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One of my favorite places to be is in a book. I read a wide variety. Books are food for the mind and soul, and I cannot seem to restrict myself to one genre.

My novel writing, on the other hand, is focused on young adult contemporary novels and novels for the general market.

Every week I blog about books I’m reading. I usually post an author interview, news from my bookish friends, or writing related updates about once a month.

About My Novel Writing

I tend to write about people who are facing tough times. I’ve written about grief, eating disorders, abandonment, and other difficult issues. There isn’t always a romantic element, but when there is the romances are sweet. Endings aren’t sugar coated, but I always strive to leave my readers with a sense of hope. No graphic language, sex, or violence, just plenty of heart tugging emotion and laughing. My fiction has a slight to rich southern flavor, depending on the book. I have two books featuring a character on the autism spectrum. I am currently seeking representation while I continue to work on my craft.

I spend most of my writing time working on my novels, but I blog here and on my homeschool blog, Undaunted Homeschool.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

“You’re a teenager. It’s all complicated.”

Where You’ll Find Me

by Jenny B. Jones

Finley is spending part of her school year as an exchange student to Ireland. There she meets teen movie idol Beckett. Formally, Finley had a few escapades, but she cleaned up her act. She does not want to be paired with a heart throb or revisit the party scene.

She has a goal. Her older brother, who passed away, once visited Ireland and she is retracing his steps. Finley has a music competition coming up and feels that she needs to reconnect with her brother’s past in order to finish writing her song.

When I started reading, I did not realize there was an element of an eating disorder. The unfolding of the story line was flawless. Sensitively done. Explores topics of faith, grief, and a slide into eating disorders, as well as forgiveness.

I loved all the layers in this book.

Faith is woven throughout as are the doubts and the complicated feelings of a teenager. There are no pat answers in this book. It doesn’t shy away from difficult to write about topics.

Christian fiction.

Recommend 

Carol Award Winner

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Compelling Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

LSUS Exhibit Art and Writing Collaboration

 

My flash fiction piece, One of the Team, was paired with art in a collaboration with The Shreveport Art Club for an exhibition. The display will be open to the public for viewing in the LSUS University Center Gallery in Shreveport until February 28th.

The painting is by Joan Cole.

 

One of the Team

by Donna Jo Stone

 

His sweaty hands grasp the bat. The band of his cap itches. He ignores it and concentrates on the ball.

He swings.

Whack.

It’s a hit!

His eyes widen as he tracks the ball’s arc. The bat slides from his grip, the gentle landing thump lost in the rush filling his ears with each beat of his red-blooded heart.

Run to first base.

He hears nothing, sees nothing but the white triangle. No one tags him. Should he stop? His feet keep running and the rest of him follows.

Pound, pound, pound.

A cloud of fine red dirt rises up to baptize his virgin white cross-trainers. Dust flies. So does he.

Safe!

At home plate he leans over, hands on knees, panting.

All at once, the volume comes back on. The yelling is not happy.

“Wrong way!” a boy shouts. “You went the wrong way!”

It’s hard to tell which teammate he is. They all wear red shirts. The boy’s mouth and eyebrows are mad.

Coach comes near, saying something.

“Look at me.”

He tries to make eye contact, but the angry face pushes him away. He looks hard at Coach’s middle.

“Look,” Coach says.

Look?

“First base is that way.” Coach points. “You should know that by now.”

The team clusters on the sideline, distancing themselves from the loser.

Game over.

In his room, he sits on the floor. There is a file box in his mind where he keeps all the facts. These are today’s facts.

Fact #1 He went the wrong way.

Fact #2 First base is to the right.

Fact #3 He should know this.

When the mother finds him, he is rhythmically banging his head against the wall, repeating a mantra.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Beside him, on the floor, lays a dirty red baseball cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is a high school student who loves art. He is also schizophrenic. 

Caden’s story alternates between his journey on a ship, and his time in the familiar world. He has to choose which to stay in and who to trust.

Wow. Just, wow.

In the beginning, the book starts out in a disjointed way, illustrating the narrator’s difficulty with reality as he begins to struggle with the symptoms of schizophrenia. I have a tendency to not read book descriptions or reviews before I crack open a new story, so  it left me off balanced, which I think was the point of the book being written this way. Even so, it didn’t take me long to catch on, although I didn’t know exactly what mental health issues he was dealing with.

This is a character driven book and very emotional. Heartbreaking, sensitive, and frightening, this is an enlightening novel. A must read.

It reminded me a little bit of I Am the Cheese, one of my favorite books when I was in junior high.

There is one statement about God that struck me wrong, yet fits in with the internal dialogue of the narrator. 

National Book Award and Golden Kite Winner

The author drew on his experience with his son to write this novel.

Recommended

All the stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

The Silence Between Us

by Alison Gervais

This was a quick read for me. 

Be forewarned! This is a hard book to put down. 

Deaf teenager Maya is starting a new school. It’s the first time she’s gone to a hearing school. She must adjust to this new environment. 

I chose this one because I was looking for a clean, young adult romance. This novel has a romantic element, but it’s also a coming of age. Maya is challenged to consider her identity and her attitudes. 

I love this story. 

Go get it!

Good Storytelling 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Satisfying Ending

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engaging 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Great Character

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

☕ Book Break ☕ |Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie Big Sky

Sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks get the news her uncle, who she’s never met, has died and left her his claim. She must go to Montana or lose the land. Hattie has never known a great deal of stability. An orphan shuttled among distant relatives, she’s never really had a permanent home. The idea of a permanant home of her own tempts Hattie. She decides to travel to Montana and work the land on her own.

Hattie faces numerous challenges in her attempt to hang onto the homestead. She never met her uncle, and he is a mystery to her. Her German neighbors help her navigate this new environment and she comes to build a strong friendship. The German immigrants face the prejudices of the day. A young man, Traft, is interested in Hattie, but doesn’t think she is wise to keep company with her German neighbors. He heads up an organization that would like nothing better than to expel those he considers outsiders.

Newbery Honor Book

Pioneer Spirit

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Coming of Age

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Beautifully Drawn Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Engaging Voice

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For Ages 12 to 102! Or older. 😉

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

An all around great read.

☕ Book Break ☕ |The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book stuck with me long after I turned the last page. Henrietta didn’t know she was contributing to science, but her cells made it possible for researchers to progress in the fight against cancer. Her cells were unusual and the first “immortal” cells discovered. She died in 1951, but her cells are still being used today in cancer research. It was common practice at the time to take cells for study without telling the patient. For years, her family members were unaware that her cells were being reproduced and used in vital research.

While her cells were well known, the identity and story of the donor wasn’t. This book is the product of ten years researching the family and the science behind HeLa, the identifying label given to Henrietta’s cells. 

The question of medical ethics was often in my mind as I read. It’s a complicated story. I came away with profound gratitude for Henrietta’s contribution to science, and sorrow at the way her family was treated. A sad but important story.

A true story written in a style as compelling as any novel. 

2011 Winner of the National Academies Communication Award