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: Kim Bartosch and Ask the Girl Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Kim Bartosch here to share about her YA ghost story/mystery Ask the Girl. She’s my wonderful critique partner, and it’s awesome to help her celebrate the release of her debut book. I know you’re going to enjoy hearing about her unique path to publication. I read an early version of Ask the Girl and loved that it was a ghost story/mystery with strong main characters that I really cared about.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Nobody believes sixteen-year-old Lila Sadler, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Nobody believes that Lila’s sister Rose is possessed by the ghost of Katy Watkins. As Rose’s health worsens each day, the only way to save her is to uncover the awful truth of Katy's death so many years ago. And nobody knows what happened to Katy on October 31, 1925. Not even Katy. Unaware that she was murdered, Katy has wandered for a hundred years in complete ignorance, until the day she meets Rose and Lila. Together Lila, Rose, and Katy must confront their demons to escape this hell. But will they be able to escape? Can they forgive the unforgivable?


Before I get to my interview with Kim, 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 Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

Optional Question: What do you consider the best aspects of your favorite genres?

I love fantasies and mysteries. For fantasies, I love the magic, magical beings, and world-building. For mysteries, the plot has to keep me guessing till the end. For both genres, I need the plot to be fast-paced. I can’t slog through plots that drag anymore.

What do you consider the best aspects of your favorite genre?

Interview With Kim Bartosch

Hi Kim! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing ever since I could read and write. I loved playing pretend and creating worlds and adventures for me and my friends. Soon these stories were kept secret in a locked chest when I got older. But like most dreams, I put writing on hold to do life stuff, such as get a job, get married, and having children. I always dreamed of being a writer but never actually attempted the process until my oldest was born. While on maternity leave, I got restless and began to write a YA novel. That story is in a file cabinet somewhere, and one day may come back out but it was the beginning of many more stories and my pursuit of becoming a published author.

2. Where did you get the idea for Ask the Girl?

Ask the Girl started out as a contemporary story about a girl who has a sister with bipolar disorder. It was inspired by my experience with my sister and my mother with her sister. I struggled with the story and soon got bored of it until I added my ghost, Kate Watkins. Then the story came to life and soon developed into the book today. Which I like to add, write what you know AND write what you love. I love mysteries, ghost stories, and the paranormal so I like to combine this genre with experiences I know.

Your Writing Process

3. That’s great that adding Katie made your story come to life. How long did it take you to write and edit Ask the Girl?

Oh boy, it took me five years. That’s because I was juggling a job, babies, and eventually a diagnosis with breast cancer. In between, all of these life events I squeezed in writing, and editing. Now that I’m cancer free and my kids are older I do have more time and hope my next book won’t take as long.

4. I have to juggle a lot and need to squeeze my writing in too. Were you a plotter or punster when you wrote this manuscript? Has this changed since you wrote Ask the Girl?

Ask the Girl was a panster book. I just sat down and began to write. But since then, I’ve discovered creating an outline of my story works better and saves time on the editing process. Out of the five years of writing Ask the Girl, I would say the majority of that time was spent editing. Now that I do outlines, I feel I’m better organized, the plot flows better, and I’m less likely to have writer’s block.

5. I wish I could create a complete outline, but I haven’t been able to yet. Was it hard to write from Lila’s and Rose’s points of view? What are your tips for getting multiple main characters’ voices right?

Rose was easy because that was basically me. Lila too was simple because that character was based on my sister. The difficult POV was Kate, because she was from a different time and I had to get her voice to sound different from Rose and Lila. That took a lot of research of 1920’s slang and a lot of editing. My big tip for finding your character’s voice is to do an imageboard of your character before you begin writing. Paste and tape photos of what your character may look like, the clothes they may wear, their favorite music, makeup, hobbies, food, house, bike, or any like or dislike on a poster board. Then hang it up in your office or wherever you write. When you're stuck look at your imageboard. Also, music is useful for helping me find my character’s voice. I will listen to songs my character likes.

6. What was a challenge you faced in writing Ask the Girl? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was the middle few chapters. I don’t know why but I struggled getting those middle chapters completed. At one point, I got frustrated and wrote my final three chapters hoping it would inspire me to finish. Instead, it left a gap in my book. So I forced myself to sit my butt down at one point and finish it. It was a few late nights and five or six tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream before I got it done. 

Your Road to Publication

7. Your road to publication is different from the way many authors get their first book deal. Share about how you got your book deal.

So, I won a Facebook sweepstake to a writer’s retreat called When Words Count in Vermont. It was a fabulous getaway and I met some awesome authors and writers. During this visit, I learned of a competition they have twice a year called Pitch Week. After much debate, I entered the competition and became one of the five finalists. So for this competition, I had to create a cover page, marketing plan, and presentation of the author behind the book. Long story short, I won and the prize was a publishing deal with Woodhall Press, a small independent publisher.

