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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Middle Grade Love Story...About a Girl and her Dog

Remember Middle School? Bullies. Friendship. Crushes. Trying to fit in.
Imagine going through all that with epilepsy.
Today's spotlight is on Katy Newton Naas and her new Middle Grade novel,

Back Cover Blurb:
When Kinsey Lydell enters seventh grade, the only thing she wants is to fit in. But being like everyone else isn’t easy when you have epilepsy. Especially when that means a dog has to follow you around everywhere you go. 

Drake, Kinsey’s assistance dog, has been her best friend since the day she met him. They have a special connection – he can sense her seizures before they occur. The other students have always loved having Drake in the classroom, making Kinsey feel special, not strange. But just a short time in a new middle school changes all of that. 

Kinsey can’t help but admire Taylor Thompson. The boys like her and the girls want to be like her. But from the first day of school, it’s clear that Taylor is determined to make Kin-sey feel like an outsider. Suddenly, her best friend – the one who lives his whole life just to protect her – becomes her source of humiliation.

            It happens so fast, I don’t have time to be scared. A strange smell, sort of metallic, fills my nostrils. My vision gets blurry, just slightly, and I feel like I’m a million miles away. If I’m in the middle of a conversation, the person talking suddenly sounds like they’re speaking a different language. I feel a cold wind blowing against my skin, but I start to sweat. My head feels light and the next thing I know, I’m waking up on the ground and it’s over. I have no memory of the episode itself, but every muscle in my body aches. It makes Mrs. Henshaw’s famous physical fitness test in PE class seem like a relaxing stroll on the beach. I am so sore that for days, my body struggles to recover from the two--minute workout of a lifetime.
            This is the best description of what it’s like to have a seizure that I can give. I get asked all the time, from curious classmates or family members, to tell them how it feels. But the truth is, as far as the seizure itself, I have absolutely no idea how to describe it. I
can’t remember them, any of them. Though I remember what it feels like just before, the symptoms hit me all at once, and before I can even warn the people around me, it takes over. And there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. I can’t even slow it down. It
takes control of me; it owns me.
            My name is Kinsey Lydell, and I have epilepsy. My seizures are called tonic-clonic, which is a fancy way of saying I have the really scary ones. No one knows why I have it. None of the usual explanations are there: I haven’t suffered any head trauma or brain injury, and I have no history of it in my family. When I was born, I was normal, and then one day, I wasn’t.
            It happened when I was only three years old. I don’t remember my first seizure, but I once heard my mom tell my doctor all the details. “We were just sitting on the floor. Kinsey was building a tower out of blocks, and then suddenly her eyes went
blank. I knew something was wrong, but before I could react she was lying in the floor. Her body convulsed and her eyes rolled back in her head. I rushed to the phone to dial nineoneone, but before they even answered the call, the seizure was over. She was crying hysterically, so confused…how do you explain to a threeyearold what just happened when you don’t understand it yourself?”
            When I heard my mom telling that story, she didn’t know I was listening. She was in our living room, sitting on the edge of the couch while my doctor sat facing her in the recliner. I hid behind the wall in the hallway that led to my bedroom, which was where
they thought I was. Watching my mom’s big blue eyes fill with tears as she relived that moment, her blonde curls bouncing slightly as her shoulders shook, made me sorry I was ever even born. My mom, the funniest, most bubbly person I knew, was in pain. And it was all my fault.
            That first seizure was followed by another one, just two days later. And another one, shortly after that. I was labeled with epilepsy before my fourth birthday. Because I’m the only child in the family, my parents put all their time and energy into “fixing”
me. But the problem with epilepsy is, it’s unfixable. There is no cure. There are only ways to control it, to help keep the seizures to a minimum. And if it’s a treatment option, I’ve tried it. Vitamins, medications…I’ve been through them all. There is a really scary
and expensive surgery that I’m not old enough for just yet, and I’m hopeful that by the time I am old enough, I won’t need it. Not because I’m scared – I’m not, really. It’s because I don’t want my parents to have to pay for it. They have spent more money on me over the last nine years than most parents spend on a whole family of kids in a lifetime. I mean, they don’t tell me this, but they don’t have to. I see things; I overhear conversations. I know what I cost them.
            I’m telling you all of this and you’re probably thinking one of two things. One – Wow, poor Kinsey, or two – This girl is a basketcase. And let me assure you that both thoughts are wrong. I am not crazy, and I am definitely not looking for sympathy. My life is wonderful, and living with epilepsy doesn’t change that fact.
            So, let the record show that I am not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for me or anything like that – I’m telling it because I have a story that deserves to be told. I have been a part of the greatest love story that has ever existed, and a story like this just has to be shared. But don’t worry – this isn’t the mushy, kissy, loveydovey, gross kind of story you see in the movies. This is real; it’s pure and it’s strong. It brings a new meaning to the word unconditional.
            This is a love story about a girl and her dog.

Buy Link:

About the Author:
From the time she was old enough to talk, Katy Newton Naas has been creating characters and telling stories. As a child, they sometimes got her into trouble. She knew she wanted to write books when she won a Young Author's competition as a second-grader for her short story titled, "The Grape Pie." (Don't let its tasty title fool you - it was actually a sad little tale!)

Katy devoured books as a child and young adult, always doing chores and odd jobs in order to make enough money to buy more of them. Though she continues to age, her true literature love is and has always been children's and young adult fiction.

Katy currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children's church. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor's degree in English Education and a master's degree in Reading and Language Studies. She enjoys her life out in the country with her husband, her sweet and rowdy young SONS (her second son was born just June 22, 2015!), her nine baby ducks, and all her four-legged kids: Shakespeare, Poe, Morgi, Cappy, Ana, and Gray.

She loves creating both realistic and futuristic stories about kids, tweens, and teens, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.

Connect with Katy Newton Naas:Website:
Twitter: @KatyNewtonNaas

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Teen Angst and Romance From Author TC Booth

This week's spotlight shines on 
T.C. Booth and her new teen novel To Be Honest.
TC Booth tackles high school, cyber bullies, deformity, and romance.
 Welcome T.C!

I love this cover! Now for the story.
To Be Honest

Blurb: A freak accident left Starla Emerson with a deformed hand, low self-esteem, and a need to fade into the background. However, she finds it impossible to be invisible at her new high school where she is pushed front and center by a behind the scenes internet bully.
 She joins forces with newfound friends to launch a counter attack in order to expose the cyber bully, aka grizzlygirl2015. Part of the plan involves the school’s bad boy Chase McFall. Star feels more for this golden eyed boy than she should as the plan progresses. The plan backfires and lands Star in a mountain of trouble.

 Will she have the courage to be honest about her part in the plan and her true feelings for Chase? Or will she be left heartbroken?  Once the truth is out…there’s no turning back.

Excerpt 1
Inside the stall, I heard giggles and saw three pairs of feet under the door wearing designer boots. “She is so freaking weird.” I heard one of them say.

“I know, right? I heard she kissed that gross Shane Baker with blue lipstick on. I don’t care if it was a challenge, that’s nasty,” a second voice said.

“Who’s that girl she’s been hanging out with?” asked the third voice. I tensed.

“She’s a new girl,” the first voice said. “I hate to break the news to you, Haley. I think Chase likes her. Have you seen the way he looks at her?” My heart flip-flopped.

“Uh-uh. There’s no way,” Haley said. “Have you seen her hand? It’s disgusting.”

Tears sprang into my eyes. I squeezed my eyes shut and pushed them back. My heart thumped against my chest. My blood boiled, flowing hot and angry. I was ticked! I flung the stall door open. Three startled faces gaped at me. I stepped up to the sink and washed my hands, purposely shook the water off of them so my right hand was visible, and made eye contact with lemon-head, who I now knew was Haley.

The three girls watched me wide-eyed and silent. I strolled out of the bathroom with my head held high.

Excerpt 2
Still fueled from the anger coursing in my veins, I marched up to Maggie. “May I borrow your blue lipstick?”

Maggie creased her eyebrows. “Okay.” She reached in her purse and handed me a black tube. I twisted it until a blue waxy tip appeared. I smeared a thick coat of blue over my lips and puckered. I looked at Rayne. “You challenged me to do this, okay?”

Rayne glanced at Maggie. She shrugged. Jake arched an eyebrow.
“Ooo-kay,” Rayne said.

I spun on my heel. My heart thudded loud in my ears as I marched toward the group of skateboarders and BMX guys that stood in a circle. I scanned over the faces of the circle until I found my target. After I sucked in a breath, I pushed my way past the curious faces of the boys, until I was face to face with Chase. The group fell silent. Chase tilted his head and quirked his eyebrow. I took another deep breath then placed my hands on Chase’s broad shoulders, rose on my tiptoes, and placed a blue kiss on his cheek. The boys erupted with laughter and whistles.

“Tell your girlfriend where that came from.” I tapped the blue mark left on his cheek. The shock on his face left, replaced with a half-twisted smile. That infuriating grin of his was back. I shouldered my way through the boys. Heads turned, tracking my movements. My friends gawked at me like I’d grown three heads. I slipped onto the seat at the table so my back was to Chase.

“Whoa, Emerson. You just rocked the challenge above all challenges, even though you didn’t really get challenged,” Rayne said. “That didn’t make any sense, did it?” He lifted one dark eyebrow.

Jake shook his head, still wide-eyed. “Not at all.”

Author Bio: TC Booth was born and raised in a small town in Northeast Ohio where she currently teaches. She lives with her husband and four children ranging in ages from 13-23. Her pets include one dog named Sammy, and two cats- Sheldon and Sasha.

   TC Booth views books as the best form of entertainment and her escape for life’s stresses. She prefers reading a book over watching a movie, and writing over almost any other way to spend her time.

 When not attending her children’s sporting events and running them around, you’ll see her writing on her laptop, iPad, and even jotting ideas down on her phone apps.
 She enjoys the escape from the adult universe into the adolescent world. The passion in which young people experience life is contagious and the driving force of her writing.

Author Social Media Links:


Too Be Honest Playlist

Steal My Girl by One Direction
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
Heroes by Alesso and Tove Lo
Fight Song by Rachel Platten

Also By TC Booth

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jessica Freeburg's Debut Young Adult Novel: Living in Shadows

Debut author Jessica Freeburg is in the spotlight today with her paranormal Young Adult novel, LIVING IN SHADOWS.

As a shaman, I encounter some pretty spooky situations and entities. Jessica delves into ghosts and the dark side with LIVING IN SHADOWS, so of course, I had questions.

          This is your first novel. Where did you come up with the concept? 

Writing LIVING IN SHADOWS was really an exploration of my own thoughts on life after death and why some people seem to have more paranormal experiences than others. I based Vivian’s ability to see spirits on the Biblical concept of “gifts of the spirit” and specifically the gift of discernment – meaning someone processes the ability to not only see spirits, but also to know if those spirits are good or evil. It’s funny that I wrote Vivian’s character with that principal in mind, but my friends who are not religious loved the story because it was super-creepy. That piece of my faith was in my mind as I wrote it, but there’s no mention of it in the novel. I’m proud that it can appeal to someone who shares my faith, as well as those who don’t. My goal was really just to tell a story that would send a shiver up people’s spines – maybe make them a little jumpy when they hear a noise they’re not sure about.

                               Has being an author always been your career goal? I know we were both                influenced by our sixth grade English teachers. 

I’ve always loved writing. In six grade, my English teacher selected me as a student to attend a special workshop for kids who showed promise as writers. I was so excited. Unfortunately, we had terrible weather that day, and we spent most of the afternoon on our knees in the boy’s bathroom while the tornado sirens blared.

Writing has always been the way I express myself. I wrote poetry and songs during my teen and college years. Mostly songs about heartbreak and why boys sucked. And I started several novels over the years, but never got past the third chapter on any of them. I figured I would be a teacher, which I loved. But then I started having babies and realized, I wanted to be home with them. That’s when I let myself think about writing again. When my oldest child was two, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and that was really when I decided, I would publish a book or die trying.

                  Where do you see yourself as an author in five years?
The last two years have been incredible for me professionally. I joined the editorial staff at FATE Magazine and officially became part of the team at Darkness Radio. So I hope I’m still doing those two things five years from now because they’re fun, but also so inspirational to my writing. I will have my next book released in the fall of 2016 from Capstone, and I have two more books planned for THE SHADOWS SERIES. There are some super-cool negotiations going on with another book I’ve completed that I’m so excited about, but probably can’t spill the beans on yet. So in five years, I’m hoping to have that many books under my belt.  I also plan to keep working with my Ghost Stories, Inc. group. It’s hard to say where that will take us in five years, but for sure it’ll take us to some cool, creepy, historic locations where we’ll get inspired.

What is Ghost Stories, Inc., and how does it work into your career as an author? 

I think Ghost Stories, Inc. may be unofficially the weirdest children’s writers and illustrators group ever created. We go to historic and often reportedly haunted locations to become creatively inspired. Sometimes that involves a paranormal investigation, and sometimes it’s just being in a space with a rich history that inspires us.

As a group, we’ve been to a variety of places, including locations in California associated with the Charles Manson murder spree. One of my favorite group outings was our hike through the wilderness to find Spahn Ranch. It’s not marked, and the buildings have since burned down, so it was a struggle to find it, but once we did, it was very emotional. Just being in the place where Charles Manson sent his followers out and instructed them to “do something witchy,” caused our giggly group of explorers to become silent. Our mood just shifted. It was incredibly surreal. We also performed an investigation at the home of David Oman, which is located near the entrance of the estate where Sharon Tate and her friends were murdered by the Manson Family. His home has been featured on a variety of “ghost” shows on T.V. Walking up the road leading to the house in the dark, we realized, this is the path the murders walked that night. It was heart wrenching to think about what their intent was as they walked up that same road.

Thanks for answering my questions, Jessica. I can't wait to read your book!


Vivian is able to see things other people can’t.  Things like shadows that move without a maker and hover over people, feeding their depression and fueling their self-destruction.  She also sees kind spirits, guiding and guarding their loved ones against the shadows.
When Vivian’s mother and brother die in an accident, the only option is to reunite with her estranged father at his new home in another state.  Unfortunately, there are shadows in the house, and Vivian tries to avoid them during this time of heartache and anger.  Her brother’s spirit warns about an especially strong shadow at the top of the stairs, one inhabiting the bedroom of a girl who disappeared fifteen months ago.
Once the spirit of the missing girl reaches out to Vivian, she learns the girl was murdered in that bedroom while staring into the eyes of a trusted person possessed by the shadows.  The girl’s spirit is restless, her undiscovered body lies buried in a shallow grave, not far from Vivian’s home.
With her brother’s assistance, Vivian searches for answers in hope the girl’s spirit can move on.  But the shadows are intent on protecting the killer’s identity.  They stalk Vivian.  Her life depends on releasing her own pain and anger, because the shadows won’t stop until she stops searching…or until death finds her too.

Vivian’s feet planted on the second step from the landing, causing her father to stop abruptly to avoid crashing into her back.
Rebecca was still walking toward the room. “I’ve always thought this pink room would be perfect for a girl.”
“Stay away from the door, Vivian. This shadow is evil. You can’t let it know you can see it!” Thane disappeared before the dark spirit could see him speaking to Vivian.
“Where’s your bedroom?” Vivian pretended not to know as she turned toward her father.
“It’s just at the end of the hallway,” he replied pointing away from the room where Rebecca was standing in the open doorway. She’d already flipped the light on. Pale pink wallpaper dotted with tiny white and fuchsia flowers burst into view behind her.
A shadowy figure darted across the dimly lit room like a large, black dog rushing to examine an unfamiliar house guest, pausing just inches from Rebecca. It was at least a foot taller than her, even as it stood in front of her hunched over awkwardly, partially hidden from Vivian’s view by the bedroom wall flanking the doorway in which her stepmother stood. Its head cocked sharply to one side as it seethed like an angry cat.
Vivian wanted to scream for Rebecca to get out of that room. Instead, she took a deep breath and said calmly, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a room closer to yours.”
Rebecca and her father exchanged looks. Vivian held her breath, while the vaporous shadow figure reached a jagged, bone-thin finger toward Rebecca’s face and gently stroked her cheek, its bulk still partly obscured by the wall that separated the room from the hallway. Rebecca shifted her gaze to Vivian, unaware of the touch.
Most people never knew the spirits were present. They didn’t hear them, they didn’t feel them, and they didn’t see them like Vivian did. Sometimes Vivian wished she was one of those people. Life would be so much simpler.
“Of course.” Rebecca flipped the light off as she stepped out of the doorway. The vapor sucked itself sharply back into the shadows of the room. An unearthly shriek pierced Vivian’s ears as Rebecca pulled the door shut behind her.
“We just thought you might like a bit more privacy, but there’s a room right next to ours.” Rebecca smiled at James as she walked past the stairs where Vivian’s body had rooted itself.
Vivian closed her eyes against the high-pitched screeching, as if not seeing would somehow stop her hearing, as well.

Buy Links:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Clean Reads

Author Bio:

Jessica Freeburg has always been inquisitive and loves the challenges of all that life, and the afterlife, has to offer. Her fascination with history and the paranormal fuels many of her creative works. She embraces the fringe and relishes in the examination of what others may take for granted. As the founder of Ghost Stories, Inc., Jessica has performed paranormal investigations at a variety of reportedly haunted locations. LIVING IN SHADOWS: BOOK ONE OF THE SHADOWS SERIES is her debut novel. Her second book, a middle grade nonfiction about the Holocaust will be released in the fall of 2016. She is a news correspondent for the wildly popular paranormal radio show DARKNESS RADIO. She also serves on the editorial staff of FATE Magazine and is the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for the state of Minnesota. In addition to writing books, she enjoys working in screenwriting and documentary production. She lives in Lakeville, MN with her husband and three children.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @jessicafreeburg 
Author Website:
Ghost Stories, Inc. Website: