Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
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  • 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 great start of the week. If I don't get to your blog until later today, it's because my mom is here visiting. She's leaving this afternoon so I might be a little later to reading blogs today. We've had a really nice visit.

Today I have a fantastic interview to share with you and am also participating in Alex Cavanaugh's Underrated Treasures Blogfest. If you don't follow Alex's blog, you should.  It's always chocked with great info and Alex is a big part of a thriving group of bloggers where I've connected with many of my blogger friends.

My underrated Treasure is THE DEMON KING (click on the title to link to the Goodreads description) and the whole Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. It's a fantastic fantasy series filled with incredible world building, an interesting magical system, and characters so developed you'll long to meet them. Even if you don't like fantasy, I think you'd really enjoy this series because of the great characters. It's great like Games of Throne. I've read the whole series in print and audio version.

Next I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of JUST A DROP OF WATER is Carl Scott!

And the winner of FALLS THE SHADOW is Christina Fionelli!

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

Today I’m excited to have debut author Kendall Kulper here to share about her new YA historical fantasy SALT AND STORM that releases tomorrow. I really liked the 19th century setting and Avery, a complex teen struggling to find her place in a world that has definite parameters of a woman’s life. I always enjoy stories with this type of struggle.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Hi Kendall! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I think I’ve always been a writer, pretty much as soon as I learned how to write, but I never really thought I could do it professionally until a few years ago. I’d just graduated college and I was working my first job as a journalist in New York City, and although I enjoyed the challenges, I was starting to get burnt out from the stress and long hours. To save my sanity, I began working on a YA novel, and I fell back in love with writing. I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, so when I finished the novel, I decided to quit my day job and write full time. It was a crazy, wonderful, terrifying decision, but I’ve never been happier!

2. So awesome you felt you could take the leap into being a full-time writer. Where did you get the idea for your story?

I really like islands, especially the kind of small, tight-knit communities that develop there and how they can feel both very warm and intimate but also somewhat suffocating. It’s something Avery struggles with, and I think it’s something a lot of teens feel about the towns they’ve grown up in.
Martha’s Vineyard is the only island that I know much of anything about, so I started looking for potential story ideas there. The island has a rich history of whaling, and when I got deeper into research, I discovered stories of women who would make good luck charms for sailors. I thought it was really fascinating, and the deeper I dug, the more I thought that it would make a great story.

4. I’ve read you have a history and literature degree. What drew you to set your story in the 19th century? And how do you recommend writers research their setting if they want to write a historical story?

Research is so much fun! (says the history nerd…) But it’s true—I always love getting into research. I wasn’t sure I’d set the novel in the 19th century until I really started learning more about the time period, and the more I learned, the more I felt like it was a rich—and largely unexplored—part of history.

I started, of course, with books. Libraries and librarians are fantastic resources if you’re not sure where to begin, and books are great jumping-off points. I did a lot of research online, too—usually when I needed to quickly check something random like the average income for an eighteen-year-old harpooner.

I also tried to get out of the library and off the computer and into the real world. I visited the New Bedford Whaling Museum several times, and aside from checking out their wonderful exhibits, I loved talking with the staff there. They were terrific at answering my very random, very weird questions (how tough is it to get whale oil off your skin? What would the average whale man have in his pockets?), and any time a writer can sit down with an expert and ask the kinds of questions you won’t see in books, it’s time well spent.

And I wanted to make sure I could write authentically about the feels, smells, and sights in my book. I camped out on remote beaches and pulled ropes on historic sailing vessels. I read poetry about sailing and letters from the 1860s and spent a lot of time sitting staring at the ocean. Research is such a great tool for enriching a novel, and it comes in so many different forms than just heading over to the library.

5. Yes, you do sound like a history nerd. And you’ve got great tips about getting out into the world to find out the details that make a story feel more real. Avery is a very independent and driven to become the island’s witch. And she has a darker side you’ve talked about in blog posts. Share a bit about this side to her and why you chose to show that darker side of her.

I wouldn’t say that Avery is “dark” exactly, but she’s not afraid to show her more unsavory qualities. She can be impetuous, rude, egotistical, presumptuous, and it takes her some trial and error to realize this about herself and realize how limiting her perspective often is. I really wanted the reader to see that although she’s always a strong person, she needs to grow and figure out how to use her strength.

6. What was the process of writing SALT AND STORM like and how long did it take you to get from the start of the first draft to the point of querying?

This was actually the third novel I wrote (the first two are firmly in the drawer), and I felt a lot more confident this time around. The book itself came together relatively quickly: the first draft took about six months, and then I put it through beta readers and extensive edits for about two more months. Since I write full-time from home, I was lucky to have a lot of time to research, rewrite, and get things just the way I wanted them.

7. So wish I had that kind of time to really focus on my writing. Your agent is Sara Crowe. Share how she became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

By the time I started querying SALT & STORM, I had already queried (and shelved) two other YA novels, so I had some experience researching and reaching out to agents. I had actually queried Sara with my second novel, after a good friend and client of hers suggested I contact her. Sara liked it but ultimately passed and asked me to send along any future work I might have. So when SALT & STORM was ready to go out, Sara was at the top of my list, and luckily, she loved it! She was the first agent to offer representation, and she really impressed me with her passion for the novel and her vision for its publication. I knew I would have a tireless advocate and great partner in her—and I was right! My book was on submission to editors for only a few weeks before it was bought by Bethany Strout at Little, Brown. Bethany’s been nothing but fantastic to work with and I am so thrilled to be a part of the Little, Brown family—I couldn’t have wished for a better experience!

7. That’s great that Sara asked you to send her future work and you did. What’s something that surprised you about the time between signing your contract with your publisher and release day?

Well, first of all, it’s a long time! I signed my contract Spring 2013 but the book is only just coming out now (which was hard to explain to my grandma). There’s a lot of work that goes into getting a book ready for publication: writing and editing, of course, but also cover design, typesetting the pages, building promotion, and getting the books out to booksellers and libraries. Patience is definitely something an author needs to have a lot of, especially the closer you get to release day (when everything in the world seems to be happening all at once!).

8. To me, your timeline sounds fast for publishing. Some authors have to wait two years for their book to be published. But I totally get how family doesn’t understand this. What have you learn so far market-wise and are there things you’ve done that you’re really glad you’ve done? Anything you wish you’d done differently?

I’m certainly still learning, but one of the things I’ve come to appreciate is sticking to what you can do well. I think a lot of debut authors are sucked into the mentality of you have to have X—whether that’s a blog, a Twitter account, a tumblr, a YouTube channel. Certainly a website with all your information is incredibly important, but beyond that, I think it’s more meaningful to readers if you focus on reaching out to them in ways that you enjoy, rather than you feeling compelled to make a weekly video or something just because other authors have had success with that.

As far as things I’m glad I’ve done, I love reaching out and connecting with readers, librarians, bloggers, and booksellers. I’m continually blown away by how smart and welcoming this community is, and it’s been great getting to know so many people who are so passionate about books!

9. Yes, I think a lot of authors come to your realization that it’s best to focus on the social media you enjoy and are comfortable with. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on the companion novel to SALT & STORM, which will be set about 18 years earlier. I can’t say too much about it (yet!), but it will feature some familiar faces and places along with some new characters!

Thanks for sharing your advice, Kendall. You can find Kendall at http://www.kendallkulper.com/

Kendall has generously offered a copy of SALT & STORM 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 October 4th. I’ll announce the winner on October 6th. 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 & Canada.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday, I’ll be interviewing debut author Elissa Sussman with a giveaway of STRAY, her YA fairytale retelling. I really enjoyed her unique spin of fairy godmothers.

Next Wednesday I have a guest post by debut author Andrea Pyros and a giveaway of her MG contemporary MY YEAR OF EPIC ROCK

The following Monday I have a guest post by long time follower C. Lee McKenzie and a giveaway of her YA contemporary DOUBLE NEGATIVE.

Wednesday that week I'm giving away a number of recently released Harper Collins middle grade books that I know many of you would enjoy.

And the Monday after that I have a guest post by another long time follower and debut author Kim Van Sickler and a giveaway of her YA contemporary SNACHED IN GULLYBROOK.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Natalie. Thanks for sharing about this book and series for the Underrated Treasures Blogfest.

Jemi Fraser said...

Both the books sound interesting! Salt & Storm is a great title with a fascinating premise :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Her research sounds like fun.

Dani said...

Oooo, that series looks good! I love all of these "&" titles for books and Salt & Storm is just as cool!

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats, Kendall! I liked hearing about your research at the Whaling Museum.

Beth said...

Great interview, and I loved hearing about her research, and how her family didn't altogether understand the timelines of publishing! Congratulations on your new book, Kendall.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks so much for the interview! It's great to meet Kendall. Love hearing about other writer's processes, and I appreciate the insight about research.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your visit with your Mom. :)

Unknown said...

Great interview.
I love the title of your treasure. As long as it's not YA I'll check it out- sounds interesting. I hope it doesn't read like Game of Thrones, while I enjoyed some aspects- there were way to many characters to keep track of for me.

My blog post

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats to Kendall. Love the premise.

I agree with Kane above. I'm not a fan of the Games of Thrones series. If it's as dark (and everyone dies in horrible, brutal ways) The Demon King would not be my kind of read. :D

Cassie G said...

I loved reading about her researching process! I always am fascinated by what authors do for each particular book they're working on. Great interview!

My email is happybooklovers (at) gmail (dot) com

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Hurray, Kendall! So happy to see Salt and Storm finally coming out! I remember when Sara emailed me to ask if I would give her a reference for you. She said, "You would love her book, Dianne!" I was honored to be asked, of course, thrilled that you signed on with her, and S&S is going right on my TBR list!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Enjoyed the interview and I took your recommendation on the fantasy book. Jotted it into my TBR list.

Rosalyn said...

Donna, I don't think it's like that at all! I loved the Demon King. Intrigue, strong women, high fantasy elements, but not nearly as violent, though some bad stuff happens.

Jessica Lawson said...

Salt & Storm sounds awesome, and I loved this interview~ it's so cool to hear the background on books and authors :)

I really need to read your Underrated Treasure recommendations, especially the Cinda WIlliams Chima books~ my CP just got a blurb from her for her YA Fantasy series (coming out in Winter 2015) and she was over the moon.

Rosalyn said...

I loved her research process. I'm also envious of the full time writing! But having three kids and a toddler at home full time makes that hard.

Margo Kelly said...

Great interview! And great pick for the Underrated Treasures! :)

Gwen Gardner said...

Hi Natalie! I haven't read Demon King, but now I want to. Thanks for sharing it.

Kendall, I love the premise of your book. It's so awesome that you could quit your day job to follow your dream of writing. Congratulations!

Mike said...

Demon King sounds neat, I will recommend it to my step son as well since he likes that genre.

S. L. Hennessy said...

I've heard about the Demon King. It sounds like a great series!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She's right that we don't have to do it all as far as social media. Just what works for us.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And thanks for participating in my blogfest!

Toi Thomas said...

Cool pick for Underrated Treasures. I'll have to add that to my TBR list. I like what Kulper has to say about social media and an very jealous that she writes full-time. ;)

Anonymous said...

LOVE the idea of a magical girl having to find her place in a setting which isn't very accepting of women's individulaty, let alone her magic!!

An excerpt I read online was awesome!!

And it's so nice to hear an author advising writers to do research in real places, and with real people. Librarians rock!! It's like they know absolutely everything about everyone and know all the greatest books :)

thank you, lovely interview :)

ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Rachna Chhabria said...

Will add The Demon King to my TBR pile. Its ages since I have read a series. Nowadays all I am reading are standalone books.

Anonymous said...

LOVE the idea of a magical girl having to find her place in a setting which isn't very accepting of women's individulaty, let alone her magic!!

An excerpt I read online was awesome!!

And it's so nice to hear an author advising writers to do research in real places, and with real people. Librarians rock!! It's like they know absolutely everything about everyone and know all the greatest books :)

thank you, lovely interview :)

I'm an email subscriber ccfioriole at gmail dot com

And I shared your giveaway and interview :)

thank you so very much

Cynthia said...

Congratulations to Kendall on her new book!

The Seven Realms series sounds interesting.I will add The Demon King to my To Read list.

Kim Van Sickler said...

Did you read Cinda's Warrior Heir series? I really enjoyed that one too!!!

Patchi said...

Salt and Storm sounds like a great story. Thanks for the chance to win.

Chrys Fey said...

The Demon King sounds like a really good book! And so does Salt & Storm. Thanks for sharing!!

Carina Olsen said...

Thank you both so much for sharing. <3 I love the interview. And I'm so excited about this book :D The covers are gooorgeous. Just waiting for my copies to arrive so that I can read it. <3 :)

Robyn Campbell said...

I cannot do all things social media. So I was glad to see that. Reaching out to the readers is what it's all about. The Demon King is on my TBR list. Congrads to the winners.

Vivien said...

Oh I just love reading a good historical romance. This sounds fantastic!
GFC: Vivien

kellis_amberlee at yahoo dot com

Cherie Colyer said...

Great choice! I really enjoyed this series. =)

Catherine Stine said...

The Demon King does sound interesting. And now that I'm writing a novel set in 1932 I am getting back into how cool research can be!

Arlee Bird said...

Not familiar with The Demon King.

Best wishes to Kendall. Great publication story.

Tossing It Out

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Glad you had a nice visit with your mom. Salt & Storm sounds like my kind of book. I love sweeping historicals with 19th century settings. And the fantasy just adds to the appeal.

Jessie Humphries said...

Sarah Crow is the bomb.com. (Do people still say that?) This is all GREAT stuff. I freaking love these backstories. From NYC journalist to YA author! Love it.

D.G. Hudson said...

Thanks for the suggestions!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great choice for the Underrated Treasure hop - I found that series at my local library and have enjoyed it. :)

Susan T. said...

I am super excited for Salt & Storm! Everyone seems to love it! My contest share: https://twitter.com/suekitty13/status/514216996255592449
Email: sueterendy at hotmail dot com

TerryLynnJohnson said...

wow - this sounds fantastic. And love that title. Another great interview, thank you! so interesting to hear how every journey is different.
I also enjoyed Demon King!

Anonymous said...

Really amazing book covers. I will check them out.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

It looks like I'm going to have to add two more books to my TBR pile-- THE DEMON KING and SALT & STORM.

DMS said...

Salt and Storm sounds fascinating! Thanks for the introduction.

Also, great to hear about the Seven Realms series. Loved hearing your thoughts.

Hope you had fun with your mom. :)

Suzanne Warr said...

Salt and Storm sounds lovely, so I'm adding it to my TBR pile and thanks for the heads up! I also really enjoyed reading about Kendall's research process. I have a history degree, as well, and yet can't seem to sit down for the nitty gritty research a historic novel requires. My hat's off to her!


J Lenni Dorner said...

Thanks for the underrated book recommendation. :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Best wishes to Kendall and Salt and Storm!

And The Demon King is on my TBR List as I really need to do better at building fantasy worlds. Thanks for the lead.

Emma A. said...

Thank you so much for the giveaway, it sounds like such a good book!
I follow via GFC and Bloglovin.


Denise Covey said...

Hi Natalie. I'm in a hurry so didn't get time to read all the way through your post, but I will come back. And I hadn't heard of The Demon King.

Anonymous said...

I follow on GFC Christina Kit.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read Chima yet. Congrats to the winners.

Salt & Storm sounds wonderful. I also enjoy books with those struggles.

Stephanie Garber said...

Salt and Storm sounds great! And thanks for sharing about The Demon King, Natalie. I've been super curious about that series--now I will definitely check it out!

erin said...

congrats to Kendall on the new release!!! This looks and sounds fabulous! Thanks for the fun post!

S.P. Bowers said...

Hope you're having fun with your mom. Mine lives 2000 miles away so I don't get to see her much. She's coming for Thanksgiving and I can't wait! I'll have to add The Demon King to my list.

Salt and Storm sounds like a great book. I love reading books where the author knew and loved the history they were writing about and it sounds like you'd fit right in. Congrats on the book.

Unknown said...

Both sound really great and are on my to be read list. I love hearing about the background and process of the authors.

Thanks for the chance to win!!!!

Loni Townsend said...

Stopped by for Alex's blogfest. I'm adding The Demon King to my TBR pile! Looks like a great suggestion.

Rosi said...

Thanks for a fascinating interview. I am not really a fantasy reader, but this book sounds incredible. I will definitely be looking for this one. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

Elizabeth Chang said...

I've read The Demon King and the whole 7 realms series, I loved it. I even read the heir series.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I'm sharing it in my blog newsletter.

Eileen said...

I haven't read any Cinda Williams Chima books yet but her Seven Realms series is definitely on my list! Thanks for the giveaway! Salt and Storm sounds really interesting :)

Jenni said...

What a great interview! I'm a history nerd myself, so I loved reading about Kendall's process. I also loved how she didn't give up after shelving two novels.
Congrats to Kendall!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats to Kendall! Love the cover and title of Salt and Storm!

M Pax said...

I'll have to check out that fantasy series. Congrats to Kendall! I love historical fiction.

D.G. Hudson said...

Interesting and detailed interview. I do like fantasy, and I read a lot of it before delving into science fiction. Thanks for the information! Congrats to Kendall!

Sherry Ellis said...

I'll have to check out the Demon King. It sounds good. Thanks for stopping by yesterday for the Blitz. It made my day!

holdenj said...

Really enjoyed Kendall's Q&A. Can't wait to read , this underrated debut.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Excellent! Glad to hear it. Funny that I was at the bank just a bit ago and I was talking with the teller about books--and he mentioned this one!

Bish Denham said...

I don't know The Demon King. The cover is great. Congratulations to Kendall! Her novel, Salt and Storm (love the title) sounds like it has a new twist. She was lucky/blessed to have an agent interested enough to ask to see new work.

Stina said...

I love the idea behind the blog hop. Sorry I missed it!

And congrats, Kendal! It does take what feels like forever between signing the contract and the release of the book. Hope you enjoyed everything leading up to your big day and beyond.

Carrie Butler said...

1. I love the cover of The Demon King!

2. Wow. I love hearing about writing research! :)

Denise Covey said...

Got back for my read. I've read some great stories set in Martha's Vineyard.

Irene Jennings said...

I highly recommend this novel! If you love historical novels this is a great one. But if you love witch stories, I think you'll really love this one. For me to place it next to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, it is an incredible story. I loved it!

Award winning Landscape Architect Seattle

Marlene Detierro said...

A truly original piece of literature. To those of you who tend to stay away from YA or Fantasy—don’t let the genre fool you… I know I’m repeating myself, but: Kendall Kulper is one hell of a gifted & sophisticated storyteller. Cannot recommend it enough!

Top rated Real Estate Lake LBJ