A Prayer for All

Will you join me in prayer today?

I am a follower of Christ first. I strive to follow His lead: to honor God’s commands, to love even those who hate me, and to share the gospel—the story of Christ and His sacrifice in order that all might be saved.

But I am also still human. And the one thing that comes to mind in the midst of everything this year is spiritual warfare: the battle of evil forces to gain influence over human beings.

Today, as an important election is carried out in our country, during a year like no other, it’s easy to focus on that. It’s all over the news here. But there’s so much more going on in the world than today’s election. This year has impacted everyone around the globe.

So instead of just praying for the election and the US—will you will join me in praying for everyone in all countries?

Prayer is powerful.

INKTOBER: Rip

October is INKTOBER! INKTOBER is a drawing prompt challenge that takes place during the entire month of October—just for fun.

Look for a drawing and a story each Friday.

Are you INKTOBER-ING?

Drop a line in the comments about where you’re sharing your INKTOBER prompts.

Today’s Prompt: Rip

Super Dumpty Origin Story

Inktober 2020 daily prompt list
Discover SCBWI Bookstop!

Every year the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators hosts Bookstop to promote new and recently released titles for children and teens—making it easy to discover new books. And Snow Globe Travelers is part of it this year! Visit Snow Globe Travelers’ Bookstop page.

The Story Behind M.L. Tarpley’s “Maylie and the Maze”

K.A.:
M.L. Tarpley is on the blog today talking about her new release, Maylie and the Maze—a middle-grade fiction story aimed at readers in grades 3-7.

Welcome, M.L.! Before we launch into all the behind-the-scene fun, tell us about Maylie and the Maze.

M.L.:
Maylie and the Maze is middle grade realistic fiction and the first book in the Tales of a Travel Girl series, which follows 10-year-old Maylie Montes on an inspirational trip across Europe filled with the shenanigans of her zany family and the mishaps of her overactive imagination.

In Maylie and the Maze, ten-year-old Maylie Montes’s dream is to become an author, but she has a problem. She can’t finish a story. Not a single one.

Her second problem is Camden, her annoying twin brother, who is determined to ruin their summer traveling through Europe with their famous photographer aunt and spunky grandma.

The first stop is England where a castle and maze, a new British friend, and a lot of weird words await Maylie—but the first item on her itinerary is to learn how to write, so she can finally finish a story. However, this goal may land her a one-way ticket home after her writing targets her brother in a spooky story involving a nighttime maze full of monsters. And Camden has his own plans, leaving Maylie to wonder if her imagination has actually become a reality.

K.A.:
That sounds exciting and fun. I’m curious to find out what sort of mishaps her overactive imagination conjures up. What books would you compare Maylie and the Maze to?

M.L.:
I think this series will appeal to fans of the Middle School series by James Patterson, The Tapper Twins series by Geoff Rodkey, and the Melanie Martin series by Carol Weston with their quirky main characters, sibling antics, and more.

The book also features a variety of illustrations and doodles by the amazing illustrator Monica Bruenjes (www.artistmonica.com). It was such an amazing experience to see my story truly come to life through her art!

Monica Bruenjes’s artwork in different stages of the illustration process.

K.A.:
What inspired you to write Maylie and the Maze?

M.L.:
I wrote Maylie and the Maze to show kids that you can go after your dreams no matter what roadblocks stand in your way. Another goal was to write a book that could be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups alike, especially as a fun bedtime read!

Throughout this series, I want kids to have a chance to travel the world through fiction and along the way learn a bit. I’ve tapped into my own first-hand experiences from traveling to over a dozen countries and filtered them through Maylie’s eyes.

M.L.:
In this instance, the story is set in England, particularly at Leeds Castle in southern England.

The castle is absolutely gorgeous! It’s known as the “loveliest castle in the world” for a reason. And it’s nearly 1,000 years old. Isn’t that amazing?!

According to the official Leeds Castle website, it has been a Norman stronghold, the private property of six of England’s medieval queens, a palace used by King Henry VIII, a Jacobean country house, a Georgian mansion, an elegant retreat for the rich and famous, and today, it is one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.

There’s not just a castle but a hedge maze and over 500 acres of gardens, parkland, and wildlife. There are also a host of activities and attractions including falconry demonstrations, a dog collar museum, zipline and Segway tours, playgrounds, miniature golf, and more.

A photo of Leeds Castle taken by M.L. Tarpley during her visit to England.

K.A.:
Wow. A thousand years old! That’s a lot of history. What sort of research went into writing a story set in such a historic place?

M.L.:
My book research consisted of scouring the Leeds Castle website for any interesting nuggets of information I could find. I also spent a lot of time on London tourist attractions’ official websites.

But, overall, in my research I learned a lot about mazes!

I absolutely fell in love with the hedge maze at Leeds Castle when I visited there, but I didn’tknow much about them and grottos too. It’s interesting!

K.A.:
What’s the most interesting discovery you made writing this story?

M.L.:
I think the funniest tidbit I came across about the Leeds Castle maze was that its creator even got lost in it! How funny is that! Ha. I’m sure he was embarrassed.

The most interesting aspect was the design of the maze and its grotto. When viewed from its center, it forms a queen’s crown, which is fitting because several queens stayed at the castle. A grotto is a small cave that can form naturally along a coastline. In this case, a grotto is a man-made cave-like structure that has been popular as pieces of interests in gardens for hundreds of years.

For more info, visit www.leeds-castle.com or hopefully visit it in person.

Check out M.L. Tarpley’s Maylie and the Maze Pinterest board.

K.A.:
The hedge maze there must be an amazing sight to see!

K.A.:
I’m a huge fan of Easter eggs. Any hidden references, details, or tidbits readers should keep an eye out for?

M.L.:
Great question! I love that too!

Another aspect of the book (and series) that I wanted to incorporate was that in each book Maylie is given a classic kid’s novel by her aunt to read. In this book, it is Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

Throughout my book, Maylie observes the world around her with references to Peter Pan and the theme of growing up. That was fun to tuck those little references in here and there including a fun doodle that is one of my favorite in the book.

K.A.:
Is there anything behind-the-scenes information you didn’t already mention that would be of interest to readers?

M.L.:
The book had to be set in England because that’s where the maze is located. Plus, I love England! I love the countryside and manor houses and castles and the mix of modern-day and history in the city of London. My favorite place is the city of Bath.

One of my favorite memories in England is staying a few nights in a 500-year-old thatched cottage in a tiny English village surrounded by green fields edged with low stone fences and full of sheep. It was idyllic and quite inspiring for a creative’s mind!

M.L.:
Another thing to note is that while Maylie and the Maze centers on one of Maylie’s struggles being that she longs to become an author, but she can’t finish a story. I feel like that is a struggle for so many—kids and adults alike, so I decided to write a companion non-fiction book that I would give to a kid like Maylie.

The book is called “Young Writer’s Kit: A Guide for Young Writers.” It is available for purchase on Amazon, but a free condensed PDF version is available for those who sign up for my newsletter, which anyone interested can do here: www.mltarpleybooks.com

K.A.:
And there’s a video of you reading the first chapter too!

K.A.:
Maylie and the Maze released last week and is now available on Amazon.

M.L.:
Thank you so much, K.A., for having me as your guest!

K.A.:
Thank you, M.L.! It’s been great to have you here and to learn more about the real life adventures and influences that went into Maylie and the Maze.

About M.L. Tarpley

Author M.L. Tarpley writes stories of adventure, friendship, and fun that transport kids to amazing places across the world. She is also an award-winning journalist and world traveler. Besides writing and traveling to over a dozen countries, her other interests include hanging out at cool coffee shops, listening to vintage records, going on adventures with her family, and researching dead people in her family from long ago (*cough* it’s called genealogy). She lives in Louisiana with her husband and son. Maylie and the Maze is her debut novel. 

For more information about her, visit www.mltarpleybooks.com

You can also connect with her on Goodreads, Facebook, or Instagram.

*** View past interviews here. ***

Thanks to Greg Pattridge for hosting MMGM! Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts!

INKTOBER: Rocket

October is INKTOBER! INKTOBER is a drawing prompt challenge that takes place during the entire month of October—just for fun.

