Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

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.

Debut Author Interview: Diana Pinguicha and A Curse of Roses Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Diana Pinguicha here to share about her YA fantasy, A Curse of Roses. It’s based on a Portuguese legend and is a historical fantasy, which makes me excited to read it.

 Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…

Before I get to Diana's interview, I have my IWSG Post.
Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

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!

The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Sylvia Ney, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Cathrina Constantine, and me! 

I'm going to skip the optional question. I have a favor to ask. FYI, if you read my post on Monday, you've already read this.

If you like Literary Rambles and find it helpful, I would appreciate it if you would nominate my blog

for Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites. They are doing it differently this year, and you need to fill out a form to nominate a blog or website. In the blog post announcing the call for nominations, they say that you can nominate yourself and ask your followers to also nominate you. FYI I nominated myself in the everything agent category, which seems to fit my blog the best.

This is the Writer's Digest post that contains the nomination form. The deadline for nominations is December 18, 2020. 

I am asking this favor not because I want the recognition, which is gratifying I admit, but because it will give Literary Rambles more exposure to writers who may not know about it and who can benefit from my author interviews and agent spotlight interviews. My mission here is to help other aspiring writers and debut authors on their publishing journey. Being named a 101 best website would really help with this goal.

Thanks so much if you decide to nominate Literary Rambles. I really appreciate your help. And consider nominating The Insecure Writer's Support Group. I just did! It's a fantastic group, and I am grateful for all you do to support writers and authors.

Interview with Diana Pinguicha

Hi Diana! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

 Hi! I’m a girl who was born and raised right here in Portugal—specifically, Estremoz, Alentejo, but I’ve lived in Lisbon since my college days. I’m a graduate from Instituto Superior Técnico for Computer Engineering, and believe it or not, that’s what made me decide to take the plunge into writing.

I always wrote because I genuinely enjoy it. But after being in Engineering classes and spending them writing rather than paying attention, I realized I was stubbornly denying myself what I wanted to do: WRITE. I’d gone in for Engineering thinking it was the easiest way to get myself into video game development and game writing, and I plowed away at programming while it sucked out my soul. I was on my 4th year when I took the Proficiency in English Exam and my teacher, Harry, read some of my short stories and essays and urged me to change courses.

I kept on in Engineering because at that point, might as well finish my degree. But Harry’s words stuck and I kept on writing on the side and trying to get published.

 2. It sounds like you were smart to finish your degree while pursuing your passion for writing. Where did you get the idea for A Curse of Roses?

It was when I was between books with my former agent. I was debating ideas, and thinking, “What’s a

story that’s unique to me and not many people outside of Portugal have heard of?” And my mind immediately went to Isabel of Aragon, who’s a central figure in my hometown. We have a statue of her, and my high school is even named after her!

So I decided to try and do a re-telling of her story, but making it my own.

 3. Your story is based on a Portuguese legend. What research did you do into the legend before you started your story and how did you decide what to keep and add as you drafted your own story?

I didn’t do much research in the legend, per se. I’d heard about it all my life and could quote the whole thing from memory from a very early age.

What I DID have to research was Isabel’s life, as well as her joint ruling with Denis I. I also went into a deep dive on the Moor occupation, and the Reconquest (I hate that name)  and came to learn that what actually happened was very different from what we’re taught in history classes. I owe Archeologist Cláudio Torres a debt of gratitude for that.

I also read a lot of Moura legends­—turns out we have several, and they were a joy to discover. Also pretty frustrating, because 99% of them involve a Moura dying by suicide over a man. Which… ugh.

 4. That's cool that you picked a legend you heard your whole life. Your book sounds like it is really well-plotted and has enormous stakes and choices for Princess Yzabel. What was your plotting process like? Did your story change much from what you’d originally planned?

The plotting process was mostly sound in the beginning and end. I knew I wanted to end with the Miracle of Roses, and that I wanted to begin with Yzabel finding and meeting Fatyan, an Enchanted Moura. It’s… remarkably easy to plot a book when you know your characters and you know what you want to say.

I also knew I wanted Yzabel to be good because… she was good. Incredibly so, and generous and pious to a fault. I wanted to explore those things—how you should be selfless, but not to the point you neglect yourself. I also wanted to explore her faith, and how the Bible relies largely on interpretation, and she was taught to interpret it in the most horrible, self-flagellating ways.

So the story didn’t really change much. The middle is what I struggled with the most, and after 3 failed attempts, I settled for what it is now.

 5. A  Curse of Roses (FYI to readers, it started as A Miracle of Roses) is your debut book, but it is the 7th book you’ve written. What have you learned from writing your other manuscripts that helped you get the story right in your debut book?

I learned a lot of things! My writing, obviously, became better with each book that failed. Failures are hard, but they’re not necessarily bad if you learn from them. With each book, I understood pacing better, as well as how to be economic with language rather than going on 3-paragraph rants to drive home a point.

Readers are smart—and I learned that too. It’s a disservice to your audience when you treat them like they can’t understand or internalize aspects of a book if they’re said just once.

I also learned patience. It’s FINE if you take longer to finish a novel. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And if you think it can be better, take your time to make it so.

 6. Yes, we do learn from our mistakes. Your agent is Travis Pennington. How did Travis become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I got my agent through an irregular path, and this is not your typical journey.

I had another agent prior to that who signed me for another book, who read ACOR and said it was Adult Fantasy, and that she couldn’t see a way to make it Young Adult. She no longer represented Adult Fantasy and felt it was best if we parted ways. That stung. But as I read her e-mail, I realized there was no point in arguing with her, because I could immediately think of ways to make it skew more YA, and that she couldn’t think of them or even ask me told me a lot. She was nice about giving me referrals, but none of them panned out.

So, I queried agents. I got a record of full requests (upwards of 30, plus 20 partials) and they all came back rejections. A lot were forms. Some were borderline ableist (my MC feels too much? Seriously? Nice thing to tell a neurodivergent author who’s heard that all her life about herself). Some were just… *eye roll*

I was ready to give up when my now-editor reached out after PitMad. They didn’t promise an offer, but they said I’d get feedback regardless. I thought, well, what do I have to lose if I submit to Entangled? So, I did. Weeks later, I was notified it would be taken to acquisitions (!!) but that I should rewrite the first chapter to make it stronger. Which I did in two days! That week, it went to acquisitions, and I had an offer!
Problem is… the contract was, well, a contract. And while I’m smart, I don’t have experience in negotiating. Some friends helped, and I was ready to go in agent-less. But I still nudged everyone who still had the book, and sent out some queries with the offer. An author told me I’d never get one with an offer from Entangled because “they’re a bad publisher” and compared them to Month9—this is to highlight that you’ll get advice, and it might be good, or it might be bad. That was bad advice. In NO WAY is Entangled like Month9, and I was sure of that, especially after talking to other Entangled Teen authors.

That’s when Mia Segert (who wrote JERKBAIT and SOMEBODY TOLD ME—which you should read if you can!) referred me to Travis, who was closed to queries at the time. Then Travis offered, and that was that!

 7. I'm a retired attorney and would definitely not want to sign a publishing contract without an agent. What was something you learned from working with your editor?

Mostly, I learned to listen. If your editor brings up an issue, trust them, even if you might not agree with it. If you agree, great! If you don’t (and it’s fine!) take a couple of days to ask yourself why, and if you still feel strongly, talk it out. Don’t be afraid of your editor, since they want the same thing you do: make the book the best it can be!

 8. I saw on your website that you can preorder your book in the U.K, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Australia as well as the United States. How were you able to get your book distributed in so many countries?

One of the reasons I chose Entangled (I had another offer of publication, actually!) was that they had good distribution through Macmillan. I’d seen Entangled books in brick-and-mortar stores, and they were also available at online retailers everywhere. So I knew my book would get that same treatment—and distribution is a really important thing authors should pay attention to. Especially since most of my friends are abroad, and I wanted them to be able to order it too!

 9. It sounds like you made a smart decision. You live in Lisbon. How are you planning to promote your book given the pandemic and the fact you live oversees? How are you finding out about and taking advantage of online opportunities and what advice do you have for other authors about finding them?

With the pandemic, it’s probably easier for me, actually! Silver linings, I guess? I already have some events scheduled with booksellers in the US, as well as bloggers and podcasts.

If the pandemic hadn’t happened, who knows? But I was actually planning on flying to the US and making my own book tour happen—I am shameless in that way, and very thrifty when it comes to travelling. Perks of having friends whose couches I can use all over. I’m still a bit miffed I won’t be there in person, and I’m especially miffed that I won’t get to do my book launch in Minneapolis, where my best friend in the whole world is. I really wanted her there with me

 As for finding these events… don’t be scared of putting yourself out there and reaching out. And to tell your publicist (if you have one!) about reaching out too! Be friendly to fellow authors and ask them if they want to do something with you as well!

 10. What are you working on now?

I’m now currently working as a ghostwriter to pay the bills as my day job, and slowlyyyy re-plotting and revising my previous YA Fantasy book about chaotic pansexuals and mental illness (I think I just hit a breakthrough on that one!)

I’m also slowly researching the 1383-1385 Crisis in Portugal for another YA Historical about the legend of the Baker of Aljubarrota and the story of Leonor Teles, who was done SO DIRTY in our history lessons.

And then there’s also my super long Adult Fiction WIP that’s a blend of science fiction and fantasy, fueled by my really missing my grandmother that’s passed, and who was magic herself. Like grandmothers often are, you know?

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

Website: https://pinguicha.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pinguicha
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pinguicha/

Giveaway Details

Diana has generously offered a hardback of A Curse of Roses for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by December 19th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International to anywhere that Blackwells ships to.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Tomorrow, December 3rd I'm participating in the Winter is Coming Giveaway Hop

Saturday, December 5th I'm participating in the December 2020 of Books Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 14th I have a guest post by debut author M.L. Tarpley about marketing and school visits during COVID-19 and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Malie and the Maize

Wednesday, January 6th I have an interview with debut author Olivia Chadha and a giveaway of her YA dystopian Rise of the Red Hand and my IWSG post

Monday, January 11th I have an interview with debut author Caroline Gertler and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Many Points of Me

Monday, January 18th I have a guest post by debut author Dana Swift and her agent Amy Brewer and a query critique giveaway and book giveaway of Dana's YA fantasy Cast in Firelight 

Hope to see you Monday!


nashvillecats2 said...

A wonderful post and a great interview with Diana,
A good read to start my day Natalie ....thank you.


Sonia Dogra said...

Great read and an intriguing take on the legend. Thank you!I shall fill up the nomination form for the Writer's Digest. I think it's on the IWSG facebook page.

Liza said...

Hi Natalie. I nominated Literary Rambles. Thanks for all you do. Great interview. I love that Diana went from engineering to writing.

Lynn La Vita said...

I just nominated Literary Rambles. Your interviews are well written and inspiring. I wish you the very best of luck!
Thank you for co-hosting the December IWSG blog-hop

Lynn La Vita blog: Writers Supporting Writers

Nancy Gideon said...

Diana's book sounds wonderful! I love books based on folk lore and legend. And I adore Literary Rambles. Off to nominate . . .

Jennifer Hawes said...

Will do! Your blog is worthy of such a honor!

J Lenni Dorner said...

Best of luck with the nominations! I added yours and a few others.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now she doesn't have to fly here! That worked.
I nominated you the other day.
Thanks for co-hosting today!

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the sound of Diana's book - full of the very best kinds of complexities. A Curse of Roses is also a great title!
Off to nominate!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I never thought of the pandemic making a book launch easier, but you're so right. Congratulations, Diana. I hope you have great success and lots of fun.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Definitely voting for you Natalie, I mean Literary Rambles.

Diana's A Curse of Roses sounds awesome. I would love to win a copy.

Pat Garcia said...

Thank you, Natalie. I have just sent in my vote for you. I sincerely hope you get listed.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a safe passage into 2021

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

J.Q. Rose said...

I love the title and cover of Diana's book. Literary Rambles certainly does deserve an award, so nominated you and IWSG. You're right. The award will bring attention to the great resource you have put together for authors. Thanks for co-hosting!

Sadira Stone said...

A Curse of Roses sounds fascinating! So was your interview.

Samantha Bryant said...

A Curse of Roses sounds fascinating! And, yes, I'll hop over and nominate this blog right now! @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Emma L Gill said...

Thanks for co-hosting today! I loved your interview and hope you get lots of exposure for your blog. I’m a new follower now! :)

Leigh Caron said...

Great blog today and I entered Literary Rambles in Writer's Digest contest.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks for cohosting this month. Good interview.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You can sign a contract without an agent (as us small to mid-range publishers do that all the time) but you should have an entertainment law or similar lawyer look it over before signing.

cleemckenzie said...

Love the title and the basis for Diana's story. It sounds so intriguing. And here's to your success, Natalie! I know you'll make the cut and be included among the 101 best. I'm doing my nominations this week for sure.

Ruchi Nasa said...

A curse of roses seems to be an interesting read.

Chrys Fey said...

Done, Natalie. I also nominated myself. lol No harm in trying, right? :)

emaginette said...

Form filling? I can do that. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

diedre Knight said...

I'm more than happy to nominate Literary Rambles, Natalie!
Thank you for co-hosting, and a very Merry Christmas to you ;-)

Loni Townsend said...

Got my nomination in! Hoping for the best for you!

Cathrina Constantine said...

Natalie,I will get my nomination in for you. Your blog is helpful to so many writers.
Thank you for co-hosting with me too!!!

Donna Hanton said...

Done the nomination. Fingers crossed... Also enjoyed this interview; the genre is not one I usually read, but love stories that come from folklore.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Natalie - Nominated!
Great interview. I think it's tough how long a book takes to find a publishing home, but it's also really good when a book lands in the right place with the right people.

Chemist Ken said...

I nominated your site too. You cover so many writers who would normally not receive any attention. Thanks for your hard work.

Adrienne Reiter said...

So cool to find your blog. I'll nominate you. Happy IWSG Day. Thank you for co-hosting!

Olga Godim said...

@Diana: your book sounds very interesting. And the cover is gorgeous.
@Natalie: I'm going to follow your link and nominate you right now.

Carol Kilgore said...

Wishing you success with Writer's Digest!
Happy December, too :)

Anonymous said...

Happy to nominate Literary Rambles. The interview with Diana Pinguicha says it all in terms of the value of your content. Congrats to Diana on what promises to be a fascinating read!

Liz A. said...

It sounds like a fascinating book. And it sounds like she's got some interesting books coming up (once they're finished :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

A Curse of Roses sounds wonderful!

Fundy Blue said...

Great interview, Natalie and Diana! I nominated Literary Rambles, Natalie. Your site is amazing!

Liesbet said...

You have been instrumental to the writing community, Natalie, and lots of us have followed your blog with interest and learned a lot along the way. I especially like your agent interviews.

So, of course, I nominated you. Your site deserves it big time. And, of course, I nominated the IWSG (for two categories, actually), as they totally belong to be part of the Writer's Digest 101 best sites too. :-)

Pat Hatt said...

Nominated away!

Always good when you can quote the whole thing by memory. Makes research way easier that way haha

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Blog nominated! I love the sound of Diane's story.

Denise Covey said...

A thoroughly informative post as always Natalie! I hope your blog makes it into the best blogs! You deserve it!

Beth Camp said...

Really enjoyed this interview with Diana and the usual amazing collection of ideas and resources . . . so I nominated you as well. Have a very good 2021.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Good luck with the Writer's Digest 101 Blogs! What a fascinating sounding book by Diana. I love twists on history.

Mary Preston said...

A great interview thank you.


Doreen McGettigan said...

I love your interviews so much! I nominated! Thank you for hosting this month and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview and love the cover! I always enjoy when authors put their own spin on either a fairy tale or some kind of legend that we have all heard of, sounds good!

Megan said...

Thank you so much for the interview and amazing giveaway - I'm so excited for A Curse of Roses :)
GFC: Megan S.
Email: megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com

Debs Carey said...

Natalie, I've also nominated you - all the very best.
Thanks muchly for hosting this month & for your support & regular visits.

Melissa said...

Great interview. Thanks for co-hosting.

Debra Renée Byrd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debra Renée Byrd said...

This book sounds so interesting! Added it to my Goodreads list. Thanks for co-hosting!

Arlee Bird said...

Sounds like Diana is on the right track with her publishing career.

Thanks for co-hosting and have a very merry Christmas season!

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

craftyvegan said...

I really want to read this book after reading the author's note in the sample I got to preview. gumshoe0108 (at) msn (dot) com

Tamara Narayan said...

That's quite a tale on how you got your agent!

Toi Thomas said...

Thanks for co-hosting this month. Best of luck with your Writer's Digest nominations. Thank for sharing A Curse of Roses, it's just the kind of story I like to discover. I too learn a lot from failure, so Diana Pinguicha's story and process to develop this book was insightful.

Susan B.Rouchard said...

Thanks Cathrina for all your news and giveaway contests. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and lots of writing and inspiration for 2021. Take care.

Susan B.Rouchard said...

Sorry Nathalie .....

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Lidy said...

Thanks for co-hosting this month! Adding A Curses of Roses to my TBR list. Nominated your blog. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Cerise said...

this was a great interview! i loved the questions and im super interested in this book now! thank you so much for hosting this giveaway.

Mehad said...

Amazing interview! Now I want to read this book even more ahh thank you for this giveaway!