Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024
  • Miriam Cortinovis Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/6/2024
  • Jenniea Carter Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/8/2024
  • 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 6/24/2024

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: Leslie Vedder and The Bone Spindle Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays. Mine were good but still pretty quiet due to COVID. I was grateful to spend more time with my daughter this year.

Today I’m excited to start my 2022 blog schedule with an interview with Leslie Vedder to celebrate the release of her YA fantasy The Bone Spindle. It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite fairy tales, so I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones in this thrilling fairytale retelling for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and All the Stars and Teeth.

Fi is a bookish treasure hunter with a knack for ruins and riddles, who definitely doesn't believe in true love.

Shane is a tough-as-dirt girl warrior from the north who likes cracking skulls, pretty girls, and doing things her own way.

Briar Rose is a prince under a sleeping curse, who's been waiting a hundred years for the kiss that will wake him.

Cursed princes are nothing but ancient history to Fi--until she pricks her finger on a bone spindle while exploring a long-lost ruin. Now she's stuck with the spirit of Briar Rose until she and Shane can break the century-old curse on his kingdom.

Dark magic, Witch Hunters, and bad exes all stand in her way--not to mention a mysterious witch who might wind up stealing Shane's heart, along with whatever else she's after. But nothing scares Fi more than the possibility of falling in love with Briar Rose.

Set in a lush world inspired by beloved fairytales, The Bone Spindle is a fast-paced young adult fantasy full of adventure, romance, found family, and snark. 


Before I get to my interview with Leslie, 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 with me this month are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

Optional Question: What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

I don’t have a writing career, but this month’s question ties into one I’ve been contemplating recently. I’m writing my climax scenes in my current manuscript, which means that I will really finish my manuscript in the next few months. I’ve been kind of freaking out about it because it raises some constant questions I have that make me really insecure. Here’s a few of the questions this raises for me:

  • Do I want a writing career after already having a successful career as a writer? Or do I want my writing to be a hobby?
  • Can I write on contract if I become traditionally published? This is a big fear for me because I’m a slow writer.
  • Should I keep my current writing job where I work part-time and have made about $100,000 in about six years or quit it if I get a publishing deal? I really don’t want to have two jobs anymore.

I don’t have any answers to these questions yet. I’m just going to take it one step at a time and hope that the answers will become clearer after I finish and revise my manuscript.

What’s the one thing you regret about your writing career?

Interview with Leslie Vedder

Hi Leslie! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’ve always loved fantasy books! When I was kid, after lights out, I would crawl under my covers with a flashlight and a book and read late into the night. There was something magical about that space. Just me and a tiny circle of light and the fantasy worlds I was transported to.

I continued to devour books all through my teens, and it wasn’t long before my love of reading also into a love of writing. It’s a little clichĂ©, but I really have always wanted to be an author.

2. That’s awesome that you always wanted to be an author. Where did you get the idea for The Bone Spindle?

Shane and Fi and their partnership was one of the biggest inspirations for this book! I knew I wanted to have girl treasure hunters with these big personalities that would allow them to clash, and bicker, and really get under each other’s skin in the best way. Finding their voices was a huge part of that.

I spent a long time, before I even started writing, taking walks with my girlfriend (now my wife!) and just speaking possible dialogue aloud and finding these voices. I knew I finally had them when brainstorming together turned into laughing and cracking each other up.

3. You definitely made this retelling of Sleeping Beauty your own story. What was the process like and what advice do you have for other authors who want to write a retelling?

I think one of the most important steps in coming up with a retelling is deciding what you want to keep and what you want to change.  Some retellings take a lot of the elements of an original story and give them a fun remix or twist, while others are more like reimaginings touched off by just a few elements the source material.

In the case of The Bone Spindle, the big change I knew I wanted to make was genderflipping the story, so that Briar Rose would be the sleeping prince waiting for a girl to wake him with a kiss.  A lot of the other pieces of the Sleeping Beauty story fell into place during the drafting process, but that was the first puzzle piece for me, and what I built everything else around.

