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 Everyone! Hope those of you on the East coast are surviving all the snow. And anyone with the bitter cold is surviving that too. Thankfully March will be here soon with hopefully some warmer weather and less snow. It's frigid here but I braved the weather yesterday to go exercise. Otherwise it was a weekend to stay in and warm.


C. Lee McKenzie has released THE GREAT TIME LOCK DISASTER,  a new middle grade novel. Here's a blurb:
There's nothing’s more dangerous than a wizard-in-training. And Pete Riley, has just proven it. He's worked a bad time spell--a very bad time spell.
No YouTube, no smoothies, no Manga. Not ever again. Not unless Pete figures out how to reverse his spell and free Weasel and him from Victorian England.
He has until the next full moon. Only a few days.

Tick. Tock.
And here's a few links:

And I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of the Favorites Giveaway Hop is Anne who picked the $10 Amazon Gift Card!

And the winner of MONSTROUS is Eisen!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can have your book sent to you. 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 Rhiannon Thomas here to share about A WICKED THING, her YA retelling of Sleeping Beauty, that releases on February 24th. I really enjoyed the twist in this. Princess Aurora wakes up 100 years in the future. And it isn’t happy.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

Hi Rhiannon! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks so much for having me!

I always get nervous when telling people about myself – I think it’s the shy British girl side of me going “no, no, tell me about YOU.” But here goes.

I’m originally from the north of England, but I moved to America when I was 18 to study English Lit and Japanese at Princeton. After graduation, my visa ran out, so I very reluctantly moved back to England, got a job at a bookstore, and tried to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. I knew I was really good at academics, but the idea of grad school was more “I don’t know what I’m doing!” than an actual dream. So, while trying to figure things out, I turned my academic side into my blog, Feminist Fiction, and I wrote the book that would ultimately become A Wicked Thing.

I wouldn’t recommend graduate -> be sad -> write a book -> luck out and sell it and stop looking for another career path as a life plan, but it worked out for me so far!

2. Glad it worked out for you. And I think other people change careers too, so don't feel back. How did you get the idea for your book and why did you choose to retell Sleeping Beauty’s story. I read that your favorite fairy tale is The Little Mermaid. Why didn’t you pick that one?

A Wicked Thing originally came from a place of being completely fed up with romance tropes. The idea first came to me when Twilight was the hottest thing in the fiction world, and there were a whole bunch of similar novels about people fated to be together, or all-powerful supernatural love-at-first-sight that people couldn’t escape. Maybe I’m just awkward, but if someone appeared in my life and said “oh btw, we’re gonna be in love forever now, it’s FATE,” I’d be pretty weirded out. And these thoughts meshed pretty well with my total love for fairy tales, and especially dark fairy tales. Most fairy tales have some “I’ve known you for five minutes, let’s get married” element, but Sleeping Beauty was the most interesting, to me, when you add in the promise of “true love’s kiss,” and the weirdness of sleeping for a century. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to know what would happen after Aurora woke up, if things were slightly less fairy tale and slightly more realistic.

And I would love to do a Little Mermaid retelling, but if I did, I think the main focus would be the decision of whether or not she should murder the guy she loves to remain human, which is a very different story. Maybe one day!

3. I'm not a fan of fated, fall in love immediately romances either. Share about the process of writing a retelling of a fairy tale. Did you research much by reading different versions of Sleeping Beauty? And what advice do you have for other authors wanting to write a fairy tale retelling?

I’ll be honest – I didn’t research the history of Sleeping Beauty while writing A Wicked Thing. I was
familiar with a lot of the different versions of it, because I’m a fairy tale nerd and had studied them at university, but I really wanted to base the novel on fairy tale elements that most people would be familiar with. I wanted Aurora to appear to be the classic Sleeping Beauty, and although I tweaked some elements of her story to suit my needs, I wanted the heart of her backstory to match what people first thought of when they thought “Sleeping Beauty.” So no baby twins, no creeptastic stalker princes, no ogre mother-in-law. Just an angry witch, a tower, a spinning wheel, and a hundred year sleep.

As for advice on writing a fairy tale retelling… I think the most important thing is to be constantly interrogating and challenging the story you know. Why would someone act that way, what sort of person would really do this, how would people respond to that situation if they weren’t guided by fairy tale tropes? Retellings become most interesting, to me, when they try to put the humanity back into that fairy tale narrative framework, and explore where that takes you.

4. Those are great questions to ask yourself. Princess Aurora is such a sympathetic character. She wakes up to a less than perfect situation. Share about her character development and the challenges of putting her into the future.

Well, the biggest challenge, from a writing perspective, was that I needed to create two distinct worlds for Aurora – the past that she was familiar with, and the future that she finds herself thrown into – and know how one had turned into the other. This was especially difficult, because Aurora is a very naïve character at first, who has spent her life locked in a tower and has very little firsthand experience of life outside the castle, so she’s not the best source of information.

But I was determined that Aurora wouldn’t be an action princess. I’ve called her my “Sansa Stark” protagonist before, and that’s definitely the tone I wanted for her. She’s very privileged, but also utterly trapped by her situation. She has a lot of naïve ideas about what her life is going to be, and her life experiences up to the start of the novel have made her quite passive and shy. She’s not really sure what she wants, and she definitely doesn’t know how to achieve it. In a way, I wanted the book to be about how Aurora could become a protagonist or a heroine. There are so many Strong Female Characters in fiction, but I really wanted to think about a character who needs to grow into her strength. She has all that potential there, but she doesn’t know how to use it at first. Since I’m a shy and nervous person myself, that felt more realistic to me than a character who wakes up in a terrible future and is immediately in control of the situation.

5. Kristin Nelson, one of my dream agents, is your agent. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.

Kristin is such an amazing agent, and it was half luck that I got the chance to work with her. Nelson Literary Agency was actually one of the first agencies I queried with the book, but they’re an “only query one agent” agency, and I actually queried Kristin’s second-in-command, Sara Megibow. I think I reasoned that Sara was more actively looking for new debuts, so she was my best bet. A few days after Sara requested the full manuscript, I got an email from Kristin, saying that Sara had passed it on to her, and she wanted to offer representation! I was floored, but so happy. So I guess I’m living proof that agents do share queries within their agencies.

After I signed with Kristin, we worked together to revise the book to make it stronger, and went on submission to publishers about four or five months later. Being on submission felt like endless hell while I was there, but I actually had a really short submission process – HarperTeen expressed interest within about a week, and after that, it was just sorting out the details.

6. Okay, that sounds like a dream get an agent story. You live in England and your book is being published in the U.S. and Canada. Are there any plans to publish it in England? And how are you planning to market your book since you don’t live in the U.S. or Canada?

Sadly no plans to publish in England yet, although I would love if it was published here.

For the US, it’s going to be a lot of online marketing! I’m having a blog tour, thanks to the wonderful Fantastic Flying Book Club, and Epic Reads are just great too. They really know their stuff when it comes to Twitter and Instagram and creating online buzz. I’d love to be able to do an in-person tour, but even getting to one stop in the US would be pretty expensive! Hopefully one day.

7. Online marketing is really good too and it doesn't matter if you live in the country where your book is published. You also blog at feministfiction.com. It sounds really interesting. Tell us a bit about what you blog about.

Thank you! I basically blog about fiction in all forms from a feminist perspective. I’d say the majority of things I write about are TV shows, since they always have new content coming out that’s ripe for discussion, but I also write about novels, movies, video games, and the media’s response to these and to their creators. Sometimes I discuss certain iconic characters, sometimes I talk about the latest online controversy, sometimes I tackle questions of female representation in the media in general… it’s a mix, which definitely makes it more fun for me. In my dream world, it’d be a 100% positive blog, talking about great female representation and wonderful TV shows and books, and I do try to talk about shows that do things right and offer recommendations as much as possible. Buuuut I do find myself critiquing quite a lot. Even good fiction isn’t often kind to its female characters these days.

8. What are you working on now?

As I’m writing this, I literally just finished working on the final revisions for the sequel to A Wicked Thing. Now I’ve got that bundled out of the way, I’m starting on a whole new YA fantasy called Long May She Reign, about a girl scientist who ends up queen after the whole court is assassinated.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Rhiannon. You can find Rhiannon at:

Twitter: @RhiannonKT
Tumblr: rhiannonbooks.tumblr.com

Rhiannon has generously offered a copy of A WICKED THING 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 28th. I’ll announce the winner on March 2nd. 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. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have a guest post by debut author Karen Bao and a giveaway of her science fiction YA DOVE ARISING.

Next Wednesday I have a guest post by debut author Alison DeCamp on marketing middle grade novels and a giveaway of MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES, her MG historical fiction similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 

The Monday after that I have an interview with debut author Victoria Aveyard and a giveaway of RED QUEEN, her YA fantasy/dystopian.

And Wednesday that week I have an interview with agent Alex Slater at Trident Media Group with a query critique giveaway. And he has great advice for self-published and small press authors too!

Friday that week I'm participating in the Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great new releases for you and an Amazon gift card if you don't like my choices.

The following Monday, I'm interviewing debut author N.A. Traver and giving away DUPLICITY, her YA cyber thriller. 

Hope to see you on Monday!


Alexandra Perchanidou said...

Thank you for the giveaway! alexperc92(at)windowslive(dot).com

Beth said...

Congratulations to Rhiannon! This sounds like an amazing book. (Loved your take on Twilight-style romances!) Great story about finding your agent, too. Good luck with this book.

Jemi Fraser said...

Rhiannon's book sounds great!
Can't wait to revisit with Pete and Weasel again in Lee's newest book too!

Bish Denham said...

Rhiannon's taken a well known story and added a very interesting twist to it. I like the idea of Aurora struggling with what she remembers/knows and the world she wakes up to 100 years later.

Congratulations to Lee!

~Sia McKye~ said...

That's a great idea for a story. As a princess, she hasn't had to deal with the real world of her time but at least it's familiar to her. Drop her a 100 years in the future finding solutions would even be harder to cope with much less find answers for her people. Would make a fascinating story.

Wishing you the best with A Wicked Thing, Rhiannon!

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Eileen said...

Awesome interview! Thanks so much for the giveaway :D

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great interview! I've always wondered about Aurora after the kiss . . . especially if she has to sleep through a 100 years.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats Rhiannon. Fun interview. Love the premise of your book. The cover rocks too. I'm going to squeee! The audiobook is on preorder. Yay

Angela Brown said...

Congrats to Rhiannon for getting her dream agent and a wonderful deal. Wishing her the best with her publications :-)

Valentina B-v said...

GFC: Valentina BV
E-mail: bv_byby27@yahoo.com
Shared on FB: https://www.facebook.com/valentina.bv.77/posts/810598399017762?pnref=story
Thanks for the giveaway!

cleemckenzie said...

Thanks for the shout out! Very nice of you. Great to find Rhiannon's book and I'd love to get the audiobook.

Jenni said...

Congrats, Rhiannon! Your book sounds amazing. I love fairy tale retellings, and the whole thing of "love at first sight" has always bothered me as well.
Such great tips for writing retellings, too! Thanks, Natalie, for another great interview!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She blogs about some of the same things I blog about.
Congratulations, Rhiannon.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful agent story. I'm glad it worked out.

I love the sound of this story!

Karen Lange said...

Congrats to Lee! And to Rhiannon too; it's nice to meet her. The dream agent - very inspiring. It can happen! :)

I'll pass on the giveaway. Have a great week!

DMS said...

Wonderful to see Lee's book here! I have it to read an can't wait to get started!

I loved hearing from Rhiannon. Not only does her retelling sound fascinating, but I love the cover. It was also great to learn about her path to publication. Wishing her the best of luck!

DMS said...

Oh- and thanks for the chance to win a copy. I Google +d the post and am off to tweet it now!

DL Hammons said...

