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

KARI SUTHERLAND AND KELLY COON GUEST POST WITH QUERY CRITIQUE AND GRAVEMAIDENS GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Can you believe it's already December. Today I'm excited to have debut author Kelly Coon here with her agent Kari Sutherland to share about Kelly's debut YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS. Reading their guest post made me want to read this even more. The world building sounds fantastic and Kamanni is a strong characters with unique strengths.


Before I get to their guest post, I have my IWSG post to share.

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  Tonja Drecker, Beverly Stowe McClure, Nicki Elson, Fundy Blue, and Tyrean Martinson!

Optional Question: Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?
This question is perfect for me right now. What would I change? Having more time on a regular schedule to write in my weekdays so I can finish my current project. I want to see if I can write a good story and do it in a faster time period. The only way I can do that is to not work full-time.

The good news is that I'm already working on this goal. I'll be getting widow social security benefits early next year and will cut down on my work load by June. I have to wait until my boss can reassign some of my work. It'll give me two weekdays to myself where I can focus on writing and updating about 100 agent spotlights.

Work has already been slowing down a bit, so I have been working on my own writing more regularly and should have time to keep it up in December. I have a week without pay this month. And the exciting thing is that I am enjoying the writing process for the first time since Rudy died. So yay!

What about you? What would you change?

Now onto Kelly and Kari's guest post. I really learned a lot from it. Here's a blurb about GRAVEMAIDENS from Goodreads:


The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land's greatest honor...and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu's ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.


From Kelly to Kari

Hi Kari!!!! I’m so excited I get to interview you today about life as a literary agent! Woo!
Hi Kelly! I’m excited to be here today and chat about Gravemaidens and your writing. 

We’ve been working together for two and a half years now (wut???) and I can still remember hitting send on the query I sent you on March 30, 2017 at 1:48 PM. You responded at 6:07 PM that very night, asking for the full manuscript and set up a phone call with me two weeks later (then I freaked out with excitement).
What was it that made you interested in Gravemaidens?

So many things! I love YA fantasy, but I was looking for something different within the genre and Gravemaidens definitely delivered. The premise was unique—instead of trying to overthrow a leader, Kammani is working to save his life and the stakes are incredibly high because if he dies, her sister will be buried with him as a bride in the afterlife. Eek! The pressure! Kammani is a gifted healer, even if she’s still learning, so not everything comes easily to her, but she’s a heroine who will save the day through her smarts and skills rather than being a physical warrior. Don’t get me wrong, I love a kick-ass female warrior, too, but I was drawn to this depiction of a different kind of powerful woman. Then, of course, there’s the sister relationship, which is one that always appeals to me. Plus, the mystery element once Kammani is caught up in the political intrigue of the palace. When I first dipped in, I loved your detailed descriptions, which brought your setting to life, and your engaging voice. After the first chapter, I knew I wanted to read more! The rest of the pages didn’t disappoint so I knew I wanted to hop on the phone and get to know you. I also loved the themes of sacrifice and how Kammani questions her city’s traditions.

You were a senior editor at Harper Collins for almost seven years—working on some best-selling series, I might add—and also an editorial assistant at Disney for two years. How does your editorial expertise inform your submission process for your clients?

Well, to be clear, I wasn’t a senior editor for most of my time at HarperCollins, but I was extremely proud to earn that title before I left and I loved my years at HarperCollins and Disney Press—people who work in children’s publishing are terrific! Nowadays, I bring my editorial experience to bear in several ways for my clients. First up, when I’m assessing a query, I am thinking about whether it sparks something in me and if it checks all my boxes, will it check the boxes of publishers as well? When I sign a client, I’ll send an editorial letter and take the full manuscript through two or three passes before we submit—sometimes more depending on if there are major plot notes I think will help strengthen it for the marketplace. As you know, I lean towards long edit letters, full of questions and suggestions, so I often warn my clients not to panic at their length! 😊 Next up, I call upon my editorial background to make my pitch as catchy and succinct as possible, knowing that a great pitch can be used by editors for their acquisitions meetings and sometimes even becomes the jacket copy. Then, once the project is submitted, I can help alleviate authors’ anxiety at the lengthy process, since I know firsthand just how busy editors are with current and future projects on their lists. Or, at least, I can try to soothe the anxiety—waiting can be agonizing. Beyond the submission and deal, my experience at publishing houses also gives me insight into the overall process—how editorial interfaces with marketing and sales teams and publicity or the subrights teams, too—so I can help my clients navigate the waters to publication.

Okay, so I just learned that you have a masters degree in Forensic Psychology (and then I had to look that up to understand what it actually meant haha). Can you explain how that impacts the way you think about character motivations in your clients’ stories? Does having a background in psychology help you deal with the various needs of your clients?

Psychology and English are natural partners for me—stories, after all, give us windows into the
experiences and feelings and thought processes of others and build empathy. My psychology training honed my ability to pick out when characters’ actions are out of line with their personalities and guides my suggestions on motivations, relationships, emotional growth, conflict, dynamics, etc. It also has made me an excellent listener, so I’m approachable for my clients—or at least I hope I am! Writing can be a solitary endeavor and authors pour so much of themselves into their work that it is natural for them to be anxious about what they’ve written and second-guess their talent no matter what success they’ve achieved or where they are in the process and I am happy to assure my clients that they are wonderful and their work is worthwhile and I believe in them. So yes, it helps me support and empathize with them.

You represent a wide range of stories from MG contemporary to YA fantasy and everything in between. Can you put your finger on a few characteristics that made your clients’ manuscripts absolutely un-put-downable?

I also represent picture books and select adult upmarket fiction, so it is a wide range indeed. I look for a strong, compelling voice and characters that feel real and relatable as well as an engaging plot. My aim is for the stories I represent to make an impact on readers—regardless of whether the story echoes or highlights inequities in today’s world or is an adventure that allows readers a break from the stressors in their lives or is a quirky picture book that instigates giggles of delight.

What’s on your #MSWL these days?

Across the board I’m looking for projects that give voice to marginalized communities and tackle social justice issues or resonate with problems we face today—be that contemporary or within a fantasy setting or alternate history or near sci-fi (i.e. set fifty years from now). I’m also eager to acquire escapist stories—humor or action adventure, magical realism full of hope, fresh retellings of underexplored stories or characters, and YA rom-coms with a new angle.

Last one and it’s just for fun! What’s your most binge-worthy series and which book (besides your clients’, of course, would you like to see turned into a tv series?)

I’ve only seen season one, but Killing Eve had me hooked and I was eager for the next episode. I’m currently in love with Jane the Virgin too, which does such a great job of making its characters empathetic (even the villains) and leaves me full of hope. As for a book to see turned into a TV show, ooh, that’s a tough one. Excluding all the fantastic projects I have a relationship with (as agent, editor, or sister to the author), a series I’d love to see on the screen would be the Attolia books by Megan Whalen Turner. They cover an epic world full of riveting characters and surprises.

From Kari to Kelly

Okay, my turn!
Your main character, Kammani, lives in a world that reveres the afterlife and when her sister is chosen to be buried alive with the ailing ruler, it’s seen as a great honor. Kammani, as a result of her relationship with death as a healer, feels differently. I love the way she pushes back against what her society teaches—she’s someone who questions and comes to her own conclusions. It’s an especially important trait for people today in the age of misinformation. Was there a time that you have questioned what you’d been told?

Oh absolutely. I was raised in a strict fundamentalist environment where the pastor told the congregation what to believe and it was seen as heresy if you didn’t follow exactly what he said. I remember raising my hand during a Q&A session after the service as a ten-year-old girl to ask the pastor why we were required to attend church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, Thursday nights for kid’s club, and a multitude of other times, especially when most of the congregants’ children also went to a fundamentalist school where we went to chapel and received Biblical instruction daily. He told me to put my hand down and ask my father later, even though he’d invited anyone to ask a question.

I learned that day that my voice didn’t count in that church, and it taught me to question the teachings I’d been learning about my place as a woman in society and my place on this planet if I didn’t believe what someone told me to believe.

You’ve used your platform to promote stories of women achievers and girl power through online posts and in your writing. What truth or feeling would you love young women to get from Gravemaidens?

I wanted to show that a woman can be powerful enough to go after whatever she wants, even if that means bucking the traditions of her society to do that. Traditions are often created and perpetuated by people without a stake in the consequences, and if those consequences are something that a girl finds she can’t bear to live with, then by all means, she should go after those she can. 

Kammani is a healer. Would you consider yourself calm in situations calling for medical attention or are you squeamish? (possible follow-up - What’s the worst injury you’ve had to treat or endure?)

I’m a mom to three sons, so if I were squeamish, I don’t think I could perform this role very well. Haha! I’ve done everything from catch vomit in my shirt so it didn’t get on the carpet to rock feverish babies to sleep while suffering from a fever of my own. The worst injury was when my son was four. He fell against a metal staircase at a playground and broke his nose, blacked both of his eyes, and got a concussion. He screamed in pain and I had to stay calm, assess his injuries, and after a long visit in the ER, stay up with him all night to make sure he didn’t vomit in his sleep and choke to death. I think being a mom helps me put compassion into Kammani’s heart, because I’ve literally been there, staring at someone who is ill, trying to come up with a good way to treat them even though I’m exhausted.

Gravemaidens centers on sacrifice and what we do to protect the ones we love. Kammani fears losing her sister and letting down her family. Do you have any fears? I know you’re brave enough to live next to a body of water with alligators in it (shudder)!

Haha! Yes. The reptiles in Florida are a constant source of fear for me, although to be fair, the gators really are terrified of people and tend to stay away. We just don’t go out near the lake around dawn and dusk, which is when they tend to be slightly more active. I did once have a snake crawl up my drain and over my foot when I was in the shower (Florida is an absolute trip), and I basically teleported into my bedroom in terror, conditioner dripping into my eyes while my husband got it out of there. SO snakes, sinkholes, and hurricanes tend to freak me out. (YAY, Florida).

From working together, I know you’re a Type A personality who outlines your stories and is super organized! I’m betting your workspace is always tidy, am I right? Is there one unexpected or necessary thing you like to have in your space as you work? What do you do when you want to take a ten-minute break?

VERY common misconception! I’m absolutely organized with my work, but my desk is a nightmare. My husband shudders when he walks by my office and closes the door. I’m a tornado with physical things, kinda like a nutty professor. My work will be organized to the last line, but I scratch out ideas on slips of paper and napkins, and cannot organize my workspace to save my life. Once in a while, I get a cleaning bug and will organize everything on my desk, but within a couple weeks, it’s back to its natural disastrous state.

Oooh! And I always take about a twenty-thirty minute lunch (Woooooo, indulgent, I know). But I like to read a book while I’m eating and get lost in another world while my brain resets before I have to go back to work. 

For fun, where in the world would you like to travel? If you could visit inside one book apart from your own, which would it be?

I’d love to visit Croatia and Scotland, places I know that I have some familial history. My great-grandmother Theresa Kovacevic was born in Croatia and my great-grandfather Duncan Caslmon was born in Scotland, and I’d love to see where they both grew up.
As far as books go, I’d love to dive into Wakanda to see what I could learn, Middle Earth to learn how to use a bow, and would have to show up to Hogwart’s and get myself officially sorted. I’m sure I’m a Ravenclaw, but there’s enough Gryffindor in me that makes me wonder where I’d end up. =)

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kelly and Kari. You can find them at:

Links for Kelly:

Links for Kari:
Twitter: @KariSutherland
Bradford Literary Agency site: http://bradfordlit.com/
Query me here: https://querymanager.com/query/Kari_Sutherland_Query_Form

Kelly generously is offering a signed hardback of GRAVEMAIDENS and Kari 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 December 21st.  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 and query critique giveaways are International.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 8th I'll be back with an interview with debut author Isabel Ibañez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy WOVEN IN MIDNIGHT and my IWSG post

Monday, January 13th I have an interview with debut author Janae Marks and a giveaway of her MG contemporary FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON

Tuesday, January 14th I'm participating in the Best of 2019 Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday! If I don't see you until January, have a Happy Holiday!

61 comments:

  1. Good luck with your writing plans for next year. Cutting down on the day job and increasing your writing time sounds like an excellent idea – probably far more sensible than suddenly switching to being a full time writer.

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  2. This is the second post I've read today about people finding how much grief steals the desire to write. I'm glad that you, too, are starting to find that joy again. *hugs*

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  3. Time. Time. Time. Never enough! Happy to read you'll be finding that cherished time in the coming year to pursue your writing.
    Merry Christmas!

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  4. My sister just started getting her widow's benefits and she's trying to imagine her future. We're blessed as writers to know what we want to do. It may be frustrating, but I'd rather be yearning to do somehitng than feeling a bit lost looking at the future.
    I can't wait until you have a book to share. So many of us owe you for all the help you've given us with our own book launches.

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  5. That's great you will have two extra days next year!

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  6. Yay for more time! :) And congrats to Kelly. I love the sound of the story and such a beautiful cover.

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  7. Hi Natalie, glad that you are enjoying your writing after so long. And yay for more writing time. Wishing you lots of luck for your current project.

    Wishing you Merry Christmas in advance.

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  8. So happy that you are finding joy in your writing again. And getting the extra time to devote yourself to it is a sweet deal.

    Gravemaidens sounds fascinating!

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  9. So pleased to hear you are enjoying your writing time. I'm sure having more time to write next year will mean you finish your story. Best wishes.

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  10. I've been thinking of some changes in my life. Simple things though. Small but important to me. If I screw up, I'm going to push the reset button and try again at the beginning of each month until I succeed.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  11. Seizing every opportunity is exactly what I practice too. It's good to hear you're already experiencing a less hectic routine. It will just get better - and easier from here on out!

    Exceptional interviews with Kari and Kelly! Gravemaidens sounds captivating ;-)

    Happy Writing!

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  12. Hi, Natalie! Happy Holidays. I'm glad you'll be getting more weekdays to write soon. Sounds like you have been through a lot in your family.

    Great interview, and I love the cover of Gravemaidens.

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  13. Such a fun interview.I'm adding Gravemaidens to my TBR. I'm looking forward to some well-deserved writing time this holiday break.

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  14. Both sound like great giveaways. The query critique--I would have danced on the head of pin for this one a few years ago!

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  15. Fun interview - I love that dynamic between author and agent. Very insightful.

    I'm so happy to hear you're enjoying writing again and that you're able to make it a priority.

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  16. Great that you'll get more time to write.

    Knowing when a character is acting out of character is a good skill too.

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  17. There's never enough time! Great interview!

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  18. It sounds like you're moving in the right direction and I bet it feels good too.

    What a great interview! Thank you :)

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  19. That is a gorgeous cover for GraveMaidens!!

    Natalie - I'm glad you're getting to enjoy that writing time again - good for you!!

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  20. Her son's injury made me squeamish!

    I hope your boss works with you, Natalie.

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  21. GRAVEMAIDENS sounds awesome! And I love that cover!

    That's great to hear you'll have more time for writing, Natalie.

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  22. Good for you, Natalie. More time is always great.
    Gravemaidens reminds me of the Egyptian rulers who had slaves buried with them. How terrible that the sister thinks it's an honor.

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  23. Congrats on claiming more time for your writing! I hope it serves you well! @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

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  24. I love the title of Gravemaidens. That is quite enticing. So much so, I've added the book to my TBR. Thanks, Natalie. You always keep me supplied with excellent books to read.

    I'm so so glad you're staking out some time for YOU and your WRITING. That is wonderful.

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  25. Natalie, yay for more writing time!

    Kelly and Kari: best of luck on your new release! The book sounds wonderful!

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  26. Great interview!

    You can exclude me from the query giveaway. And I'm following you on twitter @kappa_books!

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  27. Natalie, I'm so glad you're beginning to enjoy your writing again after losing Rudy. Good that you're carving more time for yourself next year. That's a blessing.
    Thanks for you informative post as always.

    Happy Christmas and New Year!

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  28. Wahoo on the writing plans. I hope it all works out to make your dream come true.

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  29. Thanks for this wonderful interview! I'll be picking this one up to read.

    I do follow you on Twitter, Natalie.

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  30. A great post thank you.

    subscriber

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  31. It warmed my hear to hear you are enjoying your writing again. Thank you for all you share with us.

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  32. Two whole weekdays free??? I'm so jealous. Good to hear such great news for you!

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  33. Good luck with all of your upcoming plans! You sound excited for them. :)

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  34. Gravemaidens sounds fascinating! I can't wait to read it. I loved the interview with Kari as well. With her psychology background, she would bring amazing insight into a query critique. Please enter me for both. azylstra.StayBack@gmail.com

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  35. I'm grateful your life writing continues to unfold and you are creating a new life with Rudy in your heart. Peace.

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  36. I'm glad that you're heading in the direction you want and that there's that spark of writing excitement once again.

    Nice guest post. I like the way they interviewed each other. And I totally related to the messy desk but organized work.

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  37. I'm so happy for you, Natalie! I need to get myself back into writing and have struggled this year. I am super excited to read Gravemaidens, so thanks for the chance to win a copy. I wish not to be included in the query critique. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/189498500232/kari-sutherland-and-kelly-coon-guest-post-with

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  38. Natalie - Yay on the extra writing days! I can't wait until your first book appears.
    And I love the cover on Gravemaidens. So pretty!

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  39. This is my favorite interview you've done, Natalie. Both the agent and the author seem so great. Can't wait to read this book!

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  40. Kari and Kelly,
    Great interviews. Book sounds great and Kari, you seem like a terrific agent!

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  41. So excited that you'll be having more time for your writing, Natalie. Good deal. And the interview is fantastic. Interesting to talk to the author and agent together. Best wishes to both. Happy Holidays, all.

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  42. It sounds like some great changes coming up! You do so much for other writers, you deserve a chance to do your own writing! (Lordy, typos--that came out as "do your own writhing!")

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  43. Natalie, I'm so glad you're enjoying writing again. After a devastating loss, it's hard to keep going. Your work schedule sounds great with 2 days to devote to writing. I've found the more time I have the more I waste. :( I'm sure you'll do fine.

    Kari & Kelly, interesting story. Great getting to learn about you.

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  44. I'm not a big YA fantasy reader. I gravitate towards everything in the Contemporary YA arena. But after reading about Gravemaidens and the impressive author/agent relationship here, I plan to make it my next fantasy read. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  45. Ooh lucky you to have some extra time to look forward to Natalie, and congrats to Kelly on Gravemaidens! What a gorgeous cover!!!

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  46. I'm happy that you've had time to write. My life has been super hectic since February, including a major move. I haven't been able to keep up with must-do real-life things, much less write. I am hopeful January will bring calm that results in getting back to my WIP. Merry Christmas!

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  47. Natalie, Sounds like things are coming together for you! Yay! If I could change two things (I know you said 1), I would have more consistent time chunks to write and a space dedicated to writing. It's hard to keep at it when the RV dining room table is also my office! LOL.

    And Gravemaidens! I feel anxious already knowing the stakes! Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the interview from both sides. Congratulations!

    I'll share this on Twitter.

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  48. This is one of my top to-reads this year! Thank you for the giveaway.

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  49. Bravo to you, Natalie, for already working on your dream goal. It is definitely difficult for writers to accomplish all they wish with work schedules--both outside and in the home--getting in the way.

    I loved the interviews, Kelly and Kari. I always enjoy learning the career paths of writers, agents, and editors. Enjoy your holidays, Everyone!

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  50. I agree that it's difficult to write full time. I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying the writing process and that you're working to get more time in for writing!

    This guest post was a lot of fun to read! I enjoyed Kelly and Kari's questions for each other and the responses. I need to read Gravemaidens!

    I follow you on Twitter @ crystalmusing

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  51. Glad to read you'll have a chance to dedicate more time to your writing, Natalie.

    And thank you for the wonderful interview. Lots of great information to unpack and use. :-)

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  52. Kelly seems like such a lovely lady- I adored this post! And I'd love to enter to win a copy of Gravemaidens>
    GFC: Megan S.
    Tweet: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1203741313943908352
    Email: megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com

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  53. What a brilliant interview - excited to read Gravemaidens - as a past life regression therapist I've helped many clients clear lives where they were buried alive with a dead King or Emperor. Also love the Attolia series - must re-read.
    Thanks would love enter the giveaways :-)

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  54. What an amazingly rich interview! So much to digest. Thanks for that. I will pass on the giveaway. Too many books, not enough time.

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  55. Two days a week to focus on your writing sounds wonderful. I'm glad to hear you're starting to enjoy writing again.

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  56. I enjoyed reading this post and thank you for offering giveaways :)

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  57. Very excited to read this! It sounds so cool!

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    1. and my email is danielle.scott03@gmail.com for the giveaway :-)

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  58. Congratulations, Kelly! The books sounds wonderful. Great interview Kari and Kelly. I'm happy you're enjoying writing again, Natalie. Thanks for all the support you provide for authors!

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  59. Great interview!
    I would love to be entered to win the book.
    Thank you!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

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  60. The book sounds like such a great read and I thank you for the chance to win a copy. I do not want to be included in the critique giveaway. The interview was interesting, and yes, boys harden you a bit to the gore and the gross! I have tweeted about this giveaway-(https://twitter.com/BraniganDebra/status/1206191946965880832?s=20).
    dbranigan27 at gmail dot com.

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