Chit Chatting with Author B. Kristin McMichael

 

Written by Jill Sheets

In my opinion, author B. Kristin McMichael is one of the greatest young adult authors out there. Her books are so hard to put down! When I got the chance to interview her, I was so excited. Read on and learn more about her books, including a new one which will be coming out this fall. Also, find out where her ideas come from and hear what advice she has about writing.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start writing and what was your first book about?

B: I think I’ve been writing since I figured out how to write words on paper. I’ve loved reading from a very young age and it just continued as I grew older. The first novel I wrote is the second one I published. It was a vampire novel that came from a dream I had. A few months later, Twilight hit the bookstores and the vampire craze began. I figured no one would want to read my book and just left it on my computer for years. In 2013, my hubby asked if he could take it and publish it. I wasn’t sure about it, but I let him anyway. Seventeen novels later and he is still publishing them! Right now we have twelve books in the same vampire world, which I call the Night Human World.

I spent ten years as a molecular biologist, so it is hard to believe that I have five completed series and one stand-alone book right now. One common thing in my books is that they are clean teen books. There is no sex and very little violence, and the violence in the books isn’t super graphic. I write books that I won’t be worried about my children reading when they are teens.


R: Tell us about the Blue Eyes Trilogy?

B: The Legend of the Blue Eyes is a coming-of-age novel where instead of facing normal teen issues, Arianna has to face the fact that she turns into a monster on her sixteenth birthday. She has to learn how not only to grow up, but to grow up in a world filled with monsters that drink blood. In the trilogy, we meet many of the people who will show up in later books, and when I finished Arianna’s story, I couldn’t help but continue their stories.

A cool side note on this book was that it was recently translated into Italian, so I have my first foreign edition published now.

 

R: You also wrote the Day Human Trilogy. Please tell us about those books.

B: The Day Human Trilogy is a spin-off from the Blue Eyes Trilogy. Sometimes when you finish a novel, you wonder what happens to other people. This series focuses on one of the main characters from the Blue Eyes Trilogy as he goes into the Appalachian Mountains to return a sidhe, a fairy-like blood-drinking night human, home to be rid of her. Instead, he finds that maybe his place isn’t where he thought it should be and there is a whole different life waiting for him. I love the idea of fate and people meeting that should be together, even if they don’t agree because they don’t see it like they should. It is so fun to see characters grow and change.

 

R: Tell our readers about the Skinwalkers Witchling Trilogy.

B: The Skinwalkers Witchling Trilogy is a whole new trilogy set in the same night human world as the Blue Eyes and Day Human trilogies. The main character, Cassie, is introduced in the third book of the Day Human Trilogy, but there isn’t much told of her. This trilogy focuses on her adventure and place in the night human world. She is a witch but never knew about the night humans that live beside the witches, and she certainly doesn’t know about the war going on with the night humans in her town. She is quickly caught in the middle of it.

 

R: Tell us about the Chalcedony Chronicles. How many books will be in this series?

B: The Chalcedony Chronicles is a four part series. I’ve had fans asking me to write more, but right now I’ve been focusing on the night human world series. This is a college time travel romance series that reads like a contemporary for the first half the novel before things take a turn to the bizarre for the main character. Mari is set to have freedom and be a normal college freshman, until she meets a guy that is from the past. He, along with his friends, take her on an adventure to ancient times where she finds there is much more to her story and life than she ever knew was possible.

 

R: Tell us about the Merworld Trilogy.

B: The Merworld Trilogy is the latest series in the night human world. Whitney was a night human, but had that part of her taken from her. As a normal person that knows about the blood sucking monsters in the world, she was not prepared to meet Sam, since merpeople were supposed to be eradicated over a hundred years earlier. The Merworld Trilogy follows Whitney as she finds a new place in the night human world and a life that she didn’t even know she could have.

 

R: If they were going to make movies out of your books, who would your dream cast be?

B: I think my Night Human World series could make a great TV show. As to casting, I’d have no idea. The main character of Arianna is only fifteen going on sixteen. I would almost think with such a young cast, you’d have to have unknowns because by the time the show was made, they would be too old! The only book I could see as a movie is my stand alone novel, To Stand Beside Her, but even that I wouldn’t know who to cast.

 

R: What is your writing process? How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

B: I know where the book starts and where it is going, but in between I tend to just write. I have discovered more than one character I grew to love as the story progressed and even a few more that I didn’t even know would be involved. I can remember talking to my husband after writing one of the Chalcedony Chronicle books and telling him, “Crap, I think I just made a really important person. He’s going to have to fit into the whole story now!”

As for ideas, I have a ten page document that keeps growing with ideas. My ideas come mostly from my dreams. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had very long and vivid dreams that I remember the next day or week or longer. This works great for story ideas, but not so great when you have one of those really terrifying dreams.

 

R: You book covers are beautiful. Do you get to pick them out or have any say on them?

B: I’ve worked with a few different designers that I’ve liked the art work of before I even hire them to make the covers. I give them a basic idea of what the story is about and who I want on the cover, but I let them do the rest. I found them because they do great art, so I don’t want to put too many restrictions on them. I’ve been lucky to get some really great ones from them and feel so fortunate to work with the artists I have.

 

R: Where can people get your books?

B: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, and Audible.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

B: I have a new book that will be out on September 4th called The Night Human Hunter. It is set in my Night Human world and follows a hunter that leaves a matriarchal hunter society to find his dad and discover the secrets that come with him. I’m also writing a prequel to the Merworld Trilogy that will be in a box set called Sirens and Scales in January. Twenty authors are coming together to write an anthology all about mermaids and dragons.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer, but who always second guesses themselves?

B: Just forget everything and write. Half the battle of being an author is getting the book done. There are always doubts when you write. Is this the right direction for the book? Will people like this? Will anyone want to read this? Will it be good enough? You will never get the answers if you don’t try. And surprisingly you will find that there are people out there always looking for a new book. You just have to have the confidence (and thick enough skin) to put yourself out there. Don’t worry about reviews or people who don’t like your work. You will get people that love your books and make up for every person that doesn’t.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

B: I once did a blog post about the characters from The Legend of the Blue Eyes favorite foods. That was a hard one. I know many of my characters well, but to decide if they were a cherry or apple pie type of person was hard.

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

B: Website: www.bkristinmcmichael.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bkristinmcmichael

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bkmcmichael

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bkristinmcmichael/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BKristinMcMichael

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your readers?

B: Thanks so much for having me! For the book lovers and fans of my books, it’s been fun writing all these different stories and even more fun to share it with everyone. Thank you for giving a new author a chance. For the aspiring writers, keep at it. Don’t get discouraged and be brave enough to put yourself out there.

 

 

Picture sources: Her husband (first picture), Jessica Allain (book covers)

 

Have a Way With Words? Here’s How You Can Put Your Writing Talent To Good Use

Are you naturally gifted when it comes to the written word? Perhaps you’ve been told from a young age that you excel in this area, and teachers and parents have commented on how you’d make a fantastic author. While writing is something that you can continue to improve on all the time, some people are naturally eloquent with words and find it easy to put thoughts to paper. If this sounds like you, chances are you want to nurture and expand on your gift, and are on the lookout for ways you can become more well-versed as a writer. Here are a few ways you can go about it.

Blog

Blogging has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and that’s because it’s so flexible. A blog can be anything you want it to be: it can be used to document your life, it can be used to share your knowledge on a topic with others, many businesses even use them to promote their site and products. It’s free to sign up, and once you do you have this incredible platform where you can express yourself any way you like. As well as improve your writing skills, blogging will also encourage you to improve your photography (even if it’s just with your smartphone- you need beautiful pictures for your posts after all!) You’ll learn the basics of coding and HTML and can even use free online editors to design and create your own banner and graphics. When you’re writing regular content for your blog, you will quickly find your ‘voice.’ This is something that you never get to do in formal, academic writing, with blogging you can just be yourself. You’ll expand your vocabulary, improve your writing and have fun in the process. Blogging also has a fantastic social side to it, you can speak to other likeminded individuals on platforms like Twitter. Join in with group chats, and even attend meetup events.

Write a Journal

Unlike blogs which are generally public, journals are for you rather than for an audience. The benefits of journalling have been well documented, they can help improve stress, evoke mindfulness and even improve your IQ. Because they allow you to explore your feelings they can help you to improve your emotional intelligence too, this is your ability to understand the feelings and emotions of others. Which is of course a fantastic skill to have in life! We’ve all experienced troubling times, and when your mind is racing, it’s difficult to make head or tail of the situation. Writing things down can really help you to work through and understand any issues that you have, and it can be extremely beneficial for your mental health. The practice of writing every day will certainly improve your writing skills, even if you plan on no one ever reading the journal you

Write a Book

Have you always dreamed of writing a book, but put it off as something to do when you’re a little older? Don’t delay, writing a book now while you’re young could be the best time to do it. Sure you don’t have as much life experience as someone older, but your thought processes, creativity, and imagination right now are bound to be incredible. When you finish education and get into the workplace things can get a little monotonous, and you might find that creative spark you once had dwindling unless you really invest in nurturing it. You could always start your book now and continue to work on it over the years if you don’t feel like it’s quite there. Either way, there’s nothing stopping you as a younger person.

Do Some Freelance Writing

Many students choose to get a part-time job while they’re still in education, so they have their own money to spend, and aren’t living entirely off their parents. But instead of going out and working in a shop or fast food joint, why not do some freelance writing? Many websites will require you to take a short test before you can sign up, but if you get through and are good enough, this is an excellent way to earn some money in your spare time. You get to make some cash, improve your writing and do something you know you’re good at.

 

Chit Chatting with Shana Schutte

 

Written by Jill Sheets


I was excited when I got Shana Schutte’s new book Two Minutes in the Bible for Women. Even with a busy schedule, I knew even I could take two minutes out of my day to go over a Bible lesson. Whenever I read it, it seems liked Shana is talking to me–not like someone who has a degree in civil engineering, but in a language that is not over my head. Read on and learn more about Shana’s new book, why it is important to give God thanks, and what her favorite verse is.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and about your new book Two Minutes in the Bible for Women.

S: If anyone reading this feels like they are unqualified for a particular task, I hope my life is an encouragement. I come from a little town in Southern Idaho. I have no formal education in journalism. I just learned how to write by practicing. I had a little dream in my heart to write books and when I started to move in that direction, God met my desires with circumstances that validated that was what He had for me to do.

The book is designed to encourage readers to get into God’s Word. One thing about it is that you can just read the devotional. Or, you can also look up extra scriptures at the end that are listed for reading and you can also think about the devotional by reflecting on how it applies to you.

All the topics are those for the feminine heart: faith, relationships, and purpose. I have written about waiting on God, trusting Him when life falls apart, and everything in between. It’s really just a book about dealing with life.

 

R: How did you come up with the idea for the book? How long did it take you to write this book?

S: That’s a common question. I wish I had an incredible story about how I was lying in bed one night and got the revelation to write a Two Minutes in the Bible book, but I didn’t come up with this wonderful idea. The Two Minute brand was actually developed by Boyd Bailey, who is the president of Wisdom Hunters. Boyd had already written several books under the Two Minute brand for Harvest House publishers, and he asked if I would be willing to write another for women. I immediately said, “Yes!” I love Wisdom Hunters and I highly respect Boyd, so it was an easy decision.

I didn’t sit down and focus on writing the book in a short period. I feel that devotionals are best written as one experiences life. That way, the words I share come from real-time lessons I am learning with Christ. So, all together, it took about a couple years to write the book.

 

R: Why is it important to give God thanks?

S: Many people see gratitude as being kind of a fluffy thing, sort of like cotton candy. They think it’s a feel-good practice that is nice to do if you want to be a nice Christian. But gratitude is a whole lot more than that. It’s actually protection for the human heart. When you’re feeling down about life and the enemy of your soul starts to beat you up with negative thoughts, gratitude raises you above the trouble to His perspective. It guards your heart against despair.

 

R: This is hard for me to do, but how can one let go of fear and worry by trusting God?

S:  This is a moment-by-moment thing, but I believe one powerful thing to do is to look forward to what God is going to do with anticipation. When you look forward with anticipation and faith, then the worry of the moment vanishes. If we are focused on what bad could happen, worry overtakes us. But when we choose belief, even though our emotions might be saying otherwise, it makes life a whole lot easier.

 

R: How can one practice gratitude?

S: You can practice gratitude by telling God out loud what you are grateful for. You can practice gratitude by telling others that you thankful for them. You can make it a daily habit to notice the beauty around you. And, when things don’t go the way you’d like them to, you can “reframe” what happened to you by asking yourself, “What good has come out of this situation? How have I learned? How have I grown? How can God change me for good because of what happened to me?”

 

R: What can one do to achieve their calling? How does one know what their calling is?

S: Sometimes people think of a calling as one thing they do in their life. And they think that a calling is something that only happens at one particular point in time. However, a calling is like a journey. If you aren’t doing what you believe is your calling right now, a good thing to remember is that there is preparation time before you will complete a particular task. And the preparation is as important as the actual calling. God is always at work in our lives. I think remembering this is good because it will prevent you from experiencing sadness or despair if you feel like you haven’t “arrived.”

We can have multiple callings in our lives: to be a good friend, to serve at church in the choir, to be a teacher. We may do those all at once, or at different seasons.

All of God’s kids can use their gifts to glorify God. One way to know what God has called you to do is to look at the intersection of your passions and your talents or God-given abilities. If you like to do something and you are pretty good at it (or at least you have the seeds of the gift that you can grow), then you might have a calling in a particular area.

 

R: What do you want people to take away from this book?

S: My hope is that women and young women who read the book will become more encouraged to spend time in the Bible. Sometimes, we feel like we have to spend lots of time in the Bible, and then when we can’t we feel guilty. But no one has to spend an hour in the Bible every day. If you can, great. But God isn’t grading us. It’s nice to take the pressure off and spend just two minutes a day with Jesus. God can speak to our hearts in a second.

 

R: What is Beyond Imagination?

S: Beyond Imagination is an organization I founded in 2008 that is dedicated to helping people with everyday life through biblical truths. Through Beyond Imagination, I do speaking, I write blogs and devotionals, and I have had a nationwide radio platform.

 

R: Tell us about Blueprint for Life and Wisdom Hunters.

S: Blueprint for Life is an organization based in Atlanta that helps people discover and live out their calling. It was founded by Mike Kendrick, and I wrote devotionals for them for a couple years. Wisdom Hunters is dedicated to improving biblical literacy. I have been writing for them for a couple years as well. Both organizations publish daily devotionals and can be found online at blueprintforlife.com and wisdomhunters.com.

 

R: What is your favorite verse and why?

S: I don’t really have a favorite verse, as so many of them have been so impactful to me over the years, but I particularly love Isaiah 61:1-3.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

When I was in my early twenties on the way back from a young adult retreat, the Lord gave this passage to me while on a bus. I sensed that He was revealing to me that I would spend my life working with Him to bind up the brokenhearted. For a long time that didn’t make sense to me, but a few years ago, I looked back and realized that’s exactly what I have spent my adult life doing—and continue to do through the words He gives me.

 

R: Tell us about your blog and about some of the topics you talk about.

S: I have been blogging and writing devotionals regularly for five years. I didn’t sit down and decide ahead of time that I would write about particular topics. However, the topics I write about are generally about faith, purpose, and relationships.

I usually write from the things that God is teaching me through life, or what I am learning through the Bible. I have always thought that the most powerful lessons we can share with others are those that we have experienced ourselves. So, I try to be a funnel and be pretty transparent.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about you other book.

S: I have written several other books: Betrayed by God? Making Sense of Your Expectations. It’s about dealing with the disappointment we all face when life doesn’t turn out how we would like. I’ve written 30 Days of Hope, which is another devotional inspired from the blogs on my website. I’ve also contributed to several God Hearts Me devotionals for tweens and have ghost-written a couple books for a good friend who lives in Georgia. One was self-published, The Fulfillment Factor, which is about finding fulfillment through discovering and living out a calling God has for your life, and also Blueprint for Life, which is the same idea, published with Harper Collins.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

S: I actually just started creating new content for singles over age thirty. I am working on an online course for that group as well as a new website. We will see where God takes me. There are over fifty percent single adults in the U.S. for the first time in history, and many of them want to marry and are hurting. I didn’t marry until I was forty-six, so I understand that pain of being an older single, so I want to encourage that group.

 

R: Where can people get your books?

S: They can get them at shanaschutte.com.

 

R: Shana, thank you for the interview. Have a great day.

S: You are so welcome. It was my pleasure.

 

Chit Chatting with Pastor/Author Tabitha Caplinger

 

Written by Jill Sheets

Recently, I had the honor of interviewing an amazing pastor, author, and overall wonderful woman, Tabitha Caplinger. She is the author of the TCO3 trilogy, which I cannot wait to read. Read on and hear her advice if you have walked away from God, her books, and what #LiveChosen means.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

T: I don’t want to just ramble out my standard bio, so…I’m a wife, mom, youth pastor, and author. I’m also a confessed TV addict. I spend most days in Tabitha Caplingermy pajamas, writing and drinking coffee. Also, I like to think I’m pretty awesome (I tend to think everyone is pretty awesome in their own way).

 

R: How did you decide to get into student ministry? What is the best thing about it?

T: My dad was a pastor. I’d like to say that I had this super inspiring calling experience, but in reality, I didn’t want to have anything to do with vocational ministry, so I pushed the idea of it out of my mind and ran away to a secular college for two semesters. God, being patient and gracious, kept speaking to my heart and showing me His purposes for my life. Eventually, I realized nothing outside of His will was going to make me happy and fulfilled, so I relented. The cool thing now is looking back and seeing how God redeemed those two semesters and is currently using them in my ministry (I was a creative writing major, though I had never once thought of being a writer prior to college. Now I’m a pastor and an author!).

 

R: You are also an ordained minister. How did that come about?

