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Top Ten Things Christians Should Know About Transhumanism by Victoria Buck

Human like faces covered in text Text is from HG Wells The TIme1) It’s a science.

Maybe you were absent the day your high school science teacher addressed transhumanism. More likely, your teacher never heard of it. Where does it fit? Biology? Physics? Yes. As well as computer science—it takes a computer to make a transhuman. And social sciences—it will, if permitted, change the core of culture and society. Scientific study includes:

Cryonics: Preserving the body, or simply the brain, after death with the hope of reawakening in the future.

Gene therapy: Manipulating genetic code for the purpose of improved health and function, longevity, eliminating birth defects, and creating designer babies.

Cybernetics: Technology enhances life in positive ways. No one can deny improved function for a disabled person is a wonderful achievement of modern medicine. A deaf child hearing for the first time brings tears of gratitude to all who witness the amazement on the little one’s face. But how far will a healthy human go in obtaining super hearing, vision, strength, speed, and knowledge? The transhumanist will answer that question.

Mind uploading and AI: Non-biological intelligence may seem impossible. The computer, after all, only puts more information in one place than a person could possibly remember. A computer in a man’s brain might not make him smarter, but it would give him unparalleled recall. But consider this: if a man is enhanced to take on the characteristics of a computer, might the computer take on the characteristics of a man and begin to reason?

2) It’s a social movement.

Social science records and interprets societal movements in the past and the present. Transhumanism, or H+ (humanity plus), is a movement in society past, present, and future. It will affect the interrelational categories of social science: anthropology, economics, politics, psychology, and sociology.

Anthropology: The human being as the subject of varied studies—biology, humanities, and history—will no doubt take on new meaning with the transcendence of the human.

Economics: Cost-effective transhumanism will surely struggle to find validity. Perhaps only the super-wealthy will experience the bounty of the movement. Or maybe the government will choose those worthy, and leave the rest of the human race unenhanced. Imagine the monetary implications of transhuman corporations.

Politics: Already, bioethics is a force governing the present and preparing to govern future technological and medical advancements, and how those advancements can and cannot be used in reaching goals nonexistent twenty years ago. Government funding now pays to research a transhuman future.

The National Institutes of Health has allocated $46 million “to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.” *1

Professor Thomas Sugar and Jason Kerestes, designer robotic engineers with the iProject: 4MM (4 minute mile) from Arizona State University (ASU) has been granted monies from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create a “jetpack to increase a soldier’s speed and boost a PT record to that of a four minute a mile.” *2

Psychology: A massive shift in the perception of humanness will come as cognitive ability increases, motivation and capability for extending life becomes reality, and relationships once required for the continuance of the race are deemed unnecessary. The resulting emotional struggle and moral reckoning will likely be met not with therapy for the mind, but with a tweak to the brain.

Sociology: Social class, law, religion, sexuality will take on new roles, or no role at all.

Government and family structure will be challenged. Belief systems will adjust, or else become channels of open rebellion against the transhuman emergence.

3) Its aim is the Singularity.

If you’re unfamiliar with transhumanism, you’ve probably never heard of the singularity. This is the point in time when the human race can no longer understand or predict the outcome of its own technological advancements. As science fiction would say, the machines take over. In the words of transhumanist frontrunner and author, Ray Kurzweil,

“Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.” *3

4) It has prophetic significance.

This is not too hard to fathom. Some interpret transhumanism will bring posthumans into a position of waging actual war against God. Not in the spiritual sense, but the physical. From end-times-bible-prophecy.com:

… it seems reasonable to assume that humanity will have to undergo some sort of radical transformation in order to plot a war against God Almighty. The arrogant impulse already exists. All that remains is the need for an exponential increase in human power which deludes humanity into believing it can overcome the Lord of lords. And make no mistake about it, the Bible is clear that this is where humanity is ultimately headed – physical conflict with God: “Then I saw the beast gathering the kings of the earth and their armies in order to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army.” Revelation 19:19 (NLT)

Do not confuse the “war” with a spiritual struggle. According to Strong’s Concordance, the key word here is translated “polemos,” and means:”warfare (lit. or fig.; a single encounter or a series) – battle, fight, war.” The word “polemos” appears at least 16 times in the New Testament, and in each case, it refers to physical conflict, not a spiritual one… *4

5) It has historical significance.

Again, it’s easy to see that transhumanism is yet another attempt at building a tower to the heavens in order to become like God. As addressed by author Britt Gillette:

“Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies, a monument to our greatness!” (Genesis 11:4, NLT).

The human race set out to build a monument to its own greatness, exalting mankind above God and extending its tower far into Heaven with the sole intent of usurping God’s glory and authority. This innate human desire did not end with the Tower of Babel. It continues to this day, and soon it will result in one final attempt to usurp the authority of God. *5

6) It assumes both creation and evolution are failures.

The argument that God’s creative power is not good enough is an obvious one. Yet, from a transhuman mindset, it doesn’t exist at all. The transhumanist will deny creation and embrace evolution, but then insist that even the natural process of improving the species isn’t good enough. For all its altering of the fabric of society, the theory of evolution is just as much a lost cause as creation. The transhumanist can do it better. Evolution needs a techno-boost. Humanity will become more than Darwin ever imagined.

7) Intermingling of faith and transhumanism is on the rise.

If considering a future of human life enhanced by technology isn’t quite relevant in your thinking, consider that a growing number of pseudo-Christian organizations believe transhumanism is the actualization of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.

What it means to be human will change soon and you will probably experience it. So read carefully. In the coming years computer-human interfaces will become so intimate that users may be considered superhumanly intelligent transcendent humans, or “transhumans”. We will have a choice in how to use vast new power. Use it for material gain? Or, aim this power at spiritual growth. In this new era of understanding, most will see the dead end of material gain, and see a better outcome in a life dedicated to spiritual growth. For individuals taking the spiritual path, the lower hierarchy of material needs will fall away and so naturally the transhuman will become a benevolent and self-actualized spiritual being.  Ultimately, life as represented by mankind will shift from consuming material for sustenance to a flow of information. This means that we shift to a wholly spiritual life where truth is the way. As material needs diminish, transhumans will increasingly be sustained by a powerful flow of Word that can be called the Glory of God. In giving up competition and control strategies and turning to God, we grow to be all that we can be; Christ-like.

Essential to Christian Transhumanism is the notion that love is a cognitive process and God expects us to participate in our salvation by learning how to love perfectly. In this way we access the Glory of God, becoming Christ-like (Christian). *6

Other sects and religions embrace the transhuman future as a responsible continuation of faith, and quite possibly the only way organized religion will survive. There exists a Mormon Transhumanist Association. Proponents cross religious boundaries, as might be expected in an increasingly secularized society. As with Christians, people of other faiths also oppose the movement. Atheists and agnostics support or reject. From all walks and factions, it appears there is not one group that stands united. But many in the Christian community who truly understand the ramifications of transhumanism consider it to be the great delusion spoken of in the Bible.

8) It is anti-Christian

Even so, it’s not to say Christians won’t participate, to some degree, in the rise of H+. If you can’t put down your iPhone or if you’re lost without your Bluetooth, then you know dependence on technology is an ever-increasing part of modern life. If your child is the one who can now hear you call his name, you are blessed by God. Technology is not bad. But don’t be misled by the message that our technological transcendence to being God-like is our salvation. The transhumanist goals of ending disease and poverty, of attaining eternal life, of saving the planet from the humans won’t happen. God already set a plan in motion to take care of His creation in the way of His choosing. Any other plan devised in the mind of a created being is doomed. Consider this proclamation in an article by Zoltan Ivstan, author of best-selling novel, The Transhumanist Wager.

One thing is for sure, to the human species, the birth of an advanced artificial intelligence will become far more important than the birth of Christ. Christmas, if it survives at all, will be relegated to just another commercial and cultural holiday that superstores and big business thrive on. Meanwhile, reasonable people will celebrate AI Day, the real moment in history the savior of civilization was born. *7

In response, Gonz Shimura, in his article “The Trials of Transhumanism: An Assault on Christianity,” writes:

First off, it is clear that Mr. Istvan has a tremendous amount of “faith” in not only our own human management abilities pertaining to these developments, but also that any establishment of such a thing as AI would share in its consciousness, the same moral and ethical framework as humans. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, as most know, Antichrist doesn’t mean “against Christ”; it means, “instead of Christ.” It is the replacement of Christ. Therefore, what Mr. Istvan is promoting here is quite literally the Antichrist. My particular views are that AI itself will not be the Antichrist figure as described in Bible Prophecy, but play a role in the establishment of the Image of the Beast. *8

9) You may be helped by it.

Again, technological advancements aren’t necessarily evil. They may be inspired and brought to fruition by the grace of God, whether or not the person who brings about the newest innovation recognizes that fact or not. Christian or otherwise, you may be the one whose paralysis is soon overcome. You may benefit from the use of techno-medical breakthroughs to end dementia. Your grandchild may be the product of reproductive science unheard of when your children were born. Go ahead and love that child, who is no less a creation of God. A human who becomes a transhuman will need the same thing every human needs—the grace of God that leads to salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ. Whether or not your life is improved by whatever God allows, for however long He allows it, there is no other way to eternal life.

10) It is not fiction.

Transhumanism is certainly the subject of fiction. Many novels have been written in recent years from a secular worldview, both pro H+ and con. At least one transhuman work of fiction written from a Christian worldview exists. (Yes, I wrote it.) Some authors believe it will happen. Some simply use H+ to carry their stories. Movies have been bringing us cyborgs and AI stories for years, most without ever referencing transhumanism. There is an H+ TV series (fiction) and an H+ magazine (non-fiction). Some say the thought and goal of transhumanism is ancient, but the word came from Julian Huxley in 1957. He did not intend to describe a fictitious world, but a very real one. Behind each made-up story, and hundreds of non-fiction books and articles, is an ever-progressing scientific and cultural movement intending to redefine the meaning of life. To recreate the human being. To realize God in self. Not a wilder theme exists for a novel. But in the real world, the transhumanist plans to take us far beyond imagination.

Sources:

1  Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | The US Independent, October 1, 2014
2  Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | The US Independent September 13,   2014
3 The Law of Accelerating Returns, Ray Kersweil, March 7, 2001
4  http://www.end-times-bible-prophecy.com/transhumanism.html
5  Transhumanism and the Great Rebellion, Britt Gillette
6  Prepare for HyperEvolution with Christian Transhumanism, James McLean Ledford
7  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/ai-day-will-replace-     christmas_b_4496550.html
8  http://www.facelikethesun.com/trials-transhumanism-assault-christianity/

 

 

photo (7)About the Author:

Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in her local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future, and she brings that future to life in her novels.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at her author page, on Twitter, and at her publisher, Pelican Book Group.

 

 

perf5.000x8.000.inddMore About Killswitch:

In the near future, fugitive Chase Sterling evades the transhuman life his creators intended him to lead. He connects with the Underground Church, confident his enhanced strength and intelligence make him the perfect guardian for those forced into a strange and secret existence. What could possibly go wrong? His unimpressed bodyguard is out to get him, his affection for a certain young woman may not be mutual, and a deceitful recruit accompanies Chase on a rescue mission . . . with plans to kidnap him. The leader of the underground is dying and the government is closing in. The super powers Chase relies on are switched off by an enemy he thought he had escaped. It’s enough to make a transhuman give up. Will he find the courage to keep going before all humanity is lost? You can see the trailer for Killswitch here.

WakeTheDead_h11557_300About Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man–if he can still be called a man–breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

Interview: Victoria Buck, Author of Killswitch and Wake the Dead

photo (7)Author Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in her local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future, and she brings that future to life in her recent novels.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at her author page, on Twitter, and at her publisher, Pelican Book Group.

Victoria, what a ride it was to follow Mr. Sterling from Wake the Dead, the first novel in the series, to Killswitch. I know we talked about this before, but I’d love to hear your definition of transhumanism?

Transhumanism proposes to use technology and bio-genetics to enhance the human experience. The potential isn’t simply a better functioning man or woman, but one with a greatly increased life expectancy. Some of the enhancements I wrote about in Chase Sterling’s story could become commonplace in the near future.

The scientist who created the technology and implanted everything into our hero, has a great last name. I was reminded of it toward the end of the story, and my thought was that he is a type of Dr. Frankenstein. I’m curious. Did you think of the doctor in that way at all during your writing of the novels?

Maybe in the beginning. After all, he is a mad scientist. But Dr. Fiender became someone I empathized. He realized the error of pushing the transhuman agenda too far, and he became a great friend to Chase. Of course, Dr. Frankenstein’s motivation to conquer death and become god-like was similar to Dr. Fiender’s initial drive to build the world’s first transhuman.

The story is an adult Dystopian set in the near future. Before I read Wake the Dead I hadn’t really seen many Dystopian novels written for adults, and those written for the young adult audiences, even those written for the Christian industry were filled with blood and gore. My thought was, “I wouldn’t let my children read these things.” Your story was an interesting, riveting, alternative for adults. Yes, things happen, but you managed to transform your story into one for adults of all ages. I’d love your thoughts on other such novels, and I’d like to know whether or not you started out to “transform” the genre.

My intent in the beginning was not to transform a genre, but to write something different for the Christian market. If I can be groundbreaking in bringing more speculative fiction to Christian publishing, I would consider that a success. As for those graphic bestsellers, I’ve read some and enjoyed them. But some go too far. My writing style is different and I enjoy the challenge of subtext. A writer can lead readers to envision something awful, or wonderful, without spelling it out for them.

There is a picture in the novel. I don’t want you to give away too much, but it has great significance for your hero. Could you elaborate a little on that for us?

Blue Sky Field is the painting of a green field under a clear blue sky. Chase dreams of the place and is compelled to find it. Only he thinks he’s looking for the actual place and he’s surprised when he realizes it’s only a painting. But he grows to love it and what it symbolizes. What happens to the painting is only a fraction of the grief he faces in Killswitch.

There’s a sequel, I know. Can you tell us a little about it and other projects that you may be working on?

Yes, the cover for Transfusion is shown on the back of Killswitch and it will be available in a few months. I love Chase’s story in its completion, and I hate to leave him behind. But on to other characters! I’m currently working on a novelette about a girl enduring a post-rapture adventure. As soon as I’m done with that I’ll start a new novel, which is already outlined (something I’ll never look at again) and playing in my imagination. This one is not futuristic, nor does it involve transhumanism. But it will be something different for the Christian market, and a little bit weird.

Well, I like weird. I call it eclectic. So, I can’t wait for you to bring the story to life, and I look forward to reading Transfusion.

perf5.000x8.000.inddMore About Killswitch:

In the near future, fugitive Chase Sterling evades the transhuman life his creators intended him to lead. He connects with the Underground Church, confident his enhanced strength and intelligence make him the perfect guardian for those forced into a strange and secret existence. What could possibly go wrong? His unimpressed bodyguard is out to get him, his affection for a certain young woman may not be mutual, and a deceitful recruit accompanies Chase on a rescue mission . . . with plans to kidnap him. The leader of the underground is dying and the government is closing in. The super powers Chase relies on are switched off by an enemy he thought he had escaped. It’s enough to make a transhuman give up. Will he find the courage to keep going before all humanity is lost? You can see the trailer for Killswitch here.

WakeTheDead_h11557_300About Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man–if he can still be called a man–breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

Character Interview: Melody Reese from Victoria Buck’s Killswitch

perf5.000x8.000.inddToday’s special guest is Melody Reese from Victoria Buck’s near-future adult Dystopian novel, Killswitch. Welcome, Melody. You are quite a character. Actually, you’re one that I couldn’t wait to see again. While Chase Sterling might be the hero of Wake the Dead and Killswitch, you are most definitely the true heroine. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Wow, I really don’t feel like a heroine. I feel like I let Chase down when I left him to face everything on his own. Of course, I had no choice. Now, I’m so glad he found me. Found us—me and the rest of my group here in this branch of the underground. I was a Christian living in a society no longer accepting of people like me and so I went into hiding. But before I did, I wrote computer code to help the Underground Church, and I hid it in Chase. It was risky for both of us but I knew God had a plan. With His help, Chase and I will make it all work. But I don’t know how he feels about me. I know what I want. I’m not sure Chase knows what he wants.

In the first novel, Chase was quite a different character. I’d love to have your insight on the changes that you’ve seen in him since everything happened.

When the government sent me away, and Chase went rogue, I missed a lot of the critical moments that helped shape him into the man he is today. I can’t believe he’s so different. So willing to be a servant, instead of being served. I see a hint of that old ego once in a while, but he’s a new man. I’m not talking about him being a transhuman, which is what he is and he won’t let me forget it. But he changed on the inside. His character is different. Still, we’re worlds apart because I’m a Christian and he’s… He’s on his way. I know it. It seems like there’s just no time to get inside his head on this issue. But I believe he’ll come around.

You’re sort of an expert on artificial intelligence. How has that helped you deal with what’s going on inside of Chase?

My education is in AI. I’m kind of a prodigy, but I just couldn’t do it—I couldn’t go down that road that’s so far from the one I walk with Christ. Now I see a purpose for all the training forced on me by the government. The knowledge I have helps me help Chase, of course. But so much is going on inside him that I don’t understand. His abilities are beyond me. God definitely has His hand on this man.

Can you give us an idea of what it’s like to live in the future? How do you hold on to hope? Where do you find peace in the midst of hatred? Do you think you’ll survive and be able to live without looking over your shoulder all the time?

Everything about the world I live in seemed to come in an exponential shift. Technology, society—it all changed. For years—decades—it seemed gradual, harmless. And then all of a sudden it was a different kind of world. As for hope, it’s hard. I know the only solution is Christ’s return and it can’t be far off. Until then, we just have to endure. As for peace, it’s all about what’s deep-down inside because there is no peace left on this planet. I think I will survive the evil rule pressing in on me. I don’t think there will ever be a day I’m not looking over my shoulder. Not in this lifetime.

You’re living in a place and a time where there is much peril. It’s almost certain that the human race is moving in that direction. What advice can you give to the generations that will eventually live through what you and others are facing in Killswitch?

That’s a tough question for someone who’s running for her life. I guess I’d say to remember that good or bad, it’s temporary. Hold on to your faith that God will get you through. Don’t stop loving. Don’t be ruled by fear. Speak up even if Christianity is outlawed. Like a lot of others, I learned to keep quiet. I have a feeling Chase is going to change all that. It scares me, but I’ll be right beside him. I hope we’re never separated again. But I don’t know what my future holds. None of us knows. Only Jesus.

More About Killswitch:

In the near future, fugitive Chase Sterling evades the transhuman life his creators intended him to lead. He connects with the Underground Church, confident his enhanced strength and intelligence make him the perfect guardian for those forced into a strange and secret existence. What could possibly go wrong? His unimpressed bodyguard is out to get him, his affection for a certain young woman may not be mutual, and a deceitful recruit accompanies Chase on a rescue mission . . . with plans to kidnap him. The leader of the underground is dying and the government is closing in. The super powers Chase relies on are switched off by an enemy he thought he had escaped. It’s enough to make a transhuman give up. Will he find the courage to keep going before all humanity is lost? You can see the trailer for Killswitch here.

WakeTheDead_h11557_300About Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man–if he can still be called a man–breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

photo (7)About the Author:

Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in her local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future, and she brings that future to life in her novels.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at her author page, on Twitter, and at her publisher’s site, Pelican Book Group.

Interview with Cynthia T. Toney, Author of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

Toney, Cynthia- 006 3x5 BW.ret2.cropToday’s guest is Cynthia T. Toney, who is here to discuss her second book in her Bird Face series. I’m a big fan of Cynthia’s work, having had the pleasure of reading the first book in her series before publication, and I have championed her writing since that time. 

Cynthia is the author of the Bird Face series for teens, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. She’s always had trouble following directions and keeping her foot out of her mouth, so it’s probably best that she is now self-employed. In her spare time, when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk throw pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both.  Cynthia has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to adopt a pet from a shelter and save a life. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Storm (The Woodlands, TX), and Catholic Writers Guild.

You can connect with Cynthia on her website, her blog, her Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.

Welcome back to Inner Source, Cynthia. Wow! Book Two. Tell me how it feels to have Wendy step into high school for the first time?

Hi, Fay. It’s great to be back!

I must admit that Wendy was better prepared for high school than I was at her age. The summer between eighth and ninth grades taught her a lot, and I expected more of her than I did of myself at the start of high school. I loved the thirteen-year-old Wendy but was ready for her to experience new, more mature things, to see how she’d handle them.

I’ve said this to you before, but I have been captivated by the ability of your stories to transcend generations. When I walked into school with Wendy, I felt as if I experienced déjà vu with regard to some things, but other things have changed. I won’t tell you my generation if you don’t tell me yours, but what do you think is different about teenagers and schools even within the last twenty years?

Teenagers now have so much to handle. I first noticed it when my daughter was in high school. I don’t know if, as a teen, I could have juggled all the things some of them do these days. Not only is there more to learn academically, but teens are expected to participate in many extracurricular activities. The pressure to acquire material things seems greater, so many of them choose to work an after-school or weekend job to keep up with new technology products, for example. They have much more worry regarding their safety around strangers. And of course, the drug problem has grown.

I write for teens to show them how wonderful and powerful God made them. In spite of all their accomplishments, teens I’ve known have demonstrated that they don’t feel loved.

The story is about Wendy’s steps to girlfriend status. I’m really interested in hearing how you, as a writer, developed that list. Did anything that went on that list, surprise you?

*Chuckle* Unlike boys, a girl often reads signs of a potentially serious relationship into the most minor kinds of attention a boy might pay her. That idea prompted the list. I don’t think anything on the list surprised me. I just developed Wendy and David’s relationship as I thought it might in real life between two kids with pretty good heads on their shoulders. But I wanted readers to understand how important real friendship with a boy is in developing an emotionally healthy romance. If I had revealed that early in the story, it wouldn’t have made for as much fun.

I had a recent conversation with a friend and her teenage daughter about dating, and particularly about dating more than one person at a time. I’ve noticed that girls fall in love more quickly and easily, and when they develop strong feelings about that first boy, they think he’s “the one.” Boys don’t seem to think that way, and it usually takes getting to know several girls before there’s a special one.

I disagree with some of my friends in that I think a teenage girl should not limit herself to going out with only one boy at a time. If she’s honest with the young men she’s seeing, and she is upfront about what dating means to her (friendship and going out for good, clean fun—not sex), then that’s the best way not to fall into the trap of becoming too quickly attached to one boy. How can she learn what God wants her to learn about the opposite sex and eventually make a choice pleasing to Him if she doesn’t allow herself to meet and date a number of worthy young men?

You introduce a new character who has a handicap. I’ve heard that you’ve been able to make some great connections in this regard, and I’d love for you to share them with our readers in case they might want to make a connection with you.

Right now, two interesting people are reading 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status to evaluate its potential for the deaf community. One gentleman is an educator of deaf students in a mainstream school environment. The other person is a mother who is deaf but has both hearing and deaf children.

I want to find out how deaf readers will respond to my deaf teen character, who is deaf but also speaks and reads lips. He and Wendy do not communicate using ASL (American Sign Language) because she does not have time to learn it before they become friends. I plan to have her try to learn ASL in the next book.

