3 Reasons to read Youth Fiction

Last Monday, I wandered through Barnes and Noble.  Okay, I confess, I was wandering a bit aimlessly because I was disappointed.  After so many people finding Deepest Roots of the Heart at their Barnes and Noble stores, I really hoped to see it at “ours”  (in quotes because let’s face it: a store 90 miles from home can’t quite be considered truly “ours”).

scmhI saw the kids’ section and thought, “Lorna might like something new for summer.  Maybe they have that book on Sybil whatshername who rode like Paul Revere.”  So off I went.  I didn’t find Sybil, but I did find a book that captured my attention.  The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill is a delightful McCarthy era children’s novel that is too much fun.  I mean, c’mon.  A heroine who lives “in the cemetery” and sees “Reds” behind every twitching eye?  What’s not to love?

This is the review I left for this book:

I almost gave this four starts. Why? Well, I don’t know. I loved it–enjoyed every minute of it. I’m a children’s book snob–crazy picky about what my kids read. So that I bought this book, sight unseen and never hearing a thing about it at all was pretty amazing. That I loved it–equally amazing. So why 4 stars, I ask myself? It’s not “great children’s literature” which is probably why I started to go with a four-star rating, but you know what? I LOVED reading this book. And sometimes just a solid good book needs to be rewarded as such. So here I am with 5 stars, and I don’t make apologies for that.

Hazel is a delightfully interesting and sympathetically flawed girl. She is a fully-developed character that you both love and want to shake a little sense into. Like most of us, she sees the flaws in others that she excuses in herself.

And then there’s Samuel. If he were any more perfect, he’d be a dreaded “Mary Sue” but he’s just imperfect enough to make him a nice steady counterpart to Hazel.

I love that the author both avoided the boy-girl silliness that so many books have AND didn’t hide that some kids DO. Thank you!

Some find the mystery to be lacking, but that’s kind of the point of the book–seeing mystery and intrigue where there is none. And that’s a genius twist to an otherwise oft-hackneyed genre. I actually loved that the mystery turned out to be a lot less exciting and a lot more endearing. It’s a way to make the mundane and the authentic INTERESTING. Well done.

So, I’m back to my 5 stars. I have already bought it in hardback too and purchased “The Water Castle” to see how I like that. Keep writing. I look forward to see what you do next.

You can get a free excerpt of this book (I think 38 pages worth) to test out HERE.

So… after that, I remembered why I LOVE children’s fiction so much.  So here’s my top three reasons you should read children’s/youth (not necessarily YA) fiction.

  1. It’s usually clean.  I  mean, aside from some of the Judy Blume or Goosebumps type stuff, even youth fiction that I don’t care for isn’t something that will “sully the mind” as my mother used to say.  (The same woman who gave me V.C. Andrews to read when I was 13.  What was she not thinking???  So glad it all went over my  head.)
  2. It’s usually very direct without being preachy.  I mean, the days of pietistic moralizing through story are OVER (thank the Lord!) and because of that, you get good solid lessons without feeling like you got duped into a bait and switch (entertainment became a badly executed Sunday school lesson).  I like to learn and grow through reading.  It’s why I read Christian fiction, for Pete’s sake!  BUT… I don’t  like to feel like my story was only written to convince me that the author’s method of applying Scripture is God’s Way for My Life.  Grr… it’s one reason that many of my books (okay, most) have characters who believe things I don’t.  I like showing how different people apply the Word… but I’m not trying to get anyone to do anything but TURN TO THE WORD.  *insert smiley face*
  3. It’s a different kind of escape.  Let’s face it.  Unless riddled with horrible events that are out of the norm, childhood is almost a magical time.  It’s a time where we get to explore what this thing called life is in a safe environment.  And that’s beautiful.  Reading youth books gives us that step back into those days–days where average kids leaving London during the Blitz get to explore old country manors and enter magical wardrobes and become kings and queens.  It allows us to explore Arthurian legends, become protectors of our kingdoms, or see what life was in turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn (but don’t hand that one to a tween–maybe not even a teen.  It’s really more for adults, in my opinion).  Sometimes it’s good to have that kind of escape again.

And can I tell you a secret?  Shh… come closer.  I don’t want this getting around.  The girl in The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill…?  I was just like her as a kid.  *blushes*

 

Note:  DO NOT READ if you hate spoilers!!!

 

Okay… there is one tiny part of this book that some parents might object to.  So, since I am actually recommending it as a well-written and appropriate book, I want to point that out (because I’d want to know if I were reading this).  It comes out in the course of the kids’ investigation that Samuel’s parents were not married.  His father never knew about him–died in WWII.  His mother is still “empty” from that and if you read between the lines, you realize she’s an alcoholic.  They handle it all VERY tastefully.  My Lorna isn’t really going to get it.  And that’s okay with  me.  But even if she did, it is so carefully written, that I wouldn’t mind.  My kids (at her age) were vaguely aware that not all children have married parents.  It wasn’t made a big deal out of either way–and this book handles it much the same.  It’s a fact of his life that has bearing on the situation.

