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12 Days of Christmas GIVEAWAY!

It's my day for the 12 Days of Christmas blog tour and I'm giving away a signed paperback copy of my book and a custom bookmark by Aedan Peterson. One lucky person will win!

Want to be the winner? Head over to my Instagram and follow the easy steps to enter!

12 Days of Christmas: DAY ONE

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blog Tour 
Every day for twelve days, an author will host a giveaway or sale. I'm excited to be part of the lineup! 
Day One: Yaasha Moriah  Head over to Yaasha's blog and enter to win a copy of her YA novel Without a Vision! It ends tonight so hurry!

Friday Interview: Author Verity Buchanan

I'm typing this on Saturday evening and not even trying to pretend otherwise. Today I'd like to introduce Verity Buchanan, an author as well as an unofficial composer who once infiltrated my house for eight days.

Author Interview: Verity BuchananWhat are some of the very first books you remember having read to you?
This is hard because I was always being read to. I do remember listening to the last chapter of Charlotte’s Web at a very early age (and trying to push back tears, which is hard when your mom is getting emotional too). After that, the earliest definite memory I have of a read-aloud is The Hobbit, which I was so into even though I had already read it on my own. The version my mom and dad read to us had hundreds of illustrations from the 1980’s animated movie, and I would hang over the arm of the couch to see them. Chapters 6 and 8 were my favorites, because Gollum and spiders. Smaug was second-rate next to those spiders, boy.
As you got older, what books became your f…

Friday Interview: Author Gillian McDunn

Yesterday was too busy, so in the spirit of better late than never, this week's Friday interview comes on Saturday evening. Today I'm excited to welcome Gillian McDunn to the blog. Gillian is the author of Caterpillar Summer (see my review here) and has another novel releasing soon! 

Author Interview: Gillian McDunn For starters, thanks for talking to me. I’ll never forget your book because it was the first I ever reviewed for Kid Lit Exchange.
Thanks so much for reading CATERPILLAR SUMMER and for having me here today!

Your first novel released this year! Can you tell us a bit about your process of writing and publishing it?
Writing for kids has been my dream my entire life, but for a long time I felt afraid to pursue it. Instead I had lots of different writing jobs—technical writing, public relations, grant writing etc.
An idea started to grow about a girl, her younger brother, and a trip to coastal North Carolina. When I sat down to write, the draft came together quickly. …

Friday Interview: Author Gail Shepherd

Welcome back to Friday interviews! Today I'm excited to introduce my interview with Gail Shepherd. Gail is the author of The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins, a 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection about a young girl whose veteran father is dealing with the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

Friday Interview: Author Gail Shepherd I love your book, The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins. What inspired you to write it? 
Lyndie actually started out as a very different kind of book. It was originally conceived as an adult book based on the childhood of a very close friend of mine, who grew up Filipino-American with a father who was a military man who’d been stationed in the Philippines and married a young woman there. Over time, as I revised, I moved the time period forward to 1985 to make it more relevant to my own experience, and made Lyndie a white Tennessee girl with a passion for history, which is also closer to my own life as a child of a southern family.
What are your own memories of …

Friday Interview: Author Melissa Sarno

Happy Friday! Today I'm sharing my conversation with Melissa Sarno, whose second novel. A Swirl of Ocean, released last week through Random House.

Author Interview: Melissa Sarno Hi! I'm happy to have you on the blog because I loved your book. A Swirl of Ocean. I'm yet to read your debut novel, Just Under the Clouds. Can you tell us about it? 
Thank you so much for reading A Swirl of Ocean. Just Under the Clouds is about a twelve year old girl living in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. When the shelter becomes unsafe, she and her mother and sister move in with an old friend and Cora discovers a tree, called Tree of Heaven, that her late father, who was a horticulturist, studied. It sets her on a path to try to understand the true meaning of home and where she and her family belong.
Your website says you began writing at the age of seven. Do you remember some of the first stories you ever wrote? 
Yes! As a reader, I was always drawn to realistic stories and, often, those stor…

Friday Interview: Author Brittney Joy

Happy Friday! Today I'm happy to share this space with Brittney Joy, who is not only an accomplished author but, if I do say so myself, an online friend of mine. During our conversation, I got to hear a preview of her next book as well as the funny way some of her characters got their names.

Author Interview: Brittney Joy Hi! Thanks for joining us today. Can you start by telling us when you wrote your first story? Was it published or not? 
In middle school I read a lot (mostly about horses) and I started journaling in high school—writing down all my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The regular act of journaling taught me how to express myself and, ultimately, gave me the bug to write fiction. However, I didn’t start writing fiction until my late twenties and I was in my early thirties when I self-published my first young adult book, Lucy’s Chance. It took me some time to build up my confidence before I felt comfortable setting my story and words “free” into the world. But now,…

Friday Interview: Author K.A. Reynolds

Happy Friday! Today I am thrilled to share the stage with the brilliant and kind K.A. Reynolds, author of The Land of Yesterday (HarperCollins 2018) as well as this month's upcoming release, The Spinner of Dreams. I had the opportunity to read an ARC of the latter (read my review of it here!) and invited Ms. Reynolds on the blog to talk about it.  Author Interview: K.A. Reynolds To start with, I have to compliment your world-building. I loved it. What was your favorite part about constructing the world of The Spinner of Dreams?
Oh my goodness, thank you for that amazing compliment! I *really* love this world, too—from the dark and cursed town of Carriwitchet, to the not-everything-is-as-it-seems Mazelands, to the colorful magic of Dreamland. But if I’m honest, it was the between sort of places that were the most exciting to create. Like the enchanted train of white crows that carries dreamers from Carriwitchet to the Mazelands via a crack in the curse-broken sky. That train, enma…

Friday Interview: Artist Renee Graef

Happy Friday! Today I'm thrilled to share my conversation with award-winning artist Renée Graef, who is well known for illustrating the Little House picture books, the American Girl Kirsten books, and the Nordic alphabet series, as well as eighty other books.


Artist Interview: Renée Graef I am honestly so honored to be talking to you. Let's start at the beginning. How old were you when you first started drawing, or did you simply begin as a child and never stop?

Like most artists, I began drawing from a very early age. I recently found a teacher's note on my 2nd grade report card that said that my "artistic endeavors" were getting in the way of my academics. I thought that was too funny!


When you received your degree in art at the University of Wisconsin, did you know you wanted to be a children's illustrator? 

I wanted to be an illustrator although my degree was in fine art. I was fortunate to receive a work-study job as an in-house illustrator for the Univer…

How Do You Publish A Book?

How Do You Publish a Book? 
The main questions I have been asked all summer are “how did you get published?” and “Why did you decide to write a book?” The real answer is entirely too long to explain in passing. So today, I’m officially providing the answer in about 2,000 words.

Also, I can't tell you how you can get published. But I can tell you how I did.

So this whole process started in January of 2016, I believe. I decided to write a fantasy, because why not. I had never written it, and at this point I had basically only read Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter as far as fantasy books out on the market. None of this seemed like an issue to me.

(People ask me why I decided to write a book. I've actually been consistently writing a book since the age of 9. Just none of them have been remotely publishable.)

Since the fall of 2015 I had been toying with some new character ideas. In January, I threw them all into this scarcely-developed fantasy world that basically was medieval …

Friday Interview: Author Michelle Rene

Happy weekend! Today I invited Michelle Rene to speak with us. Ms. Rene writes books, created a video game, and dances at events like Renaissance Fairs (and you thought you had a cool resume). Her novel, Hour Glass, won Chanticleer Review's 2018 Best Book of the Year award. I am honored to have her here on the blog. 
Author Interview: Michelle Rene Hi, Michelle! To start, can you tell us about your creative ventures? How many books do you have and by what means were they published? 

I’ve had about ten pieces published throughout the years if you count shorter works like novelettes and novellas. Four novels in total. Most of them have been published by smaller independent publishers. A few I self published for the fun of it. One of my novelettes I wrote did get turned into a video game.



Your book Manufactured Witches is like fantasy meets the Dust Bowl, something I found totally original. Did anything in particular inspire it? 

I am a huge history buff. In fact, most of [my] work i…

Friday Interview: Author M.H. Elrich

Welcome to Friday Interviews! This is a new series I'm excited to kick off. Our very first interviewee is M.H. Elrich, whose Christian fantasy novel, Etania's Worth, I read last month.  Author Interview: M.H. Elrich Thank you Ms. Elrich for coming on the blog and providing great answers to my questions! 
When you started writing Etania's Worth, did you have intentions of publishing it?
Yes. From the very beginning, I wanted to publish it, I just wasn't sure how I wanted to publish it (Self or Traditional). I chose Self after seeing the success of other great Christian fantasy authors and after prayer. I also wanted more control over my work and its promotion.
What has been the most surprising response from readers?
I think what surprised me most was who is the favorite character of the book. Not many people chose Etania, which surprised me because she is the main character. I have had quite a few people like Jakin, who I felt wasn't my strongest character, but turne…

Book Review: Etania's Worth by M.H. Elrich

Etania's Worth by M.H. Elrich 
I don’t read Biblical fantasy or really any Biblical-based books, so this was new for me. M.H. Elrich and I did a book review trade and I always welcome the opportunity to read something new. 
For starters, there are many characters, races, and places in this book. It got hard for me to keep up with. Then I got to the end of the ebook and realized there was a glossary all along. If I had read the book in print, I would have seen it earlier and wouldn’t have had a problem. So I recommend reading this book in print. The glossary is well-organized and helpful, and I wish I could have utilized it. 
Many of the descriptions are well-done as is the climax. The climax is the strongest point of the book as you really feel all the events of the story connecting and reaching a peak. Etania does not drive the story as much as other characters do, but she still has some likable traits. I liked Keyel but my favorite character was Tala. I found her to have a stro…

Kid Lit Exchange #Partner: My Fate According to the Butterfly

Kid Lit Exchange #partner: My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva and Scholastic, Inc.  Well let me say I loved this book. Guess how many previous books I had read set in the Philippines? Zero. This book absolutely immerses you into the world, language, culture, and surroundings of the Filipino people. It sparked my interest so much, I began exploring the country on the Internet and Google Earth. If I did those things, so would a curious kid. It’s an amazing introduction to the Philippines. As for the story itself, I loved 11-year-old Sab and her panicked notion that a butterfly has determined her fate (hint: it’s not a good one). I loved the troubled, untraditional, yet still intensely caring family. Sab and her friend Pepper were such real kids to me and a joy to chase through the markets and shopping centers as they got crazy ideas and tried to repair broken relationships. This book releases July 30, 2019, and will make a perfect late-summer read! Thank you @kidlit…

Kid Lit Exchange #Partner: The Spinner of Dreams Review

@kidlitexchange #partner: The Spinner of Dreams by K.A. Reynolds and Harper Collins Kids. Releases 8/27/19.

——————— I haven’t read Alice in Wonderland since the approximate age of 9, but this book reminded me of Alice in Wonderland nonetheless. Annalise in Dreamland.
For reasons initially unknown, 11-year-old Annalise was cursed by Fate at birth, bringing nothing but pain and shame to her wonderful, loving, gentle parents who still see only the best in her. Finally taking her fate into her own hands and desiring to rid herself of her curse, Annalise sneaks out, boards an imaginatively mysterious train, meets a beautiful warm-hearted fox, and sets out to conquer the Labyrinth of Fate and Dreams and defeat the Fate Spinner once and for all.
Two-thirds of the book takes place within the Labyrinth (the part that reminded me of a dark, twisted Wonderland) and the action was wonderful. I hardly saw anything coming. I kiiinda figured out Annalise’s connection to the Spinner of Dreams but …

Pet Books!

Review of My Dog Book, My Cat Book, Superstar Dogs, and Superstar Cats from Running Press Publishers (RP Kids)
This was a four-for-one deal and as cute as it gets. I have a lot I want to talk about so I’m going to break this up.
First, My Dog Book and My Cat Book. These are interactive scrapbooks for kids to record memories, photos, and drawings of their pet. And they charmed the heck out of me. The layout is crisp and simple, yet so adorable. I would have been all over these when I was 8. Or 12. Or now. I love the clever writing prompts and bullet-journal style. The little doodles inside are so cute. If a child filled out the prompts in this book, it would make such a great keepsake for their life later on.
Next, Superstar Dogs and Superstar Cats. I would have been all over these books, too, full of motivation to have the *coolest* dog ever. These are advanced tricks. I’m not sure I could pull half of them off even today because I’ve never been good at that kind of stuff, but it wa…