My concern for the book’s acceptance in the deaf community is that the deaf designate as “oral” anyone who speaks and reads lips rather than relying solely on signing. The deaf generally do not regard deafness as a handicap but rather as a way of life, with ASL as the preferred method of communication. But sometimes a deaf person speaks and reads lips in communicating with the hearing if he or she was not born deaf but became deaf later and retained the ability to speak.

There is a lot for me to learn even though I worked among deaf adults for a number of years. I love American Sign Language and think it’s a beautiful and fun language to learn. If anyone who reads 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status would like to contact me to discuss my deaf teen character, is a deaf teen, or has experience with deaf teens, I would love to hear from them.

Email birdfacewendy@gmail.com.

Last question: is there anything coming for Wendy or any other stories on the horizon that you can share with us?

I’m in the process of completing the third book of the Bird Face series, with the working title 6 Dates to Disaster. All your favorite characters from books one and two will be there.

Another project dear to my heart that I wrote while seeking a publisher for my first book is called The Other Side of Freedom. It’s a coming-of-age historical with a young male protagonist. Set in the 1920s within an immigrant farming community, it’s about as different from the Bird Face series as one can imagine.

Thank you, Cynthia. I’m looking forward to reading more of your wonderful YA novels.

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC MedMore About 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status:

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s deaf grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

8 Notes to a NobodyAbout 8 Notes to a Nobody:

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

8 Notes to a Nobody received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. In its original edition, Bird Face, it won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, bronze, in the category Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues.

Character Interview: Wendy Robichaud from 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia T. Toney

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC MedToday’s guest is Wendy Robichaud. Wendy is back for another interview now that she is starring in her second novel, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, written by Cynthia T. Toney. Wendy, tell the readers what you’ve been doing since your first novel, 8 Notes to a Nobody a/k/a Bird Face.

In this first semester of high school, Gayle has become one of my two best friends! If you remember Gayle, she was one of the Brainiacs in eighth grade who hung around with John (John-Monster). When John committed suicide, Gayle was devastated, and I wanted so much to help her get through her grief. I got to know her better, and we are both on the track team. But there’s even more to our relationship than meets the eye.

Of course, I remain interested in animal rescue and also enjoy helping my puppy, Belle, grow up healthy and happy.

This story finds you on the verge of a whole new life, not only starting high school, but other things are going on. Would you like to tell us about some of those changes?

I’m so happy for my mom because she has found the perfect man to love and spend the rest of her life with. He is Daniel, Alice’s father, so that’s even more special for me. Alice reached out to me in eighth grade, and she has enriched my life. Now she, her father, and her little brother are part of my family. Alice and I have our differences, but I wouldn’t want to be without my new sister.

My relationship with my real dad has continued to improve. I thank God that Dad found Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have worked to get over most of my shyness, learning to reach out to people and express myself well. I slip up and say something totally Bird Face at times, but I’m doing better.

David, the boy I had a crush on in eighth grade, has started asking me out. I am thrilled!

I remember my early high school years. I was scared to death. One of my biggest fears still haunts my dreams today—the high school locker combination. I still remember it, and … uh-hum … many years later, I dream that I’m late for class, and I can’t get the combination to work. I’d like to know if there is anything that frightens you about entering high school.

Remembering where your locker and classes are located can be a challenge in a big school during those first few days! Going from being one of the oldest kids in school to one of the youngest is scary, too. There are always people who try to make someone else feel bad, but I’m working on not letting that get to me.

You have a little family mystery going on. I don’t want you to give it away, but I’d love to know what you learned that had you hunting for answers.

Wow, I’ve always been such a curious person who can’t ignore a mystery, especially if it involves me personally or someone in my family. Do you think that’s because I grew up as an only child? Anyway, I love looking at old photos. I sometimes feel that I’m right there with the people in the setting of the photo. It’s their eyes that draw me in. Well, when my neighbor and surrogate grandmother, Mrs. Villaturo, showed me a photo of herself with two of my family members I didn’t even know she knew—and one I’d never heard of—you can imagine how I simply had to find out more.

I have to tell you. Number ten on your list made me go, “Ahh …” I couldn’t think of anything else to add to the list, but I’m wondering if after reaching number ten, if you have found there might be a number eleven, and if so, what might it be?

I think Step 11 might be “Agreeing to have God in our lives.” Once you get to know a boy as a friend, you should know where he stands on the subject of God. Often girls forget about that when they fall for a guy.

That’s definitely an awesome bit of advice.

Thank you for coming back to talk with me, Wendy. I look forward to speaking with your author, Cynthia T. Toney, later this week.

More About 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status:

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s deaf grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

8 Notes to a NobodyAbout 8 Notes to a Nobody:

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

8 Notes to a Nobody received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. In its original edition, Bird Face, it won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, bronze, in the category Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues.

Toney, Cynthia- 006 3x5 BW.ret2.cropAbout the Author:

Cynthia T. Toney is the author of the Bird Face series for teens, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. She’s always had trouble following directions and keeping her foot out of her mouth, so it’s probably best that she is now self-employed. In her spare time, when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk throw pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both.  Cynthia has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to adopt a pet from a shelter and save a life. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Storm (The Woodlands, TX), and Catholic Writers Guild.

You can connect with Cynthia on her website, her blog, her Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.

 

Interview: Anna Marie Kittrell: Author of Storm Season

Anna K Author Pic 15Today’s special guest on Inner Source is Anna Marie Kittrell. Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents. You can catch up with Anna on her Amazon Author Page, on Facebook, or by e-mail at kittrellbooks@gmail.com.

Anna, welcome back to Inner Source. I believe this is our third visit together, as I have been allowed to watch Molly, Lenni, and Bianca mature throughout their four years at Redbend High School.

Thank you so much for having me back on Inner Source, Fay. I love being here. It’s fun sharing new Redbend High experiences with you.

As I read, Storm Season, I found myself reliving some of my high school frustrations where friendships took awkward turns as my friends and I tried to grasp what the future would become for us. Without giving too much of the delightful plot away, I would love to know how you arrived at the plot for this story.

Actually, I credit one of the girls at the middle school where I work for suggesting the plotline. During a Witcha’be (since retitled Second Bestie) book club meeting in our school library, I mentioned that I had yet to come up with a plot for the fourth and final book in my Redbend High series. A beautiful 6th grade girl named Lily said, “Ms. Anna, you should make them fight over a boy!” I just stared at her for a second and said, “I totally should!” or something similar to that. I immediately knew she was right. But I still didn’t know how to deliver the storyline. Each Redbend book is set in a different season, so I knew the final book would take place in the spring. The stories are set in Oklahoma, and in springtime that can only mean one thing—tornados. So that is where the title, Storm Season, came from. Once I got my head in the storm clouds, the plot lined out fairly easily. Although, I did run into complications while trying to keep my scenes straight. I’d never written a story with three main characters before! Not only did I have to keep each girl’s comings and goings, timeline, and interactions in logical order, I had to make sure their voices, as well as their thoughts, stayed distinct and true to character. It really had my head spinning (oops, couldn’t resist). But I wanted to give each girl a chance to shine in the same story. In the end, I enjoyed the challenge and was happy with how the book turned out.

I know from previous interviews that you are a secretary at a middle school in the town where you live. In that capacity have you ever watched friendships blossom like that Molly, Lenni, and Bianca?

Honestly, I recognize the blend of personalities and friendships more with the staff members than with the students, especially within the office. One of our counselors is extra-sweet and grandmothers the children with kind words and chocolate, while the other counselor is more geared toward student responsibility and consequences. Our principal is very easy going and sometimes looks the other way, while our assistant principal is very straightforward and black and white. The other secretary in the office is very quiet and serious, while I am never, ever quiet and am the complete opposite of serious. The variety of personalities makes for a fun and interesting workplace. We always talk about how we balance each other out.

I love the elements you wind into the story (no pun intended) and the way that real life mirrors a storm that could have dire consequences for each of the girls. Your tag line for this novel says it all, “The deadliest winds blow in the heart …”There is another well-known story where a girl had to go through the storms and the aftermath, to learn that same lesson. You integrated that story very well. Is there a reason that you used the storm and the well-known story to present your message? (Oh, and as an aside, Bianca’s line near the end of the book regarding Raley goes in my category of “wish I’d written that one.”)

A lifetime in Oklahoma has somewhat desensitized me to tornados. This is a bad thing, considering tornados are hungry, killer monsters that consume everything in their path. But for me, being dragged to the cellar time after time as a child made the danger seem blasé. I’d rather lie on the couch and watch a scary movie until the electricity goes out, and then sit by the window and watch the lightening. I think maybe that’s how Molly, Lenni, and Bianca were so easily snared by Raley. They’d lived through so many emotional storms together, they assumed nothing could tear them apart. When danger showed up in the least likely place, they weren’t prepared. Instead of sheltering their hearts, they invited the storm right into their midst.

I guess, if I had written symbolism into it, High school could be the Yellow Brick Road, and the Emerald City could represent what lies ahead following graduation—but I wish I could say I put that much thought into it. It was really just one of those rare, happy accidents. The Wizard of Oz theme has popped up several times throughout the Redbend series. It all started with the humiliating “porch witch” that belonged to Molly’s mother, standing outside the front door in all her green glory for the entire school bus to see. Molly’s little brother, Max, even had a flying monkey mobile above his crib. This time, in Storm Season, the Wizard of Oz theme happened to fit in perfectly with the tornadic storyline. And like Dorothy; Molly, Lenni, and Bianca kind of woke up at the end, blinked, looked around, and appreciated the people in their lives that they had taken for granted. And personally, I think The Wizard of Oz would be a terrific prom theme.

Hmm…Fay, I wonder if you might mean the scene where Bianca says something like, “Well Molly. Turns out Rails fit right in with your must-have Wizard of Oz prom theme. No heart, no brain, and no courage.”

That was the line. I love it. I believe this story has a number of messages for the reader, and I believe that readers will interrupt the messages with regard to where they are in their lives. What do you feel is the overall message of Storm Season?

Emotions are so powerful. It’s easy to let them lead us around—and astray. Especially in matters of the heart. I was one of those girls who thrived on affirmation and took what everyone said to heart—the positive and the negative. I’m still more like that than I care to admit. Therefore, I can fully understand the need to be validated by others. But sometimes receiving attention (especially from the opposite sex) is blinding, and causes us to mistreat friends and family members who love us all the time. The desire to be loved can cause us to be selfish, jealous, and if we’re not extremely careful, turn us from the morals, values, and interests that we hold dear. Storm Season is the story of how a complete stranger used cheap compliments, empty promises, and lies to infiltrate and nearly destroy a true, godly friendship.

Hmm…Satan probably loves this guy.

And I’m very interested to learn what is next on your writing horizon. Will you follow the girls to their different colleges or will we see a new series from Anna Marie Kittrell?

I’ve decided not to spy on the Redbend girls while they’re away at college…unless they reach out to me, ready to share their experiences. I am working on a new story that I am especially excited about, called The Commandment. It is a New Adult suspense with romantic elements, and even a futuristic element that is an entirely new aspect for me as a writer. If you don’t mind, I’d love to share a little bit about The Commandment with you today:

Ten years ago, Briar Lee’s body rejected a government-mandated vaccine known as SAP (Serum to Advance Progressivism), formulated to erase God from the mind. Briar was seven years old—she has been on house arrest ever since. Now, just weeks from becoming a legal adult, Briar remains nonresponsive to her mandatory bi-yearly SAP injections. Along with her rapidly approaching eighteenth birthday looms a grim reality: by order of the Commandment, adulthood means institutionalization for those resistant to SAP. In a matter of days, Briar will become a permanent resident of the DEN (Diagnosis Evaluation Network: an institution shrouded in dark rumors of torture, experimentation, and death) unless she accepts a last-minute ultimatum. To avoid forcible commitment, Briar must become a scientific test subject in a laboratory over a thousand miles away.

Lukas Stone, a twenty-three year-old medical laboratory scientist, has made an extraordinary breakthrough that will render SAP obsolete. From the nectar of a rare cactus, he’s developed an abstergent that will not merely inhibit the brain’s “God Zone,” but dissolve the area away completely. To finalize his research and complete the chemical trial, Lukas lacks only one analytical component—a human test subject.

Briar, sick of being alone and terrified of spending the rest of her life in the DEN, agrees to the arrangement. Immediately, she is flown 1,500 miles from her hometown of Greenfield, Oklahoma to a laboratory in Sickle Ridge, Nevada, to become a human research subject for Lucas Stone’s groundbreaking God-dissolving serum. When the stint is over, she will enjoy a lifetime of freedom. With a decade of solitude behind her and a lifetime of confinement before her—what does she have to lose?

Except maybe her soul.

Wow! The Commandment sounds awesome. I hope you’ll come back with Briar or Lukas and share the story with us when it is released. Right now, I want to share with our readers some information about your four Redbend High School young adult series:

STORM SEASONAbout Storm Season:

Sometimes the shelter is more dangerous than the storm.

A courageous stranger risks his life to save Molly, Lenni, and Bianca from a deadly tornado, leaving the girls thunderstruck. As his injuries heal, the hero claims the girls’ hearts while reclaiming his strength. In their friendship strong enough to withstand the brutal winds of jealously, heartache, and betrayal? Or will graduation from Redbend High really mean good-bye forever?

SECOND BESTIEAbout Second Bestie:

New to the small community of Redbend, Molly Sanders is delighted when she and Lenni Flemming become instant friends during the final weeks of her first Oklahoma summer. However, Bianca Ravenwood, Lenni’s best friend and self-proclaimed “witch” in training, is less than thrilled. In fact, she’s cursing mad, vowing to destroy Molly while honing her craft in the halls of Redbend High School.

DIZZYAbout Dizzy Blonde:

All of her life, Lenni has been the perfect child, but still her parents are divorcing. Invisible and angry, Lenni trades her innocent princess image for the rebellious likeness of her favorite rock icon, Dizzy. In an effort to shed the old Lenni, she turns her back on those who love her most, trading true friendship for a dangerous affiliation with a shady upperclassman. When deception and rumors threaten to ruin Lenni’s life, she learns the value of good friends and the importance of an honorable reputation. But can this realization save her from the clutches of danger? Or was the lesson learned too late?

LINEAGEAbout Lineage:

Bianca can’t walk away from her family—she’ll have to run.

Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father, and the wicked schemes of another—with no way to escape.

Character Interviews: Molly, Lenni, and Bianca from Anna Marie Kittrell’s Storm Season

STORM SEASONToday, I’m attempting to do something I would normally find impossible: interview three teenage girls at one time, but I feel as if I know each of them, and I believe I can get them to speak one at a time so that I can be assured of accurately recording their responses.

So, please meet Molly Sanders, Lenni Flemming, and Bianca Ravenwood of Anna Marie Kittrell’s young adult series, Redbend High School (and I believe a series for all ages). Today, we’re talking about the novel, Storm Season, in which they share center stage.

Okay, girls, it’s the last year of high school for you, and each of you have been through a lot. I’d like to know how you feel about this final year when you will all be together.

Lenni: Do you have a tissue? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to burst in to tears so quickly. It’s just that the thought of not seeing my two best friends every day just kind of rips my heart out, you know? Did you see the way Bianca just rolled her eyes at me? It’s things like that I’ll miss so much. I don’t think I can talk about it anymore right now—do you happen to have another tissue? Thanks.

Molly: I’m excited and terrified at the exact same time. Excited, because even after everything we’ve been through, we’ve managed to remain friends. At the beginning of my freshman year, I would have NEVER envisioned Bianca and me forging a friendship—not in a million years! But I truly believe God kept the three of us together for a reason, and that we will remain close even after graduation. Why would He bring us this far just to sever us at such a crucial time in our lives? Knowing that God is rooting for us is a pretty good feeling. Maybe terrified was too strong of a word. Insecure is a better adjective. Even though I know God has special plans for each of our lives, I’m not sure exactly what the future holds. Although I believe Lenni, Bianca, and I share an emotional bond, we will be in different physical locations—which will be very tough to get used to. Could I borrow one of those tissues?

Bianca: You don’t happen have an extra barf-bag do you? I’m having a hard time digesting all of this melodrama. I’m just joking—don’t get uptight, Molly. Okay, I’m being serious now. I consider Molly and Lenni my sisters. We’ve been through some very tough situations together. For me, the end of this year will bring the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced—real life. An apartment over a thousand miles away in California. Enrollment in a huge performing arts school. Driving on the interstate. And even though I’ve been through the fire many times before…I’ve never been through it alone. Without these guys. I’m really going to miss them. I’ll be creeping their pages so much, they’ll block me from FriendFlitter. Hey, let go! That was not an invitation for a group hug—you’re messing up my hair!

During the Spring Break of your senior year, you faced some peril and met someone. I’d like to hear from each of you (one at a time, please), how you feel this event changed your thinking or may have even changed your life personally.

Molly: It’s hard for me to think about that—how close we came to letting Raley Hale tear our friendship apart. It actually causes my cheeks to burn. I guess, for me, that event caused me to put more thought into the situations I involve myself in. If I’m placing myself before others, I seem to recognize my selfishness more easily. I also try to line up my relationships with God’s word. If I don’t want to read in the Bible what God has to say about what I’m doing or what a friend is doing—that’s always a bad sign.

Lenni: Molly, are you okay? Your face is really, really red. What was the question, again? Oh, never mind. I remember. My way of thinking has changed so much since Raley Hale blew into, and, thankfully, out of our lives. I depend on the Holy Spirit a lot more now. If I’m really paying attention, I get this little tingle all through my body when something isn’t quite right. It’s kind of like a super power. I call it my “Spirit-Sense.” Yeah, I knew Bianca would laugh at that, but I don’t care. It’s real, and it works. When I think back about the Raley days—a timeframe I refer to as the Great Depression—I can remember feeling that tingle most all the time. But I ignored it, and tried swatting it away like a housefly. Now I know that doesn’t turn out so well.

Bianca: Growing up in Oklahoma, I used to believe tornadoes were the ultimate danger. Raley Hale—I can hardly say that name without gagging—taught me that subtle dangers are sometimes deadlier. He prayed on each of our vulnerabilities, and although I hate to admit it, he was really good at it. For me, his being alienated from his family was what drew me in. I had similar feelings of abandonment. We both had sentimental objects that we treasured: Raley had a pocket watch given to him by a mentor. I had a locket that belonged to my deceased mother. He made specific associations with each of us, and then used his connection as a tool to get inside our hearts—and rip them to shreds. I used to pray for God to erase the memory of Raley Hale from my head. But in time, I’ve learned to use his memory to make myself a better person. It keeps me from taking advantage of others, because I know how much it hurts to be taken advantage of. And it keeps me from falling into the same trap. I almost lost my two best friends over nothing but a pack of lies. No way I’m ever letting that happen again.

Each of you had an eventful high school career where you faced difficulties, dangers, new revelations. Do you believe that what happened to you before might have affected the way you handled the events that happened in the park during Spring Break? If so, how?

Molly: I believe past occurrences had a lot to do with how I responded to Raley Hale, but I’m not proud of that. Raley somehow dragged up the insecurities I used to have about Bianca back before she and I were friends. Even though I had forgiven Bianca for mistreating me when we were freshmen, all of that hurt and anger bubbled too quickly back to the surface when Raley scratched at it. In hindsight, I learned that sometimes I have to check myself—better yet, have God check me—to make sure I’m still “clean.” What I’m trying to say is that for me, harboring bad feelings is like an addiction. Let’s say I’m thinking about something good—like how far God has brought me in life, and everything he’s carried me through—but in the process, maybe I started to think about how badly I was initially treated and how unfair that was. Before I realize it, I’m having a pity party and God isn’t being glorified at all. Suddenly, I’m mad at the person who mistreated me all over again—the person I’ve supposedly forgiven. Today, I try not to bury bad feelings, but to completely excavate them, and then give them over to God.

Lenni: At first meeting Raley Hale reminded me a lot of when I first met Molly—no offense, Molly. I thought it would go the same way; we would all have a new friend to hang out with. We all seemed to get along so great. Raley was funny and interesting. But he was also cute, and before I knew it, I was falling for him—falling for the fake him, I should say. Not only did I almost lose my best friends, I almost lost my boyfriend, Saul, the nicest, sweetest boy on the whole planet. You’d think I would have learned my lesson back in my sophomore year when I befriended a dangerous girl that nearly destroyed my reputation and my friendship with Molly and Bianca. Apparently I didn’t. I just really love people, and I think that’s a good thing. God made me that way, so it has to be, right? At least this time, I can say I rode out the storm in my own skin, instead of pretending to be someone that I’m not. And I’m glad. Because I really didn’t want to chop off my hair again. It’s finally grown all the way out.

Bianca: I’m trying to think of how my past experiences impacted the situation with Raley in a positive way, but like Molly and Lenni, I also fell for the same old tricks. Jealousy, I’ve learned, is the emotion I struggle the most with. Man, do I hate to admit that. For my own sake, I have to believe that I was quicker to apologize this time, and quicker to forgive. If I don’t forgive others, God doesn’t forgive me. I try to always keep that in mind. Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the difference between life and death. Besides, as we’ve all heard before, refusing to forgive someone doesn’t hurt them—it hurts you. I haven’t just heard it, I’ve experienced it. And I’ve never felt more alive than when I’ve forgiven someone. Oftentimes that “someone” is me.

Okay, one more question for the three of you. Where do you expect yourselves to be in life when you walk through the doors of Redbend High School’s ten year reunion?

Lenni: Following graduation, I’m attending medical school. I was planning to be a nurse because I enjoy helping people, but then I decided to become a doctor instead. Maybe a pediatrician, since I love to be around children and they seem to like me. When I walk through those Redbend High doors, I’ll have a shiny stethoscope around my neck. And one of those little penlights in my front pocket.

Molly: I’m enrolling in Redbend College to pursue a degree in education. My dream is to co-teach with Mrs. Piper in the same creative writing classroom where I found myself—and Christ. It will be amazing to be on the other side of the big desk next time around. So, God willing, in ten years walking through those doors will be commonplace to me. Redbend High holds so many great memories. There’s no place on earth I’d rather be.

Bianca: Well, first of all, ten years from now I plan on walking across a red carpet to get to the doors of Redbend High. Molly—you’re in charge of rolling it out for me, since you’ll still be here. You’ll more than likely be on the reunion committee. Then, after my bodyguard opens the door for me and my famous celebrity escort, I plan to turn my nose up at the décor, look down on everyone else’s clothing while flaunting my designer labels, begrudgingly sign autographs for an hour, and then be whisked away in the back of a stretch limousine. No, I’m just kidding. I would never flaunt a designer label—unless my name is on it. I also plan to have my own clothing line.

This last question is for Bianca, as I’ve noted that you’ve allowed Molly and Lenni to answer each question first, and I sense that you have something more to say. Bianca, I’d like to know—with your fashion sense and know-how, why acting takes center stage over fashion design?

Well, as I just mentioned, I’ve been putting some thought into fashion design lately. I’m just not sure anyone will get what I’m trying to express through my creations. Unlike many designers, I’m not really out to make a lot of money, and I don’t really care what’s in style. I started out designing my own clothes because I couldn’t afford to buy new ones. The thrift store was my oasis. I could buy a variety of different styles and piece them together to create my own look. It allowed me to be unique and stretched my creativity. To create a clothing line that is affordable, yet still considered “designer” would be pretty awesome. And I would definitely keep that vintage, thrift store feel to every piece.

