Critique Partners Release Books! Books! Books!

Confessions of a Lousy Critique Group Partner

I have been a lousy critique partner. I feel terrible, but there you have it. The concussion I received last spring not only knocked me off my blogging feet, but knocked me off my cheer leading feet as well.

Books! Books! Books! New Releases!

Three of my writing friends have released books these past three months and I have failed to support them. (I even missed a launch party, yikes! My apologies, Diana.)

I intend to remedy this, TODAY. We’ll go chronologically.

When Sparrows Fall by Diana Blackstone-Helt

When Sparrows Fall

by Diana Blackstone-Helt

Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Sometimes doing the right thing means risking it all.

After her mother’s arranged marriage to her recently deceased father’s bitter brother, thirteen-year-old Susanna Stutzman faces a crisis of faith. Everything seems to be going wrong in her life.

As if her new father’s nasty temper isn’t enough, her cousin Mary, now her stepsister, hates her, as does her new teacher.

When Susanna’s discovery of a strange nighttime visitor at her mysterious neighbor’s home leads to the unveiling of secrets, Susanna is forced to make a choice between her conscience and her Mennonite community.

It has been my privilege and pleasure to watch this book and my friend grow–the book, from an idea to a rich, middle grade novel, and Diana from a fellow teacher with dreams of writing to a full-fledged novelist. I recommend both the book and Diana’s blog “Passing Notes.” Her most recent post, “The 8 C’s: Practical Steps Toward Publication” can be found here.

51L7bUgCkML._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Babylon: Center of the World

by B.G. Brainard

Biblical Fiction

Babylon: Center of the World opens with the biblical Daniel living in the city of Babylon, which is about to fall to the invincible Persian army under the leadership of King Cyrus. The wise man Daniel is an interpreter of dreams, signs, and visions, including the handwriting on the wall heralding the end of the Babylonian Empire. The novel traces the high stakes final days before Babylon falls, as foretold by Yahweh, the God of Israel and Marduk, the chief god of Babylon. In the midst of this confluence of divine activity, the prophet Daniel lives an exemplary life and stays true to the God of Israel.

Babylon: Center of the World provided our critique group a fascinating journey, Bev shared each chapter in the order that she wrote it, not in non-chronological order. (However, you don’t have to read it that way.) Bev is devoted to her Biblical studies and through the novel provides fascinating detail to help readers understand the times of this beloved prophet. You can visit her here.

The Body Institute modified for Liz approvalThe Body Institute

by Carol Riggs

Young Adult Science Fiction

This is a new, new, new release–just out Monday!

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body–leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti-Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

Carol and I have been roommates at SCBWI Oregon conferences and retreats for more years than I can count. I heard about this book while it was in the works, read it as a beta reader, and cheered for it in its odyssey toward publication. The Body Institute is a well-imagined, exciting read. Like many young adult novels, this one will appeal to more than just teens. Carol is a gifted writer and artist. Find out more about her here.

What About You?

Have you or any of your writing friends published a book lately? Feel free to share it in the comments. Give us the title, author, and brief summary. Who knows, I might have to add it to my reading list!


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