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.

Debut Author Interview: Carly Heath and The Reckless Kind Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Carley Heath here to share about her historical YA The Reckless Kind. It sounds like a fantastic story set in Norway that deals with being queer and disabled. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A genre-defying debut, this queer historical YA centers a wild and reckless trio who fly in the face of small town tradition—full of compassion, love, and determination to live the lives of their choosing.

It's 1904 on an island just west of Norway, and Asta Hedstrom doesn't want to marry her odious betrothed, Nils. But her mother believes she should be grateful for the possibility of any domestic future, given her single-sided deafness, unconventional appearance, and even stranger notions. Asta would rather spend her life performing in the village theater with her friends and fellow outcasts: her best friend Gunnar Fuglestad and his secret boyfriend, wealthy Erlend Fournier.

But the situation takes a dire turn when Nils lashes out in jealousy—gravely injuring Gunnar. Shunning marriage for good, Asta moves with Gunnar and Erlend to their secluded cabin above town. With few ties left with their families, they have one shot at gaining enough kroner to secure their way of life: win the village's annual horse race. 

IWSG Post 

Before I get to my interview with Carly, 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 this month are Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery!

Optional Question: What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

First, thanks so much to the IWSG for featuring Literary Rambles and me in their newsletter this month. I really appreciate it!

Now onto the question this month. I think a rough draft of the blurb is easier for me to write. That’s because I have a general sense of the major plot points when I start a story. Titles can be much harder for me. For example, I’m almost finished with my current first draft (I can’t believe I’m almost done), but it’s still titled “New Story.” I have some ideas for the title but won’t make a final decision until I finish the draft.

What about you? Which is harder for you to write?

Interview With Carly Heath

Hi Carly! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi! Thanks for the chance to do this interview with you! I’ve been writing from an early age. In fact, I remember my 1st grade teacher would give out a daily homework assignment where we had to write a one-page story. Though I went to college for filmmaking, I came to find that my passion was for writing fiction and in 2014 began working in earnest toward my first novel.  

2. I bet your filmmaking classes helped you when you began writing fiction again. Where did you get the idea for The Reckless Kind?

Some ideas for this book likely started in Middle School and High School. I was a horse obsessed kid and Norwegian Fjord horses were my absolute favorites. I drew fjord horses all over my notes in class. Sometime later, after college, I read Kristin Lavransdatter, the novel by Sigrid Undset that lead to her winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928. I adored many elements of that novel—especially the setting—but, sadly, Kristin Lavransdatter is very not feminist. So, I wanted to write something that had all the things I loved about Kristin Lavransdatter but with a more feminist message. Instead of the story being “defy your parents and you will suffer,” I wanted it to be “defy your parents and live your best life.” Yes, the kids in my book face difficulties, but through it all they have each other and find their way to their most authentic selves.

3. That’s cool that you took the best from what you liked about the author’s writing and then used that as a jumping board to create your story. The Reckless Kind is set in Norway in 1904. What made you decide to pick this country and time period for your story?

The Reckless Kind is set in a fictional Scandinavian island nation called Hestaland which has a lot of Norwegian vibes. I adore so many things about a Scandinavian setting—the landscapes, the animals, the dark winters, the bright summers, the folk art, and the clothes. So many of my creative decisions are connected to aesthetics and a huge part of my creative process involves finding things on Pinterest that inspire me. So, yes, much of the decisions regarding setting and time period came out of my Pinterest searches. But, also, the early 1900s have a lot of metaphorical potential. When conceptualizing the two brothers—Fred and Gunnar—I wanted them to be opposites in many ways. One way that’s represented is that Fred loves horses and Gunnar loves motorcars. The early 1900s were a time when horses were still the primary means of transportation, but motorcars are starting to be acquired by hobbyists. So that time period gave me the chance to play with the horse/motorcar dynamic.

4. What research did you have to do to be certain that your story was historically accurate? What advice do you have for other writers who want to write historical fiction?

First, just reading books written close to that time period and set in that time period helped me get a sense for the way language was used and also the details of every day life. Happy Times in Norway by Sigrid Undset was really useful to read right before I began drafting. I also searched google books for 19th century travel guides for English people travelling to Norway. Those had a lot of useful descriptions of the countryside as well as the local customs and price of things in kroner. I particularly loved this 1857 book called Unprotected Females in Norway, or the Pleasantest Way of Travelling There by Emily Lowe which provided a great deal of information about what two women travellers might experience on their own in Norway without any gentlemen around.

My advice for other writers is to make use of books.google.com! It’s great! You can search by year (so I was searching in the 1890-1910 range quite a bit) and then search for specific words. It’s useful if you want to get some historical opinions on certain topics. For instance, do a 19th century search for “masturbation,” “carnal relations,” “courting,” or “lovemaking” and you’ll get some very educational results. I also found it useful when trying to come up with historically accurate similes and metaphors. For instance, I did a 19th century search for “drunk as a” and found “drunk as a boiled owl.” I’m still not sure what a boiled owl is, but I used it.

5. That’s a great tip about books.google.com. Who is your favorite character—Asta, Gunnar, or Erlend—and why?

I love them all equally, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about grumpy Gunnar and I’ve been hearing his voice a lot and seeing what life has been like for him and Erlend after the events in The Reckless Kind. I would really, really like to write a sequel that’s either Gunnar’s POV or a dual POV with Gunnar and Fred, where the brothers have to work together on something that causes their differences to flare up. He’s such complex character and I really relate to Gunnar’s self-doubt and how he has principles and sticks by them, but has had to suffer because of those principles. 

6. Your agent is Steven Chudney. How did he become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

The book that would become The Reckless Kind had been on submission for a year with another agent, but that agent left the industry leaving my manuscript orphaned. I began querying again, worried that the book would be less interesting to agents since it had already been on sub, but I actually got a lot of interest right away which was heartening. I signed with Steven about a month after I’d begun querying again and found that since he was a more established agent than my previous one and he was able to get responses from editors much faster. I was thrilled when Dan Ehrenhaft at Soho Teen offered on the book as I’m a big fan of his list which includes authors like Adam Silvera and Samira Ahmed. Dan ended up leaving Soho Teen after acquiring my book, but Alexa Wejko took over and her editorial guidance has been absolutely stellar. She really helped elevate the story immensely.

7. That’s great that you were able to find an agent so quickly after your first one left agenting. You were a Pitch Wars mentee and are now a mentor. Share about how your experiences with Pitch Wars helped you and how it can help other writers. Do you have any tips on how a writer can be accepted as a mentee?

Actually, I was never a Pitch Wars mentee. I applied to Pitch Wars in 2016 and was rejected (sad trombone). I made a video about being rejected and getting an agent and a book deal anyway. It’s posted it on my YouTube channel.  Also: I even got rejected when I applied to be a mentor in 2020. So, my advice to other writers: don’t despair if you don’t get picked. It really just comes down to mentors’ individual tastes, and being rejected shouldn’t cause you to think negatively about your book. When I was an AMM mentor, I got 135 submissions and about 12 of them were all really polished and practically query ready. Why did I pick the one I did? For whatever reason, it just hit me in the right moment. Think about how it is when you’re finding something to read. Though there might be hundreds of really good ebooks books Available Now on your library website, for some reason one just pops for you in that moment. That’s how it is for mentors choosing manuscripts. Yes, polish your manuscript as much as you can. Make those emotional moments as compelling as they can be, but understand that Pitch Wars is just a fun alternative to querying. Most authors get their agent from cold querying and acceptance or rejection in Pitch Wars should not be internalized as a judgment on the quality of your manuscript.

8. Sorry about getting the mentee info wrong. I noticed on your website that you have a lot of clips, articles, and interviews listed. Share about how you have been able to get these opportunities that are helping get out the word about your book.

Some of the opportunities approached me first—they found me either on Twitter or the the21ders.com website. I also found it useful to sign up with helpareporter.com. Once you sign up, you get three e-mails a day listing journalists who are requesting pitches and sources. Also twitter hashtags like #journorequest #sourcerequest and #prrequest can lead to useful results. Recently, I had a lunch meeting with Brandie June, author of GOLD SPUN, and she gave me a lot of tips on reaching out to book tokers and podcasters, so I’m making a list now of folks to reach out to.

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

From what I’ve recently learned, marketing is paid advertisements and publicity is promotion in the media that isn’t paid for, so I’ll leave the marketing to the publisher but I’ll try to do as much publicity as I can on my own by reaching out to booktubers, bloggers, book tokers, and making my own content on social media. I’m still learning and seeking all the advice/guidance I can get : )

10. What are you working on now?

I have a queer YA Fantasy that means everything to me. It’s sort of HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA meets EVERY HEART A DOORWAY with Scandinavian and cottage core vibes.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Carly. You can find Carly at: https://www.carlyheathauthor.com




Giveaway Details

Carly has generously offered an ARC of The Reckless Kind 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 November 20th. 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 U.S.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, November 8th I have a guest post by debut author Jessica Speer and a giveaway of her MG nonfiction BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships

Tuesday, November 9th I’m participating in the Super Stocking Stuffer Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 15th I have an interview with debut author Terry Catasús Jennings and a giveaway of her chapter book Definitely Dominguita Sherlock Dom

Tuesday, November 16th I’m participating in the In All Things Give Thanks Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 22th I have an agent spotlight interview with Danielle Chiotti and a query critique giveaway

Monday, November 29nd I have an interview with debut author Nancy McConnell and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Into the Lion’s Mouth

Hope to see you on Monday!







Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love reading Scandinavian settings. Congratulations to Carly!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

The book sounds awesome! I've added it to my Goodreads TBR and cannot wait to read it.

Ronel visiting for IWSG day That’s a Wrap! An Author’s Year in Review

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You were an excellent choice for a newsletter feature.
I definitely struggle with titles. I even sent two manuscripts to my publisher with titles.

Stephanie Owen said...

Congratulations, Carly! Your book sounds amazing!

Jemi Fraser said...

Congrats to Carly! Love the concept and the differentiation between marketing and publicity - great points!

Natalie - titles are hard. I'm glad I stumbled onto a repetitive pattern for my series!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

It's encouraging to hear you have a good agent. I think they're worth their weight in gold. I've had 3 and now I'm without one. Congratulations on all your successes.

Pat Garcia said...

I work better with titles. I come up with them easily. Blurbs cause me nightmares.
All the best.
Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Melissa said...

Titles are easier for me, believe it or not.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

Diane Burton said...

Usually titles are easier. Somehow they just pop in my head. But not with my current WIP. Great interview. Best wishes, Carly.

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for the interview. I enjoy YA historical fiction and already have this book on my Goodreads TBR. A horse race always sounds exciting to me. I follow Natalie on Twitter.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, unlike you I struggle with blurbs, titles are easy peasy for me.

Kalpana said...

Thank you for a fascinating and really useful interview. I loved the tip about books.google.com.
Happy IWSG day Natalie and I'm excited to read your blog posts for the month.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Your blog is all about helping other writers. Perfect for the first blogger feature post. :)

I do love "misfits"...I must check out the story,

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jot all the titles down and see what grabs you. It might be a mix of several words.

cleemckenzie said...

I'll repeat what I said in response to your comment on my blog today: We should help each other out. I'll do the titles and you do the blurbs. It will be a win win! :-)

tetewa said...

I enjoy discovering new authors, sounds good!

Loni Townsend said...

Interesting that you have a harder time with titles! Blurbs are always the more troublesome for me. :)

Leigh Caron said...

Titles are easier for me than blurbs...but I struggle with both. Love the interview with Carly and her interest in Norwegian horses that had me Googling them...also the 19th century practices. I do get sidetracked .

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm the opposite from you. Does that mean I'll choose your title and you can write my blurb? LOL :)
I love Carly's cover.

Olga Godim said...

Carly's book sounds interesting, and her promotional ideas are very useful.

diedre Knight said...

Yay you on the first draft! Sounds like you’ll do just fine with your blurb. The title may come to you in your sleep ;-) It could be as simple as a setting or atmospheric description.
Best wishes to Carly! She’s got a lot of good backing and has really done her homework.

Fundy Blue said...

You find the best authors, Natalie! I would love to win this book. The interview was full of helpful information. It got me googling. I didn't know about fjord horses or Kristin Lavransdatter and Sigrid Undset. I wish Carly Heath lots of success with her new YA book. I've added it to my list of books to buy. Have a happy IWSG Day!

Sandra Cox said...

This sounds like a fascinating read.
Thanks for sharing, Natalie.

Jennifer Hawes said...

I've been there with a title I can't come up with. It's okay. It'll come to you!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Finding the right title is so important. It's good to take your time.

Speaking of good titles...The Reckless Kind sounds like a great read.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I like Carly's title, too, The Reckless Kind. Thank you for a great interview. It's so helpful to read about writers and and their journeys.

Liz A. said...

This is some very good information, especially the reporter website. I'll have to check that one out.

Jenni said...

I like how you're calling your WIP "New Story." Maybe the title will come once you're finished.

Anonymous said...

Very nice write-up in the newsletter - I enjoyed it!

Titles are much easier for me than blurbs I get a title at the beginning of a project, and a blurb at the end. And even then, it writing and rewriting. As much trouble as the manuscript! 😆

Beth Camp said...

My Swedish grandmother gave me a 1937 copy of Kristin Lavransdattar which I treasure; it was a real treat to discover how influential that story was on Carly Heath -- as well as to learn about her new book AND her tip re books.google.com (I'm trying to find out more about gangs in Edinburgh in the 1840s). What a treasure your blog is! May your titles come along as easily as your blurbs AND your blog!

kimlajevardi.com said...

Congrats to Carley! Titles are easier for me.

J.Q. Rose said...

Congratulations, Carley! What a delightful setting for your story. Thanks for the tips--I did not know about books.google.com but it makes sense Google would have it. They cover everything! I'm not familiar with the term, booktoker. But I love the sound of it! Wishing you well with your next writing project.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Bravo, Carley! All the luck with your new release. Interesting how you researched the time frame and culture. And thanks for the tips. I'll be sure to use them when I need them. All best to you!

Adrienne Reiter said...

We are one of the few to choose title. At least from the posts I've read. SO interesting to learn how each writer's process gets us all to the same place. I love your Q&As. Congrats on Carley's new release! Happy IWSG ;)

Donna K. Weaver said...

For me, it's blurb. I always choose the wrong things to focus on. Good thing I have friends who are better at them than I am.

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction said...

Love the fact that she calls her draft "New Story" - titles are terrible for me as well. My current WIP was just "The Selfish Giant Retelling" until well after the first draft was finished. :-)

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Sherry Ellis said...

I think it's so interesting that some people find writing blurbs easier than titles. I'm opposite.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Natalie - I think you may be one of the first to say you like writing the blurb more. I may need to rough draft more blurbs as I write the draft of my novels. Maybe that would help.

Great interview!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I think blurbs are hard, too. And I agree this was a great interview. So thorough and informative.