As for my acting taking center stage over fashion design…acting is my first love. I suspect it has something to do with my little brother’s death and my mother’s suicide attempt when I was young. When my mother was sent to the mental institution following her drug overdose, I felt I had to invent a different life in order to cover up what was really happening in my own. I learned to be something I wasn’t, and it was really easy for me—so much so, I began to confuse reality with imagination. Through the years, I learned to accept my life experiences as tools from God, even the really terrible occurrences. When I decided to see every trial as a lesson and began asking myself what I had learned from each experience, my life changed for the better. Now I can separate what is real from what is imaginary. But I still love the freedom that exists solely in the imagination. That is where I flourish. And for that reason, I will win an Oscar one day. Make that Oscars, plural.

Now, Molly and Lenni, I can see that you have something to say. So, with regard to Bianca’s career choice, what would be your advice to her?

Lenni: I would say she should follow her acting dream. She’s definitely on the right path. And with regards to her fashion designing, she should design a really cute line of clothing for doctors. I’ve been looking online, and there just really isn’t much to choose from. Talk about bland. And shoes—there should definitely be more fashionable doctors’ shoes. Oh, and when she comes to the reunion and walks across the red carpet, she should maybe think twice before wearing puce, being a redhead and all. I read that in a fashion magazine last week.

Molly: I can’t picture Bianca being anything but successful, no matter what career she chooses. But I’ve seen her acting first hand, and she nails every role. The best advice I can give to her is to remember to honor God, who bestowed her with talents, gifts, and abilities. I’ve heard the stories, and I know how crazy and confusing it can get out there—especially in Hollywood. Just be true to who God created you to be, Bianca. And when you’re up for that first Oscar, Lenni and I had better receive front-row tickets in our mailboxes. And backstage passes, too.

More About Storm Season:

Sometimes the shelter is more dangerous than the storm.

A courageous stranger risks his life to save Molly, Lenni, and Bianca from a deadly tornado, leaving the girls thunderstruck. As his injuries heal, the hero claims the girls’ hearts while reclaiming his strength. In their friendship strong enough to withstand the brutal winds of jealously, heartache, and betrayal? Or will graduation from Redbend High really mean good-bye forever?

These three wonderful characters have their own stories to tell as well:

SECOND BESTIEAbout Second Bestie:

New to the small community of Redbend, Molly Sanders is delighted when she and Lenni Flemming become instant friends during the final weeks of her first Oklahoma summer. However, Bianca Ravenwood, Lenni’s best friend and self-proclaimed “witch” in training, is less than thrilled. In fact, she’s cursing mad, vowing to destroy Molly while honing her craft in the halls of Redbend High School.

DIZZYAbout Dizzy Blonde:

All of her life, Lenni has been the perfect child, but still her parents are divorcing. Invisible and angry, Lenni trades her innocent princess image for the rebellious likeness of her favorite rock icon, Dizzy. In an effort to shed the old Lenni, she turns her back on those who love her most, trading true friendship for a dangerous affiliation with a shady upperclassman. When deception and rumors threaten to ruin Lenni’s life, she learns the value of good friends and the importance of an honorable reputation. But can this realization save her from the clutches of danger? Or was the lesson learned too late?

LINEAGEAbout Lineage:

Bianca can’t walk away from her family—she’ll have to run.

Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father, and the wicked schemes of another—with no way to escape.

Anna K Author Pic 15About the Author, Anna Marie Kittrell:

Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

You can catch up with Anna on her Amazon Author Page, on Facebook, or by e-mail at kittrellbooks@gmail.com.

Playing My Part by Kay Dew Shostak

Doing My Part by KDSWhen I moved to Northern Illinois from the South were I was born and raised, one of the biggest surprises (besides the snow not melting for weeks at a time) was that so many people preferred the colder weather. They had snow mobiles, ski lift tickets, and ice skates. One friend even had snow shoes like the old mountain trappers wear in the movies! Then when things finally began to thaw in June, we had friends who fled north to Michigan to escape the “hot” summer months. I was completely shocked. Some folks like cold weather.

Wasn’t that awfully nice of God to provide so many different ways of living so we could each discover where we fit best? In the desert, beside a mountain stream, toes in the sand or layered in wool socks on a snowy hike, God puts it all out there before us. He understands we don’t all like the same things and even when we do like the same things, we like them in different ways. A snowy hill might be perfect to ski or just watch from beside the fire with a mug of hot chocolate.

And I believe he uses all these differences to pull us each to him. To fill our hearts and senses with a wonder that draws us to search for him. That longing can only be filled by him, but it seems to be expressed in so many different ways. As I grew up and raised my kids, my heart turned time and time again to the ones who had no experience of God. Who hadn’t turned away from him, but had no idea there was anything to turn towards. They’d never entertained the idea of there actually being anyone, or anything, bigger than what they see around them. People who basked in nature’s beauty and explored the heights and depths of this magnificent world. Who loved and enjoyed being human, with all the emotions and physical abilities. Yet they credited it all to, well, to nothing really. Until… And when I would see the awakening in a person’s eyes that there might possibly be a God behind all this? Well, that sparked a flame in my heart.

As a believer, I know there is so much to God’s story. So many parts of it to tell and share. I believe at this time my part is aid in the awakening of the many who aren’t looking. To help them form those first questions: What if there really is a God? What would that look like? What would it mean to me and my life?

So, that’s where my story in Chancey finds a bit of its grounding. Along with the differences between suburb and small town, and north and south, there’s believing in something more than what my characters see and not believing what they can’t touch.

Carolina is very much a here and now person. She’s a person who likes to maintain things at a steady pace and keep it all under control. She’s managed to do this in her life up to this point, then one slip and it’s all out of whack. But not completely out of whack. Just enough out of whack that she has to readjust her thinking. Can I live with a ghost? What happens in my marriage if I’m tempted? If I let people in a little bit, can I keep them out when I want to? Why are things changing? How did I let things change? And how do I change things back?

God loves every person. God wants every person to love him. God made us all different and created so many ways in which we express those differences. Many are raised to see God from the very beginning and never look elsewhere, although often we decide the God of our childhood isn’t all he’s cracked up to be and we search elsewhere. But for others, their first glimpse of him comes in the eyes of their child or in a sunset. Some only find him in the midst of darkness and despair.

Then there are those that find the beginnings of belief in the words of a story, even if they don’t realize it because they are busy enjoying the words on the page.

I’m grateful God has a use for each of our experiences. To be able to tell my funny stories of a little town in the Georgia Mountains is a grand blessing. For God to let me use them to possibly introduce him, is even better!

photo shoot pic blue croppedAbout the Author:

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.

Visit Kay’s website  to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Next Stop, Chancey CoverAbout Next Stop, Chancey:

Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.

Chancey Family Lies frontAnother Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:

Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …

Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)

Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)

Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)

Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)

Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)

Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).

Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)

Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)

Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)

Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)

Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)

And the perfect season gone with the wind.

 

 

A Visit with Kay Dew Shostak, Author of Next Stop Chancey

photo shoot pic blue croppedToday, we meet, Kay Dew Shostak, the author of the delightful stories set in Chancey, Georgia, the adopted home of Carolina Jessup and her family and the story of how she copes with a town of quirky, sweet characters. 

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.

Visit Kay’s website  to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Kay, I fell in love with your second story in the series, and life intervened. I wasn’t able to get back to the first one, though I always had every intention of doing so. I couldn’t wait, and now that I’ve read them both, I want to tell you that your stories create a longing in me to live a life like your heroine, Caroline Jessup. I’d love to know where you got the idea for these stories.

Thanks so much for having me here on your blog. One of the best things about writing is all the new friends you make! So how Chaney came to be: Several years ago, I was talking with an agent who was considering representing me. She loved lots about my writing but as she was turning me down she asked, “Have you considered changing genres?” Out of deep disappointment I started the first Chancey book. It all sprang up as my fingers typed. And yet, the story felt so familiar. I’ve lived in big and small towns, and both up north and down south. So playing off those differences just moved the story along.

