How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meet the Cast

As the publication date for England Adventure lies in wait just on the other side of the beginning of March, the characters have been telling me I should do a blog post or two to prepare for the big day. It seems Caroline and Kailey had so much fun revealing the cover that the others thought some individual attention would be nice after all.

So. Allow me to introduce the main cast of England Adventure (Six Cousins, Book 2)!

Marielle Austin.
At age fourteen, Marielle never thought she’d be going on an adventure like this, especially without her parents. But on the other side of the pond, good friends of her grandparents, the Endicotts, are ready to receive her and her cousins and give them the tour of a lifetime. Many of Marielle’s fears turn out to be groundless, but new ones take their place as she gets to know Paris Hamilton, the Endicotts’ granddaughter, whose troubles live beneath the surface of her sunny personality. Can Marielle keep her ears tuned to God’s directions and help Paris? Will Marielle herself benefit and grow from this trip, or will it become the saddest episode in her young life?

Emma Yardley. While trying to watch over her sister Caroline and cousin Marielle, be a model guest to each of their hosts, and absorb all that England is, sixteen-year-old Emma also faces challenges. Though you might not guess it from her even-keeled nature, she has some trouble navigating relationships and accepting disappointments.

Caroline Yardley. On the other hand, at age thirteen, Caroline is ready for adventure. Things don’t always go right, but that’s okay! It’s more important to delight in what you can, even if it’s only the fact that a chaotic shopping street you’re standing on, with your own two feet, was once a major Roman road. The Romans! Imagine that.

Reanna Wilkins. Shy, sixteen-year-old Reanna wasn’t so sure about this trip, and meeting Paris confirms her fears. Paris bedazzles cousins Abby and Kailey, but Marielle, Emma, and Caroline are still there to be friends, though Marielle, too, seems strangely preoccupied with Paris. Perhaps what will make Reanna feel better is creating music.

Abby Austin. Abby, eighteen, is going to college in the fall, so she feels this two-week trip in June had better be good. And it is—mostly because of the awesome Paris. She has everything—personality, fashion, ambition. She’s a dream friend. But then some stuff starts going wrong … and Abby realizes maybe Paris isn’t the perfect girl.

Kailey Austin. Fifteen-year-old Kailey doesn’t always remember where they’re going, but once she’s there, she definitely has her opinions. London shopping is the best! Bath and Southampton are pretty cool, too. But Paris is what really makes it all epic. And at the end of the trip, maybe everything was more worthwhile than she originally thought.

Paris Hamilton. At seventeen, it’s vital to Paris that her life looks perfect—even though it’s not. Her grandparents know it isn’t, but they should just stay out and let her be who she wants to be. It’s pretty rad that she’s traveling around England with six teenage girls, and they’re all super nice, especially adorable Marielle, who seems like the last person who’d be able to help her.

Gregory Endicott. He won’t give us his age; it’s sufficient that he’s old enough to be Paris’s grandfather. The only wholly British person in the little group, and the only man, he has his hands quite full; and it’s a good thing he can hold on to everything, too, or else he’d be tearing out what paltry hair he has left. There is Paris, however: she may be slipping farther out of his cradled hands than he thinks.

Yvonne Endicott. Mrs. Endicott is overjoyed to show hospitality to her dear friends’ granddaughters. She loves sharing her two-century-old home and her ancient, adopted homeland. If only Paris loved what she loves, she could be sure that everything with Paris would turn out to be all right; but, no matter, this trip isn’t the time to think about such things … or perhaps, maybe it is.

Cecelia Parker. Mr. Endicott’s sister thought she would try being hospitable like Yvonne and open her cramped Southampton home to their bevy of American girls … but that decision must have been made during a barmy moment, as she’s not overly fond of teenage girls. But still, going along with them on a bit of holiday might not be too unpleasant.

Winifred Braithwaite. A good friend of Mrs. Endicott’s, she’s a well-traveled Devonshire lady settled in the charming seaside village of Branscombe. When the tourists come to her, she recognizes that some of them need more than simple hospitality … and she certainly might be able to give them both.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the eleven major characters of England Adventure. Thank you for letting me introduce them to you! Who are you most interested in meeting?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Interview with Sarah Watson!

I’m very excited to be interviewing a new author who has just published BOY, a book of poems. Please welcome the lovely Sarah Watson!  

K: Sarah, I think the best place to start is with you as a person. Please tell us about yourself! What do you want us to know about you besides your writing?

S: I was born in 1993, I live on the coast of Maine and I’m in my final semester of university.
I am a firm believer in the impossible. I believe everyone is capable of doing exactly what they want and we should aim for what makes us feel alive.
I enjoy so many things and I constantly find myself jumping from one big idea to another. I have a hard time deciding on one idea and sticking with it, whether in career or hobby, which sometimes worries me, but ultimately I’ve learned that it’s just how I’ve been designed and there’s purpose in that.
I want to live in a camper and travel the country.
I want to adopt children someday.
I want to drink coffee in the morning on a balcony in Paris.
I love cotton candy ice cream.
I have such high expectations and hopes for love and who I’ll allow into my heart.
Summer time is my favorite and makes me feel so happy and alive.
I love people, so much. I could spend hours watching people, reading interviews. I love knowing what makes people love and hate and hope.
I love bright lipstick, but rarely wear it.
Ultimately the most important aspect of who I am, and the reason I am anything at all, the reason I have not given up on myself, life, or other people, is because I am set free, by the most beautiful King and He fills me with peace and joy. (When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:19)

K: I love how you explain yourself! It’s almost like poetry itself. :) The title of your poetry collection, BOY, hints at the unifying theme. What was your inspiration for these works?

S: I’ve known so many incredible people and been affected by a myriad of experiences; but BOY came from a place of the most personal experiences that I have collected over the past few years. This collection is designed around the feelings I had/have regarding a few very specific people who have been in my life. Both positive and negative. I’m so thankful for these boys and the way they played a part in my short life. They have shaped me and challenged me and taught me so many things, about loving myself, loving other people, and ultimately loving God. And I think that’s the best gift any relationship can give you.

K: Can you pick one poem and tell us your thoughts behind it?

S: This was one of those pieces that came really quickly and felt very authentic and natural; that’s one of the reasons I like it. I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory, but it was a piece I wrote after the harrowing task of leaving someone behind. (and how that sucks so much.)

the first mile was suffocating –
as i left the parking lot,
and pulled away from the place,
i knew you were to stay.
driving by cars, skyscrapers and endless crowds of people,
i only thought of you.
every turn of my car took me,
further –
further –
away from your light.
and i hated that.
i replayed every moment of leaving.
every small,
torturous task.
key in ignition.
right blinker,
look back.
no sign of you.
drive on.
the feeling,
the sickening,
literal heart ache.
i felt as though i would explode in the worst way.
my heart growing inside of my chest,
swelling and attacking –
but i couldn’t let it out,
because the whole world was watching.
i couldn’t say a word.
so i just drove.

K: Lovely, Sarah. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and thoroughly relatable. Do you write other things besides poetry? Are they influenced by your poetic self, or are they quite different?

S: Yeah, I do.
I have a series called Dear You, where I write letters to unnamed people in my life and I think that is very much influenced by the same style as my poetry. I enjoy writing fiction as well, which I think has reflections of my poetic voice as much as it can, being prose. I think, stylistically, the voice of my writing is pretty consistent.

K: How long have you been writing, and what made you begin?

S: Pretty routinely since my early teenage years. I don’t think there was one thing in particular that made me start writing, it just kind of happened. It became a way to get out what was happening in my head, in a way that felt really fluid and familiar, and that was comforting. Still is, obviously.

K: What are some of your favorite books, and how have their authors inspired both your life and your writing?

S: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller has been such an influential book in my spiritual and everyday decisions. I think it helped me define exactly who I want to be and how I want to apply my faith to my life. The way Don writes is just really great, because it’s so personal and yet so casual. I enjoy writers who aren’t looking to be perfectly well spoken but simply authentic, and I feel like he does that brilliantly.

Rilla of Ingleside has been my favorite novel since I was fifteen. I’m not really sure why I love it so much. I think it’s just the characters, they’re so special, and I grew up reading their stories so it’s just always stuck with me. L.M. Montgomery is the author that really defined my adolescence, and I guess I started writing when I started reading her work, so her voice in literature probably helped shape mine in ways I don’t even know.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is another novel I’ll never stop reading or loving. Atticus is my hero, and I just really want to be Scout Finch.

Also Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. That book really hit me, cause it was so full of anxiety and confusion but cleared itself up on the last few pages with such simplicity and depth. Also, I love the way Salinger writes. It’s so odd and disfigured but astonishingly sharp.

K: Well thought-out choices! I can really see why and how you’ve connected with them. Please tell us about your fascinating college experience! What have you gotten out of it so far?

S: Oxford has been really fun. I’ve definitely had to push myself, which has been good. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to experience higher education, especially through Oxford, because it was always a school I dreamed of going to. I’m going over in July to study one final course on campus, finish a few assignments after that and then I’ll be done.
I think the two most important things I’ve learned (academics aside) are: 1) Learning is a lifelong experience and the most important thing to do while in University is simply try your absolute best and let the rest be. My mom told me this the other day when I was getting bogged down with assignments and it really helped refresh my perspective. 2) That it’s an incredibly huge blessing to be able to learn via an institution. There’s a ton of kids in the world who would love to go to school, but they can’t, because of social economic reasons (etc). I think this realization has pushed me to really give it more and take advantage of the blessing that it is.

K: That’s great! I hope your time at Oxford and England is all you dream it to be. Now for an off-beat question … what is your favorite color and do you see any connection between that and your personality?

S: First off, I have such a hard time picking one color (maybe that says something in itself, haha), but I’ll narrow it down to two. I love blue because it’s so refreshing and gold because it’s straight up rad and fantastic. I’m not sure what that says about me though. I’ll let others interpret.

K: Those are a good mix! What projects do you have in the works right now?

S: I don’t want to say too much, but I’m working on a collection of essays/poems specifically aimed towards girls, and the experiences of growing up/deciding who you want to be/etc. I’m pretty excited about it, because it means a lot to me personally.

K: Sounds wonderful! Before we close, is there anything more you’d like to tell us, person to person, or writer to writer?

S: Person to person: You are more than enough.
Writer to writer: Keep speaking your own authentic truth. The world is listening.

Also just a giant thank you to Kelsey and everyone else who has supported my book and all my writing endeavors. The encouragement means a great deal to me and I can never say thank you enough.

K: You’re welcome, Sarah! We’re excited about your book, because your voice and message is lovely and lucid. Where can readers buy your book and connect with you?

S: You can buy the Kindle edition of my book on, (link: (Print edition coming soon!)

BOY: poems

I’m also on practically every form of social media, which is ridiculous but loads of fun, haha.

Instagram & Twitter: wincingdeer

K: Thank you so much for allowing me interview you, Sarah! You have such great things to say and it's been wonderful getting to know you!

S: THANK YOU, Kelsey! xx

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

“The Moment You've Been Waiting For!"

crows a tall, brown-haired thirteen-year-old, Caroline Yardley. “And the moment I’ve been waiting for, too! It’s time to reveal the cover of Six Cousins Book 2, England Adventure!”

For as long as she can remember, Marielle has dreamed of seeing England in person. When kind grandparents send her and her cousins there to visit old friends, she can hardly wait to see the places she’s known in fiction and film. The Endicotts are perfect hosts—and their worldly American granddaughter Paris, perfectly beautiful.

But it soon turns out that nothing is as it seems. Her cousins Abby and Reanna, once the best of friends, appear deeply at odds, and the picture-perfect Endicott family is hiding secrets of its own. Distanced by an ocean from home and her family’s protection, Marielle finds herself challenged by a troubling new world. She befriends Paris, but Paris seems opposed to what Marielle stands for. Can Marielle be the witness who helps Paris overcome the lifestyle that’s harming her? Or will Marielle and her cousins be overwhelmed by the conflict this supposed dream trip has brought them?

“On the cover, you’ll see my fair cousin, Marielle Austin, as she gazes across the Thames toward St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of our favorite spots in London. It was jaw-dropping gorgeous and tons of fun! Well, all of England was gorgeous and fun, really. Most of it, anyway. No, no—all of it. But this picture sums it up—”
  “Gosh, I guess none of us will ever, like, make it to the cover of a book,” interrupts a slightly shorter fifteen-year-old with a blond bob as she sashays in front of the hovering image and plants herself on the other side, opposite her cousin.
  “You’ve got to have a story before you can get on the cover of a book,” Caroline counters. “Marielle went to all the hard work of telling this story, so it’s only right—”
  “Well, yeah. But she coulda shared the limelight a little,” Kailey sniffs.
  Caroline sticks out her lower lip. “You’re not really begrudging her, are you?”
  Kailey takes one look at Caroline and giggles. “Okay, okay. Whatever. It’s fine. Marielle totally deserves it. But anyway, where’s everybody else?”
  “You and I were the only ones who wanted to get up here and do this.”
  “You’re kidding! Abby didn’t want the attention?”
  “Nope. None of them did.”
  “What about Paris? No way can I believe—”
  “It had to be a cousin, because we’ve already been properly introduced in the first book.”
  “Ohhh. Okay. Well, we get more attention this way, so I’m, like, more than cool with it.”
  “Yep! Anyway, we’d better get back to the book. So, esteemed audience, England Adventure is due to break upon the publishing scene in a few weeks! I’ve been told setting a definite release date for this book is a delicate matter, but stay tuned for The Day. It won’t be long now!”
  Caroline holds her hands up toward the cover and nudges Kailey with her foot; Kailey looks perplexed until she realizes she should do the same. “Look for it, guys!” she cries. “You don’t want to miss me, I mean us, do ya?”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Interview with Cheyanne Marie!

Today I am very pleased to be interviewing a new author who has already published a book of poems and a book of short stories in the past two months! Please welcome Cheyanne Marie.

Cheyanne Marie

K: Cheyanne, I think the best place to start is with you as a person. What should we know about you, beyond what you write?

C: First of all, I can elaborate on nothing at all like no tomorrow, so I apologize in advance for my super long answers. I’m a 20 credit hour college student with three different jobs (Librarian, Teacher’s Aid at an elementary school, and I clean an office every other week...Does that count as a job?). I’ll graduate this semester with my first AA, transfer- get another AA, then a BA...the ultimate goal is a JD for Environmental Law...but we’ll see how far I make it. lol

I tend to be a spaz, a socialite, and highly dramatic. It’s actually really funny that I’m an author, because my personality is far from that. I love pageants, high heels, movies, acting, singing, cosmetology, cold coffee, the time periods of the 1940s, 50s, and 90s; sparkles, loom knitting, jewelry...basically anything loud. Oh, and I love Marvel. Specifically Captain America, cause he’s just fabulous.

I think the hardest thing for me to explain about myself is simply the fact that I am a deeply religious person, and have very high moral standards; but, funny thing being, I don’t write “religious” or even “Christian” fiction. Truth be told, I don’t feel called to write that. As a former homeschooler, I’ve read only, you know, PG kind of things, and for me, I think that’s really narrow. I feel like fiction shouldn’t be a reflection of the author, or the author’s beliefs necessarily (even though I do weave in morals of right and wrong through one or two of the observations of my characters), but rather a reflection of the world at large. I write what I see in the world, both good and bad, in the hopes that observing the truth of reality will encourage some to change it. But with that said, I’m definitely not writing R type things...there’s a point and a line that I won’t cross. :)

K: Thank you for sharing all of that! Tell us about the books you just published—and don’t forget the anthology you were published in. :)

C: It’s seriously been such a wild ride from when it all started, but I’ll save some of that for the next question. ;) My first book was a book of poems that I released back in December (“a book of rather uninteresting poems”), which is so weird because I’d never written poetry until a couple of months ago. In fact, I hated it, so it’s more than amusing that my debut release was poems and poetry. I guess you just never know what you’re going to end up doing.

My second release (which I’m pretty stoked about) “I Married a Movie Star and other writings,” is a collection of differing short stories. My favorite, is the “I Married a Movie Star” itself...and I feel like the name is pretty explanatory. I think it’s just a funny story, combined with what would actually happen if a “nobody” married a celebrity, along with the challenges life, marriage, and child raising would add to that.

The Anthology, “Space Kitties,” was a total blast to be a part of. The name threw me for a wild loop at first. “Cats in space? How is that going to work?” was my initial thought, but after beginning, I found it was perfectly logical as logical could be. “21 Cats in the Hatch” is my story that is included (it will also appear in “I Married A Movie Star”), and I think it’s one of the best things I’ve written. Without giving too much away, I really just wanted to focus on the faults humans have, and the way that cats, for example, could look into our “race” and see the faults that we so easily tend to ignore.

a book of rather uninteresting poems                                                                           

K: You’re a well-rounded writer! When did you start writing, and how and when did you know you wanted to be published?

C: Four. I wrote “The Snake Desert,” followed four years later by my hit novel, “The Ice Cream Thief.”

It actually took me a long time to seriously write. I started out of boredom at eight, stopping and starting again until age fourteen or so when I had an idea for a novel. Even then, I didn’t begin writing as a “career” until last year, my freshman year of college when it began to take on a form of self- help/therapy for me.

I’ve always had fantasies of publishing (who hasn’t?), and then it just sort of happened one day. I had to write an article for class, a response to a letter written about soldiers overseas. Anyhow, my essay was one of the national winners in a competition that my teacher entered her students in, and before I knew it, I was published. It was kind of like something just clicked in me, like “Oh, hey. I could do this. This is something I could actually do.” That was followed by publication in the Saltfork Review with another of my short stories (“See Where Life Takes Us,” also included in my new book), right before the anthology, and then my own self-published titles. Without that kind of reassurance, I don’t know if I would have had the push to continue on my own.

K: That's cool you write nonfiction, too! What are some of your favorite books, and how have their authors inspired your life and your writing?

C: There’s a lot of authors that have really shaped me in both life and writing craft, and none of them are modern authors. C. S. Lewis is probably my all-time favorite. I also really like Lewis Carroll, Horatio Alger, Jr., and Jane Austen (Favorite books: Narnia, Mere Christianity; Alice in Wonderland; On His Own; and Pride and Prejudice...more or less in that order.).

There’s this sense of weirdness that I just love from works like Carroll’s. I like weird things. Things that make you think, “What would I do in that situation?” I think weirdness just keeps it interesting. I also adore satire and political quips in writing, and both Alger and Austen are good examples of that.

I respect Lewis for the points he makes in his theology books, the arguments he brings to your attention that you just can’t argue with, because he states the truth plain as day, and that’s something I hope to accomplish in my writings; restating what we all already truly know, but are too afraid to say, you know, give people a bit of a wake-up call. Literature is a powerful tool that should be used for more than entertainment or even encouragement, and I hope to nudge people not only to change themselves, but also the world around them by reading my works.

K: Good choice on authors, and what inspiring thoughts about literature! Can you pick one of the poems in A Book of Rather Uninteresting Poems and tell us the inspiration behind it?

C: This poem doesn’t actually have a name, I couldn’t think of a name that would fit.

I remember she was young

I remember the age was twelve.

She hated life, and was depressed.

With no way out, and no one to help

To end it all seemed the only answer.

But still she couldn’t manage to go through-

Pull the trigger, use the knife

The idea never lasted long-

She dared to hope, and hope kept her strong.

I remember those times,

I think back and catch a breath-

How foolishly it could have ended;

Ended there in death.

I remember the girl,

I heave a sigh.

I was the girl-

The one who contemplated suicide.

I realize this is a very dark poem, very gruesome, but I think there’s also hope in that. While I haven’t been “suicidal,” per se, I was often tempted to take my life when I was younger, and that’s so stupid, but that’s how I felt. What most people don’t know about me, is that I’m unhappy roughly 90% of the time, and I’m working through that. I become depressed very easily. I never used to talk about it, but my stance has changed on that, and I’ve become more open about the things I struggle with for the following reason. Since “growing up” and meeting lots of other people, I realize I’m not the only one who’s unhappy, dissatisfied, depressed, or angry with their life. I’m not the only one who struggles. Honestly, all I’m trying to do for other people is encourage them. I just want people to know they’re not alone, we’re all going through stuff, we all feel the same way, and yes, it’s going to get better.

K: Wow, Cheyanne. Thank you for sharing that. It can be uncomfortable to talk about these things, but they are what people deal with and therefore it’s important to address them and offer God’s hope. Now for an off-beat question … what is your favorite color and do you see any connection between that and your personality?

C: Oh, that’s an easy one! My favorite color has been purple since I was little. I think it’s because I was really meant to be a princess. :P In all seriousness, I tend to enjoy “dressing up” and that sort of thing. I know purple used to be the color of royalty, and I think that fits the color itself because it’s really elegant, and I strive to be elegant, but I’m pretty sure I fail the moment I put sneakers and leggings on, but they’re just so comfortable.

K: Clever! Purple suits you. What projects do you have in the works right now?

C: I have about four more projects at the moment; from conception to almost completion. In about two weeks, I hope to release my first novel in a series, China Doll. This is actually the first time I’ve made that public, so I’m very excited. I also have plans for a second book of poems that will be collaborated with a new poet, this being her first release, but I’ll keep things quiet until we arrive closer to the release date. Other than that, I have a sequel manuscript to China Doll that will come out in the summer; another collection of shorts in the works; and I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a comparison between the public school system and homeschooling. That’s always just something that’s interested me, the difference physiologically, emotionally, physically, and scholastically between the two. Now that I’m both working and attending a public institution, I’ve been able to see the good and bad from both sides, and I’d like to share what I’ve observed with others curious about it as well.

K: All of your projects sound fascinating! Is there anything you’d like to tell us, writer to writer, or maybe simply person to person?

C: I know this is really cliche, but most often the cliche things are the most true, there’s a reason they came to be cliche in the first place. Be nice to everyone. Smile. Ask them how their day was. How hard is it to take two minutes of your day to talk to someone? Or just wave? I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to being considerate of another person, especially when I’m tired. But you literally never know where someone is in life, or what they’re dealing with, and a kind word or two from your could alter their life dramatically.

K: Wise words and a great reminder! Where can readers buy your books and connect with you?

C: Right now, my books are just on, although I’d love to get them into Barnes and Noble in the near future. As for connecting, I’m on just about everything, with the exception of tumblr. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram...Look me up! And there’s also my blog, which I post on religiously, much to the annoyance of my followers, I am sure.

K: Thank you, Cheyanne, for this fresh and fascinating interview! It was wonderful to get to know you better and I look forward to reading all your works! I've already started A Book of Rather Uninteresting Poems” (and they are interesting! :) )