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 and


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


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

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


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).


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.



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 – Twitter –, and we have a blog –!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 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  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:

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.

Essential Books That Every College Student Should Read



It is not uncommon to hear college students complaining how they hate reading books. A lot of college students attest that reading books is tedious and to a large extent boring while others have identified a list of must-read books. On the flip side, there are numerous benefits associated with reading including widening one’s vocabulary, identifying new academic writing models, enhancing one’s cognitive skills, informing and expanding one’s world view and improving one’s grammar skills. No matter the inclination on the issue of reading books, there are some essential books that every college student should endeavor to read.

One essential book that college student should find interesting is Freedom written by Jonathan Franzen. Though the book is largely based on fiction, with a story line that centers on a love triangle, it does give an idea of how one should react when in a dilemma. It is essential in that it provides hand-on experience on the process of making hard decisions. Another book is that of Scott Fitzgerald, This side of Paradise, and teaches that life is not complicated but rather the struggle and efforts that we put into guiding and controlling life.

Norwegian Wood is another written by Haruki Murakami with a strong lesson that we should learn to appreciate what we have and the people around us as well as accept the reality. So far it is quite clear that these books contain important lessons and messages to guide one through different types of situations. I once also thought that I only needed books to type my essays. However, reading books such as Crime and Punishment taught me that pain and suffering will always be there for a deep and large intelligence heart. That one can change his principles and moral laws for the greater good.

There are numerous other books that are essential for college life and even life beyond college. Books such as 1984, A brave new world and One Hundred Years of Solitude comes with different lessons essential for successful transition from college to the next stage of life. For example, The Great Gatsby as written by Fitz Gerald teaches young people to access their capabilities and skills, let the past be the past and focus on the future. Books such as Lolita, a farewell to arms and The master and Margarita comes with important messages. Others include books such as The stranger, Uncle Tom’s cabin, Faust, The art of happiness and The lord of the flies, the latter which encourages people be creative thinkers and to always maintain a clear mind for them to find solutions to their every day’s problems.

Reading is fashionable in its own unique way. One does not have to only read the prescribed course textbooks or materials. In addition, reading should not be taken as vehicle to passing exams but rather a passion and a quest to widen one’s knowledge, cognitive skills, and one’s world view and to find lessons related to real life situations. These books are essential not only for the classroom learning process but also for preparing one to better handle real life events and situations and help them appreciate themselves and what they have.

Chit Chatting with Author Beth Revis

Written by:  Jill Sheets

author Beth

Picture credit: VISIO Photography

Recently I had the honor of interviewing author Beth Revis.  Continue to read on and learn more about her, her books and what five things people may not know about her.

R:  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

B: I’m very boring: I like to read, write, and travel. I’m a total fangirl, especially with Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Firefly.


R:  Tell us about your book “Shades of Earth.”

B: Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Ruled by chaos. Now it’s time to come home. But life on Centauri-Earth is far from perfect. Threats from the planet and from within the colony are tearing them apart, although Elder and Amy do all they can to keep it together. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been meaningless.

R: Tell us about the other books in the Across the Universe series.

B: The short answer is that they’re a murder mystery…in space! The first book, Across the Universe, follows Amy’s journey as she wakes up from cyrogenic sleep on board a generational space ship a little too early, and her adventures with Elder, the boy destined to become the captain of the ship. The second book reveals many new mysteries and lies, which is all concluded in the third novel.

Book 1 Book 2 book 3R:  If they were to back the trilogy in to movies, who would your dream cast be?

B: I’m a fan of Molly Quinn for Amy, and a younger Utkarsh Ambudkar for Elder.

R:  Tell us about “As They Slip Away.”

B: “As They Slip Away” is a novella that tells the story of a background character in the books. Selene is seen briefly in the AtU books, but her story is far more tragic than Amy’s.


R:  Tell everyone about your blog.

B: I blog! It’s here: I generally have articles about books and writing. I also blog about art, fandoms, and other fun stuff at:

R:  Where can people get your books?

B: Anywhere! Here are links:


Would you like a signed copy? Contact: Malaprops.

Indie Bound


Barnes & Noble


The Book Depository


R:  What are you currently working so?

B: A new novel! I can’t say much about it except that it’s science fiction.

R:  Who is your favorite author?

B: C.S. Lewis

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

B: I have a weird thumb—it was broken as a child and now looks smaller than the other one. I can play the piano—poorly. I named my dog after Sirius Black in the Harry Potter books. I married my high school sweetheart. My favorite color is gray.

R:  I read that you like to travel.  How many places have you visited and what has been you favorite place to visit so far?

B: I will always love London, New York, and Paris—but I also have a very special fondness in my heart for the country of Malta, the first nation I visited abroad.


R:  What advice would you give someone who wanted to become an author?

B: Make your own rules.


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

B: In a job interview, I was once asked “If you could be any flavor salad dressing, which would you be and why?”


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


Twitter: @bethrevis


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

B: Thanks for reading!

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

“Deadtime Stories” Contest: Watch Tomorrow!

Hey Everyone,

If you are a fan of the hit new Nickelodeon Series “Deadtime Stories” or a fan of the books then we have a great contest for you taking place this week!

All you have to do is watch the Thursday, November 14th episode at 8pm ET/PT entitled “Little Magic Shop of Horrors” and then log onto  and be one of the first 10 fans to answer these questions correctly for your chance to win an autographed copy of the book signed by actress Jennifer Stone!

 Here is a clip from this Thursday night’s episode.

1. What does Bo load his sling shot with?

2. What is Mary Margaret Mahoney’s talent?

3.  What is the grand prize for winning the talent competition?

4.  What street is the Little Magic Shop of Horrors on?

A Passion for the Pen

By Wilson & Kesmine Hickman

Kesming_Wilson-Hickman Is writing your passion? Do you enjoy creativity? Are you interested in publishing a story, but not sure how? As teen sibling authors, we would like to share advice on penning and publishing your works. Our books, The Adventures of Detective Luke series (by Wilson Hickman) and the Luna: Puppy Detective series (by Kesmine Hickman) resulted from our immense love for creative writing. This passion originated in our younger years, when we frequently and avidly read as well as crafted stories revolving around other authors’ characters. Eventually, we began molding our own characters and plots.

When engaged in creative writing, the first important element to consider is inspiration. As a matter of fact, inspiration can spring from anyone or anything. Writing about ideas that excite you can significantly boost the quality of the story. For example, the individual personalities of our Shih Tzu dogs influenced the animal detective characters in our series. Likewise, it is essential to focus solely on creativity when initially developing a story. Do not worry about editing. Do not worry about publishing. Just write the story down. Inspiration and imagination come first; the business side of writing comes later.

Detective_Luke_#2_coverThe pLuna_Puppy_Detective_#2_coverublishing process, notably more difficult than the writing process, is nevertheless worth the work. For The Adventures of Detective Luke series and the Luna: Puppy Detective series, we decided to use self-publishing. This enables authors to have full control over their projects. As a result, the book turns out exactly as envisioned. For instance, during the editing process, writers have the freedom to accept or reject changes suggested by the editor. Similarly, the author has the ability to design both the interior and exterior of the book. Although publishing requires a large amount of time and effort, the end product will ultimately bring great satisfaction.

In short, fictional writing starts with an imaginative idea that blossoms into an impassioned story. Once the story is written, self-publishing allows you the benefit of controlling each step of the process. So if you enjoy creative writing, do not be afraid to use your talents and follow your passion. What are you waiting for? Pick up your pen and get started!


Kesmine and Wilson Hickman are high school students who love reading, writing, being active in their church youth group and playing with their Shih Tzu dogs. Both of their books have earned awards from the 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. To learn more, please visit our websites: or

Chit Chatting with Author Jane Nickerson

Written by  Jill Sheets


jane nickerson head shotRecently I had the honor of interviewing author Jane Nickerson.  Continue to read on and learn more about her and about her books.


R:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and when you decided to write?  What was your very first story about?

J: Even before I could write, I made up stories in my head. I was always “playing” a story. I wrote my first book when I was six or seven. It was called “Ben Ortho” and was about a witch’s broom that was the title character. Since I also illustrated it, it was lucky that witch’s brooms are very easy to draw.


R:  Tell us about your book “Strands of Bronze and Gold” and how did you come up with the idea for the book?

J: STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD is the “Bluebeard” fairy tale retold. Seventeen-year-old Sophie’s father dies and the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac becomes her guardian. Sophie leaves her humble childhood home to live with M. de Cressac at the astonishly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of pre-Civil War Mississippi. Sophie is both attracted to and shocked by the charm of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, especially that concerning his former wives, all with hair as red as Sophie’s own, she knows she is trapped in a dangerous net.


I remember reading the story of “Bluebeard” in a fairy tale book when I was little. I was intrigued, but creeped-out by it. It is a very different sort of fairy tale—more of a gothic murder mystery. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to retell it, fleshing out the characters and the situation. At first I started writing it in a traditional western European setting, but after I was half way through, I suddenly woke up one morning and knew I needed to place it in Mississippi. I had recently moved to Ontario, Canada, from a small Mississippi town, and I guess I was a little homesick for it.


R:  What is your writing process?  Do you start to write or do you out-line?

J: For short stories I leap into it and just write it into a story. For long books, I start out with everything neatly planned and outlined in a notebook with carefully-marked sections. It’s sort of like a skeleton to hang the flesh on. Then, as I go along, the notebook becomes crammed with bits and pieces of paper I’ve scribbled notes on, and I’m allowed to change anything I want to change as the ideas strike me and as the characters demand.


R:  What kind of research went into this book?

J: Because I lived in Mississippi, I already knew about the weather and landscape, and that sort of thing. Also, I’ve long been a fan of historical fiction and the 1800’s time period, so through the years I’ve read a great deal about that. However, in order to make the setting of STRANDS as accurate and realistic as possible, I read through many period journals, including slave narratives, which were interviews with former slaves. As I wrote, each chapter contained other aspects I had to research—things like fashion, or when oil lamps came into use in the rural South. Then, after my Random House editor, Allison Wortche, was through with her editing, the copy editors carefully went over every word to make sure that the vocabulary I used was in use in 1855. Everyone was very careful with it, and I’m so glad, because I hate anachronism in historical fiction.


R:  If they were to make a movie out of this book, who would your dream cast be?

J: You know, I have thought of this often, and changed my mind often. For Monsieur de Cressac, I have thought of Robert Downey Jr. However, since this is a “dream” cast, I would like to reincarnate Lawrence Olivier and use him, since he’s so darkly handsome. I’d like Dakota Fanning (with suitable dyed hair) for Sophie. Maybe Keke Palmer for Talitha and Tristan Wilds for Charles.


the mirk and midnight hourR:  You have a book coming out in 2014, “The Mirk and Midnight Hour.”  Can you tell us anything about it?

J: THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR (available March 2014) isn’t really a sequel to STRANDS—it’s more of a companion book. It takes place in the same Mississippi county during the Civil War, and is based on the “Ballad of Tam Lin.” The knight in the old Scottish story is a captured Union soldier in my retelling, and instead of fairies, my story has voodoo practitioners. It has more fantasy/magical elements than STRANDS.

R:  Where can people get your books?

J: STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD is available in most bookstores and libraries, and of course on Amazon.


R:  What advice would you give a teenage writer who has gotten a/some rejection?


J: Every writer gets rejected. It’s painful, especially when you’re just starting out, because you wonder if you’ll ever get published. First of all, remember that you write because you love to write, and not just because you want to be published. When it’s my own sense of inadequacy that’s rearing its ugly head, I usually read over something I’ve written that I really like. Generally this will remind me that I am a good writer. Also, I’ll let myself write something really wild and free, exactly the way I want it to be, with no intention of it ever being seen by anybody but myself. That reminds me of the fun of writing, so I don’t need to feel so stressed out about it. Then—in the past few months since STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD has been read by a lot of different people, I’m learning a new source to make me doubt my abilities—negative reviews. Those hurt. For a minute I feel totally humiliated and wonder why I opened myself up to public criticism. What I’ve learned to do, though, is to then read some positive reviews. There are people who love my work, and that makes me so happy. For every aspect that someone dislikes, there’s someone who thinks just the opposite. This reminds me that there will always be people whose taste is not the same as mine and who won’t like my work, but there will be many others who are kindred spirits.


R:  Some authors say “write what you know.”  Do you feel that it is true?

J: It’s a good way to start out. It’s smart to polish your realistic fiction/realistic characters/realistic dialogue before you move on to other worlds and other cultures, just because there’s so much you can learn from pinning down personalities and settings in the real world. After mastering that, break free and write what you don’t know, but you can imagine.

