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: Michelle I. Mason and Your Life Has Been Delayed Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have one of our IWSG coordinators and debut author Michelle I. Mason here to share about her YA time travel, Your Life Has Been Delayed. I’m super excited to read it because I love time travel stories, and Michelle has put a new spin on her story. I have it on reserve at my library.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Past and present, friends and crushes collide in a YA debut about a girl who takes off on a flight and lands 25 years later.

Jenny Waters boards her flight in 1995, but when she lands, she and the other passengers are told they disappeared . . . 25 years ago. Everyone thought they were dead.

Now contending with her family and friends fast-forwarding decades, Jenny must quickly adjust to smartphones and social media while being the biggest story to hit the internet. She feels betrayed by her once-best friend and fights her attraction to a cute boy with an uncomfortable connection to her past. Meanwhile, there’s a growing group of conspiracy theorists determined to prove the whole situation is a hoax. Will Jenny figure out how to move forward, or will she always be stuck in the past? 

 New Podcast You Might Like

 The Rights Agency, a literary agency, has started a new podcast, Agent Provocateur, which is produced and hosted by literary agents. They post on Tuesdays and discuss what goes on behind the scenes in agenting and publishing. You can find out more about it here and listen to it on AppleSpotifyGoogleStitcheriHeartRadio, etc. 



Before I get to my interview with Michelle, 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 September 1 posting of the IWSG are me, Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Karen Lynn, C. Lee McKenzie!

Before I answer the optional question, I want to let you know that I contributed to a blog post by Twinkl on the best books of all time to read before the age of 13. We were asked to recommend our favorite book as a child. I hope you'll check out the post and find out what mine was.

Optional Question: How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

I don’t define success as a writer by getting published or making any income from it. I measure my success by whether I’m writing consistently and getting better as a writer. It’s also really important to me that I continue to enjoy the process of writing.

I don’t stress out about having publishing goals or income expectations because they aren’t things I can control. After losing my husband, getting laid off, and having other things happen that I couldn’t control, I really focus on what I can control in life. I’ve found this is the best way to be content and happier in life.

What about you? How do you measure your success?

Interview With Michelle I. Mason

Hi Michelle! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi, Natalie! Thanks so much for having me.

I’ve always loved to write, from back in grade school when we used to make books in class and laminate them (I still have some of those). But even though I loved it, I didn’t really see a clear path to becoming a writer as a kid or teen. I pursued a degree in English Lit thinking I might become an editor, but I was also doing a minor in journalism, and my freshman year I discovered public relations. Working in PR is a lot of writing, just a different kind—and I got paid for it! I did that for ten years, but I was itching to write fiction again.

I’m not sure exactly what year it was, but Mary Higgins Clark came to speak here in St. Louis, and she inspired me to start writing again (a story that didn’t go anywhere). Then I had a dream about a 10-year-old boy that made me start investigating middle grade fiction—a whole new world since I was a kid. Ultimately, I found my voice in young adult. I’ve never looked back.

2. I used to read Mary Higgins Clark’s books. How cool she inspired you to write again. You have such an interesting premise in your story. Where did you get the idea for Your Life Has Been Delayed?

I’ve always been fascinated by time travel, from when I first watched all the Back to the Future movies. Then, a few years ago, I tagged along on my husband’s business trip to Australia. On our return flight, we left Sydney on Feb. 27 at 11:30 a.m. and arrived in L.A. on Feb. 27 at 5:35 a.m. I know it’s really just moving across time zones, but it felt like traveling back in time.

I think it sort of lingered in my mind, because a few months later I thought: what if you got on a plane, but when you landed it was many years later? And the rest of the story just came from that central question.

3. Going on a trip with your husband is a cool way to come up with a story idea. Many people who read an ARC of your book said they enjoyed it even though they may not read in your genre and that they couldn’t put your story down. How did you plot out your story and keep the pace moving fast?

I wonder if some of those comments are due to the fact that my book is classified as science fiction because of its time travel setup, but aside from that, it’s basically a contemporary YA. So if you go into it expecting heavy sci-fi elements, you’ll be disappointed (sorry if that’s you!). Either way, having someone say they can’t put my book down is the best compliment of all!

But as far as plotting, I started with the premise and then made a list of the worst things I could do to Jenny. My goal was that with almost every chapter she would be left with some new revelation to make her life worse. It’s hard to be mean to characters you love, but it’s also the best way to keep readers turning pages!

