I’m so excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Jennifer Jensen. She’s a fantastic writer, a lover of books, and is a huge Dr. Who fan (in case you were wondering, these aren’t compulsory traits to have if you and I are to be friends, but they sure as hell don’t hurt).
Jen’s first novel just dropped last week – a time-travel story (and you know how much I love time travel) aimed at middle-schoolers. Scroll to the end of this post to see the cover and read the blurb, as well as links to Amazon and all of the cyber-places Jennifer hangs out at.
For now, though, I’ll let Jen do the talking.
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Ah, the end of summer.
If you follow social trends, you’ll notice a push for parents to create summer memories and back-to-school rituals. Picking apples at a local orchard, one last BBQ or boating trip, a movie marathon before homework takes over – take your pick.
Long, long, LONG ago (you know, when dinosaurs were still around), kids in my social group didn’t have any particular end-of-summer rituals unless their FFA or 4-H animals were good enough to qualify for the State Fair. The cool kids might have a final pool party or big city shopping trip, but not us. We were busy riding horses, having sleep-overs in tents in each others’ backyards, and stuffing ourselves with wild Oregon blackberries. (You could lean a ladder against a 10’ tall bush and pick a gallon from one spot. And people wonder why I miss Oregon – sheesh!)
The closest my family came to a summer finale was Labor Day weekend, but it wasn’t for a camping trip. Mom and Dad had us convinced that Labor Day was set aside as a day “when everyone is supposed to work,” and we had to spend the entire day painting fences. Can you say G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E ?
If we thought about the end of summer much, it was speculating who our teachers would be and which cute guys would be in our classes that year. And the excitement of back-to-school shopping. When I was little, September meant a luscious box of pointy new crayons, all 96 colors if I was lucky. It meant choosing whether I wanted kittens or horses on my folders, until I grew up enough to want the beige Pee-chees that the cool kids had. And by 7th grade, it was hoping Mom would be willing to spring for an “organizer,” not just folders. I couldn’t wait for school to start – new classes, new teachers, and new things to learn.
It hasn’t changed – I’m still a geek and I still buy a year’s supply spiral notebooks in August!
Is it any surprise that books played a big part in my summers, despite all our outdoor activity? I dragged a book or two on every camping trip, every long drive, every family visit, to the point where my mother had to tell me to put my book down and go play. My kids caught the reading bug, too: Son 1 tried reading The Wheel of Time at age 10, Son 2 loved anything non-fiction, and SuperDaughter spent a whole drive from Indiana to Oregon with her nose buried in Stephen King. All of us, at various ages, have been caught with a flashlight and book under the covers.
Before jobs and school sports got in the way, my boys spent late summer days playing “fort” in the hayloft and exploring the creek across the road, at least when I could get them off the computer. (SuperDaughter wasn’t thrilled with the outdoors and stayed plugged in with her books and music.) The boys went to Scout camp, gathered with friends at various houses, had bonfires and roasted marshmallows, and yes, rode horses.
Now they’re in college, and what do they remember about the end of summer? Back-to-school shopping! Backpacks, new jeans, and an endless list of school supplies. No last summer blast for us – I must have been a horrible mom!
Jim, my protagonist in Through the Shimmer of Time, has his own end-of-summer blast. It’s August, but he’s not really thinking about school – he’s completely captivated with the upcoming LaunchFest, where he’ll compete with his newest model rocket. The only problem is that he was having too much fun and got grounded for doing something like this:
So he’s stuck tagging along with his mom and his little sister, bored on a hot summer day in a history park. What kind of summer send-off is that? Of course he has to go in search of the haunted cabin!
What about you? Are you creating end-of-summer celebrations with your kids, or just letting the season wind happily to a close? If there’s a living history park near you, has it become a summer ritual?
••• ••• •••
A haunted cabin . . .
A shadowy stranger . . .
And no way home
Present Day: Jim has a talent for getting into trouble. Grounded from his model rockets, he goes exploring where he shouldn’t and gets zapped back in time. Can he find the way back home again or is he marooned in the past?
1838: Hannah’s life in her frontier village is filled with a little play and a lot of hard work. A seemingly harmless trick lures a strange, dazed boy from the old haunted cabin. Now Hannah must make a choice – and face the dangers.
Together, Jim and Hannah struggle to unmask a thief and solve a murder while they search for the key to unlock time. It will take courage and wits, plus the rocket motors in Jim’s pocket, just to stay alive.
Go have a look at Jennifer’s website here.
Hang out with Jennifer on Facebook here.
Tweet with Jennifer here.
Show Jennifer some love in the comments!