Confessions of a Kid’s Librarian

by TLC Nielsen


As I work on my first novel, I can’t imagine a more perfect job for an aspiring author than working in the public library. Even though I’ve been in the children’s department for almost 12 years now, my job is still as much fun as it is work. I help children and parents find the perfect books to read. So, shhh, don’t tell anyone what I’m about to reveal. Oops, there’s no more shushing in the 21st century library!


My Second Home

As a child growing up in rural Wisconsin, I remember our monthly trip to the library. I loved it so much my folks had to limit me to the number of books I could carry! So when my kids were young, I took them to the library, weekly. It was free admittance with music, books, movies and magazines to borrow. We’d spend hours at the library.

Nowadays, the trend in public libraries is to be a gathering place rather than a repository of books. In my kids’ department, our staff enjoys creating a place to stay and hangout, whether playing with puzzles, toys and games, doing craft projects or reading books as a family. I spend a lot of time during work grabbing all the books families have left behind after reading. Due to the tendency of families reading books in the library without checking them out, librarians now look past the circulation numbers of books and materials. We look at how many are handled on the premises. The library world runs on statistics, so I do a lot of tallying of interactions in the library – how many times I’ve helped patrons, how many games/puzzles were used, how many prizes given out, that kind of thing. I must confess, however, that I do wait for them to come and ask for assistance since they may think, like I did, that this is their home away from home.

Because of this second home concept, I don’t like enforcing the library’s “no eating” rule either. I carry around plastic baggies to save the suckers are so often stuck in the hands of our youngest visitors. With all the toys, games, puzzles and Duplo’s being played with in youth services, tidying up is a large aspect of my job, the work part. Good news, though: my library created a tiled area in the entryway with cafeteria-style tables and chairs so patrons can eat somewhere in the library. In essence, the community library is your other living room. Some libraries even sell food on the premises, but not mine. It’s BYO style.


Not Paid to Read

The one thing I do for my job that’s not paid is reading. I do all my reading outside of work, even though I run a monthly book club for 7-9 year olds.  I pick books in a series and challenge my students to “out read” me. We’re called “Novel Detectives” and we find good books no matter where they hide. Each month during the school year, we rate a book and then post it publicly so other students know about the good books we’ve read. I was fortunate enough to connect with a publisher who sent my detectives Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of soon-to-be-published books. By filling out surveys afterwards, my detectives were able to influence the final printed version of the book. I will confess that the detectives out read me too often, due to the fact that I accomplish most of my reading on the workout bike at the gym.  My favorite ARC so far is Star Thief, a 2017 release.


Paid to Have Fun

I am paid, however, to practice the ukulele at work.  Yup, you read that right. Part of my job involves the ukulele. Two years ago, I talked my boss into buying some ukuleles for work so I could do more with music programs. I originally wanted 6-12 ukes but ended up with two. I was happy to have any. I hear two more are on the way soon – Kala Waterman Ukuleles for the kids: waterproof and in fun, indestructible colors to boot.

The best part of my job as an assistant youth services librarian is the fun of designing interesting programs for kids and families to enjoy. With books heading towards an equal balance of printed and eBook format, the library now relies on programs to bring the community into the building. This is why I moved away from basic music programming to something with a bit more pizazz: the Family Ukulele Circle complete with drums and rhythm instruments. There’s some improv, basic music concepts learned and a lot of one, two and three chord songs. So yes, I am paid to have fun, but if I don’t have fun, how will they? Favorite songs by the ukulele circle families include Don’t Worry Be Happy, Down By the Bay, You are My Sunshine, and the little-known Humpty Dump, complete with nursery rhyme rapping.

I’ve done many popular programs but not all of them turn out quite so good. In my recent Junior Chef Training for students 7-9 years old, the Health Department got involved. Fortunately, I discovered I needed a Food Handler certificate to teach cooking so I did the training. Then I found out two more things: a) the library needed a permit to have food on the premises and, get this, b) the students couldn’t eat anything they made since our library didn’t have an adequate cleaning area. Our Jr. Chef training focused on sweet treats and healthy eats -the fine art of toppings, so the students took heavy cream and turned it into whip cream, turned organic yogurt into frozen bites and did two more recipes. Since the Jr. Chefs couldn’t eat what they made, the library bought individual servings of organic ice cream with canned organic whip cream and good topping choices (almonds, dried fruit…) Next time, we hire a professional.


