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! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Kimberly Gabriel here to share about her YA thriller EVERY STOLEN BREATH. It sounds like a real page turner, and I can’t wait to read it. Not sure if any of you remember Kimberly. She used to have a blog and was a part of this group.


Before I get to Kimberly's post, I have my 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 is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

I'm going to skip the optional question. I don't have much to report writing-wise because I've been
taking care of necessary things like figuring out my mom's and my health insurance for next year. I'm almost done with all my business and then I can thankfully focus on writing.

Instead, I'm going to shout out about C. Lee McKenzie's new contemporary YA NOT GUILTY that just released. I was lucky to read an ARC and really enjoyed it. Devon is a compelling character that my heart was with from page 1 of the story. This is a real page turner, and I found Devon's time in the Juvenile Hall realistic and riveting. The characters and mystery make this story fantastic. It was a real fast read for me, which doesn't always happen for me these  days. I highly recommend it. Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

A blood-smeared knife. One young man’s word against another. A lifetime dream crushed.

The evidence points to Devon Carlyle. He was there when it happened. Everyone knows he had it in for Renzo Costa. And Costa says Devon was the one. In the judge’s rap of a gavel Devon’s found guilty of assault. The star of the Oceanside High’s basketball team loses his shot at the one thing he’s worked so hard for—the championship game where college scouts could see how good he is.

Now he makes his great shots in Juvenile Hall with kids far different from those that have always been in his life.
Angry? Hell, yes.

He’s bent on finding who did the crime. He’s bent on making them pay because he’s Not Guilty.

And here are some links:

Now onto Kimberly's interview. Can't wait to read her book!!!

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

The Swarm is unrecognizable, untraceable, and unpredictable—random attacks on the streets of Chicago by a mob of crazed teens that leaves death in its wake. It’s been two years since the last attack, but Lia Finch has found clues that reveal the Swarm is ready to claim a new victim.

Lia is the only one still pursuing her father’s killers, two years after attorney Steven Finch’s murder by the Swarm. Devastated and desperate for answers, Lia will do anything to uncover the reasons behind his death and to stop someone else from being struck down. But due to debilitating asthma and PTSD that leaves her with a tenuous hold on reality, Lia is the last person to mount a crusade on her own.

After a close encounter with the Swarm puts Lia on their radar, she teams up with a teen hacker, a reporter, and a mysterious stranger who knows firsthand how the mob works. Together, they work to uncover the master puppeteer behind the group. Though if Lia and her network don’t stop the person pulling the strings—and fast—Lia may end up the next target.

Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you so much for having me, Natalie. I’ve been a fan of Literary Rambles for over a decade, and I’m so thrilled to be here with you today!

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of it is from fourth grade, when I decided to make a mini-anthology of poems I’d written to give as a holiday gift to everyone I knew. I vividly remember spreading out sheets of poetry on the floor of my mom’s bedroom and binding them together with those sliding bar report covers that were really big in the eighties. Titled It’s Nice to Be Free, my bound “books” featured a poem about vampire babies and included the kind of laughable poetry only my mom could be proud of. But it sparked my dream to be a writer and publish a book one day. I didn’t take my writing seriously though until decades later. In 2010, I queried my first book, a 100,000 word YA paranormal with eight characters and eight (yes, eight) POVs. I made all the “first-book mistakes” writing it. When I queried it, however, it got some attention from agents—enough that I decided to write a second manuscript, which became EVERY STOLEN BREATH. 

2. My first book with all those first-book mistakes actually made it to acquisitions at a major publisher years ago. Then I realized it needed major revisions. Where did you get the idea for EVERY STOLEN BREATH?

I’ve always been drawn to sad books—the harder I cried, the more I enjoyed what I was reading. But then after experiencing my own trauma, I suddenly couldn’t handle sad books or even sad news stories, and I became drawn to thrillers and any story packed with tension. Then in 2011, a series of “flash-mob” attacks broke out in proclaimed safe areas of Chicago very close to where I lived. I remember reading stories where dozens of teenagers would suddenly emerge from the crowd and descend on one tourist to mug and attack. The stories terrified me so much that I eventually took that concept, made it worse, added elements of mystery and romance to it, and turned it into the basis of EVERY STOLEN BREATH.

3. My reading tastes changed too after I experienced a major trauma. Your book has been described as a real page turn with lots of plot twists. How did you plot out your story? What advice do you have for other writers on how to create such a good plot-driven story?

When I started EVERY STOLEN BREATH, I was still writing for me. I drafted the first half of it as a pantser with no idea where the story was going. Then when I hit the middle, my vision became very clear, and I plotted the rest of the book. For the longest time, I thought this was definitely the “wrong” way to write a book until I recently sat on a panel with Scott Westerfeld, a writer I’ve admired for years. After writing 28 books, he said he still writes this way. For my second book, I had to put together a proposal, which included a twenty-page synopsis. I’ve found that outline helps me stay on track for deadlines, but I find myself straying from it all the time.  

4. I hope I can get more into outlining like you. EVERY STOLEN BREATH is based in part on the mob violence in Chicago in 2011. How did you balance the truth of this event with creating your own story? Did you have to do research on the event?

The real attacks from 2011 had about twenty participants. Using texting and social media to communicate, the assailants would emerge from the crowd and descend upon a single victim to beat and mug. Those attacks were scary enough, but they really only sparked the idea in my story. From there, I started asking what if questions. What if the attacks were even bigger (50-100)? What if they became an epidemic? What if these attacks were organized and premeditated? For research, I read about attacks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and wove in facts from those attacks into my writing.

5. It also sounds like Lia and the other characters in your story are really ones that pull at readers’ hearts. Share about Lia and how she developed as a character for you.

It took me a long time to figure out who Lia was and find her voice. My first drafts tend to focus on
the action of each scene. Then I flesh out voice and characterization during the revision process. For Lia, it took several stages of revisions before she really started to come alive on the page, but now she’s such a defined character in my head. Because of the physical violence in the book, I wanted a character who was mentally strong. Being a teacher, I see all types of strength, and very often, I see strength in my students who have struggles and push through them daily. Lia has asthma, anxiety, and PTSD, which she perceives are weaknesses. But her strength lies in her determination and her ability to persevere despite her challenges.

6. Jenny Herrera is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I found Jenny through querying. She set up a call after starting my manuscript, and I knew during that first phone conversation that she was the agent I wanted to work with. I ended up getting multiple offers, but Jenny’s vision for my manuscript and my career aligned so well with mine. Once I accepted representation from Jenny, she had me revise—she has a fantastic editorial eye. Then we went on sub a few months later. Luckily, Blink showed interest pretty early on in that process.

7. Good to know querying works. Besides being an author, you are a teacher, wife, and mother. I know you may have your summers off, but you still must have to work on your author career during the school year. How do you juggle it all and what advice do you have for others who work and want to get published?

I’ve become very good at compartmentalizing and staying present in the moment. I wake up every morning between 4 and 4:30, and I write for two hours. During that time, I try to stay focused on writing, and I try not to think about teaching or worry about my kids. Then, when I head to work for the day, I don’t think about writing. I stay focused on teaching. When I’m with my kids and husband in the evening, I stay present with them. That time, of course, is most important. Being a successful a writer, teacher, or mom, takes time and hard work, and I’m not willing to neglect any one of those three parts of my life. Luckily, I’m become very good at getting a lot done in a short amount of time. If I had any advice, it would be to make sure you’re still enjoying life. Hard work is only worth it in the end if you’re able to find joy and balance in what you’re doing.

8. That's great advice on how to stay productive. From your website, I see that you have already started going to events to promote your book. How did you get invited to the ALA Conference and the other events you have scheduled this fall?

My publisher set up my signing at ALA. I just spent back to back weekends at Heartland Fall Forum and Anderson’s YA Literature Conference and YA Fandom Frenzy. Later in November, I’ll be at the Alan Conference as part of NCTE. My publisher has been really great about sending me to conferences, and I’ve loved the opportunity to be a part of them.

9. How else are you planning to market your book?

In addition to conferences and festivals, I’ll be at book store events near Chicago, New York, Cleveland, and Baltimore in November and December. I’ll be giving a few school presentations throughout the year. I also remain active on Twitter and Instagram.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently juggling two projects. One of them is a new thriller that begins with a dead girl, a gamer, and a bus stop bench. And from there it spirals out of control with secrets, revenge, social media, regret, denial, and, of course, murder. Set in Chicago, this one has a slight paranormal twist to it, which I’m excited about.

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyGabrielAuthor/

Kimberly is generously offering a hardback of EVERY STOLEN BREATH 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 November 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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 International to wherever Book Depository ships for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Thursday, November 14th I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 18th I have an interview with author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Thursday!


nashvillecats2 said...

Enjoyed the interview, always good to learn about the excellent authors .
Enjoy this new month Natalie.


Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

The books sound excellent! Thanks for sharing :-)

Ronel visiting on IWSG day Year in Review

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those flash mob attacks sound terrifying. Be afraid to leave the house.

Tamara Narayan said...

I think humans are usually more frightening that monsters and this plot is a brilliant example of that--yikes! It's fascinating though, on how this was inspired by actual events.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! This sounds like one of those Orwellian near-future dystopian stories that are scarily accurate.

Cathrina Constantine said...

I've read Lee's book, 'Not Guilty' and it's amazing. Kimberly's book sounds intriguing. Good Interview as always.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Best of luck to Kimberly. The book sounds like a chilling read.

David Powers King said...

McKenzie writes awesome books. Good to meet Kimberly, your books sounds great! I started off with the pantser thing and later found I got lost less often if I did some planning. :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Both McKenzie's and Kimberly's books sound great. Good luck to them.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm here in some great company! Thank you so much for including me in your IWSG post today. And thanks for introducing Kimberly to us.

Pat Garcia said...

I read Not Guilty too and think it is absolutely one of the best books that Lee McKenzie has written. I say that because i've read some of her other books that are also well done, but Not Guilty has that extra something that makes it a bestseller.
Thank you also for the interview with Kimberly. Her road to publishing was quite interesting for me.
All the best and have a lovely month of November.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Natalie, I appreciate how much you do to support other writers, and I hope that the logistics get taken care of so you can get back to your own writing!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Congratulations to C. Lee and Kimberly!!!
And to echo Rebecca - thank you for all of the encouragement and support you give to other writers!

Jemi Fraser said...

LOVED Not Guilty - so good! I cried, and cheered, and cried and cheered & did it all again!
Kimberly's book sounds great - Lia sounds like a great character. Putting it on my Wishlist!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats to C. Lee and to Kimberly. Sounds like a compelling book!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats, Kimberly. I'll have to look into some of those conferences for my authors.

Michelle Mason said...

Congrats, Kimberly! I can't wait to read this one. And I admire your discipline. 4 a.m.--wow!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

The writing will be there, waiting for you. Hang in there!

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for the interview, always interesting to read aboutnother writer’s ways of facing the difficult task of author,

Denise Covey said...

Always great content in your posts, Natalie. I've been trying to finish Not Guilty, but I'm travelling and can't always do what I want, LOL. In Paris at the moment researching for a story set here. Tough, eh?

Chrys Fey said...

Eight POVs for a book. Wow. That must've been some feat. I can't even imagine doing three. lol

Carol Kilgore said...

Since I've been away from blogging for a few months, I just learned of C. Lee McKenzie's newest release. I'm going to Amazon later :)

Kimberly is a new-to-me author. Her book sounds really interesting, too.

Loni Townsend said...

I hope you get your insurance figured out and then get back on the writing track!

Grats to the releasing authors!

Olga Godim said...

Hopefully, your medical insurance struggles are successful, if you ever need it. Hopefully, you don't.
Kimberly's book sounds interesting, although a bit too grim for me.

Pat Hatt said...

Hopefully you get the insurance figured out and done.

Wow. 8 POVS would sure be a lot to juggle.

Jennifer Hawes said...

Both books sound fascinating!

Juneta key said...

Congrats Lee and Kimberly! Great interview.

Samantha Bryant said...

Congratulations to Lee and Kimberly. I really enjoyed the interview! @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Fundy Blue said...

Congratulations to Lee and Kimberly! As always I enjoy your author interviews, Natalie! I'm amazed at Kimberly's ability to compartmentalize and focus! Happy IWSG Day!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's really scary to think that Kimberly's book is based off a real thing.
Good luck with the health care decisions, Natalie. It's impossible to figure out.

Diane Burton said...

Natalie, figuring out insurance is such a pain! I hope it all goes well. Lee's book is so fascinating. I, too, thought the scenes in juvie seemed so real. Kimberly, congrats on your new release. I'm fascinated. My son has asthma, so I can identify with your heroine's struggle to breathe. Best wishes to all of you.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Awesome cover, title and premise for Every Stolen Breath.
Congrats to Kimberly and Lee

Mary Preston said...

Thank you for the highlight and great interview.


Wendy Wahman said...

Oooh.. this sounds really good. Kudos, Kimberly and Lee!
Natalie, I hear you. I just spent way too many hours too, figuring out next year's health insurance.

sherry fundin said...

wow...this sounds really intense. health insurance...it seems more complicated than it is. smart doing due diligence and that's cool that you are helping your mother too
sherry @ fundinmental

Jennifer Lane said...

Buying health insurance sounds NO fun. I put up with a lot of politics in my university job, but I am grateful for good health insurance.

Congratulations to C. Lee and Kimberly!

Danielle H. said...

Every Stolen Breath sounds exciting to read. Thank you for the interview today. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/188884155207/kimberly-gabriel-interview-and-every-stolen-breath

Debra Branigan said...

Thank you for sharing. This was a great interview and I enjoyed reading it. Best wishes to the author on the new release. dbranigan27 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Gwen Gardner said...

Great interview--such a terrible thing to happen in Chicago. Congratulations on your new release.

Hi Natalie! Insurance is a pain!

Rosi said...

Another terrific interview. Thanks for that and for telling me about Every Stolen Breath and Not Guilty. I will be looking for both. I will pass on the giveaway. Buried in books as usual.

Megan said...

This book sounds awesome! Thank you for the giveaway!
GFC: Megan S.
Email: megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com
Tweet: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1192799833884676096

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi Natalie,

Lee's book looks amazing and a wonderful interview with Kimberly. I lived in Chicago for over fifteen years and just recently moved out. Scary stuff and what a fantastic title! All the best Kimberly!

MorganeG. said...

Sounds amazing! Thanks for the giveaway
Email: gilson(dot)morgane(at)outlook(dot)com

Victoria Marie Lees said...

No kidding, Natalie, both books sound scary, Lee's and Kimberly's. Thank you so much for Kimberly's interview. Compartmentalizing life can work...when those in your life allow it. Bravo, Kimberly! And bravo to both authors with their new releases.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Natalie, Hope your mom is doing well. She's so lucky to have you looking out for her. Congrats to Lee and Kimberly! I love that Kimberly created a poetry anthology in 4th grade.


Anonymous said...

This sounds interesting! Thanks for the giveaway.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Congratulations, Kimberly, on your novel. It sounds great. Added it to my list to read. Wonderful interview. You are a busy lady. Enjoyed reading it. Best wishes.

Angie Quantrell said...

Wow, I've never heard of those gangs. Scary! Congratulations on finding inspiration and your new book. :)

Sunnymay said...

Thanks for the interview and your book where one person is pitted against another and I don't know who to believe.

Natasha said...

Great interview!
Every Stolen Breath sounds like a great read!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com