Look for a drawing and a story each Friday.

Are you INKTOBER-ING?

Drop a line in the comments about where you’re sharing your INKTOBER prompts.

Today’s Prompt: Rocket

I wrote the following story a few years ago, but it’s a favorite that will hopeful become part of a larger story one day.

The Invasion of Rocket City

Suck it up, buttercup.

The words were a mantra. They kept Jude going when her mind and body betrayed her. Weakness was death in the Rocket City. She’d learned that growing up as an orphan in this gang-infested territory, the last human colony on Earth. Ripping out your heart, distancing yourself, was the only way to survive.

That’s why she moved to the outskirts of town. Solitude was safe.

One last bolt and the heavy machine gun would be ready to test. Ax, the leader of the Raging Pistons, had requested the weapon weeks ago. He was coming to check it out today and, if it went well, he’d order enough to keep Jude working for a year. She needed this. Supplies were thin, and nobody else was willing to take a chance on a sixteen-year-old girl building specialized weapons for them.

Freshly greased, the large wheels glided with minimal force as Jude pushed the free-standing gun out of her dilapidated shop. Its dark, matte finish absorbed the glare of the sun instead of reflecting it. No one wanted a weapon that could double as a beacon.

Everyone was armed out here. The element of surprise mattered, unless, like Ax, you had five times more people than anyone else. Of course, he was also shrewd and knew arrogance could get you killed. No matter how fierce you were, there was nothing you could do if Ax came for you. He would wait, lulling you into believing you were safe, and then pounce, a predator in the dark, his eyes locked on yours a moment before releasing repressed rage.

Jude shielded her eyes and looked toward the city. Dust clouds blocked the view of the buildings in the distance. Ax rode hard, and he wasn’t alone. Jude tensed. She patted her thighs without looking away from the incoming riders, and then remembered she had removed her weapons. With only a few seconds to prepare, she ducked into the shop to arm herself. She belted the holster with her twin eighteen-inch machetes, pulled on the metal lined vest lying next to her toolbox, and grabbed the big wrench on top of the workbench.

Ax and his gang dismounted as Jude emerged from the shop. With narrowed eyes, Ax followed her movements. He grinned as she shifted from one foot to another. An older, brutish man with massive hands, his deep, gravel voice sent chills up her spine. “You seem nervous, Jude.  Is it ready?”

Jude licked her lips. “Haven’t tested it yet, but, yeah, it’s ready.”

“Good.” Ax walked over to the heavy machine gun to inspect it. In his hands, the weapon looked like a toy.

At any moment, he could crush it like a can, crush me like a can.

“Get the ammo,” Ax ordered.

Jude walked to the back of the shop to grab the ammo. From inside, she heard Ax’s men start shouting. Their words ran together. She couldn’t understand most of what they said, but she heard something about a ship in the sky. Jude rushed back outside; her arms weighed down by ammo cans. Ax grabbed them from her while she stood there with her mouth wide open. Hundreds of Shark Riders, zombies on the backs of cyborg sharks, descended from an airship circling above the clouds. It’s gleaming metal exterior reflected beams of sunlight like a disco ball.

“We need weapons, ammo – anything you got. Move.” Ax ordered.

Anything.

Jude only had seconds to decide. If she revealed her deception, Ax would demand her head. However, if she didn’t, they might all die.

It was only one ship. Maybe we could take it down without the extra firepower? 

The portal in the sky opened again, purging a dozen more airships like the first. This time, the Shark Riders hadn’t merely stumbled upon them. It was a full-scale invasion.

On heavy gun and a small arsenal wouldn’t be enough. They’d all die for sure without more firepower.

Stealing from Axe had been stupid. But desperation performed its own kind of lobotomy on a person. Jude never thought he’d find out about the extra parts. And now, her only chance at survival hinged on coming clean.

She clenched her jaw.

Commanding the attention of several of Ax’s men, Jude shouted, “Come on. Gimme a hand.” She motioned to the other large shop doors. Together, they retrieved three more heavy machine guns. Jude risked a glance at Ax as they loaded the weapons. Their eyes locked. Ax gave Jude a knowing look. Had he suspected since the beginning that she had overcharged him for parts?

“Fire.” Ax shouted. Jude’s ears filled with ringing from the loud, constant clanging. Her arms felt like they were being ripped from the sockets but she managed to keep control of the weapon. Sharks fell from the sky, but more took their place. The enormous, winged beasts with razor-sharp teeth had a blood thirst matched only by the zombies rising from the ground.

Jude looked at the men around her. Focused. Determined. Closing ranks.

Jude had existed alone most of her life. But alone, none of them would survive. None of them would live.

Inktober  2020 daily prompts
Discover SCBWI Bookstop!

Every year the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators hosts Bookstop to promote new and recently released titles for children and teens—making it easy to discover new books. And Snow Globe Travelers is part of it this year! Visit Snow Globe Travelers’ Bookstop page.

A Review of “The Edge of Everywhen”

Piper and Phoenix’s father went missing two years ago. Now, after the death of their mother, they must move in with a rigid and wealthy aunt they’ve only met once. Isolated by distance and a lack of cell service and Wi-Fi, the children seek new ways to occupy their time, including snooping around their aunt’s library—the library she’s forbidden them from entering. But a special book hidden amongst their aunt’s extensive collection calls to them, beckoning them with the promise of a story that will change their lives.

A.S. Mackey’s The Edge of Everywhen is a Christian fantasy tale for middle-grade readers. It offers mystery and intrigue wrapped in a heartwarming story of redemption and restoration.

In a fun twist, the magical book, Novus Fabula narrates the story from an omniscient point of view. Lyrical prose cultivate an enchanting atmosphere well-suited for such a tale. However, it’s the emotional stakes and the unfolding mystery surrounding the children’s missing father, their aunt and the aunt’s collection of books that will intrigue readers.

The Edge of Everywhen also features two neuro-diverse characters: Phoenix, who is autistic and nonverbal, and Sofia, who is dyslexic. While Phoenix’s prophetic visions (a familiar biblical concept) feel a little out of place in the story, Mackey brings both characters to life with dignity.

The Edge of Everywhen contains themes of grace and redemption throughout. But it ends with a message of sharing our blessings with others, demonstrated by the children’s act of donating Novus Fabula to their local library.

The Edge of Everywhen is available on Amazon. A free printable activity book is available on the author’s website.

Content Guide

Romance (low)
None.

Violence (low)
None.

Language (low)
None.

Sensitive Topics (low-medium)
Death of a parent. Surviving parent missing/endangered.

About The Edge of Everywhen

A unique middle-grade novel, The Edge of Everywhen tells the story of Piper, a 13-year-old self-proclaimed book nerd whose world has been upended after the death of her mother. She and her autistic little brother (and best friend) Phoenix cling to one another as they are forced to move a thousand miles away from everything familiar and live with their rich, estranged aunt.

Piper reaches to the books on her shelf for comfort, but it is one unique book, Novus Fabula, who offers true guidance as the omniscient narrator in the story. It watches them arrive at their aunt’s home, with tired hearts and stones in their stomachs, and now its whispered voice must point the children to depend upon the sovereignty of God during the most dire times as they await word of their missing father.

“What’s that you say? Books cannot speak? On the contrary, dear Reader. Quite the contrary. Books are one of the few things on this earth that truly speak, from the moment the first word is penned until the book’s last Reader has drawn their final breath.
Let me show you.”—Novus Fabula

Full of mystery and intrigue, The Edge of Everywhen story bridges the chasm between faith-based and fantasy kid-lit genres. It is a book-lover’s book, carrying the reader right into the adventure as Piper and Phoenix embark upon a life-changing journey, in search of their father and of a faith to call their own.

About A.S. Mackey

A.S. Mackey is proud to be represented by agent Elizabeth Bennett at the Transatlantic Literary Agency. She is a member of the Shoals Writers Guild and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is happily married to Chad, and she is the mother of three adult children and a son-in-law. She currently resides in Florence, Alabama.

Connect with A.S. Mackey through her website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to Greg Pattridge for hosting MMGM! Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts!