Thursday, August 29, 2013

She's Twelve going on Twenty

I received a copy of SHE’S TWELVE GOING ON TWENTY: NURTURING YOUR DAUGHTER THROUGH THE TWEEN YEARS by Kim Camp from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  Let me start by saying that no, I do not have a daughter yet, but I do have friends with daughters that age.  I also write young adult books, but would like to venture into middle grade.  I’d hoped this book might shed some light on those tween girls.

The book covers spirit, soul, and body, while bringing up the topic of how important it is to keep God in your life.  The writing is not dry, so it’s easy to look at the book as more of a novel.  You might not want to read it with your child, but I can see mothers reading it together to share ideas.  I recommend this for mothers who want to strengthen their relationships with their daughters. 

Something that greatly bothered me, though, was on page three when the other mentions the Disney movie AnastasiaAnastasia isn’t by Disney, it’s by Fox.  I know, because it’s one of my favorite movies.  That caused me to discredit the book, but I still enjoyed reading about different ways to connect with tween girls in today’s world.  


My loyal followers, I present to you a young adult story I wrote many years ago.  If you enjoy it, let me know and I will post more chapters.  If you'd rather read something else, I can post chapters from another story.

POINT OF OBLIVION is the story of Sarah Lockwood, affectionately called Lock by her dashing crush, who gets to leave our world to travel to the Realm.  In this tale, you will find fantasy and a steampunk-esque world.  There is romance, heartache, and adventure, an ancient myth, and an enchanted locket that allows her to pass between worlds.  There is also a hula hoop of doom.  Yes, it has blades.

Without further ado, you will get to meet Lock, when she was but a child and first had her taste of the Realm...


July; New York

A prince is born to the royal family.  Instead of bringing glory, he will face darkness, and choose the bleakest path.  The kingdom will mourn him, yet the heart within him will bring him back to salvation.
-                      Written by the Pen of Truth

Sarah Lockwood folded her arms against the railing of the gazebo. A breeze brought the scent of lilacs and she inhaled. “I wish I could live out here.”
            Her father strolled up the steps with a tray, joining her on the bench. He handed her a glass of pink lemonade. “What’s wrong with your bedroom?”
            Sarah glanced down the yard toward their house. “I like being outdoors more.”
            “Maybe we can camp out for your birthday.”
            “Next week I get to be seven.” Grinning, she set her glass on the bench to hold up seven fingers. 
            He kissed the top of her head. Strands of blonde hair caught in his short beard. “So should we waste this afternoon or do you want a story?”
            “Story about the Realm, please.” She sipped her lemonade. 
            “Hmm, which one to tell today?” He draped his arm around her shoulders. “How about the one where we met the Record Keeper?”
            She leaned her head against his chest while she stared across the yard to the stream beside the weeping willow. “What’s a Record Keeper?”
            “Your Uncle William and I didn’t know, either. We were only a few years older than you are when we found the portal to the Realm, and whenever we went there, we tried to stay hidden. We didn’t want to be caught, because then we might not get home again. So this one day, my brother wanted to take a different path. Our mom, your grandmother, had a bowling tournament, so we had a few hours before we needed to get back.”
            “Did you find a princess?”
            “No.” He chuckled. “We came across a cave. William started throwing rocks at it, even though I told him not to. I thought there might be a bear inside, but it was a man who came out. William panicked and started to run away, but the man looked familiar. I’d seen him talking to my parents’ gardener a few times. He wouldn’t invite us into the cave, but he came outside and brought us water to drink.”
            The weeping willow swayed in the breeze.  “Was he a nice man?” 
            Scott paused to drink from his lemonade. “Very. He explained to us about his job as the Record Keeper. He has to guard a magical Pen, but he didn’t go into details. William and I visited him again later, and he took us to one of the villages. That’s where I got your bracelet. It was for your grandmother, but it didn’t fit her, too small, and I kept it instead, as a memento.” 
            “You already told me the story about shopping in the village.” Sarah lifted her wrist to look at her charm bracelet. A cameo, a tiny key, and a miniature watch hung from the delicate brass chain. “When are you going to take me to the Realm?”
            Scott scratched his cheel. “It’s just a story, like the ones your mom writes.”
            “Hers are about vampires.” Sarah stood up to look into her father’s eyes. “The Realm’s real, isn’t it?”
            “I haven’t been there since I went to college.” He brushed a blonde curl off her cheek. “I’m sorry, honey, but it’s just a story now.”
            “If we ever go visit Uncle William, promise me you’ll try to go back, and you’ll take me.”

            “I’ll take you, Sarah,” he said.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interview with an Author

I would like to present to you a good friend of mine and a great critique partner - Eliza Tilton!  She has agreed to an interview here and to give away a copy of her eBook to a lucky commentor (yes, I love make up new words if they fit the context).  All you need to do is leave a comment, but make sure it includes your email address so we can contact you.  


Eliza Tilton is the author of the YA Fantasy, Broken Forest, published by Curiosity Quills Press. You can find her blogging about video games and writing on her blog and doing bi-weekly posts on author media over at YAStands.

She graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.


Onward to the questions...

Kissed by Literature: What do you want the audience to know about you as an author?
Eliza Tilton: I’m a proud nerd who plays too many video games and still thinks tabletop Dungeons and Dragons is the best party game. Writing gives me a chance to explore all those fantasy themes and more.

KBL: What do you want the world to know about your books?
ET: Broken Forest is a high fantasy told with three alternating POVS: the hero, the kidnapped girl and the enchanting lord who may or may not be human. It’s a redemptive tale that blends adventure and romance into a fast paced read with deep emotion--a story of siblings, loss, love and strength.

KBL: When did you decide to become an author?
ET: I’ve always wanted to be an author, but didn’t get serious about it until 2008 when I took a long distance course called Writing for Children. While the course taught me the basics, it didn’t give me the encouragement and drive to keep moving forward. The writing community, especially Query Tracker, taught me a lot about publishing, how to write a query, and connected me with other great writers, like you!

KBL: What has your process into the world of writing been like?
ET: I did a long detailed post on my blog about my journey. You can read it here. It was a mix of timing, YALitchat and great writing.

KBL: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
ET: Be patient. I’m always in a rush. Mostly because I’m afraid someone will steal my ideas…I know…paranoid. BECAUSE I had zero patience, I queried too early and made too many mistakes. Don’t be in a rush. Take the time to think about your words and your goals.

KBL: What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
ET: I went to a local writing guild and someone was giving a girl a critique on her work. He said she should read about screenwriting. In screenwriting, every scene has one focal point. In each chapter, you should do the same. The advice made a lot of sense and I try and always put it into use when writing.

KBL: Tell us about your book cover.
ET: My publisher decided to do a cover change. They received feedback from readers that the original cover resembled manga. I did my own digging and came to the same conclusion. When I thought about the cover, an image of Jeslyn sitting in the forest came to mind. I explained what I envisioned and the cover artist nailed it. If you look closely, you can see the forest draining her aura.


Hopeless he'll never be more than the boy who didn't save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables.

And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.
His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn's golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino's world, and     the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free.
He failed his family once. He won't fail again.


Thank you, Eliza, for the wonderful interview!  For those of you who would like the chance to win the eBook, you need to comment by September 30th.  Good luck!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Candle Classic Bible

I received a copy of THE CANDLE CLASSIC BIBLE: RETOLD IN 365 STORIES by Candle Books via Kregel.  I’ve received other Bibles from them and enjoyed this one just as much, if not a little more.
This is more than another illustrated retelling of the Bible.  Just opening the cover takes your breath away.  The glossy pages of this Bible include complex pictures reminiscent of a comic book.  Children and teenagers will be attracted to the illustrations, as well as the simplified text.  It will also appeal to adults, as the illustrations are more realistic than childish.  This makes an excellent gift and a wonderful addition to any home library.
I shared this book with my mother, who enjoys collecting Bibles.  She compares the way different stories are retold.  Our new favorite is the story of Ruth.  I read it aloud to her, and we compared it to others we’d heard.  Since coming to love Ruth, we learned that the Millennium Theater in Pennsylvania had put on a production of it.  We hope to see the play if it returns to the theater. 

I hope to share this Bible with my cousin’s daughter, who doesn’t have her own Bible.  I hope she would enjoy taking it with her to Sunday School at the local Presbyterian Church.  

Musings from 3rd Grade

As promised, my traumatic 3rd grade ghost story.  No, it’s not exactly a story about a ghost. Sorry to disappoint you.  It’s a story about a ghost story I wrote, and when I think of 3rd grade, it’s the first thing that comes to mind.

The second thing is how the teacher punished all of us for one student’s disobedience by making us sit in at lunch one day.  She sat on a stool in the front of the room, slowly ate her lunch while talking about it, applied her lipstick, and then told us its bad for our circulation to sit cross-legged. 

The third thing I remember is how she wouldn’t let me go home for lunch.  Since 1st grade (we didn’t have lunch in kindergarten because we only attended for half a day), I went home.  My mom walked the two blocks to school to pick me up.  I got to eat a warm meal while watching the Wizard of Oz movie (yes, everyday).  Those are my fondest memories.  This 3rd grade teacher said it was wrong of my mom to do that and tried to forbid it.  I remember sitting in the cafeteria feeling miserable because I had to eat a cold sandwich with the mustard soaked into the bread.  How does that compare to scrambled eggs or a plate of spaghetti? My mom spoke to the principal and he agreed it was fine for her to do that for me.  After that, the teacher refused to say a single word to my mother, even when she came to pick me up at the end of the day. 

Let me go back to that first thing, the ghost story.  We needed to write a story for Halloween.  It was a one-page thing, pasted to orange construction paper, and meant to hang on the wall for the Halloween party, so the parents could enjoy them.  I loved to read, and even though no one had ever taught me, I’d learned how to work quotation marks.  I copied how they were written in stories, and, boy, was I proud of myself!  I brainstormed an idea, and now, I’m not sure how it came about, but I wrote about my best friend and me.  We were trick or treating and walked by a cemetery.  A “ghost” jumped out at us and yelled, “Boo!”  We screamed.  Then, the ghost pulled off his costume and we realized it was Billy.  I even drew a picture at the bottom of the three of us by some gravestones.  The story was called Boo.  My mother still has the story and I reread it a few years ago. 

Sounds cute for 3rd grade, right?  Well, the teacher wouldn’t hang it up on the wall.  I remember feeling really bad about that.  When my mother came in for the Halloween party, this lovely teacher pulled her aside to show her my atrocious attempt at storytelling.  Sure, my handwriting was pretty sloppy.  Still, rereading it and looking at it from a teacher’s perspective, it was good. 

The teacher told my mother it was the worst thing she’d read in years from her students.  She compared it to a classmate’s.  That story had no dialogue and was very graphic.  My mother was horrified at the graphicness (yes, I made up a word) of the main character ripping apart a vampire.  I’m going off my mother’s words there, as I don’t remember what my classmates wrote.  The teacher explained that mine had no plot or action.  It rambled, which showed I had no idea what I was doing.  She told me I was incapable of grasping 3rd grade English.  I felt…horrible, stupid, worthless.  I can still remember feeling alienated from my classmates because my teacher told me I was far below their levels.  Now that I have a degree in elementary education, I understand that remedial classes are a huge help for some students.  They need that extra one-on-one attention, the extra time.  They don’t need, and will never need, to be told they’re less than anyone else. 

How did remedial English go?  I only attended, at most, two sessions.  The remedial English instructor proclaimed I had a firm grasp on the written word and in no way needed the kind of help my actual teacher claimed.  Despite that, I still felt worthless and dreaded going to class.  I hated to hand anything in, and that followed me into 4th grade.  Maybe next time I’ll talk about that year…

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Writing in 6th Grade

The other day I work, on my break, I began doodling in the margins of my notebook, and my mind drifted back to the days of old, when I sat in an elementary classroom drawing fairies around my words.  My thought process drifted further, and I pondered my earliest memories of writing. 

It may not be my very earliest, but a memory that sounds out happened in 6th grade.  One of the really cool girls at school – and of course, what is better than talking to one of those really cool people? – told me that she liked to read too.  Hmm, maybe I should backtrack a bit.  In 6th grade, we needed to keep track of how many books we read.  Every night, my mother and I read a book.  I also read a book on my own and when I stayed at my grandmother’s house, she read me a book as well.  Having people read with or to you counted.  I ended up reading the most books in my grade – if you know me, that might not surprise you.  Even now, I keep a book in my purse and read every chance I get.

So, back to 6th grade.  Since I had read the most books, I won the prize of a hardcover Goosebumps book.  It was three books in one, woohoo, the books about the evil ventriloquist dummies.  I expect the reading program thought I would be thrilled, but my mother wouldn’t let me read scary books because of a ghost story I read in 4th grade.  To this day, I have nightmares from that book (CHRISTINA’S GHOST, for those of you interested).  She took the Goosebumps book away and stored it in the cellar for “later on.”  Being 25, I’m sure I can read it now, but I’ve moved on to other genres and its still waiting in the cellar. 

You can imagine how other people in my class were jealous.  Why didn’t they get a book?  So this cool girl comes up to me and tells me she likes to read, too.  Well, good for her.  Everyone should like to read!  I recall asking her what books she liked and she told me the Mandie Shaw series.  Her grandmother, or someone, bought them for her because her name was Mandie. 

That day, I made my mother drive me to the bookstore to buy a Mandie Shaw mystery.  At that time, my town didn’t even have a bookstore, but luckily the mysteries counted as religious fiction, and we did have a religious store.  They had a Mandie book!  It was from the middle of the series, but I got it anyway.  It had everything I loved in the book – slight romance (hey, it is written for Middle Grade), historical fiction (turn of the century time period), mystery, animals, and Native Americans.  After that book, I was hooked.  My grandmother drove me out to Syracuse, the city about an hour away that did have a bookstore, and I bought every Mandie book they had.  The ones they didn’t have?  We ordered them and drove back out to get them.  I still remember the books fondly, and have them all, including the first book in the sequel series, written for young adults.  Sadly, the author passed away before she could finish the series, but I like to think Mandie married her childhood sweetheart, Joe.  That, however, is for another day. 

Another side topic: I spoke to Popular Girl about the Mandie books.  What did she think of Mandie’s white cat, Snowball?  Which of Mandie’s crushes did she like the best?  Did she like how Mandie finally found her long-lost mother?  The answers?  Well, Popular Girl couldn’t say a thing about them and then ignored me.  So…I’m thinking she never actually read the books.

Mandie is Southern, so she says “Y’all” a lot.  I fell in love with that word.  The poetic drawl, the way it just rolls off your tongue, how it looks on the page.  I started using it in my writing (I wrote books even them) and speaking it in everyday speech.

It came time to write a persuasive essay for class.   My 6th grade teacher wanted us to prove why we should or should not have homework.  I wanted to say we shouldn’t have homework.  Homework, when I did it, took way too much time.  How much did you really learn answering some questions after lugging your science textbook home?  I walked the three blocks home, and having a backpack full of textbooks could be downright painful.  Guess what word I wanted to make sure I used in the persuasive essay?


I wrote lots and lots of “y’all” all over this lovely essay, which was, of course, written in my horrendous 6th grade scrawl.  After we had our rough draft, we had to show it to the teacher for the okay to type it up.  The teacher sat at his desk and we made a line.  When I handed him mine, his eyes bulged. 

He circled “y’all” with his red pen, or pencil, or marker.  Let’s just say whatever he used was thick and red and dark.

“What’s this?”  He laughed and scowled at the same time.  “Why would you use this?  Its an ignorant word. You’re trying to prove we shouldn’t have homework by using bad grammar?”  He circled all of my lovely “y’all” and then Xed them out.  He must’ve really hated that word. 

It stunned me.  How could my new favorite author use such horrible language in my precious books?  I went home practically in tears and asked my mother if I shouldn’t be reading them because they clearly weren’t appropriate.  She assured me it was just a word.  She called it “slang” and claimed the teacher was wrong for calling it an ignorant word.  In fact, she wanted to go in to complain to the principal.  She called it slander against those who did use the word in everyday speech.  I’m not so sure that counts as slander. 

I’ll never forget the way the other students laughed at me. One boy said I belonged in remedial English.  The teacher made me change my essay to why we should have homework (he shouldn’t have given us a choice if he was going to make us choose that one).  To this day, I still enjoy using “y’all” when I write.  It still counts as a fun word. 

So, that was one of my traumatic events (yes, to a little girl, having her new favorite word marked up and called wrong is traumatic) in the history of writing.  What are some of yours?  Maybe next time, I’ll share my traumatic 3rd grade ghost story…

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I received a copy of DEATH BE NOT PROUD by C. F. Dunn from Lion Fiction via Kregel.  It is the second book, following MORTAL FIRE, in the Secret of the Journal series.  I was excited to receive it, since I had really enjoyed that first book.  The main character, Emma D’Eresby, is still a professor, which I love, because of my past working at a college.  Even though I don’t work there anymore, it brought back the happier memories.

Not to say the book is super happy-go-lucky.  Oh no, Emma’s found out her lover, Matthew, isn’t at all what she thought.  Emma leaves Maine to go home to England.  My mind kept saying, “Okay, what’s going to happen next?” as I turned the pages.  There’s plenty of history for history buffs out there (ahem, me).  Matthew’s still in the story too, and you get to his mind in regards to Emma. 

I loved the history (my favorite part), the dialogue, the tension, the action, and the description.  There was really no part of the story I didn’t like.  It may not be my favorite, but it is one I’ll pass on to friends and recommend to others as a fast, powerful read.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pen Pals

When someone says “FB,” Facebook will come to mind.  For me, I think of friendship books.  Friendship books, nicknamed FBs, are papers stapled together and sent through the mail.  You write your name, contact information, likes, and pass it on to someone else.  When you receive an FB, you glance through it to see if anyone mentioned would be a great candidate for a pen pal, based on interests and location.  Some FBs are quite stylish, covered in stickers and drawings. 

I first became interested in pen pals as a child when my family vacationed in Lake George.  We went into a painting shop and noticed cookies for sale on the counter.  The store’s owner explained that his daughter sold cookies to pay for her pen pal stamps.  I got her name and address, and began a correspondence that lasted throughout many years.  She had found her pen pals through a home school newsletter.  I wasn’t home schooled, but she did introduce Friendship Books to me.  I wrote to a few people in one, gained more FBs, wrote to more people…at one point in high school, I had over fifty pen pals. 

It was amazing to see how people in other countries lived.  We loved the same books, participated in the same hobbies, and connected on a strong level of friendship.  I had pen pals in Canada, England, Scotland, Egypt, Portugal, Sri Lanka, India, Germany, Holland, Brazil, Spain, Japan, South Africa, Croatia, France, Czech Republic, and other countries.  I also had pen pals from all over the United States.  Sadly, once we entered college, many people no longer had the time or funds to continue correspondence.  We still keep in touch via the Internet, but it isn’t the same as those long letters on beautiful stationary, with friendship books, pictures, and stickers enclosed in the envelopes.  I still have ten pen pals I write to on a monthly basis.  I love the sensation of finding an envelope in the mail, addressed to me, and covered in stickers. 

Of all my pen pals, I have been able to meet one in person.  Sarah, whom I have corresponded with since elementary school, currently lives in Albany.  She drove down to visit me at my home a few years ago.  It was great to talk in person.  We even have a few of the same pen pals from long ago.  After that, we’ve gotten to meet twice more.  I attended one of her plays in Albany and met her at Colony Mall.   I’m glad we’ve been able to stay friends throughout the years, and I never would have met her if not for friendship books and pen paling. 

My mother has also gotten into pen pals.  She read one of my friendship booklets and wrote to a woman her age in Scotland.  They’ve been pen pals ever since, and send each other gifts at Christmastime.  She has the potholder of Scotland hanging in the kitchen. 

If you’re interested in pen pals, there are some great websites for finding a correspondence.  Although I’ve found my pen pals through friendship books, I discussed internet sites with my pen pal who lives in New Jersey.   She’s found quite a few through and, although she highly recommends as the best.  Many people on those sites prefer email pals more than snail mail pals, in case you’d rather not send “old fashioned“  letters.  For me, I prefer a handwritten letter any day!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Into the Whirlwind

I received a copy of INTO THE WHIRLWIND by Elizabeth Camden from Bethany House.  Whenever I receive a Bethany House book, I know I’m in for a treat, and this one was no exception.  The cover in particular intrigued me.  I just got a new job and part of where I work is located in the downtown area of a nearby city.  The aura of the old stone buildings with the elegant architecture on the cover made me feel as if I was looking out the office window.

The main character, Mollie, owns a watch company in Chicago.  I love watches, so that in itself excited me.  The novel opens with the Chicago Fire burning around Mollie.  Enter Zack, the love interest.  You’ve got to have one of those to bring out those smile moments. 

I literally began to clutch the book as I read – the action is fast and loud.  I could almost taste the smoke.  Those startling realities continue throughout every chapter.  Reading about how the citizens struggled and then how the city rebuilt sent tingles along my arms.  I’ve read many novels about the Chicago Fire and they always leave me with the same awestruck, terrified feeling.  I recommend this to fans of historical fiction and Christian romance.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I received a copy of DOWNSIDE UP: TRANSFORM REJECTION INTO YOUR GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY by Tracey Mitchell from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  This book holds a special place in my mind.  As a writer, I’ve faced plenty of rejection.  It started for me when, in high school, I took my totally unedited manuscript (why should I have editted it?  Clearly, it was perfect) and sent it off to a major publisher.  I knew it was going to be purchased, it would become a best seller, a movie would follow within a few months, and I would be greeted with fame and fortune.  Okay, so the actuality involved a form rejection letter arriving a little over a year later.  I was crushed.  It also helped me to look at getting published in a new light.  I took that rejection as a positive “work harder” pat on the back.  I’d already written the book.  I was dedicated to my dream then and I still am now.  I edited, joined critique circles, became president of the local writing club, entered contests, submitted to online journals, and queried my butt off.  

Seven years later, I have twenty completed manuscripts, publications in journals and anthologies, and I have a literary agent.  It all feels that much sweeter because of the thousands of rejections and my willpower to never give up.  People ask me how I can put up with all that rejection.  I’m never sure how to answer it – I know I have to keep trying despite the rejection – and this book gave me the answers I’ve been seeking. 
Rejection doesn’t just come in the form of a “not right for us, but thanks anyway” letter.  It can be from a boyfriend/girlfriend, from a job opportunity, from a family member… This book is a great eye-opener for all those moments when you just sit back, stunned, unable to move forward because you don’t even know what to think, let alone do at that moment.  I loved how Tracey Mitchell wove God into her paragraphs. 

When those rejections come, sit down with a hot cup of tea (or whatever comfort drink makes you smile no matter what) and read a chapter from DOWNSIDE UP.  The pain may still linger, but you’ll have the right kind of thoughts to ponder, the kind that bring you up to the surface rather than drag you down deeper.