What is family?

One of my favorite books as a child,
(and as a teenager babysitting),
was this one:

Are You My Mother? (Beginner Books(R))

In this story a baby bird falls out of the nest,
and goes out in search for his mother.
None of the objects, animals, or even a digger,
can replace his parent.
It is a sweet and endearing book
and if you don’t own it already you must go purchase it so you can read it to your (future) children/grandchildren. 🙂

The definition of family according to the dictionary is:

any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins

But what if I were to tell you that great books tell us otherwise?
Family is so much more than that.
Anyone who reads knows it.

In Anne of Green Gables,
her family is the whole town.

Anne of Green Gables (Formatted Specifically for Kindle)

Harry Potter had Hagrid, Hermione, and Ron.

Product Details

On his journey in Lord of the Rings Frodo’s family grew from Bilbo,
to include elves, dwarves, and a powerful wizard.

You see, family is so much more than those who are related to us,
and I think that is the primaray function of many books:
to show us how much bigger our “family” is.

It’s true, blood is thicker than water,
but there is no mention of similar DNA. 😉

What is your favourite non-traditional family story? I love to hear from you. 🙂

 

So Not Okay

So Not Okay: Mean Girl Makeover Series

So Not Okay tells the story of Tori Taylor, a quiet sixth grader at Gold Country Middle School in Grass Valley, California. Tori knows to stay out of the way of Kylie, the queen bee of GCMS. When an awkward new student named Ginger becomes Kylie’s new target, Tori whispers a prayer of thanks that it’s not her. But as Kylie’s bullying of Ginger continues to build, Tori feels guilty and tries to be kind to Ginger. Pretty soon, the bullying line of fire directed toward Ginger starts deflecting onto Tori, who must decide if she and her friends can befriend Ginger and withstand Kylie’s taunts, or do nothing and resume their status quo. Tori’s decision dramatically changes her trajectory for the rest of the school year.

The first thing that struck me when I opened this book was how wonderful Nancy Rue’s prose was. The writing was really spectacular and drew me right into the story.

The plot was interesting and each character was unique and, I believe, would draw any tween age girl right into the drama. I liked how Rue was able to show through each character that we are all capable of bullying others (even though our bullying may not be chronic). And how bullying can make the bully feel safe and important–protecting them from the world. It made me emphasize with the bully a whole lot more.

I found the main character, Tori Taylor, initially very annoying. So much so that I was tempted to put the book down. But at each page turn I found her growing on me. Perhaps Rue was trying to show how all of us are flawed in some way (she is quite pretentious) but it is a little tiresome at the beginning.

The thing that really sold me on this book was not just that they showed how damaging bullying can be but also an action plan that could easily be implemented in any school. Having worked in a highschool myself I often got frustrated with how systemic, and accepted, bullying was. This book gives actions on how to pull the disease out at the roots instead of just dealing with the symptoms on the surface.

I would recommend this book to teachers, tween girls, and parents of tweens. My only wish would be that there was another story geared towards boys. 🙂 4 stars from me. 🙂

You can pick it up here.

Or here if you are Canadian, eh?

Also, check out Nancy Rue’s website for other great books.

Bullying was definitely a part of my childhood. In the 80’s it was often called “acceptable” and “part of growing up”. Did you, or someone you love, ever encounter bullying? How did you deal with it?

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

Small Comforts

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I’ve lived by train tracks all my life.
To me the long stretches of metal,
speak of both home and freedom.

When I was a young child,
the familiar tsing tsing of the wheels on the rails,
would lull me to sleep,
after the incessant taunting of my classmates.

I moved to another city,
but still the tracks stood sentry outside my window.
In the chill of the early morning I would follow them to school.
I left the tracks reluctantly,
to face the highschool halls filled with uncertainty.

In university and the first years of marriage there were no tracks.
On the days that were roughest,
I would jump in my green Tercel and visit the tracks.
They comforted me.

I am going through a busy time right now,
a product of taking on too many things all at once.
(I’m sure no one else EVER does that…lol)

Sometimes I can’t sleep…

All I can do is send up a prayer for peace
(and future wisdom to be able to say no…lol).

Then I hear the wailing of the horn in the distance,
and the house shakes gently.
My eyes slide shut as the clack clack of the night train sounds outside my window.

As if I’m being rocked to sleep by something much bigger than myself.
And I know that to be true…
thank God for the small comforts he gives us!

For me, train tracks have a comforting presence in my life. It reminds me of God’s constant presence…I know, a little weird. I never said I was normal. 😉 What little (or big) thing in your life reminds you of God’s faithfulness? Share with me in the comment box. I always love to hear from you. 🙂

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

Careening through Junior High

In honor of my dear friend, Cynthia Toney’s, new release Bird Face,
I will share which characters most impacted me.
I couldn’t choose just one,
so I’ll just share a bit of my own journey. 🙂

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1) Alice reminds me of how I entered junior high.
Like her, I struggled with acne,
and I also played the clarinet,
(I really wanted to play the saxophone,
but we had too many of them already so I got demoted…lol).
I had potential though,
and believed that I could achieve it.
I knew who I was.

2) The relationship that Gayle has with John is similar to the one I had with one of my brothers.
I loved my brother dearly,
idolized him in fact but he never really noticed me.
My brothers attempt on his life was not successful,
but it still haunts me.

3) When I became tired of the snickering in the hallways,
and the ignorance of my peers.
I became John Monster.
I was hurt,
and I wanted the whole world to hurt with me.
I terrorized my teachers, classmates, and “friends”.

4) By the end of grade eight I was an out of control Tookie.
I didn’t have an eating disorder.
But I cut myself.
Lied compulsively.
Drank Peach Shnapps by the train tracks.
Stayed out until 3AM.
And cried myself to sleep.

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I was a mess.
And no one cared.

That is why this book is so important.
There are so many teens out there hurting,
and no one takes the time to notice them.

Pick up the book, read it and
share it with the teens you love.

Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.

Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.

As for me?
God saved me from my junior high years,
careening out of control.

Not how you think…
another tragedy struck my family,
and we were forced to move two days before grade nine.

I didn’t know it then,
but it saved my life.

Junior High was a time filled with trouble for me. Feel free to share your own junior high woes. Or, in honor of my amazing, albeit fuzzy, sense of style. 😉 Share something that everyone is doing (or did) for the sake of fitting in that might be (or is) mortifying in the future. Leave a comment below. 😉

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

Respect in a Time of Change

It’s senior year, and Whitney Richards is tired of the constant pressures to be perfect. When she gets a D in Calculus, her mother immediately suggests a tutor, worried Whitney won’t get into the “right” college–her alma mater–with imperfect grades. That tutor turns out to be Taylor, a quiet mysterious boy who is unlike anyone Whitney has met before. But his rougher upbringing has her mother and friends discouraging any type of relationship.

Tired of having to play a part for everyone else, Whitney quits the cheeleading squad that once definced her social identity and begins spending more time with Taylor. Her mom and friends worry Whitney is making a huge mistake, and even Taylor begins to show concern for some of her choices. But for the first time, Whitney is in the driver’s seat of her life. Will she be able to find her identity–and God’s plan for her life–before she throws everything away?

*****

Clipston’s book explores what every teen goes through:
a need to find out who they are.
Although I had issues with the writing style (you can check out my review here),
I think much can be gleaned from this book.

There is a natural point where we don’t want to be a carbon copy of our parents,
but want to become something of ourselves.

As kids, we are taught to obey our parents in everything.
As teens, we sometimes disagree so how do we do this repectfully?

Here are some tips:

Wait.
I know, it’s the last thing we want to do.
We want our opinion to be known now…
before we forget!
Take a deep breath…
a good mark of a wise teen (and adult!) is to wait until our response is not pure emotion.

**Warning: This is NOT easy. I still struggle with this!!!!!**

Pray.
This is a great time to ask God for wisdom in this situation.
Some patience as well.
Sometimes, adults are used to just telling you what to do.
They still look at you as if you are a five year old who needs to hold someone’s hand when they cross the street.
Parents are not (usually) trying to be cruel.

Formulate your disagreement.
What exactly are you arguing about?
Your parents not letting you dye your hair purple?
Or your parents not letting you make your own decisions?
Are you being rebellious because of a deeper problem?
Truly look at whether you are just reacting for attention.

Approach with love.
This can also be challenging…
but just imagine, for a moment that your mom/dad are humans.
Made in God’s image with feelings just like your own.
Got that in your head?
OK.
Now approach.

If all else fails…
sometimes, parents can’t see your side.
They truly believe that what they are doing is best for you.
If it is not time sensitive then perhaps pray some more,
or let it sit for awhile.

If it has implications on your future,
such as in Clipston’s novel,
then consider asking a wise adult if you are overreacting,
or for advice on how to deal with the situation.
Perhaps even ask them to be a mediator as you try to work things out.

**If it is ever DANGEROUS then please go to an adult you trust!!!**

I wrote these points for teens,
but I’ll let you in on a little secret…
adults struggle with the same issues.
Even as we become spouses and parents,
we sometimes forget that our parents deserve our respect,
especially when we disagree.

Hey, drop me a line. 🙂 Is there a point in this process that you still struggle with? 
Or is there a situation you would like me to pray for?
Leave a comment below or feel free to email me privately: tracking(dot)truth(dot)kdb(at)gmail(dot)com.

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

Yay! Happy Release Day Jill Williamson!!!!!

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The owl is here to announce the winner of Jill Williamson’s new release, Outcast.

And, the WINNER is…RACHEL (no last name given)!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations to you, please email Karen at tracking.truth.kdb@gmail.com so she can get your shipping details.

To all those who, sadly, didn’t win you can purchase your own copy on Amazon (or if you are in Canada).

And don’t forget to join Jill on January 10th for her launch party 5 pm Pacific time on her website.

 

Welcome Jill Williamson!!!!

I am excited to welcome the fabulous Jill Williamson to our blog today.
But before we dive into some questions,
please leave your mark in the Slam Book.

Nickname: Don’t have one. Someone once called me Jill Bean, but it didn’t stick.

Genre: fantasy

Personal philosophy: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t speak.

Fave Scripture: There are too many favorites! Here is one: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ―Romans 8:28

Fave Quote: Here too! Here is one I like: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ―Dr. Seuss

In high school I was… a basketball player, a Girl Scout, and a wannabe fashion designer.

JillWilliamsonSmallest

Jill Williamson was the first Christian author who showed me that writing weird stuff was OK. 😉
It is a pleasure to have her on the blog today and I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. 🙂

     “You will be releasing the second book in The Safe Lands series, Outcasts. What inspired you to start this series?”

My publisher was looking for dystopian books. Knowing that, one day when I was at my Bible study group, we were working through Beth Moore’s study on the book of Daniel. At one point she asked listeners to think about some teenage boys we knew and imagine how they might cope if they were taken captive to a city like Babylon. That instantly got me thinking about a fantasy idea I had that was inspired by the book of Daniel. And I thought, “Hey! That idea might work as a dystopian!” And it did.

     “The world you portrayed in the first book, Captives, had some very cool futuristic items. Can you name your favorite one?”

I like SimTalk. I’m always forgetting to take my cell phone with me, so this way I’d have it with me always. The only bad part would be remembering to turn it off. I’d have people waking me up in the morning!

     “I found the world that you built within the walls of the Safe Lands very convicting and some of their practices mirrored what our world is like today. Did you find yourself convicted as you wrote it? How so?”

Yes. Levi believes that all Safe Landers are the enemy. He doesn’t trust them, and he doesn’t care about them. And that’s probably because he can’t relate to them. But Omar feels compassion for them. And while Levi wants to scrape them off and worry about the remnant from Glenrock alone, Omar thinks Safe Landers deserve to know the truth. I feel like Levi sometimes. I get frustrated with hateful people or people who are so caught up in themselves that they have lost any shred of goodness. But God loves them still. And they deserve the truth. I thought about that a lot as I wrote this book.

     “If you wanted the reader to walk away with one thing after reading this series what would it be?”

To remain strong when you face trials. Don’t give in to anger or despair, but trust that your faith can carry you through even the most terrible circumstance.

     “Is there a writer New Year’s resolution you wouldn’t mind sharing with our readers?”

I’d like to try and stay on task more. I’m going to try very hard to write a weekly To Do list for myself, then keep up with it all week. The weeks that I did this have always been the most productive, so I’d like to make it a weekly thing.

     “If you could be any character from any of your books who would you be?”

Don’t know. I kind of like being me. I wouldn’t mind being Vrell Sparrow for a few days, but I’d miss electricity. It might be fun to be Spencer and play a basketball game and be able to dunk. But I’d want to be myself again rather soon, I’d think.

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Thank you so much for joining us today Jill.
If you want to learn more about all aspects of Jill Williamson be sure to check out her website.
Attend her online launch party on January 10th.

In case you didn’t know,
the next installment of The Safe Lands series is coming out on January 7th.
In honor of the occasion I will be giving away one copy of Outcasts to a blog follower.
The winner will be announced on Jill’s release date.

Have you read any of Jill Williamson’s books? Which was your favorite and why? Leave me a comment and join in the conversation. 🙂

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

What am I Reading?

I thought I would share what I’ve been reading this month.
Here are the YA books I consumed,
and my thoughts on them.

1. Running Lean by Diana L. Sharples

Running Lean

Equilibrium. That’s what Stacey and Calvin found in each other. He is as solid as his beloved vintage motorcycle and helps quiet the constant clamor in Stacey’s mind. She is a passionate, creative spirit—and a lifeline after Calvin’s soldier brother dies. But lately the balance is off. Calvin’s grief is taking new forms. Voices of self-loathing are dominating Stacey’s life. When struggles with body image threaten her health, Calvin can’t bear to lose another person that he loves. Taking action may destroy their relationship, but the alternative could be much more costly.

This is a book about a young girls struggle with an eating disorder and the boy who loves her. Diana L. Sharples is an amazing weaver of words and you can tell that from the first page. The story is a difficult one that needs to be told. Her characters are real and struggle (and question) their faith as most teens do. Sometimes the characters were…whiny and it could be a little grating. But it didn’t detract from the beauty of the book.

2. Knife by R.J. Anderson

Once upon a time, a fairy is born. She lives in an old oak tree at the bottom of a garden with the rest of the fairy folk. Never has she known a time when life hasn’t been hard, with many dangers and much adversity. But when she becomes the Hunter of the group and learns to do battle in the outside world, her adventures really take off…Don’t read this book if you’re expecting fairy dust – the last thing Knife is likely to wield is a magic wand… 

R.J. Anderson is a Canadian writer that I have met a couple of times. She is Christian but she writes for the mainstream market. I’m not a big fan of faeries but this book is not about Tinkerbell. Anderson is a masterful storyteller and has a firm grasp of the writers craft. This is a book that was an excellent and enthralling read. It was a good clean read with just enough edge to it. 🙂 This cover was what they published in the UK. The one for North America is not as nice:

Spell Hunter (Faery Rebels)

3. Rebel

No ordinary fairy tale…Linden is a feisty faery with a lot on her mind. She her fellow faeries are under threat: their magic is fading, and if they do not act fast, they will die…When Linden meets Timothy, a human staying in the house opposite her Oak, she knows he can help. Together they embark on a dangerous journey to seek more magic ? and discover that there is more to fear from other faeries than they could ever have imagined.

This is the second in R.J. Anderson’s faery series. This one was even better than the first one. It has a lot of Christian themes and lyrical prose. If you haven’t read any of Anderson’s stuff I highly recommend you check her books out.

4. Like Moonlight at Low Tide

Like Moonlight at Low Tide: Sometimes the Current Is the Only Thing that Saves You

When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor’s pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom’s latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.

This was a sweet book (and I loved the cover). The writing was solid and there were times where it really sang. The structure of the book did nothing for me and the plot was often predictable. That being said, I enjoyed the read. It just wasn’t my favorite and that may speak more to my taste in books. 🙂

What have you been reading this past month that left you wanting more? Leave a comment with a book that you would recommend to me and I’ll add it to my To Be Read pile.

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

To belong…

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At only six days old,
my new family took me in.

They loved me as they could,
but it was hard.

You see I was African American,
adopted by a white Canadian family in the seventies.

Nowadays we see prams full of delightful mixed babies,
but back then I was an anomoly.

I was the only black person in an entirely white community,
and my parents (as most adoptive parents back then)
brought me home to raise as their own
with no thought of where I had come from.

When I was young I thought I was a fallen angel.

I couldn’t bear to think otherwise.
What other reason could there be
for me feeling like I had been abandoned in a hostile land?

This place was not my home.

In middle school I was destined to date the only other black guy.
When I was in highschool white school mates wouldn’t hang out with me
because of how I looked,
and black people  wouldn’t be my friend
because I didn’t talk quite right.

My life was split in two.

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So, my friend, if you want to speak of not belonging…
I truly feel your pain.

The characters in my books are often searching for a home,
a family,
and who they truly are.

And for everyone there is only one answer…
Which I think is best told in a story. 🙂

When I was a teen I hit rock bottom.
If I had been brave enough I would have taken my life.
By the grace of God, I decided to apply to work at a Christian camp,
and although my faith was shallow at best,
I was accepted because I knew the right answers (I was a Pastor’s kid).

It was the perfect place to hide from the world.

Everyday I worked alongside these “Christians”,
caring for kids that truly had nothing.
Three weeks in I walked into the director’s cabin,
and asked the question that was burning like a hot coal in my chest.

“Why is everyone so filled with joy?”

When she told me it seemed too easy.
God could do this?
But when they prayed for me,
I knew it to be true.

I had found home.

I learned that fitting in to this world wasn’t my purpose.

Perhaps you have hit rock bottom.
There is no joy.
You are the prodigal sitting in your own filth.
You stumble in darkness with no light.

There is a place for you.
And He offers comfort,
joy,
peace,

Home.

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Have you struggled with feeling alone or not belonging? When I share my story many people (no matter their background) nod their head in agreement. I would love for you to share your past or present struggles with me either as a comment on this blog or privately at my email address tracking dot truth dot kdb at gmail dot com (no spaces and symbols instead of ‘dot’ and ‘at’) so I can pray for you. 🙂

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

And the WINNER of the “First Love” contest is…

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The winner of the “First Love” contest is…

sparksofember!!!!!!

WOOT! WOOT!

A big congratulations from all of us at The Scriblerians blog.

Keep an eye on your email,

I will be sending out a message soon to see which book (of the three mentioned) you would like to receive,

and where I should be sending it!

Thanks for all those who entered the contest. 🙂

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck