CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests



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

Katelyn Detweiler Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 1/20/2020

Hilary Jacobson Query Critique & ALL THE STARS AND TEETH Giveaway on 2/5/2020

Megan Manzano Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 2/24/2020

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA REINO AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Jessica Reino here. She is a junior literary agent at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

Hi­ Jessica! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Jessica:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

First off, thank you so much for having me! I officially came into my role as a Junior Agent this past August, but, while I am new to agenting, I am not new to the publishing industry. I am a multi-genre author myself and have worked for many years as a freelance editor. One of my favorite parts of editing was as a developmental editor working directly with authors. When I saw an internship open up with Metamorphosis, I jumped at the chance. I fell in love and the rest is history!
Since I am a new agent, I am still building my list and have been very busy reading queries, signing clients, and speaking with editors. It’s been a lot of fun and great to jump right in.

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

As stated on our website, Metamorphosis Literary Agency’s mission is to help authors become traditionally published and we work with our authors to make sure that their projects are in the best possible shape. We have a great team of agents and interns who care about our clients and their careers. When you sign with Metamorphosis, it is very much a team atmosphere and that was one of the things that drew me to the agency as an agent.

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

Right now, I represent MG and YA as well as adult projects in both fiction and nonfiction. While I am not looking to sign strictly PB authors, if an author has a MG or YA project as well as a PB, I would be open to that.
In fiction I’m looking to represent contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I’m looking to add more YA contemporary romance to my list as well.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

I am a big advocate for invisible illnesses, chronic illness, autoimmune issues, and mental health so characters dealing with these are always welcome.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I’m not looking for picture books or anything historical at this time.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

As an agent, I am looking to sign authors for the scope of their career not just one project. We’re a team and I will always be honest and have my authors’ best interests. I want to work with authors who are willing to put in the hard work and be open to feedback and advice to make their work the best it can possibly be. I want to represent books that make an impact on their readers and evoke emotions.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

Absolutely! I am definitely an editorial agent and I think this comes from my background as a freelance editor. Before submitting to editors, I go over my authors’ manuscripts several times and make comments/suggestions utilizing Tracked Changes in Microsoft Word. We have a back and forth to make it the strongest manuscript it can possibly be before sending it off. I make a list of editors that I think would be a good fit and we discuss the list along with comments and revisions.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

I utilize Query Manager and authors can query me by going to this link: https://querymanager.com/query/JessicaReino
The link is also posted on our Metamorphosis Literary Agency’s website under the Submissions tab.
In a query, I like to see the usual things like the word count and genre, but most importantly, I need to know what the book is about. If an author is querying me for a specific reason then that’s great, but if not, feel free to jump right into the query as long as it fits what I am looking for.
I also like to remind authors that the query letter is to entice an agent to read more. It is not meant to be a synopsis, but it does have to give enough information that I know what the book is going to be about.

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

Most queries I receive are professional and well-done. However, I have gotten a few that talk down to the suggested target audience, which is an automatic pass from me.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I try to give an initial response to queries within two weeks which would be either a pass or request for more pages. I am extremely behind in my partials and fulls. I am currently still reading my partials and fulls from August, but I hope to give a definitive response in the next few weeks. I have gotten some great manuscripts and thank you to all who have queried me with your work!

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

Of course! With that being said, I cannot sell an already self-published work, but please feel free to query me with a new project. For self-published authors or authors who have been published with a small press, I think it is important to ask why they want an agent. Some authors I know who are self-published or who have sold to smaller presses are very content with doing it all themselves. I think it is important to decide what they want out of their writing career. There are a bunch of great resources to look for agents like Manuscript Wishlist, Twitter, writing or critique groups, other authors, and blog interviews like this.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

This is such a great question. The publishing landscape has changed immensely and I think the role of agents has definitely changed over the years to encompass giving assistance to their authors editorially or even giving advice about approaching social media/marketing although these things are not technically something an agent needs to do. First and foremost, and something that will never change, is that an agent is their client’s best advocate. Agents need to be able to advise clients on the right publishing path for them and their manuscript, as well as be knowledgeable of the marketplace to sell books.

Clients:
13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I have a wonderful group of authors. My clients include:
MG fantasy writer Stephenie Peterson;
YA gothic/paranormal fantasy writer Destiny Rae Smith;
YA contemporary writer Heather DiAngelis; and
Family Saga/Contemporary writer Rene Perez II.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

I was interviewed on Kate Foster’s blog this past August regarding how I work as an agent and what I’m looking for. Here is the link: http://www.katejfoster.com/general-blog/literary-agent-interview-jessica-reino

Links and Contact Info:

15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

To submit a query, writers can query me through Query Manager. Here is the link again:
The link to our agency website is: https://www.metamorphosisliteraryagency.com/
I can always be found on Twitter @JNRlitauthor
I run a monthly Twitter chat the first Sunday of every month at 8 PM (Eastern) to help writers stress less during the writing process #thewriterszen and would love to have anyone join in.

Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

I can’t say this enough, but if you write, then you’re a writer. Own that title and be proud of the work you are doing. I think it is also important to say that this business is still subjective and what might not sell one minute might sell the next. Never write for trends, but write the story that you want to tell.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jessica.

Thanks so much for having me and for being such a great resource for writers!

­Jessica is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through November 9th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.


KATIE ZHAO INTERVIEW AND THE DRAGON WARRIOR GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Katie Zhao here to share about her MG fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR. It sounds like a fantastic story steeped in Chinese mythology but set in modern times. I'm super excited to read it!

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.

Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon--and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.

With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?

Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

Hi Katie! Thanks for joining us.

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

I was born and raised in Michigan. From a young age, I loved reading, and knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I came to write for children because I’m a child at heart who simply loves children’s books. I strongly believe that not only are kids’ books fun to read, but they also are powerful in that they can shape readers’ minds from a young age. This is especially important to me because I am passionate about Asian American representation in literature.

Growing up in Michigan, I had access to a limited Asian American population, but mostly felt removed from the community. I struggled a lot with my identity as a child, and I wish more than anything that I could have grown up with stories featuring heroes who looked like me. Now that I’m older and have been fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to write those stories, I’m committed to writing Asian American protagonists for the next generation of Asian American children to be able to look up to.

 2. My daughter is adopted from China, and we wished there were more characters that looked like her too. Where did you get the idea for THE DRAGON WARRIOR?

THE DRAGON WARRIOR is pitched as PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS meets the
work of Grace Lin. Much of the story, specifically the elements of Chinese mythology and culture, was inspired by the stories I consumed as a child - most notably the beloved Chinese cartoon Journey to the West, an animated adaptation of the classic text by Wu Cheng’en.

I created a cast of Chinese American characters based off the family and friends I knew, who I’d rarely seen represented in books before. Even the food that the characters eat during their quest is the food that I ate as a child (Asian snacks like Pocky, shrimp crackers, etc). I did my best to write THE DRAGON WARRIOR in the fun, adventurous, accessible manner of PERCY JACKSON, fusing together the stories I grew up with from two cultures to create THE DRAGON WARRIOR. Finally, the Chinatown settings are inspired by the family trips from my childhood; my parents always sought out Chinatowns wherever possible in each new travel destination.

3. Yum! My daughter and I love Pocky! I love that you set the story in San Francisco but is based on Chinese mythology. Were there challenges in mixing them vs. using an older setting in China?

I deliberately set THE DRAGON WARRIOR in a US-based Chinatown but incorporated Chinese mythology because I wanted the story to ring true to a Chinese American readership. Growing up as Chinese American, I always felt removed from the rich stories and mythology of China, and yet felt removed from Western stories as well. The greatest challenge in blending American and Chinese elements was doing so in a respectable manner. As a Chinese American, I have long worried that I’m not “Chinese” enough to claim to be part of China’s rich culture and mythology. I knew that no matter how much research I did, I’d probably get some of the Chinese mythology “wrong” in THE DRAGON WARRIOR. The greatest challenge was accepting that I did my best to write the Chinese American contemporary fantasy story of my heart, and that I’m enough, and that this story is enough.

4. I can relate to those worries because I'm writing a story about a Mexican-American girl. I've been in my husband's family for 30+ years but worry I'm not "deep" enough into the culture. What research did you do into the Chinese mythology you used in your story?

As I mentioned earlier, much of the story is based off of Wu Cheng’en’s classic tale JOURNEY TO THE WEST; luckily, that means I already did this research when I was a kid, watching the cartoon adaptation. Outside of that, I did online research and read various texts to learn more about Chinese mythology, like CHINESE MYTHOLOGY FROM A TO Z by Jeremy Roberts.

5. It sounds like Faryn, Alex, and the other characters have great voices and are memorable characters. Share a bit about your character development process.

Thank you! I’d like to think that my characters have great voice and are memorable, because in school my teachers always seemed to agree that “voice and style” was my strong suit. While developing my characters, I knew I wanted the protagonist to be a Chinese American girl (like me), who had a younger sibling (also like me - I have two, in fact). As I wrote and rewrote the story, the characters’ personalities came to me, more defined with each draft. It was almost like Faryn, Alex, Moli, and co. told me who they were, and as their author, I simply did my best to accommodate their interesting stories and personalities!

6. You graduated from University of Michigan in 2017 with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and you’re now pursuing a master’s degree there in Accounting. What’s your secret for juggling the demands of college with your writing career?

Well, I have since graduated with my accounting degree, and I’ve actually been working full time for the past year (since September 2018). It’s not easy, but I make time for my writing. I write on almost every lunch break at work, and often in the evenings after work as well. When I’m really crunched for time, I also write on my commute to and from work, since I take the train and don’t have much else to do for that time anyway. I also write on the weekends, which means I often have to say no to social outings to meet a deadline, but it’s worth it to me to be able to work my dream career.

7. That's true dedication to your writing! What was your road to obtaining representation by your agent and signing a book deal like?

I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be a published author since late elementary school. I started writing novels in eighth grade. During my senior year of high school, I seriously began pursuing publication with my fourth completed novel, which was also my first #ownvoices novel featuring a plus-sized Chinese American protagonist. I queried a bunch of agents, but it didn’t go anywhere, so I gave up on writing for three years while college life kept me busy.

During my fourth year of college while studying accounting, I realized that I was heading down a path that would only lead me further from my life’s greatest dream. I wrote intensely, and queried three separate projects during 2017 and early 2018. The third project I queried for only two weeks before receiving an offer of representation from my current literary agent, Penny Moore. Penny took the project onto submission to editors in March 2018, and two weeks later the book went to auction and we accepted an offer with Bloomsbury. When the cards fell into the right place, everything happened quickly, but I would still say that my road from publishing desire to fruition was not short by any means.

8. That's a great road to publication story. How are you planning to market THE DRAGON WARRIOR? What made you decide on your plan?

I’m mostly using Twitter and Instagram to market my book. Thankfully, my publisher (Bloomsbury) has taken the lead on reaching out to conferences and festivals for me to attend to pitch my book, which has been the most successful in terms of making connections with industry professionals and getting the word out there.

9. What are you working on now?

I’m currently in-between projects as I wait for my editor to send the next round of notes for the sequel to THE DRAGON WARRIOR. I also have a YA social thriller scheduled for publication in winter 2021, titled HOW WE FALL APART. It’s ONE OF US IS LYING meets CRAZY RICH ASIANS, and chronicles the story of four high-achieving Asian American students attending an elite prep school, who suddenly become the prime suspects when their valedictorian best friend turns up dead.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Katie. You can find Katie at her website (www.katiezhao.com), Twitter (@ktzhaoauthor), and Instagram (@ktzhaoauthor).

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Katie has generously offered an ARC of THE DRAGON WARRIOR 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 November 2nd. 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 ARC giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, October 28th, I've got an agent spotlight interview with Jessica Reino and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, November 6th I have an interview with debut author Kimberly Gabriel and a giveaway of her YA mystery EVERY STOLEN BREATH and my IWSG post

Thursday, November 14th I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 18th I have an interview with author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN

Hope to see you on Monday!

SPOOKTACULAR GIVEAWAY HOP



Happy Tuesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Spooktacular Giveway Hop hosted by by BookHounds. I am so grateful to Mary at BookHounds for continuing to host these giveaways because I know they take time for her organize.

So here are your choices. I've got a combination of MG and YA books and recent books by followers that I hope you're looking forward to reading. Remember, if you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead as long as it doesn't cost more than the book here. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads.

 










If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of this blog and leave a comment telling me what book you want or that you want the gift card through October 31st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. I will also give you an extra entry if you follow me on Twitter and let me know this. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International as long as the Book Depository ships there for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, October 21st I have an interview with debut author Katie Zhao and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR

Monday, October 28th, I've got an agent spotlight interview with Jessica Reino and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, November 6th I have an interview with debut author Kimberly Gabriel and a giveaway of her YA mystery EVERY STOLEN BREATH and my IWSG post

Hope to see you Monday!

And here's the link to the other blogs participating in this blog hop:













JENNIFER CAMICCIA AND STACEY GLICK GUEST POST AND THE MEMORY KEEPER AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Jennifer Camiccia and her agent Stacey Glick here to share about her debut MG contemporary THE MEMORY KEEPER. It sounds like a real page turner that will pull at your heart.

FOLLOWER NEWS

Before I get to Jennifer's and Stacey's guest post, I have Follower News! Lynda Young writing as Elle
Cardy is releasing a debut YA fantasy WIELDER'S PRIZE. Here's a blurb and some links:
Jasmine’s whole life is a lie. When she’s snatched, she learns how much of a lie it has been. Not only can she wield, but she’s a danger to everyone if she can’t control her magic. And worse: there’s another out-of-control wielder on the high seas who wants her dead.

Wielder's Prize Amazon: https://amzn.to/2kaZKSV
Elle Cardy Website: https://www.ellecardy.com/

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Amy Cloud at Aladdin has bought North American rights to Jennifer Camiccia's middle grade debut, The Memory Keeper. When 12-year-old Lulu Carter develops a photographic memory at the same time her beloved Gram begins to lose hers, she blames herself. Lulu becomes obsessed with a finding that posits that memory loss can be attributed to an unaddressed trauma, and goes about excavating her grandmother's personal history in order to try to save her. Publication is set for fall 2019; Stacey Glick at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret negotiated the deal.

Now here's Jennifer and Stacey!


Jen’s questions to Stacey:

You represent such a wide variety of work. How do you decide what projects to work on?

I have to be drawn to a project in some personal way first, and then think about it professionally and the marketability of it. I don’t have a formula but consider new projects individually and if something can keep my attention for an extended period of time and I find myself thinking about it later, then I know it’s a project I want to consider taking on.

     What’s your favorite thing about being a literary agent? 

I love being an agent because it enables me to work creatively on books that delight and inspire me in some way. To be able to work on so many projects that readers of all ages get so much from makes me feel so satisfied and grateful for the work I do and the books I help to put out into the world. I also feel very fortunate that I can do so much of what I do from home giving me the flexibility to raise my family and maintain my agenting career in perfect (or often imperfect!) harmony.

      What do you look for in middle grade or YA projects?         

I love books that feel different in some way. Because my girls are currently ages 10-14, I look for things that I think they would like. I’m drawn to realistic contemporary stories that show kids going through a challenging situation and persevering to overcome their challenges. I also like a setting that acts as a character, a place that feels like an important part of the story. 

In a query, what grabs your attention enough to make you request the whole manuscript?

I like queries that are personalized in some way so I know the author has researched me and
my books. I also look for a pitch that feels fresh and unique, that is clear and concise (think flap copy), is well written and well-paced, and that reveals characters and a plot that feel inviting, compelling, and accessible. I also like humor, especially when interwoven in serious stories, to lighten it up while still addressing those darker issues that all humans face.

What books made the most impact on you as a young reader? 
             
I loved anything by Judy Blume and Roald Dahl, but there was a book that really resonated with me called Somebody Else’s Kids by a wonderful teacher named Torey Hayden. It’s actually nonfiction about a group of very different troubled kids Torey taught and how they all bond together over the course of one year. It’s interesting because I still love nonfiction that reads like fiction and really enjoy stories about people, kids and adults, overcoming adversity and discovering their best true selves. 


Stacey’s questions to Jen:
           
When did you first decide you wanted to become a writer?
           
I’ve been making up stories in my imagination since before I could read. They were movies in my mind that I’d press pause on whenever I was busy doing other things, and then start again when I had a free moment. I guess you could call it daydreaming with purpose. So, in a way, I’ve always been a writer.

How do you come up with your book ideas?

Sometimes they’re inspired by something I’ve seen in a movie or even a real life event. Often, I write the first chapter to see if the idea is something I can sustain and have an affinity for. It’s the ideas that won’t go away that I usually pursue.

What does your writing process entail?

It’s feast or famine with me. When I have an idea, I write everyday until I’m finished. But then I’ll usually take a break and recharge by reading and binging television shows. I find I write better if I take a little time off now and then.

How do you create your query letter or sales pitch?

I used to write them after I was finished with a book. But, lately, I’ve tried to write the pitch before I start. This really helps keep me focused on what exactly I hope to accomplish while writing the actual book. Then, when I’m finished, I can tweak the pitch to reflect whatever minor—or not so minor—changes I’ve made. I try to start the pitch off with the hook that will capture attention, and then I bring out the points of the story that my main character experiences. I leave out side stories or minor characters so the pitch is streamlined and, hopefully, uncluttered.

Best advice for finding an agent?

Research (basically stalk) agents to find out the kinds of stories they’re looking for. Follow them
on twitter, read books by their authors to get a sense of what resonates with them. Also, put yourself out there with writing contests. Placing in the finals in a writing contest is what brought me to my wonderful agent’s attention. Sometimes, that can be just enough to help you stand out from the hundreds of queries agents get each month.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jennifer and Stacey: You can find Jennifer at:

Jen’s social media links:
Preorder links:

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Jennifer generously is offering a hardback of THE MEMORY KEEPER and Stacey 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 November 2nd.  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 and the query critique giveaway are International.

Here's what's coming up:

Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15th I'm participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 21st I have an interview with debut author Katie Zhao and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR

Monday, October 28th, I've got an agent spotlight interview with Jessica Reino and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, November 6th I have an interview with debut author Kimberly Gabriel and a giveaway of her YA mystery EVERY STOLEN BREATH and my IWSG post

Hope to see you tomorrow!

SHARON MAYHEW INTERVIEW AND KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, CHILDREN GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author and long-time friend Sharon Mayhew here to share about her MG historical KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, CHILDREN. It's a great story set in World War II that shows how the war affected kids in London during the bombings. I found it to be a real page turner.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Eleven-year-old Joyce and her little sister hide in their bomb shelter during the German Blitz on London, during World War II. After nights of bombing, it’s decided that they’ll join the over 800,000 children who’ve already been evacuated during Operation Pied Piper. They board a train not knowing where they’re going or who will take them in.

The long, crowded train ride is less than pleasant. Thankfully they make two allies, Sam and Molly. Upon arriving in Leek, the evacuees are herded off the train and paraded down the street like sheep. Joyce and her sister are terrified they won’t be chosen.

Eventually, a family welcomes them. As they adjust to all the changes, they find the people of Leek aren’t so accepting to all the evacuees. Sam’s host is dark and abusive. As the girls help plan his escape, they discover this sleepy little community holds a dark secret...


Hi Sharon! Thanks so much for joining us!


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

I was born in what used to be a suburb of London (it’s really just a part of the city today). Because of a series of events my mum and I moved to America when I was eight. The transition to a new life in America came with lots of challenges; a new country, a new family, leaving the life I had known and all of my relatives, (don’t laugh…) even the challenge of a new language (I said don’t laugh…) But thankfully, I met some wonderful people in Iowa and eventually Arkansas and was able to adapt. (Yes, the language and culture changed for me again when we moved to Arkansas…)  By the eighth grade I knew what the American Dream was and I wanted it. Books were my places to escape to and to dream of the better life everyone talked about. I realized I could show children how they could escape their present in books, just like I did. Naturally, becoming an elementary school teacher would allow me to share that with kids who had been on the same path as me. I taught for seventeen years in Arkansas and Missouri. When my daughter hit middle school, my husband and I decided it was the perfect time for me to stay home. In 2007 my step-grandmother passed away and my first story came to me…then I was addicted to it. Being creative, creating new worlds, and getting lost in characters.

2. I can see that it must have been a shock to move from London to Iowan and Arkansas. Where did you get the idea for KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, CHILDREN?

Great question! So, the initial seed came from my grandparents telling stories about their lives during World War II. His family, like so many patriotic families joined the war effort in any way they could. One thing his mum did was take in two evacuees for the entirety of World War II. They didn’t really talk about war times until about 2010, at that point I would sneak back up to my bedroom and write down notes of Grandad’s and Nanny’s stories. As the years went on, I started taking notes on my Iphone while they were telling me about their youth’s.

3. What research did you do in writing your book? What advice do you have for other authors writing historical fiction?
  
When my grandparents saw how interested I was in the history of the British people during that time
period they started taking me to historic places related to the war and I started buying books, fiction and non-fiction, purchasing reprints of wartime documents, and doing independent research on Operation Pied Piper.

I would say that doing your research thoroughly is so important no matter what genre you write. Document your research! I’ve sent myself loads of emails with details and the links. You don’t have to “prove” you are historically correct to anyone, but knowing you are gives you peace of mind. In an early version of my story, I had lots of things wrong. Thankfully, I had some great writing friends (Lenny Lee) who pulled things to my attention and taught me the value of research. The “seed” of your story has to be believable.

4. That's awesome that you had your grandparents as a resource. Which was your favorite character to write—Joyce, Sam, or Molly—and why?

That’s a hard one! I love Joyce, the main character. She’s stronger than she thought she could ever be. She’s loyal. She is a defender of the people who matter to her. Sam, is a gentle soul. He’s had a rough life, so you have to love him too…And Molly, she’s so spunky, but very much the proper little girl. Oh my goodness! Your questions are making me think I need to write a sequel. I didn’t realize I missed them.
  
5. I think you did a good job nailing why all three are such likable characters.  What was a challenge you faced in writing this manuscript? How did you overcome it?

Great question! Looking back, the most important thing to me was being historically accurate. This goes back to your second question…doing lots and lots of research and double checking everything. It would have been easy to just listen to stories from family and friends about the war and writing them down, assuming they were accurate, but you can’t do that and be confident that those memories were not biased or made hazy through the years.

6. Your publisher is Black Rose Publishing. Share about your road to publication.

Oh, the path…I wrote, I revised, I had critiques. Then repeated over and over until I thought I could do no more, I queried publishing houses and a couple agents. Notably, Abigail Samoun of Red Fox gave me an R and R, ultimately passing but her suggestions improved my manuscript so much. I’m grateful for her help. I had a quite a few personal rejections, so I didn’t give up hope. I kept querying and one day I got an email asking if my manuscript was still available.
   
7. Black Rose Publishing is a smaller publisher. What do you think are the benefits of working with a small publisher? What advice do you have to a debut author working with one?

One of the most important things a writer should do during the querying stage is research the publishing house and it’s people before they sign a contract with anyone. I contacted five author’s that had published with Black Rose Writing. Four of them graciously answered my questions. The creator of BRW answered every question I asked to my satisfaction and in a timely manner. I think that is a benefit of working with a smaller house. They even let me have input on the cover. Several of my critique partners who are published with big houses said they had no say in their cover.

In all honesty, my experience so far has been positive, but you have to be prepared to do more leg work/marketing when you work with a small house. Marketing is hard work.
  
8. That's great advice about researching publishers. Your book was released in September. How have you been marketing it? What are you planning to do in the future to promote it?

I didn’t expect marketing to be hard. I love talking to people. I’ll talk to just about anyone…but marketing my “brand” makes me feel very exposed. I’ve had amazing support from family and friends on social media. One lady I’ve “met” is championing my book in the town of Leek, England where the story takes place. It fills my heart!

As, I said, the marketing part overwhelmed me a bit, but I’m pushing through and trying to do one item on my to-do list every day. This week is about doing requested interviews, next week will be about contacting bookstores. 

9. The though of marketing overwhelms me too. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a picture book about a duck with some issues. The “seed” for this story was the ducks we had when I was a teenager.

Thanks so much for inviting me to share about KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, CHILDREN!

Thanks so much, Sharon! You can find Sharon at:


Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Sharon has generously offered a hardback and e-book of KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON, CHILDREN and a signed bookmark for each 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 October 29th. 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, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. I will also give you an extra entry for following me on Twitter if you mention this in the comments. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This hardback giveaway is US and the e-book giveaway is international. 

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, October 14th I have a guest post debut author Jennifer Camiccia and her agent Stacey Glick and giveaway of Jennifer's MG THE MEMORY KEEPER and a query critique by Stacey

Tuesday, October 15th I'm participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 21st I have an interview with debut author Katie Zhao and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR

Monday, October 28th, I've got an agent spotlight interview with Jessica Reino and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!