Monday, November 23, 2015

"Eden's Wish" by Tara Crowl -- Book Review & Author Interview!

I'm thrilled to have one of my friends, Tara Crowl, here today to discuss her debut MG book, "Eden's Wish" (published by Disney Hyperion)!

All twelve years of Eden's life have been spent in an antique oil lamp. She lives like a princess inside her tiny, luxurious home, but to Eden, the lamp is nothing but a prison. She hates being a genie. All she wants, more than anything, is freedom. 
When Eden finds a gateway to Earth inside the lamp, she takes her chance. In a moment, she's entered the world she loves. And this time, she won't be sent back after three wishes. 
Posing as the new kid at a California middle school, Eden revels in all of Earth's pleasures-but quickly learns that this world isn't as perfect as she always thought it was. Eden soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between powerful immortals. A ruthless organization run by a former genie will stop at nothing to acquire the lamp and its power-including hurting Tyler and Sasha, the mortal friends who have given Eden a home. To save her friends-and protect the magic of the lamp-Eden will have to decide once and for all where she belongs.
{View book on Amazon}

Book Review

I don't typically read MG books; however, as soon as I dove into the story of "Eden's Wish", the fun protagonist and lighthearted writing style had me eager to read more books in this genre. The premise of the story is what captured me from the beginning--and once I was swept into the journey, it was almost impossible to put it down! It reminded me of genie version of "A Little Mermaid" (which just so happens to be my favorite Disney movie).

Although this could be considered a fantasy book, it takes place in modern day. (Love stories that combine fantasy with reality!) The journey the protagonist takes and the questions she wrestles with are ones that most tweens will be able to identify with--such as the longing to be accepted and to find a place where you belong.

"Eden's Wish" would make the Christmas perfect gift for a tween, or anyone who enjoys reading a book that takes them on an imaginative and fast-paced adventure from beginning to end. I look forward to reading the sequel!

                         Author Interview

When did you first discover your passion for stories?

Early on, when I was a little girl. I was fortunate enough to have access to tons of books. My dad worked in book distribution, so he'd bring home boxes of them for me. I read them all--and if I really liked one, I'd read it over and over again. That was when I first started dreaming of writing my own books someday.

Later on, that passion for stories led me to study Cinematic Arts at USC, and then to work in Hollywood. But ultimately, the dream I'd had when I was young never went away. I realized I still wanted to write stories like the ones that had meant so much to me back then. 

Tell us about your book. What inspired you to write EDEN’S WISH?

EDEN'S WISH is about a 12-year-old genie who escapes her lamp because she wants to live on Earth like a regular girl. I came up with the idea a few years ago. The notion of a genie granting three wishes is pretty familiar to most people, and it's fun to imagine what you'd wish for. But I started to think about things from the genie's perspective. To me, being trapped inside an oil lamp sounds awful! You'd have no freedom, no fresh air, no chance to experience the world on your own terms. So I came up with the character of Eden, a rebellious genie who doesn't want the life she's been born into. I built the world of the lamp and its legacy around her, and the story grew from there.

When did you decide to pursue publication, and how long was the process?

I started writing EDEN'S WISH when I attended a Master's program in Creative Writing at Macquarie University in Sydney. After that year, I moved to New York and worked lots of miscellaneous jobs while continuing to write. I did catering jobs, tutored, temped in offices, and worked at a hotel pool for a summer. 

Once the book was finished, I started reaching out to agents. Eventually I signed with Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Then Kevan took the book out to publishers, and sold it to Disney-Hyperion. That was three years after I'd started writing.

What’s next in your career? Will you continue to write MG novels?

The next book in the EDEN series will be released in fall 2016, and I've got a couple other things in the works for after that. I love writing MG, but at some point I may try YA as well.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Embrace your own life and experiences. Pay attention to the things you see, hear, and feel, and practice putting them into words. No one else in the world has your perspective, so it's important to value and nurture that.

