27 May

We Remember

“For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” –James A. Garfield

On Memorial Day, we are pausing to reflect upon those who have paid the ultimate price in their service to country. We have so much to be thankful for because of those who serve and defend our country, and its citizens.

In addition to remembering those no longer with us, we also express our gratitude to those who are presently serving and their families. We recognize the journey you are on is not easy, and we acknowledge we can never fully understand the sacrifices made. We are thankful to each and every brave man and woman who has chosen this path.

Thank you, members of our Armed Forces, both past and current, for your service. Today we honor you.

23 May

#BlinkBlog Author Spotlight: Christina June (Part II)

As we continue to celebrate the release of No Place Like Here, we are featuring part two of our “Author Spotlight” with Christina June!

Get your copy of No Place Like Here HERE!

What do you hope readers take away from No Place Like Here?

If they haven’t been in a situation like Ashlyn’s, I hope readers will find empathy.  I want them to be able to see that the person someone presents on the outside may be very different from the one they are on the inside.  And if they have felt like Ashlyn, I sincerely hope they’ll feel powerful.  If one reader reads this book and feels inspired to speak up for themselves, even once, I’ve done my job.

How are you reflected in No Place Like Here (or, how much of you is reflected in the book)?

I think Ashlyn’s introversion comes a little from me.  I’m totally content spending an afternoon reading a good book, like she does.  Also, she and I are both quote collectors! I’ve kept a quote journal since I was fourteen.  It’s hilarious to look back at what I found striking back then versus now.  And, word seems to have gotten around that the very embarrassing zipline scene happened to me in real life, which is true, and also hilarious.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while being a writer?

It’s actually the same thing Ashlyn learns—stand up for yourself.  Do what feels right for you and write fearlessly.  And with that, stand up for others.  We writers have a platform and we need to use it for good.  Spend time listening and observing and when you can, lift up the voices of those who need it.

Any additional thoughts?

I would encourage all readers to find me on social media and share their thoughts about No Place Like Here, and any of my books, with me.  A big thank you to all the readers, bloggers, librarians and teachers who have spread the word—you’re the best!

16 May

A Summer Of Reading By Jennifer Guyor-Jowett

When I reached middle school age, my parents gave me the freedom to bike the four miles into town to our local library. My previous trips had always been with one of them. But suddenly, I was on my own. And the choices I made within the shelves were mine and mine alone. So, like a fledgling bird, I leapt, feet first with heart fluttering.

My first self-selected stack exceeded the check out limit, and internal negotiations resulted in a reluctantly reduced pile. This only made more library trips necessary. Quickly, my reading ability and interests surpassed my reading “level,” and the librarian questioned whether I had permission to read from the adult section. I lied and told her I did. Guilt was short lived once the journey to book exploration began. And I didn’t want anyone dictating which books I could sample.

Once home, I created my own reading log in a simple spiral bound notebook to keep track of the books, the authors’ names, the dates completed, and a ranking based on a 1-10 scale for favorites. It became a tangible connection to the many authors who crossed through my bedroom door.

As a teacher and parent, I realize I naturally did what we want from our readers. I tried out as many books, authors, and genres as I could. No book was off limits. No genre too unusual. No author unworthy. I read avidly, passing my summers in my upstairs room sprawled out on the bed, among the pages between the hard covers. And I kept a record, assessing books with the seriousness of a publishing agent looking for the next big launch.

None of this would have been possible without the freedom my parents gave me. Freedom to go to the library. Freedom to choose whatever book whispered hello and took me by the hand. Freedom to wallow in reading for hours on end. As adults, we must ultimately allow our students and children to have these choices. They must decide for themselves which book fits and which they want to spend time with. No reading is bad reading.

So how do we plan for a summer of reading? Offer choices. Let them sample. Don’t make it an assignment or another item to check off a list. Lure them in and let the books offer them the whole world.

Book clubs can do wonders for getting teens to read. They love to interact. Both food and company bring seasoned and fledgling readers together. I’ve held a summer book club for the last few years. Students drop in around busy summer sports and vacation schedules. We’ve had sneak peeks of ARCs and yet-to-be-published first chapters, evaluated books with the same intensity as a movie reviewer, and laughed and cried out our despair over plot twists.

Within our middle school, students have participated in a Junior High Book Award the last two years. Students vote on the best cover, the best first chapter read aloud, and the best book. Sharing the list of nominated books would build the book buzz before school even started.

Our school also offers a silent reading time. This reading is self-selected. I believe every student is a reader. Each just needs to find the right book. If students hesitate to make a choice, ask what their last favorite book was and make suggestions from there. Listen to their answers. Really listen. Find a similar story. If they give up after a couple of chapters, that’s ok. Explain that it can take a bit to warm up to a new book just like when they make a new friend, but don’t make them feel bad for stopping a book. Be a partner in the process and suggest a few more. Librarians and book store employees make great suggestions. Choice matters. We have read over 900 books this school year.

Reach out to authors on social media. Our students love this communication. And authors are incredibly generous. They respond. They share. They love their readers.

There’s no magical formula for finding a reading path, but there are magical books waiting. And readers who have the freedom to choose discover the magic.

Here are some tips to strengthen your summer of reading:

Parents: Numerous articles have shown the importance of reading aloud at every age (https:// www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/10-reasons-you-should-read-aloud-to-big-kids-too). There’s nothing more powerful than having authors read from their own novels. Audible is a great source (https://www.audible.com/).

Teachers: Even seasoned readers can use help in the getting-to-know-you first chapter stage of a book. Check out Flipgrid where authors read their first chapters aloud (https://flipgrid.com/ b8b1fd) to help acquaint readers to main characters and an author’s writing style. Also, Corinna Allen creates beautiful podcasts to connect readers with books at Books Between (http:// www.booksbetween.com/).

Book Enthusiasts: Spend some time connecting to authors on social media. Look into local events where authors are presenting. Start a book club. Invite teen readers. They have profound ideas about all kinds of topics. And they love to share.

Jennifer Guyor-Jowett is a 7th/8th grade teacher who enjoys reading, writing, traveling, dogs, and chocolate (in any order). Her classes continue to morph in response to students’ interests and the many new books published.

15 May

#Blink Blog Author Spotlight: Christina June (Part 1)

To celebrate the release of No Place Like Here, we have a special Q&A with Christina June! Stay tuned for Part II later this week…

Get your copy of No Place Like Here HERE.

What was your inspiration behind No Place Like Here?

In my day job as a school counselor, I’ve spoken to a lot of students who don’t feel like they can tell their parents what they want or need.  They’ve learned, through experience or perception, that their words are meaningless.  It breaks my heart every single time.  This book was inspired by those kids.  I wanted to show them that their voices matter and that they have power to make change in their own lives.  My narrator, Ashlyn, started as a character who appears in IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE.  Readers who know her already will be familiar with her poor choices in boys, her ability to hold a grudge, and her unusually strict father.  When my editor and I were brainstorming ideas for my next proposal, I knew I wanted to let Ashlyn tell her own story that would explore how much more than that she is.

Why a Hansel and Gretel re-telling?

The fairy tale framework, Hansel & Gretl, is, at its core, an abandonment story between children and their father, which fit Ashlyn perfectly. Since my companion novels are all set in the summer, my mind went to summer camp as being the ideal fish out of water setting for Ashlyn.  I altered that to a wilderness retreat center, and voila, her story began to take shape.  This book has some of my favorite transformed elements of all my books.  I love how Ashlyn uses quotes as the breadcrumbs, pointing her home, and I had so much fun using the candy and gingerbread house pieces for the “wicked witch.”

What makes this book special/unique?

Aside from being inspired by Hansel & Gretl, which I haven’t seen done much, I think the setting is really fun. Ashlyn is working at this corporate retreat center for the summer.  This is the kind of place companies might send a group of employees to take some personality tests, do a ropes course, maybe a trust fall, and talk about how they can work better together.  I took inspiration from Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, where I went with my class in fifth grade, and we did a bunch of team-building activities.  It was also inspired by Airlie, a wonderfully peaceful hotel and conference center.  I mashed those two places together and came up with the retreat center that appears in the book.  Think summer camp for adults.

What kind of impact did writing No Place Like Here have on you personally?

Given who I was writing it for, I felt a lot of self-imposed pressure to get the strained relationship between Ashlyn and her father right.  I worried a lot about it being authentic, and about Ash being someone readers would relate to.  The good news is, I have been completely blown away by the response from early readers. Many have commented on how they too have been in a similar situation and really felt connected to her, so I am grateful for that.  I know Ash isn’t going to be every reader’s cup of tea—she grew up very privileged, she’s prickly, she’s introverted, and she makes horrible romantic choices—but she’s still a work in progress and I’m glad readers will have the chance to consider that.

13 May

#BookBrag: The Memory Thief

Blink YA Books is pleased to present an exciting new YA fantasy title this fall, The Memory Thief by debut author Lauren Mansy, which brings readers on an unforgettable journey through the city of Craewick—a city where memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and “Gifted” individuals can take memories from others as they please. The Memory Thief goes on sale October 1, 2019. We are excited to present our first book brag with Lauren and learn a bit more about the book.


Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture of Craewick, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When the power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, threatens to put her mother up for Auction, a Craewick tradition in which a “worthless” person’s memories are sold to the highest bidder before she is killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier. To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

Hannah VanVels: Hi Lauren! We are so thrilled to talk The Memory Thiefwith you. Tell us a bit more about the title. What—or who—is the memory thief?

Lauren Mansy: Hi Hannah! I’m thrilled to be talking aboutThe Memory Thief with you, as well! The main character Etta has a pretty unusual skill—she can steal memories from the minds of others. At beginning of the story, Etta has been out of the “thieving” game for a while, and it takes a threat to her mother’s life to pull her back into a life of crime. To save her mother’s memories from the auction block, Etta vows to complete an impossible heist for the rebels who first taught her how to steal memories. While she was pretty talented as a child, Etta now has to become a better memory thief than she ever thought possible.

Hannah VanVels: The idea of stealing memories is such a fascinating concept. How did you come up with this magic system?

Lauren Mansy: The first seed of the idea was planted after my mom underwent a heart operation when I was a teenager. Due to unforeseen complications, it was unlikely she would survive. I’m incredibly thankful to say that my mom made a full recovery, but it was during that time of uncertainty that I realized my memories of her were the most valuable thing I owned. I treasured the memories we’d made together, and the most amazing gift was being given the chance to make more.

After this experience, I always wondered what a world where memories were traded like currency could look like and what kind of people would exist in a society where their memories aren’t necessarily their own. One struggle that Etta (and many others in the story) faces is fighting to hold onto her true identity when it takes only one touch for someone else’s thoughts to seep into her mind.

Hannah VanVels: The main character, Etta, has such an important relationship with her mom. Why is it important that it’s her mom that Etta goes to the ends of the earth for?

Lauren Mansy: For Etta, her mom Gwendolyn represents so much of who she longs to be.

Because of her coma, Gwendolyn is in a very vulnerable state yet she’s far surpassed any expectations placed upon her. Gwendolyn processes a quiet, steady strength that Etta has never fully understood, but because Gwendolyn has first showed Etta the importance of never giving up, Etta will go to the ends of the earth to protect her.

Hannah VanVels: In The Memory Thief, some characters are Gifted and some are Ungifted, and the way that society treats them is very different. Tell us a bit more about the theme of classism and how that runs through the novel.

Lauren Mansy: There is definitely a divide between the Gifted and Ungifted. While the Gifted have the ability to transfer memories from one mind to another, the Ungifted don’t have this skill. They’re essentially like you and me J. One cause of this stark division is many of the Gifted take advantage of and steal memories from those they’ve deemed “weak”. Though being Gifted is often associated with strength, what really defines a person in this world is how they’ve chosen to use their Gift—to help or to hurt others? It’s when this tension between the Gifted and Ungifted is at its breaking point that this society is given a chance for rebirth.

Hannah VanVels: You’ve created a delightfully villainous antagonist with Madame. Although she is a “bad guy” in no uncertain terms, you’ve also written her to have empathetic traits. How did you get into the headspace to write such a complex character?

