Blog Tour!

So, I’m out on blog tour! The first post is at the Storyteller’s Inkpot. Check it out here. Other posts are coming… check back often because at each stop on the tour, we’re giving away copies of the Sadie books! Don’t miss the fun. This is all in celebration of the release of Waves of Light, the third book in the Sadie series. Don’t forget… it’s not too late to submit a story to the competition to win a Kindle Fire! Young authors, ages 9-12, check the details out here.



Happy Birthday, Waves of Light!

Waves of Light has officially hit the shelves! I’m going to celebrate for the next ten days… will you celebrate with me?

Today, introduce Sadie to a new friend. Visit Facebook and like the Naomi Kinsman page. We’re aiming to bump the fan count over 150 in the next ten days.

And, no birthday is complete without a sweet treat and a candle! So, eat a cupcake or a bowl of berries and blow out a candle for Sadie. Let me know what treat you chose right here! You could even have a peanut butter Dorito sandwich in her honor!

You can order your copy of Waves of Light at Powells, Barnes and NobleAmazon or your favorite Indie Bookstore.

Win a Kindle Fire!

From Sadie’s Sketchbook Writing Contest

Calling all imaginative tellers of tales… Let Sadie’s adventures spark your own creativity. Draft a story, poem or essay of 500 words or less on one of the following topics for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!


1. In  Shades of Truth, Sadie’s best friend, Pippa, sends her a book of the Top Ten Reasons they’ll always be best friends. Write about one of your best friends in action. Why is she such a special person to you?

2. Sadie’s adventures begin with a move from California to Owl Creek, MI. Write about a move, either to a new home, a new school, or even a new team or group. What changes, challenges, and excitement did you encounter?

3. In Waves of Light, Sadie’s youth group puts on a play based on an original fairy tale that Penny, her youth group leader, wrote. Write your own fairy tale, using elements such as larger than life characters, a long-ago and far-away setting, and a problem that may at first seem impossible to overcome.


The grand prize winner will receive a Kindle Fire. The second place winner will receive a $100 VISA gift card. The third place winner will receive a $50 VISA gift card.

To Enter:

Mail your entry to From Sadie’s Sketchbook Writing Contest, c/o Sara Merritt, The Zondervan Corporation, 5300 Patterson, SE, Grand Rapids, MI  49530.

You can also enter online:

  1. Adults, over 13, can enter for young writers on my Facebook page, at:
  2. Additionally, you can enter online here:

All entries must be postmarked/dated between April 1, 2012 and June 1, 2012.

This contest is open to young people ages 9-16.

Please note: Entries not conforming to the above requirements will be automatically disqualified. Only one submission per entrant is permitted.  Multiple entries are automatically disqualified, and only the first submission will be considered. View the official contest rules here.

A Question for Sadie

So, I decided to divulge a secret––most mornings, as I get ready to write, I play a game. You can learn more about it  at #rollnwrite. The game warms up my mind and sparks creative ideas, but more importantly, by playing, I practice opening myself up for surprise. So much of the creative process is about saying YES to the new ideas that pop into our heads, particularly when they catch us by surprise. Still, there are so many reasons why we don’t want to say yes. For instance, that new idea might introduce a plot twist, or complication, or it may mean we have to rewrite many, many pages.

However, I’ve learned that when I say no to the surprises, my words start falling flat. They have no spark, no energy, no drive. Too many no’s and my creativity goes off in the corner to sulk.

Anyway, today, I rolled my dice, and I rolled “Character” and Question.” So, I decided to ask Sadie a question. What would she do for her 13th birthday party? She’d go waterskiing with her friends at Lake Tahoe. She’d have chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting and Reeses Pieces on top. She’d definitely want a candle to blow out, and she’d make a wish––to see her friends back in Owl Creek, MI soon. She’d give out party favors, probably sketchbooks and drawing pencils, hoping to entice her friends to draw along with her. And she’d ask her best friend, Pippa, to take lots of pictures so she could make a collage of the day later, and put it up on her bulletin board.

