Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Weigh in with the issues you'd like to see covered in fiction

by Kim Van Sickler

I am over at KC Maguire's blog today, where she is holding a giveaway of Snatched in Gullybrook, my fictional account of domestic minor sex trafficking. All you have to do to enter is to answer her question: What issues would you like to see covered in books that you don't see much in recent fiction releases? 

I hope you drop by to answer!

5.0 out of 5 stars A shocking and rare story of real crime happening near you!,August 28, 2014
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This review is from: Snatched In Gullybrook (Paperback)
This book is a must read for all. Human trafficking and child sex trafficking are real issues facing not only big cities, but smaller communities all over the world. These are not willing participants and Snatched in Gullybrook illustrates the effort sex traffickers go to finding, befriending, luring and keeping their victims. Ms. Van Sickler has certainly done her research. As a judge in a major city, I see and hear about the missing children - we cannot assume they are runaways. I see those charged with sex crimes combined with drug crimes - we cannot assume they just like their drugs and are earning money to buy more. If you buy this book, which I highly recommend, please buy multiple copies. You will find you want to give them to your friends, family and co-workers to help educate them! I know I did and will be purchasing more to hand out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Cycle Of Inspiration

by Melissa Kline
My seven-year-old son came home from school the other day with a two-page, typed story, complete with chapters and a title that his friend had written. When I asked him about the story, he didn’t say much about it, so I assumed it was just another novelty paper that would soon get lost in the shuffle.
That same day, I witnessed my son with a notebook and pencil in-hand scrawling away. He was writing a story! A story very similar to his friends, only hand-written and with a new spin. I couldn’t help but find this incredibly inspiring. I found myself reliving old memories and experiences that I had forgotten about as a young writer. It was as if I was living those writer birthing moments all over again through my son. I knew exactly what he was experiencing and feeling through that story, because I had felt it too at one time.
My first novel - a notebook filled with my 13 year old writing

It took me a few days to realize, but I had experienced exactly what he had through my own peer influence in middle school. My spark came from an acquaintance who had brought a manuscript to class. Something transpired within my thirteen-year-old being that day when I saw that raw, printed, one-inch pile of paper. What occurred was the reality and possibility that I could create one, too! Seeing a novel written by my peer gave me permission on some level, and that was where it all began. I realized that the exact same thing had occurred with my son. He just needed to see the possibility from a peer perspective. He was sparked, and thus another writer was born!
I am absolutely tickled to watch my son go through an evolution in his own creative process. He has gone from notebook to computer within only a few days. I have become motivated to write long-hand again and just seeing him hard at work makes me want to work, too! I am amazed by this cycle of inspiration and how very powerful it is. When I explained to a friend about this recent phenomenon, she said, “You have inspired him and now he is inspiring you!” How neat is that? It’s a beautiful cycle of inspiration.
How have you been influenced or inspired by others? Was there a defining moment or spark for you? I’d love to hear about your experience. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
 Last week, my editor sent word that my novel, LIKE A RIVER (due out April 7), received a starred Kirkus review. Wow! Kirkus says their stars are “awarded to books of exceptional merit.” Wow again!
Am I thrilled? You bet. But this writer, who has seen truckloads of rejection over the past 40 years, has a hard time simply reveling in this success. After all, someone once said, “A writer is only as good as his most recent book.” And I finished one (my first since LIKE A RIVER) just before Christmas. I am trying to love the new novel, but how can I follow a novel that people rave about? A novel that earned a Kirkus star?

“Like a River has vaulted to my top-five favorite war stories ever. It’s a war story, a thriller, a romance—all that and more. Meticulously researched and brilliantly written, Like a River will transport you into a story you won’t want to end. Call Like a River unforgettable. A stunning debut!”
—Jerry Spinelli, Newbery Medalist for Maniac Magee
 I already felt enormous pressure to write something exceptional, even before the star. I worked too hard for too long to emerge from the slush pile, and I know I don’t want to be a “one-trick pony.” I am finally a published author, and I want to see more of my books in readers’ hands. So how do I handle the strain of this new pressure?

My answer was to talk to several writer friends (both published and unpublished) about it. And I received a lot of good advice. I was told not to let LIKE A RIVER pull my focus away from actually writing. I should do what I always have, one word at a time.

I was told to have confidence in myself and my work. OK, that is easier said than done. Decades of rejection eroded my self-confidence big time. But I can try. And that star lets me know that I CAN DO IT.

The one word I received from every single writer I talked to was, “Celebrate!” So even as I plot out my next novel and wait to hear from my editor on the one I just finished, I am raising a glass and maybe even dancing a little. And I am smiling a lot. I am celebrating! After all, my dream for 40 years was a published novel. I never went so far as to dream of a Kirkus star.

When I sit down to write, I put the star out of my head. I focus on new characters, a new setting, a new storyline. And I remember why I became a writer in the first place. Because I love doing it! Writing makes me happy. With or without a star.

Have you dealt with pressure like this? How did you deal with it?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Moving Sidewalks

by Kim Van Sickler

Help Me Celebrate My 3rd Blogging Anniversary!

L.G. Keltner is celebrating her blog's third year with a mega-dose of sarcasm, and that means today I am embracing my inner snark.

A few days ago I was finishing off a family ski trip. Our final day on the slopes came with pelting rain. Conditions were hazardous. But we wanted to do something outside that wouldn't result in more torn ACLs before we returned home, so we checked out the tubing hill. Going down was wet, but fun and much safer than skiing and snowboarding on a block of ice.

The problem was getting up the hill.

This particular tubing hill used a moving sidewalk to get its tubers up. One narrow sidewalk. So narrow and icy that you couldn't maneuver around the person in front of you. Walking up the hill yourself was not permitted. Sitting in your tube was not allowed. You had to use that sidewalk to get up the hill.

And people were just standing.

And it was raining, harder by the minute. And we were all getting pelted with icy rain.

If everyone would have walked on the moving sidewalk, the trip up would have taken half the time.

But no one did. The best we could manage was a few steps before we butted up against a line of tubers standing still, seemingly oblivious to how much time they were wasting and not at all concerned about the abysmal weather conditions.


Why do people stand on moving sidewalks? They are an ineffective mode of movement in and of themselves. A healthy infant can crawl faster. But when combined with walking, a person can move twice as fast. 

Move! Move! Don't just stand there! Don't you have anyplace you need to be?

Ultimately the slow crawl of the sidewalk on that windy, frigid, wet tubing hill did us in. We couldn't abide standing still while we inched up the hill any longer. 

The next time I think about going tubing, I'm going to make sure I find out the mode of transport to the top of the hill. And I'll nix one with a moving sidewalk.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Striking a Chord

by Kim Van Sickler

Writing a readable book is one thing; writing a page-turner is another.

Writing a book that resonates with the reader, one that strikes a chord deep inside and reverberates with meaning, pulses with purpose, is another step beyond.

I'm reading one of those extraordinary books now. Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
A book about a young, clueless, broken woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Who would have thought she'd be so relatable? 

But she is, not only for those of us who have suffered great personal trauma and struggled to pick ourselves up and move forward, but also for those of us who are unsure of who we are and which direction out lives should take. Cheryl is one of those authors who isn't afraid to make herself look bad. And in so doing, she allows her readers, with all of their flaws, to feel pretty good.

It's a skill that can't come easily. The natural tendency of writers is to make ourselves look good. We want to be admired, respected, quoted. Cheryl strips herself down to her core. She reveals herself to be a tempestuous, immature, emotionally fragile, hedonistic young woman who finally decides to do something about it. And although the method she uses to "find" herself is unconventional, and even dangerous, the reader understands and roots for her because, face it, her life had spiraled out-of-control in tornado-like proportions.

Cheryl's ability to flog herself for her mistakes, but at the same time work on setting herself on a straighter path is commendable. Her scene descriptions are apt, and complement her story without overshadowing it. Her physical and personal journeys are memorable and inspirational.
Kim's hiking boots. For her personal journeys.

It's a story that will stay with me for a long time. Maybe forever.

Now, that is something.

What book have you read that has that kind of staying power?