Friday, February 20, 2015

Author Interview with Natalie Lloyd

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Natalie Lloyd. Lizzy reviewed her new book A Snicker of Magic, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn a little more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Natalie!

What inspired you to write A Snicker of Magic?

For a long time, I thought the first spark of inspiration came from an Avett Brothers concert. They’re my favorite band, and it was the first time I’d heard them live. The concert was so inspiring; people danced together in the aisles and sang out the words to their gorgeous lyrics. It made me chill-bump happy. I remember telling my brother it was more like a magic show than a concert, and I think that’s when I started daydreaming about a town where music connected people in a magical way. 


But it wasn’t until I was revising A Snicker of Magic that I realized I’d also written it because I missed my grandparents. They’ve all passed away now, and I miss them every day. But there are certain days when the missing-place still feels especially intense. I spent lots of time with them when I was little, and they always made me feel loved and brave and smart. They were wonderful storytellers, and they encouraged me to tell stories. My grandfather played a guitar and a banjo. One of my grandmothers loved to make quilts. One year, my other grandmother gave me a book of poems for Christmas with notes in the margins about why she liked particular passages. It was like she’d pressed memories in the book for me to keep. All of those memories (and lots more) found their way into A Snicker of Magic. I wrote the story because I was homesick for people I love, and miss.


How long did it take you to write A Snicker of Magic?

I wrote the first draft over a summer, but my rough drafts are rough. I revised it several times after that, and revised it again with my agent before I started working with my editor. From first line to finished book, it took a few years (which actually isn’t that long). But I’d been saving up bits and pieces for that story long before I ever started writing it. I think that’s true of every writer, with every book. Technically, I know all stories have a certain starting point. But in some ways, I think every story is the product of a lifetime. I think writers hide their memories, wonders, hopes and fears in stories all the time, without even realizing it. 

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

I love this question! I’ve jokingly said my writing inspirations are Roald Dahl and Dolly Parton (except I’m not really joking at all). I like magical realism and I’m partial to Appalachian settings, music and folklore. Dolly and Mr. Dahl really are inspirations to me, and have been since I was little. 

But there are two book series’ in particular that made me a reader for life, and made me want to be a writer when I grew up. The first was The Babysitters Clubseries, by Ann M. Martin. The other was The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, especially The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Even as an adult, I think about Aslan when I need to be brave.

Where did you come up with the characters Felicity and The Beedle? 

The characters that finally show up on the page are the result of months of daydreaming. I remember jotting down the name Felicity Pickle long before I started writing the story. Sometime later, when I thought about the kind of character who could see words … I knew that was Felicity’s journey. The word-collecting idea came from the Beatles song “Across the Universe.” A lyric in the song mentions words “slithering and slipping” through the atmosphere. I’m still smitten with that image. I couldn’t stop thinking about how rad it would be to actually see words that way. Felicity and I also share some of the same hopes and insecurities. But she’s much braver than I am. 
I pictured Jonah as I was writing the first draft of the book. Felicity met him at exactly the same time I did. Suddenly, he was there, and he was Jonah Pickett from the start. Jonah reminds me of some friends I’ve been lucky enough to have. Plus, I know what it’s like to be the new girl in a new place. I think I wanted to create the best friend Felicity could have ever hoped to find. 

The path to publication varies from author to author. Every author has a unique story and one that other authors can learn from. Can you tell us a little bit about your path to publication or do you have any advice for new authors? 

I’ve wanted to be an author since I’ve been able to daydream. I loved to write, and knew I would always be a writer. But it took some time for me to stir up enough courage to actually pursue publication. I spent lots of time researching agents. And then I spent time researching how to write a query letter. My agent is Suzie Townsend, and she’s so smart, creative, and talented. After asking for my full (which, as fellow friends who’ve been in the Query Trenches know, is worthy of a celebration in itself), she got back in touch with me so quickly that I assumed it was a polite rejection. It was, in fact, an email about setting up a phone call. Suzie connected me with my editor at Scholastic, Mallory Kass. Working with Mallory has taught me so much about storytelling and writing. She’s incredible. I can’t believe I get to work with both of them. They’re a dream team. That’s the short version of a longer story, though. On the road to publication, I hit lots of rejection-potholes. 

Since I’m so new at this, I don’t feel like I have much advice I can offer. But I wish I could give new authors - and someday-authors - a standing ovation and a cupcake. I think you’re so brave for putting your heart out there. Here are some reminders I have for myself: Keep writing what you love. Keep investing in the relationships in your life, and not just the ones on your pages. Step away from the internet sometimes - and away from reading about publishing - and just write. Take care of your heart, and your mind. And, if at all possible, snuggle a sweet dog at every given opportunity. 

If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?

Biscuit :)
Green Gables! But only if I could be Anne the whole time I’m there. Actually, that would be my ideal version of Austenland. I want an Anne-land, where I could cosplay Anne, and actors dressed as Gilbert and Diana would hang out with me at ice cream socials. (… Am I making this weird?) As far as real places, I’m smitten with London. I love British history, culture and literature. I don’t want to live there (I would miss my mountains too much) but I daydream about spending a summer there. Really though, I feel home whenever I’m with Biscuit (my dog) and my family. I get to spend quite a bit of time with them right now, which makes me so happy. There’s a lyric in a Mumford & Sons song that I like: “I will learn to love the skies I’m under.” Right now, I love the skies I’m under. I’m grateful.

 If you could befriend a character from one of your books, who would you befriend? Why?

Maybe this is too obvious, but my first pick is Felicity Pickle. I know what it’s like to be the new girl on the first day of school. I’ve always been quite shy, and so I know how hard it can be to reach out and connect with someone in a new place. There’s also a new character I’ve written named Cody Belle, and she would be a wonderful friend. She’s funny, dependable, always up for an adventure, and very astute at determining when her BFF needs to chill out and drink hot cocoa. I think those are fine qualities. 

Where do you like to write? We know you love The Avett Brothers, do you listen to music while you are writing?

My number one favorite place is the back porch of my sister’s house. She lives in south Georgia, down a red dirt road in a house surrounded by tall pine trees. Also, my phone and wi-fi don’t work so well when I’m there, so it’s a perfect, quiet space to create. When I’m home, I like to write from a floral couch near the fireplace. Or in a faded pink wingback chair near a window. I like to write on my bed too, because it’s easy to spread out notes and make a cozy spot for Biscuit. 

As far as music, it depends on what I’m working on. This probably sounds weird, but I like the Avett Brothers so much that I can’t really listen to them while I’m writing. I start singing along or thinking too much about the lyrics. Their music informs so much of what I do though. Their songs make me think more about characters and about wordplay in general. During early drafting, I sometimes listen to a Pandora station, movie soundtracks or even an app on my phone that makes rain sounds. But I’ve always liked to write when it’s quiet, too. Quiet except for the sound of clicking keys. 

Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I am working on a new book. Thanks so much for asking! I can’t wait for readers to meet these characters. I don’t want to say too much about it yet, just in case I make some more changes in revisions. But I know it’s about a brave girl, a singing ghost, a buried treasure and hot chocolate. 




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78 comments:

  1. Great interview! It's always nice to meet the person behind the book and learn what makes they tick and write.

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    1. Hi Alex! Thanks for reading! I love reading behind the scenes stuff, too. It's always so exciting to me to see where ideas come from. Thanks for reading!

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  2. I really like that the story shares experiences that Natalie had with her grandparents. It sounds delightful.

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    1. Thank you, Bish! I love that you connected with that part of the story. I remember when the book came out and I felt sad they couldn't see it. But they always knew it would happen, and I have memories of them tucked away in every page. I even talk about them when I do school visits. I feel like they're celebrating it all with me :)

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  3. Awesome interview. I loved learning more about Natalie's inspiration for her story and how she created her fantastic characters. I'm entering the giveaway so I could donate it to our local middle school library so more kids could read this.

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    1. Hey Natalie! So good to see you here!! I hope you're doing well! :) Thank you for reading.

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  4. I loved this book so much! Thank you for the new insights!

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    1. I'm so happy you liked it, Jenny! Hooray! :) Thanks for reading!

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  5. Grandparents are special, aren't they? Mine our gone now, but I think they're still watching over me. Very nice meeting you.

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    1. I feel the same way, TBM. Until I was an adult, I didn't realize how blessed I was to have had such incredible people pouring into my life during very formative years. I miss them ever day, but there are certain moments I feel like they're smiling down over everything. Thanks for reading and sharing your own experience here. :)

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  6. oh where do I begin?! Biscuit is too precious for words. And BSB series inspired me too, I was obsessed :) I used to hide candy all over my room like Claudia haha. Still do, actually :/ ha and I LOVE your title and cover!!

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    1. BSC Forever! *high five* :) Claudia would be proud to know I usually have Starburst in my drawer, ha :) Did you read the super specials? Those were fantastic!! Thanks for the kind compliment about the title and cover!

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  7. I totally can relate about missing grandparents. Mine are all gone too but they were such a big and inspirational part of my life, and I miss them every day. If only I could go back for a day and ask them so many questions.... my favorite word... hmmmm today I think it is sunshine.

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    1. I so love your comment, Heidi. I wish I could go back and ask my grandparents more questions too. Or go back and really focus on remembering certain things about them. I'm thankful for pictures and home movies, but there are times I still imagine being in the room with them. I always felt so safe and loved whenever they were around. Thanks for sharing about your grandparents. It's sweet to know you had a similar experience. And the word sunshine is glorious! My word, I am READY for some sunshine! The ice needs to vacate pronto. :) Thank you for reading!

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  8. I LOVED reading Snicker of Magic and I LOVE recommending it to readers! Having another copy would mean more readers reading at the same time! I can't wait to meet Natalie's new character, but I will always love Felicity! As far as a favorite word, there is no way I can choose one word. There are so many words that I love....brave, hug, shimmer, twinkle, ice cream, sassy, icicle, snuggle...the list goes on and on. There are just too many spindidly words out there! : )

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    1. Kristen- I am so happy to hear that you are a huge Snicker of Magic fan too! I love Felicity and look forward to meeting Natalie's new character. You picked some spindidly words! :) ~F

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  9. I love the story of your grandparents. It brought back pleasant memories of mine, so long ago. I never knew my mother's parents, just my father's. Your book sounds wonderful. Great character names. Congratulations. Great interview, ladies. Thanks.

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    1. Beverly- I loved hearing about Natalie's grandparents too. Glad it brought back nice memories for you. So happy you enjoyed the interview. :) ~F

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    1. Patty- You will love it! :) ~F

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  11. This book is so far up on my TBR list! Fingers crossed. Thanks for the chance to win. My favorite word is schadenfreude -- just because I think it's amazing there is a word for that!

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    1. Rosi- What a fun word! Best of luck in the giveaway. You will adore A Snicker of Magic! :) ~F

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  12. Your grandparents sound so special and it is rare to have something written (posts) form your grandmother of parts she loved. Something to treasure. Your book sounds wonderful and magic can be found anywhere

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    1. Birgit- I agree with you that Natalie's grandparents sound special. Her book is fantabulous. I hope you get to read it! :) ~F

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  13. I think it is interesting that she thought she had a cause for the inspiration, but there was also a deeper meaning that she later on realizes. I suppose that sometimes we can do things based off reasons we don't even know ourselves until later on. I love how you interview someone after you have read and reviewed their book!

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    1. Olivia- It is so cool that we can have hidden meaning in our writing that we don't even know about!

      Thanks for your sweet comment. So happy to hear you enjoy the reviews with the follow-up interviews. :) Thanks! :) ~F

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  14. I love Natalie's pic with her dog! So nice that her grandparents helped inspire the book. I'm ridiculously relieved that the writing/editing tool her so long. I don't feel so bad about my slow process now.That's the first time I've seen a pink wingback chair. I'm wishing Natalie much success with this book and good luck on the new one she's writing!

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    1. Lexa- I love the picture too! So glad you enjoyed the interview! :) ~F

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  15. Great interview! This book looks great.

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    1. Kelly- It is an amazing book! :) ~F

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  16. Hello, Natalie! I've enjoyed reading your thoughts.

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    1. The Armchair Squid- So glad you enjoyed hearing from Natalie! :) ~F

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  17. Ooh lovely interview! I really want to read this book now. It was interesting learning about the inspiration and process to writing this book.

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    1. Rachel- A Snicker of Magic is magically written. It is a book that should not be missed! :) ~F

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  18. I absolutely loved A Snicker of Magic, which I read as an e-ARC - it was one of my few 5-star books for 2014. And one of the things I loved best about it was Felicity's ability to see words, and the way Natalie Lloyed played with words and word creation. It was simply magicalicious! As for a favorite word, it's hard to choose, because there are so many wonderful ones. Widdershins, felicitous, argent - words with very specific meanings, unusual words, beautiful words, I love them all!

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    1. Lark- So cool to hear that you loved A Snicker of Magic too and that it was one of your few 5 star reviews. You shared some awesome words with us! :) ~F

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  19. Terrific interview. WOW. Hope to win a copy. I LOVED her answer about living in Green Gables. ME TOO! I truly enjoyed learning her process. I will take the cupcake. Thank you. :-)

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    1. I forgot to enter my favorite word. Phantasmagorical, of course. I've used it in a poem and am writing a PB using it.

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    2. Robyn- Good luck in the interview and I love your word. :) Thanks for visiting! :) ~F

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  20. That sounds great and I agree, being the new girl on the first or any day day of school was hard.

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    1. Mary- It is a great book. Having been a new student before- it can definitely be tough! :) ~F

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  21. This sounds like a really interesting book! One I might enjoy reading; good luck with it :)

    my favorite word - hope :)

    betty

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    1. Betty- It is a fabulous book. Lovely word! :) ~F

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  22. I'm in the midst of reading this, so the interview was a pleasant surprise. What a lovely story filled with such heart and I adore Felicity and Jonah. I also love how your story was inspired by your grandparents. I would so love to be able to ask them so many more questions about their life. There are stories that my mom told me after they were gone that I wish I could know more about.

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    1. Brenda- How cool that you are in the middle of reading A Snicker of Magic. Glad you were able to read the interview with Natalie. I love the characters too! Thanks for visiting! :) ~F

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  23. I love these kinds of posts where you find out so much about the author... you always ask such great questions that really give us the opportunity to know much more than we could have...

    I like the answer about Anne of Green Gables... those were simpler times and I remember loving those stories too xox

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    1. Launna- So glad you like these posts. I always love to learn more about authors too! :) ~F

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  24. Wonderful interview with Natalie!! I love that photo of Biscuit :)

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    1. Optimistic Existentialist- Thanks! I think Biscuit it super cute. :) ~F

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  25. What a delightful interview! I think I need to get a pink wing backed chair for myself & I used to devour TBSC books! My library had all of them & all of the sweet valley high & SV Twins books too. I used to dream of having my own babysitters club.
    My nana bought me a beautiful hardcover copy of Little Women when I was in 4th grade & I was reluctant to read it but when I did I didn't put it down.

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    1. Bellas Shelf- So glad you enjoyed the interview! I love the pink wing backed chair too! Loved hearing that you devoured some of the same books as Natalie. :) ~F

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  26. I was so close to my grandparents and miss them everyday. Lovely interview, it is so nice to meet the author behind the book

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    1. Kimba- Glad you liked the interview and hearing from Natalie. Your grandparents sounds very special, too. :) ~F

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  27. What a wonderful interview! It's so nice to get to know an author outside of their work.

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    1. Kate- Thanks! I always love finding out more about authors. :) ~F

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  28. I loved the interview and enjoyed reading about Natalie. This looks like an amazing read.

    I love the word perseverance.

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    1. Excellent word, Medeia! A Snicker of Magic is fantastic!! :) ~F

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  29. Great interview...interesting to read about Natalie. Congrats Natalie.

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    1. Nas- Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~F

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  30. I've heard so much about this book, and it's wonderful reading about what had inspired Natalie in writing it. Also, I don't know how children can walk past that cover and not take a second look! One of my grandmothers passed away few years ago and I still miss her a lot. Favourite word these days: river

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    1. Claudine- I love your word! You will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! The writing is so magical you will adore it. I hope you get to read it soon. :) ~F

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  31. Nice interview! I love hearing how people find inspiration for their art. :)

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    1. Shooting Stars Mag- Thanks! I always like finding out about the inspiration behind art too! :) ~F

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  32. This is such an adorable interview! I love this book title and the wonderful stories behind it of your entertaining and loving grandparents, Natalie! I love the expression "the missing-place." Do we ever lose that place for people we love? I think not.

    And I feel akin to you, as the first book I remember that made me fall in love with stories was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - and Aslan was my hero. I recall crying at the so, so sad part in the book with him (you know which scene that is!). I even got a special lion ring to wear to feel Aslan's power in me.

    Wishing you much success with a Snicker of Magic!

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    1. Donna- Thanks! I loved reading your thoughtful comment for Natalie. So beautifully written. I think it is so cool that you got a lion ring to feel Aslan's power. Awesome! I hope you get to read A Snicker of Magic! :) ~F

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  33. Fantabulous...which describes A Snicker of Magic rather well.

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  34. Well, I'm already in love with this author! Cutest. Interview. Ever. And The Avett Brothers are ahhhmazing <3 We'll be adding A Snicker of Magic to our TBR list ASAP! Awesome post!

    ~ Mckenzie & Michele @ A Belle's Tales

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    1. McKenzie- You will LOVE this book! So glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~F

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  35. DIAPHANOUS -- when I hear the word, I think fairies, flowers and spring colors.

    Wonderful interview!

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    1. Ranoe- That is an awesome word! Thanks for visiting. :) ~F

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  36. Great interview! Fun to read!

    My favorite word is happy! :)

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    1. Gbatie- Thanks! So glad you enjoyed the interview. Happy is an excellent word! :) ~F

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  37. I keep hearing what a great book this is, but somehow still haven't managed to read it yet. I think it will have to be on my spring break to-do list.

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    1. Suzanne- It is a wonderful book! I hope you get to read it over spring break. :) ~F

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  38. My favorite word has been kerfuffle for the last year or two. (It changes from time to time.)

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    1. Suzanne- What a fun word! :) ~F

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  39. A wonderful interview with an author that that makes me want to rush out and buy the book...I will definitely check it out.

    I love this quote, "I think every story is the product of a lifetime." Mine sure are and so many of the ones I wrote about involve my beloved parents and grandparents who are no longer here either. I love that multi-color ice cream cone on the book cover. I'm sure it's indicative of the story it tells. Thanks, I loved reading about Natalie.

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