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! Hope you had a great few weeks. I enjoyed my blog break, but nothing exciting happened. Just been working and working on swim team activities. We’ve already had a successful cleaning the pool area day, picnic organizational meeting, and bonfire team bonding event. This is going to be a super busy week with an 8 team relay, a sleepover, and working concessions at a U of M game. Once we get through this, the work will slow down until the end of season as we’re only hosting 5 meets. Yay! I did get some reading in these past few weeks.


Julie Musil just released her new YA contemporary novel THE SUMMER OF CROSSING LINES. Here’s a blurb: When her protective older brother disappears, sixteen-year-old Melody infiltrates a theft ring, gathers clues about his secret life, and falls for a handsome pickpocket. At what point does truth justify the crime?
And here are a few links:

Also, I have some winners to announce

The winner of GATES OF THREAD AND STONE is Emma A!

The winner of COPPER MAGIC is Reader Noir!

And the winner of my Beach Reads Giveaway Hop is Shannon R who chose the $10 Amazon Gift Card!

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

Today I have a fantastic guest post by Holly Schindler, who writes in both MG and YA stories, and a giveaway of FERAL, her new YA novel. Details about the giveaway will be at the end of the post. So here’s Holly!


My third YA, FERAL, releases tomorrow. It’s both a psychological thriller and a gritty read about
recovering from violence. FERAL also includes some pretty brutal passages—especially in the opening chapters. In fact, those who have managed to get their hands on an advance reading copy might be surprised to learn that the book started out as an MG.

In the MG version, the book was a straight mystery (rather than a psychological thriller) about a young girl trying to get to the bottom of a cold case that centered on the death of a former student at her middle school. But during the revision process, the book got increasingly darker—and I began to suspect it was growing too gritty for the MG category, that it might need to be a YA instead.

You’d think that bumping a book up in age would be a fairly simple process: you’d keep your characters but age them, and would also hang on to the original genre / subgenre. You’d think it’d be a process of trading out bicycles and giving characters cars. Making the dialogue a bit older. But I found that bumping a book from the MG category into YA involved far more than that. It was a real overhaul.

So how can you know if your own book really should be bumped up in category? I’d argue the decision centers on three components: Character, Theme, and Genre.

Character: We’re not the same people at seventeen that we were at thirteen. I discovered that the MG character I’d created didn’t belong in my YA at ALL. I actually needed a new protagonist that fit with the grittier surroundings. You may feel, as I did, that brainstorming a new character is somewhat freeing. That it’s bringing you closer to what your book really needs to be. You may also feel that you’re losing something vital (voice, perspective) to your novel. If that’s the case, it may be an indication that you need to keep your book in the MG category.

Theme: As I brainstormed a character sketch for my new protagonist, I discovered a pretty chilling backstory: Claire had survived a brutal gang beating in her hometown of Chicago. When I had that backstory, I knew I also had a theme for the book that meshed with the dark, gritty YA I was also creating: I knew the book needed to be about recovering from violence. That’s a theme that might not make it into the MG category—at least, not in the way I was beginning to imagine it. Yet another indication that turning my book into a YA was moving in the right direction.

Genre / Subgenre: Once I knew who my protagonist was and had nailed down the overall theme, I also knew the genre needed to change. Rather than a straight mystery, I knew FERAL needed to be a psychological thriller. That format was going to allow me to focus my attention on the “psychological”—the inner workings of my main character—while exploring, in brutal detail, the terrifying aspect of recovering from violence. Some genres just lend themselves more to YA (for example, romance). I felt that the psychological thriller also lent itself better to the YA readership.

I’ve learned to be open to literally anything as I plunge into revision. I have to let my book talk to me, tell me what it wants to be. I’m certainly glad I listened to my book and pushed it into the YA world.
For you, listening to your own book may mean bumping your WIP up into another age group—but it also may mean listening to your book tell you that the revisions should continue to take place within the MG category. After all, being open to any possibility means being open to the possibility that your first instincts were right all along!

Here’s a blurb of FERAL from the jacket copy:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

Holly Schindler Bio:

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs).

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch. Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits. She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and http://hollyschindler.tumblr.com/

Holly has generously offered a copy of FERAL 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 September 6th. I’ll announce the winner on September 8th. 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. This is for US and Canada only.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday, September 3rd, I have a guest post by debut author Kerry Cerra and a giveaway of JUST A DROP OF WATER, her MG contemporary.

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Stephanie Gaither and a giveaway of FALLS THE SHADOW, a YA futurist story about cloning replacement kids. I was hooked in the first few pages.

The following Monday I have a guest post by PJ Hoover and a giveaway of TUT, her YA story with mythological themes. I’m a huge fan of PJ’s and am excited to see how her books have been both traditionally published and self-published.

Wednesday that week I have a guest post by long time follower and debut author Joshua Bellin with a giveaway of SURVIVAL COLONY NINE, a YA sci-fi story.

And don’t forget Casey’s Thursday Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Wednesday, September 2nd!


Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats on your release. I've dealt with a rewrite that brought a book from MG to YA. It took a complete rewrite. Essentially, I opened a new doc and started from scratch. I was able to carry over a little but not much.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

At that age, we change who we are every year. I can only imagine the rewrites trying to change the character.

Christine Rains said...

Glad you had a wonderful blog break, Natalie. Fantastic guest post. Sometimes it's hard to judge the right audience. Those are great tips. Congratulations!

Karen Lange said...

Congrats to Julie and Holly! Glad you had a good break. :) I'll pass on the giveaway. Have a great week!

