Please welcome debut author Gretchen A. Carlson. Thank you, L.A., for inviting me to your porch with your friends and readers. With a deep breath, I’ll jump in with two quiet confessions.
She won't mention that she's already a #1 Best Seller, but I will :)
First, I might be the oldest author to share a debut book here… but I’m learning to live with a young heart. I used to see the glass half empty rather than half full. When the grit of life darkened my heart, I often escaped into books, especially historical fiction. Characters fueled my courage and inspired me.
My grandma was in her eighties when she told me a story kept secret for decades. That was thirty years ago, but today More Than Grit is available on Amazon. It’s a book about broken lives and deep friendships as the shadows of World War II lengthened. More importantly, it’s about forgiveness and grace. It’s a story for hearts that yearn to live young.
My second confession? I cried. No, I sobbed when I typed the last paragraph of the book. I realized no matter the twists and turns or disappointments of life, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
My prayer is that each of you sweet friends and readers will not stumble through life’s hurts and jagged edges with an old heart. Instead, let hope and grace carry you. This is why I write.
A bit more about the story and why I wrote it. The official genre is Middle Grade, although readers of all ages have contacted me that they enjoyed the book. I decided to target fourth through eighth graders for two reasons. First, that’s when books began to shape me. My main character is a spunky twelve-year old girl, and through her I want to inspire teens that their lives have impact. They can make a difference in their homes, school, and community. Secondly, I’ve been concerned with content trends in middle grade and young adult novels.
Thank you for listening to tidbits of my story, and thank you again, L.A. for connecting friends and books.
Gretchen A. Carlson
I rolled up my shirt sleeves even though Mother warned me not to sunburn my scars. Were the bird-pecked apples worth the risk?
But winter’s hunger was approaching. I grabbed two apples and reached for more. Sweat ran under my ponytail, down my neck and back.
Tossing apples onto my ragged quilt spread below, I scanned the yard. My breath caught. Dewey Dog was gone. Only the chickens’ throaty cackles interrupted the quiet.
Don’t panic. It must be safe since he wandered off.
With my skinny legs wrapped tight around a limb, I inched higher.
“Git down, ya thief.” A raspy voice cut the silence, and a long shadow stepped from behind a shed, a rotting rectangle ready to collapse. A brown stream of spit hit the ground with a dusty splat. “Stealin’ my apples.”
Old Man lifted the barrel of a shotgun. I froze.
“Girlie. Ya hear me?” Old Man’s shotgun edged closer, and my heart skittered to a stop.
“I heard you.” I swallowed hard and chucked another apple onto the quilt. “And I’m not Girlie. My name … is … Sissy Grumme.” I turned my head, expecting a reaction to my ugly melted cheek.
He raised the gun.
I stared down the end of the barrel.
“Last time. Git down.” Old Man spat and sniggered, “Girlie.”
My heart battered hard against my chest. Don’t. Call. Me. Names.
I picked an apple and threw it at Old Man’s feet. Rotten mush splattered his work boots, and he snarled. I hugged a branch with both arms and dropped to the ground. As I landed, there was the sharp crack of a shell sliding into a gun chamber followed by Dewey Dog’s deep growl. Behind Old Man stood my guard—his fur bristled. Old Man pressed the shotgun into his shoulder and spun around.
“No!” I rushed toward them.
When do secrets become lies? When is grit not enough?
Scarred by burns from a kerosene lantern, twelve-year old Sissy knows electricity is more than her farm family’s dream. It’s vital. She also knows they can’t afford the required deposit to be connected to electric lines, so she wrangles a secret deal to help her parents. As she faces danger and sacrifices to support her family, Sissy’s best efforts fail. She’s blind to what she needs most, and when she tells her secrets, she fears it’s too late.
Set in Kansas farmland, More than Grit is an unforgettable story of determination to succeed against all odds that will appeal to middle-grade and teen readers, their parents, and anyone who roots for the underdog.
Award winning author Gretchen A. Carlson fills her characters with grit and grace as she shares the story her grandmother kept secret.
Buy the Ebook and Paperback:
More than Grit won the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis award for the young adult category and 2017 First Impressions award. Gretchen’s background in journalism and education has fed her heartbeat for writing and sharing stories of hope with students. For adventure and despite several bear encounters, she and her husband enjoy tent camping each summer. Her six grandchildren also fill their lives with adventure and fun. She is a member of Front Range Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and The Storyteller Squad.