CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Devin Ross Query Critique through May 11th
AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET and Stephanie Fretwell-Hill Query Critique through May 18th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Brent Taylor/Rajani LaRocca Guest Post & Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2019

Kirsten Wolf Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 6/12/19

Connor Eck Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 7/10/19

Danielle Burby/Rosary Munda Guest Post & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/2/19

Stacy Glick/Jennifer Camicca Guest Post & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/14/19

REMY LAI AND JIM MCCARTHY GUEST POST/PIE IN THE SKY AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY/IWSG POST

Happy Wednesday Everyone! I'm excited to have debut author Remy Lai here with her agent Jim McCarthy to share about her MG contemporary PIE IN THE SKY. It sounds like a fantastic, heartwarming story about Jingwen's experience moving to Australia. It's told in prose with graphic novel elements. I'm excited to read it. But first I have this month's IWSG post.


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!

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are:  Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin

I'm going to skip today's optional question and discuss tw things: how I can help you when your book releases and exciting news.

How I Can Help You

I want to help my followers when your book releases. Because I only post once a week, I cannot participate in a few blog tours for you. However, there are other ways I can help you. For anyone who doesn't know or doesn't know, I'm glad to post about your book release in Follower News. Just e-mail me a two-sentence blurb with your book cover and a few links. This is open to picture book through adult as long as your book is not erotica. You just have to be a follower who regularly visits the blog (once a month is okay) and leaves a comment so I know that you have stopped by.

Also, I participate in a monthly book giveaway hop with other book review bloggers where I offer a variety of MG and YA new releases. I get about 70-100 comments and 1000 or more page views on these posts. I'm going to also open this up as a way to help my followers. I'm glad to offer your book as one of the choices when it releases. This is also open to picture book through adult as long as your book is not erotica. Same follower requirement as for Follower News. Just e-mail me your book cover!

Take advantage of these opportunities to let me help you promote your book!


Exciting News



Last month on the day of our IWSG posts, Literary Rambles hit a milestone--6 million page views. It feels like a huge accomplishment. I thank you all for your support and friendship. I especially appreciate those of you who take the time to read and comment on my posts. 


Now onto my guest post. Here's a blurb of PIE IN THE SKY on Goodreads:


When eleven-year-old Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he's often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.

To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she's at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they'll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.

Told in prose and graphic novel elements, this middle-grade novel is about a boy's immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks!


Questions from Remy to Jim:


What about PIE IN THE SKY that prompted you to make an offer of representation? (This is where I'm fishing for compliments πŸ˜‚)

PIE IN THE SKY was the perfect meeting point of two areas I wanted to do more work in—middle grade and graphic novels. Since it’s a hybrid, and because of the style in which you wrote describing your illustrations, it was super accessible to me in form. Then we add to that the fact that it’s incredibly moving, deeply hilarious, and beautifully written AND illustrated? It was a no brainer. I’ve loved the book since the first time I opened the first page, and I knew I needed you on my list.

You reply to emails almost immediately. If you take over a day to reply your clients, we genuinely start to worry that you're dead. How do you respond to your clients and read for them so fast? Is it special beard magic or just good organisational skills?

The most common complaint I hear about other agents is how lax they are about communication (there are plenty of wonderful communicators out there—it’s just that folks who DO have complaints tend to have them in this area). So it has always been important to me that folks not be hanging around forever waiting for a response. I’m also a hugely anxious person and hate the idea of keeping others in suspense. Of course, there are times where I can’t be as fast as usual, but I make a sincere effort in those cases to be as honest with everyone as possible about how long things might take me. There are usually about two weeks a year where everything lands at the same time, and I just….dance as fast as I can!

Do you really not mind being known as The Beard? I know that when you called me about the offer for PIE IN THE SKY, you just had your beard spruced up and we joked it brings good luck. Does it?

First, I’ve never been one to take myself very seriously, so I definitely don’t mind. It might be
weirder in person? It certainly hasn’t proven weird YET. And second, I’ve only shaved my beard off twice since the 90s. Both times, I looked in the mirror and criiiiiied. It’s just so much a part of my face that I don’t have any qualms about it being a noted feature.

One of the things I asked your clients before we signed was how supportive you are when your clients have writerly melt downs (the answer was: very). Do you get exhausted? Do you wish that we were less melodramatic?

Listen, agenting can be tough. It’s very easy to get deeply emotionally invested in projects and in authors. For me, the most important things are to be honest with clients about what the challenges they may face are, not let them see ME sweat (the process isn’t about me), and do my utmost to keep a healthy emotional distance. Do I get exhausted? Sure, sometimes! But doesn’t everyone? And do I wish clients were less melodramatic? Also sometimes! But I know how brutal this process can be, and I sympathize with everyone jumping onto this crazy emotional roller coaster that is publishing.

About the time difference . . . How has it been for you, working with a writer from Australia who sends you emails at strange hours?

Again, you email at truly all hours of the day, so I’m still not wholly sure you sleep. But it really hasn’t proven difficult at all. I have other clients who are night owls and such, so I haven’t noticed too much!

How much do you enjoy the editorial side of agenting? Or do you wish that you only get perfect manuscripts all the time?

I love the editorial process. My general rule is this: I won’t sign a project unless I think I could send it out in its current shape. However, I have never once sent a project out without editing it. It’s my chance to make sure the book is as saleable as possible, but it’s also probably the most creative I get to be as an agent. It’s an endlessly delightful process that also helps me understand everything I work on in a deeper way and connect to it more fully.

Perennial question: what are you looking for in your slush pile?

Oh, gosh. I feel like I’m always looking for a bit of everything since I do middle grade through adult fiction and nonfiction (though mostly fiction). Send me ALL THE QUERIES! But you know what I’d really love to find kind of across categories, communities, and age brackets? Fun stories. I’ve worked on a number of books that beautifully handle deeply difficult subject matter, and I will always be passionate about those books, so don’t shy away from them. That said, I could use some comedy about now. Or just a delicious page-turner whether it be a thriller or fantasy or romance—something escapist, especially if it has a fresh twist!

When are you getting a second dog?

Let me get really honest for a moment—my beloved pup Winston is 6 now, and he’s the first dog I’ve ever had. While he is fantastic at many things (snuggling, being adorable, launching himself at guests with adoration), he is not what I would call terribly well trained, and he is not always the moooooost friendly with other dogs. I really worry about him losing his mind if we get another pup, but the conversation continues on a near daily basis.

Any genius advice for writers in their debut year?

Remind yourself how spectacular what you’ve achieved really is. It’s not easy to get published. The odds are not in your favor. And then once you’re published, the odds are still not always going to go your way. But what you have done—finishing a book, editing a book, selling a book, having a book published? Those are all extraordinary things. Try to keep that in mind because it’s so easy to start comparing yourself to other authors and their perceived successes which itself can prove maddening. Fight like hell for the career you want, but never lose sight of how great what you’ve already done actually is.

****

Questions from Jim to Remy:

Your book is a bit of a mash-up, not quite a full graphic novel, but definitely more than just a novel with some illustrations. How did you strike the balance that you did, and how did you know what moments were most calling out to be illustrated?

In the early stages of writing, I write mostly by intuition. In the later stages, I'd take a closer look at my decisions. And my relentless editor at Henry Holt definitely makes me analyse things deeper. The decisions come down to pacing, whether prose or illustration could convey a certain emotion or moment more effectively, and just simply thinking about how much fun a certain thing would be to draw.

A younger brother myself, I’m epically in love with impish, charmingly annoying, irrepressible Yanghao. Though he’s not our main character, he’s an attention grabber. Was he always a scene stealer? Did you have to work to hold him back from taking off with the novel?
Yanghao is partially inspired by my nephew who is absolutely impish and irrepressible, and I did (still do) have so much fun drawing him. But I always knew that PIE IN THE SKY is the older brother Jingwen's story, although it couldn't have been told without Yanghao. I know—don't ask me how I know, I just do!—that Yanghao has his very own story that he needs to tell, so maybe one day . . .

You made a conscious decision not to address where Jingwen and Yanghao immigrated to Australia from, a choice that has come up much more in reviews and discussions of the book than I anticipated. Have you also been surprised by this? Did the response ever make you doubt your choice, or has it more solidified for you how strong the choice was?

I wasn't surprised.

When I was a kid and I moved to Singapore, I hadn't fully grasped the concept of countries. I understood "country" on a very superficial level, in that I need a passport to get into another, and currencies and perhaps languages are different, but mostly I just thought in terms of back home and Singapore. Just two places. Because I am first and foremost writing for kids, because this story is so personal and influenced by my own experience, and because this story is told in first person point of view, I decided to trust how eleven-year-old me saw the world, and to trust Jingwen's voice.

If I'd written PIE IN THE SKY in third person POV, I might have stated their country of origin.

But maybe not. Because I also wanted a story where the cultural differences to do with immigration don't take centre stage, and stating the country might inadvertently shepherd some adult readers into focusing on the cultural differences. The boys grew up in a pretty globalised city, in pretty liberal environments, so the culture shift really wasn't that significant. They are economic migrants. There wasn't any mortal danger to them in their home countries. Their parents simply wanted them to have more opportunities in life. Ultimately, the thing I remember the most when I migrated was missing my family.

I wanted readers to see the boys as kids first and foremost. Kids who happen to be immigrants. That was why, aside from the language barrier, I had Jingwen have problems that are not specific to immigrants. For example, the dad's death was simply an accident. Nothing to do with migration.

I knew from the beginning that some readers will prefer the boys' country of origin to be stated, and there will be others who won't care. I don't know if I'll change my mind. Ask me again a few years later haaa.

You’ve now been through multiple editorial processes with this novel—first on your own, then through Pitch Wars, then with me, and ultimately with your publisher. As someone who has told me they love revising, can you compare the various stages of revision and how you knew what advice to take on vs. what to leave behind?

Do you not believe me, Jim? I really do love getting editorial notes and revising. Sure, sometimes I curse the note-givers (Haaaa!), but I truly do love the promise of how much better my stories would be after revision.

With Pitch Wars, it was big picture revision. Then you gave me a very short edit note for a "light revision." It's still a mystery to this day how I ended up rewriting the first act and taking several weeks. I was following breadcrumbs and I fell off a cliff! I think a lot of writers encounter that during revision. 
With my relentless editor, it was about strengthening the elements that were already there. I might have cursed him quite a bit too πŸ˜‚.

Throughout the revision process, when I read the edit notes, I could immediately see how making most of those changes would make the story better. Other pieces of advice, I felt so so about. And then there were a few pieces of advice that made me balk. Ultimately, I'd just mull on the notes for a week or two, jotting down thoughts as they came along. Sometimes it was a matter of trial and error. Even the advice I thought didn't make sense, I'd try them on for size. Sometimes I'd be surprised, or sometimes that advice that didn't fit ended up leading me to another nugget of wisdom that made the story better.

Speaking of Pitch Wars, can you walk me through what that was like? On the agent side, it’s a whirlwind trying to keep up with material and try to read faster than folks are getting offers. What’s it like on the author side? Is it ever overwhelming? And would you do it all over again?

Being a person who loves deadlines, I LOVED the short revision timeframe. I sometimes wish you would be a meanie and put me through such a rigorous schedule for every manuscript.

As for the agent round . . . When I entered Pitch Wars, I wasn't on social media much. I didn't even think about the agent round much until it was all over. When I entered, all I really wanted was the editorial letter from my mentor, to make my story better.

I hear from folks sometimes that they’re overwhelmed trying to break into the North American publishing world if they live overseas. Being in Australia, how has that process been for you? Do you think its been easier for you than most as you, to the best of my knowledge, never sleep?

The time difference is insignificant thanks to you and my editor who don't make it a big deal at all. What's most frustrating is I cannot be there to attend panels and conferences and meet the writing and publishing communities, the librarians and booksellers, and the readers. Macmillan has been very, very good to me in bringing me to the US in January, and I am so lucky. The rest of the time, I sit here nursing a serious case of FOMO.

I know this is very much a question that the answer to will change upon publication, but what have been the best and worst parts of the process so far—from initially having the idea to now being just a short while from publication?
The best part is meeting people who believe in my work and me. The worst part is the times when publishing makes me feel like I might never be enough, which is something that many writers feel at some point. Luckily, so far, the best part is much stronger than the worst part.

Do you have a dream reader—a sort of person who it would be a dream come true to have a piece of fan mail come in from?
For PIE IN THE SKY, it would have to be readers who have a personal connection to being an immigrant and having to learn a new language.

You have lots of new material in the works—where do you from here? What are your future publishing goals?
My first love is middle-grade, but I would also love to do everything else. I'm very greedy.

Perhaps most important of all, you and I have something very special in common—we both share our homes with adorable dogs. I do a lot of editing with my pup curled up in my lap, taking breaks when he decides its play time. Do yours affect or inspire your writing at all?

I talk through my story problems with them all the time. They look at me like they understand, but actually they just want me to feed them nom noms. I also take them for long walks in the forest at the end of my street, and that's my daily recharge. I don't think I can be a writer if I don't have a dog.

You can find me on:
Instagram: @rrremylai
Twitter: @Remy_Lai

Remy has generously offered a hardback of PIE IN THE SKY and Jim is offering a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 18. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is International for anywhere that Book Depository ships for free and the query critique giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 6th I have a guest post with debut author Beth Anderson and her agent Stephanie Fretwell-Hill with a query critique and AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET giveaway

Tuesday, May 14th I'm participating in the Love Is in Bloom Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 20th I have a guest post by Rajani LaRocca and her agent Brent Taylor with a query critique and MG contemporary MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM giveaway

I'm off May 27th

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with debut author Shannon Shuren and a giveaway of her contemporary YA THE VIRTUE OF SIN and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10 I have an interview with author Lamar Giles and a giveaway of his MG fantasy/adventure THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

Wednesday, June 12 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kerstin Wolf and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 17 I have an interview with author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary SINCE WE LAST SPOKE

Hope to see you on Monday!

65 comments:

  1. A most enjoyable post to read, I found it so interesting.
    I hope this new month of May will be wonderful for you.

    Yvonne.

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  2. 6 million views is AMAZING! Congrats Natalie!!

    The book sounds fabulous - fun with a lot of heart!

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  3. Six million page views is great!
    You do help a lot of authors with those shout-outs.

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  4. I'm blown away! That's a lot of views, Natalie. Congratulations. But you deserve those viewers because you do so much here on your blog.

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  5. Wow! Congrats on hitting that milestone. :) Congrats to Remy. What a fun read seeing agent and writer interviewing each other.

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  6. Sounds like a good book. That's a tough issue so many kids go through. I'm glad you wrote about it.

    And kudos, Remy, on 6 million visitors. Woohoo!

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  7. Congratulations Natalie, on the 6 million page views.

    Pie in the Sky sounds like a great book.

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  8. He won't sign a manuscript he couldn't send out as-is - that is smart.

    Congrats on the page views and I've appreciated all the SLP books and authors you have highlighted her.

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  9. Six million??? I can't even. That is stupendously awesome. Congrats!! And that book, Pie in the Sky, sounds amazing.

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  10. Congratulations Natalie on reaching another milestone, 6 million views!! I really enjoyed the format of author and agent interviews. Pie in the Sky sounds wonderful.

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  12. Sorry Natalie for removing my previous comment. I wanted to say thank you for offering to help authors. What a huge accomplishment on your viewers. I love your shark picture. Congratulations to Remy on a really interesting book. Happy IWSG day :)

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  13. That's a mind-boggling number of views, Natalie! Awesome. You are kind to reach out and help others--thanks for giving away a copy of Masquerade: Oddly Suited!

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  14. Thanks for coming by my blog today, and congrats on the pageview milestone! w00t!

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  15. That's an amazing milestone! Congrats.

    And thank you for being so supportive of the writing community. It's one of the main reasons I love being part of this group.

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  16. You're so good to help share our good news! But, you're that kind of person. :D

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  17. Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Congrats to Remy!

    And how nice of you to offer to help followers! With that many views, you could sell those shout outs.

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  19. Six million page views - that's quite a number. Congratulations!
    Although I don't read or write children's books, I do love the cover of this one. Very 'tongue-in-cheek'.

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  20. Thank you for all you do for your followers! I will be contacting you for my mom's upcoming picture book release, if that's okay. :)

    Congrats on 6 million page views!

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  21. I love this back-and-forth interview between agent and author!
    I have been looking for more graphic-novel combos for my students, although I will be changing jobs this year. I think having art and text together can bring readers into the story world with different nuances we don't see in text-only or graphic-mainly forms.
    Thanks for sharing this and your invitation to your newsletter, Natalie!

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    1. OH, I would like to be entered into the query critique contest and my e-mail is tyreantigger (at) gmail (dot) com

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  22. 6 million is awesome indeed.

    Fun interview too. Yeah, getting a second pup sure can stir things up with the first.

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  23. A huge congrats on 6 million views!! So impressive!!

    PIE IN THE SKY sounds so awesome!

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  24. That books sounds so good. I keep telling myself my granddaughter is only two years old, so I shouldn't start buying MG for her yet. Thanks for your generous offer. Will take you up on it for my next book.

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  25. Congratulations on having 6 million visitors, Natalie! That is something! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the double point of view interviews with Remy and Jim. "Pie in the Sky" sounds like a great book, and I wish Remy lots of success with it. During my teaching career I had many students who immigrated from all over the world, some from safe places, some from dangerous. It was always a pleasure and a challenge working with these kiddos and their families, and always rewarding. I'm going to pass on the giveaway; my life is topsy turvy right now. I've added "Pie in the Sky" to my list of books to buy. Have a great, creative May!

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  26. What a cool sounding book and a great interview. Thanks also, for the offer to do author interviews for new releases. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks also, for dropping by my blog and commenting...Happy May Day!

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  27. Hi Natalie. Thanks for being kind enough to feature authors on your blog. I congratulate you on 6 million views. Wow. One day I'd like to visit your blog and read all the interesting interviews slowly, not in such a rush which is my forte. Hopefully I'll be featured one day...

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  28. Two very delightful people and I loved their questions. Best of luck to Remy. As always Natalie, your posts are helpful to those in the trenches. Congrats on the views and thanks! My email kmullane1@gmail.com

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  29. Great interview! Looking forward to reading PIE.
    Thanks so much for the chance to win a query critique as well: heathermcappsauthor@gmail.com
    Mentioned on Twitter as well.

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  30. Natalie, congratulations!!! Your blog is highly sought after! :) I love the title of Remy's book! and what a great interview!! Thank you for all you do for writers and authors!

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  31. Congratulations on the 6 million views! Wow.

    This was a fun interview, especially with the flip-flop of questions.

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  32. I love the format of your interviews and this one was especially good. I can also vouch for the great results in Remy's book having just read and reviewed. https://gpattridge.com/2019/04/28/pie-in-the-sky/

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  34. This is amazing! I enjoyed the Q&A. I'll be sure to send you an email :-)

    Ronel visiting for #IWSG day: Help Me, Please!

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  35. Had to delete my comment up there. Typos-oh-no! I've been following and forwarding your blog for years, Natalie, huge congratulations! And I'm sure this is just one of the great things that make up you. I really enjoyed this interview and Q&A format with agent and client. I'm working on a graphic memoir and read every word. Thank you, and applause to Remy, Jim, the editor who recognized brilliance and heart and everyone who's supporting and positive. We need more of that.

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  36. Congratulations on reaching that milestone, Natalie. Congratulations also to Remy - Pie in the Sky - what a great title.

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  37. What a fabulous milestone! Congratulations! Thank you for all the great info too, wonderful!

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  38. I loved this article. It is really interesting to hear about the publishing process from both the agent and the writer perspectives. Thanks.

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  39. Congrats, Natalie on your 6 million views! I know I'm happy to always read your posts. This interview was informative and a delight to read. This is a must read book for me. I shared your post on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/184600697102/remy-lai-and-jim-mccarthy-guest-postpie-in-the

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  40. Six million views, holy smokes, that's huge! I'd love the chance to win a copy of this funny book although a query critique would be wasted on me. Thanks for the interviews!
    I tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1124025964739092488, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well: https://www.pinterest.com.mx/pin/336573772150513116/.
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!

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  41. Wow, impressive 6 million views, congrats. Thanks for visiting me. Happy IWSG!

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  42. Rent and Jim, thanks for the interview, Pie sound really interesting.

    Natalie, I will definitely take you up on your book posting offer soon. Thanks!

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  43. What a fantastic milestone, Natalie! Given the encouragement and inspiration you offer, I'm not surprised ;-)
    Pie in the Sky sounds delightful, and the interview only enhanced the perception - way to go!

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  44. The back and forth with agent and author was very fun - and informative. Thank you!

    Congrats on 6 million views!!!

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  45. Love the back and forth interviews! Very interesting! Congratulations!

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  46. I first read about this book on Greg Pattridge's blog. It sounds great. Thanks for the fun, informative interview. I will pass on the giveaway. I am just buried in books right now.

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  47. Wow! 6M that's a Whole Lotta Views! Congrats! on the milestone and here's to another happy and healthy 6M more.

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  48. Wow! Six million?? That's AWESOME! Grats!

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  49. You are so helpful to writers. Wow.

    Thanks for visiting my blog Wednesday.

    Teresa

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  50. Congratulations on the 6 million page views. Wow. AMAZING.

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  51. Congrats on the page views. Wahoo! Happy IWSG!

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  52. Aaah Remy such a great interview!!

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  53. What a great interview and congrats on the page views!! woo hoo

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  54. What a wonderful interview, Natalie! Congratulations on reaching the 6 million page view. Wow! And thanks for all you do to assist writers. It's greatly appreciated. And all the best to both "the Beard" and Remy with this new release.

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  55. Amazing milestone! Thanks for the post, and all you're doing for writers.

    starvingartistjz@gmail.com

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  56. Sounds like a fun book. My students would love it! Wish you blessings on your publication! Please enter me in query contest as well. Thanks!

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  57. This book sounds absolutely perfect for my daughter! Can't wait to get it for her.
    Also, I'd love to be entered in the giveaway and I follow you on Twitter.

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  58. Entering a comment for Laya Steinberg lasword@rcn.com

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  59. What an excellent interview. Thanks for sharing your awesome journey. A huge congrats on 6 million views. So impressive.

    PIE IN THE SKY sounds so awesome! Thanks for reaching out to your followers.

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  60. Cool interview - thanks for sharing! I'd like to be considered for the critique. Thank you!

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