CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests


Melanie Castillo Query Critique through November 7th

Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Tori Sharp Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/18/20

Maria Vincente Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/7/20

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/18/21

Tricia Skinner Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/20/21

Agent Spotlight Updates

All agent spotlights and interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated again in 2023.

AGENT LAUREN SPIELLER AND LAURA WEYMOUTH GUEST POST W/ QUERY CRITIQUE AND THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Laura Weymouth here with her agent Lauren Spieller to share about Laura's debut YA THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS. It's set in post-war England and the characters sound fantastic.

And I just want to mention that Lauren is also an author and her YA contemporary YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE RIGHT released earlier this year.

Here's a blurb of THE LIGHT BETWEEN THE WORLDS from Goodreads:

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge. 

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves. 

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes. 

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was. 

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Now here's Lauren and Laura!


On Building a Strong Author/Agent Relationship

 Laura: Hi Natalie! I’m so excited to be joining you on Literary Rambles today. I had a good think
about what I’d want to share with writers at all stages of their journey, whether they’re just starting out, looking for an agent, already agented, or heading towards publication. I know for many writers the first big hurdle to get through is querying and finding representation for their work. There’s already a lot out there about the querying process and how to get that elusive agent offer, so I wanted to talk about what comes after: building a strong relationship with your agent. My own agent, Lauren Spieller, is actually joining us to chime in with her perspective on this too!

Here are the 3 factors I think play the biggest role in establishing a strong, mutually beneficial agent/author relationship.

COMMUNICATION

Laura: From what I’ve seen thus far in the writing community, the area in which agents and authors are most likely to struggle (at least from an author’s perspective) is communication. It’s not uncommon for authors to feel as if their agents are unapproachable, or don’t respond quickly enough. Sometimes it’s true that an author is being neglected, and sometimes it’s just a matter of unclear expectations.

To start your author/agent relationship out on the right foot, open the lines of communication right away and ask how long your agent generally takes to reply to brief emails, sample chapters, full manuscripts, etc. If you know their time frames, you’ll be less likely to sit and worry that you’ve been lost in the shuffle.

Keep in mind, too, that if your agent goes beyond an anticipated time frame or you have a question, you should always feel comfortable reaching out. Your agent is meant to be on your side. If a question comes up, just ask! An agent should never make you feel silly or like an annoyance for inquiring about the status of your work or asking a question you don’t know the answer to.

Lauren: This is great advice. In fact, I urge writers to ask about communication during The Call—that way, you have all of this information up front, and can use it as you make a decision about whether to accept an agent’s offer of representation. I also suggest that writers talk to an agent’s current clients before accepting an offer, and ask them about an agent’s communication style (among other things!)

RESPECT

Laura: While your agent is meant to be working on your behalf, you also need to be respectful of their time and boundaries. If something comes up and they aren’t able to respond in an anticipated time frame, understand that life happens. If it happens all the time, then maybe you have a problem.
Remember too, that you signed with your agent for a reason—they know the publishing industry, and if they’re a good agent, won’t be asking you to do things or make changes to your work without good reason. Don’t be difficult to work with—it’s okay and important to stand your ground on things you feel strongly about, but don’t forget this is a business relationship, and be sure to choose your battles wisely.
Your agent is your coworker. They should be treated accordingly!

Lauren: I really appreciate this advice, and agree with it. Respect goes both ways. If you don’t feel an agent is respectful of your time and needs—assuming those needs are reasonable—then don’t be afraid to talk to them about that. But it’s also important to remember that agents have lives too, and sometimes you need to cut them a little slack ;) 

CONFIDENCE

Laura: While you absolutely need to be respectful of your agent’s time, insights, and boundaries, maintaining a strong author/agent relationship is also going to require some confidence on your part. Confidence to stand up for the aspects of your work that can’t be changed without fundamentally altering it. Confidence to reach out and let your agent know if you have a problem with something. Confidence to express yourself clearly and go through the process of learning how to problem solve together. And if your agent’s doing their job well, you should have confidence in them as your advocate, too!

You wrote a book. You queried it. You beat the odds and ended up with an offer of representation. As much as you need to respect your agent’s professional capacities and have confidence in their abilities, they need to be doing the same for you. If you don’t feel respected and confident as a result of your author/agent relationship, there’s something wrong. And sometimes, though no one really likes to talk about it, you’ll have to have the confidence to leave a partnership that isn’t working and go in search of one that does.

Lauren: You’ve probably heard the saying that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all—which is fit—even if the agent is great!—can be just as problematic. Remember that this is a business partnership, not a personal relationship, so if you feel your career will be better served by parting ways, that is okay. Do what’s best for you and your career.
true. But sometimes a bad

Laura: At the end of the day, if you do your homework, vetting the agents you query and getting client referrals from any who offer, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a long, productive working relationship with the agent you end up with. And yes, sometimes things don’t work out, as can be the case in any partnership, but if you keep the above tips in mind, you’ll always know that you did your part as an author and a professional.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lauren and Laura! You can find Laura at:
www.lauraeweymouth.com
Laura is generously offering an ARC of THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS and Lauren is offering a query critique 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 October 6th. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. 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. The ARC giveaway is U.S. and Canada and the critique giveaway is international.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, October 3rd I have an interview with debut author Miranda Asebedo and giveaway of her YA magical realism THE DEEPEST ROOTS and my IWSG post

Monday, October 8th I have a guest post with debut author Miranda Cruz and her agent Paula Munier with a query critique giveaway by Paula and a giveaway of MG contemporary EVERLASTING NORA by Miranda

Sunday, October 14th I'm participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 15th I have an interview with debut author Katya de Becerra and a giveaway of her  YA mystery/fantasy WHAT THE WOODS KEEP

Monday, October 22nd I have an interview with author Sherry Ellis and a giveaway of her MG BUBBA AND SQUIRT'S BIG DIG TO CHINA

Hope to see you on  Wednesday October 3rd!

AMANDA RAWSON HILL INTERVIEW AND THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC

Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a good fall. Mine is TOO BUSY! But I did get to the Kerrytown Bookfest in Ann Arbor and got to see one of my favorite authors, Cinda Williams Chima on a YA panel and have coffee with her husband and her afterwards. She is a fantastic fantasy writer. Her latest book is STORMCASTER in her Shattered Realms series. She's created a fantastic world in this and her prior series and I really recommend it to any fantasy lovers. Here's a picture of Cinda and me.


Today I’m excited to have debut author Amanda Rawson Hill here to share about her contemporary MG THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC. It sounds like a great read that tackles issues of friendship, depression, and dementia.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Kate doesn’t believe in magic, not really. But she could use some these days.

Kate and her best friend Sofia have been inseparable for nearly as long as Kate can remember. Now, though, Sofia is drifting away, drawn to a new friend. Kate’s grandmother is drifting away too, but in a different way. She keeps getting confused and can’t remember things. 

One thing Grammy remembers, however, is the three rules of Everyday Magic: Believe. Give. Trust.

Kate is willing to try anything, including Everyday Magic, to draw the people she loves back to her—Sofia, Grammy, and even her father, who left months ago and hasn’t been seen since. 

Hi Amanda! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi! Thanks for having me here. I’ve always loved books and reading, but growing up I never wanted to be a writer. I dreamed about being a librarian, a neurologist, a geneticist, a teacher…but never a writer. I actually got my degree in Chemistry, got married, and had a couple kids before the thought ever occurred to me. I was in bed one night and couldn’t fall asleep because the entire text of a picture book kept running through my head. Finally, after about 2 hours, I got up and wrote it down. The next morning I looked at it and thought, “That’s pretty good!” So then I googled “how to get a picture book published” and proceeded to send it to some agents (who quickly rejected it. Ha!) So my first foray into writing was a big, huge blunder. But after that, I had the bug and I haven’t looked back.

2. Funny! Sounds a bit like my start. Where did you get the idea for your story?

When my two oldest children were younger, they had imaginary friends, like many children. But they shared imaginary friends. Saw them together, played with them together. They called them their “old ladies.” My kids imaginary friends were two old ladies! Kind of creepy right? Well, I was talking to my mom about it one day after my son wouldn’t let anyone play foosball with him because his “old lady” was playing against him, and she said, “Maybe it’s their great grandma Bev and Pat.” Those were my husband’s two grandma’s who had both recently passed. After that, the idea of this book where a girl’s two grandmothers come back as her guardian angels started taking shape in my head.
Now, obviously, THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC has undergone A LOT of rewrites because there are no more guardian angels. But that’s where it started.