8. Your publisher is Woodhall Press. What was it like working with a small press? Do you have any advice that would be helpful for an author working with a smaller press?

A small press is like a small privately owned business. Everyone wears many different hats. Therefore, my editor, who helped me with Ask the Girl, also was the CEO, accountant, and more. So everyone is doing many things, often at the same time. Because of this I found that I had more control over the cover art, and layout of my book, where many authors with larger imprints don’t. But, I also found many errors within the book  and on the cover. I would highly recommend always looking over your book once you receive your final ARC with a small press. Overall, I liked working with Woodhall Press. They’re very friendly and with a small press, they celebrate with you on each accomplishment.


9. You were assigned a publicist. How did working with a publicist help you develop your marketing plan?

I didn’t have a publicist. The first place prize included a publicist but the one the organization used resigned so I did not get any help when originally. But I did develop a marketing plan through the competition and I pretty much kept with that plan.

10. That’s too bad you didn’t get the help of a publicist like you were supposed to. Your book was released on 9/6/2022. How have you been marketing your book? Do you have any advice on promoting a book for authors planning to debut?

So, marketing is a mystery to me. I read every book and searched every site on how to develop a good marketing plan for a book. I learned a few things but most of my help came from Natalie’s suggestions, one was to use a blog tour company. The two I used were Rockstar Book Tours and Bewitching Book Tours. Both were excellent and offered some wonderful bloggers and instagrammers to promote my book. I also use Bookfunnel to promote my book with newsletter swaps, giveaways, and promos with other authors and Netgalley for reviews. I highly recommend Bookfunnel, it has great promotions, for example I found one with Bookmojo called The Sound of Stories. This audiobook promo provided so many subscribers to my website and sales of my audiobook, which was awesome!  One thing I didn’t do was a giveaway with Goodreads because it was too expensive and I didn’t see how it would help, particularly trying to compete with the big 6 publishers pushing their books on the site. Finally, SCBWI.org has helped out so much with the promotion of my book by including it on their blog and offering bookselling events at local festivals. I highly, highly recommend joining SCBWI or a writer’s organization as another source for marketing and sales.

11. Glad my advice helped. These are great tips. What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m working on a young adult fantasy romance about vikings and a psychological thriller of twin sisters. I also have a fun chapter book called Maggie Muddle, who is too honest, direct for her own good.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kim. You can find Kim at kimbartosch.com, Facebook, or @kimbartosch on Twitter or Instagram. You can buy Ask the Girl on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org. Ask the Girl is also available on Audible and Chirp.

Giveaway Details

Kim is generously offering a signed paperback of Ask the Girl 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 October 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 or Kim on her social media sites, 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 book giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Monday, October 16th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Sarah Stephens and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, October 16th, I’m participating in the Cheeky Pumpkin Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 17th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Eve Adler and a query critique giveaway

Monday, October 24th, I have a guest post by debut author George Jreije and a giveaway of his MG fantasy Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria 

Hope to see you on Monday!



Liza said...

Love the idea of Katie wandering around, unaware she is a ghost. Thank you for the interview Natalie. Congratulations, Kim.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes, those genres have to have a good pace.

Jennifer Lane said...

Congratulations to Kim on her debut novel! That's wonderful to feature a character with bipolar disorder, often a misunderstood illness. How great to feature authors who match your ideal genre interests, Natalie.

Jemi Fraser said...

Ask The Girl sounds fascinating! Nice to see a person diagnosed with bipolar as the MC. Good luck with your debut, Kim!

I love those things about mysteries and fantasy as well, Natalie. I remember dropping into some fantasy worlds (Pern, Middle Earth...) for the first time and being enthralled!

Cathrina Constantine said...

I like many genres, but like you, my fave are Fantasy and Mystery.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm glad she had a good experience with a small press. Although God forbid DLP ever makes a typo on a cover!

Debs Carey said...

Yes, a good pace is important, although it needs to feel more physical in a thriller than a mystery, which can always be more cerebral. I tend to enjoy the latter over the former though, so maybe I'm biased!

All the best to Kim on her debut book. Sounds like a corker of a story!

Loni Townsend said...

I notice I've leaned toward faster paces too as of late.

Grats to Kim! I wish her lots of success with her debut!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Bravo, Kim, on your new release. The premise sounds intriguing. I've followed you on social media and I'll share this book contest online through facebook, twitter and instagram. All best to you!

Rachna Chhabria said...

I love fantasy and mysteries too, Natalie.

Ask The Girl sounds super!

diedre Knight said...

Hi Natalie!

What a great opportunity to be able to present your critique partner's debut book! Sounds like a good read and I love the idea of listening to the music the character enjoys.
I really enjoy an engaging mystery/thriller. Atmosphere is important as well. I love a setting I can get lost in ;-)

Have a wonderful month!

Damyanti Biswas said...

Congrats to Kim on her upcoming book. I agree these genres do have a fast pace.

Sandra Cox said...

How nice to meet your critique partner. Welcome, Kim. Wishing you much success with your book. It's an intriguing story line.

Liz A. said...

Ah yes, the muddle in the middle. I know it well. I can't write without an outline. I bow down to anyone who can fly by the seat of their pants, even if they do it differently later.

Jean Davis said...

I like fantasy too, but yes, pacing is very important. As much fun as world building can be, fantasy is one of the genres where it can get really out of hand and bog down the entire book.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

What an interesting plotline. Thanks for another great interview, Natalie!

Carol Kilgore said...

Totally agree about pacing. It's gotta move, not just ruminate.

Erika Beebe said...

I love the cover of the book. I also love how it took the author five years to finish the book because of life and she didn't quit. Congratulations!

Jenni said...

This sounds like an interesting take on the ghost story trope. I also am inspired that the author kept going despite having so much on her plate. I'm so glad she's cancer free and able to pursue writing more fully!

And what an interesting road to publication...
Thanks for sharing another wonderful interview, Natalie!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I love the interview!

Congratulations, Kim, on the new book. The title is clever.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Nice interview! As for the genres... I kind of like those as well, and for much the same reason. Sometimes it's nice to just imagine that magic is real and dragons are in the skies!

Karen Baldwin said...

LOL...I don't like plots that slog either.Fantasy would be fun to write, especially coming up with new kinds of magic. Loved the interview with Kim. Interesting stories - her new book's and her life's. Thanks for all the upcoming opportunities.

Melissa Miles said...

Great interview! Your story sounds wonderful, and I also highly recommend SCBWI. It's a great organization and the more you get involved, the more you'll benefit from membership. Thanks for sharing your publication journey!

Olga Godim said...

I love magic in fantasy too. I want magic in my mundane life sometimes. It could be so useful.

Angie Quantrell said...

This sounds amazing! What an interesting path to publication too. :) Congratulations!

angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Valinora Troy said...

Ask the Girl sounds a great story, and I really enjoyed the interview. Best of luck with the book to Kim! Thanks for sharing!

emaginette said...

Right now I'm trying to put fantasy and mystery together. It hasn't been easy. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Kate Larkindale said...

Great interview! And what an exciting sounding book!

Sherry Ellis said...

I know a lot of young people with bi-polar disorder. Your book will probably resonate well with them. Not an easy thing to write about!

Fundy Blue said...

What an interesting interview with Kim Bartosch, Natalie! She took some risks and they paid off. All the marketing information is helpful to someone like me. I'd like to be entered in the giveaway. "Ask the Girl" sounds like a great read. Happy October Natalie, and good luck with your debut book Kim!

Tonja Drecker said...

Congrats to Kim! The mix of bi-polar and possessions sounds really intriguing. I'm all for fast-paced, too, and have to force my way through slower sections.

Rosi said...

Congratulations to Kim! Thanks for another interesting interview. I will pass on the giveaway. I am buried in books.

Jemima Pett said...

Well done and good luck, Kin!

As for plots that drag... I'd say the same, unless they hold interest another way. I recently read Klara and the Sun (Ishiguro), who usually lets plots spin out slowly, but with purpose, so you settle down and relate to the slightly odd lives of his characters, until you 'get it'
But generally, I agree :)

Anonymous said...

It does sound like we love fantasy for the same reason. I also enjoy a good mystery. Congrats to Kim. 🍾

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I love mysteries, especially when coupled with suspense, and great twists are always welcome. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Natalie - I enjoy fast-pased reads, too. Sometimes, I'll read a slower-paced book but it's pretty rare, or it's non-fiction.

Carol Baldwin said...

Interesting interview. NO need to add my name to the giveaway since this isn't my kind of book, but enjoyed reading about it.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview, sounds like my kind of read!

Melissa said...

Wow, Kim, you've been through a lot. Congratulations on the book!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

"For both genres, I need the plot to be fast-paced. I can’t slog through plots that drag anymore." I hear you!
I like the premise of this book...

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

sburdorf said...

Ghosts are so much fun to write, but even more fun to read - especially one with a mystery! Love the premise and will definitely be reading this book. Congrats on your debut!
Susan B

Nancy P said...

Sounds great! Following gadget, Twitter. positive.ideas.4youATgmail.com