As I read Carolina’s story and I laughed and cried with her, I did find that she and I are an awfully lot alike, but Carolina kept pushing forward even when she wanted to push against the tide of the good-meaning and very funny people she meets upon her arrival in Chancey. My question or you is how like Carolina are you?

Well, the desire to get lost in books is all me. And the snarkiness is me. Matter of fact, one thing the agent mentioned that he didn’t like about my first books was the sarcasm of the main character. So, I just made it first person so all the sarcastic remarks could be in Carolina’s head and not have to come out of her mouth! However, I’ve always had a houseful of people so that reticence of Carolina’s to entertain is not me. I find parts of myself in many of the characters!

One of my favorite parts of this story is the mystery of the “ghost.” It brings up some laugh-aloud moments. Was there anything that happened to you in your life that made you think of bringing this subplot into the story?

Absolutely nothing, except I’ve read lots of ghost stories and actually think I’d be open to seeing a ghost. But so far, no ghosts. However, I have wondered about the folks that say they “live” with ghosts. What’s the thinking process on that? In this story, I hoped the ghost would help Carolina believe things she can’t see, might be real. She’s a very “seeing is believing” person. Another way she and I are not alike.

Another reason the story (both stories actually) touched me so deeply is the humanity in them. These people aren’t perfect. They are different. They are quirky. They think differently than most of us. They fuss and the fidget, but yet they all seem to be the type of people you would want in your circle. Be truthful. Are a few of these folks truly in your life?

Oh, yes. At a writers conference I heard another writer speak about how his family thought he was odd at how he watched people and had to know why they did what they did. Well, that was my story. I am fascinated with why people do what they do. I love watching mannerisms and figuring out how they developed. Susan and her ponytail doing and undoing. Missus and her white gloves and refusal to use contractions in her speech. Lifelong cheerleaders. The black sheep that comes back joyfully to live in their hometown. Being a writer means I not only get to watch all these different people and actions, I get to write about them. And make them even funnier!

Two questions in one: will you share a little about the second book in this series, and please let me know if there’s a chance that I’ll be able to visit Carolina and all of the quirky characters of Chancey any time soon for a new adventure.

The second Chancey book is Chancey Family Lies and finds Carolina not only spending her first holidays in Chancey, but her first as a stay at home mom and B&B operator. As the line on my bookmarks says, “Holidays are different in small towns. They expect you to cook.” Carolina no longer has the suburban grocery stores, with full bakeries and deli’s, plus she’s determined to be the best stay at home mom ever. However, it’s not that easy. Especially when her parents pull in with their RV with plans to stay from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and her in-laws have a blast from the past with them when they also show up for an extended stay. And just when she needs him the most, her husband Jackson is traveling with work. Luckily she has a new friend in Chancey to help out. However, he might want to help her out a little too much. And then, who is that strange girl who came with the kids from college, and seems to want to stay in Chancey? Because, seriously, Carolina wonders, “Why would anyone want to stay in Chancey?

However, Carolina does stay in Chancey and in April 2016 the third book in the series “Derailed in Chancey” comes out.

I’m delighted to hear that I’ll be able to read more of Carolina’s exploits, and I hope you’ll keep me posted so both of you can “sit awhile on Inner Source’s” porch and discuss the latest.

Next Stop, Chancey CoverMore About Next Stop, Chancey:

Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.

Chancey Family Lies frontAnother Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:

Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …

Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)

Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)

Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)

Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)

Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)

Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).

Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)

Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)

Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)

Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)

Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)

And the perfect season gone with the wind.

 

A Visit with Carolina Jessup from Kay Dew Shostak’s Next Stop Chancey

Next Stop, Chancey CoverInner Source is happy to again share some of our favorite titles with readers, allowing them not only to meet the author but also one of the main characters of the stories we are sharing. Our first guest this year is Carolina Jessup, the delightful heroine of Kay Dew Shostak’s Next Stop, Chancey.

Carolina, welcome to Inner Source, and thank you for being our first guest of 2016. I have to admit that I read the series out of order, but I didn’t miss a thing. The second story had me salivating to read the first. So I’d like to start with you telling us a little about where you find yourself in life right now, where you live, and what you find yourself doing these days.

Well, Fay, one advantage you have as a reader is you know my thoughts, so, I guess I’ll just be honest. Small towns are not all they’re racked up to be, and I’d promised myself I’d never get stuck in one again. Yet, here I am in Chancey, Georgia. Running a B&B, for crying out loud. Now, not only are the people that live here all in my business, but I welcome strangers into my home. I’m just not sure how I let all this happen. Usually with a little redirection, dragging my feet and good nature stalling, I can get out of things I don’t like. So, honestly? I’m still a little stunned I’m here and figuring any day now, this will all go away. That could happen, right?

Now, I want to tell you that even as I write this interview I am smiling because I found myself at times realizing that you and I have a lot in common. At all times, I knew where you were coming from. The way you handle life’s ups and downs with humor, your love for your husband, and those things that you want to avoid—those are all me. I found myself understanding myself a little better through your eyes. I hope that makes sense. I think I know this answer, but why do you feel that humor spills from your thoughts when you are dealing with difficult things in your life?

Really? You feel like you know where I am coming from? Great then, ‘cause you and I need to spend some time together. As for the humor, I try to keep that to a minimum since I tend to be not so nice sometimes. Are you like that, too? I’d love to be more honest, more straight-forward. Not have one thought in my head, and the completely opposite words come out of my mouth. Maybe that’s what makes me say funny things.

Am I just like you, especially in the “not so nice” area? Most of the time I’m Southern sweet. To share with our readers, I’m nice on the outside and churning butter on the inside so that I don’t tell someone what I think. However, when pushed too far, the butter I’ve churned is spat out in large portions.

Your husband, Jackson, travels a lot, and he’s moved you—no let me rephrase that—you moved your family to Chancey, Georgia, from the suburbs. First, I’d like to know if there is anything you miss about the suburbs.

Most times, everything! People didn’t assume so much about me in the suburbs. They just left me alone. It was easy to shut off access to me and my family. In Chancey, folks all have opinions on what you should do. They watch for the least little thing to comment on. And they have no qualms about commenting. And then there was my Publix grocery store in Marietta with full service bakery, deli, fish market. Great, now I’m depressed.

Oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to make you feel bad, but perhaps the next question will bring it more into perspective. You knew this was coming. Deep down inside, what did you think of those wonderful, crazy folks you found in Chancey? (My favorite is Missus—I love that crazy lady).

Well, now this would be much easier if you hadn’t already read the first book and knew some of my thoughts. I could lie and say Missus is a sweet old lady, and I feel honored to have met her. But, well, no. Missus is bossy and I really can’t think straight around her. Do you know people like that? Where you get so tongue-tied and even brain-tied around them you end up confirming to them that they are right and you’re an idiot? But, if you like her, then maybe I’ll try a little harder. Susan and Laney, I’ve got to admit, are really great. I’ve not made a lot of friends in my life (see that thing about wanting to be left alone above) but I kind of regret that now that I’m getting to know Susan and Laney.

If readers were to take one truth from the life of Carolina Jessup, what would you want it to be.

I’m beginning to think I might not know what’s best for my life. Maybe this God thing has some merit, because there’s no way I would’ve chosen to move to Chancey or open a B&B, but well, and don’t tell anyone this, it might just be the best thing that could’ve happened. But probably not. Sure, God could come up with making a platypus, but moving us to Chancey? Naw, that’s just too crazy.

Carolina, I enjoyed your honest answers. I look forward to speaking with your author on Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy those trains passing by your home, that quirky little town, and that river that runs through your backyard. I hope to visit Chancey again very soon.

More About Next Stop, Chancey:

Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.

Chancey Family Lies frontAnother Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:

Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …

Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)

Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)

Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)

Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)

Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)

Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).

Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)

Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)

Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)

Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)

Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)

And the perfect season gone with the wind.

photo shoot pic blue croppedAbout the Author:

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.

Visit Kay’s website  to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and Twitter.