Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I received a copy of LIFE BEHIND THE WALL by Robert Elmer from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  This book was, in one word, incredible.  It is actually three books in one: CANDY BOMBERS, BEETLE BUNKER, and SMUGGLER’S TREASURE.  They are historical adventures that are written for teenagers.  I love historical fiction for young adults, for it helps to open their eyes to the past.  Even though the novel is thick, the print is large, so it won’t be daunting to young readers.

These stories involve Berlin Germany.  They start in 1948 and extend through 1989.  In the first story, two teenagers fight to survive behind the Iron Curtain.  I have read many stories about the Holocaust, but this takes the reader to the following years in Germany.  I’m sure there are other books like that out there, but I had never read one before.

The second story involves a girl named Sabine who finds an abandoned bunker.  Teens will relate to her need for a place of her own, and her hope to rescue her family from the Cold War.

The third and final story involves Lisel reuniting her family.  All of the stories have strong morals and can be enjoyed by the entire family.  I highly recommend LIFE BEHIND THE WALL to young adults.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Defy the Night

I received a copy of DEFY THE NIGHT by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn.  This book had a lot that I truly enjoyed.  For one thing, I’d read their previous novel HOW HUGE THE NIGHT and loved it.  I’ve recommended it to many people, and now I can recommend this novel as well.

For another thing, I love history.  I read a great deal of historical fiction, especially stories centered on the Holocaust.  The year is 1941 and Magali, a fifteen-year-old girl, helps to smuggle refugee children.  I’m glad that this story is written for teenagers.  They read about World War II in school, but books like DEFY THE NIGHT help to bring home the horrors.  The story helps make the experiences real.  It will especially mean something since it is a child helping other children.  On television and in movies, usually the children must turn to adult figures.  It showed the strength that one girl can have when faced with evil. 

This is the type of book that haunts you.  I read it quickly so I could pass it on to a friend who was moving away, but I can still remember many of the scenes and I often find myself thinking about the characters.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nightmare Illustrated

One of the best words of writing advice I have received came in high
school when my teacher told me to market short stories.

“Get your name out there,” she said.

I switched from writing novels to short stories just like that.  Okay,
maybe not just like that.  I still wrote novels, but I interspersed
them with quirky, quick tales.  One of those short stories became
titled “What Spring Brings,” the story of a healer and her daughter.
When the healer visits a patient, her little daughter wanders into the
woods…where she encounters a beast.  Will anyone believe her?

After I wrote the yarn, it chose to sit in my document folder.  Okay,
so maybe it didn’t choose so much as I set it aside.  It had been fun
to write, but I wanted to focus on another full-length manuscript at
the time.  A few months ago, I skimmed through my old short stories
and the title caught my attention.  After rereading it, I decided to
throw it out there and see if anyone bit.

Nightmare Illustrated, a magazine dedicated to horror stories,
snatched it up.  “What Spring Brings” is published in Issue 5 of
Nightmare Illustrated.  Within the glossy covers, you’ll find fifteen
tales that will keep you reading long into the dark, stormy nights.

I was thrilled when artist Emily Holt contacted me shortly before the
publication date to let me know she would create the illustrations for
“What Spring Brings.”  Her amazing artwork helps to bring the
characters to fruition.

Nightmare Illustrated is available only on Lulu.com.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Garden Gate

In honor of Easter, I present to you the book THE GARDEN GATE by Christa Kinde.  I received a copy of it from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  It is the fourth book in the Threshold series.

The synopsis did intrigue me, but the reason I chose this book was because the family’s last name is Pomeroy.  I personally know a Mr. and Mrs. Pomeroy, so I was hooked.  I wanted to know what happened to this fictional Pomeroy family. 

When I read THE GARDEN GATE, I had not read the other novels in the young adult series.  After finishing this one, I will need to get them.  At first, the story was hard to get into, but I know that’s because I missed the beginning installments.  The characters are easy to relate to and the scenes are well described.  When I found out this is the final book, it brought me sadness, but then I realized I can go back for the other three. 

Prissie Pomeroy can see angels.  I love books about angels and swarm to them like bees to flowers.  I think it’s because growing up, I read tons of stories on dragons and whatnot, but only a few on angels.  Other than the angels, you get to meet destruction caused by a storm and Prissie’s inner struggles.

Overall, this is a fulfilling book, but I do recommend reading the others first so you won’t be confused.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Guest Post - Balancing Family, Day Job, and Writing

When I first offered to write a guest post about how to balance raising small kids and a full-time day job with a career as an author, I thought that I would have lots of wisdom to share.

I mean, I'm an expert, right? I have two preschool aged children that I watch during the day while my husband works as a teacher. Then, when he gets home, I go to work as a telephone counselor and he watches the kids at night. That's a pretty full and hectic life even without writing books. So, people often ask me how I do it. And, now that I've really thought about it...I have no idea.

There is no secret trick. There is no way to do all those things and be perfect at everything all the time. Sometimes (or all the time), I feel like I'm just treading water trying to keep it all together. My house is messy. I forget to shower. I have to stick my kids in front of the TV so I can have some time to write. So, yeah, it's not always pretty. Definitely not perfect. But, that's okay with me.

I believe that in order to balance all those things without going insane, you have to accept that things won't be perfect. And, you have to keep your eye on what's most important, and be prepared to let the little things go. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself of what I care about the most and focus my energy on that. For me, my family is most important, of course. And, then at a distant second is writing and taking care of my own physical and mental health. Then, so far behind that you can't even see it is well...just about everything else.

Of course, I have to go to my day job. And, occasionally I have to do laundry. :) But, I choose to divert the majority of my energy and my stress towards the things that really matter to me. And, that's how I survive all the insanity.

I know I'm not alone. Many of the other authors I know are parents, and quite a few of them have day jobs. Very few authors out there are rich and famous. For most, it's a tough life. But, if you care about stuff...like your family, and writing, and yourself, you just have to make it work. If you're like me, you're not willing to give any of those things up, so you just do it. And also if you like me, you have no doubt that it's all worth it.

Now, may I suggest you check out the book that I wrote standing at the kitchen counter because it's the only place my toddler can't reach to bang the keys...


Introducing a new dark wizard family drama, Destruction by Sharon Bayliss, Book One in The December People Series.

An independent family-owned bookstore. The ONLY place to buy signed copies!

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.  

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Destruction (Book One of The December People Series)

The Author

Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Goldtown Adventures

I received a copy of CANYON OF DANGER and RIVER OF PERIL by Susan K. Marlow from Kregel.  They are books three and four in the Goldtown Adventures series. 

When they first arrived in the mail, my mother happened to be opening packages and exclaimed over the covers.  She asked if she could read them as soon as I was done.  Now that I’ve finished them, I’ve passed them on to her, and after that they’ll go to my young cousin.  The novels are juvenile fiction that take place in 1864 when Jem Coulter is twelve-years-old.  His name won me over since those are my initials and I’m sometimes called Jem by friends.

In CANYON OF DANGER, Jem is in charge of the ranch while his father, the sheriff, is away.  What could go wrong does, sometimes with hilarious situations.  The book also involved the pony express.  I’d heard about it before, but I liked how it was worked into this story.

In RIVER OF PERIL, Jem is after bandits.  The historical detail is vibrant and the characters are real.  From a teacher aspect, these books are perfect for introducing middle grade readers to the Wild West.  I kept imagining lessons and activities to go along with the chapters. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Last Bride

It is time for another post about Amish fiction.  This time, I received a copy of THE LAST BRIDE by Beverly Lewis from Bethany House.  It is the fifth installation of the Home to Hickory Hollow series.  It is also my favorite so far, although I feel as if I always say that about each new Amish novel I read. 

In this book, Tessie Ann is in love with Marcus King.  They have a beautiful relationship, in my opinion, but Tessie’s father disapproves.  Tessie and Marcus decide to go to the English world to elope.  I had never heard of Amish couples doing this before.  I wonder if it is a literary device or if this is something that is actually done.  Regardless, it made for an excellent story.  Once Marcus and Tessie return to their Amish community, they pretend they are single.  Tessie keeps pushing her father to approve of their match.

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say this was a heart-wrenching novel full of sweet sadness, and the end will leave a smile on your face.  I am passing this book on to my mother, who enjoys Amish fiction as much as I do, and from there it will travel into the hands of a fellow Amish fiction lover at work.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Guest Author - Susan K. Marlow

It is time for another guest author!  Please put your hands together (and hope the applause reverberates through the Internet) for Susan K. Marlow!

I signed up to participate in the blog tour for CANYON OF DANGER and RIVER OF PERIL, books three and four of the Goldtown Adventures series.  You'll get to read about those next week during the blog tour, but for now, we get to learn more about their author, Susan K. Marlow.  She was kind enough to reach out to me before the blog tour to see if I had any questions for her - and of course I did!

Kissed by Literature: When did you first know you wanted to be an author? 

Susan K. Marlow: Probably when my first writing piece, a little poem entitled “The Reflection,” was “published” (actually hung up) in the teacher’s lounge of Grant Elementary School in 1962 (I still have the original poem). The next year, my fourth-grade teacher introduced me to the world of Astronomy and I started writing outer space stories, beginning with Up to Mars. I was hooked on writing! I used any medium I could find, even digging through the trash in the computer center at Penn State University one summer to find the old, green-striped paper the 1960s computer geeks threw away. That paper was great for writing stories.

KBL: Who has supported your writing the most? 

SKM: In the beginning, my mentor, Colleen Reece, an inspirational author with countless books in print, was my support. I liked writing stories, but I was too shy and scared to actually try to become a published author. She pretty much cattle-prodded me into submitting my manuscript, even saying over the phone, “Push the ‘send’ button now.” That was in 2003. Ten years later, with sixteen books published, I am not as afraid to push the “send” button to my editor at Kregel Publications. Now, my husband, Roger, is my biggest support. We travel around the country vendoring at homeschool conventions, and he is a super-crazy promoter. He always encourages me to write the next book, so we can have more books to offer folks at our booths.

KBL: Who is your favorite character in the Goldtown books?

SKM: I think it’s Strike-It-Rich Sam. Crusty and unmindful of how he looks, he is nevertheless a faithful friend to the Coulter family. He plays a major role in Book 1, Badge of Honor. I always envisioned Strike and Aunt Rose eventually getting together in a future book. Those two characters remind me of the main characters in the Cary Grant movie Father Goose: “What? They’re getting married? Goody-Two-Shoes and the Filthy Beast?” LOL

KBL: Which character do you relate to the most? 

SKM: I relate to Ellie the most. She has that “anything Jem can do, I can do too” attitude, which was the attitude I carried throughout my childhood. As the oldest of four girls, I was my father’s “right-hand man.” No boy could out-climb me, be it a tree or a cliff. While my sister liked ballet, I liked Star Trek. It was with great joy I finally got my own phaser and communicator by buying them as gifts for my sons. 

KBL: What has been your most rewarding moment as an author? 

SKM: Hands down, the most rewarding moment(s) have come when I get emails from grateful parents thanking me for writing wholesome but exciting books for their children. I get plenty of emails from readers as well. It makes it worth all the hard work.

KBL: When did the realization of being an author finally hit you? 

SKM: I think it’s when I saw my books (not the Goldtown books, but my books for young readers) in the CBD (Christian Book Distributors) print Kids’ Catalog. That was quite a moment. I opened the catalog and my eyes bugged out. I was so astonished (and excited). It meant somebody at CBD had made the decision to include my Circle C Beginnings books out of the hundreds of other books they could have featured.

KBL: What other books besides the Goldtown Adventures have you written? 

SKM: I have six books in the Circle C Adventures, ranch stories set in the 1880s, featuring a 12-year-old girl as the main character (and her horse). The series overlaps with Book 2 of the Goldtown series, Tunnel of Gold, so everything’s kind of related. I also have six books of the Circle C Beginnings, which is geared for kids ages 6-8 who are ready for first-chapter books. These stories are the same ranch girl (and her friend, a little boy) but she’s six years old in these little adventures. You can read about them at www.SusanMarlow.com

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Shining Light

I received a complimentary copy of A SHINING LIGHT by Judith Miller from Bethany House.  It is the third book in the Home to Amana series.  Sadly, I haven’t read the others in the series yet, but after finishing this one, I definitely will.

Perhaps you’re wondering how good this book is.  Well, I got home from work and found the book sitting in my mailbox.  It had been a tiring day, so I sat back with a cup of tea and decided to lose myself in a chapter or two before dinner.  Five chapters later, I realized that I really did need to eat.  While I ate, I researched Amana Colonies.  I had never heard of them before.

The Amana Colonies were seven villages “built and settled by German Pietists,” according to Wikipedia.  I researched them some more, and now have a strong urge to visit the tourist attraction of today. 

Back to A SHINING LIGHT, Andrea Wilson is a widow who takes her son, Lukas, to stay with an Amana village.  You will smile, you will sniffle, and you will fall in love with the characters you meet.  You will also crave more knowledge about the Amana Colonies.

In case you’re wondering, I started the book back up as soon as I finished dinner and didn’t stop until I had turned the last page with a sigh.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cover Reveal

Looking for some riveting new reads?  Check out these covers...and prepare to be hooked.

Release Date: May 16, 2014

Book Blurb:

A man wakes on a frozen battlefield when a scavenging couple finds him among the dead. As they nurse him back to health, he is struck with the horrible realization he can’t remember who he is or anything about his past. Taken in by the kind pair, he begins helping with their farm. She even takes him to meet her family, especially her single sister. The ideal life offered in the high mountains of Winigh is shattered when he sees a transport bringing enemy monsters to the shores below. Cut off by high snow on the pass, their fate will soon be the same as the town his company failed to protect in the last battle, if this estranged soldier cannot help them fight off the next wave of invaders. Even worse, the people of the town don’t trust this Selene soldier. He has a strange resistance to their folk magic which some say make him as dangerous as the enemies preparing to destroy them.

Release Date: June 12. 2014

Book Blurb:

Remember waking up late in the night after a nightmare? Your mother holding you tight and whispering everything would be all right? She lied.

Evil clowns haunted Megan’s dreams for years. Even though nobody ever said she was crazy, she knew they were all thinking it. With her life falling apart, she turns suicidal until a new therapist suggests the impossible: dreams are real. Nightmares are living, breathing predators, feeding off dreamer’s fears by exacting essence.

Most, of course, forget theirs as soon as they wake up. Megan is not so lucky. She is also not so powerless.

But is even a power nurtured in her dreams enough to fight off the horrors lurking just beyond the veil of sleep?