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Posts tagged ‘young adult fiction’

Meet Anna Kittrell, Author of The Commandment

Today’s guest on Inner Source is a phenomenal author of young adult fiction, Anna Marie Kittrell. I have followed Anna’s career because her books have always struck a chord with me. Her stories transcend generations, and that’s what a good story does, no matter the genre. Her novel, The Commandment, is a unique perspective for all generations and actually had me asking a very important question of myself: what do you do when “God is not an option”?

Anna, I’d love to hear a little about you. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not writing?

Hi Fay! It’s always a pleasure to be on Inner Source.

I reside in my hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where twenty-nine years ago I married my high school sweetheart, Tim. We’ve since raised both of our children, renovated a home, and are now helping to raise our four-year-old grandson here in Anadarko. This month I began my eighteenth year as secretary of Anadarko Middle School, the greatest, busiest—and most days, craziest—place on earth this side of Disney World.

Fortunately, I’m not a person who believes a writer must pen words every single day to be considered a “real” author. Because I work fulltime and daily care for my grandson, most of my writing is done in snatches of time before work, on my lunch break, or on the occasional weekend. In other words, I write when I can and I don’t when I can’t. The seasonal and holiday breaks from school are extremely beneficial to my writing process. Although few and far between, my favorite writing days are those when I spend hours at a time in front of the keyboard.

As I noted, The Commandment is a very different kind of story, and the message of the story is one that will cause the reader to pause and think about where our nation—where the world—is going in its desire to pretend that God does not exist. Anna, what made you think of this concept?

Several years ago, when the premise for The Commandment began to surface, the story seemed to be some type of reverse-amnesia tale. I kept picturing a girl in a hospital bed, coming out of anesthesia. A doctor asked the girl if she “still remembered,” to which she replied, “yes.” This made her mother cry hysterically. Why, I wondered, did the girl’s mother not want her to remember? And what did the girl’s mother so desperately want her to forget? Only when I began to outline, did the story start to take shape. As it turns out, the book takes place thirty-five years in the future, and is the story of a girl who faces elimination on her eighteenth birthday because her body rejects a mandatory, God-erasing vaccine. As far as what exactly made me think of this particular concept, I can only speculate. Maybe the idea was sparked by the stories my great-grandmother shared with me as a child about the future hardships believers would endure. Perhaps the persecution of believers right here at home no longer seems so far-fetched as it did back then.

In your novel, the “Agathi” as a part of our brain is very important. Would you explain that for us without giving too much of the story away?

In The Commandment, it has been discovered that there is a specific area of the brain that houses Christian-related information. This fictional area of the brain is called the “Agathi.” The name is plural, because there are two matching areas or “God Zones,” one located in each of the temporal lobes. Main character Briar Lee’s brain is resistant to SAP, a serum formulated to numb the Agathi and block all God-related thought and emotion. Because of Briar’s resistance to SAP, her Agathi are alive and well, and in fact glow with color whenever she thinks on the things of God.

Interestingly, while doing story-related research, I learned that there was actually a research tool invented to investigate the brain’s role in religious experiences called the “God Helmet” (originally known as the Koren Helmet, after its inventor, Stanley Koren.) Apparently, some people have had “visions of God” while participating in experiments with the helmet. The helmet applies complex magnetic signals to the head of the wearer, exposing them to a very weak magnetic field near the temporal lobes.

Your character, Briar, despite the life she had been forced to live is very dynamic and hopeful. Is she based upon someone you know?

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Briar is based on me, but I would say her doubts and fears, in many ways, resemble my own. I would like to think that in a time of adversity such as Briar’s, I would be unwaveringly strong and faithful. However, I believe the bouts with fear and confusion Briar experiences would be closer to my own reactions. She wavers when choosing between what is right and what is easy. She is frustrated, and half-wishes the SAP would have done its job and numbed her Agathi, so that she wouldn’t have to face the torment that lies ahead. She is afraid of what will happen if her God Zones light up—and more afraid of what will happen if they don’t. Contrary to being based on a particular person, I think Briar’s dynamic and hopeful nature is derivative of the faith we have as Christians. Sometimes strong, sometimes weak, but always there. Always constant. And as long as we hold to Christ, there’s always hope.

As I said, I follow your career closely. What comes next on Anna Kittrell’s wonderful journey of writing?

I always say my writing style is as eclectic (a nice word for mismatched) as my wardrobe. My collective work is a mixed bag of genres that include Christian futuristic romance, Christian YA, romantic suspense, poetry, short stories, and my new obsession—screenwriting. Over the past two years, I’ve penned four feature length screenplays in assorted genres, and have absolutely fallen in love with the process. In a screenplay, the writing is sparse and succinct, and the word count is much less than a novel. At this point in my life, screenwriting just makes sense. That’s not to say I’m stepping away from novel writing forever—just for a season. A genre-spanning dream of mine is to see The Commandment on the silver screen.

I’ll be following your career as I have for years. And,yes, The Commandment would be a great adaptation for a movie, a story to make the audience truly think about the cost of the loss of our ability to worship God as He intends for us all to do.

More about the Author, Anna 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 nine books in publication, including her new Christian futuristic thriller, The Commandment.

Anna has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—stories she used to sell on the playground for a dime, written on notebook paper. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Author Points of Contact:

As an author and in speaking with many authors, we love to have readers contact us on social media. If you want to learn more about Anna Kittrell and her awesome writing, be sure to visit the following: Anna’s website, appropriately entitled Anna Kittrell, her Facebook Author’s page, The Commandment Facebook page, Amazon Author Central, and Anna invites you to e-mail her. You can also take a look at Anna’s wonderful book trailer for The Commandment.

More about The Commandment:

Ten years ago, Briar’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’s been on house arrest ever since.

Now, just weeks from becoming a legal adult, Briar remains non-responsive to her mandatory 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 ARC—a facility shrouded in dark rumors of torture, experimentation, and death. Her only alternative is to accept a last minute ultimatum to become a laboratory test subject for a new God-dissolving serum.
With a decade of solitude behind her and a lifetime of confinement before her—what does she have to lose? Except maybe her soul.

The Commandment is available for pre-release this week, not only from Anna’s publisher, Pelican Book Group, it can also be purchased from other fine book retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Anna’s newest novel will release this Friday, August 24.

If you missed Inner Source’s Monday interview of Anna’s heroine, Briar Lee, you can read it here, and on Friday (the release date for The Commandment), Anna shares a heartfelt blog about her journey in writing the story.

Meet Briar Grace Lee from Anna Kittrell’s The Commandment

Today’s guest on Inner Source is Briar Grace Lee from Anna Marie Kittrell’s latest novel, The Commandment.

Briar, it’s good to have you here today. Tell us a little about your life. Where are you from? What is life like in the time in which you live? What difficulties do you face?

Thank you for having me, I’m honored to be a guest on Inner Source. Your site is such a wonderful and informative resource for believers. However, just weeks ago, you would not have been allowed to host me on your blog without being harshly interrogated and likely, arrested. Although drastic changes have taken place in the U.S. since the fall of the OLG, in the back of my mind those old fears still linger. In fact, at this very moment, I find myself wondering how long it will take for this interview to be flagged and reported to authorities. Until recently, Operation Level Ground ran surveillance on every email, video stream, blog, social media site, text message, phone call, and all other means of electronic communication to ensure nothing Christian-oriented slipped past. The severity to which you would have been punished by sharing my story disturbs me even now, though the threat of Christian persecution no longer exists.

As you earlier stated, my name is Briar Grace Lee. The year is 2050, and I am currently eighteen years old. I am an only child, born and raised in Greenfield, Oklahoma. My middle name, Grace, is in honor of my grandmother, with whom I was extremely close. She lived with my family up until the time of her death, when I was seven. She died just three days before she was scheduled, by order of the Commandment, to receive the government-mandated vaccine known as SAP (Serum to Advance Progressivism) an injection formulated to erase God from the mind. I’m convinced she asked God to take her before that day arrived.