4. Jennifer Nielsen, one of my favorite authors, also recommends doing the worst things you can to your main character too. Did you have to do any research into how life was different in 1995 to show the contrast with our current time when the story is set?

Yes, lots! 1995 is Jenny’s entire world view. So she’s looking at everything in the present from the viewpoint of a 20th century girl. I had to be on top of everything from what people were wearing and how people were using the brand-new internet to popular TV stars and just everyday habits. All of this informed how Jenny would react to a 21st century world. Because I was a teen in 1995, I found myself triple-checking my information. Memory is tricky—you think something happened around a certain year, but when you look into it, you may find you’re off by five or ten years. I watched movies and shows from the nineties, documentaries, and even read through my old yearbooks to make sure I was getting her perspective right.

5. It seems like you had to think out a whole lot about the character arcs of Jenny’s family and friends to show how their lives changed in 25 years. What was that process like for you?

The relationships were the most important part of the book for me. It’s interesting to look at how the world has changed, like all the new technology, or what everyday things someone in the 21st century just accepts that Jenny would be completely clueless about. But really, people and their issues are even more fascinating.

So for the family and friends, I looked at those closest to Jenny and considered what she would care about most, how those people would have changed/remained the same, and then, once again, what would hit her hardest. Even the characters who hurt her the most with the decisions they made while she was gone are still at heart the people she loved. Life is bound to go on—or end in the case of three of Jenny’s grandparents—over the course of twenty-five years. Unfortunately for Jenny, she just keeps getting hit over the head with that fact.

6. That’s great that you focused on the characters most important to Jenny. What was a challenge you faced in writing this book and how did you overcome it?

Oh, that’s a fun question! So, right after I finished drafting this book in 2018, a writing friend sent me a message with a link to an announcement about the show Manifest, which is about a plane that jumps forward five years. I basically freaked out and thought I would have to scrap the book, but my Pitch Wars 2017 group and critique partners urged me to whip it quickly into shape and query, which is what I did. I signed with my agent before the show came out (she was aware of it), and then we went out on submission quickly too. Now, Manifest is on its third season and was just added to Netflix. My publisher has been pitching my book as Manifest meets YA contemporary, so it’s all worked out!

7. Thanks for sharing your challenge. It’s a great reminder not to freak out too much if you see something like your story idea. Your agent is Elizabeth Bewley. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Through the query trenches! But it definitely wasn’t my first book. I queried six books over seven years before signing with Elizabeth on this one (my seventh). And signing for this book was a bit like a fairy tale after that long wait. I had three agent offers and an agent within a month of sending out my first queries. Once I signed with Elizabeth, we revised and signed with Bloomsbury within three months. But then the wait for the book to come out was two years (not unusual) and extended further by the pandemic, so it’s been two years and nine months. If you’re counting, in all it’s been 10 years since I started querying! But I learned something from every single book I wrote, and I don’t regret any of it!

I did a blog series on what I learned querying, in case it may be helpful to anyone else: https://michelleimason.com/category/querying/what-ive-learned/

8. I read your blog and have watched you count down to your release date. Share a bit about how you’ve done that and how it’s kept you organized as you got closer to the date you book released.

As I mentioned above, my professional background is in public relations, so I don’t think I can help that PR mindset. At the end of last year, I added a widget with a countdown on my blog, and then at nine months out I started doing blog posts with behind-the-scenes info about the book. At six months, I added a newsletter. In these final few weeks I’ve been doing a character focus every week on Instagram and Twitter. I hope readers enjoy them!

As to how I keep them organized—spreadsheets! I love my spreadsheets and have them for all sorts of things, but for marketing, I have a social media calendar. It includes all the milestones (how many days or weeks are left before release), as well as when I have interviews or events so I can promote those. I’d never be able to keep track of it all otherwise!

9. How are you planning to market your book? Have you learned anything from watching others in The 21ders who already became debut authors?

The best advice I’ve received about marketing is to do the things that you enjoy from a marketing standpoint, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I like making fun graphics in Canva (what a fantastic resource!) and have a pro account. I really enjoy talking, even on camera. I’ve already done one podcast and would love to do more. I also have some virtual events planned. I try to consistently post on Twitter, Instagram, my blog, and newsletter. I would love to do school and other events if that becomes more feasible in the coming months. Basically, any time someone wants to talk with me about my book, I’m there!

