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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.

 

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.

Character Interview: Bianca Ravenwood

ebook_lineage copy (427x640)Today’s special guest is Bianca Ravenwood, the heroine of Lineage, the third novel in the Redbend High series by talented author, Anna Marie Kittrell.

Bianca, it is so nice to meet you. I’ve met your friends, Molly and Lenni. Would you mind telling Inner Source readers a little bit about yourself: where you go to school, where you live, what your aspirations are for the future?

Hi. After meeting Lenni, I’m surprised you don’t know everything about me, including what I had for breakfast! She tends to get excited and talk too much. Molly’s a little more stable—I mean calm. They are both phenomenal friends, and I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world.

I am a senior at a small-town Oklahoma school called Redbend High. I’ve lived in Redbend my entire life. My dad and I have a house in an area the locals refer to as Old Town—the not so nice part of Redbend. Our place is pretty run down, but my dad has recently started doing repairs, beginning with our rickety old porch. It looks so much better now, but it was really sad when he tore down the wheelchair ramp he’d built for my mom ten years ago. He’d hoped she’d return home someday. She never did.

As far as aspirations go, I love the theater, and just recently found out it’s in my blood—literally. My biological father studied theater in college and was quite renown in his role as Papa Brasswell in the musical, Amie. But that’s another story…Anyway, I plan to enroll in a dramatic arts college following graduation, I’m just not sure exactly where. I attended Wild Rose Mountain’s summer arts camp a few weeks ago, and it was incredible. Without a doubt, I know acting is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Your story brings in quite a surprise for you. I’m not going to spoil it for the reader, but I’d really like to know where you gained your strength to deal with these two back-to-back changes in your life?

God. And the support of my father and two best friends. But since God is the one who put those incredible people in my life in the first place, I’ll give Him all the credit. My strength comes from God. Period.

You have quite a sarcastic wit. You remind me of a character who appears in three of my books, and like you, she’s going to get a book of her own. Tell me how you came by your sense of humor.

Me, sarcastic? What gave you that idea? My cynicism—at least that’s what the teachers call it—started out as a coping mechanism. When I was six, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my two-year-old brother, Sam, unaware he was allergic to peanuts. The sandwich killed him. My mother was so distraught over Sam’s death she tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pain meds, but failed. Instead, she ended up in Sugar Creek Manor asylum with severe brain damage. My father used alcohol to ease his pain over the situation, leaving me to survive the tragedy on my own. I had no choice but to be tough. Sarcasm, cynicism, and humor were my mask, my sword, and my shield. I wanted to protect my vulnerability. Having a sharp tongue kept others from getting too close. Except for Lenni. She’s always been stuck right to my side. I couldn’t peel her off if I tried—and believe me, I’ve tried.

Part of your story involves a betrayal by someone who should have loved and protected you. If you got the chance to talk to him today, what would you say to him?

Oddly enough, I’d thank him. Without him, I would have never met my sister, Cassie. I would have also missed the opportunity to witness my dad’s unbelievable strength. The ordeal taught me that family has nothing to do with blood relation, and that things are not always as they seem. I’d heard that old saying all my life, and even experienced it first hand in my witcha’be days, but never fully realized how true it could be. Oh, and I’d tell him that, fortunately for him, God loves and forgives jerks all the time. And I’d remind him how lucky he is that I no longer hold grudges.

I’m smiling. I love the way you “cope” with things. You’ve mentioned the tragedies in your young life, and your readers, and even readers of this blog, know that you lived in a fantasy world because you couldn’t live with the self-blame. Bianca, what would you tell another teen if you knew they held some guilt in their heart over events that were truly beyond their knowledge to control?

I would tell her never to be intimidated by anyone—including herself. God forgives all, but to be truly free, I believe we must forgive ourselves, too. If we don’t honestly forgive ourselves, Satan uses our feelings of guilt to intimidate and torment us. That goes for sins we knowingly committed, as well as events we had no control over. Trust me, it is so much easier to forgive yourself and ask God to forgive you than it is to run and hide from yourself and God. Satan would have you believe otherwise, but he’s a liar (John 8: 44). Liars gonna lie and haters gonna hate. So what? That doesn’t change God’s power. Or his ability to forgive.

Let it all go.

Excellent advice. I’m doubly glad I met you today, Bianca, and I look forward to talking with your author, Anna Marie Kittrell, again on Wednesday.

More about Lineage:

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–no way to escape.

EbookCover_Witcha'beAbout Witcha’be

Is the power of forgiveness really stronger than a Witcha’be spell?

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.

Molly’s new school becomes a waking nightmare as Bianca, beautiful wannabe witch, targets her in a jealous rage. Plagued by terrifying, inexplicable occurrences and an embarrassing case of panic-induced hiccups, Molly is unable to escape Bianca’s snare.

DIZZY ECOVER (427x640) (387x580)More About 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?

Anna Marie KittrellAbout the Author:

Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband of twenty-four years, and their seventeen-year-old daughter. With a son, daughter-in-law, and precious grandbaby nearby, life is her favorite story.

Anna 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.

Connect with Anna at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and at Prism Book Group.