Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • 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
  • Alex Brown Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/9/2024
  • Leslie Zampetti Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/7/2024

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 Wednesday Everyone! I've got a lot to share with you today.


I posted about this on Monday, November 27th but wanted to post it again in case you missed it. Here's some helpful information that Mark Gottlieb from Trident Media Group e-mailed me about. #1 Literary Agency Trident Media Group's Leading Literary Agents Take Book Publishing Q&As in #TMGTalks on Twitter Mon. Dec. 11, 12-2 PM EDT. This is a great opportunity for you to get your questions answered!

It's time for another IWSG Post!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.
The co-hosts this month are Co-Hosts:  Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

Optional Question: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

In terms of my writing, there are two things that I would have done differently. First, I would have picked up my manuscript earlier in the year if I had realized that I was ready to try writing fiction again. I'm enjoying it and seeing more growth as a writer than I imagined.

Secondly, I would have tried to schedule more regular time to devote to writing for myself. It is a constant struggle between the need to pick up more writing jobs as a contract writer to make a living and leaving enough time for my own writing. I keep trying and figure that one of these days I will get the right balance. Hopefully this winter with no yard work will help.

I'm also going to read the IWSG book on how to be a weekend writer and try to use its advice. And on a positive note, last weekend when I was super busy with producing my boyfriend's play and had just got us three of the five actors we need, I managed to squeeze in a few hours of writing so that I can submit to my critique group tonight. So I'm seeing hope.

What about you? What would have you done differently?

Now onto my guest post for the day. I'm really excited to have debut author Amanda Searcy here to share about her YA psychological thriller THE TRUTH BENEATH THE LIES. It sounds like a real page turner that you won't want to put down.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

All Kayla Asher wants to do is run. Run from the government housing complex she calls home. Run from her unstable mother. Run from a desperate job at No Limit Foods. Run to a better, cleaner, safer life. Every day is one day closer to leaving.

All Betsy Hopewell wants to do is survive. Survive the burner phone hidden under her bed. Survive her new rules. Survive a new school with new classmates. Survive being watched. Every minute grants her another moment of life.

But when fate brings Kayla and Betsy together, only one girl will live.

Now here's Amanda!

Going With Your Gut (Even When You Don’t Want To)

You have a premise that excites you. You have characters and a setting. You sit down to write. Maybe it goes well for a while. Then the inevitable happens: you either get stuck, go blank, or want to toss the whole computer because everything you write is complete @#$%.

I often think that writer’s block happens when you try to turn a story/character/setting into something that it doesn’t want to be. We have a picture in our heads from the beginning of what we want the story to be. Rarely does it ever turn out like that (ironically). You have to start somewhere, true, but then the piece has to take on a life of its own. The more you force it to conform to your original picture, the more it will fight back and the process of writing will be like pulling teeth (if you are able to continue at all).

In his book From Where You Dream: the Process of Writing Fiction (Grove Press, 2005), Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler describes it as a “thrum”. You are strumming away on your guitar; when everything sounds good, it thrums. Then you hit a wrong note or a wrong chord and hear/feel the “thwack”. It’s not always so dramatic. Maybe you just get a little twinge in your stomach that something isn’t right. Dramatic or not, that’s a place you need to pay attention to.

If you are hitting a lot of those “thwacks” it doesn’t mean that your writing is bad or that your story is poorly conceived (or that you should toss it out the window). It’s your gut—your intuition—telling you that’s not what the story wants to be.

While I was writing The Truth Beneath the Lies, I had a character who fought me in every scene he was in. He would not be what I had envisioned him to be. He was obstinate and stubborn and every scene he was in was falling flat. I kept hearing his voice in the back of my head saying, “that’s not me.” I didn’t listen for a long time. And it was hard. Hard to keep writing and telling the story. Then I let go. I let him be who he wanted to be—even though it didn’t match the picture in my head. It made all the difference.

Listen to your characters; listen to that voice in your head that says “this isn’t right.” But first, step
away for a while. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the voice from your gut from all those negative voices in your head. Put the work aside for a few days, go for a walk, wait until those negative voices have calmed down, then go back and take a look at what you’ve written from the most objective view you can muster.

What isn’t “thrumming”? What feels like a wrong note inside the chord? “Feels” is the key word. Worry less about three act structure or that the scene is in the wrong place for your outline. If you read a lot, your subconscious knows how to tell a story—if you will let it. Trust it to help you. Listen to it.

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

Amanda has generously offered THE TRUTH BENEATH THE LIES 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 December 23rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either 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. This giveaway is U.S., Canada, U.K., and Ireland.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, December 11th I  have an interview with Natalie Rompella and a giveaway of her MG Cookie Cutters and Sled Runners

Tuesday, December 12th I'm participating in the Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway Hop

Thursday, December 21st I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop--my last post for the year!

Wednesday, January 3rd I'll be back with an interview with debut author Sara Holland and a giveaway of her YA fantasy EVERLESS and my IWSG post

Monday, January 8th I have an interview with debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon and a giveaway of her contemporary YA YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE

Wednesday, January 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Elizabeth Bewley and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!


lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Thanks so much for that, and very Happy 🎄 Christmas x

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

If you can squeeze in writing under those extremely-busy circumstances, that must make you feel very good!

Great advice from Amanda on listening to our characters instead of forcing them into our preconceived boxes.

Raimey Gallant said...

Wow, you've been busy! And great advice from Amanda. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

I'm glad to hear you're ready to write again. I hope your words bring you much joy in the creation!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't squeeze in enough time for my own writing either. DLP and freelance formatting come first. Add seminars and other clients and yeah, it's out the window.

Bish Denham said...

I'm happy that you're getting into writing fiction! Always fun and a challenge. I like the image of the wrong chord played on a guitar... and listening to the voices of your characters.

Stephen Tremp said...

Yes I agree in starting a MS earlier in the year. I will pick up mine in January for sure. Best wishes for a successful 2018!

S.P. Bowers said...

Listening to your character is so important, and makes writing so much easier. Congrats on the book!

I don't think I would change much for 2017. I would like to have written more but there was nothing I could do to make that happen. I think the choices I made were the right ones, even if they were frustrating sometimes.

Pat Hatt said...

All those voices in one's head can be good to take a step back from sometimes indeed.

I imagine it can be a pain to find the balance to write for yourself and clients. Have to live.

Cherie Reich said...

Good luck finding balance to write fiction among everything else you do, Natalie!

Congrats to Amanda! What great advice! The subconscious is usually smarter than we are. We should listen to it more.

Jennifer Hawes said...

Mentally prepping your mind to write is half the battle. I hope you gets lots of writing in this month! Sometimes the busier we are, the more we write. Sometimes.

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations to Amanda! I agree that we need to follow our guts more, even when we think we're doing horribly.

Love hearing you're enjoying writing fiction again, Natalie. Good luck with balance in 2018!

Suzanne Furness said...

It's so good that you felt ready to get back to the fiction writing this year. Trying to get the balance is always a tricky one, hopefully 2018 will be a good one for you. Hope the play goes well and well done for sneaking in a few hours writing alongside it.

cleemckenzie said...

I just went through a similar experience, Amanda. I had a character that would not be who I wanted him to be. We went to the mat for a month. Grrrrr. I think I won. My agent will let me know. :-(

Thanks for the reminder about Trident Media, Natalie. Appreciate that.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, glad that you are enjoying writing fiction. I wish I had written more this year.

Love the way Amanda says "If you read a lot, your subconscious knows how to tell a story—if you will let it. Trust it to help you. Listen to it." Yes, our sub-conscious can guide us big time. We just have to listen to that small voice. Good luck to Amanda.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

As a guitarist, I know what a thwack sounds like.
I imagine producing a play is a full time job. Write what you can, when you can. It'll be all right.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Time always gets in the way. There's never enough of it.

I hope you'll find that perfect balance and wishing you success on your writing this winter and into 2018!!!

Brenda said...

Happy to hear you're finding sometime for your writing Natalie, hope 2018 lends itself to even more. Congratulations to Amanda.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm exhausted just reading all that you got done. Any one of those things...writing contracts, producing a play, maintaining a blog that always has an exciting post...I'd do well to get one of those things done! I think you'll figure out the weekend writer thing without a hitch. Best of luck!!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

It's great that you're enjoying your writing, Natalie. The best of luck to you and have fun with it. You're amazing to be able to work and write too.
Congratulations on your book, Amanda. Great information to remember.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you'll be checking out the IWSG Book Club selection. There's a lot of neat exercises in it that could help you. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Hooray for getting in some writing time, Natalie!!!
Way to go!

And yes, sometimes, we have to go with our gut. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Great cover & the book sounds terrific!

Finding that balance isn't easy - I find my weekends are often busier than my week :)

Jennifer Lane said...

Well this post is chock full of good stuff! The blurb and cover sound amazing for Amanda's book. That's great you're fitting in some fun fiction writing amid your paid writing.

Denise Covey said...

Hey Natalie! It's good to be back blogging and reading your informative posts. I love Amanda's post, especially the "thrum" and "thwack". I know exactly what she means. I want to "thrum"...

Happy Christmas, Natalie! And a glorious 2018!

Olga Godim said...

Striking a balance between writing for money and writing for pleasure is paramount for a writer. We need time for ourselves.
Wishing you to find your best balance next year. Happy holidays!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Between writing professionally and producing your boyfriend's play, it's incredible that you still found time to do extra writing! Good luck with all of your endeavors! Happy Holidays!


dolorah said...

Hmm, I need to learn to be a weekend writer too. I think I've gone beyond finding balance; its time to dig in again.

Happy Holidays to you :)

Cathy Keaton said...

Batching can work really well when you need to get things done but don't have a lot of time for them. So long as you can devote blocks of time to something even one or two days a week, you can make a lot of progress. I do that with writing and whatever else I tend to procrastinate. It's great for procrastinators.

Angie Quantrell said...

Oh, I struggle with that same thing - trying to do contract work and finding time for my own writing. TIME in general! Thanks for sharing with us. Now I'm going to go look up burner phone...I can't remember what that is. :)

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the interview and writing advice. I have this book on my TBR. I shared on tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/168295992137/amanda-searcy-guest-post-and-the-truth-beneath-the

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

May you apply what you learned this year to your writing next year.

Great advice about characters, Amanda.

Tamara Narayan said...

What a fantastic hook (only one character surviving)! I’d love to read this.

tamara (dot) narayan (at) gmail (dot) com

Writing my current novel in third person was like hearing an out-of-tune piano. I’m hoping a first person perspective might sweeten the sound.

DMS said...

So glad you are enjoying writing fiction again. Yay! I can understand why you wish you gave it a shot earlier in the year- but maybe when you got into it again it was the right time. :)

Thanks for the guest post with Amanda! I always love hearing from authors. I learn so much!


Arlee Bird said...

I would imagine that every writer would wish they had written more or written what was most important to them. Life does get it the way of the writing much of the time, but that's okay too--were it not for life we'd probably not be very good writers.

Some good ruminations on writing from Amanda. I've had stories nagging me for years--even decades--but they haven't seemed quite strong enough to break free. I should probably focus on one and get it done to see what the outcome is. I rarely do what I should do.

Tossing It Out

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats on your debut, Amanda!
Keep writing, Natalie!

Loni Townsend said...

I need to check out that weekend writing book too. Man, time just isn't kind to writers sometimes.

Great guest post. I run into blocks sometimes, and then I have to go through and change a bunch of stuff because I discovered I wasn't staying true.

Irene Jennings said...

Great story. These girls are vivid and compelling. The action flows until the last page. Looking forward to more books from this talented author.

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