Julie Musil said...

Natalie, thanks of mentioning SUMMER!

Congratulations to Holly! FERAL sounds creepy good.

Jessica Lawson said...

Great and helpful post~ FERAL sounds chilling and atmospheric! I own Holly's THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY and love it :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds deliciously spooky! :)

Kristin Lenz said...

So true about changing from a MG to YA. On one of my YA novels, I received feedback saying that the main character skewed young. I considered changing it to a MG, but it was just like you said - creating an entirely new character.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was a lot of changes you had to make. Congratulations, Holly.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Very interesting reading about changing age groups and the work it takes. I can see why it would take considerable work and rethinking. Story sounds very interesting, Holly!

Sia McKye Over Coffee

S.P. Bowers said...

I haven't had to change age groups in a book, but I have done a complete rewrite when I realized the story I started out with wasn't the one I needed to tell. Parts of it were easy, just fixing a few details, parts of it needed a complete change in view. The view I had, and the view the characters had. It was the right decision, but sometimes I still morn the first story that died along the way.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing the details of your process as you converted the story from MG to YA. Sounds like a ton of work but in the end the book will tell the tale it wishes!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Also, I tweeted (https://twitter.com/kate_ivan/status/504001691222831104). Thanks again! kateivan {at} aol {dot} com

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Glad you enjoyed your blogging break, Natalie. Good luck to the swim team! Holly, this book sounds compelling. I love psychological thrillers and I'm fascinated by how you changed the story from MG to YA.

Suzanne Warr said...

I'm going to bow out of the giveaway (sorry of that makes tallying complicated!) because Feral sounds a little too dark for me, but I wanted to say thank you for the interview, and great tips! I'm facing a possible one-day process of aging up a book, and have wondered what it would be like. This was a great way to get great insights into that process!

And sounds like you've got all kinds of great stuff coming up, Natalie!


Jenni said...

Thanks for sharing your process of aging up your book. Fascinating! You have an incredible range as an author (JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY was one of my favorite reads this year). I also don't need to be entered into the giveaway, but this premise sounds very chilling!

Brenda said...

Glad to see you back Natalie, you were was missed. Good luck to your daughter on her swim meets. Congratulations to Holly on the release of her new book. I don't need to be entered into the giveaway, bu the process of moving from MG to YA sounds fascinating and thank you for sharing.

Susan T. said...

Rewriting anything sounds absolutely awful! I hate having to redo things! I've shared this on twitter: https://twitter.com/suekitty13/status/504084522556981249
email: sueterendy at hotmail dot com

Stina said...

Welcome back, Natalie!!!! Good luck with all things swim-meet related.

Feral sounds like a great book! I need to tell my teen about it.

Britt said...

Hello! This book looks like the perfect creepy read I'm hoping for. Thanks for the giveaway as always and welcome back.
My address is brittersweet83@aol.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Natalie .. Feral sounds a great title for a YA book ... and lots of books in the pipeline to learn about ... glad you had a good break and now into swimming sessions and lots of encouragement ... cheers Hilary

erin said...

this sounds awesome :) Thanks for sharing!

cleemckenzie said...

Welcome back! Glad you had a break. They're greatly needed. Congrats to Julie on her new book. Love the title of Holly's book. It gave me chills.

Denise Covey said...

Lovely to see you back Natalie. Great author interview. That's some serious rewriting Holly. I like the sound of Feral. Loved Black Swan.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE psychological thrillers. Sign me up please!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I put this giveaway in my blog newsletter. =)

Denise Covey said...

Oh, $13 on KIndle!! Sorry!!

Unknown said...

This book sounds dark, but intriguing...I'm getting curiouser and curiouser...:)
My email: saniyashake [at] gmail [dot] com

Unknown said...

I'd love a copy of Feral!

Crystal Collier said...

Ooh! I love it when you get to rethink a character and add depth to them. That's why we revise, right? Challenging ourselves to do better or be stronger?

M Pax said...

Congrats to Holly! Character is everything and getting the story right.

I was on the swim team in high school, Natalie. I wasn't very good. lol

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Sounds like a great read. Thanks.

Heather said...

Yay for Julie! The Summer of Crossing Lines is on my list of books to buy. And oooo, Feral looks good. Sounds like I'll have to check that one out too!

Anonymous said...

This definitely sounds like a YA story. I look forward to reading Feral.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Holly! It's interesting to read your process on changing the story from MG to YA. It sounds like you made the right choice. :)

Beth said...

Hi Natalie, great giveaway! Don't worry about entering me in the giveaway (I'm reading The Goldfiinch, which promises to keep my busy for a while) but congratulations to Holly.

Gwen Gardner said...

It does sound way too dark to be an MG. Loved reading your process about how it evolved. Well done, Holly, and good luck!

Hi Natalie! *waves*

Carrie Butler said...

I had a similar experience, only it was my refusal to bump my characters up or down when NA was taboo. It's a lot of work to shift everything!

Rosi said...

I'm still trying to catch up on my reading after my vacation. Feral scared me half to death! I can't imagine it was ever thought of as MG. Let someone else win. I've read this and only recently recovered!

Nicole said...

That's so interesting how the genre refined during the editing process. Sounds like a creepy cool book! Congrats to Holly.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I think it's fascinating to read how your genre changed during the writing process, and I think it shows your (Holly's) wisdom as a writer. Interesting post, and intense premise. :)

Holly Schindler said...

Thanks for such incredible comments, guys. Rosi, your comment actually made my day...