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A Story is Born

It was 2015, and I was sitting in a dirty chair at my mechanic’s shop. The place was busy, as usual- the natural byproduct of having a fair and friendly business with a small town atmosphere. I was naturally drawn to it amongst the busyness and anonymity of the city. I was there for an oil change and tire rotation, toddler in tow.

My toddler started getting fussy and bored, so I handed him my phone with its preschool-based games. Immediately his interest was piqued, and as my eyes swept over the pile of magazines in front of me- my interest was piqued, as well.

They landed on a well-worn magazine cover with a picture of a child on it. The headline read: “Legacy of Love: The Children of 9/11.”

I picked up the worn issue. The date on it was September 12, 2011, the day after the 10th anniversary of the attacks. It’d been living at this dirty old shop for three years. It was heavily torn and crinkled, and some pages were missing, too.

But not the ones that mattered.

The feature article was a piece on 9/11 babies, 9, almost 10, years old. I read their stories with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, and thought:

“They’re teens now, and already they’re heroes. They were born heroes, just like their parents.” And the seed from that single thought began to grow into the story that exists today:

A group of 9/11 babies find out their parents who died in the attacks had superpowers and saved people on that horrible day. The Army tells them they’ve inherited the same powers, so they go to West Point to train. In the meantime, they identify with their deceased parents in a way they never knew they could, and step into a destiny marked for them since birth.

I remembered clambering into my car, calling my sister, Jennifer, and telling her, “Do you have a little bit of time? I just have a story burning in me and I need to get it out.”

I rambled on for minutes, maybe even an hour. “Maybe they…”

“Oh! And THEN they could….”

“And what if…”

And all the while my soul felt like it was going to burst.

Since then, I’ve come to recognize that feeling as God’s prodding.

What started as a “what if” has morphed into characters and a storyline that has stolen my heart.

And I can’t wait for you to meet and fall in love with them, too.

 

Becoming Brooklyn
Amanda Deich
Publication date: January 5th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Brooklyn never knew her father. Rex Blackburn died in the 9/11 attacks four months before she was born.

And even though she never met him, she always dreamed about what he must have been like before he died. In her mind, he was a hero.

Little did she know.

After an attack at a 9/11 memorial gala, Brooklyn learns her father had been a member of an elite, anti-terrorism, military task force, made up of a very select group of people who had superhuman abilities. On the day the towers fell, he died using his power to save people.

The Army believes she inherited his gift, and Brooklyn is invited to train at West Point in order to hone her skills. Knowing deep down she is different than anyone else her age and wanting to learn more about a father she never knew, she readily agrees to become a cadet at the prestigious military academy.

She and five other 9/11 babies strengthen their superhuman abilities and spend weeks preparing themselves for their future in the army, fighting terrorists at home and abroad. And in the process of training, they identify with their deceased parents in a way they never knew they could.

Brooklyn knows she’ll go to war someday, but when terrorists find out about the group’s gifts, they don’t bother to wait.

They bring the war to West Point.

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Author Bio:

Amanda Deich is an author out of Littleton, CO. In her non-writer life, she is a teacher and coach to hundreds of kids, and she is a mama to two. If you meet her, she’ll talk Jesus and identity like no one’s business.

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Jukebox
Nidhi Chanani
Published by: First Second/Macmillan
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Middle-Grade, Mystery, Time-Travel

Grab some coins for the jukebox, and get ready for a colorful, time-traveling, musical tale about family and courage

A mysterious jukebox, old vinyl records, and cryptic notes on music history, are Shaheen’s only clues to her father’s abrupt disappearance. She looks to her cousin, Tannaz, who seems just as perplexed, before they both turn to the jukebox which starts…glowing?

Suddenly, the girls are pulled from their era and transported to another time! Keyed to the music on the record, the jukebox sends them through decade after decade of music history, from political marches, to landmark concerts. But can they find Shaheen’s dad before the music stops? This time-bending magical mystery tour invites readers to take the ride of their lives for a coming-of-age adventure.

J1

J2

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Author Bio:

Nidhi Chanani was born in Kolkata, India and raised in California. She creates illustrations that capture love in everyday moments which are often featured at Disney Parks. In 2012 she was honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change. She’s the author of Pashmina, Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend, and illustrator of I Will Be Fierce. Nidhi draws and dreams in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and kid. everydayloveart.com

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1. Tell me about your writing process? Do you have the story mapped out in your mind or on paper before writing? Or are you a “pantser,” making it up as you move along?

I definitely get an idea for a story quite vividly. It’s usually the characters that come to me first, the scenery/location and the ‘tone’ of their story they want me to tell. From there, it really just evolves. I hadn’t really mapped out my story until this Arthur Academy series, because there are so many moving parts and intertwined stories developing that I definitely had to ‘nut it out’ to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Whilst writing though, the actual ‘story’ itself does go in its own direction sometimes, which for me, is quite organic and natural as the characters sometimes tell you during the writing process where they want to go 😊

2. About how long did it take you to write the book?

I can write a book quite fast if I spend the time, so it does vary. But Broken Wing probably took a solid 3-4 months to get the full story down on paper. Golden Crown (which is the second book in this duet and series), has been about the same as well.

3. What was your inspiration for this book? What gave you the idea to write it?

I’m always inspired by characters, I myself, would love to read about. I love, LOVE multi-layered characters so you will find all of my books have quite layered, flawed characters with a strong ‘mis-understood’ hero. Being an Aussie, I do love the American colleges and the entire collegiate world that is so different to what we have here so that’s definitely inspired my last two series. I’ve spent years researching them by travelling to the states many times over the last ten years, visiting campuses across the East and West coasts, and have been pretty obsessed!

4. Do you have any other books in the works?

Always! 😊 For me though, it’s finding the time to get them on paper! Currently, I have Golden Crown (the second book in the Arthur Academy series), and the third book in my Lake Shore Uni series in the works. I also have a draft of a paranormal romance as well, which I have been so keen to write for a looooong time! I love paranormal romance novels too 😉

5. Will this be a stand-alone, or do you have a series in mind for this book?

It’s definitely a series. Broken Wing and Golden Crown, are Hendrix and Paxtons story, with another book after that for Austin (who I adore) as well!

6. If you had to compare this to any book out there, what would you say this like? Or is it a combination of a few books? Or is it like nothing we may have read before?

I guess on the surface you could say it’s similar to many other academy romances out there right now, but I do like to think you know when you are reading a ‘Kathleen Maree’’ novel. I really like to focus on character development and a solid plot, to make it an engaging read, and ofcourse the slow-burn romance is my go-to as well. Many books in the new adult category are quite heavy on the steam, but I’m definitely not a ‘full-steam’ writer!

7. Do you have any interesting facts or anything about your book (or the writing process) that you want us to know about?

Some of the storyline that I’m ‘laying’ for my future books was really pulling my attention away from Hendrix and Paxtons story at times. I definitely had moments where I had to steer myself back to them, but it does excite me for the future of the Arthur Academy and what Austin, Banks and River all get up to!

Something extra: If anyone who reads this interview on your blog would like me to gift them a free book of mine to read – please ask them to email me kathleen.maree@yahoo.com.au

Broken Wing
Kathleen Mare’e
(Arthur Academy, #1)
Publication date: April 26th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Hendrix:

It’s funny the things you notice as a child.

Like the way people uneasily glance away from me whenever I catch their eye.

Or the way a stranger seems to smile happily at other children, but when I say hello, their smile looks more uneasy than warm.

But as I approach the steel gates to the elite Arthur Academy, I can’t help but take a long-awaited breath towards my freedom. Finally, I have the chance to build the life I want. A future. Something that gives me more to live for than the daily beatings my childhood only knew. The girl I used to be doesn’t exist here. But even as the confidence grows about a life I now have control over, I can’t help but feel there could be something else waiting for me here. Something I’ve never faced before.

And it isn’t something I could prepare for.

And preparation is what got me out. It got me here.

I can’t afford to lose this opportunity, because if I lose this hand, it’s more than just a loss.
It’s like not being able to breathe. Not being able to fly.
It’s like, having a broken wing.
And without it, I lose my control. My freedom.

Paxton:
I grip the leather ball in my hand, finally feeling the weight of the year pressing down on me. If it was just football, I could deal, but with my last name – it’s everything else that suffocates me. The Arthur Elite is what they call us, and we each have our roles to play. But my fathers given me the next two years to do what the hell I want without his interference, before he’ll own me to be his pawn.
Two years. After that, when college is done, I dread the life I’ll have to lead. The role I’ll have to play.
It should be simple. Just stroll through the steel gates and be the crown they all see; but I can’t help but feel there is something lurking beneath the surface. There is something different about this year that I sense inside my dark soul.
And it isn’t something I am prepared for; even when staying ahead is the one thing that ensures my next breath.

Because when I lose a hand, it’s more than just a loss.

It’s like losing a limb. A bird breaking its wing.

And without that – I can’t fly toward freedom.

And my freedom right now, is all I have to hold onto.

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Author Bio:

Kathleen grew up in the south-western suburbs of Sydney, where family holidays by the beach and tormenting her two younger brothers, was how she spent her early years. But at the young age of 11, when she submitted a short story to a talented writing competition through the NSW schools program, not only did she win it, but she quickly found a love for it as well.

Throughout her schooling, writing was a hobby, along with sketching and various sports. But fast forward to her adult years when she moved to Europe to follow her husbands field hockey dream, and her love for writing surged to the surface.
Her debut story, Cut, was penned over two years where her hobby seemed to lead to the completion of Pennys’ world. The rest of the series came the following year.

Kathleen enjoys writing stories full of self-discovery, emotional journeys and of course, love.
Something else she loves is hearing from her readers, so feel free to follow her blog or drop her an email.

For signed copies of her novels, more information about upcoming stories, or to follow her blog, please visit her website http://www.kathleenmaree.weebly.com

Dream often. Believe always.

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