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  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

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  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Debut Author Interview: Emi Pinto and Bee Bakshi and the Gingerbread Sisters Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Emi Pinto here to share about her MG contemporary fairytale retelling Bee Bakshi and the Gingerbread Sisters. I really like that it’s set in contemporary times and is spooky. I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Inspired by Hansel and Gretel, this spooky ghost story and touching debut investigates the gingerbread houses that we trap ourselves in when we don’t learn to love ourselves as we are, perfect for fans of Ghost Squad and The Girl and the Ghost . Bee wanted to spend the summer reading Betsy Chillers books and exploring the new spooky theme park with her best friend. Instead, she’s spending the summer trapped at Storm Lake with her too loud, too thrifty, and too Indian family. Luckily, Bee finds a place to escape her embarrassment—a magical house across the lake that transforms her into the cool girl she always wanted to be. Maybe cottage life isn’t so bad after all! But strange dreams are haunting Bee, and there’s a chill in her bones she just can’t shake. Bee follows her hunch—and the scent of gingerbread—to Lucas, the dorky boy next door. He thinks there are ghosts in the forest, but new friend Alina tells her what Bee has feared all There’s a witch at Storm Lake. And she’s coming for Bee.

Follower News

Before we get to Emi’s interview, I have Follower News to share.

L. Diane Wolfe has a new release, In Darkness: The Werewolf. Here’s a blurb:
On her own in England, Vicki trains at a prestigious fencing school. Face marred by a birthmark, she’s suspicious of Nicholas’ attention. A dinner date reveals his genuine interest and they begin to connect. Nicholas is attractive and she wonders why he’s so shy and reclusive. Then one evening she happens upon him changing into a lycan. Every werewolf legend is shattered by the gentle, fearful creature before her. Vickie accepts his secret, but Nicholas knows he’s an unpredictable beast. Can they trust love enough to overcome their physical challenges? And here’s a few links: http://www.spunkonastick.net/ - Spunk On A Stick Amazon -  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BRR4VLN7/
iTunes - 
Barnes & Noble - 

Ree Augustine has a debut middle grade release, Hangabout: Far From Home. Here's blurb: Hangabout, a puppy whose body has just grown into his long teardrop ears, searches for his keeper, who, unbeknownst to Hangabout, has abandoned him. A story of homelessness, a friendship tried, and growing into oneself unfolds in this timeless journey. And here are a few links: 
ebook Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hangabout-Far-Home-Ree-Augustine-ebook/dp/B0CG7L1B35/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1693289119&sr=8-1
print Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hangabout-Far-Home-Ree-Augustine/dp/1949935566/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1693289119&sr=8-1
signed copy OBP: https://www.orangeblossombooks.com/store/p57/Hangabout%3A_Far_From_Home_%2ASigned_Copy%2A.html
Ree's website: http://www.reeaugustine.com/

Interview with Emi Pinto

Hi Emi! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’m not sure. I was that kid in school who always had a book on the top left corner of my desk, and anytime the teacher paused, I would whip it out and continue reading. Writing kind of came out of that naturally. I started writing here and there in high school, and then picked it up again in my twenties. And haven’t stopped since.

2. I always had a book with me too. Where did you get the idea for Bee Bakshi and the Gingerbread Sisters?

I was actually inspired by an actual trip to a cottage with my family – being surrounded by pine trees and watching bugs skid over the lake – it was just an inspiring place. And that’s where Bee was born. Of course, there was no witch after me or a haunted house across the lake, but I will say that some of the ghosts may have been real;)

About Your Writing Process

3. Your story is inspired by Hansel and Gretel. What are your tips on writing a story based on a fairytale but making the story unique?

I actually didn’t set out to write a fairytale retelling (as you’ll see in the next question, I don’t usually set out with a plan of any kind!). About halfway through writing the first draft of this ghost story I realized that it kind of sort of had a Hansel and Gretel vibe to it. After that I went back and added fun elements from the original fairytale (like the mention of breadcrumbs), and then in the later drafts I began to tie things together even more.

4. That’s cool that the fairytale retelling happened while you were writing and that you changed your story a bit once you realized how your story was emerging. Were you a punster, a plotter, or a combination of both when writing this manuscript? Has your plotting process changed and if so, why?

I am definitely a pantser – I did not have any outline when I started this story, just a location and a vague image of Bee and Alina. With having deadlines now, I certainly try and do some plotting in hopes of streamlining my process and saving some time, but often I just end up back into pantsing and discovery writing. Luckily it’s worked out so far.

5. Readers have said that your story is a page-turner with mysteries and spookiness that left them guessing to the end. What techniques did you use to keep the pace going and make readers want to turn the page?

This is where my incredible editor’s advice came in handy – tension always needs to be building. From the very start, I try to build in spookiness and questions. (That loon’s call sounds so eerie, jeez it gives me the creeps.) Then, with each chapter, I raise the spooky stakes, adding a little bit more scary (Okay so the loons are definitely after me, what’s going on? Gasp, wait, are they following orders?). Until finally it reaches heart of the mystery. (Aaahhh! You get the idea)

Your Road to Publication

6. Your agent is Emily Forney. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

It took a long time for me to start querying. By the time I did, I had written five books, and I think - for me - this played a part in why I was fortunate enough to only have to dip my toes into the query trenches. Emily was the first agent to extend an offer of representation, I felt instantly that I could trust her, and the rest is history.

7. Share about your experience going on submission. What tips do you have for authors going on submission for the first time?

Believe it or not, the first book that went on submission did not work out. It was a very draining process – there is nothing to do but wait really, and wish upon a wishing star if you can find one, and draw angel cards, and eat copious amounts of delicious ice cream, and most importantly write the next book. We did get some bites, but after about six months, we decided to pull it. And then my new book went on sub. Two months later I was chatting with editors trying to see who would be the best fit. When the right story lands in the right person's hands, it's magic. 

Promoting Your Book

8. Yum! I like your idea of eating lots of ice cream. How are you marketing your book and developing your online platform? Is there any part of the process that you wished you’d started earlier?

Ah marketing. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m very good at it. I try to put my energy into a few things – my website, and my two main social media platforms. I also lean on my publishing debut group a lot for marketing tips and insights – finding a support group/community I think is key. Other than that, my publisher does a lot of work getting reviews, giveaways, etc. One thing I’m looking forward to is school visits, but that won’t come until the book is out.

9. Joining a debut group sounds like a really helpful resource. How are you balancing out the promotion of this book with the need to work on your next manuscript?

Terribly. But like I mentioned, my publisher does a lot of the marketing, and anything I can add to that is just a bonus. I usually get some good writing/editing in during my lunch break or in the evenings. But I’m also balancing a full-time job, and I have a wonderful loving adorable baby that I gladly give all of my time to, so sometimes balance means taking a break from writing and promo 😀.

10. What are you working on now?

It’s a secret. But there will be ghosts

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Emi. You can find Emi at:





Giveaway Details

Emi is generously offering a hardback of Bee Bakshi and the Gingerbread Sisters 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 September 30th. If your email 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 or Emi on her social media sites, 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 book giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

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

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, September 25 I have an agent spotlight interview with Jen Newens and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, October 1st I'm participating in the Scaredy Cat Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, October 4 I have an interview with debut author Kellie Parker and a giveaway of her YA thriller Thin Air

Thursday, October 5 I’m participating in the Howl-O-Ween Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 9 I have an interview with debut author Sean O’Brien and a giveaway of his MG historical White House Clubhouse

Wednesday, October 11 I have an agent spotlight interview with Lane Clarke and a query critique giveaway

Monday, October 16 I have an agent spotlight interview with Jane Chun and a query critique giveaway and am participating in the Silly Pumpkin Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 23 I have an interview with debut author Elisa Stone Leahy and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Tethered to Other Stars

Hope to see you on Monday!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting that her first story didn't work out. At least the second found a home.

Nick Wilford said...

Congrats to Emi! This sounds enchanting.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds like a well-paced book! Congratulations. :)

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Congratulations to Emi! Great interview questions, by the way. I like to read about writers' writing processes.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you for featuring my book, Natalie.

That's interesting that the Hansel and Greta idea didn't come until she was well into the writing process.

Danielle H. said...

A modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel sounds so much fun to read. I have this book already on my Goodreads TBR. I shared this post on tumblr, follow Natalie on Twitter and the author on Instagram. Thank you for the interview and chance to win a copy of this exciting book.

Brenda said...

A huge congratulations to Emi!! I love the idea of a Hansel and Gretel retelling and also that cover. I follow via email and blog. Have a lovely week Natalie!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Seems the second story was well worth waiting for!

traveler said...

Congratulations Emi! This book sounds captivating, unique and delightful. Wishing you much success and happiness. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Liz A. said...

Ice cream is always a good idea.

Rosi said...

I do like a good fairy tale retelling. This sounds good. Thanks for the interesting interview.

Greg Pattridge said...

I've been on the lookout for a spooky story and this one sounds great. Excellent interview, too! Thanks for having your post as a part of MMGM this week.

Maria Modell said...

I can’t wait to read this book!

@melissa_trempe said...

Love a spooky MG and what a cover! Congrats! melissatrempe@gmail.com

Kerry Hansen (she/her) said...

All perfect Halloween read. Can't wait! I posted this interview to Twitter as well.

Nancy P said...

Congratulations on your book! Positive.ideas.4youATgmail.com

Andrea Mack said...

This book sounds like a great read! Thanks for the interview…it’s so interesting how the book changed over time!

Valinora Troy said...

Great interview, and I think the book sounds fantastic! What a shame the giveaway is the far side (to me!) of the Atlantic! I'll watch out for it whenever it makes its way over here!

Lauren H. Dowdle said...

I love how you didn't know it would be inspired by the fairytale until you were working on the book! Love a fellow pantser! :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Rally enjoyed this interview. Thanks for sharing it.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the post today, I'm always looking for new authors to read! tWarner419@aol.com

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Leela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ree said...

Thank you so much for featuring my book, Hangabout: Far from Home. Loved the interview with Emi Pinto. Hansel and Gretel is a great story to be inspired by. I've been a big fan of this blog for years.