HearthLand Episode 27~ Cat’s Away

HearthHLep27smLand Episode 27 – Trouble in paradise as Abigail and Fletcher navigate the waters of differing work styles and the need to talk to Susannah. Ralph’s disappearance leaves all to think he’s enjoying a well-earned vacation, but when Harlan finds a backpack with personal items of Ralph’s, things don’t look so rosy.

If you’re willing to help share this with your friends, please consider doing one or the more of the following:

Please, step on over to Amazon and download it!  For those who are Kobo or Nook readers, email me.  I’ve got you covered.

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Download Episode 27  on Amazon.

HearthLand Episode 26 ~ Good News

 

What’ve I been up to? Episode 27 to Jillow, two kids graduated this weekend, two birthdays this weekend, nail-biting while waiting for news from our lawyer on an issue of concern, and one graduate off to Seattle tomorrow. Oh, and a website crash requiring a whole new look, let’s not forget that! How am I still standing? I’m not sure I am! 😉

Also, if you wouldn’t mind, please give us your input on the poll we’ve got up on the main page.

 


Hear
HLep26smthLand Episode 26
– Still suffering from the loss of Annie’s help, Ralph has to accept that he can’t do it all right now. Susannah’s situation brings out secrets that other residents hadn’t planned to share, while also creating tension within the community. A visit from Keith sparks a new idea and Ralph begins to consider a visit to California.

Please, step on over to Amazon and download it!  For those who are Kobo or Nook readers, email me.  I’ve got you covered.

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HearthLand Episode 25~ No News

Here we are at Episode 25! For those of you who’ve been waiting for it to go on special, thank you for your patience as we caught everyone up! Now, if I can just get this finger healed up so typing isn’t physically painful, I’m ready to wiz through the next couple of episodes!

HearthLand Episode 25With Annie gone, Ralph, Rory, and Gertie try to fumble along without her. Meanwhile, Kim has troubles of her own. Add to that, a couple more HearthLand residents going missing, and just how much more can Ralph take?

Please, step on over to Amazon and download it!  For those who are Kobo or Nook readers, email me.  I’ve got you covered.

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Offering Some Regency Charm!

Because that’s whaallerednicsmt you’ll get in this sweet story. Allerednic was a story that I tried, in an effort challenge myself with a different genre. I really enjoyed the journey, even if it’s not my era of choice, typically.

And, for those of you who need a last minute Mother’s Day gift, check out our SPECIALS page for Mom.

Allerednic: Lady Charlotte Eversley, heir of the Earl of Everston, has lived a charmed life. Wealthy, beautiful, and one day she will be a Countess in her own right. No mother has ever loved a daughter more. Her sisters admire and adore her, and of course, her father dotes on her. She is one of the most eligible ladies of the Season.

Mr. Jasper Seyton misses the country. Along with his trusted servant, Worley, he endures the delights of Town for one purpose. After three Seasons, he has little confidence in the so-called “Marriage Mart.”

They enjoy each other’s company, and her father approves. She knows he intends to propose. He knows that she will accept.

So where is she when he returns to Everston Hall, and why does she think there is no hope for happiness again?

Allerednic: Cinderella–reversed.

Amazon: To take advantage of this limited time special DOWNLOAD the book.

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Comment Request: Who is your favorite Regency author?

HearthLand Volume 4

Our journey up through the last several episodes is complete, which closes the cover on yet one more volume of HearthLand. Here we are at Volume 4, the volume that left me in a quandary for a while, seriously questioning whether I should wrap it up or settle in for the long haul. Most of my readers seemed to want MORE, so more it is. For those who don’t like to store the individual episodes, here’s Volume 4, in one tidy bundle, and next week we’ll be on to the new episodes.

And, for those of you who need a last minute Mother’s Day gift, check out our SPECIALS page for Mom.

Please, step on over to Amazon and download it!  For those who are Kobo or Nook readers, email me.  I’ve got you covered.

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Download Volume 4 on Amazon.

CLEARANCE SALE!

UPDATED WITH CURRENT TOTALS:

I was putting together a set of books for a fundraiser and discovered that I have a few glossy covered titles left.  Originally, I could only get my books in glossy.  I don’t like glossy.  I like matte covers.  So, when that option became available, I JUMPED.  But, I found a few stragglers in my stock today and decided to do a flash sale on these.  Once you remove the shipping (included in posted prices) these books are less than HALF off!  WOOT.  I do have them listed on a private board as well, and forgive me, but those ladies over there get first dibs (they walked me through writing them, so it seems only right to do that.  However, I also think most already HAVE those books.  😀  So, this is what I have.

22-31k              11-a
LAST Copy!      $7.00 pp             2 Copies    9.00 pp (each)

Just zip me an EMAIL stating what you want and we’ll get you set up.  Aside from stated caveat above, first come/first served.

The Joy of Discovery

 

8-dhWhat’s better than finding a favorite new book? How about a favorite new book that’s only .99!

This weeks special is Discovering Hope. What do Brigadoon, saris, epic laser tag games, and Jesus have in common? Hope. She’s a Christian with a passion for life and a fascination with Jay’s heritage. He’s an Indian with a fledgling interest in learning about the Hope within Hope.

One of my most popular books, Discovering Hope works through the challenges of clashing faiths and cultures and leaves the reader with a slow, deliberate walk through more than one kind of romance.

Amazon: To take advantage of this limited time special DOWNLOAD the book.

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Comment Request: Hope was fascinated by Jay’s culture.  Is there another culture that intrigues you?

HearthLand Episodes 23 and 24

This week we are giving away the next two episodes of HearthLand. Today, Monday, we are on HearthLand Episode 23: Forewarned.

Moving in day for most of HearthLand’s first residents results in a crisis of faith for Susannah as well as a new home. Annie and Ralph enjoy a peaceful day together, but with Derek’s return, things heat up. And where’s Ryan?

Then tomorrow, Tuesday, we’re up to Episode 24: Forearmed. Annie’s worst nightmare seems to have come true, and Ralph blames himself. HearthLand is turned upside down, and when a TV crew arrives, it seems as if their attempt at an idyllic life is over.

I hope everyone has been able to catch up and fill in where they might have missed previous episodes. I want everyone to be able to enjoy the entire series.

Please, step on over to Amazon and download it!  For those who are Kobo or Nook readers, email me.  I’ve got you covered.

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Download Episode 23 on Amazon. Download Episode 24 on Amazon, tomorrow, Tuesday.

Author Q & A: Any Regrets?

authorqa2The question comes from Angel:

Since you zip out your books so fast, do you ever later wish you had done something differently with them?

I love this question for a lot of reasons.  But I’m going to tackle something before I answer it. “What’s that,” you say?  Well, actually, most of my books that have been published in the past 3 years were written LONG before I ever started publishing. I’ve been writing for almost fifteen years but I didn’t start publishing until almost ten years after the first words of Aggie appeared on the screen of the old desktop that ran whatever there was before XP.  LOL.  Yes, I have written quite a few since then too, but not all the books I wrote back then are in print yet either.  (Some need WAY more work.  LOL).  Generally, I don’t write books as quickly as it seems, but a few have been, definitely.  So while it looks like I write a book every other week, I really don’t.

The answer, if I look at the majority of what I’ve written, is ….  (drum roll please)

no

Truly.  While there are little things I’d change (I’ve learned more about the craft of writing with each book), the core of what each book is and the story I wanted to tell, for the most part, wouldn’t change.  Would I rewrite some sentences in each one?  Definitely.  Would I check to see if my characters’ “voices” stayed consistent (I suspect the first ones all sounded a lot alike)?  Absolutely.  But the stories themselves… no.  I wouldn’t change anything, really.

There’s one glaring exception, of course.  Those who know me well know exactly which one I mean.  Part of the problem is that I never intended to publish it.  The book was an exercise for me–a lesson in exploring a less dialogue-driven plot. Unfortunately, my idea of how to do that didn’t work, in my opinion anyway.  However, some people love the book.  I  mean, I published it because one friend truly loved the book.  I did it for her.   Truer literary love hath no woman than this: to publish what she hates for her fan.  Snort.

The sad thing (for me) about that book is that it has what I consider to be the best scene I’ve ever written in it.  For a long time, I felt like I wasted that scene in the book, but the scene belongs there.  Anywhere else, it wouldn’t work–wouldn’t make sense.  So I’m glad there is one redeeming little nugget in it.  Yeah.  LOL.

I think also, part of the reason that I truly wouldn’t change anything, is because it’s part of my personality.  I tend not to be someone with regrets.  I can look back in the past and identify things I could have done better in every area of my life.  I evaluate and determine the course of action that would have made a much more positive difference in my life or the lives of those in my family.  But I really don’t get all worked up about it.  It’s over.  Past.  Can’t be relived. And really, I don’t want to relive them.  I enjoy seeing where the Lord is taking me next.  I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t walked the path I did then.

So… yeah.  The answer is no.

Thank you, Angel for a fabulous question.  I’m zipping you an Amazon Gift Card as soon as I hit submit.  Remember, if you send me an Author Q&A question and I use it, I will send that gift card as my thanks for playing along.  Have a great day!