About the Author:

M. Tara Crowl grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, then received an MA in Creative Writing at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She lives in New York City. Visit her website:
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Friday, November 20, 2015

Refresh: A New Magazine and an Opportunity for You -- Guest Post by Katy Kauffman

Refresh: A New Magazine and an Opportunity for You -- Guest Post by Katy Kauffman

Do you want to help people to know God better? If you said yes, I’m with you!

Two years ago, my family and I started a Bible study ministry called Lighthouse Bible Studies (a lifelong dream), and this October we started a magazine called Refresh Bible Study Magazine.

Some awesome writers have joined us in writing articles that speak to the heart and refresh the soul. The daily grind of life, the world’s pressures and temptations, the spiritual harassments we experience from Satan—they can all get to us at times, and we need some refreshment!

God’s Word is one of the greatest sources of refreshment for our souls. All of our articles are based on Scripture, and we have a wide range of subjects: who God is, quiet time ideas, stories of encouragement, cultural issues, society’s needs, book reviews, and more!

Check out our first issue now: Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Issue 1

If you would like to receive this free magazine by email, email me at Email me, too, if you would like to submit an article or talk about an idea you have for the magazine. Since it is a free magazine, we don’t pay for articles, but you would have the opportunity to bless people’s hearts and to get your writing out into the world in a new way. Our audience is made up of all ages, but I would like to see some teen and young adult writers contribute to the magazine and share it with their friends.

Whatever age you are, please consider subscribing to the magazine and writing for us. And visit our Refresh Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter!

We can band together to have a voice for God in the world and to refresh hearts with His truth and love. An opportunity is waiting. Will you take it?

~ ~ ~ 

Katy Kauffman is an editor for Refresh Bible Study Magazine and its designer. She is an award-winning writer who has taught the Bible to women and teens. She has two published Bible studies for women, and is a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Connect with her on her blog, Life with God, and on Facebook and Twitter. Katy is also a monthly contributor to two websites that aid and instruct writers. Check out her newest post on The Write Conversation and her column at Almost an Author.
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday's Minute Challenge: Writing prompt challenge for teens & up!

A quick writing prompt challenge (and contest) for teens to get their creative juices flowing for the new week.

  1. The entry must be between 150 - 300 words. (In order to see how many words your entry is, write it in Microsoft Word, or you can copy and paste it here.)
  2. The deadline for the contest will be the Thursday after next. 
  3. The winners will receive a badge for their blog, as well as extra points (see the point system below).
  4. The winner will be chosen based on the judges's preferences, as well as the following questions: Does this entry capture my attention immediately? Does it make me want to continue reading? Is the writing clear? They will also take into consideration the writer's voice and style--not necessarily technical issues, such as grammar, punctuation, etc. 
  5. This is only for fun and to stretch your writing muscles--not necessarily to be taken too seriously. =)

Since the point system has caused a bit of confusion recently, I have decided to take a different approach.

From now on, I will host a monthly giveaway, and one winner will be announced every four weeks. 
Keep in mind that you are in charge of your points from now on. If you win a contest, the only way that you will receive your points is by clicking the entry below. 

Also, if you have already liked my Facebook page, followed me on Twitter, etc. then make sure to click those entries as well in order to receive your points. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There will be one randomly-selected winner chosen from the above raffle each month. They will have the choice of receiving one of the following prizes:

  • A critique on of one of their MMC entries
  • A blog critique
  • A 300 - 600 word critique on your novel, short story, blog post, etc
  • The opportunity to judge one of the contests
  • A free ebook of PURPLE MOON
  • A special surprise sent to your mailbox (snail mail, not email)


The judge panel chooses these winners based on a point system (not to be confused with the point system mentioned above!).

Keep in mind that the judges are not aware of which entry belongs to which participant until after the judging is complete.

Due to the amount of entries, there will not be a third place. Thanks to everyone who participated, though!

The entries that the judges thought were the most intriguing (based on rule #4) are ... 

Princess Rosemary sat staring out the window, her face pale, the porcelain teacup sitting untouched upon the saucer she held. With a shaking hand, she placed the cup upon the table before her, and breathed in the clear night air. It didn’t calm her. 
No one else had done what she was about to do. No one else would dare. For what kind of princess was it that would abandon her kingdom on a whim? 
But of course, her whims tended to be more than a whim. They tended to be truth. 
The soft call of a nightingale broke her out of her silent reverie, and she lowered her gaze from the pockmarked moon to the satchel that lay near her. Slowly lifting her hands from the windowsill, she bent to pick it up. Her jeweled diadem toppled from her head to the ground in the process. Rosemary paused, staring as it rolled to a stop in the corner. With a jolt, she remembered once more that she could be leaving her whole life behind. 
Taking a deep breath, the princess rose shakily to her feet, her fingers clenching the satchel until her knuckles were white. Her slipper-clad feet padded silently on the glossy floor as she slipped out of her chamber. Down the shadowy corridors and out into the silvery moonlight she fled, breathless from fear and anxiety. Was she doing the right thing? 
Throwing a glance behind her, she realized the kingdom hung on the next steps she took. Her decision could bring them triumph or ruin. 
Closing her eyes from a brief moment, she whispered a prayer for protection, and started towards the forests of the north. 
Congratulations, Savannah PClick here for your badge, and don't forget to claim your points here. =)

He was almost there.  He could feel it in his bones.  The rolling water and crashing waves no longer had any effect on him.  He leaned forward against the stern of the boat, his azure eyes straining to see through the dark and misty haze.
A little whimper from a small bundle next to him revealed that he was not alone.  “Mannie,” whispered a frail girl that shared the same blue eyes as him. “I’m c-cold.”
The young man turned around and held her tiny hand in his.  “It will be okay, little Jess.  We’re nearly there. You will be warm and well.”  But even as he said it, he worried that this little wisp of a child would not be able to withstand the last leg of the journey.  He leaned forward towards his little sister and stroked her tangled hair gently.  “Do you remember, little Jess, the One who commands the sea?”
The sorrow in her pale face was replaced with a peaceful expression.  “Jesus.”
He smiled.  “That’s right.  If he is so very mighty, would he want us to be afraid or untrusting?”
She shook her head.  “No.”  In a fit of coughing, she ducked her head down beneath the damp wool blanket.  
The brother patted his sister’s head once more before taking ore in hand and turning back towards the sea.  
Let the little one sleep while she can.
 The young man, through the coming waves ahead, beheld the future.  The horizon was growing dark and dismal, as if the sun had all but disappeared forever and night and mist were declaring their reign of terror.  
Before it happened, the young man clasped his trembling sister in his arms one last time.  Gently, softly, the killing wind tossed the boat over the edge and into Heaven’s embrace. 
Congratulations, Natalie! Click here for your badge, and don't forget to claim your points here. =)

Honorable Recognitions

These winners will receive a badge, as well as 2 extra points:
  1. Micaiah
  2. Maddie

    Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

    • Submit your response in the comments below, or post it on your blog via InLink (below -- you will receive 2 extra points!). 
    • Your response should range between 150 - 300 words. 
    • The deadline for the contest will be the Thursday after next. 
    • If you'd rather not submit your post in the comments or on your blog, you may email it to me instead.

    Choose at least one:

    Note: You can always combine the prompts into one entry.

    (Optional) Write a passage continuing your entry from last week week (or whichever week you'd prefer). If you can, try to continue it using one of the following prompts.
    • Write a passage using these items: phonograph, hoodie, backpack (submitted by Shelby)
    • Write a passage based on this picture (submitted by His Princess)
    • Write a passage either incorporating this phrase OR based on this phrase:  

      Sometimes promises need to be broken. (submitted by Savannah P)
    *If your prompt was selected, be sure to claim your points here

    Post your entry on your blog!:

    If you're posting your entry on your blog (+2 points), please add your link below rather than in the comments. And don't forget to claim your points here!

    Submit your prompt idea!:

    The prompts that are used for Monday's Minute Challenge are submitted by the participants. Here's how this works:
    • You will be able to submit 3 prompts each week in the same format as above: three objects, one picture, and a piece of dialogue or phrase.
    • On Mondays, I will choose 3 prompts that have been submitted by 3 different people.
    • If your prompt is selected, you will receive 2 points!
    • You may submit in the comments below.

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