Preciously Precocious Children – Part 3

GemEleven-year-old Gem has traveled from his home planet of Topha to meet with ten extraordinary children, all sixteen and under. These children have been given the RJ Conte label of “Preciously Precocious” and are heroesGem 2 of their own stories.

 

Gem, future possible savior of his fragile planet, is prepping to take on the planet’s core with the power of his mind.  For motivation, he’s interviewing child heroes.

 

 

And now for the final installment of interviews! And make sure you check out each of their amazing stories – all of which are on Amazon – including Gem’s!

 

  1. Footer - Footer Davis Probably is Crazy - 11Fontana “Footer” Davis, 11 years old, of Footer Davis Probably is Crazy by Susan Vaught

Gem: Do you prefer English or math?

Footer: I prefer anything Ms. Perry doesn’t teach. I really like English because Ms. Malone teaches it, and she gets me, you know? She didn’t even make me go to the office over that serial killer book.

Gem: (laughs) I get you there.  Some of my supervisors’ minds are really awful and unkind places (I have telepathy). I prefer Soleil in every way.

Okay, you get a dingbat as a pet.  What do you name it?

Footer: What’s a dingbat?

Gem: Anything you want it to be.  A fictional pet.  (grins)

Footer: If it’s anything like a walrus, don’t get it near me. Seriously. Walruses are creepy. If it looks like a kitty, I’d call her Dorothy for Dorothy Thompson, who was like the bravest, coolest journalist in history. I think I’ll be an investigative journalist. I like investigating stuff, and I plan to find these two kids who went missing from the farm behind my house.

Gem: (cheers) Go Footer!  So what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Footer: I do a lot of brave things, like clean snake guts off bird feeders, look at pictures of walruses, and try to keep my friend Peavine’s little sister Angel from stealing all my books (she’s plotting my murder, no doubt), and show up in 5th period every day even though Ms. Perry is there (probably plotting my murder too).

Gem: (laughing harder) How you feel about walruses is how I feel about sloths.  (shudder)  Thanks, Footer!  Stay alive!  🙂

Footer Davis is on the case when two kids go missing after a fire in this humorously honest novel that is full of Southern style.510r0Cpkh4L

Here are some things that are true about Footer Davis:
1. She has a BB gun named Louise.
2. Walruses freak her out.
3. Her mom has bipolar disorder.

But she wants you to know that it’s not that big a deal. She’s just Mom, and usually she’s fine except sometimes when she doesn’t take her pills. But right now what’s most important to Footer is what happened to those kids at the Abrams farm. See, there was a fire there a few nights ago, and those kids haven’t been seen since. Pretty sure they got burned up. What Footer and Peavine—that’s her best friend—want to know is who started the fire?

Buy Footer Davis Probably is Crazy on Amazon.com

 

Blondie - Blondie McGhee - 92. Blondelle “Blondie” McGhee, 9 years old, from Blondie McGhee: At Your Service by Ashley Eneriz

Gem: What do you believe about love?

Blondie: I really love being a detective, and I really love my dachshunds (a.k.a. wiener dogs), Emma and George – although George can be a pain in the behind most of the time!  He has helped me solve several cases.

Gem: I wish I had a pet!  So who do you get along better with: your mom or dad?

Blondie: Hmmm… That’s a tricky one. Both of my parents are pretty cool, but I am still on cloud nine from when my dad put together the most awesome surprise with clues.

Gem: I miss my parents.  That’s really cool.  So what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Blondie: Go into my school attic when some other girls told me it was haunted. I was scared of running into a ghost – or even worse, the principal – but I had no idea what kind of adventure I was really about to be in!

Gem: Now I want to know!

Got a crime?51mCbpvUVUL
Need a professional detective?
You’ve come to the right girl.

Blondie’s the name and solving cases at Graham Elementary is my game. 

I promised I would never, ever solve a case for that meanie, Owen Thomas, but when he is accused of starting the crazy food fight and is about to be expelled, I am his only hope.

Can I wipe his name clean of mashed potatoes before the principal expels Owen for good?

Buy Blondie McGhee: At Your Service on Amazon.com

 

Ruby - Healing Ruby - 133. Ruby Graves, 13 years old, from Healing Ruby by Jennifer H. Westall

Gem: Do you ever have a dream while you’re sleeping that makes you not want to wake up?

Ruby: Sometimes I dream about being with my daddy. He was strong and good to me, and I miss him like crazy. I dream I’m sitting at his feet again in front of the fire, listening to his deep voice read his Bible before breakfast. I wake from those dreams with a sad kind of joy, missing him so much, but knowing I’ll see him again someday.

Gem: I wish I could’ve met your dad.  So, on a less sad note… who’s the most irritating person in your life? (laughs)

Ruby: I swear, I can’t pick just one. My brother Henry loves to pick on me, and I could just punch him in the mouth sometimes. But my oldest brother James might be even worse. At least Henry plays with me and makes me laugh. Ever since Daddy died, James acts like I’m a burden he has to carry to Timbuktu and back twice a day. Why, he even tried to marry me off just to get rid of me!

Gem: Wow.  Maybe I’m glad now I never had brothers!  So what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Ruby: I don’t see myself as brave. It just seems like there are times when God calls me to act, and doing so puts me in the middle of a storm, sometimes literally. I’ve learned to trust Him, even if it means running headlong into the storm, because He is in the storm. Nahum 1:3 says, “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in the whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” I don’t know why He calls me, I just know I have to obey.  I’m not brave. I just choose to trust Him.

Gem: You have amazing faith, Ruby.  I needed that.  Thank you!

Ruby Graves, a young girl in Depression-era Alabama, faces the hardships of poverty and 51jNtK+qVFLloss with as much faith as she can muster. At only the age of thirteen, she’s already lost a younger brother to illness, and now faces losing both her father and the boy who’s stealing her heart to illnesses as well. Armed with her beloved Scriptures, she prays daily for their healing, only to have her tender faith shattered by her father’s death. Through her pain, she’s able to connect with her long-lost Uncle Asa, who’s mere presence at his brother’s funeral brings murmurs of a scandalous past involving her parents and a prominent local pastor, Irwin Cass. When Ruby discovers that one of Asa’s many secrets is an ability to heal, and that she may be next in line for the “gift,” she vows to find the faith that has eluded her so far, a faith that could mean never losing loved ones again. But faith and doubt can’t reside in the same heart, not according to her father, and doubt is Ruby’s constant companion. As she struggles to find the true meaning of faith, she’s opposed at every turn by the pastor who would see her family destroyed and a community that can’t see deeper than the color of one’s skin. Through her search for a faith that could move mountains and a true understanding of her gift, can Ruby trust in a God that may require the ultimate sacrifice?

You can buy Healing Ruby on Amazon.com

 

Chad - Angel-Lover - 164. Chad Burnhill, 16 years old, from Angel-Lover by RJ Conte

Gem: Hey Chad!  So I’m an INTP.  What’s your Myers-Briggs type?

Chad: Hey.  So that’s a really interesting question.  For a long time, I was convinced I was an INFJ.  I think I have two very strong J parents – workaholics, driven people.  But in reality, I found out recently I’m actually INFP.  It explains a bunch, including my depression and artistic creativity.

Gem: So we’re close in type, except you’re the mushy emotional version of me, eh? Okay, feeler, tell us a secret you’ve never told another soul.

Chad: Oh great.  Now I’m going to feed into your perception that I’m a soft feely guy… I’m in love with Angelique Rose – this angel at my school.  She’s not a literal angel, I don’t think… I mean, she sure looks like one with the blond curls and all… (coughs ) Something’s seriously different about her, and I’m going to figure it out.

Gem: Blondes, eh?  I hear you on that one.  (winks) What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Chad: Stepped foot in this mega church in my area.  Walking into one of those religious places was absolutely terrifying.  Then coming clean to my parents about what I thought later… Whew.  I have a feeling I’m going to have to be really brave about some other things too because I have a feeling all’s not right in Angelique’s world…

Gem: Stay strong, man!  We’re rooting for you!2D

Chad is a reclusive teenager whose thoughts are full of loneliness and suicide. The only thing that he obsesses over more than planning his own death is the nicest, sweetest, most beautiful girl in school. As he stalks her and watches her, he learns the truth about what she believes in and, in the process, finds Someone Else he did not expect.

Buy Angel-Lover on Amazon.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

Preciously Precocious Children – Part 2

Gem’s back to interview more children heroes – middle grade and young adult books that Gem 2can be enjoyed by your kids.  🙂  Make sure to pick up books on Amazon that interest you, and feel free to share the interviews!  And check out Gem’s own hero story as the sole savior of his dying planet of Topha here.

1. Sadie Larcen, 16 years old, from The Tethered World by Heather L.L. FitzGerald

Gem: What’s the best thing about being a kid?

Sadie - The Tethered World - 16Sadie: I’d have to say that the best thing about being a kid is the way you can quickly adapt to new circumstances. When you’re young, it’s easier to take life’s unforeseen plot twists and turn them into an adventure. My little sister Sophie definitely embraced the crazy things that happened to our family better than I did when our lives were first turned inside out. (laughs) But these days I actually get bored if something doesn’t stir the pot—or the plot—and break the monotony. I’m sixteen, which is still kind of a kid, right? These days there’s definitely a fairytale loving princess inside who wants to get out and find some excitement. Maybe even a little danger 😉

Gem: I’ll let you come save my planet, and take your monotony then!  Ha!  So what’s your dream job?

Sadie: I feel like my life is divided between “before the kidnapping” and “after the kidnapping.” Okay, it totally IS divided into those two parts. Who am I kidding? So, before everything I would have told you I wanted to be an author. Or maybe just a bookish English professor or something.

But now–NOW–my life, my location, my interests have all become, well . . . complicated. Though I’ve achieved one particular goal–that of being an author (see The Tethered World Chronicles for more on that. Haha!)–that particular accomplishment now feels like a small fish in a big pond. It was something I’d always assumed I’d do later in life. Instead, I actually set my family’s adventures down right after they occurred. (It was cheaper than therapy so, there’s that.)

And yet, in the vast, hidden realm of the Tethered World, there’s so much work to be done. I know God has a bigger purpose for me than I’ve ever dared to dream for myself. Plus, there may be a particularly tall, dark, and handsome Nephilim prince whom I’ve grown rather fond of . . . *sigh*.  I guess I can no longer give a safe and definitive “what I wanna be when I grow up” answer to your question, Gem. Sorry for the roundabout way I’ve replied. But, like I said, it’s complicated! One thing is certain . . . it’s going to have more to do with my life underground in the Tethered World than it will Topside, where I grew up in Washington state.

 

With everything that’s happened to me “after the kidnapping,” I can accept that. And, hey, it’s not like I really have much choice anyway. One can’t escape the call of their Maker.

 

Gem: I totally get that.  Whether or not I survive telepathically controlling my first core earthquake will mean I can suddenly begin to dream about my future.  I know I want Soleil by my side, but what else is there?  It’s hard to think past the big bits of suffering that have to come first, and going through a near-death experience and (Hopefully!) surviving may totally change my perspective.

 

So, along those lines, what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

 

Sadie: The bravest thing? (laughs) A couple of years ago I would’ve said that forcing myself to ride a rollercoaster at Disneyland (with eyes closed, of course) would have counted as my attempt at bravery.

 

Now…well, for starters, I’ve ridden a dragon, have been transported by a cyclone of faeries, and have traveled to mysterious places to rescue those that I love—without always succeeding. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the changes that have taken place inside—sometimes I hardly recognize myself! Until recently, my idea of adventure was what I could find in books. It’s only by God’s grace that I’ve come through these things. Seriously. And not just “by the skin of my teeth” sort of come through…but I’ve learned to be thankful for everything that has happened to me and my family, despite the fact that I once fought so hard against it.

 

I think that kind of thankfulness takes bravery.

 

Gem: I can learn a lot from you.  Thank you, Sadie.

 

“Normal” means different things to different people. For sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen, 51L-3BglRLLfamily dynamics look a little different than most. Parents with oddball occupations? Normal. Five home-schooled siblings—one with autism? Normal. Police knocking on the door and parents gone missing? Definitely not normal! When Sadie uncovers the reasons behind her parents’ disappearance and the truth about her heritage, she despairs of ever feeling normal again. Especially when she learns that her mother’s interest in Bigfoot, Dwarves, and other lore extends beyond her popular blog. Sadie’s family has been entrusted with keeping the secrets of the Tethered World—home to creatures that once roamed the Garden of Eden. Sadie and her siblings must venture into this land to rescue their parents. Stepping out of reality and into a world she never knew existed is a journey Sadie fears and resents. But she chooses to risk all to save her family. She’s just not sure she will survive during the process.

 

You can buy The Tethered World on Amazon.com!

 

ClaireLee - Just Claire - 132. ClaireLee Monteiro, 13 years old, from Just Claire by Jean Ann Williams

 

Gem: How many children do you want when you grow up?  I know you’ve been a caretaker to your own siblings for a while.

 

ClaireLee: I want eight children.

 

Gem: Wow!  That’s a love of kiddos!  Do you have an embarrassing hidden talent?

 

ClaireLee: I can bite my fingernails off and spit them a long ways across a room!

 

Gem: Sounds like a great weapon!  Haha!  Okay, but now the important, serious question: what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

 

ClaireLee: The bravest thing I’ve ever done is crawl across a log over the river to save someone.

 

Gem: That’s why I wanted to interview you, because a little bird had told me you were a secret hero too.  🙂  Thanks, ClaireLee!

 

One mother damaged. One family tested. One daughter determined to find her place.51yGK1eDm-L
ClaireLee’s life changes when she must take charge of her siblings after her mother becomes depressed from a difficult childbirth. Frightened by the way Mama sleeps too much and her crying spells during waking hours, ClaireLee just knows she’ll catch her illness like a cold or flu which hangs on through winter. ClaireLee finds comfort in the lies she tells herself and others in order to hide the truth about her erratic mother. Deciding she needs to re-invent herself, she sets out to impress a group of popular girls.
With her deception, ClaireLee weaves her way into the Lavender Girls Club, the most sophisticated girls in school. Though, her best friend Belinda will not be caught with the likes of such shallow puddles, ClaireLee ignores Belinda’s warnings the Lavenders cannot be trusted. ClaireLee drifts further from honesty, her friend, and a broken mother’s love, until one very public night at the yearly school awards ceremony. The spotlight is on her, and she finds her courage and faces the truth and then ClaireLee saves her mother’s life.

 

You can buy Just Claire on Amazon.com

 

Gem: Bensin, you’ve been living life as a slave.  Boy, do I know how that feels. Although you’ve had a little sister, Ellie, to protect as well!
Who’s the hardest person in your life to understand?

 

Bensin: Officer Shigo, definitely. He’s the City Watch officer who arrested Ellie and me. All slaves know we’ve got to be careful around Watch officers, even when we’re not breaking the law. A lot of them look for any excuse to punish us. But Officer Shigo is different. When I needed money, he invited me to do some chores over at his place. I’ve gone a few times, and he pays me well. He always asks how Ellie and I are doing, and he’s come to watch several of my cavvara shil tournaments. He acts friendly and supportive, but he’s still a Watch officer, and I know he would arrest me again if he caught me trying to escape again. Sometimes when he asks questions about Ellie and me, I’m afraid he suspects what I’m planning. I can’t figure out what he really wants from me.

 

Gem: That would be confusing.  My ability to read minds would come in handy in this situation.  (winks)  Who’s your best friend?

 

Bensin: That would be Ricky. He’s a little older than me, and he knows a lot about nearly everything. He’s the one who taught me how to pick a lock. He’s got a list of helpful tips that he calls Ricky’s Rules for Surviving Slavery, and he says someday he’s going to publish them in a book and make enough money from it to buy his freedom. Of course, the people who would benefit most from a book like that are the ones with the least money for buying things, so I’m not too sure that’s going to work out for him. But in the meantime, I’m glad he’s around to help me figure out useful stuff.

 

Gem: (laughs)  I’d buy his book.  🙂  What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

 

Bensin: That was probably when I tried to help my little sister Ellie escape from our owners, Mr. and Mrs. Creghorn. I’d promised our mom that Ellie would be free someday, so I picked the lock and sneaked out with her one night. I knew what happens to slaves who get caught trying to escape, but I had a plan I was pretty sure could work. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly work out the way I hoped. (sighing) Actually, it took even more courage a couple months later when I had to sneak into an abandoned warehouse by myself and face three armed criminals who were hiding out there. I knew I could get killed, but what would have happened otherwise would have been even worse.

 

Gem: I can’t even imagine having to protect a little sister.  Wow!

 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only25454725 victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

 

You can buy The Collar and the Cavvarach on Amazon.com

 

Preciously Precocious Children – Part 1

GemEleven-year-old Gem has traveled from his home planet of Topha to meet with ten extraordinary children, all sixteen and under. These children have been given the RJ Conte label of “Preciously Precocious” and are heroes of their own stories.

Gem 2Gem, future possible savior of his fragile planet, wanted to meet other inspiring young people: children who stop dragon trafficking, who protect their families when their mothers go through deep clinical depression, children that speak up to bullies and solve mysteries. Children that have the gift of healing and travel to distant planets like pilgrims. Children that defend fragile otherwordly life. Children that go underneath the ground to other worlds and compete in martial arts, children that fight slavery and mental illness.

We’re going to meet, interview, and talk to these ten Preciously Precocious in a three-part blog series.  And make sure you check out each of their amazing stories – all of which are on Amazon!

 

  1. Amanda Greene, 10 years old, from The Gold by Krista Wagner Amanda - The Gold -10

Gem: Who was your first crush?

Amanda: Elliott, the boy from E.T.!

Gem: I haven’t seen that one. I’m sure you’d think me an alien too.  😉 So what’s your favorite book of the Bible?

Amanda: John

Gem: And now for the ultimate question. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Amanda: Walked into a mysterious forest!

Gem: Now that sounds promising!

51jbmneuX5LTen-year-old Amanda is constantly teased and tormented in school. Her home life is less than satisfactory where her widower father, who is often away on business trips, leaves her in the care of her indifferent teenage sister. Worse, not a day goes by when Amanda doesn’t miss her mom. To escape reality, Amanda creates fantasy stories, but when she discovers a talking golden pebble, her imagined world turns into a new-fangled reality.

Buy The Gold here on Amazon.com

Rejoice - Shatterworld -12

 

2. Rejoice in the Lord’s Salvation Holly, 12 years old, from Shatterworld by Lelia Rose Foreman

Gem: Tell us your most embarrassing story!

Rejoice: I forgot to watch the weather when I was harvesting seaweed. A storm blew me so far away from the colony that I got lost. I had to be rescued!

Gem: I’m glad you’re okay! So what do you think is the worst thing about growing up?

Rejoice: The colony is forcing me to be a farmer. There’s nothing wrong with farming, but I don’t want to farm. I want to be an astronomer, but my parents tell me I’m being selfish.

Gem: If anyone understands what it’s like having their whole life dictated to them and being groomed for a specific task, it’s me.  If I survive the core earthquake to come, I want to escape all this training, and go do what I want to do!  So now for the ultimate question: what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Rejoice: I’m not brave, but I can tell you what the hardest thing I’ve done is: telling the aliens they were all going to die is hard.

Gem: Yeah.  My people understand that too, Rejoice!  You are brave, in my book.

512-AX+uLZLTwelve-year-old Rejoice cannot stop thinking about space. Her religious colony fled the violence of Earth to a new world to establish an agrarian utopia. The elders have determined that she will become a farmer, no matter what she wants. When she discovers aliens in the ocean and then the doom that is aimed at her planet, Rejoice needs to help her people find a way to survive.

Buy Shatterworld here on Amazon.com

 

 

3. Cora Harrison, 12 years old, from Cora and the Nurse Dragon by H. L. BurkeCora - Cora and the Nurse Dragon - 12

 

Gem: The most important question yet: do you like broccoli?

Cora: I’ve never had it. My dad doesn’t really cook. I mean, he’ll make pancakes or something for special occasions, but mostly we get whatever they make in the kitchen of the big house and that’s usually something that can get carried in a pot or a basket. It’s kind of a fancy word, though. Would make a cool name for a dragon.

Gem: Lucky! I’d rather never eat the stuff again.  😉  Okay, for more of an abstract question then: what color of the rainbow best represents who you are?

Cora: This is a weird question. It sounds like one of those poetry questions my best friend Abry is always getting good grades on in school while I get Cs because they really don’t make sense to me. People aren’t colors. I kind of like yellow, mainly because the best racing dragon I ever saw, Gold Digger’s Folly, is a yellowy-gold and that looks really cool, though. I’m not yellow, though. I’m kind of brown-ish, I guess, but Abry tells me that sort of answer is why I always get Cs.

Gem: Haha.  I need to meet this Abry.  And I’d like to see a real dragon too!  For the final ultimate question I’m asking everyone today: what is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? (I’m trying to psych myself up to be brave for a super big task myself…)

Cora: It really depends. If you asked Abry, a LOT of things I do are brave, but that’s only because she worries about silly things like falling out of trees and getting diseases from stepping on nails. I’ve stepped on at least two nails, and I’m still alive. Not sure what she’s going on about. Abry’s a lot braver than me where it involves people though, talking to strangers or teachers, so I guess there’s more than one way to be brave. I guess it would have to be the second time I hatched a Mayfly dragon. The first time I didn’t know what to expect, that they only lived a few weeks, so when it died I was so sad, I thought I’d never get another dragon. When I decided to get another dragon, even though I knew it would die again, I guess that was kind of brave.

Gem: You betcha. Death brings out people’s true bravery every time – even if it’s the death of a pet.  I’m interviewing another guy later whose very special otherworldly pet might die on him too.  Thanks, Cora!

51rD1Bt4MaLCora’s a young girl with two dreams: to be a dragon jockey when she grows up and to own a pet dragon now. She constantly buys “egg packs” at the dragon emporium in hopes that one will hatch into a rare pet-sized dragon, but only gets short-lived mayflies. However, when an unexpected egg does develop into something new, Cora may be over her head.

Buy Cora and the Nurse Dragon here on Amazon.com

Eating Grubs, Missionary Stories, and The Girl Who Could See

61oGrqssxmL._UX250_Say hello to Kara Swanson!  I met her at Realm Makers in Reno last year, and we quickly bonded.  She’s a kindred spirit, an ENFJ, and an old soul even though she’s a decade younger than I am.  She’s got great connections and great thoughts, and they translate to beautiful words on the written page.  I was able to be a beta reader for her amazing book, Skyridge, during the month of December.  And now she’s currently writing a Peter Pan retelling that I’m super excited about.  This girl is going places for the Lord!

I interviewed her months ago and am now FINALLY getting a chance to put it up here on514NkgTQtSL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ my blog.  Check out her novella “The Girl Who Could See” if you like romantic sci-fi.  🙂

 

Kara, do you have a (non-family) best friend?  Who? And why?

