Writing just won't let you go: a profile of Katherine Nichols

KRN portrait For the past 20 years, Katherine Nichols has worked, in some way or another, as a writer.  Whether that means working as a print journalist or hosting a TV feature or, finally, penning the nonfiction book for teens DEEP WATER, Katherine has felt the pull of writing on her life.

"Though I have gone in other directions, I keep returning to writing because I love the challenge, the perpetual opportunity for learning and improvement," she said. "But it never gets easier. So perhaps a more honest answer is that it won’t let me go."

When she was a young girl, Katherine made mini-books out of construction paper. She describes these early literary pursuits as "average stories and terrible illustrations," but with typical childlike aplomb, she demanded an audience of her family members.

In addition, like so many other writers, Katherine was a reader. As a child, her parents not only read aloud to her, but modeled the life of a reader by being avid consumers of the written word themselves.

In school, Katherine felt herself drawn to English classes. "I found them so enjoyable that I would save the homework for last," she said, "as a reward after finishing math and chemistry and biology."

Partly out of the necessity of having a steady paycheck, Katherine turned to journalism, saying, "If you’re not a bestselling author, it’s tough to make a living from fiction. Journalism jobs and assignments came more easily to me."

But her choice of this career isn't entirely pragmatic, though that is of course a big part. She said she's a naturally curious person who enjoyed that journalism allowed her to learn about others, in essence to have a brand-new education in a new field almost every day.

Plus, there was the added benefit of being able to help someone with her stories. Early in her career, she published a story about a young man who, after a car accident, became a quadriplegic. He taught himself to paint by holding the brush in his teeth, and Katherine's feature on him was published by the San Diego Union.

"It ... brought attention to his work," she said. "The idea that I could do something positive by telling someone else’s story inspired me."

Fireside Chat Reminder copy

Katherine's debut book, DEEP WATER, released May 2 from Simon True, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, tells the story of a group of young men from Coronado, California, who during the summer of 1971 begin a drug-smuggling business that turns into a booming, $100 million endeavour. The catch? They are all athletes who swim the drug packages across the border.

It's an intriguing story, and one that Katherine was familiar with as someone who grew up in Coronado.

"Growing up [in] the small beach town and graduating from the same high school gave the narrative an insider’s perspective," she said.

Although she originally planned to fictionalize the tale of the Coronado Company, Katherine ended up writing it as a nonfiction book after Simon True approached her with the idea.

In speaking about the experience of writing the book, Katherine acknowledged that there was something freeing in writing about criminals (with the caveat that they were non-violent ones).

"It was rewarding to transcend that judgment, to find other ways to connect with their experiences," she said. "Because we are all human beings with needs, desires, strengths, and flaws that influence our choices. Who among us has not made a mistake with potentially serious consequences?"

DEEP WATER can be purchased on Amazon and more information about the book can be found on Facebook. Feel free to check out Katherine's website or follower her on Twitter to stay up to date with her writing.

Doing important work and being adorable: a profile of Sandhya Menon

When Sandhya Menon moved to America at age 15, she imagined the transition would be easy. She had, after all, spent her childhood bouncing between her home country of India and various other Middle Eastern countries. "Boy, was I wrong!" she said. "It was a huge culture shock...I had a hard time understanding American turns of phrase, especially while I was in high school. But once I acclimated, I really began to love being part of the diaspora here in the US."

I've been a fan of Sandhya's since her upcoming debut, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, first crossed my Twitter feed last fall. The book, which I've had the pleasure of reading, is an adorable story about first love, pursuing your passions, and what happens when generations get their signals crossed. It's cute; it's funny; and it showcases character growth through pretty much every single person in the pages. It's a great work of young adult literature, and I highly encourage everyone to go, NOW, and pre-order it.

(I'll wait.)

(In the meantime, look at the beautiful cover!)

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Did you buy it? Good. Now let's talk some more about Sandhya.

In true adorable-human fashion, she cited as her greatest accomplishment her family before her work (although both made the cut).

"My very happy fifteen-year marriage, the fact that I have two healthy, happy kids, and my books all come to mind!" she said.

As for the hardest thing about writing, "I never wish I could quit," she answered. "That probably sounds so saccharine and idiotic, but it's true! I love this gig and the freedom/honor/privilege of making stories for others to read."

She did acquiesce that there is one technical aspect that's difficult: the first revision she has to work on after a draft is completed, the one she has to do on her own before the book is ready to be seen by anyone else.

"It always feels slightly overwhelming," she said. But she loves "losing myself in the universe of the characters." She quoted Stephen King and added, "I love that feeling of having to remind myself that I belong in this world rather than the one I was just romping around in!"

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During the childhood years she spent in India, Sandhya said she remembers "throwing rocks up at mangoes so we could eat them once they fell!" She lived in Mumbai, also known as Bombay, where her neighborhood was full of trees and parks.

And once she learned the art of writing as a kindergarten student, well, she was hooked.

"I began to write stories and poems," she said. "It's all I ever knew!"

Although she doesn't remember a particular "first story" that spurred her writing, she does remember one incident of taking a real-life event and fictionalizing it.

"The possibility that life itself was full of stories totally fired me up," she said, "and led to a lot more stories."

One such story is that of Dimple and Rishi. It's a young adult contemporary novel about two Indian-American teenagers whose parents want to arrange their marriage. Rishi, traditional and family-oriented, is all about it. He wants to please his parents. Dimple, passionate about coding and fiercely independent, is less enthused. When they meet at a summer coding camp, well...let's just say things don't go over as well as Rishi would have dreamed.

But WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a romance. That's all I'll say about what happens next, other than...guys, this book is so good. It's one you want on your shelves, believe me. Not only is it physically beautiful, it's full of heart, laughter, fun...and some uncomfortable scenes.

"Something that I struggled with was acknowledging casual racism in the story," Sandhya said. There's one scene where the two protagonists are at a restaurant and are faced with some really terrible, tone-deaf, racist comments. "Once I wrote [that] scene...I sent my editor an email asking if she thought some people would have a hard time buying it. All of those comments are things I have personally experienced, but to someone who isn't a child of immigrant parents or living in the diaspora, they might seem completely overblown."

Fortunately, Sandhya's editor, also the child of immigrants, encouraged her to leave the scene as-is. "Since then," she said, "I've gotten quite a few messages about that scene resonating with readers...so I'm glad she did!"

I asked Sandhya if she thinks her work is groundbreaking. If you tap, for just a few minutes, into the discussions online about the YA book community, you'll find a ton of talk about diversity and representation in literature, and how hard it can be for people of color (or any other marginalization) to get their work published.

And here is Sandhya, Indian, immigrant, writing a book about two brown children of immigrants that's getting a ton of buzz and is being published by Simon & Schuster, one of the "Big 5." She's doing huge things. So I wanted to know if she recognizes the huge things she's doing.

First off, she clarified that this book isn't just "hers." It's her story, yes, the one she wrote, but she credits the Simon & Schuster team as well as her agent and beta readers, as well.

"I think of "my work"...as groundbreaking in that it's a book about two brown teens just living their best lives, falling in love, chasing their dreams, and having a happy ending," she said. "The media is full of the "bad" or "brave" brown/black/gay/disabled/trans person narrative, and I feel like there are so many other stories we have to tell.

"We are not just villains or tragic characters," she added. "We have just as much depth and breadth as anyone else."

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To me, that's a powerful, important sentiment. Sandhya is such a sweet, fun person, and it was a pleasure to get to know her a little bit through this piece. If you're not satisfied and want to hear more from her, follow her on Twitter or Instagram (which is full of cute pictures of her puppy!) and sign up for her newsletter.

And if you want more of her talking, check out her episode of the podcast 88 Cups of Tea, an incredible writing podcast she was featured on recently.

 

Writing hope: Beth Revis — GIVEAWAY INCLUDED

Last fall, a book about mental illness made me realize I — even I — held stigmas against mentally ill people. That book was A World Without You, by Beth Revis, and her unflinching and real portrayal of a boy with delusions that had far-reaching consequences captivated me. I still think about it sometimes, the way that book snagged my heart and made me feel all the feels. Beth is also the author of the fantasy series Across the Universewhich involves space travel and being woken up out of time and all sorts of fun stuff like that. She's an accomplished writer, and you'll definitely want to look out for her next book — Rebel Risingaka a young adult novel about Jyn Erso, the star of Rogue One — which comes out May 2 and is for sure on the top of my TBR list.

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She grew up in rural North Carolina, daughter to a New Jersey Yankee who tried to keep the Southern accent away...but Beth says, "I still pronounce my 'i's long and cannot say 'can't' correctly." Nature vs. nurture, I guess.

As a kid, Beth was more Hermione Granger than anything else — she recalls taking money from her savings pile to buy books and hiding under the bed in order to fit in more reading time.

Her long, long hair is a tribute to Princess Leia because Beth has always been a Star Wars fangirl, so the fact that she's writing and publishing a YA novel that's part of the franchise's canon is huge. She said, "Every moment of working on that book was surreal and amazing."

And why is she drawn to young adult as a genre? you may ask.

"YA has everything," she answers. "You have books about space beside books about Queen Victoria. Tragedy beside comedy, and many with both tragedy and comedy. It's infinite possibilities."

She adds that the most important thing to show in these novels for younger readers is reality; "Even in books with magic or spaceships," she says. "There's a heart that's real."

And one aspect of reality is that there is darkness. Beth referenced the famous G.K. Chesterton quote about fairy tales existing not to teach children that dragons are real, but to show them they can be vanquished, and added, "The books aren't about darkness. They're about the light in the darkness. They're about hope."

Hope in books is important because "it reminds us that there is still hope in real life."

She adds that recommendations for these sorts of hopeful books vary depending on who's doing the reading and in what situation they're looking for hope.

"The Handmaid's Tale, for example, is not that hopeful of a book," she said, "but if you happen to be a society where--and this is a totally random example--but if you're in a society where a fascist, ill-informed, orange-toned misogynist is in control of your dwindling democracy, reading Margaret Atwood's book and thinking of the phrase 'Illegitimi non carborundum' may be just the hope you need to keep fighting." [I love it when authors are politically aware and funny, in addition to being great writers, you know?]

Beth's books chronicle hope; A World Without You, for example, gives hope that reality can be OK, even if it's not as great as the fantasy.

AWWY-2An interesting factoid about that book is that it wasn't originally meant to be a contemporary novel; Beth said she began writing it as a straight-up time-travel story.

"It wasn't until I'd almost finished that the reality started leaking through the pages--not unlike in my own main character's life," she said. "[That] reality was more along the lines of my real life peeking into the story, not the other way around. When I described the emotions, for example, that Phoebe has, they were the same emotions that I had when I was her age."

And the hardest thing about writing?

A World Without You, Beth says.

"All of it. It was simultaneously a complicated work involving time travel and mental illness, but also a personal work that drained me emotionally as its inspiration was rooted in my own past and my brother's struggle with mental illness."

Personally, I'm grateful to Beth for doing the hard work of writing this book; it taught me a lot. It's one you should definitely read if you can.

And make sure to follow Beth. Rebel Rising is bound not to be the last exciting work she produces, and you'll want to see what comes out next. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook, check out her website and sign up for her newsletter to stay up to date on everything!

AND, if you'd like the chance to win a SIGNED hardcover of "A World Without You," aka the book that moved me and stung my conscience, enter the giveaway below (just follow the link)! Trust me — you want this book! (US only, though).

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Kendare Blake, story channeler extraordinaire

Kendare Blake, author of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD and THREE DARK CROWNS, among other titles, told me the most rewarding thing about writing is just that: writing. Literally, physically writing and feeling a story flow through you. Of course, she also said the hardest part of writing is the middle of the first draft, when it feels like you're lost in a writing sea, so perhaps it's safe to say the relationship of writer to writing is more love-hate than love-love.

"In the middle of a first draft you'll find me bereft on the floor, with a plate of pasta on my belly and my head resting atop a pizza box," Kendare said. "I'm tired by then, and the end's nowhere in sight."

So why does she persist through the first-draft doldrums?

"I find the act of writing to be supremely rewarding," she explained. "That story channeling through you, and it doesn't feel like creating, or making it up so much as finding it. Discovering it. It's the biggest rush, when it's going well."

She added to this idea of writing as discovery, saying one of her greatest writerly challenges is "serving the story rather than my perceived expectations of the story. I try not to get in the book's way, for the most part."

According to her childhood friend Susan Murray, Kendare has been a talented writer since middle and high school.

"In school, everyone in our grade appreciated being in her English or speech class because the girl knew how to write like none of us did," Susan said. "It seemed effortless...her work stood out to us all."

Susan, whom Kendare called her "resident serial killer expert," added that Kendare's writing stands out to readers at large because of her unique ability to engage the audience.

"Whenever I go to events where she is one of the many authors, when it is all over, the audience is talking about her," Susan said. "She is/was memorable. Even if she doesn’t mention her books themselves...when she is done, we all want to read her books because she engaged us and we want to continue to be engaged by her."

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Kendare was born in South Korea and adopted by American parents who raised her on a hobby farm in central Minnesota.

"Two dogs, many cats, three misbehaving horses," she described. "I shoveled a lot of doody, is what I'm saying."

In addition to farm chores, Kendare spent a lot of time reading, or being read to by her mother. The public library was a very important resource for the family, offering free books, and Kendare learned to read when she was still four. She said she imagines that her love of writing came as a direct result of her reading.

"Developing early reading confidence is key," she said. "And if you read enough, maybe it stimulates that writing part of the creative process. I just know I always had stories."

She said she writes because she has to, in a way. Not simply because it's how she gets paid, but because it's a soul-necessity.

"If I go too long without working I get very irritable," she said. "And the things I write won't let me rest until I get them down on paper."

Books are a sort of magic, to Kendare, and reading them leads to writing them.

"I don't remember a time without them, or anything else at that age that gave me the same safe feeling of wonder," she said. "They were and are a thing of comfort so why wouldn't I want to surround myself in them? Make my life in them?"

So as much as she believes in writing, Kendare also believes in reading.

"Reading helps everybody," she said. "Read when you're young and read for the rest of your life and your soul will be so much more colorful when it's over. I never want to sound like I look down on people who don't read. I just sincerely believe their lives would be more interesting if they did. And it's never too late to start."

She gave a few suggestions on good books to read if you're not a huge reader; for instance, she named "Jane Eyre" as the most accessible of the classics, or suggested that someone who loves horses read something to speak to that love.

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"I also suggest reading a book that makes you feel smart," she added. "Philosophy, maybe. Or something historical. For those first reads it might be less about the book than about how the act of reading makes you feel. And feeling smart is a pretty good feeling."

Speaking of smart — according to Dylan Zoerb, Kendare's husband, she herself is smart as can be. When asked what makes her stand out among others, that was one thing he emphasized.

"Everyone always asks me how I married someone so smart," Dylan said. "I'd like to argue, but it's a valid question. She seems to know a lot about a lot, and what she doesn't know she learns."

Dylan added that her writing stands out because "she does great work making her characters have their own voices and sense of humor. Her books can be dark and full of horror, and then she'll drop in a joke."

Kendare is releasing ONE DARK THRONE, the sequel to THREE DARK CROWNS, later this year. (This is the part in the profile where I say, "GO BUY THE BOOK" because it's so good and so worth it and you can do that here or also here.) She said one of her favorite things about the writing process for this series was simply inhabiting the world of Fennbirn, one she created from scratch.

"I like learning about it as I go," she said. "For instance, I just mocked up a timeline of queens for the last thousand years, and it revealed so many interesting historical tidbits...Construction on the Volroy castle fortress was completed during [The Mad Oracle Queen's] reign so they could lock her inside it for her last ten years. I never knew that."

Spoken like a true channeler of stories, one who is discovering all the intricacies as she works. It's the best way to write.

If you'd like to follow Kendare on her writing journey (which you should), you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter or even her website. And "like" the Facebook page for the THREE DARK CROWNS series for all sorts of fun updates.

 

 

 

COVER REVEAL: "Dream Eater" by K. Bird Lincoln

We all know the werewolves and the vampires and all the fairy tale-fantasy of the Western world; those of us who are fans of Teen Wolf or writers like Kii Johnson know the kitsune; few, if any, of us are familiar with lesser-known Eastern myths, like the Japanese myth of the dream-eating baku. That's why K. Bird Lincoln, whose life has been greatly impacted by Japanese language, food and culture thanks in part to her Japanese studies major, Japanese husband and six years living there, decided to tackle these under-the-radar mythical beings in her new book, Dream Eater.

And that's why I, today, have the pleasure of hosting my second World Weaver Press cover reveal!

Dream Eater is the beginning of a new urban fantasy series by Lincoln, one where a half-Japanese girl in Portland discovers her own mythical parentage.

Sound intriguing? I thought so, too! The book releases on April 4, 2017 and paperbacks can be pre-ordered here.

You ready for the cover? *Drumroll please...*

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Cool, right? I'm stoked to read this book.

Now, I also had the opportunity to ask Lincoln a few questions about herself and the book, which was super exciting. She told me that writing this book was the first time she got to experience the non-glamorous side of writing — the endless revising which sometimes borders on nitpicking. But it also gave her the opportunity to research a lot of cool things, from the mythology of Armenia to Japanese mythology.

Like I said, Lincoln married a Japanese man and actually lived in the country for six and a half years, so it's a place and a culture she truly loves. She went ahead and recommended a great historical fantasy if you're also interested in Japan: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoetby David Mitchell, which is "impeccably researched" and about a fascinating time in Japanese history.

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Lincoln grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where she learned Spanish and spent ample time in libraries, owing to her dad's job as a community college librarian.

"I remember sitting behind the reference desk and 'helping' by stamping students’ books at check out and getting lost in between rows of bookshelves," she said. "Kind of your average, dream-writer childhood."

In addition, she is the mother of two "creative, artsy, nerdy teenagers," she said.

As for writing, well, she's been doing that forever. Like many writers, she remembers the first story she wrote — it's about a pony named Brownie in a magical forest. She said it's "totally derivative and clichéd," but what else does a second grader know other than cliches?

"There was never a time that I did not write," Lincoln said. "I more or less have stories or songs running in my mind all the time. It just was natural to try to put them on paper."

Lincoln's good friend, Sarah Lichty, who confessed to being bored easily while reading, said Lincoln, "strikes the right balance of developing full characters with thoughtful insight into their perceptions and motivations, while at the same time keeping my attention with exciting and well developed action sequences."

As a person, Lincoln is thoughtful and attentive to others, Lichty said. "She is genuinely accepting and interested in the very real and diverse stories that surround her in daily life. Her particular fondness for the ridiculous can put anyone at ease," she added.

Lincoln is also the author of another Japanese fantasy series, a gender-bending duology called Tiger LilyShe encourages everyone to drink lavender lattes, and hints that you can get a free short story if you get her newsletter, which you can sign up for here. Be sure to also follow her on Facebook and don't forget to get Dream Eater on or before April 4, 2017!

COVER REVEAL: "Solomon's Bell" by Michelle Lowery Combs, lover of YA

If you've ever wanted to read a book about a strong teenage girl with magical powers who fights off her enemies using her own wits and abilities, well...you need to read Michelle Lowery Combs' Genie Chronicles! Hello, hello, and welcome to Living Life the Write Way's very first COVER REVEAL for World Weaver Press! Today, I'm revealing the cover for Solomon's Bell, the second installment in Michelle's young adult fantasy series, the Genie Chronicles.

According to WWP's website, "Ginn thinks she has problems at home until she magically lands herself in 16th Century Prague."

A bit of backstory: Ginn is a regular teenager until she discovers she's actually a genie. Solomon's Bell picks up where the first book, Heir to the Lamp, left off, and takes Ginn all the way to Prague in the 16th century.

Below, you'll find the cover, revealed today for the first time (and I'm lucky enough to be a blog participating in the reveal!) as well as a profile on Michelle, who, through her responses to my questions, has inspired and amused me greatly. I hope I someday get to meet this woman in person!

Are you ready to see the cover?

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Michelle grew up in a series of small towns in central Alabama, bouncing about after her parents' divorce from each other and subsequent splits from various other partners. One such home was close to a public library, and the family's financial situation made it such that buying books was impractical, so they walked to the library to borrow them.

"My mother read aloud to my sister and me: The Boxcar Children, The House at Pooh Corner, a children’s illustrated Bible. We loved each of the stories, and experiencing them made me an avid reader," Michelle said.

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As happens so often with writers, the love of reading and stories bled easily into a love of writing and telling stories. Michelle's first experience was with writing fanfiction of Jim Henson's Muppet story, Pigs in Space.

"I was intrigued by the idea of characters that I loved so much in an unexpected setting. If Miss Piggy could be a space traveler, anything seemed possible," Michelle said. "I wrote about it at length—phonetically, I should add, because I used words I had no idea how to spell as a second grader."

For a few years in middle school, she graduated to writing and reading publicly, but says those experiences were awkward and uncomfortable. "Teenage me then retreated from writing for any kind of notoriety," she said. "I was more awkward than talented, and I knew it."

So it wasn't until 2012, when she was trying to place her first novel, that Michelle again entered the world of writing for the public. She won a national contest (!!), First Place for Best First Chapter of a Novel, had the piece published in a literary magazine, and that helped lead to the publication of the Genie Chronicles.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThe second book in the series, Solomon's Bell, is the result of research Michelle completed for the first one, Heir to the Lamp.

She hit on the idea of genies because she was exploring the concept of otherness through the supernatural, and, finding an under-representation of genies in YA literature, created Ginn, a teenage genie.

A rabbit hole of research stemming from grimoires (ancient books of magic) and meandering through the Italian Renaissance and King Solomon's ancient temple led her, eventually, to a synagogue in Prague.

"I decided, pretty early on while writing Heir to the Lamp, that my second book would introduce a new, more ancient and possibly more dangerous adversary for Ginn..." Michelle said, "and that this adversary would take them on an adventure to 16th Century Prague."

In her pursuit of setting a novel in Prague, Michelle had to again embark on that quest that can set a writer to pulling out their hair: research. However, she now has a wealth of knowledge about the capital of the Czech Republic.

"I can tell you the kinds of trees that grew in Prague’s public spaces in the 16th century: poplars;" she said. "The number of steps leading up to Prague Castle: 247; and just about anything you’d ever care to know about the Orloj, Prague’s astronomical clock tower."

She described the process of writing Solomon's Bell as very fun, and the thing she loves the most about her book is her main character's perseverance.

"She isn’t a damsel in distress by any means, and while she is smart enough to utilize the talents of the young men (and djinni) in her life, it’s ultimately her that works through solving her own predicaments," Michelle said.

Michelle's aunt (and a youth librarian), Gwen Rollins, says that Solomon's Bell will appeal to readers of all ages, and attributes this to Michelle's skill as a writer as well as the intriguing nature of the story itself.

In addition, she said, "The characters are lively, well-developed personalities who, while colorful, are unquestionably believable. Young readers are bound to find the characters relatable since they are, for the most part, ordinary kids in anything-but-ordinary circumstances."

Mary Furlow, a friend of Michelle's through a local writing group in Alabama, said, "[Michelle] blends her easygoing humor with a heartfelt style that is very appealing to readers. I think people can easily identify with her."

Gwen, who says she has known Michelle "since her red-faced, clinch-fisted, and very vocal debut onto life’s stage," added that her niece is a special person as well as a talented writer. "She has the ability to spark excitement in others no matter the topic, and brings an energy to bear that is irresistible."

Michelle described her childhood as one of upheaval — her parents divorced and remarried a combined total of nine times, which, incidentally, is the number of schools she attended before reaching seventh grade.

Nonetheless, despite commotion in her early life, Michelle has overcome obstacles in pursuit of writing and storytelling.

She landed upon YA as a genre because she ran out of books for young readers at her local library and wanted to add to the list of books available for youth. She had an 11-year-old daughter at the time, one who put much emphasis on her approaching 13th birthday as a day when things would magically change, and that is why Ginn, protagonist of the Genie Chronicles, is 13 when her life changes.

Turns out, I could have wished for the moon for my birthday and it would have fallen from the sky into my back yard. Oblivious to my awesome moon-falling-from-the-sky potential...

— Excerpt from Heir to the Lamp, by Michelle Lowery Combs, published by World Weaver Press

And because writing a book can change a life, I had to ask Michelle how the Genie Chronicles have positively affected her life. She cited the embrace of sci-fi/fantasy communities in the South, and the renewal of her own fan-girl persona, as positive changes.

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"I’ve had the distinct privilege of meeting some of the most friendly and inclusive people in the whole world at some truly fantastic [conventions]," she said. "I’ve begun to entertain the notion of participating as a cosplayer at some events in 2017. I think I’d make a convincing Professor Sprout from Harry Potter, if I do say so myself."

Michelle's writing can be found on her blog, Through the Wormhole: Confessions of a Book Worm, where you can find stories about her life with five children ranging in age from 21 to nine, as well as the writing process and what books she's loving. Follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook for more updates.

Solomon's Bell releases March 7, 2017, which means you've got just enough time to order Heir to the Lamp and read it before it comes out!