7:30 BELLS Guest Post: Laurie Ann Thompson

The following is a repost from author Dia Calhoun’s 7:30 BELLS, a blog series about what makes us ring, resonate, and fell alive.
I’m so pleased to introduce 7:30 BELLS readers to Laurie Ann Thompson, my new friend and author of two wonderful non-fiction books for kids. Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters, and Emmanuel’s Dream.
I recently did an author visit with two classes of sixth graders for their Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) unit on teen activism. I normally plan to speak for about 40 minutes and save the last 20 minutes for questions. For the first time, I ran out of things to say only 20 minutes in. I still can’t figure out what happened: did I skip a section, talk too fast, what? I was in a little bit of a panic when I realized I had 40 minutes left to fill and no plan for keeping 50 hungry 11-year-olds focused on the topic (it was right before lunch!). I decided to open it up to questions in the middle, which would give me time to frantically try to figure out what to say for the last 20 minutes.

Fortunately, the kids were awesome. Engaged and interested throughout, they had a TON of serious, insightful questions. We had meaningful discussions about being a changemaker, about reading, about writing, and about how the three overlap and enhance each other. Lo and behold, we used up all of our time! Despite its lack of structure, it was one of the best visits I’ve ever had, and I’m still feeling a little bit high from it.

The truth is I always feel like I’m walking on air after a presentation. As I told those kids, that never ceases to amaze me! When I was contemplating switching careers to become an author, one thing terrified me more than anything else—public speaking—and I’d do just about anything to avoid it. Toward the end of my senior year of high school, the administration posted our GPAs. I was one of the top in my class, which meant I’d have to give a speech at graduation. I nearly failed my last semester of Spanish—after having gotten As for four years straight—in a desperate attempt to end up third in my class. Success! No speech.

At that point, my main goal was to not be noticed. I lived in constant fear of making a mistake, terrified of failure. I avoided doing anything I wasn’t already sure I was good at. No one could find out I was a fraud, that I wasn’t really as smart as they all said I was. I played it safe and stuck to what I knew. That is no way to be a changemaker. In fact, it’s no way to live.

Of course, life has a way of changing us. Since then I’ve been put in situations that were way outside my comfort zone. Each time, successful or not, my comfort zone expanded. Succeeding at or even just surviving something I thought was out of reach is the best high there is. The bells ring for me when I’ve pushed myself to do something I never thought I could. That rush of adrenaline tells me I’m alive and growing, and that’s the best feeling there is.

Laurie Ann Thompson writes for children and young adults to help her readers—and herself—make better sense of the world we live in so we can contribute to making it a better place. She strive to write nonfiction that gives wings to active imaginations and fiction that taps into our universal human truths. She believes that each of us is capable of doing amazing things once we discover our passion, talent, and purpose. Thompson’s books are: Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters, and Emmanuel’s Dream, both Junior Library Guild Selections. My Dog Is the Best, is coming soon.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesdays of every month. Join Dia Calhoun on April 14 for a guest post with the wonderful children’s author Dave Patneaude.


Janet Lee Carey, Author of the Month: YA Fantasy and Identity

Post by Janet Lee Carey 
My fellow OAV authors have kindly offered me the March guest post to spread my wings and celebrate my upcoming YA fantasy
In The Time of Dragon Moon, Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin © March 2015.
photo by Heidi Pettit

As part of the new book celebration, I’ll be offering teachers, librarians and book groups Skype visits at half price all through the months of April and May. (Grades 7 and up) Contact me janetleecarey@hotmail.com and use the magic word “Identity” and we’ll set a date.
Why the word “Identity”? It’s a key word for YA readers. It’s also one of the underlying themes in my new book.

I think we’ll have a lot to talk about. But first a brief thumbnail, then let’s get started.
Beware the dark moon time when love and murder intertwine 
All Uma wants is to become a healer like her father and be accepted by her tribe. But when the mad queen abducts her and takes her north, Uma’s told she must use her healing skills to cure the infertile queen by Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake. Uma soon learns the queen isn’t the only danger she’s up against. A hidden killer out for royal blood slays the royal heir. The murder is made to look like an accident, but Uma, and the king’s nephew Jackrun, sense the darker truth. Together, they must use their combined powers to outwit a secret plot to overthrow the Pendragon throne. But are they strong enough to overcome a murderer aided by prophecy and cloaked in magic?
 ~In the Time of Dragon Moon is a story of courage and romance that readers will not soon forget.~ VOYA

In the Time of Dragon Moon is a tale of Love Magic and Murder. But underlying this grand adventure, the story also deals with Identity.
-Who am I when I am a mix of clashing races?

-Who am I when I am taken from my home and forced to live among strangers who know nothing of my culture?
Uma’s Father is Euit. Her mother is English. Her father’s people and her mother’s people have warred with each other for hundreds of years. For Uma, this means she is at war with herself. Raised in the Euit tribe, the First People of Wilde Island who’ve been pushed out by the conquering English, Uma begins the story feeling ashamed of her English blood. She loves her mother, but cannot accept that she is part English. Her tribe also treats her and her mother differently. Desperate to belong, Uma decides to become a healer like her revered father. The only trouble is the Euit people do not believe a female can become a healer — so Uma dresses as a boy.
As a character she is split down the middle. She does not accept her English side or her feminine side. She buries both.
When the English queen abducts her, takes her far away from her tribe and forces her to live at the Pendragon castle, Uma feels completely alone. Lost in a new culture she doesn’t like or care about, she’s forced to use her skills to heal the queen who is her enemy.
As a captive in the castle, Uma makes a long journey. Moving from this:
To this:
The one who changes everything for her is Jackrun.
Jackrun comes to the story with his own Identity issues. He is the firstborn with dragon, human and fairy blood. Called the Son of the Prophecy, he is the one long awaited by the fey folk and the dragons. But Jackrun harbors dangerous power in his body, he’s driven by an internal dragon fire that he cannot control, by sudden bouts of rage, and by a shameful past he will not speak about with anyone, not even Uma.
As one with mixed heritage himself, Jackrun accepts Uma as both a female and a healer (something her Euit culture does not do). Jackrun values her Euit and her English sides. Unlike the broken vision of herself in the cracked mirror, Uma begins to see herself as a whole person in Jackrun’s eyes.
Jackrun’s love awakens her. But for Uma, as for each of us, the journey of Identity is a long one and we are the ones who have to walk step by step toward freedom.

-Do you ever feel like there are parts of yourself that you can never accept? Or that you must hide parts of yourself so other people will like you?
-Do you ever feel like people don’t understand you because you think differently than they do or because you come from another place or a different culture?
You might like to read about Uma and Jackrun who are thrown together by dragons, magic and murder, and see how these two work out their mixed heritages; see how they come to define themselves and find a way to accept all the elements—Euit, English, dragon, and fairy—that make them who they are.

Classrooms, Library Groups, and Reading Groups who want to talk with me about In The Time of Dragon Moon, can contact me at JanetLeeCarey@hotmail.com. Remember to use the word “Identity” for a Skype visit at Half Price.

Ready for a virtual visit? Let’s talk.

Other Contacts:
School Visits contact Michele at Provato Events 
Janet’s Author Facebook Page