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! For those who celebrate Easter, I hope you had a fantastic holiday.

I have a winner to announce.

The winner of BLACKBIRD FLY is Mary Holm!

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 thrilled to have debut author Fonda Lee here to share about her futuristic YA science fiction novel ZEROBOXER that releases on April 8th. It’s gotten fantastic reviews and sounds like an action packed story with secrets that I’m hoping to read.

Here’s a blurb:

A Sci-Fi Thrill Ride Set in the Action-Packed Sports Arena of the Future

A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr the Raptor Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isnt long before shes made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet thats fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

 Hi Fonda! Thanks for joining us.

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

When I was about eight years old I told my parents I wanted to be a writer. They told me that was nice, but I’d better get good grades and a “real job” first; I could be a writer “later in life.”

I wrote novels on the school bus, during high school biology class, and late at night during my college years and afterward. In the meantime, I majored in business and went to work in management consulting and corporate strategy for nearly a decade. A few years ago I had a epiphany that leaving my real passion for “later in life” was a terrible idea. So I made the conscious decision to finally get serious about my goal of writing novels for publication.

2. That's great how you decided to follow your dream. Where did you get the idea for your story?

Zeroboxer was inspired by a number of things: my love of science fiction, martial arts, and action movies, combined with my background working in a sports company and seeing first hand the enormous amount of marketing, money and emotion involved in the athletics industry. It all came together in my mind as a nascent idea about a futuristic prizefighter who ends up inspiring and representing Earth. Everything else fell into place.

3. That's cool that you could draw on your work too. Carr is a champion in zeroboxing. You’ve been into kung fu and karate for a long time. How did this help you, if at all, in crafting the zeroboxing scenes? And did you have to do any research into boxing?

Having a martial arts background definitely helped when it came to creating the sport of zeroboxing. I know a lot about how much fighters rely on weight, rooted stance, and footwork, so it was a lot of fun for me to imagine how combat would happen in a zero-gravity situation—what constraints would have to exist, what moves would or wouldn’t work, what new ones would develop. Since my education is in traditional Asian martial arts, I did a lot of additional research into boxing, MMA, and jiu-jitsu. I watched a lot of fights.

4. Sounds like you learned a lot. I’ve read reviews that say that your world building is “well thought out in its everyday details.” Share about your world building process and how you crafted the day to day details of Carr’s life.

One thing to remember about world building: a fictional world feels real not because of what is different,
but because of what is the same. So even though Zeroboxer takes place far in the future when people live on space stations and other planets, the day to day details of life are very familiar. Sporting matches still have rowdy fans and loud announcers, athletes still have to deal with marketing and press attention, people are still people. So my world building process involves researching and figuring out what is different (space travel, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, etc) and then letting it exist as context around the far more recognizable aspects of our society.

5. I think that is fantastic advice to keep some things that are familiar when creating a new world. Did you have any challenges writing from a guy’s POV? If so, how did you overcome them? And what tips do you have for women authors who want their main character to be a male?

Honestly, no, I don’t find it any more challenging to write from a male POV. I am a female writer with very stereotypically “masculine” tastes. I drag my husband to action movies and MMA fights; you would have to pay me to see a romantic comedy. When it comes to writing fiction, characters come into my head as male or female, but I don’t ever approach them thinking, “I’m setting out to write a male (or female) character.”

As for advice, I would say: don’t force it. Trying hard to make a character “more” male or female (or of a certain race or culture or age) risks playing into shallow caricature. Regardless of their age, gender, or race, tap into the essential part of each character that is in yourself (and all of your characters are in you, to some extent). Carr is driven, competitive, loves what he does, and doesn’t want to let people down—those things come from me, and once I identified them, it was easy to write him; no matter that he’s a young man living centuries in the future.

6. Your agent is Jim McCarthy. How did he become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Jim became my agent off of a regular query in August of 2013. We did a round of revision and went on submission in October. We got interest pretty quickly and sold the book to Flux (the YA imprint of Llewellyn) just before Christmas.

7. It's reassuring to know that regular querying does work.  I saw on your website that besides your launch party, you’re also doing a joint book signing with Susan Adrian and Cat Winters. And you went to the ALA Midwinter in Chicago in January. How did these events happen for you and what was your experience at the ALA conference?

ALA Midwinter was a fantastic experience; I was on the Dark Fantasy & Science fiction panel, as well as the Diverse Debuts panel, and I had the opportunity to sign books, meet librarians, and spend time with fellow authors. ALA was an event I was invited to by my publisher, Flux, who also helped set up my launch party. With other events, such as the bookstore signing with Cat and Susan, it was a case of partnering and collaborating with other authors to make something happen.

8. You also having training as a corporate strategist. Has this helped you at all in your marketing strategies? And what else are you planning to do to promote your book?

I don’t know how much it helps; marketing and promoting your book is not rocket science and certainly doesn’t require an MBA. A lot of it is simply work and common sense and what you have the appetite and bandwidth to do. That said, having been trained to think strategically about marketing has helped me to focus on being consistent and effective in what I do as far as promotion goes. I have a pretty laser-sharp vision of what kind of books I want to write and what I want my brand to be, so I do try to make sure everything I do, from my website to my book trailer to my swag, reflects that.

9. What are you working on now?

I’m writing a fantasy novel for adults, and I have another YA sci-fi in the works. I won’t say much more about them right now, so as not to jinx them.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Fonda. You can find Fonda at


Website: www.fondalee.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FondaJLee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fonda.lee.94
Tumblr: fondalee.tumblr.com
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7705004.Fonda_Lee
Add Zeroboxer to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20320562-zeroboxer


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Zeroboxer-Fonda-Lee/dp/0738743380
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zeroboxer-fonda-lee/1119693789?ean=9780738743387
Indiebound - http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780738743387
Powell’s - http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9780738743387-0

Fonda generously offered a copy of ZEROBOXER 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 April 18th. I’ll announce the winner on April 20th. 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:

Next Monday, Alex Cavanaugh will be here to share about his new adult science fiction book, DRAGON OF THE STARS, and to give advice about social media and blogging. 

The following Monday I have a guest post by Megan Morrison and a giveaway of GROUNDED: THE ADVENTURES OF RAPUNZEL, her YA fairytale retelling. 

The Monday after that I have an interview with Sabaa Tahir and a giveaway of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, her YA fantasy that is one of the books getting lots of buzz.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Donna K. Weaver said...

Love the sound of this book. I've added it to my TBR list but it's not an audiobook. *pouts*

Vanessa Morgan said...

We don't often see a girl writing on sci-fi, martial arts, and action. How fascinating.

Ellie said...

Ah this book sounds kick ass. I love everything about it so far, sci-fi, martial arts, a bit of romance...I can't wait to read it!
Thanks for the giveaway!
Elliemoreton@gmail dot com

Unknown said...

The book is right up my alley. Thanks for the giveaway.

cleemckenzie said...

How wonderful to know at eight that you have your real career in mind. Of course, my parents would have said the same thing about a real job, if I'd had a clue I'd wind up writing books.

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the giveaway and post! I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/585123261228437504

Liz Brooks said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! When I first caught wind of ZEROBOXER a few weeks ago, I was immediately interested. So it's great to read more about it. It's definitely going on my TBR list. :) I also tweeted (@adelethelaptop) about the giveaway. Thanks again!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

I'm always impressed by world building that's well thought out. That's excellent advice, Fonda, to focus on the everyday details that are the same as our world.

Fantastic cover! Thanks for the chance to win, Natalie.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love your thoughts on writing from the male perspective. I've been asked how I do that with my male characters, and I really think that it isn't as hard as people make it out to be, but then I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid - climbing trees, wrestling (not just arm wrestling) with the neighbor boys - so maybe I have it easier than some ladies? I took dance classes, too, so I added grass stains to the knees of my dance tights . . .
Anyway, sorry for the TMI, thanks for sharing your journey and your perspective.

And thanks for sharing such great authors, Natalie!

Liz said...

That's a great concept and I'm looking forward to reading your book!

Karen Lange said...

It's great to meet Fonda and hear about her journey. Had to chuckle at the "later in life" thing. It's similar to what my parents told me when I said I wanted to major in English in college. Wishing her the all the best!

I will pass on the giveaway. Thanks so much for hosting, Natalie!

Tammy Theriault said...

Love the energy of the book!! Hugs for Natalie. Such an awesome host!!

Rosi said...

Thanks for a very interesting interview. Amazing to find someone who knew what she wanted to do when she was eight! Since I'm buried in books, I will have to pass on the giveaway.

Stephanie Garber said...

Great interview! And I am so excited for this book! I'm always on the look out for good YA sci-fi and I keep hearing fantastic things about ZEROBOXER!

Stephen Tremp said...

It's great to meet Fonda. Love the premise and he weightless combat sport of zeroboxing will have an appeal to a large audience.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderfully strong MC. Thanks for the giveaway!

DMS said...

I love the cover of Zeroboxer! Wow! Sounds like a great book. I really enjoyed the interview and learning about Fonda's writing dreams and her inspiration for Zeroboxer. Thanks for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

That cover is intense. It was interesting to read about what inspired the story.

Valerie Bodden said...

Sounds like a great premise! So glad to hear you decided to go for it and follow your dream. Thanks for the giveaway!

M Pax said...

Ooo. Sci-fi. Will have to add that to my kindle.

WA said...

Excellent interview. Inspired by Fonda's comment about having an "epiphany that leaving my real passion for “later in life” was a terrible idea." So true!

Susan T. said...

Zeroboxer is such a cool concept! I'm pretty excited for it!
My tweet: https://twitter.com/suekitty13/status/586651982271643649
email: sueterendy at hotmail dot com

Rachna Chhabria said...

Nice to meet Fonda. I love the concept of Zeroboxer.

Heather said...

Congrats to Fonda on her release! What a fabulous cover, and I love the concept!

Anonymous said...

Yay! So glad your hosting a giveaway for this book. I've had my eye on Zeroboxer for a while now. :) :) :)

I followed through twitter (@cindyk33159)... is that ok?
This is my email: xinyi1467 (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks! :)

Alisha S. said...

I love the cover! Thanks for the giveaway!
sienkiel1821 at yahoo dot com

GFC follower: Alisha