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!


Dennis Staginnus is releasing his new contemporary fantasy novel, THE EYE OF ODIN, the first in his
RAIDERS OF FOLKLORE series, on March 15. Here's a blurb: Two fifteen-year-olds, one a thief and the other a witch-for-hire, must find hidden markers describing the whereabouts of the Eye of Odin before the Viking goddess of death uses it to destroy mankind. And here's a few links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dstaginnus

And I have a winner to announce.

The winner of DOVE ARISING is Liz Brooks!

Congrats! 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 excited to have debut author N.K. Traver here to share about her YA cyber thriller DUPLICITY that releases on March 17, 2015. It sounds like a fantastic can’t put down book. And it’s got great blurbs including one from Kendare Blake, the author of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, who said "An intriguing, fast-paced read. It's the dark, malevolent-mirror-filled soul baby of Tron and The Matrix that I never knew I wanted. Don't miss it!"

And here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.
In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he's gone.

Huffington Post lists N.K. Traver's Duplicity as part of one of the great YA book trends to look for in 2015!

Hi N.K.! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks for having me! I grew up in Colorado, and love all things outdoors—horseback riding, backpacking, Jungle Ball (croquet in an unmowed lawn)—and would do unspeakable things for dark chocolate. I became an author accidentally. Writing has always been a part of my life, from the picture books my elementary school “published” to the dozens of stories I started but never finished, to writing with friends throughout high school and college. But it didn’t occur to me that I could turn all those words into a book until a few years ago. I think I was watching some terrible reality TV thing and thinking about everything I’ve written, and how it couldn’t possibly be that hard to get published if this was on TV. Hahahahaha…

2. That's funny! I read that your book was inspired by a video game series. Tell us about it and how else your story idea developed.

Yes! The greatest series ever – Tomb Raider. In one of the games, there’s a room where the main character, Lara Croft, has to beat an evil twin of herself in order to progress. The twin moves with Lara like a mirror. I was thinking about that scene a few years later when it sparked the question, “What if your mirror reflection started moving on its own?” I then matched the premise with a character who had invested a lot into his visual appearance and began tearing it down, as you do. From there the story took off on its own.

3. You've given us all permission not to feel guilty for watching bad TV and playing video games. You were a computer programmer, though you never hacked any computer system. Did your computer experiences help you with that aspect of the story and what advice do you have to other authors who may not have your computer experience who want to incorporate computers into their stories?

Oh yes, my day job helped greatly in visualizing this book. Programming gives me an inside look at how computers interpret code and how different systems work together. Not all programmers are hackers, but all hackers are programmers, if that makes sense. So, combined with some online research, I could make a pretty good guess at what you’d be able to steal if you gained access to someone else’s website. For authors who want to incorporate computers in their story but don’t have such experience, I would suggest taking a basic programming course to get an idea of what goes into making a program work.

4. What was your process of developing Brandon as a character? Did you face any challenges and how did you overcome them?

Brandon came to me very naturally. There’s a little more of me in him than I like to admit, which made it easy to figure out how he’d react in different situations. I really didn’t have any problems developing him. But when I’ve run into issues with other characters, I usually find it’s because I don’t know enough of their backstory and what’s shaped them. Once I figure that out, it’s smooth sailing.

5. I think that's a common reason why people struggle with their characters. Your agent is Brianne Johnson. And I read that you won two online contests in one month that resulted in eleven requests. Wow! Share how that resulted in you getting your agent and what the process was of getting a publisher contract.

It was a crazy month! I’m still floating on clouds. It had been years of silence or “no’s” and when I saw my book had made it into that first contest, I yelled in American Eagle and almost forgot to pay for the shirt I was buying. (The clerk soon knew why I was so distracted. My entire life story of why. #sorrynotsorry) Brianne requested pages from DUPLICITY from one of the contests, and that partial soon turned to a full. Then I got an offer of rep from another contest agent, and Bri quickly finished reading and offered as well. I knew she was the right agent for me after we geeked out about the same favorite parts of the book.

Getting the book deal for DUPLICITY went mercifully quick. Bri sent the book off to a handful of editors, and I settled in to wait (read: I panic-binged cookies and watched How I Met Your Mother reruns). We got a couple of “no’s” off the bat, but two months in, I got an excited email that an editor at St. Martin’s Press was taking the book to an acquisitions meeting. Two days later, I was at lunch with my co-workers when I got a very excited call that we had an offer.

