A Good Beginning

I have 3 book ideas taking up space in my head, along with a plethora of essays, and several short stories. I’ve wanted to dive into my new book for a while. But querying and life got the best of me, I slipped into a deep funk, and am finally appreciating the sunshine promising me warmth at the end of my dark tunnel.

A year ago I wrote the outline for my next book. It doesn’t have a title. I felt really good about the outline. If I ever write that story it’ll be cool.

But the story has matured, risen you could say if comparing it to dough, and the outline doesn’t apply.

I wrote a few pages with 2 new characters. One male. One Female. Dueling perspectives and I fell in love with them. Both of them are complex and interesting and I can’t wait to hang out with them, make them suffer, fail, and fall in love. Then I’ll probably destroy trust and find a way back to reconciliation.

I’d tell you the mash-up except I’m superstitious and I don’t want anyone stealing my idea. People do that sunconsciously sometimes, they don’t mean to hijack an idea, but they read something and forget they read it and the idea becomes theirs.

Anyway, I’ve been rereading the pages I wrote, and looking at the monitor and thinking, Well, what are waiting for? Get cracking.

NOTHING CRACKED. NO WORDS MAGICALLY TYPED. NO STORY DEVELOPED.

I grew sadder. My story was neglected and the voices in my head grew silent.

This pissed me off. I’m a goal oriented woman. So last night I wrote a few trusted writing friends and told them I wanted to complete a first draft by the end of summer. I counted the days, subtracted the weekends, and came up with this scary fact:

I have to write 1,000 words per day for the next 65 days.

Then I spent today feeling buried by the idea. I wrote emails and calculated the words thinking – do they count?

No, they don’t.

So this is what I realized. I don’t know my main characters well enough. I haven’t explored their flaws or fears. Their desires, wants or needs. I haven’t sunk into them. I don’t knowhow they define themselves verse how the world does.

I need to fix the problem. I began working on back story, character development and trigger points. I’m exploring the female’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing her to introduce herself to me. Fully forming her before I get deep into the story. It feels really good and I believe will help me crank out the draft in a much more meaningful way.

I wrote 1110 words- about her- about her trigger points, and made notes about which of her issues will make good plot points, highlighted what will make good conflict. I’m sinking into her skin so I can write about her and make her real to anyone reading her story.

It’s a good beginning.

 

 

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The end of year good stuff list

2016 was erratic, challenging and awesome. Since I’m an optimist, I’m going to talk about some of the awesome. Perhaps optimism will scare away some of the craptacular bits and they’ll never return.

I made friends. Real good, make me smile, and excited to see them friends. Writing and creative friends. Got an agent and published friends. Picked me for her team friend. If you need some Twitter happiness follow them:

MonicaKristin, & Kimberly

I got published enough that I’m going to have to pay taxes on my income! xoJane.com, Kveller.com, and GLITTERBOMB. My work was reviewed, was liked, was shared and went viral. Heck, the freaking Daily Mail ran a crazy piece making it look as if they interviewed me. Time.com picked up my xoJane piece and ran it 5 months after it went live (I later found out Time Magazine owns xoJane)

I thought I finished writing my young adult novel DEAR DEAD DRUNK GIRL. Then I revised it 3 more times. 8 agents asked for it. And now I’m waiting, fingers crossed, prayers said, one  will love my work so much they’ll represent me and my future work by the end of the year. (a girl can dream can’t she?)

DEAR DEAD DRUNK GIRL was picked to be in two Twitter contests.

I made more friends during those contests. I feel as if my community expanded and I’m grateful for it. Because, after spending years, days, weeks, and hours alone typing on my computer it feels so good to have human contact and not just talk to the voices in my head.

I’m healing from surgery and I’m no longer in pain.

I opened an intuitive healing business. I have an office, insurance and it’s crazy cool, too.

So even if 2016 had bat-shit crazy, painful days and events. I’m wishing us all courage to face the new year and fight for our dreams.

courage

 

 

 

A Letter from a Mad Woman

In honor of Halloween- I wanted to share something dark and creepy. This is a story I wrote pretending to be crazy and trapped. I call it “Letter from a Mad Woman”-Enjoy!

A letter written as a mad woman:

Deb,

Managing this pen on my back is what is keeping me from disappearing all together. I’m a total abyss without this lifeline to you. I fear my smallness, my microscopic self will be crushed by the rolling dust leaning my direction so close to smothering me with its girnormity – so dark it is beneath a shadow husk of some other thing. Perhaps a scale of his skin soaked in vodka or chemical perhaps with vibrancy a petals fragility transferred through heat onto paper or your clothes.

Breathe for me dear friend for my lungs are too small to catch breath and my heart too big to fit into my chest. It leaks. My blood is seeping out from my ribs and knees. The body too small to contain what should pulsate. Breathe quicker! Breathe deeper! The ink is smearing- my footprint erase the lines of letters I am trying to write. Can you still see them on the paper? Are the letters broken lines? I am broken.

My toes cracked dragging at the end of my foot and the dust a mountain of waste still threatens to consume me with its pain and its reflection masks me- dresses me up like a doll on a shelf fortifying my identity and eradicating my thoughts are blurred manipulated by this shadow that tells me I am supposed to tell you that I miss you and I am fine when I am nothing like china. An ice pick plunging into ham sweet sticky meat.

Where did I hide your letter? The one in which I tell you how it watches me with the eyes of my father and tells me they are my eyes too and my procrastination to mail this means you will not know the danger you are in being such a good friend. Have you cleaned your kitchen today?

Stay away from it with its refrigerator jaws and quicksand floor. The dust waits up high to crush you. It will fall coating the countertops and stove and there is no wiping it away. It grows like fungus. Mold spreads a black plague up the walls and into my lungs. Breathe for me Deb.

With sincere love and devotion,

Your friend Holly

Mindy McGinnis Female of the Species

Mindy Mcginnis wrote an unflinching book about rape. I admire her. mindy-main-with-name.jpg9780062320896_p0_v1_s192x300.jpg

The Female of the Species – 09/20/16

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

 

I’m sharing my story again.  This is a poem I wrote about being raped.

 

RAPE

15 years old.

Raped

On my parents bed.

Raped

While I lay still and thinking

“This is it? This is sex?”

Raped

Staring at the blue fern patterned wallpaper

Raped

Bleeding in the middle of the bed.

Popped.

Raped

How do I keep this secret?

Raped

What did I do to cause this?

Rape.

How old is he, 20?

Raped

My voice, white noise from a transistor

radio across the room, saying “stop”

saying “no”

Raped

My parents aren’t home.

Raped

My friend (?) Tina playing pool downstairs

in the living room with this guy’s friends.

Raped

15 years old and confused,

he’s done.

Raped

He gets up . He’s wearing a condom, where did it

come from? When did he put it on?

Raped

He walks away and down the stairs.

Raped and sitting in my blood.

Raped and standing next to my parents bed,

looking at the bright red blood in the middle of the bed.

Raped

In the afternoon.

Raped

and cleaning up the mess on my parent’s bed.

Raped

The dog jumps up and begins licking the bloody sheets.

Raped

and not understanding sex or why

he wanted to have sex with me.

Raped

15 years old

I stand at the top of the stairs leaning over the black banister

and call him back upstairs.

Everyone in the pool room cheers.

Raped

He complies.

He walks upstairs and I lead him to my bedroom.

Four purple walls covered in Duran Duran posters.

Stuffed animals bear witness to my platform bed.

Raped

I lay down again,

there’s another condom.

I try to learn what he is doing.

Raped

I try to pretend it’s my choice.

Raped

It’s over again.

Raped

He goes back downstairs,

Raped

I clean myself off.

I put all the sheets in the wash.

Raped

I bleed for one week from the wound.

Raped

He said he couldn’t believe it was my first time

Raped.

 

 

 

PitchSlam Team Obi-Wan and the Wookies

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This morning I woke up and found I made the PitchSlam Kimberly Vanderhorst team Obi-Wan and the Wookies and I immediately began shaking and crying tears of happiness.

Thank you Pitch Slam Jedi masters for taking the time to create this contest, for reading and critiquing all the entries sharing your feedback and rocking the Force in general.

And congrats to everyone who entered because that’s a huge deal. You were brave and you put yourself out there. I hope your books all find an audience.

Happy to be included with these fine #OWW writers.

 

Kimberly VanderHorst
#TeamOww@WritingIzzy @jessikafleck@IrateJabberwock

@shaunaholyoak@hgirlla @N_Poindexter @anomisting

@DebraSpiegel @ABusico ❤ #PitchSlam

Promising Pages

I wanted to pass along some information about Promising Pages upcoming “Bookie Awards” where they will be honoring literacy efforts in the Charlotte community.

They have categories for local author and local children’s author among others. I hope you can help spread the word and perhaps even nominate a deserving person or two.

Promising Pages is a Charlotte, NC based 501(c)(3) non-profit  that takes books others have outgrown and gives them new life. They partner with Social Service Agencies, Title I Schools, and other organizations to get books and revolutionary programming to kids who need it! Our mascots, Erm the Bookworm and Erma the Bookworma, place these books directly into the hands of children.  Our books and programs have the potential to turn ordinary children into enthusiastic bookworms!

Resurrecting Sunshine

I met Lisa A. Koosis in a MediaBistro YA class. I’d just moved cross-country and was jacked up on hormones desperately trying to convince my body to stop having miscarriages. So obviously I was stable and a pleasure to meet virtually.

I was working my way through my first YA story WHAT DEATH HAS TOUCHED and despite my desire not to be clumsy I was and Lisa looked past my flaws to the writer I hoped to be. She became my friend.

Since meeting on-line she has written at least five books, queried lots, entered contests and received many No’s. She confessed to me she was going to quit writing. But I just couldn’t let her. You know why? She’s freaking talented! 

We corresponded and traded heartaches. She dazzled me with her ability to NaNoWriMo and her imagination. Her creative lens is unique and tasty to read.

But the very best news she ever shared was when Brianne Johnson Literary Agent at Writer’s House took her on as a client and sold her book. The road was not easy, but that’s Lisa’s story to share.

I’m telling this version of the friend of the woman who never gave up, who kept getting better, who continued to write and be kind and generous because I want everyone to know being an author is hard work. Lisa did all the hard work and put years into it and I never doubted she’d find her place in the world.

And today, 5 days post-op for me, as I’m feeling a little sorry for myself and in pain, my husband retrieved this from the mail. My own personal ray of Sunshine. And I started to cry, as if it was my accomplishment. This is how much her success means to me.

Then I picked the book up, smelled the freshly printed pages, checked out my book mark and flipped to the back. And to my total surprise she thanked me in her Acknowledgements. The tears came out and I’m in disbelief.

Here’s to you my long-distance friend. I am so proud of you for crossing the finish line to publication. I will always be your cheerleader!

To everyone else, this book is good. Please read it. Order it. 

 

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Jennifer Johnson-Blalock, Associate Agent, Liza-Dawson Associates

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Jennifer Johnson-Blalock joined Liza Dawson Associates as an associate agent in 2015, having previously interned at LDA in 2013 before working as an agent’s assistant at Trident Media Group. Jennifer graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before interning at LDA, she practiced entertainment law and taught high school English and debate. Follow her on Twitter @JJohnsonBlalock, and visit her website: www.jjohnsonblalock.com.
Q: Have you always read your own queries?
JJB: Yes! I’m a newer agent–it’s been a little over a year now–and while I have an amazing roster of clients, I’m still looking to grow my list. It’s important to me to read my own queries so that I know I’m not missing anything. Occasionally, I’ll request something I didn’t know I was looking for or even something I thought I didn’t want because something about the letter just seemed too appealing not to take a look.
Our first priorities as agents have to be to our existing clients, so I think most agents reach a point where they have to let someone else do at least the first sift through the query inbox. But I hope to read my queries for as long as possible.
Q: Why did you want to be an agent?
JJB: I love books–that’s why we’re all here, right? More specifically, though, I love how varied agenting is. Since my relationship is with the client rather than a specific aspect of the publishing process, I get to follow a book through from start to finish, helping my client with tasks from contracts to editing to publicity. Every day is different, and every situation is a unique challenge. (I love being challenged.) And there’s nothing more exciting than being one of the very first people to read a truly great book.
Q: Have you fallen in love with any stories but passed because you know they are difficult sells?
JJB: No…ish. If I really fall in love with something, I take it on. That doesn’t always mean the book will sell (I’ve had one so far that didn’t; I’m sure I’ll have more–that’s part of the business), but if I’m head over heels for the book, I have to try. However, I’ve definitely LIKED books that I haven’t taken on because I thought they might be tough to sell. Publishing is competitive, and the reality is that I work for free until a book sells. I like to have a reasonable belief that a book will have a good chance in the market. You never really know for sure, though, so all I can do is go with my gut and hope that if I love something, I’ll find a publisher that does, too.
Q: How do diverse books impact your selection?
JJB: I definitely seek out diverse books, and I’m always happy to receive queries for them, especially if they’re #ownvoices. I recently signed a client through #DVpit, and my first sale was for a YA book with a biracial protagonist. I really love how the conversation about diversity in publishing has expanded recently, and I think it’s so important that we keep talking about how we can better represent more readers. Everyone should be able to see her or himself in a book. That being said, the quality of the book and my love for it is still paramount, and I do consider and acquire books that don’t feature diversity as well. But it is a bonus factor for me.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing about discovering a new writer?
JJB: Oh my goodness, everything. I love when I’m reading a submission, and I start to get that “don’t want to put it down” feeling, and realize it may be something I want to represent. And it’s such an amazing feeling when I’m on the first call with a writer, and they can barely speak because they’re so excited to get an offer of representation. And then getting to call an author and tell them you got an offer on their debut book? THE BEST. I love everything about being on the front lines with an author, helping to achieve their dreams and to bring a new book into the world.
Q: Is the #MSWL helpful for you or are you flooded with one genre because of it?
JJB: #MSWL is incredibly helpful! I think agents get more flooded with genres because of sales; we definitely build reputations for success in certain areas, so it makes sense that writers would query us with those projects. MSWL allows us to say, I know I’m a great fit for this, but I’m ALSO really looking for that. I’ve found that writers are really responsive to that. I think it’s helpful on both sides.
Q: If you could change anything about agenting-what would it be?
JJB: I don’t know that this is something that ever COULD be changed, but one of the toughest things about agenting for me personally is a lack of objective benchmarks. I could always be doing reading more, there could always be more offers, the advances could always be higher. It’s difficult to feel like you’re doing and have achieved enough, and it’s tough to set boundaries. I’m really having to learn to figure out what my limits are and to celebrate achievement milestones along the way.
Q: How intimidating are conferences for you? Many writers attend conferences hoping to make an impression, is that overwhelming?
JJB: Most of the time, conferences are exciting. So much of my work gets done in front of the computer. Even phone calls are becoming less frequent than they used to be, thanks to email. (I’m okay with that, for the record!) But it’s really nice to be able to talk to writers in person, have a conversation about their work, and connect a face and a personality with the manuscript.
They can be tiring, however–many agents, including myself, are introverts, and conferences involve between one and three days of nonstop peopling. But I know how excited and nervous writers get about meeting me at a conference, and frequently I leave conferences invigorated by their energy.
Q: Do you consider yourself an editing agent?
JJB: Absolutely. Publishing is competitive, and I want to help writers get their work in the best shape possible before we go to market. I usually send my clients an editorial letter and potentially a round of line edits soon after signing them. We do at least one round of edits and potentially one or two more. I don’t send a manuscript out until it’s as good as we can make it. And when I offer representation to a writer, I always discuss my broad thoughts for revisions so they can decide if our visions for the manuscript are a good fit.
Q: What’s the process for a writer after they sign with you? Do you typically ask for revisions before submitting to publishers? Is there an estimated timeline you could share about the process after you say yes! I want to be your agent.
JJB: Yes–as discussed above, I almost always do at least one round of revisions with my clients. That process depends on how quickly I can get them edits and how quickly they revise–I’d say generally it’s a few months before we go on submission. (Obviously if something is time sensitive, we’d move much faster.) Once the manuscript is ready, I typically send it out within a week. Then it takes editors a while to evaluate, to get colleagues to read, to decide to pass or present to the acquisitions board. I’ve heard of offers being received in anywhere from a day to a year–I’d say a few months is typical for fiction. Nonfiction can go a bit faster, since they only have to read a proposal. While we wait for a response, I encourage my clients to keep writing and working on the next project because we’ll need that no matter what happens with the current one.
If you enjoyed this interview, you may also enjoy: Sarah Davies, Tricia Skinner, Alan Gratz, Lisa Mantchev, Monica Hoffman, Betsy Thorpe,  and Karen McManus
Michelle4Laughs posts great interviews too.
To Query Jennifer:

Jennifer is acquiring both narrative and prescriptive nonfiction. She is looking for seasoned writers with strong platforms and is excited by works that use a unique story to explore a larger issue. Particular areas of interest include current events, social sciences, women’s issues, law, business, history, the arts and pop culture, lifestyle, sports, and food, including cookbooks and health/wellness.

Jennifer is also seeking commercial and upmarket fiction, especially thrillers/mysteries, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, young adult, and middle grade.

While she’d be happy to receive queries for works in any of those broad areas, Jennifer is especially interested in the following:

  • highly readable books rooted in psychology or sociology that use memorable research (the kinds of details you’d whip out at cocktail parties) to explain why we act and think the way we do
  • politically minded issue books that put hot-button items like education into a realistic, holistic context or Washington insider narratives
  • history that’s quirky (THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN) or has particular relevance to today’s issues (ON IMMUNITY)
  • works situated in the classical dance world, indie/alternative music world, contemporary art world, or Hollywood at any point in history–working in the entertainment industry didn’t manage to squelch Jennifer’s enthusiasm for it
  • books that help you figure out how to do life better (THE HAPPINESS PROJECT; THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP)
  • all things football and basketball–Jennifer graduated from UT the year Vince Young brought home the National Championship, and her family in Oklahoma City never misses a Thunder game
  • chronicles of unique communities like competitive Scrabble players
  • cookbooks that tell a story about the person writing the book or the food itself, research-based health/diet books with programs that sane people would actually follow, or accessible books about wine or cocktails that strive to make reading about it as fun as drinking it
  • food memoirs or novels that take the reader behind the scenes in a fresh way like SOUS CHEF–being VIPed at French Laundry is a recurring fantasy of Jennifer’s
  • thrillers with a literary bent à la Tana French, with an outsider protagonist who stumbles into a conspiracy like THE PELICAN BRIEF, or with a psychological focus and an unreliable protagonist (SISTER)
  • smart, upmarket women’s fiction in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan or commercial women’s fiction like Emily Giffin’s that subverts common tropes
  • contemporary, realistic young adult with a strong voice and compelling characters (Nina LaCour; Stephanie Perkins; Leila Sales)
  • middle grade or young adult nonfiction, particularly narrative history books about lesser known women or people of color
  • absolutely any sort of book with a strong feminist slant

To submit to Jennifer, please send a query letter only in the body of the email to queryjennifer[at]lizadawson[dot]com.

If you enjoyed Jennifer’s interview, you may also like to read my interviews with Tricia SkinnerSarah Davies, Nancy Handy, Alan GratzLisa Mantchev, Monica HoffmanBetsy ThorpeKaren McManus and  Nicole Ayers.

Nancy Handy, Assistant Director of Mooresville Public Library

Nancy Handy, Assistant Director of Mooresville Public Library, North Carolina worked in public libraries for past 17 years. She received her MLIS from Queens College in Flushing, NY and was a Children’s Librarian in NY for 12 years before moving to NC to be the Head of Children’s Dept. for 5 years.before transitioning to the Assistant Director of the Mooresville Public Library.

Q: Why did you decide to enter the field of library and information science? OR What motivated you to seek a library degree?

NH: My undergraduate is in Elementary Education.  I always knew I wanted to work in libraries. I’ve loved books and libraries ever since I was a little girl. My decision was whether to go into school libraries or public. I chose public libraries.

Q: What surprises you most about your work?

NH: The thing that surprises me most about my work is the constant change. People thought that libraries would no longer be relevant in the digital age. That is so far from the truth. Libraries are needed more than ever. They are the portals to information beyond actual walls. The internet is filled with tons of information. It is the forte of the librarian to decipher and find the valid and authentic information. The library I work in sees 1000 citizens a day walk through our doors. These faces change daily, the information they are looking for changes, their needs and wishes change daily. The library is much more than an archive of books. It’s a place for children to attend storytimes, a student to study for their GED, a homeschooler to check out learning material, a meeting place for seniors, a Pokemon stop for teens, a bridge between the digital divide. My job changes daily, but it’s relevance is never questioned!

Q: What are you responsible for at the library?

NH: My responsibilities: Assists Library Director in the management, supervision, and administration of the library to provide maximum services to the library patron in accordance with library policy.  Performs managerial duties and oversees all aspects of the Adult and Youth Services Departments. Directs the library in the absence of the Director.

Q: When is the library busiest?

NH: The library seems to be busiest in the summer; however, it is a busy place year round.  Summer brings lots of patrons in for the summer reading program, beach reads, and as a pleasant escape sometime from the heat. In any given day, we have 1000 people walk through our doors and have seen upwards of 1500 in one day!

Q: What were the last 3 books you read?

NH: The last three books I’ve read:  Every 15 Minutes by Lisa Scottoline; I re-read the classic A Separate Peace by John Knowles (one of my favorites) and I’m currently reading Different Seasons by Stephen King (a collection of four novellas).

Q: How many events do you have at the library? 

NH:Before I was Assistant Director I was the Head of Youth Services. My experience is strong in library programming. We currently have 30-40 children’s programs offered each month. We’re currently increasing our programming for Adults and have recently added a new book club, an adult coloring club (new trend) and a program for adults with special needs. We have a full calendar of events offered each month and it’s only growing.

Q: If you have author readings, what is your best advice to them for a successful event?

NH: Yes, we have had local author showcases and have had local authors come to share their new book. The biggest advice I can give is to make sure you market for the event. The library will advertise in-house and electronically on our website and social media, but if the author also advertises the event is sure to have a greater turnout. I like events to draw the most interest they possibly can, especially for an author who is just starting out.

Q: How many new books does the library get per year?

NH: That’s a number I would need to look up, however I can tell you it’s thousands! We order consistently and year round all books are processed through technical services. We review professional journals, bestseller lists, and will honor most patron requests.

Q: Does the library carry self-published books?

NH: Yes, I have personally ordered self published books that were written by local authors.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about being a librarian?

NH: Haha, seriously that we wear our hair in a bun and our glasses on a chain and that we read all day. I cannot tell you how many people still have a stereotyped notion of who librarians are. Sometimes, it is hard to find the time to even review a good book let alone read it at work. Our day is filled with various duties and we wear many hats (librarian, teacher, psychologist, event organizer/planner, boss, author, facility maintenance employee etc.) Librarians are modern-day information specialists who must know their community and the needs and interests of the citizens.

Q: How influential are librarians over book choice for young readers?

NH: If the librarian is engaging and is well versed in reader’s advisory they can be very influential. It’s best to know great books from all of the genres and a few gripping must reads for the reluctant reader. Know your books for the sports fan, the fantasy guru, the graphic novel reader, dystopian reads, classics and sci-fi to name a few. Never let a child who asks for good book suggestions walk out empty-handed!

If you enjoyed Nancy’s interview, you may also like to read my interviews with Tricia SkinnerSarah DaviesAlan GratzLisa Mantchev, Monica HoffmanBetsy Thorpe, Karen McManus and  Nicole Ayers.

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