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There's good news, good news, and even better news today!

First Good News:

Last year was a big year for me because I had a children's picture book manuscript accepted by Millbrook Press, a division of Lerner™Publishing Group. All sorts of things have to come together before the book is published, so it will 2020 or beyond before it is actually a physical book. But in the meanwhile...

Second Good News:

I am so grateful to you, my readers and friends, for your support of this blog and feedback over the years that helped me reach this point. To share my gratitude, I have a treat. This week I'm giving away two wonderful picture books from Millbrook Press, Love, Agnes: Postcards from an Octopus by Irene Latham and illustrated by Thea Baker AND Plants Can't Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch and illustrated by Mia Posada (reviewed at our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil).

Don't they look amazing? Before you jump down to the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway, however, there's still more.

 Even Better News:

Now, the best news of all. Irene Latham, the author of the lovely and imaginative picture book Love, Agnes has stopped by to help us celebrate and to tell us all about it. Welcome Irene!

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On the surface, LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS, my first narrative picture book, looks like it's about the life cycle of a giant Pacific octopus. It does, in fact, offer reader lots of factual information, like how these clever creatures are boneless shapeshifters with three hearts. How they have host of amazing defense mechanisms, and how their lives come to an end shortly after mating (for the male), or once the eggs are hatched (for the female).

The book is also a complete fantasy – one that's firmly rooted in my psyche. Consider the things Agnes and I have in common:

Agnes sends – and receives – postcards. So do I! Each year during National Poetry Month, I send out hundreds of “Live Your Poem” artsy postcards... because I want to. (Want to receive a postcard from me? Sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/JmNeFvo7j4)

Agnes loves being a mother. Me, too! I have three sons I nurtured from before they were born through all the crazy-busy years, and have since watched float away on a current. I couldn't be prouder or more in love with my guys!

Agnes believe the best way to handle death is to live a good life. YES. When I was writing this book, my father was in the final stages of colon cancer. He remarked to me that it was a strange situation, and frustrating, because some visitors would talk to him like he was already dead. So I researched what the dying need to hear/say, and somewhere – I wish I could remember where! - I found this gem: the dying need to hear/say 4 things: thank you, I love you, forgive me, I forgive you.

Fortunately I was able to say those things to my father, and hear him say those things to me. And I was able to give those words to an octopus named Agnes, too.

Ultimately, Agnes is grateful for her life and forgiving of her predators and competitors. She even gives her primary prey (crabs) a break at the end. Agnes is me, and she's my father, and she leaves this world the way I hope to – with joy and wonder and gratitude.

Side-note: Agnes is also funny. She's a cheeky octopus. And guess what: I'm a little bit cheeky, too – even though you may not know it from my previous books. It takes me a while to warm up, but when I do – well, there's a reason my husband calls me “the fun girl in the house.” (Yes, I am also the ONLY girl in the house!) No matter. I am certain Agnes – and my father – would agree.

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I'm getting tears, Irene. Thank you so much for sharing your moving story with us.

If you'd like to try to win a copy of Irene's book plus Plants Can't Sit Still, leave an entry in the Rafflecopter form below before January 15, 2019. If you have any difficulties entering, please let me know in the comments below. The giveaway has now ended. Congratulations to the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway