches for her friend Lyn, who is now lost at sea. It fits nicely between A Change of Plans and Torn Canvas (Jori's tale) which releases in April.

You can find out more at: http://weavingataleortwo.blogspot.com/2014/01/hopes-watch-release.html

And David Powers King with his co-author Michael Jensen just sold their YA fantasy WOVEN to Scholastic to be published in Spring 2015. Go HERE to congratulate David.

I also have a winner to announce. The winner of my ASK THE EXPERT Giveaway is Tina F who picked THE ENCHANTER HEIR.

Cograts! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Rachel Searles here to share about her sci-fi MG novel THE LOST PLANET that releases tomorrow. This is a fantastic mystery and adventure story set in space. I loved learning about the planets Chase travels to and finding out with him who he really is. This is a great MG adventure story that will really appeal to boys as well as girls.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

This is what the boy is told:

• He woke up on planet Trucon, inside a fence he shouldn't have been able to pass.
• He has an annirad blaster wound to the back of his head.
• He has no memory.
• He is now under the protection of a mysterious benefactor.
• His name is Chase Garrety.

This is what Chase Garrety knows:

• He has a message: "Guide the star."
• Time is running out.
 Hi Rachel! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I always had my nose in either a book or a notebook from the time I was in first grade, and there was never a time when becoming a writer wasn’t in my overall game plan. But in college I studied political science and German, and then I moved to Munich and put off writing to just live life for a while. I went to grad school, got a great job, got married, and generally got caught up in other things until about 2010 when I realized that if I was ever going to fulfill my author dream, I needed to buckle down and actually write something. Once I got serious, it took me over two years to write and revise (and revise, and revise) this book, which sold in late 2012.

2. That’s great you came back to it and were able to sell your first book. Where did you get the idea for your story?

When I was trying to get serious with my writing, I tried a few different ideas, but I had a hard time sticking with a story for more than thirty pages, so I decided I needed to write something that was just fantastical and fun, like the big epic action movies I love. Space popped into my head as a setting where I could go nuts creating my own worlds, and the story developed organically from there.

3. That’s cool that you drew on the movies you like to watch. And I can see your story like a move. I found the world building in THE LOST PLANET fascinating. You didn’t just create the planet Trucon, but also other planets and space ships. This is a really inter-galactic adventure. Share your world building process. Did it all come from your imagination or did you have to do research in creating your world?

A lot of it came from my overactive imagination, but I definitely read up on astronomy, physics, and space travel. Some of the cultural world building elements bled over from ideas I remembered from my political science studies, or from things I’ve seen or thought about while traveling. And my ace in the hole is my husband—an actual rocket scientist—who spent ten years designing and building rockets and launching them into orbit. So he’s been a tremendous resource for all my abstract space-faring questions.

4. Yeah, that must have been so helpful to have your husband as a resource. Your story mainly has male characters—Chase, the main character searching for his identity, Parker, the boy whose home he lands on, and Maurus, the man they meet and become involved with. Was it easy writing from a boy’s POV and focusing on mainly male characters? Did you face any challenges and how did you overcome them?

For this book, it just felt natural to write it from Chase’s perspective, and once I got the plot figured out,
I really enjoyed exploring the growing friendship bond between two boys who are bright and brave, but both struggling with lots of questions about their pasts and their place in the universe (while also getting hunted down by mercenaries, space raiders, and the evil Federal Fleet!). As for challenges, I revised so many times that I’ve probably forgotten a lot of the things I had to work on, but I do remember that in early drafts, Chase gave the occasional shriek—my critique partner pointed out to me that shrieking sounds more like something a girl might do.

5. Glad I’m not alone in having to revise a lot. What tips do you have on getting a middle grade voice right, especially a boy’s voice?

When I’m trying to get inside the head of my male characters, I think of guys I know: my older brother, guy friends, my husband, my 10-year-old nephew. I think about how they would react, or what they might say in a similar situation.

6. Your agent is Joanna Volpe. She sounds like such an awesome agent. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.

Oh, I love this story so much! I’d been querying for about six months when I saw that Joanna was offering a full manuscript critique by random drawing to people who bought her client Leigh Bardugo’s debut, SHADOW AND BONE, from Books of Wonder. I bought the book, and then won the random drawing! Offering representation certainly wasn’t part of the contest, but a month later Joanna sent me an email asking if I was available to talk on the phone. I didn’t know what to expect, so when she told me she wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if she didn’t make me an offer, I just about died on the spot. She most certainly is an incredible agent, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with her. After I signed with her, we did two rounds of light revisions together, and my book went to auction two weeks after she sent it out on submission.

7. That is about the most amazing agent story I’ve heard. And to win in a Leigh Bardugo giveaway is beyond cool. What blogs will be participating in your blog tour? How did you chose them or did you have a blog tour service set it up for you? 

Blogs I’m scheduled to visit include The Midnight Garden, ReadingTeen.net, Read Now Sleep Later, Maria’s Mélange, Book Haven Extraordinaire, The Book Monsters, Book YA Review, Alice Marvels, YA Book Nerd, and Book Jems. I’m so fortunate in that Macmillan has been wonderfully supportive of this book, so they set up the blog tour for me, as well as a physical tour to bookstores and schools in California during my publication week.

8. That’s great your publisher set it up for you. I’ll have to check out these blogs. What’s your favorite social media that you use to build your writer’s platform? Why and how are you finding it helpful in reaching other writers and potential readers? 

For me it was difficult to get started on Twitter, but after getting the hang of things, I have found it incredibly useful to reach both readers and writers. Just about the entire kidlit community is on Twitter! And I love the brief, instantaneous, and informal nature of it as a way to connect with people.

9. Yeah, I need to get on Twitter more. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on revisions to the second book in the Lost Planet series and plotting out the synopsis of a third book to present to my editor. I’ve got other middle grade projects simmering on the back burner, but right now that’s about all I have time for.

Thanks for sharing all your advice. You can find Rachel at at www.rachelsearles.com, twitter.com/RachelSearles, and facebook.com/RachelSearlesAuthor.

Rachel and her publisher Macmillan generously offered a ARC of THE LOST PLANET 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 through February 8th. I’ll announce the winner on February 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 but the winner would get an e-book or $5.00 Amazon gift card.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find all the other blogs participating this week HERE.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Friday I’ll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great choices that I loved or am looking forward to. My post will be posted on Friday afternoon.

Next Monday I’m interviewing Holly Schindler and giving away a copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY. This is a contemporary middle grade story that I know you’re going to love so I jumped at the chance to be part of Holly’s blog tour.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Ryan Graudin and giving away an ARC of ALL THAT GLOWS, her fantastic YA urban fantasy set in London.

Wednesday that week I’m participating in PK Hzero’s Blog Tour with an interview and giveaway of BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL INC., a fantastic NA time travel story that I really enjoyed.

And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Friday!


Creepy Query Girl said...

Bish's book sounds adorable!:) So happy for Donna, and David and Michael! Great interview! Thanks for introducing us to Rachel and The Lost Planet!

Greg Pattridge said...

Thanks for the in-depth interview. I always like to hear an author's insights on rewriting and story development. THE LOST PLANET sounds like a fantastic series.

Beth said...

Great post! I love the story of how Rachel got her agent - talk about love at first sight! And I think the Anansi book sounds terrific. Congratulations to everyone!

~Sia McKye~ said...

There are those times that the story seems great in my head and then I start writing and 30 plus pages in I lose interest. I look at it as a good experiment and move on, lol!

This is the sort of book I would have loved when I was a kid. I read a lot of space stories. :-)

Very cool story on your agent. Congratulations on your release and wishing you success with the series!

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats to Rachel on her debut, and to the other followers who shared good news. Nice to hear you've been making more time to write, Natalie - keep it up!

Stina said...

I have Donna's first book (which is new the top of my pile). Can't wait to read them both!

That's got to be one of the coolest 'how I got my agent stories' I've heard so far.

Angela Brown said...

Many Congrats to Bish, Donna and David on their releases and soon-to-be-released works. Three cheers to Rachel's tale of writing, revision adventures and agent acquisition. Hard work paying off all around.

Barbara Watson said...

This sounds so good! Thanks for word about it; it's going on my to-read list.

Crystal Collier said...

Oh my goodness, I have at least two readers who would love this book. Congrats to Bish, Donna and David, and now I have to go update my list.

Bish Denham said...

Thanks, Natalie for giving my book a shout out on your blog. And thanks to everyone for you very kind comments! I truly appreciate it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The Lost Planet looks like it would make a great movie.
Congratulations to Bish and Donna on their books and David for the awesome book deal!

Jessica Lawson said...

Such a cool publication story for a cool-sounding book! Congrats to Rachel~ I can't wait to read The Lost Planet (I'm already on an ARC tour list, so no need to enter me in the giveaway)!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats, Rachel. That's a neat agent story. I wish I was better with Twitter.

Rosi said...

Wonderful interview and great story about snagging her agent. The book sounds terrific, but please let someone else win. My TBR pile is huge.

Suzanne Warr said...

Followed! Great interview, and the book looks like a fantastic read! Here's hoping my karma comes through for me. :D

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I'm working on a MG space opera and it's great to hear some success stories.

Jessie Humphries said...

Wow, great agent story. Sometimes our dreams really do come true!

S.P. Bowers said...

Hey, my husband was a rocket scientist at his last job. Now he's 'just' an engineer.

Old Kitty said...

Loved how Rachael found her dream agent!! A writer and an artist! Good for her and all the best with the adventures of Chase Garrety!!

Huge congrats to Donna and Bish too! Take care

mshatch said...

Love how Rachel got her agent - sweet!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE how Rachel found her agent. I know it sounds repetitive after everybody said it. lol
And I'm looking forward to reading her book. :)


TerryLynnJohnson said...

Great agent story! thanks for the chance to win a copy!

Anonymous said...

Man oh man, that is a seriously cool agent story! Looking forward to reading you book, oh yes I am...congrats and enjoy your book b day!

Andrea Mack said...

I love reading about how an author gets started. And this sounds like a fun series for boys!

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interview. I love reading writer stories like this.

Ronna Mandel said...

Met Rachel at a book event on Sunday and her book sounds terrific. So happy there's another book on the horizon. Great interview.

Cynthia said...

Congratulations to Rachel on her new book! I especially enjoyed her world building thoughts and agree that ideas in political science (and also sociology) can shape a world. How cool is it that she has all this knowledge about rocket science at her finger tips from her husband.

Unknown said...

This book sounds great. I love the world building and character-building Rachel put into this middle grade fantasy novel. So many authors might skimp on these areas, thinking they aren't as important to children, but the love of literature begins here. I am deeply impressed with her work and am looking forward to reading the book with my children. michelle_willms at yahoo dot com

Rachna Chhabria said...

I am all for world building. This book sounds like something I would enjoy reading. Will be adding it to my TBR pile.

Ashfa said...

Loved the interview. I really enjoy Middle grade books and this one looks awesome!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Loved this interview! That book sounds like a fantastic read! Intergalatic adventure and friendship make a great combo. :)

E.G. Moore said...

I am really in love with the premise of The Lost Planet, am super excited for Rachel and can't wait to read it! If I don't win it, I think I will buy it!

I believe my email is on my google account but just in case, my writer's email is emilygmoorewriter@yahoo.com

Robyn Campbell said...

Great interview! Love the sound of this book. Gotta add it to my pile! And congrads also to Bish and Donna!

Stephanie Garber said...

Great interview, Rachel & Natalie! I've been so excited about this book ever since I first heard about it from Liz! And I loved reading about how you got your agent--I totally remember that contest--what a fun story!

And congratulations Bish!

Carina Olsen said...

Aw, I love this interview :D Thank you both so much for sharing. <3 Not entering giveaway, as I already have an ARC of The Lost Planet :) I'm hoping to read it very soon, as I do think it sounds amazing.

Bish Denham said...

Thanks everyone, for stopping by Natalie's blog and wishing us all well!

cleemckenzie said...

Lovely to see Bish's book here and I think the agent story was very interesting. Great interview.

Anonymous said...

Bish, it's been great to see your book out and about in several places. Hope 2014 is a great one.
Very nice interview. Rachel best with the books...

Hanne Arts said...

I followed! :D
My email address is hanne-arts@hotmail.com

Kim Van Sickler said...

Beyond cool that Rachel's husband is a resource for her sci-fi research! Congrats to her on the debut novel. Another great interview, Natalie!

Karen Lange said...

Congrats to Bish and Donna! Congrats also to Rachel! Thanks so much for a great interview. Love meeting other writers. :)

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

An interesting post that I enjoyed reading.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually not sure if I've read a MG space opera before. I'm going to be on the look out for this one and more like it!

DMS said...

So excited for Bish and Donna! How wonderful! :) I have read Bish's book, but haven't read Donna's yet.

Rachel's agent story is amazing! It is different from any that I have heard before. I will have to check out The Lost Planet! :)

Thanks for the giveaway. I am an old follower.

Cherie Reich said...

Lots of great news!

Congrats, Rachel! Love your book cover and the book sounds awesome!

Heather said...

Wow, so much great stuff in one post, love it! A light read, a heavy read, and a fun sci-fi!

Anonymous said...

That is a wonderful agent story and it sounds like the world-building in this book is amazing.

Unknown said...

Congrats to Bish! I love the idea of a dancing spider! lol

Rachel's interview was great, and I love the fact her hubby's actually a rocket scientist! Best wishes to her with her adorable SF book! :)

Danielle H. said...

I love to find new exciting series to read and this sounds like one! I will mention on Facebook. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Such a cool agent story--I'm really excited to read a MG space opera!


Leslie S. Rose said...

So excited for Rachel. Can't wait to read The Lost Planet to my 5th graders. Fun interview.