Boom! Boys are reading influencers!

Great news from the 2017 Digital Book World Conference via Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson in their January bonus issue of The Hot Sheet.

According to Nielsen Book Research director, Jo Henry, boys ages 9-12 have grabbed an increased market share of the juvenile book market! Boys are influencing more book purchases so (hopefully) we can infer boys are reading more. That is fantastic news!

Several very interesting points from Jo Henry’s presentation were highlighted in The Hot Sheet about this current upward development in the boy reader.

  • This trend shows up when comparing 2010 to 2016 figures, with an increase in books being bought for boys aged 9 to 12.

  • What books are being bought for boys? Fantasy and adventure.

  • Authors represented in this realm include J.K. Rowling, of course, as well as Rick Riordan, Suzanne Collins, R.L. Stine, James Dashner, and Kathryn Lasky.

  • Interestingly, 64 percent of these books aren’t being bought for boys as gifts; in many cases, they’re being asked for by the boys and offered by their parents.

  • The main discovery method of these books by boys is in-person, usually through spotting a store display or TV ad.

                                                     (Source The Hot Sheet, January 2017)

Boy readers, I applaud you! You are awesome. You are readers, despite what we are continually fed about your lack of desire to read. Keep it up. Keep seeing books or hearing about books you are interested in and asking for them. Your action in regard to finding the reading material you like is impressive. It gives me hope.

Reading builds empathy. Empathy builds great human beings. Great human beings build great societies.

Boy readers, keep searching for books that interest you. Keep struggling until you find your fit. It is out there. Don’t give up. Ask your librarian, your friends, or your teachers for recommendations. Check out http://www.guysread.com or send me a message if you are struggling to find your reading niche. Find your place in the world of literature. You are never bored with a book around.

But most importantly, keep reading, boys!

lincoln-as-a-boy-reading-at-night

Eastman Johnson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Fort Conley

Summer 1906, Kansas City, Kansas.

Lyda Conley wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead with the sleeve of her dress. It was a warm, humid late June day. She carefully laid the hammer into the box of her late father’s tools and stepped back next to her sisters, Lena and Ida. The Conley Sisters viewed their handiwork—an 8’ by 6’ cabin constructed mere feet away from their parent’s gravesites in their Wyandot tribe’s burial land, Huron Indian Cemetery.

A hundred feet away behind the “TRESPASS AT YOUR OWN PERIL” sign hanging from chain-locked iron cemetery gates, a small crowd gathered along the downtown street in the heart of the rapidly expanding business district of young Kansas City, Kansas. A crowd of people clapped and cheered their support of the Conley Sisters and their defense of a prized, downtown park. Other scowled at the sisters; seeing their illegal occupation of this piece of prime real estate in the heart of the city as standing in the way of the city’s growth and prosperity.

The game was on.

Fort Conley was built.

fortconley-with-sisters

Fort Conley

The occupation of Huron Indian Cemetery, in opposition to a 1906 United States’ Congressional Bill authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to remove the bodies of the Wyandot tribal dead to nearby Quindaro Cemetery in order to sell the land, had begun.

Buried in the appropriation bill, actually buried in the middle of some treaty business with the Sac and Fox Tribe of Kansas for fee-simple patents, payment appropriation for a school, and land payments, is the authorization to sell Huron Place Cemetery from under the rightful ownership of the Wyandot Tribe.

On that June day, the Conley Sisters, behind the intellectual leadership of the youngest sister, Lyda, and the spiritual leadership of Lena, began a lifelong battle which would ultimately save their tribal burial ground from the destructive forces of economic development.

lydaconley

Lyda Conley

The battle that started in the streets of downtown Kansas City, Kansas, would take many detours. From Washington, D.C. when Congress passed the 1906 bill authorizing the sale of the cemetery, to the downtown cemetery occupation by the Conley Sisters. The fight would move to the courts, starting with the United States Circuit Court of Kansas in Topeka, Kansas and eventually, it would land with an appeal at the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court—where Lyda became the first woman of Native American heritage to argue a case before the court.

What made the Conleys take up arms and occupy their tribal burial ground?

“In this cemetery are buried one-hundred of our ancestors…why should we not be proud of our ancestry and protect their graves? We shall do it, and woe be to the man that first attempts to steal a body. We are part owners of the ground and have the right under the law to keep off trespassers, the right a man has to shoot a burglar who enters his home.”

– October 25, Kansas City Times quotation from Lyda Conley.

First and foremost, it was to protect the sacred ground on which their relatives and tribal kinsmen were buried.

They builded [sic] a hut within the grounds, close to the graves of their parents, with tiny windows overlooking the cemetery on all sides. They loaded their guns and took up their abode in that city of the dead, and the “word went out that the first man to turn a sod over one of those graves, would either turn another for the Conley sisters, or have some other person perform a like service for himself. Threats were made, a treaty of peace was attempted, the federal troops were announced as being on their way to take the Conley Fort, but the sisters remained firm. The commission remained in Kansas City for a stated period and then left — surrendered to the Indian maids. The fall passed into winter and the winter into spring, but the Conley Fort remained, with the Conley sisters on guard. They braved the biting blasts of the winter and plowed their way through the snow and over the mounds of their forefathers, to the tiny fort from which they were determined to defend, against the federal government, what was more to them than life and all that it could give them.

-Kansas Magazine, July 1909.

According to Lena, the reason for their act of civil disobedience was triggered by a dream she had when the cemetery was threatened. “My father’s spirit came to me in a dream and was unhappy and I knew what that meant. The dead want this holy place defended and it will be.”

huron_cemetery_1_-_kansas_city_ks_-_july_2015

By Peter Greenberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

FAITHFUL by Michelle Hauck Release Day

The next volume in the Birth of Saints series is available now!

faithful-n1

Following Grudging–and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall–religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck’s Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.

Faithful– November 15, 2016

Harper Voyager

Find It: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | HarperCollins | Goodreads

grudging-1

Also enter to win a signed paperback of Grudging, the first book in the series: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

GRUDGING

November 17, 2015

Harper Voyager

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

michelle_h-2

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two kids in college. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.
She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.
Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging and Faithful (November 15, 2016), is available from Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. She’s repped by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary.

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IN THE BEGINNING Cover Reveal

 

Today Month9Books is revealing the cover and some excerpts for their Charity Anthology IN THE BEGINNING! Which releases October 25, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!
On to the reveal!

 
Title: IN THE BEGINNING: Dark Retellings of Biblical Tales
Editors: Laureen P. Cantwell and Georgia McBride
Author: Stephen Clements, Nicole Crucial, Mike Hays, Sharon Hughson, Marti Johnson, Elle O’Neill, Lora Palmer, & Christina Raus
Pub. Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon
|
B&N |Goodreads
 
In the Beginning (Oct. 25, 2016) –Eight authors
come together to build a powerful collection of dark young adult short stories inspired by the mysteries, faith, and darkness found within the Bible. Old Testament and New Testament, iconic and obscure figures alike are illuminated, explored, and re-envisioned throughout this charity anthology from Month9Books.
 
IN THE BEGINNING, edited by Laureen Cantwell and Georgia McBride
 
Daniel and the Dragon by Stephen Clements
A troubled orphan named Habakkuk dutifully follows his master, the prophet Daniel, into temples of blood-thirsty demon-gods, battles with unspeakable horrors, and bears witnesses to mind-breaking evil until his master’s zealous defiance of the king’s law seals their fate.
 
Babylon by Nicole Crucial
Far above the earth, in Second Eden, where moments and eternities all blur together, young Babylon befriends Sefer, the Book of Life. As Babylon awaits the moment she’ll fulfill her destiny, she and Sefer try to understand the world in which they live.
 
Last Will and Testament by Mike Hays
A homeless young boy, Baz, bears the weight of humanity on his shoulders and upon his body. When dark forces test a new-found friendship, Baz’s willingness to bear the ugliness of their world will be shaken. 
 