What would your character do on their next birthday?

One Step at a Time

No one likes to fail. Recently, I tried to re-learn how to hula hoop.I have to admit, it was a disaster. Hula hooping only looks cool if you’re doing it well. Otherwise, you look more than a little silly. But as long as you’re trying NOT to look silly, you can never learn. It’s a catch 22. I learned something as the hoop dropped to the ground over and over.

You have to fail to learn. 

Why is that? Why can’t we just be geniuses to begin with? You’re probably smiling knowingly, right? You’re thinking, well, of course it doesn’t work like that. Of course you have to fall off a bike a few times while you learn to ride, and you have to miss the basket a few times while you’re learning to shoot. Still, I’ll bet you dont like it any more than I do.

I’ve been working on learning how to draw. To be honest, I’ve been working on this project for quite a long time. Ever since around third grade, when I started to realize my drawings didn’t come out looking the way I saw them in my head. So why am I not a stellar artist by now? Well, I’ve been afraid to fail. I’ve only drawn the things I knew would come out okay. I took breaks every time drawing became hard. I told myself, “I can’t really draw.” these are all excuses. I can learn to draw, just like I can re-learn to hula hoop. But if I refuse to draw badly, if I am too afraid to push beyond my current skill, I will never get any better than I am now.

Which is worse: drawing badly as I learn to get better, or not drawing at all?

Though I’m often paralyzed by fear of failure, I don’t want this to be my story. In twenty years, I don’t want to say: I’ve always wanted to be able to draw, but I just couldn’t learn. Can’t, can’t, can’t. I despise the word. It stops me, and everyone else I know in their tracks.

Anything can be done, one tiny step at a time. Truly. Anything.

So, I found a book. Learning to Draw in 30 Days. I’m challenging myself to draw along with the book. If i miss a day, I’m picking up a day later. I’m going to give this my best shot. I’m going to go ahead and draw badly, knowing that I’ll keep getting better.  I’ll post a few of my drawings here.

Anyone want to draw with me? I’d love to hear how it goes, if you do!

Let’s Imagine…

 Naomi, age seven

Remember when you were five or six and you had a friend over and you said something like, “Let’s imagine that we’re in a hot air balloon and we’re flying over India and we’re on our way to meet an elephant.” And then you climbed up into your living room wing-back chair and peered out over your carpet, squinting as though you were looking down a really long way, and somehow, because your friend was doing it too, it felt real? Even though you knew you were in your living room, you also were in a hot air balloon, too.

Over Thanksgiving, I got to play “Let’s Imagine” with my niece. We rode in a magic elevator to places all over the world to fight the evil Dr. Subtraction, who was, of course, stealing valuables. There’s something magical about belief like that, when a family room turns into an ocean, or you have to tiptoe across the front room because a bear is sleeping just around the corner.

My best writing days are those days when I slip into my office early in the morning before the sun rises, and in the quiet, that little girl I used to be waits for me. She crooks her finger at me and whispers, “Let’s imagine…” and even though my fingers are flying across keys in my office, because she’s there with me, I’m also snowshoeing past bear dens in the Michigan woods, or catching the wind on a stormy northern california beach.

There’s plenty of time to be grown up and reasonable and realistic. Perhaps we should try, more often, to remember the way we used to be.

Naomi’s Book Birthday

My book birthday last Tuesday was magnificent. Here are some of the highlights:

‎7:00 am. Woke up to an inbox full of notes from friends, celebrating my book birthday. Shades of Truth and Flickering Hope are OUT! Wondering: are you allowed to eat cupcakes for breakfast on your book birthday?

‎9:15 am. Ate pumpkin bread- a compromise on the cupcake thing. Starbucks is celebrating Christmas this morning in honor of Flickering Hope!