To Judge or Not to Judge

One last perk of working in the public library world is the invitations staff members get to do interesting things: write articles for newsletters, present interesting program ideas at conferences, and judge book contests. Yes, invited to be a book judge – whether on a panel or individually. My state’s libraries did an Indie author contest for teen and adult books, so I signed up. It was great when I was able to pick which books I wanted to read in round one.  By round two, I was assigned a few semi-finalist books. Those assigned books were so intense that I dropped out of the final round. Although one of my first round picks made it to the finals, I discovered there’s a reason why I’m in youth services – content. I’ve judged other contests since then (usually in the teen category), but that first library judging taught me how NOT to write a novel.


Author Bio:

TLC Nielsen loves her job as an assistant youth services librarian at the local public library within walking distance from home.  She is editing her first novel, By Land or Sea, which makes her appreciate every single book she has ever read. TLC belongs to Word Weavers International, being a helpful VP for the On the Border chapter. A librarian by day, jazz musician by night and a writer in between, TLC continues playing trombone in several area big bands. She played trombone on Rich Rubietta’s Resting Place CD and contributed a story to Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk’s book, I Believe in Healing (p. 68).  In her spare time, TLC interviews ordinary folks with interesting adventures on her Extraordinary Ordinary monthly blog found here: and travels with her college sweetheart and spouse.


Confessions of a Thankful Internet Geek

by Laura A. Grace

My Papa’s legacy lives on.

Granted, I don’t recall ever seeing him pick up a book (well, unless maybe it was a train book with lots of pictures) except his Bible when he got older.

Yet his extrovert self still inspires my introvert self to actively get to know other people online, especially authors and writers.

He and my Grandma would share stories of how he met so-and-so online and then, when on a cruise, go and meet that same person. More than once did they tell me how they got “exclusive tours” because of an online friend my Papa knew.

Reflecting on those stories, I am mind blown at how he used the internet to make new friendships that extend over the ocean (and he didn’t even have social media to do it!).

It’s even more exciting to know that I’m following in his footsteps.

Just as it was for him, the internet has opened new gateways that the seventh grade me never would have imagined as I began devouring Nancy Drew mysteries. I thought the most I would ever be able to do was read and tell friends (which I still do). However, someone introduced me to the idea of meeting and interacting with authors online and transformed my life as an avid reader.

Now my inner fangirl does a lot more of this:


And quite a bit of this:


Now I could easily be doing this outside of social media (which I still do at some point while reading, and on multiple occasions if I might add), but now I am able to use book blogging to really get to know authors. I can reach out via Facebook messenger or email and ask if they would be interested in an interview or guest post. Then somehow as we’re chatting, the conversation keeps going and this amazing thing sometimes happens … (insert big breath) I get to know and call them friend. Talk about a dream come true! I have to try and remember daily that these authors genuinely call me friend and not let my inner fangirl explode with squeals and giddiness in every conversation (but don’t worry, when they release a new novel, they get a big dose of that).


Recently my close writing mentor just released her short story on Amazon, and it is surreal to think how I can help get her book out there through blogging. I can show and talk about my friend’s story in a way that wasn’t possible when I first started reading in middle school (well, at least I thought wasn’t possible). I can make memes, do an interview, and make a fan-made book trailer to name a few fun ones.

Now I have to admit, it’s one thing to share the latest book trailer I made, but it’s whole other thing when I’m asked if I would be interested is hosting a blog tour under God’s Grace Blog Tours. By this point, I’m pretty sure my inner fangirl cannot help but faint from joy and excitement (whether I know the author or not). Not only am I able to gush all the amazingness of their story, but I get to do it with different bloggers all over the United States (sometimes even from all over the world).

Enter me stalking these bloggers’ sites for their posts of reviews, guest posts, or some other feature in the name of sharing the book love, and I feel my mission is partially complete.


What is my mission as an avid reader, book blogger, and blog tour host?

Support the author, read the book, and share the book love (no matter what order I do these).

Usually the final and even more fun part of my mission includes participating in one of the coolest virtual book events I know on the internet: Facebook parties.

Oh my goodness! What an epic way to chat with other readers and favorite authors. Enter lots of fun chat and games with giveaways, and you have this mega fangirl party with lots of squealing and laughter off screen (at least for this inner fangirl).


Yes, I can definitely say that I’m thankful my Papa showed me how wonderful of an adventure it can be when getting to know people online. A few years ago I would have been a nervous wreck even thinking about remotely wanting to reach out to people I don’t know (even at Facebook parties).

Not so much anymore. And as a result, my Papa’s legacy lives on.

Just with a lot more sequels of excitement and dancing over new book releases.

