Wednesday, November 30, 2016

YA author interviews

I don't have any new interviews this week, so take the time to go back and read some of these favorites.

Diana Sharples

Cynthia Toney

Bryan Davis

AJ Cattapan

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Random Thanksgiving Pictures

With everyone's crazy schedules, we were only able to spend a couple of hours together. Here are some random shots from that time.

Adam and Tara with Kealen, Tara's son.

The real turkey. This is fried!! It was amazing.

The other turkey photo bombing these beautiful ladies.

Front: Kaleb, Kayla, Jasmine, Tyler
Back: Kathy (me) with River, Adam, Rick, Jessica, Hunter

Jessica, Hunter and River

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a fun week off of school!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fun Friday: Easy Rolo Treats

We were looking for something to make using what we already had, and we ended up doing a variation of the idea on the back of the Rolo's bag. It listed pretzels, Rolos and pecans. We didn't have pecans, but we had crushed walnuts.

So this is what we did:
Place pretzels on a cookie sheet. We used the square butter snap pretzels.
Put one Rolo on top of each pretzel.
Bake at 350F for 3-4 minutes.
Remove from oven and push nuts down on top of soft Rolo.

Answer to last week's fun Friday brain teaser:
1. They are pronounced differently depending on whether they are capitalized or not.

2. They are both common and proper nouns.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Interview with YA Author Heather Lotto

Today YA author Heather Letto shares about her book, The Imparting, a YA dytopian novel.

How did you choose the title The Imparting?
This is the last book of the Ascension Series… Book 1—Impervious, Book 2—Implanted, sooooo…. The IMP’s have it!  But more than that, in this story the imparting is the way to freedom… or death. 

Although the Ascension Series is a post-apocalyptic non-religious read, it is also Christian fiction because of its allegorical nature to the gospel message.

Did you design the cover?
I helped in the design (chose the model, and put in my two cents) BUT, Anita Carroll (, Cover designer extraordinaire is the artist.

How would you describe the book to someone in a text message?
Wow! They’re being held prisoner, and they don’t even know it!

Who is your main character and what problem does she face?
Fran. Well, Actually Sarah-Frances Monde, but she goes by Fran.  Her problems are many. At first, it might appear that her main problem is procuring dinner and dodging the Impervious holographic security. Yet, her brother’s MIA, and both of her parents already gone, so when her mentor slides down the awful slope of the decline, avoiding the Beast takes precedence. And then there’s Pete… and the Council…

What might draw someone to your character?
Anyone who has dealt with death, abandonment, living on the fringe of society, had a crush, wanted an adventure, feared for their life, or wondered what might be on the other side would probably relate to Fran. Those who haven’t experienced those sorts of things, might just be enamored by Fran’s no-B.S., kick-butt attitude. She’s pretty cool.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was young, (sigghhhhh) I wanted to be 1. An Olympic gymnast, 2. A flight attendant, 3. Janis Joplin. Yes… all at the same time.

Do you still want to be that?
Not really. I like who I am now. (Plus the above plan really sounds pretty exhausting!)

What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why?
I read Nicholas Spark’s A Walk to Remember three times! (And saw the movie twice!) Two of those three times I had forgotten I had read it already until a few chapters in. And then I was truly bummed, because I remembered what was going to happen. Then again, I did continue reading it.

What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know?
1.      While writing the final two books in the Ascension Series I was living in an R.V. travelling around the U.S.
2.      I cannot tolerate carpooling in a minivan or SUV. EVER.
3.      I’m a figure skater.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
When I was a tween, I travelled from Argentina to the U.S. in a single engine six-passenger airplane that my father piloted.

I sense a story here …
Travel and adventure were big in my home growing up. As a matter of fact, when I was in the sixth grade, my parents moved the entire family from 'burbs of Chicago to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a few years. For those unfamiliar with this country, Argentina sits on the Atlantic side of South America beneath the "belly" of Brazil. While living in the Southern Hemisphere, I lived a pretty normal life, going to school, hanging with friends, crushing on boys, etc. And during school breaks, we continued the tradition of family vacations. Yet, rather than Disney or the Grand Canyon, we had the beaches of Uruguay, the Andes Mountains of Chile and the Great Iguacu Falls bordering Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Good family fun, indeed. The biggest (and to date, the best) family trip we made, however, was when it was time to return 'home', and my father made the decision to pilot us back to the 'States' in his single engine, six-seater, Beachcraft  Bonanza airplane. This several-week journey took us through jungles to beaches and Amazonian villages to coastal mega-cities. Memories of walking on lily pads the size of car tires and dodging hairy tarantulas bigger than my fist compete with the visions of the exotic beaches of in Rio de Jainero and fancy buffets laden with tropical fruits, cheeses, yummy croissants, jellies and Dulce de Leche. I can still hear the hum of the outboard motor as we skipped along the Amazon river in a very 'rustic' boat with a local villager and the squeal of my mother as he dove in to 'swim with the piranhas.’ The faces of the Paraguayan women toting mammoth baskets of fruit on their heads makes me smile as much as the flock of  flamingos that graced our outdoor buffet. However, as tween, I can assure you, I also squabbled with my brother in the backseat of the plane when he took up more than his allotted space, or whined  "Can we land soon?"  (a lot). I mean, after all. I'm only human.

Favorite verse?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whoa have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?
Work hard and be open to criticism. It’s how you grow.

November is BOOK PROMO MONTH for The Ascension Series! Impervious and Implanted have already had free download days, but they are both on sale for 0.99 for the rest of the month HERE 
 The Imparting will have a random FREE DOWNLOAD DAY within the next two weeks.
Watch for it on Facebook Fan page because it will be announced HERE 
The Grand Prize Giveaway Drawing will be on November 30th  HERE
(Soft cover, signed copies of the entire trilogy, SWAG-GALORE*, AND A $25 Amazon gift card)

*Swag includes buttons, bracelets, bookmarks & chocolate

Order all three books from amazon HERE 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Fun Friday: Three Words

Here's a short one this week: What do these words have in common: polish, job, herb?

No one guessed at last week's quiz. At least grade yourself and leave a comment as to how you did.
 1. The happiest place on earth. Disney
 2. I'm loving it. McDonalds
 3. Life's messy, clean it up. Bissell
 4. Ideas for life. Panasonic
 5. Leave the driving to us. Greyhound
 6. For everything else there's ____________. Mastercard
 7. Betcha can't eat just one. Lays
 8.____ gives you wings. Red Bull (There's a lawsuit over this I guess)
 9. Believe in yoursmellf. Old Spice
10. What's the worst that could happen? Dr. Pepper

11. The taste of a new generation. Pepsi
12. Just do it. Nike
13. A passion for the road. Mazda
14. Eat fresh. Subway
15. We know money. AIG
16. All in or nothing. Adidas
17. Behold the power of cheese. American Diary Association and Dairy Council
18. Get your own box. Cheez It
19. Open happiness. Coke
20. Does she or doesn't she? Clairol

21. Play. Laugh. Grow. Fisher-Price
22. The best a man can get. Gillette
23. Don't dream it. Drive it. Jaguar
24. Let your fingers do the walking.Yellow Pages
25. When you care enough to send the very best. Hallmark

I made this quiz up from slogans I found online. In reality I only knew about nine of them because so many have changed--Coke, Dr Pepper (What's the worst that could happen???) How many did you know?

Be sure to check out my craft idea on my blog for girls

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Interview with YA author Julie Hall

Today we're talking with Julie Hall, author of the YA novel,  Life After: Huntress, and an adventure junkie. (More about that later)

How did you choose the title?
Well, the original title for the series was actually Life Ever After. Kind of a mash up of “Happily Ever After” and “The After Life.” I thought it was catchy and appropriate since it was a story about what happens to a girl after she dies and most of us think of people’s “ever afters” ending with death, not starting with it. Being a believer, I also believe that we will have an existence after death (even though my depiction of the afterlife in the book is not, and is not meant to be, Biblically accurate). That title will always have a little place in my heart. My publisher pushed to change the title to something different since they thought Life Ever After sounded a little too much like a fairy tale. Valid point! So the series title of Life After was decided on instead and the first book to be called Huntress to convey the action aspect of the story.

