The Box Blog Tour: My Favourite YA Covers by Christina Gaudet & Giveaway

Today I have author Christina Gaudet on the blog. I love book covers so I thought I would ask Christina to do a guest post on her favorite YA covers. Check out Christina's choices below and look out for a giveaway of Christina's book The Box below!

Favorite YA Covers
Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)My favorite YA covers? Hmm. That’s such a tough question since there are so many wonderful ones out there. I’m also a graphic designer and illustrator as well as an author, so I have a special love for beautiful covers and am always interested in seeing something new.

10. Sabriel – Garth Nix
This is a fairly old cover, and I don’t know if it would actually make it to my top ten any more if it weren’t one of my favorites from when I was a teen. This was one of the first covers that I sat down and studied and thought, “I want to do that.” I love the characters outfit and the line of bells across her chest. The colours are also lovely and set the dark tone of the book.
Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)
9. Seraphina – Rachel Hartman
From old to brand new, Seraphina is another wonderfully illustrated cover. While illustrations for YA covers have gone out of style in the past few years, this cover shows that it can still work. The etching style of the gorgeous medieval village evokes a certain tone that no photograph would be capable.
Rampant (Killer Unicorns, #1)
8. Rampant – Diana Peterfreund
I have a bit of a thing for swords, as you might see in the sequel to my new release The Box (hint hint), so Rampant definitely has to make my top ten list. Combined with the stare of the model and the unicorn reflected in the blade, I know everything I need to about this book, and it makes me want to read to find out more. Though I must admit I was surprised when I read it and discovered unicorns are evil, but that’s a whole other matter.
7. Linger – Maggie Stiefvater
Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)Illustrations will always have a place in my heart, especially monochromatic simplified images such as the cover of Linger. I just love the simplicity of the design and yet it tells so much. Every time I see this cover, the graphic designer in me becomes envious of the clever design.
Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess, #1)6. Nobody’s Princess – Esther Friesner Have I mentioned I like swords? Well the same goes for daggers. Haha. I love the textured green background with her simple, yet gorgeous outfit in the foreground. And her hair! Who wouldn’t be envious of hair like that? The hands on the hips give her just the right attitude.
Death by Bikini (Death By Mystery #1)5. Death by Bikini – Linda Gerber
Death by Bikini shows just how important the font choice and layout is for a cover. I absolutely love the way the title of this book is the main design element. Add a few very simple, perfectly positioned shapes, slap on some great patterns and wham! One cleaver and eye catching cover. I also love how the strip of pattern to the right is actually on the page beneath the cover in printed versions. It gives the whole thing an extra layer of depth.
Illuminate (Gilded Wings, #1)4. Illuminate – Aimee Agresti
I’m going to say something that may get me shunned from the YA community. I’m not a fan of the fad of putting pretty girls in ball gowns, get them to look sad and using that as a cover. They are pretty photos, but the look is so overdone at this point, I can’t even tell the difference between the covers anymore. What set Illuminate apart are the gorgeous typography and the clever use of shadow to create wings.
3. Dark Souls – Paula Morris
Eyes Like Stars (Théâtre Illuminata, #1)Dark SoulsOops, another ball gown. Oh well, the mysterious street, the guy walking away and the great use of fog give this cover so much intrigue. I want to know what’s going on, and want to know RIGHT NOW!
2. Eyes Like Stars – Lisa Mantchev
Alright, I’ll admit it. A pretty dress can win me over. But what really caught my eye with this cover was the blue hair. I love it. I want it! The fairies look like so much fun, and so much trouble. I have to say, I’m not as much of a fan of the font choices as I was with the others, but the illustration on this cover is too pretty to ignore.
1. Red Riding Hood – Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Red Riding HoodSuch a classic. The illustrator and designer in me simply won’t let me stop looking at this cover. I love the flow of the illustration, the use of colours, and the energy of the whole thing. It’s simple and beautiful and the splashes of blood and the axe in Little Red’s hand shows there’s more to the story than what you heard as a kid. 

So, there you have it. My top ten YA book covers. There are so many beautiful and inspiring covers out there, it really was difficult to pick. Of course, I’m also in love with the cover of my own novel, The Box, but thought it might be a little egotistical to add it to the list. Haha. I hope you enjoyed my choices and I’m curious to know which ones you agree with, and which you’d replace

The Box

Some gifts should be left unopened.

When her gran passes away, the only item left to Lou is a small wooden box. Although it’s not the car that her sister, Cindy, receives, Lou knows it could have been worse. She could have gotten Gran’s collection of toenails. When Lou opens the box and a guy the size of a stick of gum falls out; she changes her mind – the nail clippings would have been better.

Not a day goes by that Lou doesn’t wish she could shove that guy back in the box and pretend she’d never laid eyes on him. Because of him, she discovered Gran was a sorceress and Cindy is a witch and all these years they have been keeping Lou’s magic locked away “for her own safety.” Without the magic she’s vulnerable to whoever, or whatever, is after her. With it, she’s a target for a fate worth than death.

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24th September: Book exerpt & ebook giveaway @
24th September: Review @
25th September: Author Interview @
26th September: Fave 10 YA covers & ebook giveaway @
27th September: Review via
28th September: Promo post with book excerpt & ebook giveaway @
28th September: A review via
29th September: Guest post @


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Childrens Book Event: Interview with Micheal Emberly

Today I bring you an interview with author & illustrator Micheal Emberly. Enjoy the interview and leave a comment for the author below!

You Read To Me I'll Read To YouCan you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into writing and illustrating?

I grew up an hour north of Boston, in the northeastern U.S., in an old wooden Colonial house near the ocean, with my sister, mother, and father, a well known and successful children’s book author/illustrator, working upstairs in his studio. My sister, mother and I worked on some of my father’s books growing up. And my sister, Rebecca, has done books as well over the years.

Obviously I was influenced by that experience... and I finished my first book (Dinosaurs! A Drawing Book) at 19, still living in the house. It was meant to be a section of one of my father’s well-known series of books on how to draw. But the style was not consistent enough to use in his book and he suggested I try to turn it into a book on it’s own. Which I did. I took a sketch dummy of the book down to one of two major publishers that were in Boston at the time, Little Brown, (both publishers eventually moved to New York) and to my father’s editor, John Keller. He probably was wondering how to let me down easy, clearly doing this as a favor for my father, but surprising to me, and I imagine him, he liked it, and my first book got published...

It was a bit of an accident really. I didn’t take it all that seriously at the time. And that was probably a good thing in the long run. Growing up with the profession so close to home made the whole notion of creating a book seem a lot more ordinary I’m sure than it would be for say, a plumber’s son. My father was thrilled he would not have to pay me for working for him anymore... and maybe even get me out of the house (!)

Can you tell us about some of the books you have written and illustrated?

Dinosaurs!I’ve been doing this since I was 19 as I said so there are quite a few books. Though not nearly as many as the more prolific authors out there. When I began doing picture books, I would have called myself primarily and artist/illustrator. I published three projects before taking a break from children’s books for a few years. When I came back I wanted to do more of my own writing, so I set that process moving, doing odd illustration work for magazines etc, giving myself a few years to get something together that might sell.

I had no formal training in writing. I just dove in and taught myself - with some help from kind friends who read and commented on my (crude) early attempts. It took a few years. I can’t honestly remember how many, a few. I spent a lot of time with lined paper and pencils, as well as sketch books, but also table napkins, telephone note pads, the back of grocery receipts, anything handy, jotting down any idea, or an improvement to an ongoing idea that came into my head. I started by accumulating tons of material, then weeded it down slowly to some likely candidates.

Then finally, when I had a few complete books written and sketched out, I went back to my old editor, and showed him five completed book dummys and one un-illustrated manuscript.  I didn’t know it wasn’t typical to show up with so much completed work. It was a result of how I worked. It was just natural for me to let my mind wander as I worked from story idea to story idea, slowly working up many stories at once, going back and forth. As I got stuck on one, or something I wrote in another might make me think of an idea for the other one. Rather than just sitting there with writer’s block, thinking and puzzling with a unfinished story, shutting out thoughts, stopping my mind going off on tangents, it was easier for me to just go with those ideas, and come back to the one I was stuck with later.

It would have been easier at times to have a big round table that spun like a “lazy Susan”(if you know what that is), and work on each book in turn, as I got stuck on one, spinning the table to the left and move on to the next... eventually I’d get back the first one, and hopefully, have something to add. If not, go for a bike ride....

Eventually I pressed forward with the most promising ideas, ending up with the 6 books I brought with me that day. It was a bit like a race, I had no idea until quite late in the process which book, or books, would come out ahead.

You have illustrated the books for many books in the You Read to Me, I'll read to you series with Mary-Ann Hoberman. What is it like working together with other authors on books?

I have had the great pleasure to work with four talented authors over the years: Mary Ann, Robie Harris, Sally-Lloyd Jones, and most recently, the great Barbara Bottner. All different writers, and all different types of working relationships.

Now you maybe aware that at least in the US children’s book author’s and illustrators usually never meet or even speak during the project, or after even! So my experience is a bit unusual.

I worked very closely with Robie Harris for over ten years on a series of three books for three different age groups: (8+)(6+)(4+) on sexuality, where babies come from etc. We did many hours of work together outside of the publisher, developing the books from start to finish. They were complicated projects that took two to three years to complete. We also worked closely with the editors and designers, as well as professionals in many fields relating to the topic, to make them as accurate, accessible, and responsible as we could. I also had to make them interesting, and quite often – funny!

Mary Ann and Barbara I do not work side by side with, but I know them both very well and have a friendship with them both. (They do not live near me which may be a good thing in the long run...) but we do talk outside the publisher about certain aspects of the book as it develops, but most of the coordinating is done through the editors or designers. Sally-Lloyd Jones I have never met though we did email a few times. I hope to someday though. It’s strange to think that the vast majority of illustrators never meet their author partners.

I’ve been very lucky. I’ve worked with charming, generous people who have been easy to get along with. That’s not always the case.

What is the illustrating process like for you, i.e. how close do you work with the authors of the books, do they have much say is the illustrations etc. 

You Read To Me, I'll Read To You, Fairy TalesI work primarily as I’ve just said away from the author, and most of the sketch art and final art is shared, in my experience, with the author, and they are given varying degrees of influence over my artwork depending on the relationship the author and editor has, the degree of trust primarily, based on prior experience. It’s not all up to me. And I could send hem all kinds of stuff, but in general I agree with the level of involvement given the authors I’ve illustrated with, and would maybe give them a bit less if it was up to me... I think it is an excellent idea to show them everything, but not necessarily give them veto power, or get bogged down in waiting for detailed feedback that may or may not be useful.

I have worked both sides, but never had anything I wrote illustrated by someone else. Being an illustrator myself, I would find it hard to accept art that I was unhappy about. But I would hope the editor would listen to me since I do know what I’m talking about as a designer, whereas, an author who has little or no experience in art and design, I’d be wary about taking their side against the artist in a dispute. I guess, it all depends...

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on another book in the You Read To Me series, about (American) ‘Tall Tales’ – which means well known American Folklore characters.

And I’m writing again, speculatively, several books at once. (you shouldn’t be too surprised if you’ve read the beginning of this interview...) I’m writing longer works for older children, some of which may have no illustration  at all... a first for me – if they ever get published. I’m working on YA novel, a  two middle grade novels, a chapter book,  as well as a few other less developed ideas – all at once.

Thank you to Michael for the interview. You can check out his website here!

If you have missed any posts for the Childrens Book Event you can check them out by clicking the banner along the top of the blog. There are great interviews, guest posts and giveaways!

The Super Spies and the high school bomber blog tour: My Five Favorite YA Authors by Lisa Orchard

My Five Favorite Young Adult Authors

1)     Suzanne Collins author of  “The Hunger Games series”
I just loved the first book in the series.  I haven’t read the second one yet, but it’s definitely on my TBR pile. I really identified with Katniss, being a big sister myself, and I empathized with her situation in the story.

2)     C.S. Lewis author of  “The Chronicles of Narnia”
I read all the books in the Narnia series…many moons ago! LOL! I loved the world that C.S. Lewis created in those books. I also grew up with two brothers and a sister so the stories really hit home for me in that respect. J

3)     Louisa May Alcott author of  “Little Women”
I loved this book growing up. It was a story of four sisters and their relationship to each other. I identified with Jo who was the tomboy in the story. I loved her fiery spirit and her love for her sisters.

4)     Rebecca Stead author of  “When you Reach Me”
This story really took me by surprise. I picked it up because it was a Newberry winner and I really enjoyed it. It was very well written and there were quite a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I love those kinds of books! J

5)     Clare Vanderpool author of  “Moon over Manifest”
I picked this book up because it was a Newberry winner and I really enjoyed the characters and the story. It was an emotional read and went much deeper than I expected. J


This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?

The Super Spies and the High School Bomber is the second book in the Super Spies series and is available to buy now:

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24th: Interview & Giveaway

Childrens Book Event: Making Izzy and Skunk by Marie Louise Fitpatrick

Today I am so excited to have author Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick on my blog. Marie-Louise is an author & illustrator and she has put together a great post on the making of one of her books called Izzy and Skunk. It shows the idea from the beginning to the finished book and shows some great early sketches. Enjoy the post and leave a comment for the author below :)
Making Izzy and Skunk by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

The idea for Izzy and Skunk came from watching kids at my niece, Ann's, seventh birthday party. At the beginning of the party all the children were being quiet and polite, then a little girl called Isabelle arrived. She had a glove puppet skunk on her hand and as each child took turns with it, I noticed they were projecting a noisier, more confident version of themselves through the puppet.

Bing! Idea!

Not that the idea came all at once; they didn't back then. It was 1991 and I wasn't as skilled at figuring out exactly what it is that has set an idea going, what exactly I'm trying to say and where to take it.

Back then I had to wait a while, sketch and write a bit, wait another while, sketch and write a bit more. But I did know I definitely had the germ of something...

Here are some early sketches of Izzy and Skunk. (Izzy is based on my niece, Ann.)


Because I do both the words and pictures I usually work out the idea/characters/pictures/design and words all at the same time, developing them through layer after layer of work, and that's how it was with Izzy.

Here are some early thumbnail sketches for the book - you can see I'm writing notes to myself around the edge. There would have been loads and loads of sketches and roughs, most of which ended up in the bin.

Eventually I developed the idea enough to make a decent pencil dummy - a rough version of the book.

I touted Izzy and Skunk around the London publishers in 1993 and got nice reactions but, ultimately, a load of follow-up rejection slips.

Over the next few years I kept going back to Izzy (and two other ideas -Silly Mummy, Silly Daddy and You, Me and the Big Blue Sea) and reworking them. I did some nice sample artwork for them - two pieces a book.

Another trip to London in 1996 got me a whole load more rejection slips for all three ideas and finally some real interest in Izzy. A publisher called ABC liked it but suggested that the ending needed more work.

'The story has a strong beginning, a strong middle, and then it just sort of fizzles out,' the editor said. 'Give me a stronger ending and we'll take the book.'

I wasn't sure what to do next, but she suggested that I think about what might happen to a real little girl, and I thought of how my niece had lost her beloved favourite toy when she was eight.

What would Izzy do if Skunk got lost?

Asking myself that question gave me the strong ending I needed, something which had eluded me for five years!

I sorted the ending to the editor's satisfaction but, just as we were about to sign a contract, ABC went under and I was publisher-less again. At this point (thankfully!) I found my agent. She placed Izzy and Skunk with Gullane Children's Books and I began working on the finished artwork in earnest.

The editors at Gullane had some concerns too. The new ending featured Izzy wading into a pond to rescue Skunk. They felt this was too dangerous, so Izzy climbs a big tree instead!!!!

They loved the colour palette I was using in the watercolour art but suggested the green I favoured was too blue and I should consider an olive green instead. They were right; olive green fits in far better with the other colours I like to use and I have favoured olive greens ever since.


Izzy was afraid of shadows...

...but Skunk wasn't!


Izzy is a story about a little girl who is scared of everything, and her glove-puppet friend, Skunk, who is not. I designed the spreads so that the 'scared' images (and words) are small and the 'not scared' images (and words) are big, to mimic the way Izzy is feeling.


Izzy was afraid of making mistakes...

...but Skunk wasn't!
Izzy and Skunk was published in 1999 and translated into many languages including Danish, Korean and Chinese. It won the Bisto Best Book of the Year Award in 2000.
Silly Mummy, Silly Daddy and You, Me and the Big Blue Sea also found publishers eventually! In fact, each was taken by a publisher who had previously rejected it, but only after I had reworked them both some more.

Thankfully nowadays I move ideas along much more quickly because I have learnt to ask myself lots of questions - what would that character do next? What would he /she do if this/that happened? - and I have developed a keener sense of story and a sharper ear/eye for the weak spots, both in the text and the illustrations.

And I always bear in mind that every idea needs a strong beginning, strong middle and strong ending....


I am currently finishing a novel called Hagwitch for 9-12 year olds, and doing the art for a new picturebook called Ellie-in-the Grey-Coat.


Timecatcher the Novel facebook page
Marie Louise Fitzpatrick facebook page

If you have missed any posts on for the childrens event you can click the banner on the top of the blog to see all the posts. Great interviews, guest posts and giveaways!


Childrens Book Event: Memories and Importance of parents reading to children

So far I have had posts on authors first memories of reading to authors favourite childhood reads. Today's post is on the authors opinions on the importance of reading with or too your children and their memories of their parents reading to them.
When I was younger I remember my mum reading bedtime stories to me. There did tend to be a few arguments over who got to pick the book as I had a younger brother and sister to compete with and they usually got to pick the book. LOL But I loved it. I loved that my mum sometimes made stories up for us and told us them. I think it is great for parents to read to their children or even sit with them and let them read to you. It does of course help with learning but its a great bonding moment between parents and child. When I have children of my own I look forward to reading to them and have them read to me, I hope they are all little bookworms like me :)
Check out some authors opinions on the importance of reading with children and there memories of their parents reading to them. Then leave me a comment below!  Do you read to your children? Do you think it is important to read to them? Do you have memories of your parents reading to you?
"...we always had reading time! My mother was a reader, so, she would sit with me and read quite a bit.  I think nurturing that love is very important! It is a bonding tool that is also educational. Amanda from
" Yes, my parents read to me all the time.It’s absolutely vital, not only for encouraging reading, but for developing their language on a fundamental level (especially rhymes!) and providing them with the tools to deal with an increasingly complex world. And speaking as a parent, it’s some of the best time you can ever spend with your child." Oisin McGann, author

"I remember my mother telling us traditional fairy tales as she was ironing. The smell of ironing still reminds me of stories. My father used to make up very exciting stories, they could be quite scary at bedtime but we loved them. Reading to children wasnt as common as it is now. Its a wonderful activity for parents and children, great for their relationships and for discussing or raising issues of things in a slightly sideways manner. So if you want to talk about bullying or loneliness or a fear, you can find a not-too-raw territory for that in a book. "Childrens author & Illustrator Mary Murphy "

My mother, every Christmas Eve, would read it “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and it was the only time she would read aloud to us, so it was a BIG DEAL. Even after we were much older, we still clung to this tradition. I think reading to your kids is very important. It builds vocabulary and exposes kids to places and stories to which they would not otherwise be exposed. It builds well rounded kids, and I’m all for that!" Anne Tibbets, author "

I’m a firm believer in bedtime stories not only for the bonding aspect but because it encourages a love of stories that can only lead to a love of books. Of course it only works when it’s not perceived as a chore but, rather, as something that parent and child both enjoy." Author Bob Burke


"My dad used to read us bedtime stories using a stuffed animal as a puppet. My sister and I called the stuffed animal Hole-in-the-Head Dog”. I do think it’s important that parents read to their children. It not only invites kids to use their imagination and gives them one-on-one time with their parent, but it also introduces how important language is in our society. "
Victoria Scott is a YA writer represented by Laurie McLean. Her debut book will be, THE COLLECTOR: A DANTE WALKER NOVEL (Entangled Teen, March 2013). Victoria has a master's degree in marketing, and lives in Dallas with her husband. When not writing, she can be found grubbing on cotton candy and snuggling obese cats. You can cyber-stalk Victoria online on her website or on Twitter

"One memory comes to mind in particular. I remember being very young and we were holidaying in an old beach house belonging to my aunt. My sleeping arrangements were on an upper bunk bed in a tiny spider infested room. There were spiders on the ceiling above me and I couldn’t sleep, so my parents read a book to me. It completely took my mind away from the spiders and I slept fine.
My parents, mother in particular read to me at bedtime when I was small… I loved it.. Having a story read to you by a parent is something that stays with you forever. I read to my children at night, and it’s a very special time we spend together…." Author Joe OBrien

"I can remember being maybe three years old and being snuggled up in my bed with my mom, reading Goodnight Moon, Are You My Mother and A Fly Went By. These were my favorites, and I can still hear them in my mom's voice. These nightly reading sessions couldn't have taken more than 15 minutes, but they left me with a warm and settled feeling going to sleep. A zillion years later, I take a book to bed with me, reading quietly to myself to end the day. I think that kids learn more about your values from how you spend your time than what you say.Being read to every night also taught me just how important books were to my family. My mom was an extraordinarily busy person, and the idea that she broke the frenzy of the day to read to me left me with the feeling that reading was as important as food or a bath." Author Annabel Monaghan

"I was the youngest of three so I remember my sisters reading to me, as well as my mam and the baby-sitter! Reading to your children is a HUGE gift of time and attention. They may 'forget' the details as time passes but research has shown that it is a big bond-builder between parent and child. Watching TV with them just doesn't compare." Author & Ilustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

"I dont, and I do, is the answer. I dont remember them reading to me specifically, but I do strongly remember a teacher, Mrs. Bowman, at about 8 years old reading to us extensively - complete books by Roald Dahl etc. I loved being read to.   Im not a child development expert, and Ive never been a parent, but I would think it would be essential to get a child to become a lifelong reader to start as early as possible, in a safe enjoyable environment. If the child can learn to enjoy it early, they are more likely I imagine to continue to enjoy it, to seek it out, and continue to develop as an independent reader, as well as a independent thinker, and a curious searching human being. Reading isnt just about entertainment, but about exploring and thinking through ideas about the world around you. It could be science, or fantasy, romance, or finance. Being a reader gives you the most freedom to access the full spectrum of human ideas.

I personally am coming to the unoriginal conclusion that “the story” form is the most sophisticated form of human expression. Not for everything, like science experiments or tax forms, but story can capture the mysterious element of existence in a way exposition or essay or a teaching text book cannot. I think there are valuable insights we can pass on as individuals, about life, to others, through story, without the barrier of individual experience. In other words, we may not all have answers, but most of us have clues. And we can pass on those clues, through creating stories that reflect that moment of realization or recognition that we are tantalizingly close to an answer, and leave it up to the reader to pick up the trail, and use their own experience to reinterpret and evolve their own view of existence.

Make sense? I really dont think there are any final answers to questions, just strings of questions going off forever. You know, one question leads to another... stories are the critical connection to the path, not the destination. So much teaching is about answers. Fiction can have as many questions as answers. And thats good I think. I could go on...." Micheal Emberley author & illustrator

"My parents always read stories to me and my sister and two brothers at bedtime. It was part of our routine at night. I think it is extremely important for parents to read to their childre. It helps family bonding as you are spending time with them and it is very rewarding to see them enjoying the books and having a special time of the day to read. " Wendy Murdoch (A local librarian)

If you have missed any of the posts for the event you can check them all be clicking the banner along the top of the blog to see all the posts. Great interviews, guest posts and giveaways!