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

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!

54 comments:

  1. That's wonderful they took you to some historical sites. I'm sure that made it all the more real for you.

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  2. Thanks for a very interesting account of your path to publication, Sharon, hope you go on to write many more books.

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    1. People who have been leaving reviews are asking what happens next....so there might be another one.

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  3. I love that your grandparents' stories were an inspiration!

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    1. They are always inspiring! I have a picture book coming out next year and it was inspired at their house. I’m querying another one that was inspired by a snail in their back garden.

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    1. For overseas I’m doing a ebook version and an amazon card so you can order some lovely treats!

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  5. Our neighbors are from England and it took me awhile to understand English-English too. Thank you for the interview--looking forward to reading your book. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/188194761822/sharon-mayhew-interview-and-keep-calm-and-carry

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    1. Oh! Thanks so very much for sharing it! I hope you enjoy it if you get the copy!

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  6. How wonderful that your grandparents were so supportive of your interest. Even going so far as to take you to the locations and give you first hand accounts of their experiences. Have a lovely week Natalie.

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    1. I’m so blessed to have them. They have lived the most spectacular lives!

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  7. I often wonder if parents would trust strangers with their children nowadays like they did during that time. Sounds like a great book.

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    1. I’ve thought that too. Today it’s a very different world than back then. Children back then roamed the countryside with no supervision or worry of safety. It was a different time.

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  8. This is a fabulous book!!! My folks moved from Scotland to Canada and they often spoke about the language difficulties too :)

    (I already have my copy, so I'll let someone else win)

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  9. I'm looking forward to reading this one as MG historical fiction is one of my favorites. The characters and setting are hard to resist. Best of luck to Sharon on this and all her future writing ventures.

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    1. Thanks Greg! I hope you enjoy it. When life calms down a bit I'm going to start a second book.

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  10. I have only read a few books about the evacuation and am very interested in reading more. This sounds really good. The interview sealed my interest.

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    1. Thanks, Patricia! As a former teacher, I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe every year to my class, but until my grandparents started telling me stories about the War I did not realize it was based on the seed of truth about evacuees. I hope you enjoy it. :)

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  11. I have been hearing about this book and really want to read it. Please only drop my name in the print copy drawing. I don't read ebooks. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Oh! You've heard of my book? That is so exciting for me! Thanks for sharing that with me. :)

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  12. Congrats, Sharon. The book sounds great!

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  13. Very cool interview. I always like to hear about the author and the writing process. Even though the book is a work of fiction, the author had to do a lot of research to make sure her book is historically correct. Important point. I'm fortunate enough to have the book so don't enter me in the give-away. The book is every bit as terrific as is the author. :)

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    1. LOL, Lenny! You've been reading this story for many years. I hope you enjoy the final version and thank you for being such a great critique partner. :)

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  14. How wonderful that your grandparents inspired the book. Lovely interview!

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    1. Thanks! It actually started a picture book focused on one scene in the book. The picture book I have coming out next year was also inspired by my grandparents and their love for birds.

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  15. Your book sounds fascinating, Sharon. I love hearing about how you got some of your information from your grandparents. I read a lot about the holocaust and will read your book to add to my bits of knowledge. It's an interesting if disturbing period in history. I like doing research also.

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    1. Thanks! The people (the Greatest Generation) fascinate me too. The things they went through...persevered through is incredible.

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  16. I totally understand the English/American language divide. I have an English friend. I told her I stubbed my toe, she thought I got it chopped off. I'd just knocked it on a step, or stubbed it.

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    1. When I was young and had an accent, I would get tickled by people asking what language I spoke...

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  17. Thank you for the interesting and informative interview. I enjoy reading about this time period and I am glad to see a children's book on the London bombing and it's effects. I shared on twitter (https://twitter.com/BraniganDebra/status/1181629032384868352?s=20). My email is dbranigan27 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  18. This sounds like a book I will love. I enjoyed the interview with Sharon too. The research process sounds very interesting. Great advice about checking out the publishing company and contacting authors who have worked with them.

    I'd love to win a copy. :) Thanks for the chance.

    Best of luck to Sharon!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks, Jess! Knowing who you are dealing with is important at every level. If you are looking at agents or publishing houses you should talk to current clients.

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  19. This book sounds great! Thank you for the interview, for the great Q&A and for introducing this debut author. I'm eager to read the book.
    -Betsy

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  20. I have a mega soft spot for WWII books perhaps in part because there are so many different kinds of stories out there, and they're all fascinating. This one definitely seems to fit that--I love the dark, suspenseful twist to an already dramatic time! Thanks so much for the amazing interview, and I'll cross my fingers I win. :D My email is spartan_writer (at) yahoo (dot) come.

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne! Have you read Mapping The Bones, by Jane Yolen? I've just started it.

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  21. I love this writing community. That we can support each other. Great interview.

    Found you through IWSG. New follower.

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    1. You are right! It's a great non-competitive community.

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  22. This sounds like an amazing story. Thanks to you and the author for the insightful interview. I'm glad you shared this post for MMGM. :0}

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    1. Thanks, June! That generation lived through so many changes. My grandfather is fascinated what my phone can do. :)

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  23. Great interview! Kudos, Sharon, for taking a tough, gritty historical time and making it come alive for young readers.

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    1. Next week I'm doing a video chat with a classroom of sixth graders next week. I'm anxious to hear what they thought about my book.

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  24. this sounds like a nice read for a gray and rainy day, when it will feel like foggy London... thanks for sharing!

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    1. It's not a long read, several people have read it in a day or two.

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  25. Sharon,
    Your book is a work based on love. the characters sound amazing and real. i can't wait to read it!
    Sue

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Sue! When I write I have to be completely alone so I can become one with the characters.

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  26. This sounds wonderful! My mother-in-law was working on a MG novel about Operation Pied Piper when she died unexpectedly of cancer eight years ago. Maybe it's because of that, but ever since then I've been hoping someone would tell these children's stories in a way that could reach today's children! I can't wait to read this, Sharon.

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    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. It was such a different time. Children today live much more protected lives. Could you imagine if the government, today, told us to put our children on trains to go to some unknown place, to be raised by unknown people? People would go insane!

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  27. This book sounds like a wonderful read! Congratulations! I'm sharing this on Twitter. Natalie, I follow you on Twitter. :) Happy Monday!

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  28. Thanks, Angie! I've been pretty stoked about the reviews I've been getting on GoodReads and Amazon.

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