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! Are you having a good start to your summer? I am. Since the end of June I've bought a new car, a 2017 Toyota Corolla. It's the first that I bought on my own. And I went on a fun weekend trip with my boyfriend. Have lots of other good things planned too.

And thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. I had a fantastic birthday!


Today I've got some fantastic follower news. Beverly Stowe McClure's new MG PRINCESS BREEZE was recently released. It sounds very suspenseful and filled with high stakes. Here's a blurb: When Breeze Brannigan, her parents, and her best friends, sail to Isla del Fuego to visit the prince she met at school, she doesn't count on a legend coming to life or finding herself in the middle of a battle that can have only one winner. What's a girl to do?

And some links:
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ybpt23px
Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/y9b7wo75
4RV Publishing: http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/mcclure.php

Now I'm excited to have debut author Corabel Shofner here to share about her debut MG contemporary ALMOST PARADISE. It sounds like an inspiring story that even adults can really enjoy. My daughter has always loved pigs, and I have a soft spot for any books with pigs.

Here's a blurb of ALMOST PARADISE from Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Ruby Clyde Henderson’s life turns upside down the day her mother’s boyfriend
holds up a convenience store, and her mother is wrongly imprisoned for assisting with the crime. Ruby and her pet pig, Bunny, find their way to her estranged Aunt Eleanor's home. Aunt Eleanor is a nun who lives on a peach orchard called Paradise, and had turned away from their family long ago. With a little patience, she and Ruby begin to get along―but Eleanor has secrets of her own, secrets that might mean more hard times for Ruby.

Ruby believes that she's the only one who can find a way to help heal her loved ones, save her mother, and bring her family back together again. But being in a family means that everyone has to work together to support each other, and being home doesn't always mean going back to where you came from.

Now here's Corabel!


You know what? I CAN work with an editor and I am excessively proud to have discovered this about myself. While working on ALMOST PARADISE with Farrar, Straus, and Giroux I practically earned a post graduate degree in editing — and it was free.

Early in the submission process, I began talking with two excellent editors, Margaret Ferguson and Susan Dobinick, at FSG. They didn’t make an offer immediately but I was delighted to be in conversation with professionals of this caliber. That they had read my book and could talk about it in detail made me downright giddy. After several conversations. Susan took my book ‘up to acquisitions,’ but — it — was — rejected. (Apparently, the boss didn’t think teachers and librarians would get behind a middle grade comedy about a little girl who’s mother is on death row.)

I took to my bed, with a pillow over my head, my ego deflated. Then I received an email from my son Alex which pulled me out of despair (you see my entire family was awaiting word from FSG.)

Click here for the email that got me up and writing. His message has been shared widely among writers who know how difficult editing can be. Alex’s advice, impersonal and specific, gave me the courage to commit my book to major surgery.

I braced myself by saving a draft, then I sat in front of my fireplace during a snow storm and put my story on the operating table. I sliced it open, clamped the blood vessels, replaced organs, then stitched it up. Much to my astonishment, the patient lived. Susan took the new manuscript back to acquisitions and they bought my book. My far flung family celebrated while my son Alex took champagne to my agent’s office in New York.

Removing the death penalty from a book about the death penalty was by far the most challenging editorial change but it was not the last one I needed to do.The entire middle section was removed, along with some of my favorite adventures. Characters were reshaped and realigned. Inconsistencies were identified. And Ruby Clyde was NOT allowed to hitchhike.

This is a legitimate question. How do you keep your integrity as a writer when someone suggests changing your work?

Here’s the thing. I am a debut novelist. My editors have years of experience in the business. They have every reason to make my book better so I listened carefully to their concerns and so often they were right. Of course, this only works if your editor is insightful and understands your book. (Much like the quality of a marriage depends on choosing the right spouse.)

Here’s how I navigated my ego while editing ALMOST PARADISE:

1) In response to every idea, my ego flared but I sat with it. “No way,” said my head. “I’ll think about it,” said my mouth.

2) Some comments made me feel “caught.” I hadn’t thought through something and I knew it. These moments, more than anything, made me trust my editors more than my ego.

3) Why did the middle section need to be yanked?!? Why? I love it. My ego revolted because some of the best parts are in the middle but . . . best for what? I couldn’t let go of my babies. But guess what I could and I did let them go because the section was too long, the story lagged, and the topic was dated.

4) Ruby Clyde can’t hitchhike. Why not?!? She has to hitchhike.There was no other way to get her to the ranch. I rewrote the hitchhiking scenes several times but none of them worked.(This is why my book was delayed six months.) Sigh. I was stuck. Nevertheless, I persisted and found a solution.

Occasionally during the process, I pushed back and won my point. We worked as a team and I never felt my integrity was compromised. It is clear now that my original manuscript, which I believed was ready to publish, is not the book I would want on the shelves. Even my ego has to agree.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Corabel! You can find Corabel at:

Corabel has generously offered a copy of ALMOST PARADISE for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment through July 29th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

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 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up. FYI I will be taking some weeks off in July and August since the summer tends to be slow and I use this time to start preparing my schedule for 2018.

Wednesday August 2nd I have an interview with debut author Kate Slivensky and a giveaway of her MG science fiction THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY and my IWSG post.

Monday August 14th I have a guest post by debut author Lana Popovich and giveaway of her YA contemporary fantasy WICKED LIKE WILDFIRE

Monday August 21st I have an interview with debut author Melissa Roske and a giveaway of her MG contemporary KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN

Hope to see you on Wednesday, August 2nd!


S.P. Bowers said...

Outside editing is so important. They're not trying to take away the rights of the writer, they're just trying to help us see what we're too close to the ms to see on our own.

Greg Pattridge said...

It's always fun to have a new car. Glad your are enjoying it, Natalie. Congratulations to Corabel and her new book. Her insights into the editing process were fascinating.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's hard when you have to do that, but taking their advice will lead to a better story. I've had no problem working with the editors with my publisher.
Congratulations to Beverly!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great article. Editing is tough, but my stories benefit from it. Could not do it without those patient editors.

Thanks, Alex.

cleemckenzie said...

"Ego deflation" is the worst. I have a special pillow for that moment because it seems to always follow the "high" I get after finishing a first draft. Congratulations to Beverly and Corabel!

Danielle H. said...

I loved this interview today as it pertains to my own writing. Part of the reason I haven't revised my novel is that it needs major cuts and additions. I'm reading more middle grade this year to try and help me learn what makes a book great and what makes me connect with characters. I shared on my tumblr as this is excellent for all writers to read: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/163099453737/corabel-shofner-and-almost-paradise-giveaway

Andrea Mack said...

of the Thanks for sharing your struggles with the revision process. It's nice to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Pat Hatt said...

Getting the right editor that one clicks with sure is grand. And yeah, sometimes sure can't let what our head thinks first pop on out of our mouth.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I was at a conference a few months ago where an agent said just about anything goes in YA and MG. I didn't really believe it so I'm glad to hear that hitchhiking and death penalty stuff wasn't so cool. Putting that ego aside is so important. I often start out saying 'no way' but I have learned to let go and trust the editors.

Chrys Fey said...

Yay Beverly!

It's sometimes hard to set aside our ego, but it's essential for the sake of our stories.

Patricia T. said...

Congratulations to Cora for persevering! It's great that Cora got along so well with the editors. I loved their honesty. They really challenged her and made her book shine. Sounds like an great read!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Glad you had a nice birthday, Natalie. Enjoy your time off.

Great interview. "Nevertheless, I persisted..." -- Yay for Corabel! I'd love to win this book.

Stephanie Faris said...

Such good points. I deal with this all the time. There's something internal that screams out when someone suggests changes. But it always makes the work stronger. I think it helps that I write for businesses for a living and NOBODY will bang your ego around like a bunch of businesspeople. I just had one say, "I rewrote most of the sentences to make them stronger" in an article I wrote about retirement savings accounts. I actually need a glass of wine to deal with that one. Couldn't see how their rewrites made my sentences stronger...but their egos are more important than ours. Book editors respect us far more, I've found.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Even though I've self-pubbed a number of things, I have had to make changes to my work because my beta readers, cps, and editor insisted. I had to come up with a way for my characters to travel in my fantasy world - and it took changing my entire series, but it made it stronger.
Congrats Corabel!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Oh, my mind sometimes takes a holiday. Thank you so much, Natalie, for mentioning Princess Breeze. She's so happy to be here. Have a great Tuesday.

caroline yu said...

I would love to be entered in the book giveaway and mentioned the contest on facebook. My email is c.roberts.yu@gmaildotcom. Thanks!

Joanne Roberts said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing your growing pains.

Unknown said...

I would love a chance to win the giveaway. I mentioned the contest on twitter. monicachess26(@)gmail(.)com

Carl Scott said...

Almost Paradise sounds like a wonderful story, and well worth the pain of the editing process. I'd love to win a copy, thanks for the chance.
I follow your blog by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
+1 entry - I tweeted a link: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/887463219966615552

Mirka Breen said...

WI get it. Revising to editorial feedback when the comments don't give me an "AH-HA" moment is like walking though cement. You are trying to make changes that you don't agree with. You feel misunderstood, even abused.
But it's none of the above. It's the point the work has moved from being yours alone, and that's what is really hard. Your kid's growing up, (in this case kid= your book) and will soon be in the world, so to speak.

Rosi said...

Wow. This book sounds amazing. i want to read it. I would love to have a son like Alex to spur me on. What a terrific email. Thanks for sharing all this and for a chance to win. I Tweeted about the giveaway.

mshatch said...

Almost Paradise sounds fabulous. And who doesn't like pigs? And I totally agree with Corabel on so many points, but especially the first one. I feel the same way when my CP makes a suggestion. At first it's What? Is she nuts? Which gradually merges into, ok, maaaybe she has a good point, lol.

Jenni said...

What a fantastic post about dealing with editing! It must have been daunting taking out the whole middle of her book. I also tend to have a strong reaction to negative critiques at first, but once I let it sit awhile, I see the possibilities.
Congrats to Corabel!

Unknown said...

Great blog :)

Would you mind checking out my book reviews blog at https://elsbookreviews.blogspot.ca/ and possibly give it a follow? Super excited to read your posts!

- El

Denise Covey said...

Hey Natalie, I'm a bit late, but here I am. I enjoyed reading Corabel's journey with editors. I'm sure every experience is different.

DMS said...

I loved reading about how Corabel navigated her ego when working with her editors.

Wonderful to learn more about this book and author. I have seen the cover around, but didn't know much about it. Thanks for sharing!