Kara: Hmmm interesting question! I have a few close friends, and always feel a bit odd signaling one person out as a ‘best friend’ as they each are so special to me ^_^  

Me: Mhmmmm… This is a politically correct answer. 😉 😛

Kara: When I was younger, I lived in a remote tribe and our coworkers had four boys. One of them, Jacob, was my age and definitely my best friend in the tribe growing up. I was a bit of a tomboy and Jacob was often my partner in crime… 🙂

Me: What’s your favorite book(s)? Movie(s)?

Kara: Hmm I love the Narnia books. And have a soft spot for Marvel movies. Lately I’m rather obsessed with Tom Holland and Spiderman: Homecoming 😉
Me: Ahhhhhhhh!  I loved that movie!  I was a diehard Tobey Maguire fan, so I refused to watch any other Spiderman movies, but my parents told me I’d love it, and I did!  Can I adopt Tom Holland???
Where are all of the places you’ve lived and why?  Which was your favorite?
Kara: Whoa, okay. Ummm to keep it simple, I’ve lived overseas in Papua New Guinea (several different locations there), and then many states. California, Missouri, Oregon, Idaho…and spent a few days visiting churches in plenty of others that I couldn’t count 😉 Hard to say which was my favorite, they were all unique. Wewak was a coastal town in Papua New Guinea and it was beautiful. Palm trees, secluded beaches with water almost as warm as a bath. Tropical breezes and unique animals. That was a wonderful place to live. I spent 16 years in Papua New Guinea because my family were missionaries. Most of that time was spent in a tribe called Siawi, remote in the jungle. It was only accessible by airplane and we had no roads, electricity, wifi etc.
Me: That is amazing!  *jaw drops*
What’s your funniest missionary kid story?
Kara: Okay so this was definitely not funny to the rest of my family, but it’s the first thing that pops into my head, soooo…
 
We had a river that ran in front of our house, and we would always go swimming with my dad around 4:00 in the afternoon. We’d often times play games where one person would be “it” with their eyes closed, and have to swim around the river trying to tag anyone else. Once they’d caught someone, that person would also be “it” with them. Well, I had a habit of being able to hold my breath for a very long time. So one of the rounds of this game I was the last person left, while there were several people–including my father–swimming around trying to tag me. So I dove down, grabbed a big rock, and walked across the bottom of the river to a nice corner and hunkered down. I held my breath for as long as I could, watching everyone else swimming around. After a while, they all formed a line and began walking across the water, splaying their hands back and forth. I thought it was odd, so I finally decided to pop up.
 
Turns out, I’d been holding my breath so long they thought I’d drowned or passed out, and were dragging the water for me. O.O Needless to say, while I thought it was a little amusing, my father did not… 😉 
Me: Oh my!!  Hahaha
What’s your scariest?
Kara: How to pick one? We had a murder that happened in our tribe, that almost started a tribal war with another tribe. I was pretty young, and everyone but my father (and our co worker’s father) had to fly out of the tribe. I remember wondering if my dad was about to get caught in the middle of a war–and if he’d make it out. 
Me: Wow.  I can’t even imagine.  That’s real life terror we don’t have to think about here in America.
What kinds of odd pets did you have?
Kara: Oooh all kinds! I had eight wallabies (mini kangaroos), a hornbill (like a Toucan without the colorful beak), we had a Cockatoo (that was our coworkers, but we took care of him after they left), several different kinds of cuscus (kind of like a fuzzy possum), all kind of parrots, a wild Dingo dog, a monitor lizard…
Me: Mini kangaroos and a Dingo!
What do you miss about the mission field?  What don’t you miss?
Kara: I miss the people. I miss the tropical weather, beaches and lush jungles. I don’t miss being so remote or watching so many friends leave.

Me: That totally makes sense.

Now for funny questions:

What’s the craziest thing you’ve eaten?

Kara: Grub worms. Raw. You had to bite their little squirming pincher heads off before tossing them in your mouth. Delicious, right?
Me: Ehhhhh… Um… I’ll pass?  😉
What’s your favorite kind of cheese?
Kara: Swiss.
Me: I can’t stand swiss.  I didn’t know there was anyone who liked it.  :-O
Team Tennant or Team Smith? (There is totally a right answer here!)
Kara: Team Tennant. Is there any other option???? 😉

 

Me: Good answer!  No, there is no other option. 😛

Lastly, the writer questions:

What inspired The Girl Who Could See?

Kara: A combination of a lot of things. The original concept sprouted from two sentences that popped into my head one day: They say every child had an imaginary friend. Mine never left. I also drew from my experiences battling Lyme Disease, constantly moving and having a perspective on the world few others had as a missionary kid.
Me: Awww.  Yeah!  You’ve been through a lot!
What new projects do you have up your sleeves that you can tell us about?
Kara: I’m working on revisions on a sci fi/dystopian about a girl who realizes that everything she knows–her world, her family and even her very identity is a lie. And also rewriting a YA paranormal about a girl who’s father is a fallen angel, with a destiny to destroy the world–but she has other plans. 🙂
Me: That last one is Skyridge!  ^_^
What book do you really wish could be made into a movie?
Kara: I think that Storm Siren by Mary Weber would be a great movie 🙂 I’ve also always wanted The Witch of Blackbird Pond to be made into a movie!
Me: I adore “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.”  I agree with you!  I haven’t read any of Mary Weber’s books yet.  I need to get on that!
Thank you so much for having me, RJ! This was a lot of fun ^_^ ❤
Me: Thank YOU, Kara!  Love you dearly!

Teaching in Taiwan, Modern Slavery, and Annie Douglass Lima!

Annie Douglass LimaToday, on the blog, I’d like to introduce you to Annie Douglass Lima!  I’ve hosted part of her blog tour in the past, and I’d like to just have her talk personally now, so you can meet the amazing and sweet author behind an incredibly original series!

2 Covers & Series Title

Hello, Annie!  What first inspired you to write about slavery and martial arts?

Annie: I’ve had the idea for the Krillonian Chronicles growing in my mind for the last few years.  It started as just a picture of the setting and its culture (with legalized slavery), and the plot and individual characters emerged little by little.  The martial art of cavvara shil didn’t enter my imagination until just before I started drafting The Collar and the Cavvarach.

Me: I’ve read both now, and they’re such a fun look at a totally different earth!  Speaking of earth, how many different places have you lived, and what is your favorite?

Annie: I’ve traveled to 21 different countries and lived in four of them (Kenya, the United States, Indonesia, and Taiwan). There are things I love about all of them, but Kenya, in particular, will always have a special place in my heart, since that’s where I grew up. Right now, though, I’d have to pick Taiwan. My husband and I have lived here for the last ten years, and it’s definitely home.

Me: Wow, that’s so fascinating! What are you currently doing in Taiwan?

Annie: I teach 5th grade in a missionary school called Morrison Academy. It’s a great school in a great location, and I love my job and my students! Oh, and in my free time, I write.

Me: A teacher after my own heart. ❤ So which character in the Krillonian Chronicles is your favorite?

Annie: All my characters are special to me in different ways (every author has to say that, right?).  One that was especially fun to write, though, is not actually even a real character.  Steene is constantly arguing with his conscience over the morality (or lack thereof) of owning a slave.  He imagines his conscience’s exact words as it responds to him, complete with body language.  I enjoyed giving his conscience a little personality of its own.  For example, after one particularly lame argument on Steene’s part, “his conscience rolled its eyes and refused to dignify that with a response.”

Me: Hahaha.  I love Steene.  I’m convinced he’s a male ESFJ, which is super unique in fiction!  😀

Annie: Some of my characters seemed to take matters into their own hands and decide they wanted a different role than the one I had planned for them.  For example, City Watch officer (the equivalent of a police officer) Kalgan Shigo ended up playing a much bigger part in the first book than I had anticipated.  While still a minor character, he is a more important one than he was originally supposed to be, and he plays a different – and much needed – role in Bensin’s life.  I loved watching him take charge and step into the position he wanted!

Me: I’ve got a character, the goofy, sweet, ditzy stepmother in the book I’m writing right now!  😀

Annie: However, my favorite character in this series is definitely Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist.  The struggles he is forced to go through make him stronger, and I admire him for his perseverance and determination to meet his goals no matter what.  He is willing to sacrifice himself for those he cares about, and while his choices aren’t always the wisest, he is committed to doing what he feels is right.  Society is against him, since he’s a slave and has few rights, but that doesn’t stop him.

Me: Bensin’s a loyal, protector ISTJ.  😀  So, as I’m busy Myers-Briggs typing your characters for our audience… what’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your books?

Annie: Hmm, good question. I’ve been blessed to be on the receiving end of a lot of encouraging comments, but some of the best have come from my students. I always read at least one of my books to my class every year, and there’s usually someone in each class who will tell me I’m their favorite author or that was the best book they’ve ever read. Another form of (unspoken) compliment is when I catch a student sneakily reading one of my books behind their desk when they should be working on an assignment. (As you can imagine, that puts me in a difficult position, as the teacher and the author sides of me wrestle with how to respond!)

Me: Haha!  I love that!  So how do you think we, as Christians, can safely get more involved to help with modern slavery?

Annie: Prayer is always a powerful weapon. I suggest taking a look at a little devotional book called 30 Days of Prayer to End Sex Slavery by Alana Terry and Precarious Yates. It contains a lot of information to build awareness as well as suggestions for how to pray about this worldwide crisis.

Me: Ooooo, I love books with ways to pray in new ways!

Annie: I contacted Alana Terry, a friend of mine, and asked if she had any additional suggestions for how Christians can help. She has researched and written both fiction and nonfiction on the topic of modern slavery, so I knew she would have ideas. Alana suggests, “look at your budget and decide if any of the goods you regularly consume can be replaced for fair-trade products. Coffee, chocolate, and tea are some of the goods that are most notoriously created from slave labor.” Even if you can’t afford to buy everything fair trade all the time, how about choosing at least one thing to change? For example, maybe you could decide to only buy fair-trade coffee for a year, and encourage your friends and family members to do the same.

Me: Something so few of us think about.  😦

(Readers, be aware that Alana Terry’s books are very adult in nature and not being officially recommended on this webpage.  Read all of these topics at your own risk!  ❤ )

Thank you so much, Annie!  I love your heart as a teacher, author, and advocate for others!

 

 

Clean Romance, Infertility, and Marriage Advice from Melanie D. Snitker!

MelanieDSnitker2016Melanie D. Snitker is a sweet author friend of mine from Texas.  She writes stories with a heart – an emphasis on a deep love for each character, and a romance to go with it!  I’d like to think that if you enjoy my novels, you’d enjoy hers.  🙂

Melanie has prayed for me, knit baby cutesies for me, and encouraged me at the hardest of times.  I hope all of you can support her worthy books!  Thanks for being you, Melanie!

You can purchase Melanie’s books here on Amazon.com!

Snitker All Books 2

Me: Hi, Melanie! Here at BlondeRJ, we’re all about Myers-Briggs types.  Share about being an ISFJ and what your personality is like. 🙂

Melanie: You know, I’d never thought much about the Myers-Briggs types until I met you, RJ! I find it all fascinating. Like you mentioned, I’m an ISFJ. I’m definitely quiet and very introverted. I get along well with people, and I tend to be a really good listener. If I say I’m going to do something, not only will it get done, but I’ll do my best while I’m working on it. I’m organized, and I rely heavily on lists and my online calendar. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced ties into my being an introvert: I also tend to worry about what others think. I’m slowly getting better about this as I get older, but it was something that held me back for a long, long time. I think that it will always be something that’s in the back of my mind to a degree. I have to admit I really admire those who can say and do anything and not worry what others will think!

Me: Even we 100% extroverts can be people-pleasers and worry what others think, for sure.  I’ve been LOVING the book When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch, and would love to recommend it right now to my readers.  It’s helped me put God in His proper place, and see my need to love others instead of just *need* them.  🙂
Speaking of loving people, you write the sweetest romances ever. What first inspired you to help and write about clean romance for Christians?

Melanie: I enjoyed romance novels as a teen, but didn’t really read much beyond Janette Oke, Dee Henderson, and a few other Christian authors. When I got into high school, I started to browse through some of the other romance novels at the library. I was shocked to find that clean romance was a difficult thing to find. That’s when I decided I would start writing the kind of romance novels I wouldn’t mind my own daughter reading some day.

Me: What a sweet legacy!
How many different places have you lived, and what is your favorite?

Melanie: I’ve lived in Arizona, both in Flagstaff and Phoenix. A lot of people that haven’t been to Flagstaff are surprised to find that it has a lot of mountains, and it can get a fair amount of snow in the winter. I’ve also lived in many different places in Oregon as well as Texas (where I currently reside). My favorite place to live overall is Texas. The people here are incredibly friendly, I like the mild winters, and I love all the wildflowers (bluebonnets, especially) in the spring. My second favorite place would be Oregon, especially in the fall when all the leaves turn. Gorgeous!

Me: I live in the gorgeous pacific northwest as well!  Love it!
Melanie, you were a huge encouragement to me two years ago. Can you tell us about one of the hardships you’ve experienced and how God has used that in your life? ❤

Melanie: I have endometriosis and it has resulted in a lot of infertility issues that I’ve dealt with for a long time. It took two and a half years of tests and a surgery for my endo before we found out our son was on the way. After he was born, we’d hoped that the next baby would be much easier. Four and a half years later (after another surgery and different medications), we were finally able to try one round of IVF. Praise God, one of those sweet embryos burrowed in to stay, and our daughter was born eight months later. There were so many times during this journey when I wondered where God was and why this had to be so hard. But I learned more about patience than I would’ve liked to, and I also learned about God’s perfect timing. There have been many times in the last six years since our daughter was born where I’ve looked back and realized that, even though I didn’t think so at the time, God really did know what He was doing!

Me: I loved your faith when I was going through that hardship myself!  And you have absolutely beautiful kiddos!!  You have absolutely beautiful characters too.  😛 Which character, in all of your books, is your favorite?

Melanie: I’m going to have to go with Lexi (although Lance is a close second). She’s introduced in Finding Peace, the first book the Love’s Compass series. Then she and Lance get their own story in the second book, Finding Hope. She’s my favorite because she goes through a lot in her life with a cancer diagnosis that leads to a complete hysterectomy which saves her life. It also means she’ll never have children of her own. What causes her inability to get pregnant may be very different from what I or many of my friends have experienced with infertility, but many of the emotions are the same. She’s definitely a character that was written straight from my heart.

Me: Awww.  I remember Lexi!  So what’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your books?

Melanie: I’ve had several readers thank me for creating quality, clean romance novels that they can read without the guilt, and that they wouldn’t hesitate to let their teen daughters read as well. It’s what I originally set out to do, and even though the road of an author can be a rocky one at times, it’s encouragement like that which reminds me it’s all worth it!

Me: Amen! On a real-life front, how do you think we, as Christians, can learn to love like Christ more in our marriages?

Melanie: I think it’s easy to get caught up in every day life. Things get hectic, the kids always need something, and by the end of the day, it’s easy to feel like we have nothing left to give. But it’s the little things that show Christ’s love in a marriage. Like when my husband is completely exhausted, yet takes the trash out with a smile. Or when I’ve had a rough day and I’m tired, but I bake my husband the cookies he loves because it will brighten his afternoon. The other day, we had a busy afternoon full of cleaning and grocery shopping. I’ll admit, I was a complete grump by dinner and not much fun to be around. Instead of getting upset with me, or even letting my mood change his, my sweet husband made a trip to the store to find something I was looking for, and even brought something else back that made me laugh. Finding ways to put our spouse first, even when it isn’t easy, can give us even a small glimpse of the kind of unconditional love that Christ has for us!

Me: I think your home must be very joyful and warm.  🙂  Thank you, Melanie!

Melanie: Thanks again, RJ!

Writing, Fighting Trafficking, Addison’s Disease, and Kimberly Rae!

This week I’m heading to Realm Makers!  It’s a Christian, speculative fiction, writing convention that is being held, this year, in Reno, Nevada!  I’m taking the five month old, and will be gone from Wednesday – Sunday, so I’d appreciate your prayers!  Prayers for good health, good energy, good fellowship, good learning, and a God-glorifying attitude would be much appreciated.  ❤  Secretly, I’m super nervous!

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to reach out to other authors who are similar to me – same heart for counseling believers, similar writing style and genre, or a hero of sorts to me. ❤  I’ve been in contact with four ladies who write everything from historical fiction to alternative drama to psychological thrillers to clean romance. It’s my hope that if you like these ladies’ books, you’ll like mine and vice versa!  🙂

Author Headshot

Today, it’s an immense pleasure to introduce you to Kimberly Rae! She wrote my very favorite series of the year – and maybe of all time – the Broken Series!  The story involves members of a church all dealing with abuse, anti-trafficking, and saving women from prostitution.  But the best part is that they are so real and relatable.  They are Every Church, and 5 Shreddedevery Christian should read these books!  ❤

 

I asked Kimberly some questions and she graciously replied!

Me: Here at BlondeRJ, we’re all about Myers-Briggs types.  Do you know your personality type?  If not, are you an extrovert or introvert?  

Kimberly: Through talking to you, RJ, we figured out my type!  I’m an INFJ (explanation here).

People see me as an extrovert but I am actually an introvert. I’m very nervous around strangers and need time by myself to recharge. One odd thing about me is that I enjoy speaking to huge crowds, but get very uncomfortable in small groups.

Me: I adore INFJs!  I’m even raising one.  😉 What first inspired you to help and write about trafficked women and victims?

Kimberly: When I first had to come back to the US, I wanted some way to stay involved but wasn’t sure how. When I started considering writing a novel, I tossed around some ideas but didn’t know quite what to focus on. I was talking with my mom one day and she said, “If 1 Stolen Womanyou could write about anything, what would you write about?” By the end of the day, I think I had three chapters of Stolen Woman written. It was the book I felt I was meant to write – it combined things I care deeply about: fighting trafficking, missions, and women knowing their worth in Christ. Stolen Woman is still my best-selling book out of all of them. I love how God is using it!

Me: I still haven’t read Stolen Woman, and I know I need to remedy that right away!  You said, “Coming back to the US…” How many different places have you lived, and what is your favorite?

Kimberly: I’ve lived in several states in the US, but overseas is Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and rickshawIndonesia. The most interesting by far was Bangladesh. There are over 100 million people in a tiny country about the size of Michigan! It was creative chaos, and their love for bright colors and loud noises and super spicy food just was so fun for me at age twenty-two, fresh out of college and ready to experience the world. I remember being in a rickshaw one day when a riot broke out in the road in front of me, and I thought, “If I knew I was going to live through this, it would be really exciting!” I got to wear beautifulmarket in Thailand shalwar kameez outfits, experience their amazing gift of hospitality, and I even ate cow brains!

Me: That’s amazing!  And you’ve had quite the trials yourself.  ❤  Can you tell us about what illnesses you struggle with on a daily basis and how God has helped your faith through them?

Kimberly: I have Addison’s disease, asthma, hypoglycemia and a rare condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. My day is very structured with specific diet requirements, medication, trying to deal with chronic pain, and responding to symptoms, etc. Like 90% of people with chronic illness, I often “don’t look sick,” so have to be careful about not doing too much to try to keep up with healthier people out of a sense of expectation by them or myself. I’ve taken up a beautiful verse from 1 Corinthians 8:12 that says the gift is accepted according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. God has DIGITAL CAMERAlimited me physically, so I am not expected to do what a person with more physical resources can do (just like finances and everything else – God is the provider, and He asks us to give back out of what He has provided, no more, no less).

I used to care very much about doing a lot, and realized I was finding my worth in how much I got done rather than in Christ’s value for me. Now God has taken away my ability to “compete” in that way (we women are pretty bad about competing with each other, aren’t we?) and now He is transforming me (sometimes kicking and screaming, I admit) into a representative of His beautiful truth that our worth is not in what we do or how much we do, but in Him and His love for us. If we can be radiant in that love, and not need to prove ourselves, oh, how we could change the world! We’d stop being so intimidating, so stressed, and so resentful, and instead shine beautiful and strong and at peace. A woman living full of joy and peace is a treasure. I want to be like that.

I won’t lie. Living with disease and health problems and daily pain is hard. Some people tell me that if I just had enough faith, it would all go away. I’ve learned over the years that it takes a lot more faith to trust God when He doesn’t “fix” things as when He does. My need for Him is constant, and living with a body that betrays me keeps my mind on the eternal, which isn’t a bad thing. In every difficulty is a gift—if you look for it, you’ll find it. God is there, offering the peace that passes all understanding, and the joy that is beyond current circumstances. There is purpose in what we go through, and for all I have learned of my God, and all He has taken away and given in replacement, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.

Well, that wasn’t brief. Sorry! That’s why I’ve got a series of books on living joyfully despite chronic illness—there’s a lot to say!

Me: What a beautiful, beautiful testimony, Kimberly!  And you seem to totally understand human nature and the heart, as evidenced by your writing.  ❤  Speaking of which, I bought the “You’re Sick, They’re Not” book you wrote and look forward to reading it! But, if we’re talking the books I HAVE read, which character in The Broken series is your favorite?

Kimberly: Candy and Jean, but for different reasons. I love Jean because she has so much potential and value inside her, but she doesn’t know it, and I love how she grows and blooms and gets set free. Candy is my favorite because she’s so fun and so real. Her character is actually based on someone I know! To this day, sometimes I’m in church and I imagine her walking down the aisle with all her stuff dropping behind her, and I want to crack up right there during the service. =)

Me: I looooooove Candy.  She’s my favorite too.  She has the most spunk EVER. 😀 What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your books?

4 Stolen Series

Kimberly: Can I pick two?

Me: Absolutely!

Kimberly: A lady told me once that her pastor’s wife said Francine Rivers used to be her favorite author, but now I am. Francine Rivers is MY favorite author, so that was huge, huge, huge to me.

Back in the beginning, after Stolen Woman came out, a teenager sent me an email that said, “Your book changed my life.” That has stayed with me and meant so much all these years.

Me: You are WAY better than Francine Rivers, and it’s my blog, so I can say so.  😀 

Last, and definitely not least, how do you think we, as Christians, can safely get more involved to help trafficking/sex/drug victims and prostitutes?

Kimberly: It is a great time to be fighting human trafficking and exploitation! There are over 2,000 groups actively involved around the world. Some of my favorites are:

Rahab’s Rope (Mumbai, India) – www.rahabsrope.com

Women At Risk Int. (worldwide) – www.warinternational.org

Tiny Hands (Nepal) – www.tinyhands.org

There are lots more sites and statistics and ways to get involved on my website. If you go to www.kimberlyrae.com, on the right sidebar you’ll see posts about fighting trafficking internationally, nationally, and even locally. There are so many ways to make a difference. Feel free to use to the “contact” button on the site if you have questions or need ideas – I’d love to help you change the world!

Me: Thank you, thank you, dear Kimberly!