Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent Chole Seager/Author Brianna Bourne Guest Post + Query Critique & Book Giveaway on 9/20/21
  • Crystal Orazu Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 9/22/21
  • Kristin Ostby Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/11/21
  • Agent Melissa Nasson/Author Alex Perry Guest Post + Query Critique & Book Giveaway on 10/18/21
  • Ginger Clark Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/25/21
  • Danielle Chiotti Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/15/21

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

Debut Author Interview: Daniel Aleman and Indivisible and Peter Knapp Query Critique Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Daniel Aleman here to share about his YA contemporary Indivisible. I’m super excited to read it because it deals with immigration, deportation, and how a teen Mexican-American boy must deal with it. Being part of a Mexican-American family, it’s great to finally have this book and others that feature Hispanic characters and issues to read.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A timely, moving debut novel about a teen's efforts to keep his family together as his parents face deportation.

Mateo Garcia and his younger sister, Sophie, have been taught to fear one word for as long as they can remember: deportation. Over the past few years, however, the fear that their undocumented immigrant parents could be sent back to Mexico has started to fade. Ma and Pa have been in the United States for so long, they have American-born children, and they're hard workers and good neighbors. When Mateo returns from school one day to find that his parents have been taken by ICE, he realizes that his family's worst nightmare has become a reality. With his parents' fate and his own future hanging in the balance, Mateo must figure out who he is and what he is capable of, even as he's forced to question what it means to be an American.

Daniel Aleman's Indivisible is a remarkable story -- both powerful in its explorations of immigration in America and deeply intimate in its portrait of a teen boy driven by his fierce, protective love for his parents and his sister. 


Before I get to my interview with Jennifer, I have my IWSG post.

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

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!

The awesome co-hosts for the March 3rd posting of the IWSG are  Erika Beebe, Pat Garcia, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Optional Question: Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

My only readers are my critique partners and a few people who are reading chapters as I write them. Yes, my critique partners always make comments and suggestions for questions that I need to answer that I didn’t expect. I find that my writing gets stronger and my plot deeper when I listen to them. It’s been a great learning experience for me.

What about you? Are you surprised by your readers’ responses to your writing?

Interview With Daniel Aleman

Hi Daniel! Thanks so much for joining us!

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

Thank you so much for having me! I have always loved telling stories. From a very young age, I would make drawings on a piece of paper and then tell my mom the story behind them. I moved on to writing short stories at age seven or eight, and full-length novels by the time I was a teenager. For a very long time, this was something I did out of pure passion. When I’m writing, I always feel like I’m home, so at first did it only for myself. Several years ago, I started pursuing traditional publishing, and so I started querying literary agents. After many rejections and several shelved manuscripts, Indivisible was the book that helped me connect with my agent!

It has been a long and difficult process, but I have learned many lessons along the way. One of the most important ones is to always persevere. No matter how many rejections you receive, as long as you keep writing and keep improving your craft, you will get to where you want to be!

2. That’s great that you’ve been writing since you were a kid. Where did you get the idea for Indivisible?

At the start of the last presidential term, I started to feel a strong urge to write a story about family separation. This was a time when we were hearing a lot about immigration, and the vast majority of the rhetoric was extremely hateful. I wanted to break through this conversation with a story that felt human, emotional, and sincere, and that spoke about immigration from a compassionate lens. I feel as though a lot of the time, we are used to hearing about these topics from purely legal or political standpoints, and so I wanted to write a book that challenged misconceptions and which served as a reminder that immigration is, first and foremost, a human issue.

3. You grew up in Mexico City and have lived in different cities in North America. How much did you draw on your own experiences or those of people you knew in writing your story?

This is, ultimately, a work of fiction, but there is a lot of myself and my family in this book. Mateo, the main character, is very similar to me, so many of his feelings, dreams, hopes, and struggles are a reflection of my own. I found that, the more pieces of my real life I inserted into the story, the more realistic the character felt, and this led to a cathartic journey of self-exploration through this book. There is something so unique about examining your own identity through a fictional character, and this experience taught me a lot about myself and the way I interact with the world around me.

4. That’s great that you could draw on your own experiences and learned a lot about yourself in the process. Your story sounds like a real page turner. What were some of the ways you kept the tension up so that readers want to turn the page?

I like to focus on my stories on a scene-by-scene basis. The golden rule I follow is that each and every single scene must be doing one of two things: Advancing the plot or revealing character. But, ideally, each scene should achieve both! This really helps keep readers engaged, as it makes the story feel as though it is always progressing.

5. Those are great rules to follow. What was your plotting process like? What did you learn from it and has the process changed at all for your current manuscript?

My plotting process is always quite intricate. I like coming up with pretty detailed outlines, and I love having a full image of the whole story from start to finish before I start writing. I learned an infinite amount of things from the process of writing and editing this book, particularly since this was my first time working with professional editors. I used to find big revisions a bit daunting, but this process has taught me that anything is possible—rewriting full character arcs, cutting entire plotlines, rewriting huge chunks of the book. I was reminded that I do have the power to create the story that exists in my mind, exactly as I envisioned it. It only takes hard work!

With my current manuscript, I’ve been trying to keep all these lessons in mind. Mostly, I’ve been trying to remind myself that first drafts are never perfect, and that it’s okay to just get the story down on the page and then go back to it later to revise.

6. I wish I could create detailed outlines like you. Share a bit about your main character, Mateo. Tell us three things that you really like about him.

Mateo is a Mexican-American teenager living in New York City. He is a Broadway enthusiast, and his biggest dream is to become an actor one day, but his life and his hopes for the future are interrupted when his parents are taken away by immigration authorities. My favorite things about him are his strength, his fierce devotion to his friends and family, and the way in which he is always able to persevere even when things feel hopeless.

7. Your agent is Peter Knapp. How did he become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I connected with Peter in October of 2018 through #DVpit. We did a relatively fast round of revisions together, and then we went out on submission. One thing I have learned is that it is crucial to have an agent by your side who is truly your advocate. Peter has stuck by me through all the ups and downs of publishing, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be working with someone as talented and knowledgeable as him.

My journey to publication has had many ups and downs, but ultimately, I feel extremely grateful for all the lessons learned along the way, and I feel very lucky to have collaborated with extremely talented editors on this story.

8. What is your favorite social media platform? Why?

I love Twitter because of the big writing community that exists on there. I love using this platform as a way to hear about new books coming out and receive other fun updates from authors. Instagram is my favorite platform to stay in touch with friends and family, and I have also found that there is a big book community on there, so it has allowed me to strike a nice balance between those two worlds.

9. Your book was named one of the five YA books to watch for in 2021 by Forbes magazine and one of Buzzfeed’s most anticipated YA books. How are you capitalizing this and marketing your book?

What’s exciting about these features is that they were completely unexpected. I didn’t know they were coming until they had been published! I am super grateful for all the love Indivisible has received, and ultimately, my hope is that this will help get the book into the hands of readers who need it. The greatest advantage of having publications like Buzzfeed and Forbes talk about the book is that these features have allowed me to connect with more people, and that is one of my favorite things to do. The best part of this journey by far has been forming connections with readers, librarians, booksellers, book bloggers, and fellow authors who all share my same passion for books. I feel so grateful!

10. That’s great that you are making connections. What are you working on now?

I am currently working on my second young adult novel, which is coming in 2022 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers! It is both similar and different from my debut. It is, once again, a story about immigration, family, friendship, and going after your dreams, but it deals with these themes from an entirely new angle. I can’t wait to be able to share more!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Daniel. You can find Daniel on Twitter (@Dan_Aleman), Instagram (@danaleman), or you can visit him at danielaleman.com.

Giveaway Details

Daniel has generously offered a hardback of Indivisible and his agent Peter Knapp has offered a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by May 22nd.  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 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. The giveaway is U.S. and Canada for the book giveaway and international for the query critique.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, May 10th I have a guest post by author Jessica Lawson with a giveaway of her MG fantasy How to Save a Queendom and a query critique by her agent Tina Dubois

Wednesday, May 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Joyce Sweeney and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, May 16th I’m participating in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 17th I have an interview with debut author Payal Doshi and a giveaway of her MG fantasy set in India Rea and the Blood of the Nectar

Wednesday, May 18th I have an agent spotlight interview with Michelle Hauck and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 26th I have a guest post with agent Maura Kye-Casella and debut author Sam Subity with a query critique giveaway by Maura and a giveaway of The Last Shadow Warrior, a MG fantasy by Sam

Hope to see you tomorrow!

 

73 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview with Daniel, Natalie. a most fun packed post. Have a great Wednesday.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Hi Natalie - Daniel's story is an essential one for us all - we need to know and understand how families struggle so much in situations like this. I have to be back to read properly - which I will.

    I wish him well with the book, and sincerely hope all goes well for him and his family in the future ... I do most definitely feel for all in his situation, and for all refugees fleeing from dreadful conditions.

    Thanks to you both - Hilary

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  3. Glad you have good critique partners, Natalie! And congratulations to Daniel on the book. :)

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  4. Hi,
    Critique is so important when you're writing. I have a pretty touch writing coach and I enjoy working with her.

    Nice meeting you Daniel. All the best to you.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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  5. Congratulations to Daniel! Thank you, Natalie for the interview.

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  6. My heart rate kicked up while reading Indivisible's blurb - always a good thing!
    Crit buddies are invaluable - love the insights they bring!

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  7. Keep listening to those critique partners.
    Congratulations to Daniel!

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  8. Great interview, Daniel's book sounds really interesting. Congrats!

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  9. Hi Natalie, our critique partners have such wonderful insight and feedback for our work isn't it? They do make our work stronger.
    Congratulations to Daniel!

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  10. I depend on my critters and beta readers to see what I'm blinded to and strengthen my work. I don't know where I'd be without them.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  11. That is why I require submissions to show critique partners or editors - it's the only way most mistakes by the writer will be caught.

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  12. Don't you love critique partners! They keep me on track and humble. We've been together for 20 years and the seven of us are all at different stages of our work. Finding someone you can trust to be honest and kind is a true blessing in our business. Glad you've found your writing posse.

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  13. Sometimes my readers latch on to a side character that I didn't even think was interesting or important -- but they want to know more about them!

    Ronel visiting for IWSG day Whirlwind Publishing

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  14. Congratulations to Daniel on this timely story. We need to understand the situation he and his parents were in and make immigration personal, not a bunch of numbers and statistics. Thank you for sharing his book and interesting interview.
    JQ Rose

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  15. Crit groups are amazing, aren't they. I'm always surprised by what they bring up and how that opens more possibilities for me in my stories.

    Congratulations to Daniel on his book. I wish him well.

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  16. My critique partners and group are invaluable. I'd definitely be a much crappier writer without them. :)

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  17. I'm so thankful for my critique partners too. They always surprise me with their critiques.
    I like what Daniel said about basing his character on himself and how that can be cathartic.

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  18. Timely topic. Best of luck, Daniel!

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  19. What an excellent story and book cover. So timely. More power to you, Daniel. All the luck with this new release.

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  20. Daniel's novel sounds interesting. Good critique partners are invaluable. Cherish them!

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  21. Daniel's story sounds so powerful, but it is a hard topic for YA. For anyone, actually.

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  22. Daniel, your books sounds interesting and timely! I’d love to get a copy. Congratulations on your book publication. I wish you much success.
    Maalgaard4 at gmail com

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  23. Critique partners do offer the best kind of surprise, one I can learn from and use to get better. Thanks for the reminder. And happy IWSG day!

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  24. What a timely topic. Wishing you much success.

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  25. Such a timely story. Congratulations, Daniel. Thanks, Natalie, as always, for the great interview.

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  26. Thank you, Natalie, visiting my blog AND for another amazing blog post, interview, and list of upcoming events! My critique partners keep me focused as well. I loved Daniel Aleman's advice here to make sure each scene advances the plot and/or deepens our understanding of character. And his book looks intriguing. Looking forward to reading it. May this month be a good one for us all!

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  27. Thanks for popping by my blog today. I didn't answer the IWSG question on my post today, since I had other things on my mind, but I have had readers ask some surprising questions about my books. Sometimes those questions spark new ideas, so I'm all for it!

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  28. Indivisible sounds great!!

    And isn't it great when readers (even critique partners) get different things from your stories?

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  29. Wonderful interview with Daniel! I always appreciate it when an author touches on how life experience influences his/her writing process. I find it adds a bit of richness going in with a new (to me) author.

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  30. Great interview. Book sounds awesome. Thanks for visiting my website.

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  31. That sounds like a really great book. I support the #KeepFamiliesTogether movement. My spouse has some, unfortunate, direct experience with the absurdity that is ICE. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜• Hopefully that agency gets adjusted or disbanded, because what they've been doing the last few years is deplorable.

    Tweeted about the contest.


    J Lenni Dorner (he/him ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฝ or ๐Ÿง‘๐Ÿฝ they/them) ~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

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  32. It's those unexpected comments from critique buddies which help most, isn't it?

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  33. I've seen this one around, and it sounds amazing.

    And you have to love comments from CPs. Those do surprise sometimes..and that's a good thing, usually.

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  34. Great interview! Thanks for sharing!

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  35. Congrats on your debut, would love to get a copy!

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  36. Congratulations on your debut! This book sounds so emotional and it's been on my TBR since I first heard about it. The subject is one the world needs right now especially. Please enter me for a chance to win a copy of this book, but not the critique. I follow Natalie on Twitter.

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  38. Thank you as always! orchardka@gmail.com

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  39. Great interview, and a book that sounds really good, as well as important.

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  40. Another wonderful, informative interview, Natalie. I will pass on the giveaways. Thanks for the post.

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  41. Thank you, Natalie and Daniel, for the encouraging interview. It’s good to be reminded that many writers experience ups and downs before their debut novel. The trick is to keep working and keep hoping.

    Wishing Daniel much success with Indivisible and everything else still to come!

    Also, thank you to Peter for offering this critique opportunity. He sounds like a wonderful agent.

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  42. Definitely a timely book! Excellent interview, Natalie, and best of luck to Daniel with this book and the next!

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  43. Sounds like you have very helpful critique partners. I agree that Daniel's book is very timely, and I'm sure many young people and their parents will relate to it. Congratulations that Forbes Magazine named "Indivisible" as one of the five books for YA readers to watch for in 2021! Thanks for another insightful interview, Natalie.

    Julie

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  44. My teenage daughter helps critique my middle grade writing. She offers great constructive criticism and a contemporary perspective. Daniel's book sounds fascinating!

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  45. Fingers crossed for the Knapp critique giveaway. Donnellytim9@gmail.com

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  46. Fingers crossed for the Critique. Following on Twitter. :)

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  47. Wow. What a story. I'm looking forward to this book! Please enter me in the Knapp critique drawing. Thank you!

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  48. I showed my supposedly finished story to a beta reader who reads urban fantasy (my genre) and was shocked that she found my main character mean and unlikable. Especially since I'd gone to great lengths to make the MC very sympathetic--at least according to my critique group, so this took me by surprise. Apparently choice of words can make a big difference in a reader's perception. Struggling to fix that problem now.

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  49. Listening to constructive criticism is not easy. Learning from the critiques makes your work better.

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  50. this book sounds fantastic and I would love to be considered for the critique. I have shared on Twitter.

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  51. this sounds incredible! would love to be entered for the giveaway!

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  52. Daniel's book sounds like a must-read for the teens where I live as many will empathize with the immigration struggle. Also - I love and wholeheartedly subscribe to his golden rule! Thank you sharing this great interview.

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  53. Having represented immigrants in deportation proceedings, I've been waiting to read a book like Daniel's. Thanks for an insightful interview, too.

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  54. Critique partners can really help us with our writing. :)

    I'm interested in reading Indivisible.

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  55. "Always persevere" ... love that encouragement. Thanks for the interview and congratulations to Daniel for the praise he is receiving for Indivisible.

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  56. I loved reading that Daniel connected with Peter Knapp through DVPit and found such a supportive agent to champion his book. All the best. azylstra.StayBack@gmail.com

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  57. Thank you for sharing your journey, congrats to you!

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  58. Thanks to Natalie for another great interview. Following you on Twitter.

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    Replies
    1. If I show up as "unknown" does that mean my email address isn't registering? I'm commenting through my
      google account, so the email address should be on file, but I want to make sure for the contest. Thanks!

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    2. Your google profile isn't available, so you need to leave your email address when you comment so I can notify if you win.

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    3. Ok, trying to update the profile settings. In the meantime, scseaman3@gmail.com

      Delete
  59. Great interview! I follow you via email! I'd love to win the book, but not in need of the query critique. Thanks!

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  60. I tweeted! https://twitter.com/amweeks00/status/1392588630095503369

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  61. Thanks for this interview! This book looks wonderful!

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  62. Great opportunity to win two amazing prizes. Thank you!
    owens@wsd3.org

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  63. Hi Natalie. What an interesting interview and book you are featuring. This is a subject that many need to understand and know about. Our country is in such a state over this issue. Congrats to Daniel and his book!

    An amazing prize as well! Count me in. I am sure you have my email, but just in case, dak861@gmail.com.

    Enjoy your weekend!

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  64. So glad to see this timely and important book. As the wife of an immigrant, and someone who worked for years in NYC with families who lived nervously in the shadows, I am eager to read and share books that bring such stories to life. Thanks for sharing! - Kathi (kmhuber(at)gmail)

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  65. Wow! What an important book. I know many of my students would love to read it. Congratulations, Daniel.
    If I'm the critique winner, I can be reached at landoflibros at gmail.

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  66. I'm glad I'm not the only one that outlines extensively. Congrats! Just in case: john.zeleznik (at) gmail

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  67. What a timely story and a wonderful interview!

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