John Claude Bemis

nine pound hammerJohn Claude Bemis is a writer from North Carolina who writes for children and middle grade readers. Growing up, Bemis enjoyed reading fantasy and stories that contained American folklore. As an adult, he taught third grade and noticed most of the fantasy books available for children (and even adults) were based on myths and legends from Europe, but couldn’t find any that contained American legends. So, he wrote his first book, The Nine Pound Hammer, taking several legends from American history, including that of John Henry. The book is a mix of fantasy and steampunk and is the first in a trilogy.

I was recently able to hear Bemis speak a couple of months ago at a meeting for the Charlotte Writers’ Club. He read a bit from The Nine Pound Hammer. (I wanted to put my hands over my ears and scream, ‘spoiler alert’ as I had just checked the book of the library to read, but I refrained). He also introduced his newest book, Out of Abaton, The Wooden Prince. In this book, Bemis takes a well-known fairy tale, Pinocchio, and creates a new world, a fantastical Venice. (Pinocchio is known to many of us through a Disney movie, though the character is originally from an Italian book written in the 1800’s). In this tale, an automa named Pinocchio finds himself locked in a trunk and sent to a wanted criminal and alchemist by the name of Geppetto. Soon, Pinocchio begins having feelings and thoughts of his own; not the behavior of an automa. Before he and Geppetto can unravel what is happening to him, Pinocchio is kidnapped. He faces many dangers, meets new friends, and has several adventures before he can find Geppetto again.

The Wooden Prince

If you’re looking for some fun, adventurous stories for children and want to learn more about Bemis–his books and the workshops he offers–visit his website at:

INSPY Shortlist 2016

The INSPY Shortlist for 2016 has been announced, and though some of these books are already on my TBR list, I can see I will need to add several more.

The INSPY awards were created by bloggers for the best literature “that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith”. The categories include: historical romance, debut fiction, speculative fiction, and literature for young adults.

20160505_105741I already have two books in the historical romance category that I am looking forward to reading. One by Jody Hedlund is Luther and Katharina, a story of a monk and a nun who fall in love in the 16th century. You’ve probably heard of the monk, Martin Luther. I’ve read a couple of Jody Hedlund’s books in her Beacons of Hope series and know that she is a skilled and entertaining writer.

The other I’m looking forward to reading is Lori Benton’s The Wood’s Edge.  I read her book, Burning Sky, last year and can highly recommend it. Several people in a group I belong to in Goodreads have already read The Wood’s Edge and can only rave about it.


One more author I’ll recommend writes speculative fiction, (what I would call fantasy) Patrick Carr. I read A Cast of Stones and am ready to read the second in that series. His book that has been nominated for an INSPY is Shock of Night, the start of a new series.

To see the full list of nominations, go to: and have fun reading!