4. That’s a great tip to decide what to keep and change from the original story. Your story is described as fast-paced in the blurb and by reviewers. What techniques did you use to keep readers wanting to turn the page?

I always try to make sure each chapter ends with some kind of tension. Sometimes it’s situational, sometimes emotional—sometimes the characters’ lives are in danger, and sometimes they’re just breaking their own hearts. Either way, I hope every chapter leaves the reader wanting to read just one more page, which is the feeling I love when I’m tearing through my favorite books!

The Bone Spindle is an action-adventure, with a lot of emphasis on action, so I had a lot of fun coming up with traps for the treasure hunting scenes, as well as what I hope are some truly edge-of-your-seat fighting sequences!

5. Having every chapter end with some type of tension sounds like a great way to keep readers want to keep reading. What was a challenge you faced when writing The Bone Spindle and how did you overcome it?

One of the challenges I had drafting this book was worldbuilding. The Bone Spindle has a lot of treasure hunting and traps in ancient ruins—which meant that these lost, abandoned places needed to exist within the history of the fantasy world.

After struggling with some of the details, I realized I needed to approach the worldbuilding as though I was building two places at the same time.  There’s the world of centuries past, when all of these ancient places were flourishing, and the world the main characters inhabit, where all of it has been lost.

So many tidbits didn’t even make it into the book in the end, but just having them figured out in my head really helped ground me when I was writing.

6. Your agent is Carrie Hannigan. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

My road to publication was a little bit long and winding. Like many authors, I had a number of projects I queried that didn’t go anywhere—and then one project that actually got me an agent, but didn’t ultimately make it. In fact, that entire literary agency ended up closing down.

So by the time I was querying The Bone Spindle, I was definitely a bit weary, but a lot wiser about the process. It still took many months, but when I connected with Carrie Hannigan and Ellen Goff, they were so enthusiastic, and I knew they were the perfect agents for my book!  They saw me through an edit and then being on submission that stretched into the pandemic.

So I would say, no part of my journey was really fast, but I feel like I ended up exactly where I’m meant to be.

7. That must have been hard to have the first agency you were with close. What did you do for your cover reveal and your pre-release pre-order campaign if you did one? Would you do the same things again for your next book? Why?

My cover reveal was with Culturess, which was a lot of fun. They’ve covered some of my favorite fantasy books!

For my preorder campaign, I commissioned art from the amazing Arz28. In my heart I’ve always been a shipper, so having pictures of the couples was a dream come true!

I’m not positive the preorder campaign itself has really moved the needle on my preorder numbers. But honestly, I would do it again. It’s been really nice to have something gorgeous and fun to post about! Instead of having to come up with clever ways to say preorder my book, I can share the beautiful art and offer preorder goods. For someone who struggles with social media, it’s been a great help.

8. What are you doing to promote your book for your release?

I’ve had a lot of fun doing several Q&As with great sites (like Literary Rambles!)—as well as being on a few podcasts, which has been pretty nerve-wracking, since prior to a few months ago I’d never done an interview in my life!

One of the things I’m most excited for, though, is the book launch, which I will be doing in person with another debut author, Meg Long! Her amazing book COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES is a dynamite YA sci-fi and I think the whole event is going to be lots of fun.

So if you’re in the Denver, CO area, come join us at the Tattered Cover on Jan 11!

9.  I saw on your website that you are mostly on Instagram. Why do you prefer this social media platform?

There are a lot of great book people on Twitter, but I personally find the platform very difficult to keep up with. It feels like everything moves at a very fast pace and really wants a high level of engagement that burns me out.

Instagram is a lot more my speed. My posts can be long or short, and a lot of the message can be conveyed through pictures. Plus it gives me an excuse to take photos of my cats, which is my very favorite activity!

10. What are you working on now?

The Bone Spindle is a trilogy, so I’ve been working on editing book two and writing book three! No spoilers, but I’ve really enjoyed the chance to dig into the characters and the romances! Plus ancient libraries, more treasure hunting, and even a book code!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Leslie. You can find Leslie at leslievedder.com. On twitter: @leslievedder, and Instagram: @leslie.vedder.

Giveaway Details

Leslie has generously offered a hardback of The Bone Spindler 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 January 22nd. 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. and Canada.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, January 10th I have an agent/debut author guest post with Charlotte Wenger and Nancy Tandon and a query critique and MG contemporary The Way I Say It giveaway

Wednesday, January 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Haley Casey and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, January 16th I’m participating in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Shannon Snow and a query critique giveaway

Monday, January 24th I have an interview with debut author Shawn Peters and a giveaway of his MG adventure The Unforgettable Logan Foster

Tuesday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart to Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 2nd I have an agent/author guest post with Nicole Resciniti and Lillie Lainoff and a giveaway of Lisa’s YA fairytale retelling All for One and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!



nashvillecats2 said...

Great post Nataie, there are always ups and downs with writing, especially getting "Writer's Block" , Enjoyed the read.
Take care.

Pat Garcia said...

Hi and Happy New Year,

You've actually answered your own questions about your fears. Taking one step at a time, and you'll find out as you move along.
All the best with finishing your manuscript.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Liza said...

Hi Natalie. Happy New Year. My thoughts on your fears are take it step by step. No use crossing the bridge before you come to it! Thank you as always for your dedication to other writers and again for the thorough interview.

J.Q. Rose said...

Leslie's tale sounds like so much fun and quite the adventure. I like reading YA stories because they are filled with action. As others advise, write your book. Don't plan to make a lot of money on it unless you plan to spend money on paid advertising. Or if you do lots of festivals and perhaps speaking engagements. That's my 2 cents and it's probably not even worth 2 cents!! LOL. Enjoy the journey.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I think this is the way to do it - "I don’t have any answers to these questions yet. I’m just going to take it one step at a time and hope that the answers will become clearer..." Sometimes we rush the answers because we want them so badly. Good luck! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Natalie, you'll just have to move forward and see what happens. Believe me, you'll be surprised at what you can handle and accomplish!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi Natalie. Happy New Year! I am sorry that you are so anxious about your writing career. It truly is a career if you are a paid writer. Try not to stress. Getting a book published traditionally is NOT EAST. Take it from one who knows. I would continue writing your book, keep you current job, and see where life takes you. It sounds like you are in a good place now.

What a great interview! I really LOVE this premise, Leslie... Congrats! Your book sounds amazing and I am looking forward to reading it. This genre is so creative and fun. I may just have to dabble in it myself with my next book. All the best!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, you have been asking yourself a set of difficult questions that all writers ask themselves at some point. Think long and hard before you make any decision.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Natalie, those are all good questions. I agree with Micheal. Don't stress. Finish your book, and like you said, take it one day at a time.
I am published with an indie publisher, and started self-publishing, so there isn't any stress. I am also a turtle writer, and having a writing deadline would probably throw me over the edge.
Happy New Year.

Sandra Cox said...

This sounds like a fascinating read.
Natalie, Sounds like you've got a good problem to have. You've got a win-win. My thoughts would be: keep your current job until you get offered a contract then let your agent and publisher know up front how long you feel it would take you per novel.
Wishing you a happy writing new year.

Sherry Ellis said...

This is a really neat twist on the Sleeping Beauty story.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and productive 2022!

Loni Townsend said...

Sounds like you're facing a lot of choices, Natalie, and I can totally understand the insecurities that come with it. I too hope the answers come for you!

Gwen Gardner said...

Hi Natalie, I'm a slow writer too, but I self publish so I have more flexibility. Publishing traditionally comes with those big questions, but remember, every contract is negotiable. If you need more time on that second book, make sure it's in the contract. You can also start/finish the second book before shopping the first one.

Leslie, I love fairytale mashups and this one sounds like a lot of fun. Congratulations on your new release!

Jean Davis said...

Do what makes you happy, Natalie. None of us need more stress these days. If you've got a good stable thing going now that your comfortable with, call anything beyond that a hobby.

Congratulations on your new release, Leslie!

Jemi Fraser said...

The Bone Spindle sounds like lots of fun with great characters!!

Natalie - I hear you! I've decided on the hobby route so my real people always come before my imaginary friends. I haven't gone the trad pub route because of that :)

Chrys Fey said...

I was sold with "Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones." Sleeping Beauty is my favorite and I LOVE that Briar Rose is a prince. I enjoy YA books, and this one is going on my 2022 TBR list. Thanks for sharing Natalie! Wonderful interview, Leslie!

Computer Tutor said...

I can help you with a few of your questions, Natalie: "Can I write on contract if I become traditionally published? This is a big fear for me because I’m a slow writer." I write as a freelancer as well as my novels. One type is a break from the other and seems to rejuvenate me.

"Should I keep my current writing job where I work part-time and have made about $100,000 in about six years or quit it if I get a publishing deal? I really don’t want to have two jobs anymore." Over time, I've found my writing has replaced the day job and since it's from home, it doesn't take as much time.

Best of luck with these decisions. They're big!

Chemist Ken said...

You have a lot of decisions to make, especially the one about keeping two jobs. I had that decision taken away from me when the company I worked for downsized. I'm tutoring chemistry now, but there's always a part of me that wants to take less students so I have more time to write.

Happy 2022!

Sadira Stone said...

Happy New Year, Natalie! Great interview. I'm so glad I never had to face the question of whether to quit my day job to write. Writing started as an evening escape from said day job, and became my not-very-lucrative fulltime gig after early retirement. I'm finally coming to terms with the reality that it'll be years before I make much $$ at this. May your luck in the publishing world be better. Meanwhile, we slow writers keep plodding along. Happy writing in January!

diedre Knight said...

Hi, Natalie!
You're in a good place to do whatever feels right. You'll know exactly where you want to go as your destination becomes more clear. Remember it's your choice ;-)
Congratulations, Leslie!

cleemckenzie said...

First, Happy 2022, Natalie. Second, whatever you choose, I'm sure it will be the right decision. You have success in your DNA.

Sleeping Beauty meets Indiana Jones is quite a smashup! Congratulations on the new book.

Christine Rains said...

Happy New Year! Your answers will come. My lesson learned is not to rush things. Congrats to Leslie and I love the idea of her story.

Danielle H. said...

I can't wait to read this book! Thank you for the interview. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/672564839055491072/debut-author-interview-leslie-vedder-and-the-bone

Bish Denham said...

Those seem like some difficult questions to answer, but I bet they will work themselves out. I love me a good fairytale retelling. Congratulations, Leslie!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Retellings are really big right now.

Natalie, don't think of it as another job. Think in terms of one book. Just one book published. Most of my authors are one and done.

Adrienne Reiter said...

Sounds like you're being true to your passions. My biggest regret is not trusting my gut. I love reading new spins on classic tales. Perspective shifts are fun.

Melissa said...

Being a slow writer has been one of my objections to seeking traditional publishing. Maybe if writing was my only job...

Jenni said...

I'm with you on the slow writing bit. That's one of the questions I'm pondering too. Congrats on being so close to THE END!

traveler said...

This amazing story sounds captivating and a real treasure. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

One step at a time is the way to go. I'm also a slow writer, and I'm just trying to find joy in the process again. At least you know if you step out and don't like the direction, there's nothing preventing you from backtracking or going a different way. We at least have that kind of flexibility.

emaginette said...

I say follow your heart and if that doesn't work, frame your questions as yes or no and flip a coin. No matter how the coin lands, your feelings will be clear.

Good luck. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Denise Covey said...

Natalie, you raise some great questions, some of which are why I chose self pub over trad, but of course that may change. But sometimes our insecurities can slow down our writing. I'm a slow writer, too, which is why I created a backlist before I began publishing, but it does get easier.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Those are good and tricky questions. As far as whether you'd be allowed to continue with your current writing career, I think that would be something you'd determine in your publishing contract, but that you should be able to do it. Good luck making your decisions.

This book sounds fun! I love a good fairy tale retelling.

The Warrior Muse

Tyrean Martinson said...

Those are tough questions. I like Shannon's thoughts here, so I won't say much more, other than I know you're up for the challenge whichever way it goes. You are indomitable. :)

Great interview. The Bone Spindle looks like a super fun read.

Olga Godim said...

@Natalie: I'm sure you'll figure the answers to all your questions.
@Leslie: I love your story summary, and the cover is gorgeous. Both tempt me to read it.

Liz A. said...

I really like how this story is genderflipped. It changes how it feels somehow.

kimlajevardi.com said...

Congrats, Leslie!

Samantha Bryant said...

Sounds like a fun premise! @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

mshatch said...

I love mixing it up with fairy tales. Very fun! Congrats to Leslie!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Big questions for yourself. I recently realized that I don't want the pressure of a traditional publishing contract. I guess that makes me a hobbiest, or something, but that's where I am. You have to make the decision that feels right for you.

Melissa Miles said...

Another great interview! Thanks for all the hard work you put into this blog and all the great contests and interviews!

Megan said...

This book looks amazing :) (Not entering the giveaway) :)

Diane Burton said...

Great post, Natalie. I'd say don't make any major decisions until you finish your manuscript and get a contract. Plenty of time to think about what you want to do.
Leslie, congrats on your debut novel. Sounds like fun.

tetewa said...

Congrats on the release, sounds like a great read! tWarner419@aol.com

Beth Camp said...

I appreciate how you lay out those really tough questions that no one can answer but you. For me, $100K over 6 years would be nearly impossible to walk away from . . . but leaping into traditional publishing is fraught with uncertainty. I hope 2022 brings you closer to making that decision that is right for you. Meanwhile, as always, another great post and a fascinating interview with very useful tips. Thank you!

Stephanie Owen said...

Congratulations, Leslie, on the release of Bone Spindle!
I appreciate your honesty about your writing journey. It gives me encouragement to continue to write.
I also follow Natalie on Twitter.

Deniz Bevan said...

Great interview! Love the idea of a treasure hunting team. I'm a big fan of fairy tale retellings :-)

kjmckendry said...

Bone Spindle sounds awesome!!

Nataie-congrats on almost being done with your manuscript! You'll know what to do when the time comes to make a decision.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Congrats to Leslie on her book.
You ask good questions of yourself, Natalie. I guess you're the only one with the answer.

Michelle Wallace said...

Happy New Year, Natalie!

Congrats on the manuscript progress!
I think you nailed it when you said take it one step at a time and hopefully the answers will become clearer after you finish and revise your manuscript. That about sums it up.

Kim Aippersbach said...

The Bone Spindle certainly sounds fun! Currently my favourite Sleeping Beauty retelling is Harriet the Hamster Princess: we'll see if this one measures up!

Good luck with finishing your manuscript! I got to my climax scene in November and froze in terror; hoping a new year will let me relax and finish the darn novel!

(Don't enter me in the contest: shipping to Canada is too much hassle!)

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah. Two jobs is a pain in the backside.

Making sure the action is packed is the way to be indeed.

Kasey @ The Story Sanctuary said...

Hey Natalie! I am also a slow writer nervous about deadlines. I found a new process last fall that helped me draft a LOT faster and am reading a book called Intuitive Editing that I hope will make editing an easier process for me too. Email me if you want to chat about it more. :) Kasey.giard [at] Gmail.

Great interview, too! I can't wait to read more books by Leslie Veddar!

Biz said...

I would love love LOVE to read this book! So please enter my name if it's not too late: elizabethchestney@gmail.com. Thank you!

Nancy P said...

Sounds fascinating! Follow on Twitter, follower gadget & on Bloglovin. positive.ideas.4youATgmail.com