Lauren Mansy: I love the phrase “delightfully villainous”, Hannah! When I first began drafting, I had a pretty clear vision of who Madame was at the start of Etta’s story, but to better understand her character, I asked myself questions about who Madame was at the start of herstory. She once was a child, a daughter, a friend … what led her to this dark place? In Madame’s mind, she’s still a hero, so at what point did she become what we consider a villain? In fleshing out her history, I began to see how fear can both drive and cripple a person. Perhaps there’s a little bit of Madame in all of us, but it’s how we chose to deal with life’s obstacles which sets us apart from someone as harsh as her.

Hannah VanVels: One of the many things that we love about this book is the fleshed-out world building. The Four Realms almost seem like characters themselves. What went into developing each Realm? How did you decide to connect each of these settings to human values?

Lauren Mansy: I really enjoyed the process of brainstorming the Four Realms. The landscapes were inspired by my favorite family vacations … the Arizona desert, beaches of California, mountains of Washington state, and the forests of northern Michigan. I also loved daydreaming about the resources of each Realm and how their natural landscape could influence which skills are taught there. For example, the Coastal Realm values the arts. Everyone excels in arty talents, such as singing, dancing, and painting, and the people tend to be easygoing and calm, much like the sea.

Though the unique skillset of each region is the foundation of the alliance between the Four Realms, it’s also another element of what creates strife in this society. Many crave originality and feel boxed into a life that’s already been decided for them. This makes the Memory Auction very popular—it’s a chance for citizens to buy experiences they’ve only dreamed about, but these memories come at a high price.

Hannah VanVels: From our protagonists to villains, you have written some very compelling and multidimensional characters! Another thing that we really enjoyed about this book is that you’ve also built out distinct and individual secondary characters. How was writing your secondary characters different than writing your primary, main characters?

Lauren Mansy: That’s kind of you to say, Hannah! One piece of advice that always stuck with me is that you should know your secondary characters as well as your primary, even if all their likes, dislikes, fears, etc.… don’t make it into the story. I loved the process of crafting histories for each character, and I have notebooks filled with memories of everyone who makes an appearance in The Memory Thief.  Since a reader is given larger windows into the lives of the main characters, I think specificity can be really helpful when introducing secondary characters. My hope is that readers will come away with a clear mental picture of who that character is, even if they don’t spend as much time on the page as the others.

Thanks so much, Lauren! We cannot wait for this book to make its way into the world. The Memory Thief goes on sale October 1st!

Pre-order links:


Barnes & Noble



Follow Lauren online:
INSTAGRAM: @lauren_mansy

About the Author:

Lauren Mansy lives in the Chicago area, where she’s spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren’s own journey with her mother, is her first novel. You can visit her online at www.laurenmansy.com.

10 May

The Power of Education by Christina June

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), we at Blink want to thank each person who works in the education profession. We know the work you do isn’t always easy; however, the impact you have can be life-changing.

In an effort to honor those who have shaped and molded us, each day this week will feature a special blog post from a Blink author about a teacher—or teachers—who had a profound impact in their life.

To all those working in the education field—thank you for believing in us when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves. We value and admire the work that you do!

The Power of Education by Christina June

I have always been a helper. I have also always been a storyteller. It makes a lot of sense to me that my two chosen careers involve both of these skillsets.

In my day job, I’m a high school counselor.  I have the pleasure of helping my students choose classes, navigate struggles with teachers, family friends, and assist them on their journey to the next step after graduation.

In my “any other time I have free” job, I’m an author.  I have the pleasure of helping my characters figure out their interests, navigate struggles with teachers, family and friends, and push them along on their journey to whatever comes next, be it the next day or the next year or beyond.

They’re kind of the same job, right?  I’m incredibly lucky that I get to have not one, but two, fulfilling careers.

I went to graduate school to become a community counselor.  These are the people who work in community services agencies, in private practice, in correctional facilities, etc.  They don’t get paid much, the hours aren’t awesome, and they often meet with clients who resist their help.  It’s a thankless, but very rewarding, job.