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

J: I love houses and watch HGTV all the time. Just for fun, I often check out different “Homes For Sale” websites in different parts of the country.

I can easily eat an entire pint of Chocolate Chocolate Chip Haagen Das ice cream in one sitting.

I went to kindergarten in three different states—Nevada, Utah, and California.

I love people and worry about everyone—even strangers I just see on the street.

When I was little, I used to ride on the back of goats at my grandparents’ farm.

R:  What are you currently working on?

J: I just finished the first draft of the third companion book to STRANDS. It’s tentatively called A PLACE OF STONE AND SHADOW. It returns to Wyndriven Abbey (the house that is the setting for STRANDS), but years later, during Reconstruction after the Civil War. The story is original—not a retelling. The abbey has been turned into a girls’ boarding school, and some of the deceased inhabitants of Wyndriven do not rest easy. Its genre would be YA historical/supernatural.

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

J: To not be so afraid of what other people are thinking about you that you’re scared to show your true self. If you think of something funny or interesting to say, don’t be afraid to say it out loud, even if it’s quirky or weird. If something seems wrong or makes you  uncomfortable, don’t be scared to admit it and to leave the situation if it doesn’t improve. In the end, you’ll be proud of yourself, and people will respect you (eventually, if not immediately).


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

J: Someone asked me what animal I would like to fight with if I knew I would always win. My answer: I don’t have a ferocious nature and I really love animals. How about I just get to hang out with the animal and it won’t hurt me? If so I would choose a tiger. Gorgeous.

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


twitter: @jane_nickerson



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

J: I really like your magazine’s slogan—“Inspiring Teen Girls.” So I’d like to inspire you with one more piece of advice: Just as there can be many enjoyable, admirable kinds of protagonists in fiction, don’t buy into the idea that there’s only one legitimate type of real-life female you’re allowed to be. You don’t have to change yourself to be feisty, or submissive, or sweet, or have an attitude, or act innocent, or act worldly, or be tough, or be moldable, depending on what’s popular in our culture right now. Your own individual personality is absolutely worthwhile and valid.


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

J: Thank you! I’ve enjoyed your questions.

Chit Chatting with Author T. Lynne Tolles

Chit Chatting with Author T. Lynne Tolles

Written by:  Jill Sheets

T. Lynne TollesRecently I had the honor of interviewing author of the “Blood Series,” T.Lynne Tolles.  Continue to read on and learn more about her, her books and what five things people may not know about her.


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

T:  Unlike many in my field, I never planned on being a writer. It was really a challenge I put to my teenage daughter. She was bored one summer and I had just finished a binge of reading all through spring. I told her she should do a graphic novel, since she is such a good artist and I would attempt to write a book.

Let’s just say, the graphic novel idea never happened, but after finishing my book I was hopelessly addicted.


R:  What is your writing process?  Do you start with the words or do you out-line?

T:  It’s different for each book. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I just start typing, other times like the project I’m working on, I start writing, then outline. Many times I don’t know which direction the story will take, letting the dialog with the characters form that destination.  So in a way, for me, my characters are alive and working with me to tell the tale.

R:  Tell us about the “Blood Series.”  How did you come up with the ideas for the books?

T:  The Blood Series came about from the book I referenced in “How you got into writing”. When I finished Blood of a Werewolf, I had a gazillion ideas for where the story would take the characters, so Blood Moon and Blood Lust were literally back to back. By the  time I got to Bloodstone Heart and Deadman’s Blood, there were many characters that all had significant roles in the story that I had to slow down to accommodate all that needed to be included to make the story come together.

As for the idea behind the book, I couldn’t really say. I had read a bunch of vampire and werewolf books that spring and craved for something with werewolves, and witches involved with vampires. Low and behold, the Blood series was born.

R:  If they were going to make the series into movies, who would your dream cast be?

T: That’s easy. I’m one who needs visual stimulations, so all the characters in the Blood series are based on movie or tv actors. The list of characters is very long so I will just mention a few of the main characters. Darby O’Rielly – Blake Lively, Rowan O’Rielly – Amanda Seyfried, Blake Bloomington – Jared Padalecki, Devon Bloomington – Orlando Bloom, Dominic Larsen – Tom Selleck, Dean Wolfe – Matthew Fox, Mark Rosenberg – Jensen Ackles.


The HuntedR:  Tell us about “The Hunted.

T:  The Hunted was released just recently and is about 3100 words. Very short. It is a prequel to Blood of a Werewolf giving a little taste of the lives the Bloomington brothers were living before they made their way to California to meet the O’Rielly sisters.

R:  Tell is about “Somber Island.”

T:  The idea behind Somber Island was a suggestion from my sister in law after a family vacation we all took to Scotland. The story is set in the 1850’s, where a young girl in Scotland, is sold by her horrible father to an unknown Lord on a tiny little island in Newfoundland. As the girl learns more and more about her master and his strange sleeping and eating habits, she finds herself being drawn into a sad story of death and betrayal that dates back over a hundred years before. The story involves witches, vampires, werewolves and ghosts.

Though this story is set in the time of say Wuthering Heights, the language is not. I did this intentionally, much to some of my reader’s dismay. I was targeting a audience of young and new adults and I remember trying to read Wuthering Heights when I was that age and how I had such a difficult time with it. I didn’t want my readers to have that problem.


R:  Tell us about “Mirror of Shadows.”

T:  Mirror of Shadows is about a recently graduated college student that comes back home for her grandmother’s funeral to find she has inherited a huge estate she never knew existed including a huge run down mansion.

A mirror within the mansion begins to call to her showing her snippets of another woman’s sad tale. She’s not sure if she is being haunted by the mirror and its inhabitants or if she’s just going crazy. When things start to getting dangerous around her, she finds that the mirror’s tale might just be connected to her own life.

R:  Where can people get your books?

T:  My books are available at Barnes & Noble,, Smashwords, and most anywhere you can by books.  They are all available in ebook, paperback, and hardback. Mirror of Shadows and Somber Island are available in audiobook as a MP3 download and Mirror of Shadows is also available in audiobook on CD.


R:  Tell us about Troll Publishing.

T:  I am a self-published author and Troll Publishing is a play on my last name. As a Tolles, my father used to tease me and my sisters, that our family descended from trolls that lived under a bridge. He said this explained why he had so much hair and why we were all short in stature.  Since I heard that story all my life, I thought it would be a fun way for the story to live on.


R: What are you currently working on?

T: I have several books started but I am working on a possible new series about a vet who takes in an orphaned hellhound pup, while she unravels a paranormal mystery that seems to be raining down around her. Having been an orphan herself, and sheltered within the Holy Cross Orphanage, she’s amazed to find she’s stumbled across a hellhound, a demon, a fallen angel, a dragon, and her best friend is dating a vampire. I plan on it being a comical, fun mystery that will go on for a book or two. The title hasn’t been decided yet, but I’m wrestling with something like “The Hellhound’s Rat in Paradise”, but I just haven’t found a title I like yet.


R:  There is a saying “write what you know.”  Do you feel that is true or not and why?

T: I do, for there is no other way to make your characters real to others if you can’t relay a feeling or predicament if you’ve never experienced it before. A writer must make a connection with their reader and I find the best way is relaying a past experience that I know I’m not alone in experiencing.


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

T:  I have two sisters whose initials are T.T. like mine, so we sign things T1, T2, and T3, like the Terminator movies. I’m T1 (the oldest).

     I don’t have a college degree, despite my efforts to get one.

     I’m a hobby addict. I sew, knit, cross-stitch, do stained glass, gardening (on occasion), and photography. I may not be good at any one thing, but I’ve tried a ton of things.

     I’m a hermit. I don’t get out a lot. I’m perfectly happy at home with my 3 cats and dog.

     Absolutely LOVE macs and cheese and Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia

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

T:  What’s under your bed? To which I answered, Huge Dust Buffalos. In a house with 3 cats and a huge Newfoundland dog, the fur volume makes dust bunnies obsolete. Dust Buffalos on the other hand, have beady little eyes and roll across the floor like tumbleweeds.

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

T: Official Website: htttp://






YouTube Book Trailers:

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

T:  Just that it’s been an honor to be interviewed by Relate Magazine. Thank you for inviting me!


R:  T. Lynne Tolles, thank you for the interview.  It was also an honor.  Have a great day.