Congrats to C. Lee and Rhiannon both! It's awesome to see friends having so much success! :)

Erin Fanning said...

As always, great interview: this piece of advice can apply to all writing, not just retelling fairy tales--"I think the most important thing is to be constantly interrogating and challenging the story you know. Why would someone act that way, what sort of person would really do this..." Thanks!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Congrats to Lee!!
And I loved the interview, in particular the way you became a writer. And great advice!

mshatch said...

I love fairy tales (I have the Pink, Blue, and Red Fairy Book) and Rhiannon's retelling sounds exactly like something I would love.

S.P. Bowers said...

I've got a soft spot for fairy tale stories. Most of my books are based on legends or fairy tales from other cultures. This book sounds just like something I would love!

sara (dot) bowers (at) cox (dot) net

Christine Rains said...

Congrats to Lee and to Rhiannon! I liked learning more about her and love the sound of her story. Good luck!

Heather said...

Two more great looking books to check out, thanks ladies! And I LOVE the cover of A Wicked Thing!

Rosalyn said...

I love the sound of this novel--I will definitely be watching for it! And the cover is gorgeous.

Michael G-G said...

Your interviews are always so insightful, Natalie.

I felt sorry that she was English, but her book isn't being published in England yet. Hopefully, the buzz over here will be so great that the home team will see the light soon.

dolorah said...

I like the sound of this sleeping beauty story.

Michele Manning said...

Congrats to Rhiannon! Definitely putting A Wicked Thing on my reading list!

Unknown said...

I love, love, love retellings of fables and fairytales (I do a bit of that myself but only in short stories), and this concept ROCKS! I love that she's not in a happily-ever-after situation, that it's 100 years later, and that she's got challenges to face. So even if I don't win in the giveaway, I'm going to hunt this one down for my library! tlcnine (at) gmail!!

erin said...

this looks and sounds awesome! I also really enjoy fairy tale retellings :) Thanks for sharing!

Courtney said...

I love retellings and have been looking forward to reading this for months!! Thanks for the giveaway :) :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I bet the princess would have issues after being asleep for so long. She's not going to just wake up, marry her kisser, and be happy forever.

Madeline Osigian said...

I loved the interview and the cover of the book.

Carl Scott said...

I've seen this book around a little and it looks like a fun read, thanks for the chance to win a copy.
I follow your blog faithfully by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
+1 I tweeted a link: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/567726393023156224
Have a great week and stay warm.

Beverley Baird said...

So enjoyed the interview - can't wait to read this fairy tale remake. Great giveaway!

Rosi said...

Great interview! I am trying to stay away from giveaways, but I do love fairy tale retellings and this one sounds great, so I'm in. Thanks for the chance. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/rosihollinbeck/status/567742038959849472 for an extra chance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! This book seems really interesting, cannot wait to read it soon.

Christina Fiorelli said...

I LOVE the kind of retelling Rhiannon created! It's a completely new story and one which hasn't ever been expanded upon.

LOVE what she said about love interests :)

GFC Christina Kit.

email subscriber ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Christina Fiorelli said...

I tweeted! https://twitter.com/christinafiorio/status/567752038030012416

GFC Christina Kit.

email subscriber ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Emily R. King said...

I've heard so many good things about this book. I can't wait to read it!

I'm totally in for the giveaway. I hope you're doing well, Natalie!

Stephen Tremp said...

Good luck to Cheryl and Rhiannon. I love twists on old stories. The world would be such a different place a hundred years from now. Aurora would probably look for something to eat first.

Danielle H. said...

I have to read this book! I love how you talked about adding character depth to fairy tale shells. thanks for the interview and for the giveaway. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/567777039445291009

Christina said...

I'm so intrigued by this novel's concept; I've been waiting for a "part two" of Sleeping Beauty for ages. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on feminist fairy tale retellings, and now my graduate work revolves around them, so I'm a little obsessed, and A Wicked Thing has been on my Goodreads to-read shelf for months for that reason. I'd be "wicked" lucky to get a copy of this for the giveaway.

Email: cecoll87(at)gmail(dot)com

Valerie Bodden said...

This sounds like a fantastic book! I'd love to be entered for the giveaway. Thanks!

Liz Brooks said...

Well, I'm always game for a Sleeping Beauty retelling, so I'll definately add this to my reading list. Thanks for sharing this interview! Rhiannon's newest project sounds equally fascinating, so I'll definately look forward to that as well.

Unknown said...

This sounds really good and I'm super excited!!! Thanks for the giveaway!!!

Anonymous said...

I've heard so much about this one. Thanks for the giveaway!

Susan T. said...

I love fairy tale retellings so this is definitely on my TBR list! I've never been very fond of Sleeping Beauty but this might change my mind.
My tweet: http://www.literaryrambles.com/2015/02/rhiannon-thomas-interview-and-wicked.html

Anonymous said...

This was a fantastic interview!!! Thanks for the giveaway . . . infoatjamieayresdotcom

Greg Pattridge said...

I don't usually have much time to read YA, but this one I'd make an exception. Super interview. You always get a lot of depth in the answers to your questions. Keep up the good work.

Mary Preston said...

This sounds like a marvellous re-telling.


Crystal Collier said...

TBR. No questions asked. I'm totally in for the giveaway. (Please?)

Nas said...

A fantastic interview. Thanks for the giveaway!

Kayla Beck said...

Thank you for the great giveaway, and I really enjoyed the interview!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Rhiannon! Your book sounds fantastic! Love fairytale retellings and the like.

Robin said...

I'm such a sucker for fairytale retellings. I can't wait to read this one. I loved her advise on doing a retelling. Thanks for the great interview!

Kim Van Sickler said...

A Wicked Thing sounds like a meaty read. I'm a huge fan of Grimm's fairy tales. My 1937 edition is dog-eared, and not just because of age.

Sherrie Petersen said...

I love fairytale retellings and I love how she's reimagined Aurora's world. Definitely adding this one to my list!

Stephanie Garber said...

This was a great interview! I'm usually not a fan of Sleeping Beauty, but I loved everything about this interview. I'm totally going to read this book now--it really sounds amazing! And I'm excited about your newest project as well!

WA said...

Love the concept of The Wicked Thing. Looking forward to reading it.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Oooh! Count me in the giveaway. A Sleeping Beauty who is not resigned to her fate intrigues me!


Mary Holm said...

So awesome. I read the first page of this novel and was dying to read the rest immediately. What an intriguing premise, Rhiannon! Great interview, Natalie!

And I tweeted about about the giveaway.

Unknown said...

I don't usually read re-imagined fairy tales, but this one sounds far more clever and interesting than others I've seen! Congrats to Rhiannon, and I wish her much success! :)

Robyn Campbell said...

I will add this one to my list. It sounds great. What a great idea. Hmm. Why didn't I think of that? Great interview. I look forward to that guest post. I hope I don't forget about it.

Rare N Defunct Radio Stations said...

i only want it for the cover.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Congrats to Lee! What a wonderful cover with no knees in sight! Great interview with Rhiannon! Who can resist a "Sansa Stark protagonist?"


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Great interview. I like retold fairy tales, and I like the different approach here to a female protagonist: not an "action princess" but someone that has to grow into her strength. I would enjoy reading this one.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I also meant to say Congratulations to Lee.

Danielle said...

This book looks really interesting - can't wait to check it out! Thanks for hosting a giveaway too :) deduvick (at) gmail (dot) com

Patchi said...

Love the premise of this novel. Sleeping Beauty is my favorite fairytale.

Jocelyn Rish said...

Congrats to both Lee and Rhiannon. I'd read about A WICKED THING earlier and thought it sounded great, and after reading the interview, I want to read it even more!

Sayomay said...

I follow via email xeno_turtle(at)yahoo(dot)com
I cannot wait to read this!!
Mary G Loki

Ophelia L. said...

I've been wanting to read a Sleeping Beauty story! My daughter is very much into Sleeping Beauty right now. :)