My internships were in substance abuse counseling and family counseling.  I studied family systems theory and was able to implement it in my work with clients in so many ways.  Stand out experiences were teaching a grandmother how to set boundaries with her grandkids, modeling effective communication for a homophobic mother so she could rebuild her relationship with her gay teen, and assisting parents in writing contracts with their addicted children so they could reenter the home after rehab.  With the help of so many wonderful professors, notably Dr. Judy Stone and Dr. Teri Ancellotti, I pushed myself out of my personal comfort zone so I could be better prepared to help those who needed me.

I realized quickly that a school counselor could work more effectively with their students and families if they were trained in family systems, so I pursued that route. Fifteen years later, I’m still using that experience and knowledge on a daily basis.  My job is to listen, to guide, to commiserate, to celebrate, to advocate, to model, and to educate.  I work closely not only with my students, but also with their parents and teachers to work as a team to support their kids.  Though I’m not a classroom teacher, my role is to lift up my fellow educators, and share knowledge and perspective with students and parents.

Another thing I do a lot as a school counselor is write.  I write emails.  I respond to emails.  I write newsletter-style articles.  I write and edit presentations.  I edit essays.  And I write tens of thousands of words annually in college recommendation letters.

One year, I was feeling itchy to be creative, so I decided to write more and try my hand at a novel in my free time.  Almost eight years later and many manuscripts down, I could not be prouder to be a published author writing novels that, from my vantage point, so the same kind of good I do in my work as a school counselor.

As an educator, I do my best to listen and help my student feel seen.

As an author, I do my best to observe the world around me and use that information to create characters that will make teen readers feel seen.

In my May 2019 release, NO PLACE LIKE HERE, I dedicated the book “to the quiet girls.”  It was inspired by a lot of the conversations I’ve had with students who struggle to speak up for themselves.  My hope is they’ll see the power they truly have and find hope in Ashlyn’s story.  It’s a gift to be able to transform a real situation into a piece of fiction that has the potential to make someone examine the truths in their own life.

I am grateful to be an educator—both at school and on the page.

09 May

The Teachers Who Helped Me Find Myself by Kimberly Gabriel

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), we at Blink want to thank each person who works in the education profession. We know the work you do isn’t always easy; however, the impact you have can be life-changing.

In an effort to honor those who have shaped and molded us, each day this week will feature a special blog post from a Blink author about a teacher—or teachers—who had a profound impact in their life.

To all those working in the education field—thank you for believing in us when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves. We value and admire the work that you do!

The Teachers Who Helped Me Find Myself by Kimberly Gabriel

Growing up, I was a skinny, red-headed girl with freckles. I had a loving family, but outside of my home I was quiet, shy, and often times felt awkward in my own skin. I was never defined as the smartest or the funniest or the most popular or the best at sports. Instead, I was perfectly average at everything. I was the kid who liked to blend into her surroundings, and I worked very hard at not being noticed because I was insecure. But when I look back at my journey, I can see that I was noticed by teachers who went out of their way to get to know me, teachers who loved, protected, pushed, and encouraged me to be the best version of myself through a series of indelible moments.

It began in second grade, when Mrs. Reynolds became the first person beside my parents to make me feel special. She taught her students to be kind to one another, showed us how to listen to each other, and encouraged us to understand one another. Then she modeled the behaviors by the way she treated us. When she realized that I liked dance, she found me books that featured strong, beautiful dancers. She knew I liked to write, and so she made me a makeshift journal by stapling sheets of notebook paper together and encouraged me to write down my thoughts. In many ways, my path to publication began with her.

Later in sixth grade, Mrs. Daughtery made me feel safe. I struggled in middle school to find good friends and positive peer relationships. Half way through my sixth grade year when Mrs. Daughtery noticed girls picking on me in cruel and harsh ways, she moved my seat and kept me separated from them. She invited me to help her grade papers in her room during lunch, so I didn’t have to sit alone in the cafeteria. When I found out I didn’t have any classes with those girls the following year, I knew Mrs. Daughtery was the one who made sure of it.

In eighth grade, Mrs. Brooks made me feel challenged. Her classroom was dominated by high-expectations, rigor, and her no-nonsense approach. She assigned a ton of nightly homework, and we rarely saw her smile. But that year in her classroom, I learned more about grammar, writing, reading, and presenting than from any other teacher I’d ever had.

As a freshman, Coach Alrutz, made me feel smart. After I gave a short character presentation on the Wife of Bath, Coach Alrutz told me I was smart in front of the entire room. I’d always been a student who took honors classes, but those classes were always full of students more gifted than I was. When he genuinely complimented me that day, he empowered me and gave me a sense of worth and pride that hadn’t been there before.

As a senior, Dr. Romano, made me feel worthy. He pulled me aside when handing back a book review I’d written and encouraged me to publish it. Then, he worked with me for several weeks until The English Journalaccepted it for publication. Little did he know at the time that he was encouraging me to embrace myself as a writer—something I was too scared to do so. Dr. Romano sparked a sense of possibility that one day I might write and publish a book.

When I was in college, I took English Education courses with Dr. Mary Fuller. One day during the first part of a two hour class, a young man dominated the discussion by asserting opinions that I adamantly disagreed with. Because I wasn’t the type to argue, I kept quiet and said nothing. During the break, Dr. Fuller walked up to me and said, “I’ve read your papers, and I know you don’t agree with him. I really wish you’d offer an opposing viewpoint.” When I returned to the classroom, I delivered my arguments, and we went back and forth in a heated debate until I changed his mind on the topic. Dr. Fuller made me feel like I had a voice, which to this day is one of the most significant lessons I learned in my education.

While at the time these moments felt insignificant, I look back on them now with the realization that I achieved success in my own life as a teacher and writer because of the teachers who went beyond the curriculum to reach me. Each of their simple gestures became powerful life lessons that helped to shape the strong, confident, outspoken person I’ve become. I can only hope that the impressions I give to the students in my classroom are as positive as the ones that guided me.

08 May

Teacher Appreciation By Annie Sullivan

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), we at Blink want to thank each person who works in the education profession. We know the work you do isn’t always easy; however, the impact you have can be life-changing.

In an effort to honor those who have shaped and molded us, each day this week will feature a special blog post from a Blink author about a teacher—or teachers—who had a profound impact in their life.

To all those working in the education field—thank you for believing in us when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves. We value and admire the work that you do!

Teacher Appreciation By Annie Sullivan

Teachers can make all the difference in what students grow up to be, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have written my new book Tiger Queen if it weren’t for the influence of my middle school English teacher, Mrs. Desautels. I also wouldn’t have my job as copywriter for a publishing company without her grammar instruction either.

Mrs. Desautels taught me all about comma splices and run-on sentences and where commas needed to go in each sentence—all skills I’ve needed as I’ve taken on the role of a professional writer. She taught me all the things that would become the very foundation of the writings that would give me the title of author. Her tests were hard but fair, and she was determined that we would all be excellent grammarians someday.

Yet, she gave each student more than just instruction and facts and figures to learn. She challenged us to think about things in new ways. And no example stands out more vividly in my mind then the day she decided to teach a short story called “The Lady, or the Tiger.” This story is infamous for its cliffhanger ending, and Mrs. Desautels challenged us to decide how the story actually ended based on the information we were given in the story.

But the problem is, there is no right or wrong answer to this cliffhanger. There are seemingly two options—either of which could be correct. And I will never forget Mrs. Desautels standing there asking us for the answer because, for perhaps what felt like the first time in my life, I couldn’t answer the question the teacher had posed. She’d stumped me. And in stumping me, she’d unknowingly ignited something within me that wouldn’t rest until I discovered the answer to that age-old question asked in the short story.

But what was the answer? She made it clear that the answer wasn’t obvious, that she wanted us to decide for ourselves. She didn’t give us answers; we had to earn them. We had to drill down deep into the literature and excavate the plots if we wanted the answers.

And as students, we did just that. Yet, some students may have read the story a few times and decided there was no way to know which of the two possible outcomes would have occurred at the end of the short story, but I wasn’t one of those students. I was determined to find out the answer.

Only, how can you find out the answer to a question when the only person who conceivably knew the answer (if there ever truly even was a right answer) died in 1902?

It seems like an impossible task. I did, however, discover how the short story ended, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I discovered how I think it should have ended all along. It only took me writing Tiger Queen, my own retelling of that story, to come up with the answer that had eluded me for so long.

But that’s the power of a good teacher. He or she can inspire the imaginations of students and make them quest for knowledge—knowledge that may not even exist yet. They can give them the space to explore the seemingly impossible and come back with questions and theories as they search for truth.

Moreover, they can take young minds and introduce them to stories and lessons that will not only shape their paths in life, but also their beliefs about the world. Teachers have more power than any magical character I’ve ever written because teachers hold the keys to knowledge, to imagination, and to sparking creativity in a child’s life.

Teachers may not always get the thanks they deserve or realize how much of an impact they can have on their students. But I’m proof that a teacher choosing one specific short story changed my life. “The Lady, or the Tiger” was the story I needed to hear. But there are countless other stories out there that some other student needs. It could be one that deals with dealing with grief or overcoming a bully or simply one that doesn’t have a perceivable ending. Whatever the story is, teachers are influencing and guiding the next generation with what they present in their classrooms today.

Mrs. Desautels changed my life that day in the classroom by planting that seed—that question—that story—in my mind. And I’m so thankful for her and thousands of teachers like her who are out there every day changing the lives of students. Without each and every teacher, the world would be a much darker place. So thank you to all teachers for all you have done and continue to do as you shape the next generation.



07 May

The Gift of Passion 
by Lauren Mansy

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), we at Blink want to thank each person who works in the education profession. We know the work you do isn’t always easy; however, the impact you have can be life-changing.

In an effort to honor those who have shaped and molded us, each day this week will feature a special blog post from a Blink author about a teacher—or teachers—who had a profound impact in their life.

To all those working in the education field—thank you for believing in us when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves. We value and admire the work that you do!

The Gift of Passion 
by Lauren Mansy

Growing up, I never dreamed of becoming a writer.

I was always one of those kids that loved a little bit of everything but was never passionate about just one thing. I played a variety of sports, performed with a musical theater group, attended art camp, and was overall pretty content to dabble with various hobbies. I entered college with hopes of becoming a nurse but switched my major to English Literature as my interest in literature grew deeper. My senior year, there were two teachers who helped me discover a love of writing fiction.

From that moment on, all I wanted to do was put words on paper. I felt as if I’d finally found my passion … as if I could finally relate to the teachers who’d so faithfully demonstrated this trait for me in their classrooms. I was able to recognize a passion growing inside of me because they first had showed me what passion truly looked like.

One teacher who’s had a huge impact on my life taught me the importance of always seeking to grow. His classes weren’t easy for me, but his enthusiasm for my work never wavered, even when I struggled to pull my grades up. His steadfast belief that I could improve inspired me to believe in myself.  He erased a fear of failure when it came to my work, and I began to look at his feedback as an opportunity to further develop my writing.  He never sought perfection, but he could tell when I had more to give and encouraged me to do so. His kindness was always coupled with honesty, and to this day years later, I’m grateful whenever I hear his voice in my head prompting me to dig deeper and to persevere on days when words don’t come as easily. Through his passion, he showed how much joy can be found when a blank page turns into one filled with stories that were uniquely my own.

Another teacher who played a major role in my writing journey helped me fall in love with children’s literature. In her class, we read everything from The Hobbit to The Hunger Games, and her enthusiasm was contagious as she actively fostered discussions about characterization, theme, and overall enjoyment of the book. For someone like me who may not be the first to speak up in a larger classroom, she made each student feel comfortable to share our opinions by engaging us all in conversation. She led by example and together as a class, we grew into our own kind of book club.

Our final project was to develop an outline for our own novel. Though I’d always been an avid reader, I hadn’t yet considered writing my own work. This assignment sparked something inside me.  It showed me how much fun it could be to let my imagination run wild and plot a beginning, middle, and an end. Though the prospect of sharing my own work still intimidated me, this teacher’s enthusiasm gave me a deeper understanding of how fiction can be a bridge to bring people together and encourage conversations between individuals who may not have had the chance to previously interact. I came away from her class not only inspired by the power of fiction, but also with a deeper appreciation for each and every author out there, all of whom had been vulnerable enough to share their thoughts, dreams, and stories with the world.

These teachers showed me how important it is not to seek perfection, but they empowered me to believe that it’s perfectly okay to make mistakes because it gives us a chance to grow. It was their willingness to look at every class period as a gift to enlighten and challenge students that taught me how exciting it can be to learn something new. They encouraged me to find my own voice and by giving me the freedom to express myself, they opened up a whole new world for me.

To any teacher who may read this, thank you for what you do. We may not remember every word you speak, but we do remember how it feels when we accomplish something we never thought possible. We remember the times when you’re patient, enthusiastic, encouraging, and demonstrate a heartfelt desire to help us discover our voices and share our stories.

More than anything, I’ll remember your passion. And I promise you that is something I’ll never forget.

-Lauren Mansy

06 May

Dear Mr. Mortimer By Laurie Boyle Crompton

Organizing my office usually dissolves rather quickly into sitting on the floor as I read through old letters, articles and journals. During a recent clean-up, I came upon a thick folder of compositions from high school. I had not looked at these pages for over a decade, but of course I needed to read through each and every page right then and there. Reader, there is no way to overstate how large and loopy my handwriting was back in high school. But reading through the pages, I can see the early traces of my unique writer’s voice straining through the bad spelling and overuse of adjectives.

I sat, making a bigger mess than I’d started with as I read through comments from teachers, praising my writing and sense of humor and chastising my spelling. The papers have big red 100s written on top of each one. I wasn’t always a great student, in fact I was commonly referred to as an ‘underachiever,’ but I got A’s in English Comp. Always. That is, until senior year when I landed in Mr. Mortimer’s class.

Up until then, I was never what you’d call a ‘hand things in on time’ kinda gal, but other writing teachers let this slide. As they said; “Reading your paper was a breath of fresh air,” “Thank you for the laugh, Laurie,” and “This is the best one yet.” But instead of glowing praise, Mr. Mortimer’s papers came back marked: ‘Late 1 day,’ ‘Late 2 days,’ ‘Late 3 days,’ with ten points deducted for each day past my deadline.

On one he wrote, “70/100 Laurie, you write so well. I just wish I could get you to take it more seriously so I didn’t have to put these grades on your papers.” I remember thinking, ‘He’s annoyed by the grades? This class was supposed to be my easy A!’ I can still feel the faint strands of resentment as I read through his (valid) suggestions for improvement and scant praise. And then, I find it. On the back of my final assignment this handwritten note to me:


I don’t say that you must pursue writing as a career because it is a tough field to make a living in. But you must write. You have developed an excellent sense of diction and timing. I wish I could take credit for helping but, alas, I know better. Anyway, even if you have fourteen children and are pregnant with twins, you can still write and sell on the freelance market. Don’t let anyone destroy your style. Listen, evaluate, take suggestions, but don’t quit and don’ t change unless you are convinced it is a change to improve. Find your subject, become intimate with it, and then write about it. You’ve got potential. Now do you have desire and drive? 

The pages are yellowed, but the power of that letter reaches forward through the years and still has an impact on me. I wish to respond:

Dear Mr. Mortimer,

Thank you for challenging me and inspiring me and especially for pushing me to take my writing seriously. Over the years, I’ve developed that discipline I needed and you weren’t kidding about how important it is. Deadlines really do matter, and thanks to you I’ve never missed a single one. The publishing business can be brutal but my love for writing hasn’t diminished. Thank you for encouraging me to pursue it. I still adore that image of my future-writer-self with all those kids running around. (I went with just the two, but it often feels like more.) Your open-ended letter pushes me to the page wanting to prove; Yes, I do have the desire. Yes, I do have the drive. Mr. Mortimer, Thank You for pulling it out of me.

And with that, I leave the mess of papers piled on the floor, and I’m off to write.

-Laurie Boyle Crompton

*In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10), we at Blink want to thank each person who works in the education profession. We know the work you do isn’t always easy; however, the impact you have can be life-changing.

In an effort to honor those who have shaped and molded us, each day this week will feature a special blog post from a Blink author about a teacher—or teachers—who had a profound impact in their life.

To all those working in the education field—thank you for believing in us when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves. We value and admire the work that you do!