Immediately following the death of Granna Grace, I was placed under house arrest and ordered to wear an ankle monitor (or, shackle, as I preferred to call it) because my body rejected the SAP vaccine. Every six months from the age of seven to seventeen, I was forced to undergo another vaccination. My body resisted the serum each and every time. A few weeks before turning eighteen, my mother and I were informed that because of my body’s continual resistance to SAP, I would be institutionalized on my birthday. I would become a permanent resident of the ARC (Alternative Research Center), a facility shrouded in dark rumors of torture, experimentation, and death. My only alternative was to accept a last minute ultimatum to become a laboratory test subject for a new God-dissolving serum. And that’s where my real story begins.

Your story is a compelling one, a warning to those of us who live in a world where God’s Truth is being seen as the enemy, where God’s people are called self-righteous and our values are degraded. Your grandmother was a strong influence on your life, so I’m not going to ask what you would do. I’d like to know what your granny, who lived in this time, would tell us to do in order to prepare or to resist what would be coming our way.

In order to prepare for or resist against what is coming our way, Granna Grace would have first and foremost encouraged believers to read the Bible. Having spent her life in God’s word, she knew the day was quickly approaching when the Bible would be stripped from our hands and banned from our eyes. What she didn’t know, until shortly before her death, was that God’s sovereign word would also be erased from the minds of most of our country’s population. Nonetheless, Granna Grace had prepared me for this occurrence not only by teaching me to memorize scripture, but by sewing a miniature Bible into the small stuffed animal that hangs on my keychain. Who knows whether you have come here for such a time as this? This verse from Esther, chapter four, was one of Granna Grace’s favorites. I will always believe that my body’s resistance to SAP is a direct result of my grandmother’s prayers. She believed God places us where we are for a reason—and that all of our attributes are vital to His purpose. There are no accidents.

The one aspect of the story that I noted was that despite the world’s dislike for Christians, there were those who still believed in God. Yet there were individuals who had been a part of what your world required of them so that God would, in the world’s misdirected belief, cease to exist, but they were good and kind. In your world, what did that mean to you?

I believe that in this aspect, my future world of The Commandment and your current world are relatively the same. Despite the dislike and disrespect Christians (Unlevels, in my world) sometimes endure in society, believers continue to place their faith in God. Just as those resistant to SAP in my world, the believers in your world feel Christ in their spirits and experience His presence in their souls. How is it possible to deny a part of one’s own being? In The Commandment’s future world, the entire population is injected with a chemical that numbs the area of the brain that houses Christian beliefs. We who remain resistant to the vaccine know that we will endure experimentation and death. Even so, the “God Zones” in our brains light up like Christmas trees every time we think about Jesus. The belief can’t be shrugged away or brainwashed from existence—even if, on a superficial level, we wish it could be. It’s there to stay.

On the other side of the coin, are those who do not believe in Christ, but are still good people. Your world (and mine) is filled with unbelievers who sacrificially give to and provide for their fellow man—oftentimes out-serving those of us who are Christian. Thank God for these people. I can only imagine how much more they would bless and be blessed if influenced by the power of the Holy Spirit that comes through believing in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

In The Commandment, as in today’s society, people have many “good reasons” for not believing in God. Lukas, the medical scientist I’ve been assigned to, leans upon science, the medical field, and his own intelligence as practical proof that God doesn’t exist. It is only through building a relationship with me, a believer, that Lukas is ultimately persuaded to seek a relationship with Christ. Witnessing my faith at work, watching as God directs my life and shapes my future, is a truth he can’t reason away. And just like in your world, when Lukas earnestly seeks Christ, he finds Him, and is able to experience not only the transformation of his own life, but aide in the transformation of countless other lives.

On the other hand, there were individuals who were, for lack of a different way to say it, gnashing their teeth and spitting at the face of God, angry and vengeful. Why do you think that is?

As in your society, many people in The Commandment resented any mention of the existence of God and—more specifically—the existence of sin. In my world, this resentment came from the detestation for being told what to do. Not only did society not want to be held accountable, they did not want accountability to exist. Period. I suspect these sources of resentment in relation to God are not so different in your world.

Briar, you are a strong heroine, but at times you shared with us that you felt weak. Then strength would return. Can you explain why that occurred?

I believe the times when I am strongest and most victorious, are the times I let go of myself and depend fully upon God. The moment I begin questioning my strength and abilities, fear and weakness set in. Acknowledging that God is strongest when I am weakest perplexes my mind. It is for that reason that I leave my mind—God Zones and all other zones—to God.

 More about The Commandment:

Ten years ago, Briar’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’s been on house arrest ever since.

Now, just weeks from becoming a legal adult, Briar remains non-responsive to her mandatory 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 ARC—a facility shrouded in dark rumors of torture, experimentation, and death. Her only alternative is to accept a last minute ultimatum to become a laboratory test subject for a new God-dissolving serum.
With a decade of solitude behind her and a lifetime of confinement before her—what does she have to lose? Except maybe her soul.

The Commandment is available for pre-release this week, not only from Anna’s publisher, Pelican Book Group, it can also be purchased from other fine book retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Anna’s newest novel will release this Friday, August 24.

About the Author, Anna 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 nine books in publication, including her new Christian futuristic thriller, The Commandment.

Anna has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—stories she used to sell on the playground for a dime, written on notebook paper. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Author Points of Contact:

As an author and in speaking with many authors, we love to have readers contact us on social media. If you want to learn more about Anna Kittrell and her awesome writing, be sure to visit the following: Anna’s website, appropriately entitled Anna Kittrell, her Facebook Author’s pageThe Commandment Facebook page, Amazon Author Central, and Anna invites you to e-mail her. You can also take a look at Anna’s wonderful book trailer for The Commandment.

Be sure to join us here at Inner Source on Wednesday when we discuss Anna’s latest release with her, and on Friday (the release date for The Commandment), Anna shares a heartfelt blog about her journey in writing the story.

Character Interview: Steven Miller from See No Evil by Mary L. Hamilton

SeeNoEvilFrontDropCrop copyToday’s guest on Inner Source is Steven Miller, Author Mary  L. Hamilton’s young hero from See No Evil, the third novel in her Rustic Knoll series. Steven, I have had the pleasure of following you through three years of camp at Rustic Knoll, and I was so glad to get the chance to learn more about you. Please take a moment to tell our readers a little about yourself.

Well, I’m seventeen, going into my senior year of high school and, for those who haven’t read the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp books, I’m blind. But I don’t let that stop me from participating in most of the activities. My parents first brought me to camp when I was five, and I’ve been coming back every year since then. So I’m pretty familiar with the camp. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Not that I’ve been to many world places, but—I’ll just leave it at that.

You had a very special relationship with your father and your mother. They both handled your special circumstances very differently. How do you think that has helped or hurt you as you have matured?

Dad never let me get away with anything just because I was blind. In fact, he made me work hard to overcome my limitations. I appreciate what he did now, even though most of the time it wasn’t much fun. He encouraged me to be as independent as possible. Sometimes, his methods were a little scary, but Mom was always there to comfort me and sorta pick up the pieces afterward. And she let Dad know when he crossed a danger line. But she never really tried to undermine Dad, so I knew she supported what he was doing, even if she didn’t always agree with how he did it. Since Dad’s death, I’ve tried really hard to live up to what I think he’d want me to do. Sometimes, Mom tries to hold me back, and that bothers me. But I hear other kids complaining about their parents, and I guess it’s just a teenage thing. Anyway, I’m glad I had both Mom and Dad. Without Mom, I might have grown resentful and angry. Without Dad, I wouldn’t have the confidence I do today.

The title of the novel is a play on words based upon your special circumstances, but your novel has an excellent message with regard to what we allow ourselves to see (and to hear). You deal with an issue that today’s teens face that many in my generation couldn’t fathom. What do you think of the information age and how it can be abused by anyone of any generation, not just yours?

I think the temptation is really nothing new. Dad once told me he sneaked a look or two at a girly magazine when he was my age. But all the electronic gadgets we have make it easy for anyone to find. I think most things have the potential for good or evil. It’s how we choose to use them, and that makes it even more important to guard ourselves against whatever entices and tempts us. Like Joseph of the Bible, we need to run the other way when temptation hits us. But that takes a lot of self-control. Believe me, I know!

What advice would you have for a young man or a young woman who has gotten themselves addicted to those things that are available to them via the Internet or other devices?

The best thing to do is put filters on your phone and your computer. And confide in someone you trust, someone tough enough to cut through your phony excuses and rationalizations, to challenge you to rise above where you are. If you don’t have someone like that, it’s going to be really hard to break the habit. The next time you’re tempted, challenge yourself to go one hour without looking. If you make it that hour, give yourself a high five and try to go another hour. Keep adding the time. The longer you go, the more you’ll want to keep it going and not look, not indulge. If you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Just start over and try again. If you keep trying, you’ll make it, especially if you pray and ask God for strength to overcome.

Now that your time as a camper at Rustic Knoll has come to a close and you look back on the years you spent there, what was your favorite moment as a camper—even if it wasn’t shared in the series?

Wow, that’s a hard one. I don’t know that I can pick just one. The friends I’ve made, the staff, the water carnivals, Zeke’s lessons, cabin pranks… My favorite moment? Okay, this probably sounds weird. Maybe it’s because being blind makes me rely on my other senses, but my favorite moment every year was when I first arrived at camp and caught the scent of the lake on the breeze. I can’t even describe how it smells because it’s so different from other smells, that mix of water and sand and fresh air. I know some kids think it stinks, but to me, it’s heaven. I always waited for that first breeze, that first scent. I’d take a deep breath, pull in as much as I could, and it always made me smile. Because I knew then I was back at Rustic Knoll, and the fun was about to start.

I don’t think that’s weird at all. I’m not blind, and I make associations with smells. I get a hint of a certain scent and a person or place comes to mind, and if your friends think the lake stinks, they need to visit my hometown at certain times of the year when the algae is blooming in the river. Thanks for being with us, Steven, and I look forward to the interview with your author, Mary L. Hamilton on Thursday.

More About See No Evil:

Steven Miller guards a dark secret. Dad drilled into Steven that blindness should never be used as an excuse. So when Steven finds an old triathlon medallion among Dad’s belongings, he’s inspired to follow in his footsteps. Maybe it’ll quiet the guilt he’s carried since Dad’s death three years ago. While Steven continues his triathlon training during his final summer at camp, a serious illness keeps Rustic Knoll’s beloved Nurse Willie from managing her clinic. When Steven teams up with his friend Claire to encourage Willie’s recovery, his feelings for Claire grow beyond friendship. But his buddy, Dillon, has started down a dangerous path that Steven knows all too well. Can he keep his friend from falling into that sin without exposing his own past?

The Rustic Knoll series has two other outstanding novels:

HearNoEvilModifiedFront5-5x8-5Hear No Evil:

Summer camp is no fun for Brady McCaul. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. The camp bully targets him with cruel taunts, and flips Brady’s canoe to keep him from winning the race. But worst of all, his mom won’t let him come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. Brady wonders if even God cares about him. Can Brady figure out what he did to earn Mom’s rejection and change her mind by week’s end? Or will he have to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven? All seems lost until a surprising secret changes everything.

SNEfinalcoverSpeak No Evil:

Taylor Dixon knew having his younger sister at camp would be a pain, but he never expected the pain to go so deep.

At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving race cars when he’s older. His sister, Marissa, is the only one who believes in his dream, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Consequently, Dad won’t let him get his license and predicts Taylor is heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.

Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he finds a classic Mustang in the camp’s garage and jumps at the owner’s invitation to help restore it. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens both the car and his dreams for the future.

Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction and end up in jail? Or will he finally learn the Truth found in the old car’s engine?

Mary HamiltonAbout the Author:

Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her own three children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, including serving as a camp counselor for a week. She decided once was enough.

When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever.

Connect with Mary at her website, on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

I Learn from Children, Even the Imaginary Ones by Cynthia T. Toney

CindyPurpB&W3rev.reducedThe garbage truck makes its presence known each Tuesday morning with a rumble and a screech, but the last visit was different.

I heard a honk. My dogs barked, and I ran to the front window and raised the shade.

One of the garbage men waved an arm and pointed at a little girl standing next to my garbage can. I hurried out to see what was going on.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said, ‘’’but she won’t let me take the can. I think she said there’s more garbage in the house.”

“No, there isn’t. She’s not my daughter.” Concern began to build. I didn’t recognize this child, who couldn’t have been much older than six. I scanned the street both ways. Where were her parents?

“I think she’s mentally challenged.” The garbage man, who was over six feet tall and as lanky as a professional basketball player, had the gentle voice of an angel.

I finally looked into the little girl’s eyes, not as clear and focused as a healthy child’s. “Go ahead and dump the can,” I told him. “I’ll try to find out who she belongs to.”

“Yes, ma’am. Thank you. I’m sorry I had to bother you.”

“No, thank you for calling me out here.”

He tossed the garbage, and the truck rolled on.

I placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Where do you live? Do you live on this street?”

“K,” she said.

In her hand she held a bowl, eating unrecognizable crumbs from it. The morning was a hot one, and the sun beat down on both of us standing at the edge of the street.

“Would you like some water?”

She shook her head. “K.”

“Is Kay your momma? Or your babysitter?” I stroked the girl’s hair, but panic was setting in—for me, anyway. She remained composed.

“K.”

Just as I decided I’d better take her inside and call the sheriff, a young woman on foot appeared around the curve in the street. I waved one arm to get her attention, then two. She picked up speed. The child glanced her way.

“Is that your momma?”

“K.”

It probably took the woman less than a minute to reach us. Although winded, she smiled, her cheeks rosy.

“Are you her mother?” I stroked the girl’s hair again. “She’s a sweetheart.”

“Yes, thank you.”

“She keeps saying ‘K.’”

“She means ‘Cade,’ her brother. He likes to go down to the creek and play with the other boys, and sometimes she tries to follow him.”

“What’s her name?”

“Emma.”

Now we had three overheated, possibly thirsty people standing at the street. “May I get you a bottle of water? Emma didn’t want any.”

“That’s very nice of you, but no thanks. I have two little ones asleep in the house. Mine is the second to last one on the other side of the street.” She pointed. “I’d better get back.”

“No problem. I’m home every day, so if she goes missing again, let me know and I’ll look out for her.”

“Thank you so much.”

I went inside, where the green peas I’d left on the stove had burned. I’d lost my focus during the drama, but Emma hadn’t.

She knew what she loved and didn’t forget what she wanted: her brother Cade (which, by the way, means “pet lamb.”) And she went after him.

That kind of devotion and single-mindedness is what makes me love kids, kindergarteners and teenagers alike. We adults have so much to learn from them, so I choose to write about them and for them.

While writing Bird Face, my main character became real to me. I watched Wendy and speculated what she’d do next. How would she handle this situation?  What would she try first? I knew she’d make a mistake or two before figuring out successful strategy and tactics. It was all so that she could learn to love herself and those around her better. She had a lot of love to give, but it took her a while to discover where and how to direct it. And to forgive.

I was the same way for many years when I didn’t look to Jesus to show me how. I believe he used the story of Wendy to reach me. As I wrote her story, she demonstrated how to love better, further, and more wisely.

And sometimes so does a child like Emma.

About the Author:

Cynthia enjoys writing both historical and contemporary teen fiction with a touch of mystery and romance. She holds a BA in art education with a minor in history and worked as an advertising designer and marketing copywriter when she began her first novel. More recently she has been an interior decorator, and her decorating articles appear on eHow.com and homeguides.SFGate.com (The San Francisco Chronicle online). She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages people to adopt and save the life of a shelter dog or cat. In her leisure time she cooks Italian and studies the complex history of the friendly South, where she resides with her husband and several dogs.

You can connect with Cynthia via her e-mail: birdfacewendy@gmail.com, also her website, her blog, on Facebook, and Twitter

About Bird Face:

Almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her 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 her best friend, 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. When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer, will Jennifer still be around to support her?

Wendy and Cynthia talked about Bird Face on Monday and Wednesday.

 

Character Interview: Wendy Robichaud from Bird Face

521390_391234014291056_168496479_nToday’s guest is Ms. Wendy Robichaud from Cynthia T. Toney’s wonderful young adult novel, Bird Face. Wendy, I have to say that I am so glad that I met you. Your story brought memories back to me that I’d thought I’d forgotten, and they showed me that not much has changed since I attended school. Please, tell our readers a little about you and your story.

Thank you, Mrs. Lamb. It’s great to meet you too. I used to be so shy that I wouldn’t have imagined being able to talk with you like this a year ago. And it seemed that when I did work up the courage to say something to a person I didn’t know very well, I could never say the right thing. I always put my foot in my mouth and made someone mad. It was so hard to make new friends because of that, so it was a good thing I had Jennifer, my best friend. When people were mean to me for no reason, she stood up for me. But after a while, I knew it was time to start standing up for myself.

Teens often experience change in their lives as they grow older. Friendships change or strengthen or new ones are created. What did you learn about friendship during the last school year?

I realized there were people out there waiting and hoping to be friends with me, but I either didn’t recognize the signals they sent or was too shy to act on them. I had a feeling Jennifer was changing, and it scared me because I never had to try to impress her and could always be myself. But I couldn’t see that I was on the verge of changing too. It wasn’t until I was forced to seek new friends that I did, and I believe God gave me the right push at all the right times. I looked at people with new eyes and saw things we had in common that I could build friendships on. But on the other hand, you never know when an old friend might reappear, and because of what you’ve experienced when you were apart, you might become close again.

With everything you experienced in the year leading up to entering high school, what is the biggest lesson you learned?

That it doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself and wait for someone to come to you to be your friend. You have to reach out to them or at least meet them half way. If you wait too long, you may lose them forever, and you’ll wonder all your life if friendship with them could’ve made a difference in your life and theirs too, if only you’d done something to show you cared. No matter how low you feel, there’s always someone who feels lower whose spirits you might lift with a friendly smile or a genuine compliment. If you’re rejected, it may hurt a little; but if you keep trying, you’ll find someone who appreciates your effort. Who knows? That person may be your new best friend!

This, I believe, is a deep question, but somehow I think it is a question meant especially for you: If you could go back to any time in your life and change history, would you do it? If so, when would that be and how would you change your life? If not, why would you be willing to go through the same conflicts that you have faced?

I think I could’ve gotten an earlier start on some things, like being nicer to my stepmother. I could’ve taken the attitude that if being nicer to her didn’t make her act nicer toward me, I wouldn’t be any worse off than I was before. If it did help, a lot of days at her and Dad’s house would’ve been more pleasant. And I wish I’d noticed and cared more when people at school were bullied or looked like they were sad or needed a friend. I would’ve tried to be as nice to them as people like Alice, David, and Jennifer have been to me.  But I believe some of the other things had to happen when and how they did. I wouldn’t have been able to change that part of history, and I don’t think I’d want to. Certain people, places, and events had to come together in the right way at the right time to make me truly understand them and myself.

Okay, Wendy, before we close, I just have to know—what’s the scoop with you and David?

(Blushing) Well, he’s the nicest boy I’ve ever known. Just for example, on the first day of sixth grade, my first day at Bellingrath Junior High, I couldn’t find English class. I’d heard the teacher, Mr. Stanley, could be a real bear, and I was scared to death I’d be late. I must’ve looked it too because David stopped and asked if he could help me with anything. I thought, Oh, sure, you must’ve seen me with Jennifer earlier, but that wasn’t it at all. He’s just nice. He walked me to class and then had to practically run to make it to his own class. I think we’re really only friends right now in ninth grade, but he does sit with me at lunch sometimes. And the other day he mentioned something about wanting to see me run track and asked if I’d come to one of his baseball games when the season starts. So maybe we’ll be more than friends someday if I don’t mess it up!

More About Bird Face:

Almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like her 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 her best friend, 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. When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer, will Jennifer still be around to support her?

CindyPurpB&W3rev.reducedAbout the Author:

Cynthia enjoys writing both historical and contemporary teen fiction with a touch of mystery and romance. She holds a BA in art education with a minor in history and worked as an advertising designer and marketing copywriter when she began her first novel. More recently she has been an interior decorator, and her decorating articles appear on eHow.com and homeguides.SFGate.com (The San Francisco Chronicle online). She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages people to adopt and save the life of a shelter dog or cat. In her leisure time she cooks Italian and studies the complex history of the friendly South, where she resides with her husband and several dogs.

You can connect with Cynthia via her e-mail: birdfacewendy@gmail.com, also her website, her blog, on Facebook, and Twitter.

Character Interview: Margaret McWhorter from Stopped Cold by Gail Pallotta

StoppedCold200x300Today’s guest is a sweet young lady, Margaret McWhorter. Margaret comes to us from Gail Pallotta’s novel, Stopped Cold.

Margaret, welcome to Inner Source. Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What story did you bring to your author?

I’m a freshman in a private school in Mistville, North Carolina. I enjoy swimming and hanging out at The Grill with my friends. The first day of classes Jimmy Willmore caught my attention. I hoped he’d ask me out, but then my brother, Sean, took a steroid, had a stroke and ended up in the hospital. Now I’m hot on the trail of the drug dealers with my best friend, Emily, and Jimmy.

You’ve been through a tough few months, and you have watched someone you love suffer from steroid use. I’d like to know what you’d have to say to anyone contemplating taking these drugs to enhance their physical abilities.

If you had any idea what could happen, you wouldn’t do it. It’s not worth it. My brother is so smart he could have been anything he wanted. He could’ve grown up and found a cure for cancer, but now I’m afraid his life is ruined. We just want him to wake up and come live with us again.

Your father was a football player, a good one, and he exceled at what he did. You’re also an excellent athlete in your sport of choice. I get the feeling that even if your father didn’t push you to be the best, you’d still give it your all. What I’d like to know is that if you had the chance to have a heart-to-heart with your dad—because, after all, he is a nice guy, a loving father—what advice would you give him about his overzealousness to have his children compete?

LOL. My dad’s the most competitive guy in the world. If I could talk to him about it, I’d ask him to have a healthy competitive spirit. My Sunday school teacher says we all have a gift or gifts to use for God, and our purpose is to glorify Him. I want to develop my talent to the best of my ability, and yeah, it’d be nice if my best turned out to be “the best.” But I’d try to make Dad see that Sean and I don’t have to always be number one to be worthwhile.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When God says, “all things” I believe He means even the bad things that happen to us. I got the distinct feeling that you understood this principle. What good do you believe came out of this traumatic time for you and for Sean?

The most important one was Dad accepting Sean for the person he was. Dad no longer had a choice about pushing Sean to be a great quarterback. It forced him to be proud of the things Sean had accomplished, and all of us were a lot happier.

Okay, inquiring minds want to know. How is Jimmy? Did you enjoy the Fall Festival?

Big grin. Jimmy’s fine. We had a great time at the Fall Festival. We’re dating now!

More about Stopped Cold:

Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming, and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay. Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.

Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

GailPallottaHeadshot (2)About Gail Pallotta:

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, at her blog,  on her website, on Authors and More, which is on Facebook, and at  Twitter.