Young Adult. *biting lip* If you want to talk about sub genre I would call it a Supernatural Young Adult Fiction book.

How would you describe the book to someone in a text message?
Fun question!!!!
“Dead face emoji, clouds emoji, sword emoji, fire emoji, dancing girl emoji, laughing face emoji, boy girl heart emoji, crying face emoji, devil emoji & dog emoji (I’d throw in that last one just because I like dogs). The End.”
I’m fairly confident any self-respecting teen would be able to understand exactly what the plot is from that message.

Who is your main character and what problem does he/she face?
My main character’s name is Audrey. She’s an eighteen-year-old girl who has just woken up in the afterlife without any memories of her actual life. If that isn’t hard enough, she’s assigned the job of hunting and fighting demons to protect the living for the rest of her existence. She quickly discovers this isn’t something she’s a natural at, after all, she’d rather be discussing her nail color then breaking them on angelic weapons. She also has to learn to work with her over achieving trainer, Logan, who is as attractive as he is annoying. She’s convinced that God has made a huge mistake with her assignment. Without the memories of a caring Father she also questions His love for her as well as her purpose in the afterlife.

What prompted you to write this book?
I wanted to write a Young Adult (YA) book with Christian aspects in it, but exciting enough to engage any reader. The YA genre in the Christian fiction market is practically non-existent. Lots of Christian bookstores don’t even have a YA section, but if you go into any secular bookstore you’ll see that YA books are booming right now. Like there’s been a serious explosion at Barnes and Noble and you can’t walk more than a few feet without running into a YA novel. Honestly, my book kind of straddles the fence of secular and Christian – being that God is an actual character in the novel, yet the version of the afterlife I’ve created isn’t theologically accurate. For that reason it does better online than in bookstores because booksellers can’t quite figure out where to shelve it. Ha! Oh well, readers are finding it anyway!

What did you bring to the book from your own life?
Without realizing it I brought a lot of my real life struggles to this book. In the middle of writing Huntress I came down with a debilitating chronic illness that left me bed ridden and full of brain fog for several years. In the middle of that my husband and I were going through the adoption process (which we started before I became ill). There were days I didn’t see much of a future past getting through the next hour. I had to stop writing at one point because I was unable to even type. My fingers were too swollen and ridden with arthritis to push the keys, and I was only in my 20s. It wasn’t until the book was completed and I went back and read through the whole draft that I realized my own hurt, frustration, and feeling of abandonment were woven into the story. Interestingly enough it was the sections that I wrote before I became ill that mirrored how I felt during the height of my illness.  

What makes your book stand out from other books like it?
I think what makes my book stand out from other books like it is that it’s more than just a clean YA read. And it’s also more than just a book full of the things I love to read in YA books such as a great adventure story, creative world building, supernatural elements, romance, and action. God’s love is woven into the Life After series, which is what makes it so much more than just a good read. You can read the book for pure enjoyment sake, but you’re also going to be taking something away from it that has deeper meaning as well.

What is one thing you learned from writing this book?
Ummmm, am I allowed to say how important editors are? Because seriously, none of us should be releasing anything without a good editor. I’m hesitate to even release these interview questions without an editor. I’m telling you, editors are worth their weight in gold!!!!!

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This question is easy! I wanted to never grow up!

Do you still want to be that?
Yes! I still very much don’t want to ever grow up.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I have a really hard time falling asleep, and so I used to make up stories in my head to pass the hours lying awake at night. Counting sheep does not work people! By the time I was in middle school the stories were pretty elaborate, and that’s about when I started to really get into reading for fun. I think that was when I started to think it would be really cool to be an author someday.

What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why? Title?
Honestly, unless it was a book for school I got assigned twice I don’t think I’ve ever read a book more than once. I remember too many of the details for it to be fun for me to re-read a book. I have gone back and read my favorite scene from books in the past, but never the whole thing. There are too many awesome unread books out there that are vying for my attention!