As far as learning from other the21ders, absolutely! Our debut group is so supportive, lifting each other up and offering advice on the best marketing tactics. I’m so grateful to have them going through this with me!

10. I’ve heard the same advice to focus on what you enjoy when marketing from other authors too. What are you working on now?

I just turned in revisions for my second book, coming from Bloomsbury September 2022. I am so close to announcing more about it, but for now I’ll just say it is another YA contemporary with a speculative twist. Keep an eye out for more details soon!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Michelle. You can find Michelle at www.michelleimason.com, on Twitter and Instagram at @michelleimason, and sign up for her newsletter at bit.ly/MIMnews. 

Giveaway Details

Michelle has generously offered a hardback of Your Life Has Been Delayed 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 September 18th. 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. The giveaway is International

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Tuesday, September 7th I’m participating in the September to Remember Giveaway Hop

Monday, September 13th I have an interview with debut author Alda Dobbs and a giveaway of her MG historical Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

Wednesday, September 15th I have an agent spotlight interview with Nicole Eisenbraun and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 20th I have an agent/author guest post with Chloe Seager and  Brianna Bourne and giveaway of Brianna’s YA dystopian You and Me and the End of the World and a query critique by Brianna

Wednesday, September 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Crystal Orazu and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 27th I have an interview with debut author Jessica Vitalis and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Wolf’s Curse

Hope to see you on Tuesday!






nashvillecats2 said...

Most enjoyable OWSG post and interview with Jessica. Always a good start to my day Natalie.
Have a wonderful September.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Amazing how much has changed in the last 25 years. Sounds like a cool book.

Good choice to enjoy the process of writing as a definition of success.

Karen Lynn said...

I like to measure success as all the things I wouldn't get to do, if I had holed up and stopped working. That's everything, from talking to you to getting published and beyond.

Kalpana said...

Thanks for co hosting. Your idea of success as a writer coincides with mine. I found the interview with Michelle fascinating, and helpful. Her book sounds fabulous too. Happy IWSG day.

Liza said...

Congratulations to Michelle. The book sounds great...my daughter is watching Manifest and I thought of it before you mentioned it. I have done that Australia trip...one way you miss a day, the other way you travel forever and arrive just after you left. Natalie, thank you for the interview and all you do for writers!

Cathrina Constantine said...

Thank you for co-hosting, Natalie! And, an Inspiring post for writers!!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well said - focus on what we can control.
Of the main books mentioned in that article, I've only read The Hobbit.
Thanks for co-hosting today!

Nancy Gideon said...

"Things you can't control..." Exactly! Too many of us fixate on those things instead of working in areas where we can excel individually and collectively as writers. Thanks for co-hosting, Natalie, and for another right on target post.

Sarah said...

That's such a cool premise, and so interesting to hear about the research and fact-checking that went into it!

Jennifer Hawes said...

You're so right! There is so much out of our control. Trying to remain happy and writing is a worthy goal. The time-travel book sounds awesome!

Stephanie Owen said...

Thank you for all of your insight into the writing process. Congratulations on your book!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, love your philosophy of not stressing over book publishing goals or income from books, these two really give us writers undue anxiety and sadness. Best is to focus on writing.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love your definition of writing success! And thanks for the reminder on focusing on what we can control in life. :)

Emma L Gill said...

Fantastic interview, what a journey!
As for success as a writer, I love this" "writing consistently and getting better as a writer" as a feeling close to my own heart. It's wonderful to look back at how much we improve when we are trying to do so! :)
Thanks so much for your blog post and Happy IWSG Day! I've added Shadow Castle by Marian Cockrell to my list of books to search out for reading with my own kids. It sounds great :)

Diane Burton said...

You are so right about enjoying the writing. Why else would we be putting ourselves through the angst, stress, and suffer rejection? Life has handed you some real setbacks. I hope you continue to enjoy writing.

Great interview. Happy to get to know you, Michelle.

tricia said...

Thanks for this great interview with Michelle! I really can't wait to read this book!


Bish Denham said...

Yup, enjoying the writing is what it really is all about.

cleemckenzie said...

Congratulations to Michelle. And congratulations to you for having such a clear idea of success as a writer.

Computer Tutor said...

Good interview. I love the idea of a podcast. I've tried a lot of writerly podcasts and usually leave disappointed. This one sounds like it will be different.

I liked your note about update agent info. I have an education resource blog with thousands of links. I update once a year, which is tedious and time consuming. And that's just a link! I can't imagine how you keep yours up.

C. D. Gallant-King said...

That podcast sounds interesting. I'm going to have to check it out!

Jemi Fraser said...

Natalie - I agree with your measures of success. It really is about finding the joy in our words!
Congrats to Michelle on the book - sounds terrific!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Hi Natalie! I'm already a follow of your truly interesting blog. Thanks for always having great giveaways! I plan on checking out those podcasts from the Agent Provocateur. And thanks for co-hosting IWSG's question this month.

Michelle's book sounds truly intriguing. The Flight of the Navigator movie popped into my head when I read the interview, when the boy disappears and then returns to earth over ten years later. It dealt with time/space travel. My family likes that movie. All best with this release, Michelle. Gosh! I hope I win a copy of the book.

All best to you both!

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks for co-hosting today, Natalie! Your words resonated with me and cheered me up. And what a wonderful interview with Michelle! It's inspiring and full of good information. Have fun today!

Adrienne Reiter said...

Enjoying the process is a great definition of success. Life is too short to be caught up in the small stuff. And it's all small stuff, right? Fantastic interview. Will grab a copy. Thank you for co-hosting!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

So much we can't control and if we worry about it, it just makes us sick anyway.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love your attitude about success, Natalie. You are right. So much in our lives is beyond our control. Getting words on the page is a success. Finishing a poem or short story is a success. Every day we can enjoy the storytelling craft is a success. I'm always encouraged by the way you encourage writers. Thank you for all you do with your interviews.
And congratulations to Michelle! I think comparing it to Manifest is a great idea - and because of that and this interview, I went and pre-ordered a copy. Yep. Use that comp title. :)

Brenda said...

What an interesting premise for the story. Success for me is accomplishing the mini goals I've set for myself for the day. I too strive to get better with my writing and have fun. Have a lovely week Natalie!

Gwen Gardner said...

Natalie, I love your approach to success! I wish I could stop stressing about things I can't control.

Michelle, congrats on your new release. I love the premise, it sounds a lot like the Manifest series on Netflix.

Lynn La Vita said...

I absolutely agree with your definition of success. I find at times it hard to recognize what I can control or influence, so I continue to learn. Great interview. Thank you for co-hosting this month.
Lynn La Vita http://la-vita-dot-us/write/

Olga Godim said...

@Natalie: you're right; it is much better to concentrate on things you can control on your writing journey.
@Michelle: I love the premise of your book. Although I'm far away from my teenage years, I'm tempted to read your story.

Liesbet said...

Your answer to the question is much more realistic and "pure" than mine, Natalie. As I read it, I realized that the answer to this month's question might separate real authors from temporary authors, like me. Writing is not my only - or biggest - passion in life, therefore, my goals and ideas of success are different, I think.

Thank you for co-hosting! I will opt out for a chance of winning Michelle's book (even though it sounds interesting and intriguing) as I don't have time to read, unfortunately.

J.Q. Rose said...

Sometimes I get so caught up with the little stuff, I forget to be thankful that I "are" a writer. I forget to enjoy putting words on paper and sharing them to make a difference in people's lives or to make them smile or scared (in one of my books). LOL. I am in to time travel stories. Michelle's sounds like a real winner. Thanks for co-hosting!

Danielle H. said...

Time travel stories are so much fun to read. Thank you for the chance to win a finished copy of this book. I follow Natalie on Twitter.

diedre Knight said...

Time travel is always an interesting premise. Best wishes, Michelle!

As much as I'd dearly love to write the next classic, I enjoy the process of writing too much to let rejections get me down. You're absolutely right about embracing things we can control, rather than lamenting what we couldn't. Writing offers passage when other roads seem closed.
Thank you for co-hosting, Natalie!

Kim A. Larson said...

Congratulations, Michelle! I love watching Manifest so your book really appeals to me. Thanks for sharing about your writing journey too. I needed that encouragement today.

Anonymous said...

I share your definition of success, perhaps because we have shared similar life experiences. Writing success for me is writing a story I love and enjoying the journey.

Congrats to Michelle on her debut novel. Time travel stories are so interesting!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I love the premise of Michelle's novel--it's got my mind spinning :)

And I agree with your view of success as being about the things under your control. If I'm actually writing, and maybe even improving some? That's success.

Some days, of course, getting out of bed is success.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great interview! For me, success happens in little ways every day. Happy September!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

How wise to concentrate on what you can control. We would all have less stress if we would do that. Congrats to Michele. Every time I visit your blog, I wish those MG and YA books had been around when I was in school. I read so many books over and over again because the library selections were so few. Now going to check out Best Children's book list.

Liz A. said...

Isn't it funny how the same sort of idea will come out in two movies or TV shows or books at the same time? And they have nothing to do with one another. It's like the idea is in the aether or something. Sounds like it'll be an interesting book.

Sadira Stone said...

Excellent point, Natalie! I have to remind myself from time to time that I should enjoy the writing process--otherwise, what's the point? Thanks for co-hosting.

Sandra Cox said...

How exciting, Michelle. Wishing you much success.
'Lo, Natalie;)

Melissa said...

Maybe you have the right of it, and I have it backwards. Maybe I need to focus on BICHOK, and the rest will follow.

Jean Davis said...

That's an excellent outlook on success as a writer. Enjoying what you do is what makes it all worthwhile.

tetewa said...

Thanks for introducing me to another new author!

Jenni said...

This sounds like such a fun premise! I graduated from college in 95, so I'm totally intrigued. And I share a name with the MC. I also liked how Michele came up with her idea.
Natalie, your thoughts on success are so wise. I've learned to focus on what I can control too. It's a lot less stressful. :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Enjoying the writing process is soooo important.
Oh my gosh, I LOVE the premise of Your Life Has Been Delayed. I'm definitely putting that one on my TBR list.

Samantha Bryant said...

Satisfaction and joy are excellent measures of success.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Hi, Natalie!!!

I agree with your measures for success. Honestly, we need to be okay with our journey and enjoy it. Life goes by fast.


kimlajevardi.com said...

Regularly writing and getting better are great ways to measure success.

Katsuke said...

Wow, that sounds like a fascinating story!
Thank you for sharing all your experiences with the writing journey.


Tracy R said...

Your Life Has Been Delayed sounds so good! I usually read thrillers, but when I find a good book about time travel or such things I really enjoy it.

Deniz Bevan said...

This is a great interview! The book sounds awesome, I've added it to my wishlist!

Mary Preston said...

A great post thank you.


Shannon Lawrence said...

Your definition of success is a good and realistic one. One I agree with. To Michelle, what you said about the changes in people being more interesting than the changes in the world makes a lot of sense.

Deb S. said...

Fabulous interview Natalie - and Jessica, your worth ethic is beyond inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story.

Pat Garcia said...

I love your thoughts on success because they are very similar to mine. Thank you for co-hosting and I'm sorry I'm late but I was getting my submission ready for the anthology.
Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Jemima Pett said...

This sounds like a lovely book - and I really admire the author's tenacity in her approaches to agents. Thanks for all the information you drew out of her, Natalie! (and thanks for co-hosting this month - I keep forgetting to say that!)

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations to Michelle! Time travel books are so much fun. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to adjust for a person even 25 years before now. So much has changed. 25 years from today will seem like an alien world to us, I bet!

I love your measure of success and happiness, Natalie. Being happy is the best prize.

kjmckendry said...

Great interview! I love the idea of Your Life Has Been Delayed!
I agree with you about only worrying about the things you can control.

Chemist Ken said...

Thank you for the interview. And it's great being able to define your own idea of what success is, isn't it?

Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Lovely interview.

And I think we have to be careful how we measure things while real life is happening around you.

Rosi said...

Congratulations to Michelle! Very exciting. Another great interview. Thanks for that. I will pass on the giveaway. I am buried in books.

JEN Garrett said...

Hi Natalie!
I'd read most of the books on the list on Twinkl before I was 13, but yours was a new title to me. Wahoo! A new book to read.
My favorite would have to The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi Natalie,

I like your version of success! Well done and keep on writing and improving...

Congrats to Michelle! All the best!

Megan said...

This sounds like such a fun premise and I'm so looking forward to reading it. Thank you for the interview, Michelle and Natalie!
Also, I'd love to enter the giveaway, my GFC is Megan S., my bloglovin is ChickensGal and my email is megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com.
I also tweeted about the giveaway here: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1434944706761445378 :)

Loni Townsend said...

I identify with your definition of success. Once upon a time, I had dreams of becoming a household name and making tons of money from books... Now I just want to finish them. Getting the writing done, that is success to me now. :)

Nancy P said...

Very curious about this. positive.ideas.4youATgmail

Chris L said...

I follow you :)

Nancy P said...

Following positive.ideas.4youATgmail.com