CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Quintessance through August 1st

Not Another Love Story through August 8th

A Wicked Magic through August 22nd

August of Books Giveaway Hop through August 3oth

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

Veronica Roth Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/19/20

Carlisle Webber Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/7/20

Erin Casey Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/16/20

Lauren Bieker Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/28/20

Adria Goetz and G.Z. Schmidt Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/19/20

Melanie Castillo Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/21/20

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/3/20

Agent Spotlight Updates

All agent spotlights and interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated again in 2023.

ERIN BOWNMAN INTERVIEW AND THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST


Happy Monday, Everyone! I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. Today I’m thrilled to have Erin Bowman back on the blog to share about her new MG fantasy THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN. I interviewed Erin in 2013 when her debut book TAKEN was released. I loved that series. Her new book is also a fast-paced story that immediately hooked me because of how Erin started her story. I also loved that there is a mystery that  Piper and her friends have to solve, the unique magical abilities of the characters, and the hard, personal issues that Piper has to confront.

I also want to shout out about Erin’s monthly newsletter. At WriteOnCon last year, two authors recommended signing up for it, and I’m so glad I did. She shares so much helpful information in these newsletters, including about the practical and financial aspects of being an author.


Before I get to Erin's interview, I have my IWSG post.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

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

The co-hosts this month are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!

I'm going to skip the optional question. My only update is that I'm getting back to updating the agent spotlights. I've done a few on and off over the years and then did some about a year ago and then stopped. I just started last week and have 24 revised. Some are so old that the agent has started a new agency or moved to another one so it's been time consuming. I have been emailing agents to review their spotlights and I'm grateful that quite a few have done that for me and made corrections. I'm hoping to chip away at  some every week. I have well over 100 to update, but if I do a few every week, they will get done. And I know they help a lot of writers, so this is something good I can do while we need to mostly stay at home.

Also, I want to shout out about the new IWSG anthology. I can't wait to read it!

Voyagers: The Third Ghost
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology


Journey into the past…Will the third ghost be found before fires take more lives? Can everyone be warned before Pompeii is

buried again? What happens if a blizzard traps a family in East Germany? Will the Firebird help Soviet sisters outwit evil during WWII? And sneaking off to see the first aeroplane – what could go wrong?
Ten authors explore the past, sending their young protagonists on harrowing adventures. Featuring the talents of 
Yvonne Ventresca, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Sherry Ellis, Rebecca M. Douglass, Bish Denham, Charles Kowalski, Louise MacBeath Barbour, Beth Anderson Schuck, and L.T. Ward.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales 
will take readers on a voyage of wonder into history. Get ready for an exciting ride!
Release date – May 5, 2020
$13.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 168 pages
Print ISBN 9781939844729 / EBook ISBN 9781939844736
Juvenile fiction – historical/action & adventure/fantasy & magic
Links:Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/193984472X/
Barnes & Noble - 
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voyagers-yvonne-ventresca/1135912991?ean=2940163430857
ITunes - 
https://books.apple.com/ca/book/voyagers-the-third-ghost/id1493413956
Kobo - 
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/voyagers-the-third-ghost
Goodreads - 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50364415-voyagers

Interview With Erin Bowman

Here’s a blurb of THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN from Goodreads

credit: Carey Hough
Mallory Estate is the last place twelve-year-old Piper Peavey wants to spend her summer vacation. The grounds are always cold, the garden out back is dead, a mysterious group of children call the property home, and there’s a rumor that Melena M. Mallory—the owner of the estate and Piper’s wealthy grandmother—is a witch.

But when Piper’s father falls ill, Mallory Estate is exactly where she finds herself.

The grand house and its garden hold many secrets—some of which may even save her father—and Piper will need to believe in herself, her new friends, and magic if she wants to unlock them before it’s too late.

 Hi Erin! Thanks so much for joining us!

1. Share a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.

Thanks for having me! I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil, but I didn’t start writing with the goal of publication until my mid-twenties. I’d just been laid off a job (during the height of the Great Recession), and as I searched for a new one, I started writing a novel and promised myself I would finish it. (Up until that point, I’d always written a few chapters and quit.) Well, I finished that first novel (which sits in a drawer and will likely never see the light of day), and it was life-changing. I now knew I could do it. I kept writing, and I eventually had a draft of Taken, which ended up getting me my agent and my first book deal. 

2. Where did you get the idea for THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN?

The very first teeny, tiny kernel of this story idea came to me as a teen. My family was on vacation in South Carolina, where we toured a beautiful garden and wildlife preserve called Brookgreen Gardens. The grounds were full of fountains and sculptures and gorgeous flower beds, and the paths twisted in such a way that if a bird were to fly overhead and look down, the walkways created a butterfly image.

The place was magical and it triggered what I like to call a “muse explosion.” Even as a teen, I knew there was a story lurking here. I wrote a few chapters about a wizard opening a portal to a parallel universe via a magical garden, then abandoned the project. I didn’t know what came next or what the story was actually about. Years later (almost twenty, to be honest), it all clicked. This wasn’t a story about wizards and parallel universes. It was a story about a lonely girl and her ailing father and an elixir, hidden within a magical garden, that just might be the key to saving him.

3. So cool how a family experience triggered an idea you had as a teen but in a different way.  I love the magical system you created for your story, which is more complicated because it involves more than one magical ability. How did you come up with the idea for the magic you use in your story?

Thank you! I’ve always liked the idea of drawing magic or power from everyday objects. I have a necklace I wear every time I’m away from my kids. It has a charm shaped like a bear that has the word “mama” etched into it. Mama Bear. It helps me feel near them even if we’re miles apart. That is a type of magic.

When developing the magic system in TGATWG, I kept this in mind. My characters have amplifiers that help them control and channel their powers. This amplifier can be an everyday object like a necklace or jacket or watch, because it’s less about the object being magical and more that they, the person, are. The person is the source of magic and the amplifier is simply the thing that reminds them of this; the thing that helps them pull that magic into the real world.

I had a lot of fun developing Piper’s and her friends’ abilities and deciding what amplifier they would each use to control their individual powers.
  
4. Piper is a really sympathetic character who is going through a lot of emotions due to her dad’s illness and many of the issues middle grade kids go through, like trying to fit in with a new group of friends. What was your process of developing her as a character and what tips on character development do you have for the rest of us?

My biggest piece of advice for character development is to make sure your character is wrong about
something at the start of the novel. Most satisfying character arcs begin with a hero who believes a lie, is then forced to question that lie over the course of the novel (via plot obstacles), and eventually rejects that lie during the climax.

Piper has a lot of baggage with her mother (who she’s sent to live with for the summer). She wants nothing more than for her father to get well. And she’s recently lost her best friend due to shifting dynamics at school. In many ways, Piper wants to disappear and not have to face her problems, and she’s of the mindset that it’s easier to not talk about emotions than risk opening up to someone. When she arrives at Mallory Estate, she’s confronted by situations that force her to reevaluate all of these mindsets.
  
5. Love that piece of advice! Your other books are YA and include a dystopian, western, and science fiction series. What were some of the challenges of switching to writing a middle grade novel?

For me, the biggest challenge is always executing a satisfying and well-paced character arc—and this is true regardless of what audience I’m writing for. I had to revise many times to get Piper’s arc to a place where I was proud of it.

It also took me a bit to figure out the voice. I’d been writing YA for so long that it was almost engrained in me. I had a lot of false starts with Piper’s story. But once the voice clicked, things moved along nicely.


6. How have you been able to successfully cross over into writing in different genres and age groups? What made you decide to do that?

I’m not sure it was ever a conscious decision. I write the way I read—widely and across many genres. I also get bored with what I’m writing very easily. When I was finishing up by debut (futuristic dystopia), I was so sick of that world that I wanted to write something based in history and fact. That brought me to my westerns. And after one book fact-checking and researching, I screamed, “Let me make up the world for myself.” Enter sci-fi/horror.

I like to move around and I’ve been fortunate that readers have been willing to follow me. I think there are staples to my work though, elements that readers can find in every book regardless of genre (such as Setting as a Character, or morally gray heroes). Perhaps that has helped me build a readership even though I keep jumping genres.
  
7. I mostly interview debut authors, and it would be interesting for my followers and me to learn more about what it’s like to continue on as an author over the years like you’ve done. Can you share a bit about how your career as an author has progressed?

Each book I’ve put into the world has helped me gain more perspective. A career as a writer is hard. It’s a long game, and much of staying in the game comes down to refusing to quit. Perhaps the hardest lesson I’ve learned is that I have very little control over my actual career. I can’t control how many copies I sell or how my story is received. I can’t control awards or tours or movie deals or best-seller lists or if I’ll sell again and for how much.

The only thing I can control is the words. Truly. That’s it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t fret about these things or get dragged into comparison games from time-to-time, but I’ve gotten better at focusing on making the book the best I can, and then moving on to a new story. Each book I publish builds my backlist. And that’s my main goal: an incredible backlist in which every story shines, so that no matter when a reader first discovers my work, they have tons of fantastic Erin Bowman books to turn to next.

(For more on my perspective as an author now vs debut, check out this recent interview.)
  
8. That's a great interview. One of the least favorite duties of authors is marketing their books. How do you market your books and what types of marketing have you learned isn’t worth your time?

Anything you hate doing isn’t worth your time. There are so many social media platforms, so many different ways to market your book… Do what you love, or you’ll be miserable.

I used to swear by preorder campaigns, but I actually don’t think they’re worth it anymore. They cost the author a ton of money (not to mention their own time!), and I’m not sure they move the dial enough to justify all that effort.

I really like instagram, so I focus most of my energy there. I share news about my book, post teaser quotes, host ARC giveaways, etc, but I also make sure to talk about writing and publishing generally, too. I give craft advice. I share behind-the-scenes info. If you’re marketing only your book 24/7, people will start to tune you out.
  
9. What is your marketing plan for this book? Is it different than your YA books?

My plans are different in part because what I used to do I can’t justify anymore. (Preorder campaigns, for instance. I just don’t have the budget this year.) But I’m also going to focus my energy on reaching teachers, librarians, and parents this time around. These adults are the middle grade gate-keepers, the people actually buying the book. They are the “customers” I have to reach. I also hope to do more school visits for this title.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m playing around with a YA standalone—a ghost story set at a summer camp in the Adirondacks. I’d also love to write another middle grade novel, but I haven’t found the right story idea yet.
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Erin. You can find Erin at:

Website: embowman.com
Twitter: @erin_bowman
Instagram: @heyerin

Erin has generously offered a pre-order of THE GIRL AND THE WITCH'S GARDEN for a giveaway. FYI the release date has been moved to 6/23/20. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower  of my blog and leave a comment by May 23rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (Wednesday for me this month) is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 18th Monday, May 18th I have an interview with Swati Teerdhala and a giveaway of THE ARCHER AT DAWN 

Wednesday, May 20th I have an agent spot light interview with Erin Clyburn and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, June 3rd I have a guest post by debut author Chelsea Ichaso and her agent Kristy Hunter and a giveaway of Chelsea's YA psychological thriller LITTLE CREEPY THINGS and a query critique by Kristy

Hope to see you on Monday May 18th!



59 comments:

  1. Happy IWSG Day Natalie! Excellent interview with Erin! I'll have to check the book out for my kiddos :)

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  2. Great interview! The book sounds amazing. I'll have to check it out for my library.

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  3. Hi Natalie, how have you been? The Girl and the Witch's Garden sounds wonderful. Will add it to my TBR list!

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  4. Hi,
    I too am looking forward to reading the stories in the IWSG Anthology and thank you for letting us know you're updating your agent spots. That is good for me to know.
    All the best.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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  5. Congrats to Erin on the release. I absolutely love that cover!

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  6. Love the cover and the premise sounds great!!!

    Natalie - updating those profiles is a ton of work!!! Good for you :)

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  7. Sounds like you've been busy! Happy IWSG Day! :)

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  8. You convinced me about Erin, so I signed up for her newsletter. Housekeeping and cleaning up old links and addresses can be very time consuming. Drink plenty of coffee while you're doing it. :)

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  9. Thanks for your efforts on updating agents and supporting other authors.
    Mary at Play off the Page

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  10. I love the story behind Erin's story. And the idea of a magical garden sounds lovely. Please put my name in the hat for a copy!

    Thanks for mentioning the anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost. I'm thrilled to be a part and to finally get to read all the other stories.

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  11. Thanks for putting together so much needed info and inspiration, Natalie!!

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  12. I'm thrilled you're bringing your agent spotlights back. I contacted one from an interview last year. She still has my manuscript. My fingers are crossed.

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  13. Natalie, you are a beacon of inspiration for MG writers and readers. I'm always impressed by all you do!

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  14. I can't believe how busy you are! I have resources on my teacher blog I try to update yearly. They're links and as we-all know, links die. It is really time-consuming--this is my way of saying I know exactly what you mean!

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  15. I'm so glad you're putting all that effort into updating your agent interviews. I always enjoy your interviews--agent or author--and I appreciate them.

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  16. Natalie, you do such a great job interviewing agents and authors. That's awesome you're catching up on the agent inteviews. Congratulations to Erin! I have also felt inspired by my visits to South Carolina. I hope to move there someday.

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  17. Good luck with all that editing! lol

    Love the cover of The Girl and the Witch's garden. Fun interview!

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  18. Sounds like it was a very inspiring garden.
    Thanks for the shout out about the anthology.
    Just keep chipping away at those agent listings.

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  19. Congrats to Erin, sounds like a great book! Love the cover. I love coming to your blog to learn about agents and authors! Thank you.

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  20. Hi Natalie!

    Your interviews are always enjoyable ;-) I'm intrigued with Erin's new book, and look forward to June when the author (Chelsea Ichaso) presents her guest post on Little Creepy Things.
    I do hope you know how encouraging it is to read your thoughtful author/agent affirmations.
    Have a wonderful May!

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  21. Makes me think a little bit of The Secret Garden :) Congrats to Erin!

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  22. Sounds like you've had a busy month. Keep it up. ;-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  23. I feel your pain with updating all of those agent listings. I had to go through that in March with Publisher Rocket and updating all of our books' keywords.

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  24. Sounds like the agent updates will take you a while but it's a great resource to provide for writers. Hope you are staying well.

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  25. Great interview, Erin. And the cover is marvelous. It radiates magic.

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  26. As always, Natalie, I thoroughly enjoy your interviews! Erin, I really liked hearing about your journey as a writer. This book sounds like a winner, and I love the cover. Good luck!

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  27. Fascinating journey from YA to MG for Erin. The book sounds like one I would enjoy.
    Also a big thanks to Natalie for taking the time to update the agent information.

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  28. This sounds like such a fun book. I may get it for myself :)
    Hi Natalie. Hope all is well.

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  29. That is a lot to update. Wow.

    Always interesting to find what inspires a story.

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  30. Sounds like a fun book! I'll check it out. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

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  31. I hope the schools open so Erin can do school visits. Our local library does author visits for children's authors. It so much fun to take my granddaughter. Best wishes, Erin.

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  32. You've done so much great work with the agent spotlights on this site.

    THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN sounds wonderful.

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  33. I love the advice about finding something the MC is wrong about. What a succinct way to think about character arc!
    And, Natalie, thanks for all your hard work to update the agent spotlights. I know they've been very helpful to me when I've been doing agent research!

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  34. Love Erin's cover, and the advice about the character having to change her mind about something.

    Thanks for putting that work into the agent list--sounds like a huge task!

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  35. The Girl and the Witch's Garden sounds great!

    And thank you for keeping up that agent list - what a great resource!

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  36. Great post Natalie and wonderful interview. Sorry for the lateness..... was not well.

    Yvonne.

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  37. Congrats Erin; sounds awesome.

    Great that you are getting into a former routine Natalie. Its an awesome resource for all us authors. Thanks.

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  38. Wow the cover of The Girl and the Witch's Garden is gorgeous.
    I followed you on Twitter as well. :D

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  39. Cool to see you're keeping things going, Natalie. And congrats to Erin's book! Loved how you got the idea for it. :)

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  40. Great interview! Vengeance Road was the first book I read of Erin’s, and I loved it!! I love how everyone of her books are so different and surprising. Looking forward to this new MG! Congrats!

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  41. Both the 'Voyager: The Third Ghost' and 'The Girl and the Witch's Garden' sound like something I would definitely read. But I also love the author's idea for one of her upcoming books about a ghost story set at a summer camp in the Adirondacks. That area in the U.S. seems perfect for that kind of story.

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  42. Enjoyed the interview today. This would be a new author for me, sounds like a good one!

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  43. Thank you for the interview today. I found the author's outlook on publishing very refreshing. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/617479369248620544/erin-bownman-interview-and-the-girl-and-the

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  44. Erin's book cover is SO enchanting.

    Good luck with your agent interview project! I look forward to reading the updates.

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  45. This sounds like a wonderful new book, I'd love to have a copy. Thanks for the chance to win one.
    I've tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1258488824390234112, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/336573772155007125/.
    I also follow your blog on Twitter: @carlrscott.
    Thanks again, have a safe and happy day everyone!

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  46. What a great interview, Natalie. And what a great premise and strong character for your novel, Erin. All the luck with this new release. The cover is intriguing.

    Wow, Natalie, you have your work cut out for you with the agent updating. Good luck my dear! Be well!

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  47. Great work, Natalie. That's quite a project. I know you can finish it. Good interview. I enjoyed reading about Erin's work.

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  48. I'm impressed that you're updating your agent spotlights. I know you'll be up to the challenge! It's great how Erin is versatile enough to work with different genres. Have a very happy Mother's Day, Natalie!

    Julie

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  49. You provide such a great service Natalie. I like the idea of starting up your agent spotlights again. Lovely interview with Erin.

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  50. Erin's books sounds like something I would love! Thanks for the chance to win a copy. I thought it was great learning about where the first spark for the story came from. You never know where or when an idea will catch hold. It was fun to learn about someone who has been writing and publishing for years now and their thoughts. Wishing Erin all the best!
    ~Jess

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  51. HI Natalie,

    Thanks so much for updating your agent spotlights. I really enjoy them. I have queried several of the ones you have featured in the past.

    Congrats Erin. I like your marketing ideas! All the best with you newest book. It has so much for middle graders to sink their teeth into.

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  52. Looking forward to Erin's book lots!

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  53. Following your blog and on twitter! Sounds like a great book, thanks for the chance!
    melanie_brac (at) yahoo (dot) com
    https://twitter.com/craftychicky58/status/1259558026161381383

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  54. Love the idea of a magical garden! Glad your agent spotlights are back up and running. :)

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  55. An interesting interview, ladies. And the book cover is adorable. I must put the book on my To Read list. Have a good week.

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  56. This sounds like a great book from Erin. I like the idea of magical amplifiers.

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  57. The cover is attractive and the premise of the novel sounds like a perfect MG read. Thank you for sharing the interview. Best wishes to the author on this latest release.

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  58. For Angie Quantrell: This sounds like a fun book! I shared the post on Twitter. angelecolline@yahoo.com

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  59. The book sounds awesome! I've added it to my TBR :-)

    Ronel visiting for IWSG day Notes on the Women in Publishing Summit 2020

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