3. Such an interesting way that you got your idea. You tackle some difficult issues in your story, like Kate’s father’s absence and her Granny’s dementia. Share how you weaved these themes into your story without being preachy.

Gosh, this is hard. Kate’s father’s absence was just an integral part of Kate. When I started writing,
her voice came really strongly to me. And she kept speaking in the second person. She kept addressing everything to this mysterious “you.” But at first, I didn’t know who “you” was. Until I hit the third chapter, when Kate said, “I dialed your number.” And then she says, “Hi dad.” That was when I realized her dad was out of the picture and it was such an important part of who Kate was at that moment that she was addressing the story to him. Those moments are now only presence in her letters to her dad sprinkled throughout the book. But I think because it was such an organic thing to Kate, it wasn’t preachy.

Now, some of the things that Kate realizes about her dad and his depression started getting preachy towards the end of the book, and that’s where my wonderful editor came in. Line edits are really important for pointing out every time you are getting a bit didactic. So I toned down the “preachy” parts through a lot of revising with my editor.

As far as weaving in the dementia, my grandpa died of Alzheimer’s. and while I was young and wasn’t up close for most of it, I remember a lot about it. And so much of Grammy comes straight from memories of my grandpa. And because of that, I think a lot of it is very real. Dementia and Alzheimer’s sometimes makes people say really funny things, sometimes very sad and heartwrenching things. I know that weird, inbetween feeling in the beginning stages when they’re sometimes there and sometimes not and you get glimpses of both sides and it’s painful and yet…they’re still there sometimes so you hold on to that. All of those feelings are part of losing someone to Dementia. And it’s very hard to be preachy about anything when you’re able to show it in a multi-faceted way like that.

4. I know what you mean going through my mom's decline from who she used to be. It sounds like you did a great job creating memorable characters, which is not all easy to do. Did they develop as the story progressed or did you have a clear vision of them before you started?

Characters are actually really hard for me. Like I mentioned earlier, Kate’s voice showed up with a lot of her character already a part of it. But I definitely had to “discover” her over the course of several revisions. Grammy and Jane (Kate’s new friend) were both very easy to write and know from the moment they showed up on the page. Kate’s other friend, Sofia, was a complete mystery to me. I kept fumbling around her, not ever able to get her character and motivation just right…until I brought in two sensitivity readers. (Imagine that, right?) They were able to give me the missing puzzle pieces of what I didn’t understand about Sofia as a white writer. Much of that doesn’t show up outright in the text, but it allowed me to better write her reactions and motivations for things.

5. I have a hard time with characters too. Share about a challenge you faced in writing THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC and how you overcame it.

So, as you can tell, THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC has gone through a lot of changes from its original form. One of those changes is that it used to be written completely in letters. A true epistolary novel. It was mentored in Pitch Wars by three different mentors and two of them actually ended up disagreeing on whether I should keep it in full epistolary or make it partial-epistolary. Both mentors had very good reasons and loved the book and are both really amazing authors. So, I was flummoxed. What should I do? One person says it’s not working. Another says it makes it really special. And I’d been receiving similar reactions from other readers. Some LOVED it in the epistolary format. Others found it unrealistic.

So I decided to just experiment. I rewrote the first three chapters in partial epistolary (prose with a letter at the beginning or end of each chapter.) And then I got a very large pool of readers. Like 10 or something. And I sent them both versions and asked which worked better. And the partial epistolary came back as the definite winner. So I made the very hard decision at the time, to make it a mix of prose and letters instead of all letters. Even though I loved it as an epistolary novel. Because it appeared that wasn’t working as well as it could and, frankly, I really felt like this book had a good chance with agents. So I was trying to make it as marketable as possible.

Not everyone would have made the same choice. And I maybe could have kept it that way and been able to make it work and still get it published. But I decided to go with the preference of the majority. And in the end, it solved a lot of tension problems I was having too. So it was a good move.

6. Your agent is Elizabeth Harding. How did she become your agent and what was your road for publication like?

Yes! Elizabeth is wonderful. My path to publication actually started with Pitch Wars. After revising with my mentors, I did the agent round, got 12 requests and then started querying. Elizabeth was the first agent who requested off a query and I was floored. I’d always considered her such a long shot. About six weeks later, I got my first offer from a fabulous agent who I would have been 100% happy with. Then another and then Elizabeth sent her offer email and I started crying as she listed off the authors she represents. Gordan Korman, Nikki Grimes, Gennifer Choldenko, Suzanne LaFleur and several others. She was a dream come true and I accepted her offer the next day.

But then the hard part started. Trying to get the book published. Sub was long and grueling. Full of rejections and revisions. I gave up on the book and wrote a new one. Then, the night before Thanksgiving, Elizabeth forwarded me an email from an editor. When I saw it pop up on my phone, I was like, “Elizabeth, I love you, but don’t send me rejections on holidays!” haha But it wasn’t a rejection! The editor went on and on about how much she loved the book! That turned into an R&R after it went to second reads. I did the R&R. They bought it. The rest is history.

7. What an awesome holiday present. Once you signed your book contract, when did you start planning for its release and what were some of the essential steps you’ve taken since then to start promoting yourself as an author and your book?

I signed the contract in April of 2017. In June, I talked to my dear friend and CP, Cindy Baldwin,
about doing a joint newsletter together, but making it a book club and resource for teachers and librarians. We brought on a few other authors to lighten the workload of it, and that was the birth of MG@Heart. MG@Heart has really grown over the last year and put us in contact with so many wonderful authors, teachers, and librarians. And those connections morphed into connections with book sharing groups and chats with teachers and librarians. Those are the really important connections in MG. It’s less about reaching out to your audience and more about reaching gatekeepers, which changes the strategy and effectiveness of many marketing things common in YA.

Now, I’m about to embark on my “Kindness Campaign.” Rather than a pre-order giveaway that doesn’t really move the needle, especially in MG, I wanted to do something that would provide an opportunity for students and teachers to connect to the book and its themes. To see why it might be a good addition to their classroom. I don’t know if it will catch on or anything. But might as well try.

8. What are your favorite ways of connecting on social media with other writers and readers? Why?

I’m a Twitter girl. It’s short and sweet and you can use gifs when words aren’t enough. It just feels very open and organic. Like there are less walls there. And I love being tagged in things on Instagram. Like, Bookstagrams of your book are probably the best thing ever. But I’m not very good at posting on there myself. I’ve found both venues are good for connecting with teachers and librarians. And there is some chance of connecting with actual kid readers on IG, unlike Twitter for the most part.

9. What are you working on now?

I’ve got a few things cooking. I’m revising a MG about wishes and community. And I’m currently drafting an upper-MG retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac in free verse which I am LOVING so far. I’ve got a few PB’s up my sleeve too. So, hopefully something else sticks with an editor soon!

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


Amanda has generously offered a signed book giveaway of THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC. 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 September 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 giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, September 24th I have a guest post by debut author Laura Weymouth with her agent Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway by Lauren and a giveaway of Laura's YA fantasy THE VANISHING KINGDOM

Wednesday, October 3rd I have an interview with debut author Miranda Asebedo and giveaway of her YA magical realism THE DEEPEST ROOTS and my IWSG post

Monday, October 8th I have a guest post with debut author Miranda Cruz and her agent Paula Munier with a query critique giveaway by Paula and a giveaway of MG contemporary EVERLASTING NORA by Miranda

Sunday, October 14th I'm participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 15th I have an interview with debut author Katya de Becerra and a giveaway of her  YA mystery/fantasy WHAT THE WOODS KEEP

Monday, October 22nd I have an interview with author Sherry Ellis and a giveaway of her MG BUBBA AND SQUIRT'S BIG DIG TO CHINA

Hope to see you on Monday!

CLEAN YOUR SHELVES GIVEAWAY HOP



Happy Friday Everyone! I'm excited to participate in the  Clean Your Shelves Book Giveaway Hop hosted by BookHounds. I used it as an opportunity to clean out my book covers in my downloads so I could add new ones.

I hope you find a book you like for yourself, a family member, or a friend in the choices offered. Don’t see a book you like? You can win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card instead. I hope you'll all enter to win a book or gift card for yourself or as a gift for someone.

So here are your choices. I've got a combination of MG and YA books that I hope you're looking forward to reading. Remember, if you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead as long as it doesn't cost more than the book here. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads.

 


 


 
 


 


 


 













If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower anyway you want and leave a comment through September 30th telling me the book you want to win or if you want to win the Gift Card instead. 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 international as long as Book Depository ships to you for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, September 17th I have an interview with debut author Amanda Rawson Hill and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC

Monday, September 24th I have a guest post by debut author Laura Weymouth with her agent Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway by Lauren and a giveaway of Laura's YA fantasy THE VANISHING KINGDOM

Wednesday, October 3rd I have an interview with debut author Miranda Asebedo and giveaway of her YA magical realism THE DEEPEST ROOTS and my IWSG post

Monday, October 8th I have a guest post with debut author Miranda Cruz and her agent Paula Munier with a query critique giveaway by Paula and a giveaway of MG contemporary EVERLASTING NORA by Miranda

Sunday, October 14th I'm participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 15th I have an interview with debut author Katya de Becerra and a giveaway of her  YA mystery/fantasy WHAT THE WOODS KEEP

Monday, October 22nd I have an interview with author Sherry Ellis and a giveaway of her MG BUBBA AND SQUIRT'S BIG DIG TO CHINA

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here's the other blogs participating in this blog hop:

<!– start LinkyTools script –><!– end LinkyTools script –>











REBECCA SCHAEFFER INTERVIEW AND NOT EVEN BONES GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST


Happy Wednesday Everyone! I hope you’re having a great summer. I’m excited to have debut author Rebecca Schaeffer here to talk about her YA fantasy NOT EVEN BONES. It sounds like she’s created an intense unique world, which makes me want to read it.



IWSG POST

Before I get to Rebecca’s interview, I have this month’s IWSG post and some news. 

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 (Tuesday this month)of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are: Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

Optional Question: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?


Before I answer the question, I want to share some good news. Literary Rambles was named one of the top 50 blogs for writer by Freewrite. I'm honored to be included with all the other awesome blogs on their list. Check them out to find more help in your writing career.

I've only considered traditional publishingbecause it was better, but because I always knew that I would most likely be doing it while working. I have always been the wage earner of my family and now I still support myself and help my daughter. I can barely see the possibility of getting published with the support of an editor, agent, marketing team, etc. and don't see how I could do this if I had to take on all the tasks or hire others to do it that is part of self-publishing. I also don't think I could keep up a consistent enough publishing schedule for self-publishing. So that's my choice given my situation. But if I didn't have to work at a job so much and do all the other things required of me, I would love the freedom of being a self-published or hybrid author. 

What publishing choice are you considering/doing?

Now onto my interview. Here’s a blurb of NOT EVEN BONES from Goodreads

Dexter meets This Savage Song in this dark fantasy about a girl who sells magical body parts on the black market — until she’s betrayed.

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out — dissecting living people is a step too far.

But when she tries to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold on the black market in his place — because Nita herself is a supernatural being. Now Nita is on the other side of the bars, and there is no line she won’t cross to escape and make sure no one can ever capture her again. 

Nita did a good deed, and it cost her everything. Now she’s going to do a lot of bad deeds to get it all back.

Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi! I’m Rebecca. Thanks for having me on here!

I’m a digital nomad, so I live out of hostels and airbnbs and work off my computer. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even since I was a child, but I think those first few 9-5 jobs I had after university were what made me realize I wanted it to be a career so that I could live the nomadic, irregular work-hour lifestyle I wanted!

2. Amazing that you can write living that life. From the blurb, your story sounds really different. Where did you get the idea for it?

I really wanted to write a novel with main characters who, in any other character’s story, would have been the villain. It was something I’d wanted to do for years, but I wasn’t really sure if an all villain cast was sellable, and I didn’t have quite the right idea for it. Then one day, I was talking to a friend about a different story I was writing, set in the same world as Not Even Bones, and she said to me, “this whole online black market for monster body parts is really cool, but where do the body parts come from?” And I realized that the people hunting down, murdering, and selling monsters would be the perfect opportunity to do the all villain cast I’d always wanted.

3. The world that Nita lives in is really dark. What was your world building like and how did you avoid the temptation to lighten up the world?

Honestly, there was never temptation to lighten up the world. The temptation was actually to make it
darker! Especially because I chose to center the novel around the black market, the book naturally leaned very dark, and I reveled in pushing it as far as I could get away with. I’ve often had issues with books where I felt like they should have pushed farther, or things were unrealistically good or light, and it always brings me out of the novel.

A lot of my worldbuilding is an extension of my desire to follow things as far as I can take them. I really wanted to play with how the existence of different mythological creatures would change law, society, religion, and culture. So there’s a church that believes Jesus was a vampire and has a very literal definition of the Eucharist. There’s businesses trying to get around animal cruelty laws by claiming creatures like chinchillas are supernatural, so the laws don’t apply. And of course, there’s a thriving black market.

4. Sounds like you had a lot of fun with the world building. Your book got rave reviews on Goodreads as really unique, gory, but super compelling. I want to read your book from reading the reviews. How did you plot this out to create such a gripping story?

I actually think this ties into your earlier question. When you go dark, when you actually take things to their logical conclusion instead of pulling back to spare readers, you naturally get some pretty extreme tension. And the more realistic you make the scenarios, the harder you make things for the character and the farther you push her emotionally, the more tense the scenes will become.

5. Right in the blurb, you tell us that Nita is going to do some bad things. How did you keep her as a sympathetic character?

This may sound counter intuitive, but I made her sympathetic by not caring if the reader liked her. She does terrible things. She justifies them to herself in ways that the reader can blatantly see through, ways that are selfish and wrong but also uncomfortably relatable. Sometimes she does good things, but she never does them for the right reasons. I think in many ways, my goal wasn’t to make her sympathetic, but to make her interesting. You will probably never want to be her friend – but you will want to read about her escapades.

6. Sounds like your desire to make her interesting worked. Your agent is Suzie Townsend. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

My road to publication was slow and pondering until it suddenly wasn’t. I started writing very young – I wrote my first “novel” at age 11 and tried to get it published. Shockingly, there were no takers. I kept writing, querying novels all through high school, and up into university. After graduating, I worked at several soul crushing jobs and decided I wanted to try to make writing a career, and became obsessed with writing, critiquing, reading structure novels, anything and everything to improve my work. It eventually paid off, and I got into Pitchwars with a draft of Not Even Bones. Suzie requested the novel during the agent showcase, and the rest is history!

7. Suzie has always sounded like a fantastic agent to me. What is she like to work with and what’s something that surprised you about the agent/writer relationship?

She’s lovely to work with! I was surprised by how intimidated I was by her at first. I’m what a friend jokingly called an “aggressively confident” person, so there’s not a lot I’m intimidated by. But for the first while I just lived in terror that this was all a dream and she’d realize she’d made a terrible mistake and drop me.

8. I'd have that nightmare too with my agent and editor. It sounds like you move a lot from your bio. How are you marketing your book and how does your moves impact on your marketing decisions?

I move a lot. It is true. Mostly, it means I don’t get to attend a lot of conferences. But on the flip side, I get to travel the world and have lots of interesting experiences to fuel my stories, so it’s a trade I’m willing to make.

It does affect marketing decisions though –  for example, it’s not feasible for me to run preorder campaigns, both because of the cost of shipping from abroad and the difficulty of getting items and travelling with them.

9. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Keep writing and always have another project. When you start querying one project, don’t think about it, just pin all your hopes and dreams on the next one, the one you’re writing now. And when that one is done and you’re querying it, shift your hopes to the next, and the next. Always have another project to pin your hopes and dreams on, because if you only have the one book and you query it and it fails, it’s so much more soul crushing than if you already have another project in the works that you love.

10. That's great advice. What are you working on now?

Copyedits for the sequel to Not Even Bones!

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

Rebecca has generously offered an ARC of NOT EVEN BONES 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 September 23rd. 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 giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Monday, September 10th I've got an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Larissa Helena

Friday, September 14th I'm participating in the Clean Your Shelf Giveaway Hop

Monday, September 17th I have an interview with debut author Amanda Rawson Hill and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC

Monday, September 24th I have a guest post by debut author Laura Weymouth with her agent Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway by Lauren and a giveaway of Laura's YA fantasy THE VANISHING KINGDOM

Hope to see you on Monday!