‎10:47 am. Just finished working with two amazing young authors who will be published in this year’s Inklings Book. On my way to The Phillips Brooks School for I Love to Write day. A “real” author visit!

3:00 pm. Finished school visit. Told them bear stories and showed them my husband’s amazing photographs of the bears we saw in Minnesota. Visited Linden Tree and am off to Hicklebees to show them the books. Oh, and to find a cupcake!

5:54 pm. Off to UJam to dance! My cupcake is waiting for me in the refrigerator…

10 pm. Had dinner out with Dave, who brought me flowers. And when we got home? Cupcakes. 🙂




Today is my book birthday! Shades of Truth and Flickering Hope have stepped out into the world. My friends tell me I should celebrate, and so I will. I’m going to document my day on Facebook… and celebrate however I can! I’ll post the highlights here tonight.

Right now, I’m wondering… can you eat cupcakes for breakfast on your book birthday?


These past few days have been a whirlwind. I’m busy, busy, busy. But my dog, Turley, has carried out his personal mission to keep me laughing. Every morning, he noses me awake, wags his tail and bounces around until I can’t help but laugh. When I take him for his morning walk, he prances along, showing off his favorite pinecone to every dog, and human, he passes by. For Turley, there’s no to-do list. There’s no appointments to hurry off to, no schedule. Rain or shine, he’s content just to go outside, explore and discover every fascinating smell. I could learn a thing or two.

Sketching at Sunrise

I drove up to Half Moon Bay on Friday to revise my manuscript one last time before I sent it to my editor. Even though my office is cozy, with my favorite books lining my bookshelves, and my cozy reading chair in the corner, the final edit is tough enough that I wanted a breath of fresh air.

I set my alarm early, hoping to catch the sunrise. The morning was still dark when I stopped at Starbucks for my soy latte. On my way up the freeway, the sun peeked over the mountains behind me, painting the sky red and pink and orange. When I turned off on 92, heading west for the ocean, I passed the reservoir. Steam rose off the still water, breathtaking and eerie against the sunrise. I drove on toward the ocean, past pumpkin patches and farms. Once I found a parking place by the beach, (no small feat) I left my manuscript behind and took my sketchbook and pencils out to the sand. This is what Sadie would do, after all. (If Sadie could drive, that is.)

I listened to the waves and drew the picture that has stayed with me as I’ve written Waves of Light, the picture that appears in Sadie’s head every morning, and doesn’t leave it until she falls asleep at night. She tries to ignore the image, tries to pretend it isn’t there, but by the end of the book, she has to find out what the picture means for her.

Words are my artistic medium, they’ve always been. You could even say words are my friends. Images drawn on the page, on the other hand, are more like intriguing strangers. I want to draw them, I see them in my mind, I have a million words to describe them. And yet, when I start to draw them, I see all the ways the image isn’t exactly what I saw in my mind. In the same way that words need to be written and rewritten, shaped into what they can become, I think images need to grow. Somehow, though, I have no grace for myself when it comes to drawing. I can’t let myself fail first and then fix the problem.

But Friday morning, on the beach, I let all of my self conciousness go, just for a few minutes. I drew what I could, not judging myself or the lines on the page. And I saw that there wasn’t only meaning in the drawing for Sadie, but also whimsy. The image itself is something she’s afraid to see about herself. But she plays her way in, by drawing with vivid colors and adding surprises here and there.

I’ve been meaning to draw more lately, and now I know I’ve got to start. Drawing may not be my medium, but maybe that’s a good thing. Since I can’t take myself too seriously when I draw, I have the chance to really play.

I think artists should try a medium beyond their comfort zone. Be a beginner as often as you can. Remember what it’s like not to know the answer. Because all those tricks and skills and tools you’ve built along your path sometimes get in the way. We get overconfident and we don’t stay open to surprises. We can’t see what’s right in front of our noses. At least, that’s how it is for me. If you do try something new, comment. Let me know how it goes for you. I really want to know.

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