What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know?
Oh this is a super fun game! Hmmmm, let me think!
1.)    I took sword-fighting classes so I could more accurately write the fight scenes in my books. In my mind I was a rock star at it, however, I wouldn’t let my husband video any of the classes. On the off chance I had an over inflated view of myself, I didn’t want to shatter the illusion.
2.)    I think book signings are just about the most intimidating things on the face of the planet . . . besides wolverines.
3.)    I can legally officiate a wedding! That is for the next 11 months until my license expires. I just performed my first (and last) wedding for my best friend this month . . . you’d have to pay me A LOT of money to convince me to do another one.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
This was a tough question for me because I’m big into adventure and extreme sports. Some of my favorite things to do are snow boarding, rock climbing, bungee jumping, repelling down waterfalls, zip lining, dying my hair all sorts of different colors, and traveling all over the world.  But the most adventurous thing I’ve ever done was probably adopting my daughter. All the other things are momentary adventures, but bringing home my daughter is a lifetime adventure for my husband and me.

Do you have life philosophy? Favorite verse?
I actually have my favorite verse tattooed on my wrist (much to my mother’s disappointment). The verse is Hebrews 12:2 which reads “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorned it’s shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The short explanation is that it reminds me where I need to have my eyes fixed, who is the true author of our life stories, what Jesus did for us and where He is today.

What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?
I’d tell them not to be scared to reach out to their favorite authors for advice. Yes, there may be some that never get back to you, but on the whole I’ve found that most authors love interacting with their readers and would be more than happy to give them advice on how to be a published writer one day.

Julie has two Goldendoodles, Coco and Bear.

You can connect with Julie and also buy her book on her website
You can find her author page HERE

Friday, November 4, 2016

Fun Friday: Whose Slogan Is It?

Slogans come and go over the year. The ones we grew up may have been replaced by slogans meant to capture the younger generation's interest. How many of these can you name? Leave your guesses in the comments section:

 1. The happiest place on earth.
 2. I'm loving it.
 3. Life's messy, clean it up.
 4. Ideas for life.
 5. Leave the driving to us.
 6. For everything else there's ____________.
 7. Betcha can't eat just one.
 8.____ gives you wings.
 9. Believe in yoursmellf.
10. What's the worst that could happen?

11. The taste of a new generation.
12. Just do it.
13. A passion for the road.
14. Eat fresh.
15. We know money.
16. All in or nothing.
17. Behold the power of cheese.
18. Get your own box.
19. Open happiness.
20. Does she or doesn't she?

21. Play. Laugh. Grow.
22. The best a man can get.
23. Don't dream it. Drive it.
24. Let your fingers do the walking.
25. When you care enough to send the very best.

Some of these are easy. They've been around a long time. We know brands. Sometimes people have brands. Some of my author friends have brands or slogans--Seatbelt Suspense, Queen of Christian Fiction/Life Changing Fiction, Expect the Unexpected.

What slogan best describes you?

Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right. Proverbs 20:11

Thursday, November 3, 2016


November is National Novel Writing Month, which has been shortened to Nanowrimo. The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. I think that comes out to around 1,670 words a day. The whole Nanowrimo idea has become a big deal in the past several years.  Now there is a webpage where you can log in your daily word count, make a profile about yourself, announce your novel and so on.

In the past I haven't been able to take part in it because I was not at a point where I was ready to start a novel. One year, not to feel left out, I wrote over 70,000 words of a devotion book for which I had a contract. But I couldn't officially register because it wasn't a novel.

This year I am officially taking part in Nanowrimo, writing a YA novel called Catching Hope. The main character is a 15-year-old girl named Lexi who, along with her twin brother, has recently been adopted out of foster care. The family goes to Haiti to take part in medical work, but Chad, Jen, Lexi and Levi are kidnapped and they must learn to work together in order to survive.

This is November 3, and I have written 4, 943 words. I need to get moving!