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  • 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.

Top Three Tips to Finding Your Author Voice by Debut Author J.C. Peterson and Being Mary Bennet Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author J.C. Peterson here to share about her YA rom-com Being Mary Bennet. It sounds like a fantastic story about a teen girl who’s a bookworm trying to reinvent herself. I wish I had this book when I was a bookworm teen.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Acerbic and delightful, this YA rom-com about a girl who resolves to become the main character of her own story is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Becky Albertalli.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every bookworm secretly wishes to be Lizzie Bennet.

A less acknowledged truth is that Mary Bennet might be a better fit.

For seventeen-year-old Marnie Barnes, who’s convinced she is the long-suffering protagonist of her life, this revelation comes at the end of a series of self-induced disasters that force her to confront a devastating truth: Marnie has more in common with Mary Bennet—the utterly forgettable middle sister—than the effervescent Lizzie.

Determined to reinvent herself, she enlists the help of her bubbly roommate and opens herself up to the world—leading lady style. And between new friends, a very cute boy, and a rescue pup named Sir Pat, Marnie realizes that being the main character doesn’t mean rewriting your life entirely. It’s about finding the right cast of characters, the love interest of your dreams, and, most important, embracing your story, flaws and all.

With a hilariously sharp voice, a sweet and fulfilling romance that features a meet-cute in an animal shelter, and a big family that revels in causing big problems, this charming comedy of errors will have readers cheering for Marnie during every step of her obstacle-ridden journey toward embracing who she truly is.

Top Three Tips to Finding Your Author Voice

The first book I attempted was a mess. It was like one of those laminated fold-out menus that has fourteen sections and none of them seem to go together. Portal world? Yup. Nineteenth century boarding school. Of course. A dude who spoke to birds? Why not.

You know what it didn’t have? Any discernible voice. It was a barrel of ideas with nothing to bind it together. I did the same thing for book two. (Magic island, breathing underwater, also … trolls? I’ve blocked it out.) And the same for book three. (Best not to talk about it.)

And then I tried something totally different, a YA rom-com. Writing it was joyful and satisfying. Not necessarily easier, but a gut-level, this-is-true right. Because my voice—the thing that marks who I am as an author—is banter and humor and quippy sentences.

So. What have I learned? (Other than I don’t want to write trolls again.) I’ve learned to develop—and trust—my voice. Here’s how.

Write. Write a lot.

Look. I’m sure some of you sprint out of the gate with a sparkling voice and a genre-defining story. Love that for you. Truly.

For the rest of us, developing your voice takes time. It takes practice, failure and experimentation. You know how they say there are only a handful of story types? It’s true! And the thing that makes your story stand out is the particular way you craft it.

Maybe your voicey home is lush description or sentences that jolt. Perhaps it’s quiet and thoughtful or shouty and fun. But you’ll never know if you don’t continue writing. The more you do, the easier it becomes.

No matter the specifics of each separate story, your voice will be the thing that unites everything.

Read. Also a lot.

When you visit the library, what sort of story are you drawn to?

Read deeply within your favorite categories or genres with an eye toward what is drawing you in. Was it the fast-paced dialogue between characters or the wandering descriptions that pulled you in deeper? Was it a certain way it made you feel? Pinpointing what you love most about your favorite authors may help you define where your voice lives.

For me, I always loved YA fantasy (which is why I tried writing that at first) but if I’d been paying attention, I would have realized what I loved most were stories that were sharp-tongued and witty. (Think: Buffy, less Interview with a Vampire)

Don’t be afraid to experiment

First person. Third person. Second person for those of you who really want to live dangerously.

Try out some different styles and see what feels natural to you. And yeah, this definitely goes back to writing a lot.

On the sentence level, locating your voice may come down to the way you structure each paragraph and the choice of individual words. The difference in tone a single word can make is huge. Perhaps writing first person feels too immediate, or third too remote. Calling a portal “an ethereal passage to parts unknown” might make you roll your eyes when you really want to say “that strange as hell swirling mist thingy.”

Read your writing out loud and ask yourself, would I like to read that … would my character say that? Remember, you’re writing for your ideal reader, but that should definitely include you. Right? 

When it comes down to it, developing your author voice means the difference between a passable story, and an unforgettable one. It takes work and practice, but it’s worth it.


Website: https://www.jcpetersonwrites.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenC_P

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jcpwrites/

Bookshop: https://bit.ly/3bEPPw7

Thanks for sharing your fantastic tips, J.C.!

Giveaway Details

J.C. has generously offered a hardback of Being Mary Bennet 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 April 9th. 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, March 28th I have an interview with debut author Ann Fraistat and a giveaway of her thriller/horror What We Harvest

Tuesday, April 5th I’m participating in the April Shows Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 6th I have an interview with debut author Dannie Olgiun with a giveaway of her YA contemporary Between Safe and Real and my IWSG Post

Monday, April 11th I have and agent spotlight interview with Kari Sutherland and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, April 13th I have a guest post by editor Mary Kole with a giveaway of one of her books

Monday, April 18th I have an agent/author guest post with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil and a giveaway of Carolyn’s YA historical fiction Daughters of a Dead Empire and a query critique by Andrea

Hope to see you on Monday!





nashvillecats2 said...

A most interesting read Natalie as always, Love to read about the give aways, Hope you are well also family.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Yeah, that author voice. It grows as we grow and can change to fit the genre. Nice article.

Computer Tutor said...

What clever phraseology--"the long-suffering protagonist of her life"

Megan said...

This book sounds amazing! (Not entering the giveaway) :)

Tara said...

Very solid advice! I especially agree with the write a lot. That's been the only way I've started easing into my authorly voice.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I understand the process! It took me a bit to find my voice, which sometimes has a bit of snark.
Congratulations, JC.

Danielle H. said...

I loved the tips for finding your voice! These are very helpful. I know I'm drawn to sarcastic, snarky dialogue as well as humorous stories. I shared on tumblr and can't wait to read this book! https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/679357889203372032/top-three-tips-to-finding-your-author-voice-by

Danielle H. said...

My additional shares:
I also follow Natalie on Twitter.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I love J. C.'s advise. Write a lot. Read a lot. Write a lot. It sounds so simple, but it's the best groundwork for a writer, probably even moreso than courses or books on writing. (Although they really can be helpful.) But it really does all come back to honing the craft by practicing it over and over. Her book sounds like a lot of fun.

Liz A. said...

Yes, developing a voice is a challenge. I've always thought that Mary Bennet needed more "screen" time. She's fascinating.

Erin Cleary said...

This looks like a great book! Thanks for the great advice on finding your author voice. I'm a twitter follower!

Andrea Mack said...

I really appreciated your tips for developing voice (and now I don’t feel so badly about my drawer novels). Thanks for a great interview! Now I’m intrigued to read your book.

Eileen said...

I've been working to learn more about voice & so appreciate this interview. Also, I'm a HUGE fan of Pride&Prejudice, so look forward to reading Being Mary Bennet! Shared it on FB & Twitter!

Biz said...

Such useful tips, thank you so much. Please enter my email for the draw; i would love to win this book! Transatlantic agent Fiona Kenshole recommended it on a webinar I attended a few weeks ago! Love the premise.

Sandra Cox said...

Being Mary Bennet sounds like a fun read. And the interview had great advice.

pippirose said...

I follow via email.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

It sounds amazing. I love Buffy and romance and wit. I must add to my reading list.

J.A. Nielsen said...

Great advice! SO excited about "Being Mary Bennet!"

Jenny M. said...

I am so excited about this book! Looks soooo good!

Tonja Drecker said...

Sound like a fun read. And thanks for the advice!

Diane Estrella said...

I follow on the google widget.

dianemestrella at gmail dot com

Awesome book giveaway. thank you!

DMS said...

Great interview and sounds like an awesome read! Thanks for the advice too. :)

polly said...

I am an email subscriber

EvilTreeFrogs said...

I follow through Twitter, @Krissypooh73, and through email. Eviltreefrogs@aol.com

emaginette said...

Congrats! Your hard work paid off. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette