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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Magic of a First Kiss

*This post originally appeared on Teatime & Books*

“You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss…” Except for when it comes to a first kiss. As all lovers will tell you, the magic in a relationship sparks or fizzles with that first kiss. It is a dealmaker or breaker.
When a first kiss burns hot, love blooms. According to a 2012 ABC Science poll, 90% of lovers, irrespective of age, can remember when and where their first kiss occurred. When a first kiss goes badly—as 60% of first kisses do according to the same poll—all hopes for a lasting romance are lost.
I was ten years-old the first time I fantasized about holding a boy’s hand—a very specific boy with blond hair parted by a cowlick on the right side of his forehead, tiny freckles dotting his perfectly upturned nose, and grey-blue eyes that reminded me of the sky before a summer storm. I daydreamed about walking past him one day and letting my hand brush his. In my daydream, he would take my hand and we’d stand there together. That was as far as my ten-year-old mind had worked things out. Having accomplished my goal, I supposed we’d just stand there holding hands for eternity. I wanted it so badly.
When I was twelve years-old, that same boy—who was by then fourteen and over six-feet tall, gave me my first kiss. As we sat together in a wooden porch swing, he reached out to lift a strand of hair that the gathering wind had blown into my face, and as he leaned in to tuck the hair behind my ear, he kissed me. “I want to remember you just like this,” he said, “with the wind and that strand of hair in your face, always. You’re perfect.” I could have died! It was the most romantic moment of my life. At twenty-seven, I married that boy even though he hadn’t said anything half as sweet to me since that long-ago summer. It was the kiss that did it. I'd never forgotten it. Solomon’s Bell, the second installment of the Genie Chronicles, thirteen-year-old main character Ginn Lawson contemplates bartering her first kiss for what she hopes is information she needs to save her family. Caleb Scott, an older boy and Ginn’s longtime crush, is a descendant of Grimms, members of the Order of the Grimoire, who’ll stop at nothing to possess a genie as part of their magical menagerie. Caleb turns from the Order in hopes of proving his devotion to Ginn, but when Ginn asks Caleb to return to his Grimm roots to help save her family from the clutches of a golem, Caleb has but one request: a kiss. Ginn agrees, only to worry later that it’s been bad luck to barter her first kiss for intel on her most dangerous enemy. As the story progresses and Ginn is swept up in the adventure of battling golems both at home and in 16th Century Prague, she forgets about the promised kiss; but that’s never the case for Caleb. Will their romance burn bright or is Caleb’s past and their new mission too dark to let in the light?

What do you remember about your first kiss? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Guest Post: Kelsey Ketch on Conducting Research

{GUEST POST} Kelsey Ketch on Conducting Research

To quote Uncle from the Jackie Chan Adventure: I take these words very seriously. Whether working in the field (during my day job as a biologist), or learning about the settings, timelines, ecosystems, and mythology for my novels. Unfortunately, when writing historical or mythological based novels, not every topic is well known or understood. And unless Doctor Who shows up with the Tartus at your doorstep, we may never really know how general people lived or what they believed during past eras or what an environment/setting might have actually looked like. That’s when the author takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes, using the resources allowed to us and piece together a fictional world that is still real and believable. There are several medias I use for my work, each playing a vital role in bringing a sense of reality to my fiction: the internet, books, documentaries, and in field research. 16179642_1723087521335531_4909546707070976441_oInternet The internet is usually my first step, especially for high level research. This includes finding the right calendar on to build my outline, Google Maps and Street View to get an idea of the setting in which I wish to write, and general topic searches on Google and Wikipedia to give me a general direction in which to conduct my research. I even do my best to research terms and slang that my characters might use. However, there are other sources on the internet I use for more in depth research as well. The first are news media sites, which I use to keep up with the events, technology, and latest archeological discoveries that might relate to the novel’s theme. Other sources I use from the internet are online articles and journals. These can be easily accessed sources such as National Geographic or History Channel Facebook feeds, or if you have access to a database, peer-reviewed articles on science and history. But, if you are writing a historical based setting, one of my favorite resources is online archives, where you can find historical documentation and maps of different regions and states. I’ve used this source when researching for my work in progress, Death Island, when researching Gregory’s home town—a minor portion of the novel, but still vitally important. You can also go into online libraries to discover books, papers, and other documents on the topic you’re researching. img_20170128_100158Books Much like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, published reference books are my best friend. I have two bookcases dedicated to my reference books—particular books on Ancient Egypt I used for my first published series, Descendants of Isis. I also kept all my old text books, applying subjects such as chemistry, ornithology, mammology, ecosystems, and climate change to other works in process manuscripts. I also have religious and philosophical reference books taking my writing into other dynamics. Books are just great for some in depth studying of the topic you wish to focus in. And there has been many a time where a new concept or twist clicked into my mind while reading a new reference book. img_20170128_101728333Documentaries Growing up, two of my biggest role models were Jeff Corwin—and you wonder why I became a biologist—and Digging for the Truth’s Josh Bernstein. They taught me to always be curious and to always ask questions. Since then, my documentary DVD collection has grown with programs from National Geographic, History Channel, A&E, and Discovery Channel. Many I have watched several times and know by heart. And I always stay on top of the latest releases, making sure I have the most recent data on hand. Then, while writing my novels, I’ll run a related program running in the background to inspire the imagination. At the same time, I’m learning something while I write. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAField Research You’re probably wondering what I define as in field research? Basically, any research that is conducted in a location (other than at home, school, library, or bookstore) where you can interact and learn about the subject you’re focusing on. This could be while on the job, studying biology, working with wildlife, and learning about different environments. Or visiting museums with exhibits on what I’m writing about, such as our local art museum’s Ancient Egypt display. Or participating in themed festivals like the Tall Ship Festival in Michigan. Or even visiting a family owned restaurant that hosts their homeland cuisine, or cooking a foreign dish yourself. Field research is talking with people and learning their culture. The best way to do this is actually visiting the locations and historical sites your novel is based in. Unfortunately, for Descendants of Isis, I have yet be able to visit Egypt. I’m hoping in the next year. But for Death Island, which is based in the early seventeen hundreds, I have been able to visit many period-based villages and towns across the east coast to learn what life was like for my characters. I’ve watched carpenters and blacksmiths, I’ve helped raise a sooner’s sail, I’ve asked questions and learned period superstitions and systems, I’ve learned about their medicine and the meaning of the colored glass. Without these amazing people, I’d be writing blind. This is the kind of research that makes every moment worthwhile. To conclude, all this research does take time—along with my day job—and I will admit that I am slower in publishing my novels than most self-published authors. But I focus on my novels’ quality and push out of my mind the quantity, using research as one of my major writing tools. Now, even with all these resources, I will never say my writing is one-hundred percent accurate or that I don’t take literary license. Which fiction author doesn’t? But before placing pen to paper, my advice to anyone writing a paper or novel would simply be:

Daughter of Isis (Descendants of Isis #1)
Kelsey Ketch
Release Date: October 26nd, 2013
Upper Young Adult Fantasy

Summary from Goodreads:

“Her mouth parted slightly, waiting for Seth to breathe life into her own body, just like in the story. She wanted him to awaken her senses.”

Their worlds collide in California’s high desert.

The last thing Natara “Natti” Stone wants to do is to start anew at Setemple High School. She wished she had never left London. Yet the brutal murder of her maternal grandmother has made her life very complicated. The only clue related to her murder is an ancient, encrypted necklace Natti discovered after her grandmother’s death. And if trying to adjust to American life is not enough, Natti is being stalked by a mysterious, charming high school senior, Seth O’Keefe, who is annoyingly persistent in his attempts at seduction.

Seth O’Keefe is secretly a member of the Sons of Set, an order that worships the Egyptian god of chaos. Seth’s blessing from Set, his “charm,” never failed, except with one person: Natti Stone. Her ability to elude him infatuates and infuriates him, and he becomes obsessed with the chase. But the closer he gets to her, the more his emotions take a dangerous turn, and he risks breaking one of the most valued covenants of his order. The punishment for which is a fate worse than death.

The adventure this unlikely couple becomes engulfed in could cost them their lives and their souls.

*Note: Content for Upper YA*

***Praise for Daughter of Isis***

“Daughter of Isis is an addicting and enthralling read brimming with Egyptian mythology. Readers will be pulled into the story after simply reading a page!” —Emily, Reader Rising

“I always enjoy a good book about Mythology and Daughter of Isis brings a thrilling modern day spin to one of the tales. Kelsey Ketch wove the story perfectly and sucked me right into her magnificent world.” —Naomi, Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

Son of Set (Descendants of Isis #2)
Kelsey Ketch
Release Date: May 2nd, 2014
Upper Young Adult Fantasy

Summary from Goodreads:

“. . . the Sons would never just let him go—alive.”

Seth O’Keefe has broken the laws of his god. He never thought he would sacrifice his own future to protect a Daughter of Isis. But when the Sons of Set discovered Natti is the Secret Keeper, he had no choice. Now, Seth and Natti are on the run from his father, who wants nothing more than to see Seth dead. With no allies, Seth turns to the Daughters of Isis for help, hoping they would protect Natti. But when they meet the Daughters, he discovers a secret that puts both their lives in more danger. Low on options, Seth sees only one possibility for survival. He must help Natti solve an ancient puzzle and find the secret name of Ra.

Natara “Natti” Stone is having a hard time swallowing the truth. She can’t believe what she has learned in the past twenty-four hours: Seth is a Son of Set blessed with charm; she is a Daughter of Isis blessed with a sliver of Ma ‘at; the locket her grandmother gave her holds an ancient Egyptian secret linking to Osiris and Isis. That along with being tortured and brutalized by the Sons of Set, she can hardly hold herself together. Thank God for Seth’s touch! That warm, tingling sensation that drowns it all out. Yet her heart struggles to stay focused. She must quickly embrace her destiny before the secret name of Ra falls into the wrong hands.

*Note: Content for Upper YA*

Name of Ra (Descendants of Isis #3)
Kelsey Ketch
Release Date: November 11th, 2015
Upper Young Adult Fantasy

Summary from Goodreads:

“Set has risen.”

After being on the run from a psychotic cult for a week, Natara “Natti” Stone has finally come to realize she and Seth are the only two people standing between the Sons of Set and the secret name of Ra. Holding a part of the key that unlocks Ra’s power, they relocate to a more isolated location in the California mountains. While laying low, Natti becomes even more determined to understand her mother’s bloodline and her blessing from the goddess, Isis. But when she starts seeing the truth behind her destiny, she begins to doubt her role in the events that are about to unfold.

Then the unthinkable happens . . .

All Seth O’Keefe wanted was to get Natti as far away from his father and the Sons of Set as possible. Unfortunately, after hearing of Natti’s destiny from Isis’s own lips, he realizes they have bigger issues to worry about. Especially when one stupid slip up leads the god of chaos himself straight to their doorstep. Now Natti is the god’s prisoner, and Set holds the key to unlocking the location of the secret name of Ra. Can Seth save Natti from her own destiny and thwart the demented god’s rise to power?

*Note: Content for Upper YA*

Author Bio:

Kelsey Ketch is a young adult/new adult author, who works as a Wildlife Biologist in the state of North Carolina. During her free time, she can often be found working on her latest work in progress or organizing the New Adult Scavenger Hunt, a biannual blog hop. She also enjoys history, mythology, traveling, and reading.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Magic vs Miracles: Genies vs Golems

The countdown to the March 7th release of Solomon's Bell has begun! You can find me today in a guest post for Young Adult and New Adult Author Kelsey Ketch where I write about the mythos and folk figures you can expect more of in the book. Check it out!