The Demon Was Me by Sharon Hughson
Based on the story of the demon-possessed boy healed by Jesus, this tale provides a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world where a teenage boy seeks to journey to a better land and yearns to discover the kind of man he’s meant to be, only to be hijacked by an evil spirit intent upon chipping away at the hope, faith, and resilience of its host.
 
The Deluge by Marti Johnson
A non-believer shares the story of Noah’s ark-building and the deadly downpour that follows. Fear, faithlessness, and the fallibility of mankind collide in a community where second chances aren’t unlimited and a better-late-than-never attitude just might be your doom.
 
Condemned by Elle O’Neill
Just sixteen-years-old, Barabbas finds himself pulled out of Routlege Academy and into a reality show competition—against Jesus himself—where the reward for the winner is life.
 
First Wife by Lora Palmer
In a first-person retelling of the saga of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, themes of family, deception, guilt, and heartache emerge amidst the first days of Leah’s marriage to Jacob—a marriage mired in trickery a mere week before Jacob was to marry Leah’s sister Rachel.
 
Emmaculate by Christina Raus
Based on the story of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we enter the troubled mind of Emma, who finds herself torn between her religious upbringing and the purity ring that binds her to her boyfriend and the pregnancy that results from her relationship with another boy.
 
Anthology Excerpts:
 
From THE DEMON WAS ME, by Sharon Hughson:
 
The ghastly black fog overtook me. 
Icicles pierced my back. Every muscle in my body spasmed. I plunged face-first against the ground. Something sharp gouged my cheek. Shivery tingles pervaded my insides. A vile presence pressed against my mind.
            
“Get out!” I rolled to my back, arms outstretched. I wanted to fight, throw the intruder off me. But how can you resist something as ethereal as air?
            
Laughter rang in my ears. Sinister. It shuddered against my soul. Terror and hopelessness collided in my chest. A foreign power clutched at my mind.
            
I screamed. I rolled to my side and squeezed my eyes shut. If only I could disappear.
            
Another dark wave of laughter echoed through my skull. Convulsions gripped me. Against my will, my limbs flailed in every direction. A spike pressed into my mind. I cradled my throbbing head. My body, a tumbleweed in the wind, spun on the ground.
  
From BABYLON, by Nicole Crucial:
 
Only those will enter Heaven whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
 
These were the first words I heard, in the beginning of time.
 
But Sefer, the protest comes, Revelation wasn’t written until the first century.
 
My answer is that time is a funny little plaything to God, or so I imagine. That first sentence was the wind that breathed life into my chest, the binding of my pages, the ink in my soul. It knitted together my stardust-atoms from across centuries and millennia and planes of existence.
 
And when the first dregs of consciousness swirled at the pit-bottom of my spine, I yawned and opened my eyes to paradise.
  
From CONDEMNED, by Elle O’Neill:
 
To his surprise, as he heard the metal door grind to a stop, there was a popping sound, like the flash-lamp did when they experimented in Classic Photography at Routlege. Except no camera appeared—not that he could see anyway—but rather a digital time clock, bold red numbers, already beginning their descent, in striking relief against the black paint covering the walls.
 
29:48:12.
 
29:48:11.
 
Of course they would include the fractions of a second, he thought. He was now fighting a tiger against a racing clock. For all that they were merely numbers, he saw their dwindling trickle as if he were watching grains of sand pour through the hourglass of his fingers, helpless.
 
29:47:03.
 
The tiger looked at him. It didn’t glance his way. It directed its massive head at him, its eyes trained on Barabbas … and they didn’t turn away.
 
Another man, in another arena, stood calmly while the tiger advanced. His breathing was even, he did not watch the clock, and he looked with love upon the prowling beast. When it snarled, he slowly exhaled; when its whiskers glanced his weaponless fingers, he blinked gently as the hot breath of the tiger dampened his skin.
  
From LAST WILL & TESTAMENT, by Mike Hays:
 
I’ve found money, I’ve found food, and I’ve found myself in plenty of trouble on plenty of occasions, but I’ve never found another human being just lying around. That’s what happened when I found a person-shaped ball of olive drab and camouflage clothing—which would have been more at home in the reject pile down at the army surplus store—under our
decrepit, worn sign for the “Extraordinary 
League of Witch Assass_ _ _.”
 
It’s true. I found a boy about my age sleeping at the end of the Extraordinary League of Witch Assassins driveway.
 
 
From UNWANTED, by Lora Palmer:
 
“Let me see you,” he whispers. “Let me truly see you.”
 
I swallow down the fear this moment brings, the anxiety that once he does see me, he will no longer accept me. No, I must stop thinking this way. My husband is not like Jacob, dazzled by the superficial beauty of my sister. My husband, my love, will see me.
 
Taking courage from this, I let out a shaky laugh as he helps me stand. I long to see him, too.
 
“All right,” I say.
 
He lifts my veil, his deft fingers moving slow, relishing the anticipation of this moment. At last, he lifts the linen over my face and lets it slip to the floor behind me. We stare at each other, stock still, in stunned silence.
 
It was Jacob.
 
From EMMACULATE, by Christina Raus:
 
The Ten Commandments are pretty straightforward. Killing? Bad. Lying? Nope. Adultery? Don’t even think about it. But is real life really that straightforward? If you tell your boyfriend that you’re going golfing, when really you’re going out to cheat on him, is the lying or the adultery worse? What if you stab the guy you’re having an affair with? Isn’t being a murderer worse than being a cheater? I think the stabbing is worse than the lying and the cheating combined. So, it was kind of unfair for God to group killing, lying, and cheating all together under one umbrella. They all seemed really different.
 
I was an adulterer. I couldn’t deny that. I was also a liar. A very, very good liar. But I wasn’t a murderer.
 
 
From THE DELUGE, by Marti Johnson:
 
The stench of mildew and mold is heavy in our nostrils, and my lungs feel as though they are on fire. My breathing is audible in the lulls between the thunderclaps. My mother huddles, shivering, propped between two rocks. She is coughing painfully, and I can hear her teeth chattering.
 
It is hard to breathe because the air itself is full of water.
 
A deeper shadow has fallen across the side of the mountain on which we are sheltering. I pull aside the brambles, and gasp in amazement when I realize what it is. “Look!” I call to the others, and point at the sight. The ark has risen with the water, and now bobs up and down. It sits high in the water. We hear nothing from it but the creaking of the wood timbers and the sound of the branches and rocks on the hillside scraping against its hull.
 
 
From DANIEL AND THE DRAGON, by Stephen Clements:
 
Your god is a liar!” roared the wizened man in thin black robes, as he pounded his breast with his fist.
Habakkuk stood by the gates of the temple as his master picked a fight with a sanctuary full of the slavish followers of Bel, a bloodthirsty demon god. A fire raged in the fanged maw of a giant, stone head sunken into the back of the temple, there to receive the offerings rendered unto Bel. He had seen this before in other temple raids with his master, though not on such a massive scale, and not at the heart of the demon cult in Babylon itself. The fire raged as the greatest offering that the Babylonians—who adored Bel above all other gods—could sacrifice to their deity was their own newborn children, rolled their screaming, helpless bodies down a stone, handshaped altar into the fire. They offered the fruit of their wombs to their dark god, who devoured the innocent souls sacrificed to him in eldritch rituals.

Giveaway

 

 Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive an eGalley of IN THE BEGINNING, International. Click HERE to go to Month9Books and enter!

 

A Words Look: “Trouble” by TV On The Radio

This song.

It is a beautiful song that crept into my psyche the first time I heard it in 2014. When one listens to the song—like most great songs—it can mean many things to many people. Anyone on that mental razors edge can relate to the feeling the song radiates. For whatever reason, for whatever situation, for whatever guilt that brings pressure bearing down on you in life, this song resonates.

It brings me back to my days in late teens/early twenties when I’d lost the ballast in my ship. The moorings snapped and I was floating through life without much direction or focus. The were many devils who had my number.

The song is a reminder, as the lyrics go to strap your helmet on and get ready to survive whatever wave is on a beeline toward you. Also, it reminds us that everything will be okay if we convince ourselves of the possibility and believe in it.

Really, everything will be okay.

“Trouble”

Oh, here comes trouble
Put your helmet on, we’ll be heading for a fall
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow
And the devil’s got my number
It’s long overdue, he’ll come looking soon
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow

Oh, here comes trouble
These people talk too much, need to shut ’em up
Yeah, I’d rather be alone
Can you, can you feel that rumble?
All this borrowed time, it’s been running out
It’s the ending of the show
But I know now, yeah, yeah, I know now, yeah

Everything’s gonna be okay
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”

Oh, I’ve changed my number
Wore disguises and went undercover just to
Just to hide away from you
Oh, my ghost came a-calling
Making noises ’bout a promise I had broken
Oh, I’m gonna be lonely soon

Oh, here comes trouble
Put your helmet on, we’ll be heading for a fall
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow
And the devil’s got my number
It’s long overdue, he’ll come looking soon
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow

Everything’s gonna be okay
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”

Everything’s gonna be okay

 

A Words Look: The Call To Wisdom

Fun fact about me: I’m an Old Testament kind of a guy. Recently, I ran across an impressive Bible quote in the Refusal of the Call chapter from Joseph Campbell’s THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. The intensity of the Old Testament language may be what draws me to the OT. Also, the stories! Man alive, there are so many great stories in the Bible. Even if you don’t read the Bible from a religious foundation, the stories are well worth your time.

Well anyway, here is the passage from Proverbs on The Call of Wisdom. It truly fits the form of classic Old Testament.

Proverbs 1:20-33
The Call of Wisdom
20 Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice.
21 At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
23 Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused, have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
25 and because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you,
27 when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices.
32 For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”

New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

 IMG_0179

 

A Words Look: Gun by Uncle Tupelo

Although picking a favorite song by Uncle Tupelo is like picking one of your own children over the others, I have to say Gun, from the 1991 album, Still Feel Gone, sits slightly higher than the rest of their fantastic musical library. This song just rocks it. And that “Crawling back to you…” verse just rips a hole in your soul. Plus, it was written as a collaboration between the original members and perhaps a sign of the more harmonious days of the band.

250px-Uncle_Tupelo

I was sad and a little pissed off when Uncle Tupelo called it quits after their masterpiece 1993 album, Anodyne. Then you understand when you listen to Anodyne and hear the tension between Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar. You see the split in the songwriting and the sound of the songs. That tension was probably what made Anodyne so special. Almost beyond the realm of belief, Anodyne was recorded in two weeks and each song only took one take. Jay Farrar’s title song is beautiful and sad and haunting. I still listen to Anodyne from start to finish at least once a month. It is that good.

Out of the Uncle Tupelo ashes came two great bands as Farrar went his way with Son Volt and Tweedy started Wilco. Both debut albums, Trace and A.M., are fantastic records and Wilco continues to be one of my favorite bands. Jay Farrar’s song, Sultana, was the first I’d heard of the Civil War-era steamboat disaster and the song inspired me to find out more about the event, which led me to write my middle-grade historical fiction, Sultana Sinking.

Gun

Falling out the window
Tripping on a wrinkle in the rug
Falling out of love, dear
It hurt much worse when you gave up

Just don’t tell me which way I oughta run
Or what good I could do anyone
‘Cause my heart, it was a gun
But it’s unloaded now so don’t bother

Climbing up the ladder
Breaking my shin on the very first rung
Waking up the neighbors
It’s all right, they understand they’re just as dumb

And they don’t tell me which way I oughta run
Or what good I could do anyone
‘Cause my heart, it was a gun
But it’s unloaded now, so don’t bother me now, don’t bother

Crawling back to you now
I sold my guitar to the girl next door
She asked me if I knew how
I told her “I don’t think so anymore”

Don’t tell me which way I oughta run
What good could I do anyone
‘Cause my heart, it was a gun
But it’s unloaded now so don’t bother

Songwriters
JEFF TWEEDY, JAY FARRAR, MICHAEL HEIDORN
Published by
Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC