“Riley, do you have any friends that are girls?” asked Nana. Riley dreaded that question. She didn’t know how to go about making new friends. Spring in central Idaho mean birthing season on a cattle ranch and with Grandpa sick and Delly pregnant, Riley is up to her knees in mud, blood and babies. To top it off, the new friend Riley has chosen isn’t making life any easier.
Fifteen-year-old Mayten loves training as a tree singer, an esteemed position among her clan. But when she feels pain coming from the trees, she finds herself on an unexpected quest, one so dangerous she might never return home. Now Mayten must use her unfinished training to face betrayal, fear, and a deadly foe. Is she a match for the ancient evil attacking her trees or will the entire kingdom fall to ruin?
I wrote two songs in Tree Singer and when the amazing, Barbara Bond did the audio version she put a tune to them and sang them. I just about bawled my eyes out listening. They are beautifully done. You really should listen to the Audio. As I was listening I said to myself, "This is great, who wrote this? Oh, that's right, I did!" Now that's a good feeling for an author.
In every quest book, there is a time when the main character gets called to go. Often they are reluctant to do so. In Mayten's case, very reluctant. But, she loves her trees and wants to help them. She also wants to prove herself to her mother. These are the internal and external motivations that drive her through the rest of the journey.
I had fun creating a religious framework for Tree Singer. It's not a detailed one, but I enjoyed giving them some "greater power" to thank. We all need a way to show our gratitude and comfort our losses.
Ann is facing her share of challenges at a new high school. The beautiful Imani wants to be her friend, but Ann has tried to be friends with black girls before and knows it won’t work out. When a handsome bully takes an instant dislike to Ann, she gets help from an unexpected source--a friend with secrets of his own. Join Ann on a journey of self-discovery in this alternative history where everything is turned upside down and Ann must decide if she is ready to take a stand against injustice.
What does it mean to try and change racial prejudice? A friend once told me it meant to "stay in the ring." People of color can't leave the fight, white people can. It is tempting for us to jump in and out of the fight at our convenience. If we truly believe in racial equality, we need to be willing to stay in the fight and find ways to advocate for/with our friends.
I enjoyed attending a couple of Quaker meetings a few years ago. During the first meeting, one person spoke. During the second meeting, no one spoke and we sat in silence for the full hour. I appreciate the Quaker commitment to activism and non-violence. I enjoy their desire to sit in silence together and expect that God will speak to them.
Microagressions are small aggressions that people of color face every day. It might be a limited amount of beauty products to chose from or a "flesh" colored band-aid that doesn't match their skin tone. It could be people locking the car door as they walk by. These are rather unconscious things that we white people take for granted or don't notice, but they are things that make people of color feel "other." My friends tell me it is very tiring to live with microagressions.
Have you ever had a day that started bad and got worse? Jillie's day starts when the ship she’s traveling on sinks in shark infested waters. With her parents missing, she’s left solely responsible for her spoiled little sister, Ruby. When a strange boy named Omar pulls them from the water, Jillie is at once grateful and suspicious. Join the adventure as Jillie and Ruby navigate a mysterious island where they must battle wild animals, crazy weather and creepy people, while searching for the girls’ parents. When no one is who they say, and nothing is as it seems, family is all you can trust.
So, sometimes I don't know where my ideas come from but this one was a direct steal from my three year old grand daughter for whom the main character of the book is named. We were driving and from her car seat I hear her singing. I asked what she was singing. She said she was singing a song to help the baby dolphin find his mother for he was lost. I asked, "Where did you get the song?" she said, "From my elbow." "You have a song in in your elbow?" I asked. "Yes, and one in my arm and one in my knee...and then she went on to name other body parts that did not make it into the book! But, the idea was too wonderful not to use.
Most books written these days start with an "inciting incident." It is the plot device that drives the story forward. Not all books start with it like this, in the first paragraph, but some do. The point is to hook the reader and keep them interested in what will happen next. When I was asked to write for Epifiction, my editor told me the story needed to be "melodramatic." None of my books so far have been like that so I wasn't sure where to begin. I decided to throw two sisters into a shark infested ocean and see what happened. It turned out to be a fun and wild ride.
This was a wonderful adventure. I wrote the first three chapters and then gave the students three options. They voted in real time and I wrote the next section. This went on for seven weeks and the students NEVER chose the way I would have picked. It was a challenge but I really enjoyed it. You can read more about it at: http://epifiction.com/
Four students - thrown together in a high school summer class. Tyrell tells of a dream he's been having, a girl needs help. Sam realizes she's getting the same information, from her own sketches! Where is this information coming from? What is the Blue Group to do about it? Ty, Tiff, Sammy and Lando navigate the complicated world of high school friendship and romance! The suspense builds as the clues unfold. Will they solve the mystery in time to help the girl caught in The Cage? Join us for this action packed, young adult mystery.
Burning Man is an "Arts and Self- Expression" event in the Nevada at the end of August. Burning Man had found it's way into two of my books, The Cage and Bending Willow. I have not personally been to Burning Man although both of my kids are burners and both got married at Burning Man. I picked their brains about the event and had a third friend read read for accuracy. It fascinates me. I'm sure there are parts that I would like about it and parts that I would not like at all. For now, I'm content just to imagine it.
I love to try to understand what it is like to be from other ethnic groups. In The Cage, there are four groups represented: African American, Korean American, Salvadorian American and Caucasian American. In order to write ethnicities that were not mine, I interviewed a lot of friends from each ethnic group. I'm sure I still messed up, but I did the best I could to represent them accurately and it really helped when they would give me feedback like, "The grandma would not say that," or "The family would not eat that." I love differences and think they are what makes life rich and meaningful.
I've never tried writing poetry before in a book. It was fun to try. This poem is rather dark but the image of the birdcage set the tone for the book. We all live in cages of our own or others making and we all need to learn what it means to be free.
Tyrell and Tiffany are back in the last book of The Birthright Series. Ty and Tiff want to be together, but between her parents and his ex-girlfriend, Sheila, who still has her eye on Ty, their relationship seems doomed from the start. And now Ty is having disturbing dreams like the ones that led him and his Blue Group friends to the rescue of Dawna. Plus, Tiff's new friend, Lorna, just might be crazy. Join Ty, Tiff, and their friends as they try to decipher clues to this action packed, young adult mystery!
I write a lot about dreams in "The Birthright Series." I believe there are at least three kinds of dreams: The "You ate too much pizza dream." The "You're working out the problems in your life dream." And the "God dream." I think most dreams are the second kind, just working out things in our lives while we sleep. But, on rare occasion, I've had a God dream. It was something supernatural that I needed to really think about and understand. I've never had a dream like the kids in the book that gave me insider information, but I do believe it's possible.
I love learning about different ethnicities. For this book series I focused on African American, Korean American and Salvadorian American. It was fun to interview people from each background and get their input about my characters.
With Dawna's court date against the sex traffickers approaching, her younger sister, Emily, has a chip on her shoulder as high as Mt. Rose. When Dawna moved to Reno, she left Emily all alone to face the gossip of their small hometown. Suddenly Emily is thrust into a bigger problem when she finds Loyalton's most popular cheerleader on the floor of the school bathroom semi-conscious. There are forces driving her and some new friends to take crazy risks. What is it? Where does it come from? Is there any hope of true friendship between seniors and freshman? And what about the boy in the barn? Help us solve the mystery of this action packed, young adult adventure.
I love the idea that one can make friends with unlikely people. I think I explore that a lot in my books. In The Cage it's different ethnicities. In The Bar, it's people from different social groups. I think some of my most interesting friendships are with people I first thought I had nothing in common with.
At long last, Riley and Mia have reached the place they've been dreaming about: Riley’s father's ranch. After a warm welcome, the girls settle in, happy and relieved. Then things start to go horribly wrong. Ranch life is harsher than Riley expects, she never gets to spend time with her father, and their new grandmother doesn't seem to like them. Then a mystery boy appears to haunt her dreams and Riley starts to wonder if this new family is really going to work out. After all, they still don’t know if the courts are going to allow Mia to be adopted by Riley's new family. What will happen if the courts say no? Come along as Riley and Mia struggle through more surprising twists and turns to discover if they have finally found their forever family!
Occasionally I write myself into a corner as I did in this scene. I have an abandoned newborn calf that Riley has to take care of. I know nothing about caring for a calf! Thank God for the internet. I Googled lots of sites on raising calves and watched several YouTube videos. Also, I have a cousin who is a rancher and I can also run my questions by her. In the fourth Riley book that I'm just finishing, I had to have four of my friends who grew up on ranches check my work because the whole book takes place on the ranch. I need to visit my cousin soon!
Every girl wants a father who thinks she's special...his beautiful princess... her first love. That is the quest for Riley.She longs for a father to call her own. We see a glimpse of that here.
From the Amazon best-selling author, Jacci Turner, comes the second book in the Finding Home Series. In "Bending Willow" we meet Riley and Mia who are orphaned and in search of a father who doesn't know they exist. They cross two states while avoiding the Amber Alert and find a family happy to receive them. But now… ...Riley and Mia suffer crushing disappointment when they learn they won't be able to go live with their father…yet. Staying at Nana's farm seems like a wonderful solution until they learn they have to go to school and Riley receives another heart-rending shock. Join Riley and Mia in their continued adventure as they face new challenges, make new friends, and get downright stretched!
Have you ever done something that didn't seem like a big deal at the time but had surprising consequences? It's as if the very act of standing up for yourself, or for someone else gives you courage to do it the next time, and the next. I've made some decisions to stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves and it has changed me for the better.
I love Emery! Everybody needs a best friend and especially if you're new, or shy, you need a friend like Emery. Emery didn't give Riley a chance to say no, she just adopted her as a friend and that was that. It was just what Riley needed!
When Riley finds her grandmother dead, she knows her world is about to collapse. Determined to find the father she knows only by an address, Riley and Mia take off on a journey with so many twists and turns Riley begins to doubt they'll ever find a real home. She ignores the question that keeps popping into her mind-if they do find her father, will he even want them? Or will he send them away? Join Riley and Mia on this middle grade, action packed adventure.
Have you ever noticed this? There is always at least one character who loves to read or loves to write in any YA book. Often in adult books too. I think the author's love of reading can't help but eek out into this character trait. It's such a high value for us. True confession: When I was young I didn't like to read. My best friend, Julia, introduced me to horse books and I was SOLD! Then I discovered the Box Car Mysteries and you couldn't stop me. So....share a book with a friend. You might start a life long love of reading.
I don't know why I'm so thrilled with this first line but I am. It sums up Riley's grandma's whole life and starts the girl's adventure off right away. I also love describing the girls home through images like "rasp of Grandma's portable oxygen tank," and "tink, tink, tink as she stirred her instant coffee," and "hacking cough." The setting is so bleak it makes you want the girls to get out as soon as possible. Which they do.
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I use the analogy of rock tumbling to talk about how life can tumble us. We can become smooth, beautiful stones or we can allow it to make us bitter, angry people. The choice is ours.
Hitting a wall is when something happens that is so hard, you begin to question everything you know about God. This happened for me when I came out as a LGBTQIA ally and was asked to leave my Christian Organization. Hitting a wall through divorce, death of a loved one, getting sick, coming out as gay, or whatever it is, can push you out into a new stage of spiritual growth. But, it usually hurts first.
If the goal of spiritual growth is unity with God and others, then how do we know if we are moving in that direction? Look for these kinds of moments. Times when you were able to look past a person's differences and connect with their humanity.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? It's a fun spiritual practice and you'd be surprised where you find them. Try googling "Labyrinths near me." There are a lot of ways to walk on, but here is what I usually do.
I love this image. We are all in the rock tumbler of life and we can either become bitter and angry because of the difficult things that come our way, or we can let them smooth us and turn us into beautiful tumbled stones. The world is full of sharp edged people, we need more soft, beautiful people!
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