YA Book Signing at New Hope Public Library: Meet Author Melanie Dickerson

Author Melanie Dickerson

Author Melanie Dickerson

I was lucky enough to meet Melanie Dickerson at the Rocket City NerdCon last year. As soon as I met her I knew that she was one of the most endearing people I’ve had the pleasure to know. I fell in love with her personality and especially her contagious smile. She’s one of those beautiful souls that you can’t help be drawn to because there seems to be a light emanating from all around her.

Melanie Dickerson is the author of Medieval fairy tale retellings, including The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, both Christy Award finalists, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on the web at http://www.MelanieDickerson.com.

Author Questions

When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

I wanted to be an author when I was in 7th grade, or around that time. I wrote all during high school and then put it aside when I started college and didn’t pick it back up again for about 15 years.

In what genre do you write?

I write YA, historical romance, inspirational/Christian, Medieval, and Christian adult Regency romances.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in, but want to?

I think someday I’d like to write contemporaries. Although I’m happy writing historicals for now.

What is your writing process? Such as, outlining, freehand, computer vs paper and pen?

I don’t outline. I come up with a story idea, write as short a summary as my publisher will let me get away with, and then I brainstorm the main points of the story, and start writing on my laptop. When I get stuck, I will bounce ideas off someone, whoever will stand still long enough, usually.

Who are you writing inspirations, famous or not?

As a kid, I was inspired by Harper Lee, since I grew up about 45 or 50 miles from Monroeville, Harper Lee’s hometown, and I was a Lee. I thought, if she could be so successful, perhaps it was possible for me too.

How much research, if any, did you have to put into your novel(s)?

I do a lot of research on Medieval Europe, the everyday lives of people then, the language, what words were used or not used, and current events of the time.

Do you listen to music while you write or edit? If so, who do you listen to?

I can’t listen to music when I edit because it’s too distracting, but I sometimes listen to Andrea Bocelli or Medieval and Renaissance music when I’m writing the first draft.

When you’re not being an amazing author and writing away, what do you for fun?

I like watching movies with my two daughters, cooking, and . . . well, I don’t do much of anything besides write. LOL!

What has been the most exciting experience for you since starting your writing career?

I guess just signing my first contract, and some of the awards I’ve finaled in and won. I got to accept the Carol Award for Young Adult fiction in 2012. That was pretty amazing.

Who created your amazing cover art?

Mike Heath of Magnus Creative did all five of my Zondervan books, and I’m not sure who to credit for my Thomas Nelson covers, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and The Golden Braid.

Give us a brief description of your WIP (work in progress) or your newest novel.

My next book, The Golden Braid, comes out in November and is a Rapunzel story in my YA fairy tales collection. I think my readers will like the surprise I have for those who have read all my Hagenheim stories. 🙂

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Reader Questions

What author would you geek out over if you met them in real life?

Harper Lee, Kate DiCamillo, and Judith Merkle-Riley

It’s completely impossible for a reader to pick their favorite book. However, if you were banished to a deserted island with no hope of returning and were allowed to bring 5 books with you, which ones would you choose?

The Bible, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Confident Woman, and In Pursuit of the Green Lion.

What book would you like to see in film or do you believe that books should be left alone?

Mine! LOL!

As a reader, what about a book turns you away?

If it’s boring, full of errors, or not believable.

If you find you can’t get into a book, do you put it down or be a trooper and finish it?

I put it down. Life is too short to read a bad book.

Do you stick to one genre or do you like to read around?

I read a lot of different genres.

Are you a book-in-your-hands reader, e-booker, or both?

I like an actual paperback.

Random Questions

Favorite movie?

National Velvet, Penelope, Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth version), Jane Eyre (the Toby Stephens version), Joe Versus the Volcano, and several other Jane Austen movies.

Favorite TV show?

Psych

If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Moussaka

What’s your favorite candy/dessert?

Lindt dark chocolate truffles

What band or musician can you listen to over and over again? You can list more than one.

Switchfoot!

What’s your hidden talent?

I am a genius at spelling.

What is your dream vacation?

Visiting old castles all over Europe, especially Germany.

Contact Information:

Author Name: Melanie Dickerson

Blog: www.MelanieDickerson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieDickersonBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/melanieauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Melanie_Dickerson

Book Links: http://www.amazon.com/Melanie-Dickerson/e/B003BAAJG6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

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Migraines and Life: It SUCKS, but You Got This!

To say it has been a while since I have blogged is a major understand statement! That may sound cliche, but it is as true a statement as there can be. I have had a lot on my plate. I’m sure many of you can relate. Life gets busy and out of control; it takes so much out of us. I’ve been busy, sure, but there are other reasons that have kept me from my blog. I’ve debated with myself about posting this, but I’ve always said that I’d be transparent with my readers and anyone else who cared to read my blog so, there are a few things I’d like to share. Hopefully, in the end, it will help someone else and possibly myself.

For over a year I have been dealing with migraines. It isn’t something that I thought would ever happen to me. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, but I’m definitely not old. I’m going to be 31 on July 23rd and to me, that is still young! When I started to not feel quite myself I thought maybe I was finally pregnant! It turns out that wasn’t true. It took several months for me to finally realize that over-the-counter medicine wasn’t cutting it and I took my butt to the doctor.

Wounds

My migraine journey has been long, too long in my opinion. I was having pain in my neck and arm. My doctor thought I might have a pinched nerve in my neck. After an MRI, it was duly noted that there was nothing wrong with my neck. Still my doctor thought that maybe physical therapy would help. He was right, it did help my neck and arm, but did absolutely noting for my head. In fact, it made my head hurt worse.

That was when my therapist suggested I get an MRI on my brain and see a neurologist. Needless to say, that was a bit scary. No one wants to get an MRI on their head. Brain tumors run in my family so of course I was having terrible, pointless thoughts. My brother was actually diagnosed with a brain tumor nearly 7 years ago. Thankfully he is still in remission and we are blessed with many more days with him. I’m happy to say that MRI came back clear. According to my neurologist I have a very healthy brain. But, what did that mean?

Here I was, nearly 8 or so months into dealing with migraines, trying to write and trying to work, but will still no answers. That is when my neurologist diagnosed me with migraines. I had already had speculations that was what was going on with me. Believe me, you know when you have a migraine. It sucks! Now that I had a “reason” as to why I was feeling like my body was turning against me, it didn’t mean it was over. It was only the beginning.

I am thankful that God has blessed our world with so many bright people. I’m a firm believer that if a medication can help you then you should take it. Here is my dilemma, the medicine and I have not been friends. They would either make me sick or not work. At first they would knock me flat on my rear. I would come home at 6:00 PM and sleep until the next day. I would be walking around in a haze, but still have this intense pressure in my head. My doctor tried everything.

Now, I’m at the point where I’m going to try Botox injections. When I heard about Botox treating migraines, I was skeptical. I’m still skeptical. However, I’m at the point that I will try anything as long as it’s not immoral or illegal. I’ll be honest, there are days when even that is up in the air. I’ve told my husband on many occasions that I’d take a horse tranquilizer if I knew it would help. There have been so many times where I have stayed curled up in my bed, holding my head, praying that God would just take the pain away.

Psalms 61

I can say that if it weren’t for God, I would have lost my mind ages ago. He has blessed me with health professionals who are trying different methods of treatments. I have had amazing co-workers, both writing buddies and others, who are at the ready with words of encouragement. My family and friends have been a huge blessing so I know that He knew that I would be in this situation one day. He put those people in my life for a reason and I can’t thank him enough. You really start to realize who your true friends are when your health gets turned upside down.

That’s the bones of the experience I’ve had so far. You have probably heard a similar story from people you know that have migraines. What you probably haven’t heard is the other part, the part that people like me try to keep ourselves. What could that be? Well, the darkness that creeps in on you when your body is in constant pain on a daily basis. Migraines aren’t an illness that many people can sympathize with, if you don’t have it, because it’s not something you can see. It’s a silent sickness that a lot of people still can’t view as a true disease.

I don’t blame these people at all. There are still a lot of things the health community doesn’t understand about migraines. Treatments are a shot in the dark. It’s almost like you’re a guinea pig with the medicine and other treatment options. You literally go through phases of “let’s see if this works.” More times than not it doesn’t work and you’re back to square one.

There are so many people who can’t wrap their heads around this. I’ve heard it from so many of them, “Why haven’t they fixed you yet?” or “Well when I have a headache I do this, this, and this.” or “Have you tried blah, blah, blah, works for me every time.” Sweet Lord, baby Jesus, I wish it were that simple! I say that in a not taking the Lord’s name in vain sort of way. I ask Him a lot to let it be that easy. The truth is, as meaningful as people are with their suggestions, migraine (NOT headaches) sufferers will try anything, but you can’t just “fix” us. It’s a constant battle to find something that works.

Then you have your triggers. These triggers are different for everyone, but there are some that seem to affect the majority. It could be weather (Yes! The darn weather!), food (Chocolate…what a world!), scents, lights, heat, sounds…you name it, just about anything can trigger a migraine. It can seem like there isn’t a hope in the world. Your life is never the same. You can’t do things that you used to. Work, on a daily basis, is nearly impossible, you can’t hang out with friends, or go to family gatherings without looking like you’re about to pass out. You will spend many, many beautiful days locked inside a dark room with an ice pack on the back of your neck. It is a life changer for the worse.

Let me tell you, as with many chronic illnesses, if you aren’t careful, it can consume you. I have always been the type of person that would hold in problems with pain and emotions. Sure, I love easily and if I love you, you’ll know it. But, when it came to me, something that I thought made me look weak, I kept it to myself. This has really hit me where it hurts, my pride. I’m a control freak and a fixer. I want to fix all of the problems with myself and have always been foolish enough to think that I can do it on my own. Ha!

I got so down, further than I had ever been in my life. Saying that my head hurt got old to even me so I just stopped saying it. I held it all in and would only talk to those who were closest to me. Even then I’d say, “I’m fine.” when they asked me how I was feeling. I was lying to them and myself. I wasn’t fine. I was hurting and not just physically, but in my soul. This illness had taken not only my strength, but my spark, my joy. Holding in how I felt and denying myself the release of saying, “I hurt.”had stripped me of an outlet that I so desperately needed.

It took a simple spat with my husband about where we should move books to unhinge me. I realized that I was so angry and hurt that the slightest things would set me off. It hurt me that I had hurt him and then I broke down. It was the most disgusting, snotty cry of my life. It was a “Boo-Hoo” cry, as my mother calls it. Even though it was my fault, my husband held me the entire time, just letting me get it all out. That cry saved my sanity. It made me realize that I couldn’t hold this in and that it was OK to admit that I live with a pain that had uprooted my entire life.

To be honest, it does kick my butt most days. It hurts; I will never deny that. There are still going to be days when I feel down in the dumps. I’m not going to want to get out of bed or wash my hair or make dinner or clean the house. I will be irritable and grumpy; heck, I’m sure I’ll be down right miserable to be around. There is one thing I won’t be, afraid. I know I have a long battle ahead of me. Boy, will it suck, but I will not be ashamed to admit that I need help or that I am in pain.

Psalms 147

I will cling to God, to my family, to friends, to my supporters. I will hold on to the fact that this pain is only temporary and there are wonderful and jubilant days ahead for me. If you are where I am, I am praying for you and I send you all of my love, all of my positive thoughts. You will get through this. I am here for you. I am your sister in God; I am your sister in arms. We will fight this war together. No man or woman or child gets left behind.

If you have found your way out of this battle, remember those who still need your support. God bless you. Never take your pain free days for granted. If your loved is going through this, be kind, be understanding when they cancel plans at the last minute. Believe me, if they could be there they would. This doesn’t just go for those who have migraines, but anyone who is suffering, be it physically, mentally, or spiritually. Reach out with love in your heart and a warm hug.

Rowling

You Will Receive Power!

When I write, parts of me, of who I am, bleed into the paper. I think that is the same for all authors or any artist. As a Christian, my faith often is seen in the words. When I first started writing The Darkness Trilogy, I knew that I never wanted to write anything that would hurt my witness, but I also didn’t want to sugar coat the world that my characters lived in. That is to say, they live in a dark world. If they don’t cling to the light then how are they going to find their way? I believe the same can be said for us.

It was never my intention to market the book toward Christians. That isn’t to say that I thought Christians couldn’t relate to it or that I thought non-believers wouldn’t give my book a chance. I wanted people to see it for what it was, a book, a form of entertainment. It wasn’t until that first review where a young girl had mentioned she enjoyed the Christian element of the book that I realized I had infused my faith into the words. Deep down I knew that I could never write something that made me feel uncomfortable as a Christian, but from that moment on I realized that by writing I was using a Gift.

If you’ve read TDT then you know that my characters have many Gifts. Granted, these Gifts are of paranormal origin. You won’t find many singers, teachers or preachers, but you will find those who use these Gifts for good. It was a pumped up version of using your God given abilities to make the world a better place and to lead lost souls to salvation. For the most part, the idea has been well received.

Now, it hasn’t been all butterflies and rainbows. I’ve had some Christians tell me, in so many words, that my writing is dark and can be too secular for Christians. That makes me sad, but it has also helped me reflect back on what I’m putting out there. If I’m being honest, it makes me feel a bit defensive. Ha! The reason being is because I know this book is fictional, its a story of make-believe with hints of the real world laced throughout its pages. So, for starters, I hope that people don’t take the book as fact. However, take the book for what it could be. What’s that? Well, I think we could take Rayna’s situation and reflect upon our own lives.

She is thrown into a very dark world at such a young age. She has lost, been victimized and shunned. That sounds like a few real world people that I’ve known or read about. Also,  her everyday life is a battle of darkness and light. She can feel that darkness creep into her little world and she fights it tooth and nail with the light. Rayna leans on her faith, using God’s strength to face each day. She draws from His power and clings to others of like minded individuals. She faces an evil, one of pride, greed and lust, and knows that without her faith she would surely fail.

I don’t see how that is any different than what Christians have to do every day. We might not have her supernatural abilities or actually fight someone like The Shadow, but can’t we say that we do to a certain extent? The devil is always near. He is always searching for weaknesses in our armor. We might not see the darkness that surrounds us all of the time, but it is there. It’s in everyday life. Sometimes we don’t see it until its in our face. How do we combat something like that? The only way we can, with God!

A verse from the Bible hit me square in the chest the other day. I read it while scrolling through Facebook of all places. It was a verse that the page for the movie God’s Not Dead had shared. It reminded me of Rayna, about her Gifts, and it reminded me of our everyday life as a Christian, about our Gifts.

Acts 1:8

Acts 1:8

I’ve been told that you should read the verses before and after a passage. While there is great meaning in that verse alone, there is also so much more if you keep reading. This is when Jesus had come back and was telling the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would give them the power to reach out to the world with His message. When He ascended into Heaven they were left staring after Him. That is when two men dressed in white, who I believe were angels, asked the Apostles why there were just standing there staring? They explained that Jesus would come back the same way He had left. So, to me that means that we aren’t going to miss His return!

Isn’t that how we are in our lives though? We are given so many gifts and powers to share His love with the world, but instead of doing so we are just standing there waiting for Him to return. I find myself guilty of the same thing. I love this life that He has given me, but I get beat down by this world and think there is nothing I can do so I just sit and wait. That’s so wrong in me! That is selfish and disobedient. What Child of Light am I if I keep that warm, luminous love to myself?

Let us use our talents, our Powers, our GIFTS, for the upbuilding of His kingdom! Will we always do it perfectly? Of course not! We are weak, but He is strong. 🙂

~A

Five Star Review for The Shadow!

Hello all,

I wanted to share a Five Star review I got for The Shadow. I am really happy about this. If you want your copy, go here! 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ASPY3VE 

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!! May 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
In The Shadow you meet Rayna Stone, a girl starting the summer before her Senior year taking an internship at The Landing, a country club in small town Alabama. Rayna in a very likable character because she isn’t whiney or self-centered. She is actually quite the opposite of that. She acutally cares about other people, so when she starts having dreams about girls being kidnapped and beaten only to find out the “dreams” are real, she puts everything she can into trying to help these girls asnd stopping it from happening to anyone else. What I really loved about this book was, even though there were dark sides of the story, the author really let her faith in God shine through. It was more than just mentioning Him in passing, but really detailing it in points of the story. I would definitely recommend the book and I am anxiously awaiting book 2!! There are some typing errors but not as many as you would expect from a book as long as this that is self-published!
 
Thanks, 
Amanda

Thank you Laura Hilburn!

Writing has always been a passion of mine. However, it was a secret passion. I had this fear that if I put my writing out there it would be rejected. I remember the first time I let someone, other than a family member, read my work. I was on pins and needles, waiting to see if they hated it. Yes, it was a lack of self-confidence on my part. Inwardly, I thought that I wasn’t good enough or talented enough. It was also because I know that not everyone would like it. To this day I know that. I also know that people can be mean and tear you down faster then you can blink. 

Still, there are moments when someone will like what you do, maybe even love it. When I get a compliment on my work, my heart just flutters with joy. I wish I could show that person how greatly I appreciate the nice things they say and how encouraging that is. I want to take them and give them my emotions so they know, without a doubt, that they have changed my life in a positive way. Forever, they have become this beacon of light and an inspiration. 

I know that is not possible, but what is possible is for me to thank them and to keep writing!

What brought this on was someone contacting me over Facebook. What they said to me was really, really amazing. Her name is Laura. We went to high school together, but I was a grade or two ahead of her. Our interactions were minimal but I always thought and still do, that she was such a good person and a sweet girl. Now she’s a sweet woman with a family of her own! Thanks for making me feel old, Laura! Just Kidding! 

Moving on, I wanted to share with you all, with her permission, what she sent to me. These words, especially for a “starving artist” and someone who is just beginning their writing journey, touched me so deeply on a positive level. Without further ado, here is what she said: 

“Hey! Just wanted to let you know that I bought your book over the weekend and I’m about 3/4 of the way through it! I would probably be done by now, but I have a 2 year old to run after lol I love it so far and can’t wait for the next one! It’s so refreshing to see someone incorporate their Faith so much into their writing! You see a lot of people thank God, but rarely do you ever see them really talk about it in the books so it was awesome to see that in yours!! I know it isn’t the “popular” thing to do today so it really makes you stand out and I know He is proud of you for not taking the easy way out! Again, I can’t wait for the next book!!!”

This made me realize that I am doing this for a reason. The fire that burns inside me, the one that needs to write to survive, burns for a reason. While I am not perfect, and never will be, I know that God has given me this talent and this desire. I want to always please Him. I will fail and I will fall, but I know that He is there helping me get back up. 

So, thank you Laura Hilburn! Thank you for always being that sweet, funny, amazingly beautiful girl I remember. 

Amanda

Congrats to the Kiddos!

Today most kids are graduating from their current grade. I am very proud of my stepson, who is moving up to 6th grade. He is so very smart and such a good kid. Honestly, I don’t think there is a subject in school or anything else he’s tackled that he hasn’t mastered. I hope that his hunger for knowledge never leaves him. 

Image

One thing that I am also thankful for is his passion for reading. That child can read a book faster than I ever could. Needless to say, we’ve spent quiet a bit of money of books! I’m OK with that though. 

Anyway, the point of this post was to brag a little bit, but also to point out that there are so many little children in Oklahoma that are not graduating because of the terrible tornado that touched down Monday. My thoughts and prayers are with those families. I can’t even imagine the pain that those parents are going through. 

So, please, do what you can for them. If you can give money or time then please do so. Please, if nothing else, pray for peace for them. 

Keep your little ones close to your heart today and thank God for another day with them. 

Love y’all, 
Amanda

Peace Shall Come

I need your hope and your power;

I need to take shelter in your strong tower.

Your powerful arms and warming light;

can banish the darkness and defeat the night.

You will not burden me with more than I can bare;

I just need to feel as if you are really there.

I wonder how much more I can take;

before I keeping bending and before I break.

My heart is stretched and almost numb;

I often wonder when at last, peace will come.

Even as these words I write;

I know you’re there, just out of sight.

I feel your spirit ease my sorrow;

without your love I would fear the morrow.

Just comfort me Lord as only you can;

show me mercy, show me the promised land.

 

Grace is Found

In the dark, I find the light;

that light is warm, comforting and bright.

Out here alone, I hear your voice;

your words are like music, when I hear them I rejoice.

This road is hard, it wears on my bones;

in you I find comfort, in you I find my soul.

Hurtful sneers; menacing eyes;

without you I’d be afraid, but with you I don’t believe the lies.

It feels like fingers of death grip my heart; it feels like I can’t move;

you’re the reason for me going; you’re the one that makes me new.

Through a thousand years of endless night; you’re there for me;

you hold me when I can’t stand; you lift me up so I can see.

Dear Lord don’t let me fall; don’t me hit the ground;

in you I am safe; in you is where grace is found.

 

You Make Me Whole

You hold me up;
Never let me fall.
You hold me tight;
Above it all.
In your light;
I stand tall.
In your voice;
I hear that call.
The sound you make;
It speaks to my soul.
The way you know;
I’ll never let you go.
Your strength is mine;
Your love does show.
Your heart is home;
It makes me whole.