T: The moment I really yielded my will to God’s and began to walk out the call to student ministry, I knew I wanted to be credentialed as a minister–not for the title, but the training. I am ordained with the Assemblies of God. The classes involved in getting ordained are challenging, but they teach you so much about ministry and about God’s Word. I am also so thankful to be part of a fellowship that values women as equal so that I could become ordained. It was a super cool experience. My husband and I were ordained at the same time and my father surprised us by getting to be the minister who prayed over us at the service.

 

R: It is not easy being a teen. What advice would you give a teenager who has turned away from God and Jesus?

T: I would say to give Him another chance. I’ve been doing student ministry for a lot of years and those that started out with Jesus and turned away either went through something difficult and grew angry at God, or they never really had a personal relationship with Him to begin with (I’m not trying to cast everyone in general categories because our struggles and situations are all unique, but I think a lot boils down to these two arenas.). But while we may walk away from God, He never walks away from us. He is right there, waiting for us to just see Him, to reach out a hand for him. So give Him another chance, a real effort, ask Him to reveal Himself, to speak to you. I believe with all my heart that He will. And don’t confuse people with Jesus. Often we limit God by only seeing him in the light of other Christians. Look for Him, the real Him.

R: Tell us about your book The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline.

T: Basically, it’s some pretty cool and sassy girls who fight demons and are trying to save the world. There is also a stoic angel and pie.

 

R: How did you come up with the ideas for your books? What is your writing process? 

T: This book was a dream. That might sound clichéd, but it’s true. I woke up with this idea. Actually, it started with a vision of The Chronicle and the story just went from there. As for the writing process, I am an outliner first. My initial outlines are pretty broad and basic, and then as I go they get more specific. I do like to be flexible, though. More than once, my characters have gone off-script, and that has led to some of my favorite scenes.

 

R: Where can people get your books?

T: Amazon is a good place to start. Bloodline is available to order in both paperback and digital in other places online. You can even walk into your local bookstore and they can probably order it for you. I am waiting for the day it makes the Barnes & Noble shelves.

 

R: What advice do you have for someone who wanted to become a writer?

T: Write. Sit down and do the work. Even if you don’t have the whole book laid out, it’s okay–just start somewhere. Also, do your homework on the publishing and marketing process. There is a lot I have learned along the way that I wish I had known earlier. Writing the book is just the beginning.

 

R: Tell us about the book The Chronicle of the Three: Armor Bearer. When will this book be released?

T: Armor Bearer is the continuation of the TCO3 trilogy. It picks up a little while after Bloodline ends and we get to dive a little deeper into Claire’s history and Zoe’s present. Some new characters appear, too, which is always fun. And you don’t have to wait for it because Armor Bearer was released February 7, 2017!

R: Do you plan on writing more books?

T: Yes! I am finishing the third book in the TCO3 trilogy right now but I have two other book ideas that are swirling around in my brain. I can only focus on one story at a time, so as soon as Book Three is sent off to the publisher to get the process started, I will being outlining the next book, which I am really looking forward to.


R: Tell our readers about your blog.

T: My blog is like my brain, a little all over the place. I write about what’s on my mind that month. Some posts are funny and some are serious. Some are about writing or my books. Some are about my kids. Some are about Jesus. It’s a good way to get to know me because it’s just me, my thoughts on the page.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

T: This might be it! I get asked what my favorite type of pie is a lot…or how I like my tacos. Doing an interview in character as Claire from Bloodline, I (or she) was asked what shoes she was wearing.

 

R: What is #LiveChosen?

T: For over 15 years of youth ministry I have discipled young women. After writing Bloodline, I put together a devotional resource that is its companion, Daughters Arise. But I didn’t feel like it was enough. I want the stories I write to open conversations about our relationship with God. I was reading Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere one day and praying about how I could take the ministry part of all this one step further and #LiveChosen flashed in my mind. My TCO3 characters get branded with the word “chosen” after slaying their first demon. While we won’t slay any physical demons, we do have purpose–we are chosen. #LiveChosen is my initiative to help young women learn to live for their purpose on purpose. I have some resources on my website for girls and leaders and I have several #LiveChosen videos on my YouTube channel. (If you don’t mind watching me talk about Jesus in my kitchen or bedroom.)

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? Which ones and what are their address? Do you have an official website?

T: I am on all of them. Probably not really but a lot of them.

My website is tabithacaplinger.com and it links to all my social media.

 

R: Anything else you would like to add or say to your readers?

T: Just that you are chosen, powerful, loved, and never alone.

 

Chatting with Author Laila Jackson

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

L: My name is Laila Lee Jackson and I’m a total dork. I couldn’t survive without my family and, in my opinion, animals are better than people. I am sixteen years old and I started writing back when I was ten. I am very passionate about reading, which I have enjoyed since about third grade when I discovered the Harry Potter series. After finding Harry Potter I started reading more and more. I eventually stumbled across Percy Jackson and the Olympians and fell in love. With books and the stories that came to life with just a few words, I decided that I wanted to share my own stories with the world, so I started writing. It didn’t start off well. I was a decent writer, but I couldn’t give my stories any real substance. Finally, after basically moving across the state, I found not only my incredible friends, but an idea that came to life and after four years, I finally had the story I’d always dreamed of.

R: What is your book about?

L: I’ve never been good at summarizing a story, but I’ll give it my best shot. My story is about a girl who discovers she isn’t quite normal. Her soul is not her own, but rather shared with that of an ancient Greek goddess. One day, alongside Dakota Greene, Whitney Clarkson (the girl) stumbles across a magical clearing and awakens the goddess, as well as the souls of eleven other ancient deities from several different cultures. Whitney and eleven others are whisked away from the mortal world and sent on an outrageous quest that they can’t expect to survive. Between running from monsters of myth and magical beings that deceive the eye, as well as trying to keep her friends alive, (even at the expense of her own life) she discovers that everyone wears a mask and the difficulty of seeing through it. While that is the basic plot, there is much, much more to the story. Hopefully everyone can discover the world of Whitney Clarkson as she attempts to beat the gods.

R: Who are your biggest inspirations?

L: When it comes to my writing, my greatest inspirations are Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling. Rowling managed to give me an unquenchable thirst for reading. Riordan turned that thirst into a fiery passion and a craving to make my own own mark on the literary world. His works made me push myself and developed my dreams of sharing my own stories with the world some day. In life, some of my greatest inspirations and influences are my parents. My mom, whose mantra in life is probably “walk it off,” is one of the strongest people I know. My dad, tough on the outside, but softer than your favorite blanket on the inside, pushes me to always be the best I can be. I love them and honestly, I probably wouldn’t survive without them. My influences would also include my teachers and coaches. They are literally there everyday. They know when to praise and when to give constructive criticism. They help me to grow as a student and an athlete, but also as a person.

R: I heard that you are also into sports. What sports do you play?

L: I run cross country and play basketball, but my heart belongs to softball. Cross country constantly challenges my mental strength. I used to despise running. It was the absolute worst. However, my freshman year I succumbed to peer pressure and joined the cross country team, where my coach taught me how to love running. Basketball challenges my physical strength and sometimes leaves me worse for wear. I mean, a girl my age who is as athletic and healthy as I am shouldn’t already have aches and pains that make her hobble around like an old lady. I played basketball for a few years when I was younger, but then stopped until my freshman year when I joined the high school team. I worked incredibly hard and pushed myself and I finally made split team, where I had the privilege to play with varsity. I have played softball for as long as I can remember. It was a game I fell head-over-heels in love with. Eventually, my family moved to a small town in northern Nevada at the end of my fifth grade year. I continued to play and then at the end of my eighth grade year, one of the other softball player’s dad put together a travel team, the Wells Rage. Now, before that summer I was an average player. I wasn’t incredibly good, but I wasn’t the absolute worst. I understood the game better than most others, but my ability was lacking. After that summer I grew and I turned from average to above average. I had talent, but with good coaching and hard work I developed skill. Now I’m hoping to continue my softball through high school and at the next level.

R: Do you have an official website or any social media?

L: I do not have an official website or Facebook page, though we are looking into getting one. The Kingdom of Fire is available on Lulu, which is a self-publishing site. It is also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

R: What advice would you give to other young writers?

L: All I can tell them is to just keep writing. Find a topic you’re really passionate about and just write. I never brainstormed anything. I did research, but once I pulled up my book I just typed. I lost myself in the story and let myself become a part of it because I cared about it so much. The most important part is to not give up. I have given up on a lot of stories because I couldn’t figure out how to start them or end them or transition to the next chapter. But I finally found a topic that I was so passionate about I couldn’t ever imagine giving up on it. I would also advise that you don’t look at any past work with regret that you didn’t finish. Don’t look at it and only see the mistakes. The more you write the better you get. Without my own failures in the past, I never would have grown into a writer. I never would have dreamed that one day I would have a published book. But because of perseverance and dedication, I do.

 

Chit Chatting with Authors Andra and Morgan Ebert

 

two-people-in-front-of-treeRecently, I had the honor of interviewing Andra and Morgan Elbert, the authors of the adorable new book Winnie the Mini Horse. This mother-daughter duo is also involved with Heartland Mini Hoofs, a nonprofit organization using miniature horses to provide therapy to nursing homes, hospitals, schools, etc. Read on to learn more!

 

R:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing.

E:   We are a mother-daughter team who shares a love of horses and reading. Both of us always have a book nearby that we are reading.

 

R:  Tell us about your new book Winnie the Mini Horse.

E:  Our first book is the introduction of Winnie to her new family (or herd, as it is called in the horse world). Winnie is beginning her journey to learn how to become a therapy animal.

 

R:  How did you come up with the idea for the book?

E:  We thought that this would be a great way to introduce the public to the new therapy avenue using miniature horses.

 

R:  What would you like your readers to take away from the book?

E:  How everyone, including horses, are faced with new situations every day. Through practice and patience, many obstacles can be overcome.

 

R:  Who drew the pictures for the book?

E:  An illustrator at the publishing house.

 

R:  Where can people get your book?

E:  Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Archway Publishing.

 

R:  At what age did you find your love for horses?

E:  Morgan began riding at 11, and within a couple of weeks she was jumping horses over rails! Now she is a seasoned horsewoman with years of experience. Currently she is riding in the discipline of Eventing (Olympic riding events).

horse-one

R:  When did you start riding and showing horses?

E:   After placing in her first show, there was no turning back for Morgan.

 

R:  What is your favorite thing about being around horses?

E:  They are the most loving, loyal and non-judgmental animals. When you ride, you truly develop a lasting bond of mutual respect.

 

R:  Tell us about Heartland Mini Hoofs.

E:  We are a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization providing animal assisted activity and therapy visits using miniature horses. With our special animals, Winnie, Bailey and Jasper, we provide smiles, laughter and love to nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, schools, Alzheimer’s units, senior communities and other special groups.

 

R:  Is Winnie one of your horses at Heartland Mini Hoofs?

E:  Winnie is the newest member of the family. The other two horses are Bailey and Jasper.

 

R:  What are you currently working on?

E:  We have outlined the second book and are currently adding details.

hourse-2

 

R:  What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a writer?

E:  Make sure you have a way to record or write down your thoughts. Most importantly, never give up!

 

 

R:  Are you or your books on any social networking sites? What about an official website?

E:  We are on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/winniethemini/ Twitter – http://tiwtter.com/winnieminihorse, and we have a blog – http://www.winnietheminihorse.com!wednesdays-with-winnie/

 

R:  Is there anything else you would like to add?

E:  Reading and horses are a wonderful combination for children. We try to make it extra special by having Winnie “hoof” sign any books that we donate to schools and libraries.

 

R:  Thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.

 

Written by: Jill Sheets

All photo credits:  Bettis Photography of Taylorville, IL

Dear High School Self

Dear High School Self,

Hello, my friend. I see you will be graduating in the spring. You’ve had trials, drama, and success the last few years. I know you still aren’t quite sure where you fit or what part you will play in life, so be patient. It will reveal itself along the way. It has been and will be worth all the effort you have and are making. Sometimes we race across the finish line with fanfare and cheers. Other times we seem to barely survive and crawl across. HOW you finish matters a lot less than THAT YOU FINISH. Keep giving it all you’ve got, and you’ll get somewhere worth being.

I know you have often wondered if you have what it takes to become something more than you are right now, or if there is even anything MORE out there. Trust me, you can do it. I know now that you will never be alone, especially on those long, dark roads you have and will be required to travel.

Treasure the remaining few months of high school. Don’t allow what you don’t have to rob you of what you do have. Attitude and what you choose to dwell on can make a difference. Don’t allow the “can’t do, so don’t try” people to control your life. There are great things out there for you to accomplish, and wonderful people to meet. Keep yourself in the game so you can be on the field when the really interesting stuff happens.

You think you’ve done some cool stuff. You will always remember your experiences in football, swimming, and music fondly. Having such passion and endeavors has kept you on your feet. I know you are planning to swim in college. You will have a great experience. It may not last long, but it will help set a pattern you will follow the rest of your life. Never hesitate to go for your dreams, or try to accomplish really hard things. Strength and learning are more often found in the path and the effort rather than in the end result.

Hold on and continue to develop that growing faith in the divine. It will become a solid foundation during some of the storms that lay ahead, and it will also allow the sun to shine all the brighter each day. He is there for you.

My young friend, I stand at the other end of the path, looking back over 43 years with a measure of envy. I am happy that you have so much in front of you. Life is a wonderful adventure and will take you amazing places. I see clearly the events that separate us and, with some insight, can say that who I have become is due to all the experiences combined. We don’t get to skip over the rough spots, and we shouldn’t want to. It is the good and the bad, the success and the failure, the joy and the sorrow, things lost and things found, that blend together to give our lives depth, color, and meaning. I see more clearly the meaning of your life, and it has been worth it. All of these experiences make it possible for us to become the wonderful and interesting people that God intended. One day you will see to live…truly live, love, and aspire to be something more…is glorious.

What more can I say? Thank you for making me who I am. As a result of all that has happened, I have found joy and meaning. You will too. I believe in you.

Your friend,
Clark

Clark Burbidge is an award-winning YA author, especially known for the trilogies “Giants in the Land” and “Star Passage.” In this letter he writes about what he wishes he could have told his teenage self. Clark talks about being patient because even if you don’t feel like you fit in now, one day you will find your place in the world. He also discusses learning to enjoy the moment and not to not spend your time worrying about the next thing. You can read more about him here: About Author Clark Burbidge

Chit Chatting with Author of the KARE KIDS ADVENTURE Series Charles A. Salter

kare kidsWritten by Jill Sheets

Recently, I had the honor of interviewing Charles A. Salter. He is the writer of the “Kare Kids Adventures” series. Read on to learn more about Charles, his book series, how many books he plans on writing, and what advice he gives to someone who wants to become an author.

 

R:  Tell us about yourself and how you got your start in writing.

C: Growing up in a writing family, I suppose it was inevitable that I would want to become a writer myself. My earliest memories include Dad pounding away at his Olivetti portable typewriter for hours at a time, producing copious numbers of poems, short stories, novels, nonfiction articles, stage plays, and various autobiographical journals over his entire life. Also at that time we had as a family friend one of the most famous Southern writers in America: Walker Percy. With encouragement from both parents, I wrote my own first illustrated children’s book at the age of 8, a family newspaper by the age of 9, several short stories and mini-plays (which I, along with a younger brother and sister) produced for our parents’ enjoyment between age 10 and 15. That summer of my 15th year my brother and I started writing film scripts and produced a number of these with family, friends, and neighbors serving as cast members. By age 16, I had finished my first novel, though it is important to realize none of the above were formally published or reaching more than a local audience. Not long after college, however, I began to write professionally and for regular publication. I first achieved success in nonfiction, publishing hundreds of articles in journals, magazines, and syndicated newspapers. I also published some textbooks, reference books, and general nonfiction books, including a series of teen nutrition books which became very popular in school libraries and won awards. In more recent years I have turned to fiction, producing both an adult action series and the current “Kare Kids Adventures” series.

 

R:  Tell us about your book series “Kare Kids Adventures,” and how many do you plan on writing?

C: The “Kare Kids Adventures” are about preteen children who don’t merely care as an attitude, but translate their concern for family, friends, animals, and the environment into real action to solve problems and make their world a better place. In all of these books, the Kare Kids can’t rely on magic or super powers to solve their problems. They are realistic kids who live in the real world…BUT with the help of parents and other kindly adults, they know how to think for themselves and act independently. All the books are rated “G” with no bad language or gory violence. I have four volumes finished now and am working on a fifth. I have some tentative ideas for producing up to about 20 books or so if the fan response warrants that many.

 

R:  How did you come up with the idea for the books?

C: I get most of my ideas via dreams while sleeping. I keep a notepad and pen beside the bed to jot the key details of my dream stories down upon first awakening, before they fade away.

 

R:  What is your target age range?

C: About age 8 to 12 is the principal audience target. However, I have seen five- and six-year-old kids love having the books read to them. I think there is also enough intriguing background material about the adults in the series to interest parents who read these books to their children.

 

R:  Tell us about your first book in the series, The Secret of Bald Rock Island.

C: Book #1 of the “Kare Kids Adventures” is The Secret of Bald Rock Island. In it, 10-year-old Kelcie decides to solve the mystery of what happened to her missing fisherman father years ago AND what the mysterious creature on her island might be. Only recently published in June, it has gotten several excellent reviews already, which can be seen here: The Secret of Bald Rock Island – Amazon

 

R:  Tell our readers about “Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place.”

C: In Book #2 of the series, Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place, Kelcie is now grown up and her 9-year-old daughter is the star. Charlotte discovers a serious environmental danger in the woods and does everything she can to alert authorities and rescue two trapped puppies. This book was published on July 1 of this year. It is also available at Amazon.com:  Charlotte and the Mysterious Vanishing Place

 

R:  Tell our readers about your 3rd book “How Three Brothers Saved the Navy.”

C: In Book #3, How Three Brothers Saved the Navy, Charlotte’s three preteen cousins uncover a terrorist plot to destroy their Navy father’s ship. They show great courage and ingenuity in ferreting out the details and then thwarting the plot. That book was published in early August.

There is also a fourth book coming out around the end of the summer. Charlotte’s twin brother and sister star in The Travel Twins and the Lost Secret of the Vikings. This book’s plot unfolds on a scary (but real) train winding its way high in the beautiful mountains of Norway. Felons with mysterious motives have stolen the famed Leif Erikson Sunstone from their uncle’s Viking museum in Oslo, and the twins decide to get it back.

 

R:  Are any of the characters based on anyone?

C: Kelcie, the child heroine of the first book, is a composite of my two daughters. Out of the entire series so far, volume #1 is the only one set in the past—about one generation ago. At that time, my now-adult daughters were children and we often went to Maine (the location for this novel). We saw and experienced the kinds of places described in the book!  Kelcie appears in book #2 as a grownup in the current timeframe. The characters of all the kids in books #2 through #4 are based on my grandchildren.

 

R:  Tell us about your other books.

C: As a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) over the past 30 years, I have published a large number of nonfiction books, including textbooks and reference works, as well as an award-winning series on Teen Nutrition. In recent years I have published four volumes in an adult mystery/action series (The Ebay Detective and Brad Scout Detectives, about an Army officer who does special missions for the President), and now this middle grade children’s series.

 

R:  Where can people get your books?

C: These four books are available from the publisher, Outskirts Press, and also from all online books dealers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. Please look up the titles in their search blocks or click on one of the URLs provided above.

 

R:  You also write for a newspaper. Tell us a little bit about that.

C: I used to write a weekly column on family issues that was syndicated nationwide by Suburban Features, part of the Scripps-Howard publishing network. I am sorry to say that Suburban Features went out of business.

 

R:  What is your writing process? Do you outline or just start to write?

C: I know some people like to outline their entire novel before starting to write, but I like to begin by dreaming up imaginative new characters and putting them into an exciting new situation or crisis. They soon begin to take on a life of their own and seem almost real to me, and they’ll tell me how they want to resolve the problem. Early on they will tell me what the ending is, but it is always an exciting adventure for us to discover together how they will get there.

 

R:  What are you currently working on?

C: I am currently working on Book #5 of the series, which brings back the three brothers of Book #3 in a new adventure. This time they help the U.S. Army. I am a veteran and military retiree with 28 years of active service in the Army. During some of those years I did considerable work for the Navy, even sailing on many different types of ships on actual deployments. Writing about military topics just comes naturally for me.

 

R:  What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a writer?

C:  Gosh, there are entire books full of good advice! I guess the most important are these two points: (1) Don’t get discouraged and give up when you get rejections by publishers.  Even the most famous writers generally were ignored at first.  From the time I wrote my first novel to when I published my first book was ten years!  (2) The creative process can be fun, even exhilarating, as you see those words pour out onto the page. But that is only the beginning—editing and revision are the keys to making any manuscript more readable and saleable. As one of my creative writing instructors put it, “The mastery of an art takes a lifetime.”

 

R:  Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what about an official website?

C: My primary author social networking site is:  https://www.facebook.com/CharlesASalter/

Among many other items, there are a series of autobiographical posts about how growing up in a writing family turned me into a writer.

I also have an author Twitter account filled with ideas about how to encourage more independence and maturity in youngsters: Charles A. Salter – Twitter

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your readers?

C: The whole point of the “Kare Kids Adventures” series as a whole is to encourage young boys and girls to see their own heroic potential within. Youths need to become more independent as they mature, and our culture todays seems to recklessly disregard the fundamental truth that our society needs independent citizens capable of thinking for themselves and acting on principle. I like to think these books will not only entertain, but also inspire today’s youth.

 

R: Charles, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.

C: And thank you very much for meeting me like this and sharing my books with your audience! Bye for now.

Silfa, A Fairy Tale Review

Written by: Jill Sheets

 

silfaHave you ever wondered what it is like to meet a fairy and for her to get to live with you for a while?  In the book “Silfa, A Fairy Tale” you will be able to see what it is like to know a fairy. Or maybe you wonder what it is like to be a fairy.  In this book, you get to see both sides!

“Silfa Fairy Tale” by Susan Nadler is a wonderful book for any age or gender. This beautifully written book keeps your attention from the very start with characters that are well developed. The author fills the book with wonderful descriptions, so you are able to visualize with vivid imagery and imagine being in the make believe world Nadler describes.  The book is filled with beautiful artwork that is extremely captivating.  It is a quick read, so be ready to be sad when it is over!

If you have not read the interview with Susan Nadler, check it out.

Chit Chatting with Savannah Ostler

Written by:  Jill Sheets

Source: Shawn Barbe

Source: Shawn Barbe

Recently I had the honor of interviewing actress, singer and writer Savannah Ostler.  Continue to read on and learn more about her, her book and the social networking sites she is on.

 

R:  Tell us about yourself and how you got into acting?

S:  Sure! My name is Savannah Ostler, I’m a small town girl with big dreams. I’m from Alpine, Utah, and I always enjoyed many forms of the arts, but especially performing in local theater. It was from my love of theater that I decided to attend East Hollywood High, a film high school in Salt Lake City. In addition to studying acting and writing at school, I also studied with various film professionals around Utah. I started to get my feet wet with acting in feature films, commercials, and short films. I guess you can say that I got bit by the “film bug”. I just love performing!

Following graduation, my performing ambitions led me to Los Angeles. I’ve had a lot of fun appearing in several more feature films, television programs, and commercials. I even had the pleasure of working with the legendary Disney producer, Don Hahn (“Beauty & The Beast”, “The Lion King”). I am such a huge Disney fan, The Lion King in particular. I told Don that I am a huge fan of his movies, and he said that he was a fan of me! That made me feel warm and fuzzy.

 

R:  I read that you are in the tv movie “Destiny: New Beginnings.”  Is that true, if so tell us about it and about your character Kimberly Moore.  You are also in the tv show.  How did you find out about the role and what was the audition process like?

S:  Yes, I have played the role of Kimberly Moore in the television series “Destiny.” It has been a lot of fun filming each episode, because there is always something new happening with my character. I don’t know much about the movie as of yet, but I do know that it is in the works. I actually found out about the role from a friend on facebook! The audition process is fun, but also can be very stressful and nerve-wracking.

 

Source: Shawn Barbe

Source: Shawn Barbe

R:  How do you prepare yourself for a role?

S:  I like to prepare myself by studying the script over and over again. I find that each time I study a script, I find new information. I like to call them “character gems”- something I can dig up from the subtext and use in my performance. I’m also a total people watcher. It doesn’t matter where I am, whether it be Disneyland, the airport, or a restaurant- I observe people, and their behavior. Sometimes, I pick up something interesting, and I make a note of it. When I have a character to apply it to, I use that note in my work.

 

R:  Do you have any other projects that are coming out?

S:  We are working on a few projects, one of which is a feature film project that is a twist on Cinderella. I love the story of Cinderella, and anything and everything to do with her. We’re really excited about this project.

 

R:  If you could work with any five people, who would they be?

S:  That’s a great question, and I don’t even have to think about this one. If I could work with any five people, it would be (in no particular order) Reese Witherspoon, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, J.K. Rowling, and Walt Disney. It would be a dream to work with the first three, because in addition to being strong and independent female role models, they all perform, produce, and both Amy and Tina write their own stuff. I love it when actors produce their own material- it inspires me to do the same thing. It would be a totally awesome experience to work with J.K. Rowling, because I was inspired to start writing because of my love for the Harry Potter series. Last but not least, it would have been such a great honor to work with Walt Disney. He was a visionary in the purest form, and created such an amazing world that we can all enjoy.

 

R:  You are also a writer.  Tell us about some of the scripts you have written.

S:  I love writing! I’ve written a handful of scripts, but the one that sticks out to me the most is my script “Twice The Dream”.  It’s about a 17 year old girl named Sam, and following her elder sister’s death, she sets off on a journey to fulfill her sister’s dream.

The other script that I am really passionate about right now is the Cinderella project that I’m working on.

 

savannah-HEAHS1R: Speaking of writing.  You write the book “Happily Ever After High School.”  Tell us a little bit about the book? How you came up with the idea for the book? Do you have plans on writing more books?

S:  Absolutely! It’s a YA fantasy novel called “Happily Ever After High School”. It’s about a normal 17 year old girl who gets transferred to a magical, fairy tale high school. She begins the journey of a lifetime as she encounters the descendants of classic fairy tale characters, as well as encountering new ones. Not only does she discover the fairy tale world, but she discovers who she really is throughout the story. She even falls in love for the first time.

I came up with the idea back in 2010, and it came from my love of fairy tales. One day, I thought to myself, “How cool would a fairytale high school be?” The entire story stemmed from that idea. I actually began writing it as a screenplay first. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to adapt it into a novel.

I have many plans for more books, almost too many. Currently, I am working on writing the sequel to Happily Ever After High School. After that, I have a few ideas that I’m toying with.

 

R:  You are also a singer.  Where can people get your music and tell us about some of your songs?

S:  In addition to writing and acting, I also love music. I have released several songs, you can find them on itunes. One of my favorites is called “Prince Charming”, and it’s a fun, upbeat song about a girl’s first love. I recently recorded a new song too, and will be releasing it soon. It’s called “Fairy tales”. What can I say, I love fairy tales, magic, and happy endings. It makes life so much fun!

 

R:  I read that one of your nick names is Barbie.  Is that true?  If so, who came up with the name and why?

S:  Yes, it is true, as silly as it is. Since I’m blonde and wear pink a lot, my fellow classmates in 9th grade gave me that nickname. I can’t remember who specifically, but it definitely stuck, especially throughout high school.

 

R:  Who has been your biggest influence?

S:  My biggest influence would have to be Walt Disney. I get inspired just by thinking about him and his work. Not only was he a dreamer, but he worked hard. He had to go through many failures in his “pre-Mickey” stage, and time and time again, he would never give up. He knew that he had stories to tell, and he was determined to share them with the world. When he created Mickey Mouse, the rest was history. He produced the first animated feature film ever, despite the hundreds of people who told him it was impossible. One of my favorite quotes from him is “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” It’s that attitude, that determination, and the amazing stories, characters, and theme parks that he created that makes me feel like anything really is possible- you just can’t give up.

 

R:  It is not easy being a teenager.  What advice would you give them in general?

S:  It definitely isn’t easy. My biggest advice to teenagers would be to just be yourself. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. Don’t try to be someone you’re not just to “fit in”. Because really, what does “fitting in” really mean? None of the middle school/high school drama is even going to matter once graduation rolls around. Keep your chin up, work hard, and stay true to yourself and who you are. Be yourself.

Also, I would advise them to work on developing your passion. It doesn’t matter what it is- art, writing, music, science, animals, acting- just work on developing it, and you’ll be glad that you did.

 

R:  What are five things people may not know about you?

S: I am married to my dream man, who also happens to be a talented filmmaker.

I may look really girly, but I also am a huge tomboy.

If I wasn’t in the entertainment industry, I would want to be a vet.

I can belch on command- and better than any man who has challenged me.

I am super messy and my room is a mess, but hey- the more messier the room, the more creative you are, right?

 

R:  Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

S:  “Do you dream in pink?”

 

R:  Are you on any social networking sites?  If so, which ones and what are their addresses?  Do you have an official website and/ or youtube page?

S:  I am on facebook, twitter, and youtube. Would love to connect with more friends!

https://www.facebook.com/savannah.ostler

https://twitter.com/SavannahOstler

https://www.youtube.com/user/SavannahOstler

 

R:  Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

S: Never. Ever. Give Up. Ever!

 

R: Savannah, thank you for the interview.  It was an honor.  Have a great day.

S:  You’re welcome! Thank you so much for having me!