6. Wow! That's an awesome road to agent to publication story. One piece of advice you’ve given to aspiring authors is to “join Twitter immediately.” Share why you think that’s so important and how you use it to develop relationships with other authors and readers.

Aside from being a great source of information on upcoming contests and writing craft, Twitter has an incredible network of writers who are constantly lifting each other up. It’s where I found my critique partners, countless writing friends, and how I knew about the contests that led me to my agent. Agents often tweet helpful hints about queries or common writing mistakes. I use it to stay sane, honestly. Writing is such a solitary thing, and it’s great to have a place to turn when you need someone who understands just what kind of hell it is to smash an 80,000-word novel into a two sentence pitch.

7. You're making me want to get on Twitter more. Besides Twitter, how are you planning to market your book?

My publisher is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in that arena, ensuring the book is available in all major bookstores and libraries. My piece of the plan involves Twitter, my blog, and a few strategically spaced Goodreads giveaways. Starting in January, I’ve been posting about once a week on my blog with little teasers from the book and even a sample of the first two chapters. There’s also a wicked-fun “Are You the Good or Evil Twin” personality quiz I’ll be flaunting like a kid with the last piece of cake.

8. What are you working on now?

That’s a very good question. I just finished revisions on a weird little YA horror that I hope to sell this year (part of it is literally about destroying the season of winter, if you were wondering how I feel about cold and darkness), so I’ve been bouncing back and forth between other ideas, trying to figure out which one I want to get serious with. I guess you’d say I’m working on getting something to work on.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, N.K. You can find N.K. on http://www.nktraver.com, on Twitter (http://twitter.com/NKTraver), and on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7501918.N_K_Traver).

N.K. and her publisher Thomas Dunne Books has generously offered an ARC of DUPLICITY 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 March 21st. I’ll announce the winner on March 23rd. 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. This is for US and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have a guest post by debut author Stacey Lee and agent Kristin Nelson with  a query critique giveaway by Kristin Nelson and an ARC giveaway of UNDER A PAINTED SKY, Stacey's YA historical fiction novel.

Next Wednesday I have a giveaway of FLUNKED FAIRY TALE REFORM SCHOOL, a MG fantasy.

And the Monday after that I have an interview with debut author Erin Entrada Kelly and a giveaway of BLACKBIRD FLY, her multicultural contemporary MG  novel.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Caroline Rose Starr and a giveaway of  BLUE BIRDS, her new MG historical novel.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Jemi Fraser said...

LOVE the premise of a reflection taking over - sounds like a great story with a great character. Adding to my wish list :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

And ... it's an audiobook. Woohoo! Fun interview. So far, I've never had to think about what project to do next, just which one to work on.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That is wonderful you are working with the first agent who offered. Entering contests does pay off.

Christine Rains said...

N.K.'s book sounds awesome! I love that it's based on Tomb Raider, and I have a particular liking for the protagonist's name since it's my son's. Good luck to N.K. and Dennis!

Karen Lange said...

Congrats to N.K.! It's nice to meet her and hear about how her book came about. I love hearing about where authors get their ideas. They are everywhere. :)

I'll pass on the giveaway this time around. Happy Monday!

smiles said...

Oh, this sounds creepy. Like if Peter Pan's shadow decided it should switch places with him. Fabulous :D Love that it's about a hacker, too. Not many of the comp sci people I went to school/work with have tattoos and a bad guy image, but they hide just the same behind their computers. Online chatting is easier than in person. Different world from most people's!

Abby said...

What an awesome premise. I loved hearing about how the writer's programming background helped inform the story, too.

Thanks for the giveaway! afmurphy26 (at) gmail (dot) com

Julie Dao said...

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of DUPLICITY in a Goodreads contest. And I remember seeing DUPLICITY in the writing contests years ago and thinking this author was going major places. Fast forward to 2015 - N.K. Traver's mentorship and friendship are a huge part of why I have an agent now (after entering online contests as well) and my copy of DUPLICITY will be sitting on my shelf in a week! A well-deserved congrats to the author!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I hope I'm the good twin.
I never feel guilty about television or video games. It's all in the name of research.
Congratulations, NK.

ELAdams said...

This sounds so awesome! I can't wait to read it.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

What a fantastic premise for a book. I'm hooked already.

cleemckenzie said...

That hacker is one intriguing character. Love the cover, too.

DL Hammons said...

N.K. has what looks like a great book there and I loved hearing her story. Thank you for introducing her to us. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

That sounds like an interesting book,and I love that "Jungle Ball" version of croquet- I think the only kind of croquet I played as a kid. :)

Kelly Steel said...

I loved reading this interview. Congrats to N.K. Sounds an awesome read.

Emily R. King said...

Duplicity sounds amazing. I'm adding it to my TBR list on Goodreads!

Jessica Lawson said...

This book sounds so cool! Congrats to the author!

Jenni said...

What a fantastic premise! I loved reading about how quickly things moved because of those contests. Congrats, N.K.!

~Sia McKye~ said...

What a fun but creepy premise. A mirrored image taking on a life of it's own--that would have had me covering up mirrors for a while. :-)
Sia McKye Over Coffee

Unknown said...

I love the concept!! Sounds brilliant. It's been awhile since I've purchased a new book and I feel my weakness is creeping back in! I need to take a look!

Tammy Theriault said...

Love the cover of Duplicity. Really ties in with the blurb!!

Rosi said...

This sounds like a terrific read. However, please let someone who has a shorter TBR list win this one.

Unknown said...

Love the Duplicity


Rachna Chhabria said...

I love the idea of this book; a reflection having a mind of its own sounds super intriguing.

Liz Brooks said...

I always find it encouraging to learn that even successful authors hear "no" a lot--it makes getting an agent/book deal seem slightly less impossible. Thanks for sharing! Also, I forgot to comment earlier but I just wanted to say congrats on getting your new job. It sounds exciting! :) And thanks for the Dove Arising giveaway. :)

Stephanie said...

This concept sounds amazing, especially since coding and hacking are typically marketed to boys. This is so not my usual but there's something really appealing about it, and I'm dying to read it. Actually, Natalie was one of the mentors I chose in a Twitter pitch contest a while back. Nothing came of it – I ended up getting my agent traditionally – but her publication story is pretty cool and I'm excited to see her book is finally available.

LSpeers said...

I love the concept for this book. It doesn't really remind me of anything else that I've read. I'm excited to read it!
Email: lcspeers@gmail.com

Kimberly V said...

I've been wanting to read this since I first heard about it. The anticipation is killing me. It sounds so good. I shared on Twitter.
k3kdpv at gmail dot com

Carmen said...

Wow! Sounds fabulous. I'm excited to read it!


Teri Polen said...

This book sounds fascinating - can't wait to read it! Tweeted @tpolen6

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!

Linda Romer said...

I would love to read Duplicity, thank you.

Susan T. said...

This is such a unique premise! I hope my reflection doesn't get any ideas! ;)
email: sueterendy at hotmail dot com
My tweet: https://twitter.com/suekitty13/status/575425494759305216

Jocelyn Rish said...

I first 'met' N.K. through Pitch Wars, so it's inspiring to learn that her road to an agent was through a contest. I've wanted to read her book since I first heard about it, so I'm glad the big release date is almost here!

Cherie Colyer said...

The Eye of Odin and Duplicity both sound like great books. N.K., it was great to meet you. I always enjoy hearing other authors journey to publication.

Arlee Bird said...

This sounds like a story for our times.

I'm still trying to figure the effectiveness of Twitter, but tweeting in numbers can increase visibility.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

M Pax said...

Congrats to Dennis and NK. I really like Twitter. I've met a lot of amazing people on there.

Nas said...

Congratulations to Dennis and NK. I would love to read this.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I watched plenty of TV and spent hours playing games in the past. Those two things stimulated my imagination.

This looks like an awesome read. I need to use Twitter more.

Sarah said...

This looks awesome. :)

DMS said...

This book sounds fascinating! I love that it was inspired by a video game and a twist on one of the levels/rooms. Awesome interview! Wishing N.K. Traver the best of luck! Thanks for sharing. :)

Unknown said...

I love how the book was inspired by Lara Croft, and the idea of how the thing a person's invested a lot in is the thing that starts disappearing. Great conflict and stakes. I'm loving the cover! Wishing NK much success!

Cherie Reich said...

Norse/Viking mythology is cool. Congrats to Dennis!

Loved the interview! How you came up with the idea is so cool! I've wondered about looking into a mirror and seeing your reflection move without you before too. LOL! Congrats, NK!

Elizabeth Chang said...

I follow on GFC-Elizabeth Chang
Tweet: https://twitter.com/bloom1929/status/580535770085236736
My email is elizabethwmchang@gmail.com

Andrea Carroll said...

Thank you... sounds wonderful!! My students are going to enjoy it!