(Before I go, can I take a moment to share how I feel being featured on Ralene’s blog today? Yeah, I also might have been feeling this as I was reading her novel, Bellanok. Thank you, Ralene!) From Ralene: Aw, thanks, Laura. You know how to make a gal feel special.




About Me:

Laura A. Grace loves to read with a passion. Her personal goal: to read all the books as well as write a few of her own (maybe even a hundred!). She’s a firm believer in spreading hope, and book blogging makes a perfect outlet. More than once her husband has caught her staying up late to support and get to know Christian indie authors online. You can find her in her North Carolina home, attempting to capture her characters and force them onto paper—or trying to read just one more chapter before going to sleep.

HOPE through the Pages (website):

I wrote an e-book, One Bookish Friend Challenge, sharing how I gave myself personal challenges to get to know other people online. I made it a freebie to those who sign up for my newsletter. You don’t have to share, but I thought I would mention it.

Here is the newsletter signup link and I’ll attach the cover in case you decide to share (again, if not, that’s totally okay):

Also, was unsure if I should mention, but if someone was interested in learning more about God’s Grace Blog Tours, here is the link:

Confessions of a Fear Fighter

confessionsof-a-fear-fighterToday, I’m so excited to welcome a new friend of mine, Chaka Heinze, to the Confessions blog series. She has quite the interesting take on fear. Read on, my friends!


I have a confession to make. It is not something I like to acknowledge in myself, let alone admit to the vast landscape of the internet where roving, multi-eyed creatures with barbed fangs lurk in shadow, looking to devour misstepping mortals. Did I mention the creatures leer at me with the stark white faces and bright red lips of painted clowns? (Thank you Stephen King.)

I digress.

I have a confession to make. Fear has been my unwelcome companion for as long as I can remember. It taunts me with sibilant whispers when I’m faced with the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable … or asked to drive and meet anyone anywhere in the wild places of the unknown. (The streets of Omaha, Nebraska can be terrifying for those who are used to orienting themselves using the rugged peaks of the Rockies. West. Always West.)

Fear slithers up to coil heavily on my chest in the night as I consider the conversations of the day, the well-being of my children, the lunacy of the upcoming election, or the depravity and violence that is becoming a daily occurrence both in America and around the world.

Fear strikes at me with unbridled venom whenever my son has a heart event and we end up in the hospital again.

If you think about it, there are countless manifestations of fear to contemplate from the moment you get up in the morning until you fall “safely” into bed again at night. I won’t name them all here, because focusing on fear has a way of empowering the beasties and turning garden snakes into leviathans.

As a child, I had one major weapon against the fear—I could control the narrative. If I had free time, I read. If it was time to go to bed, I told myself stories. Books and my stories were a safe place to test boundaries, have adventures, and explore the environment around me. During those days, I sometimes existed in the realms of dragons and elves or in the mind of another child tiptoeing through the minefield of puberty. And during the night, I imagined myself the main character in some fantastical drama in which I saved the world and got the boy. Well, sometimes … I just got the boy.

Fear drove me into the inner workings of my own imagination. And in there I learned to make magic.

As a grownup (a title that can only be loosely applied), I still wrestle with that great snake. Fear. But let me be clear—the beastie is no longer my master. This heart is under new management. Though fear still lurks about the edges striking at my heels whenever it senses a vulnerability, it no longer controls, stifles, or prevails (for long).

But I’m grateful. Instead of tearing me apart or killing my dreams, dealing with the fear helped me to find my voice. Both my spiritual and mental muscles have been strengthened in my battle against the simpering nuisance.

So I have a confession to make. I struggle with fear, and that’s okay. Because I know how this story ends.


How do you deal with fear?


13072671_10209815349089231_8479661413584245022_oAuthor Bio:

Chaka Heinze lives in Nebraska with her husband, four children, and two havanese pups. She is a keynote speaker with the ministry Wholly Loved and enjoys talking to groups of women about the faithfulness of God through difficult times. Chaka has always admired C.S. Lewis and desires to emulate his ability to glorify God without slapping people in the face with religion. Her debut novel, Under A Withering Sun, is in the process of being re-released (stay tuned for more details). She is a member of ACFW and NWG.

Find out more on her website:

Bellanok: An Urgent Quest is Here!

I know, I know . . . it’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. The next installment of Bellanok is now on Amazon. The same characters you enjoyed in The Reluctant Savior, but with a whole new set of obstacles and dangers on the island of Bellanok.

Ralene Bellanok 2 an urgent quest final coverHere’s the blurb for Bellanok: An Urgent Quest:

Brian made it to Bellanok alive, but he’s not sure he’ll get out that way. From the time he arrives, things are not as he expected. The demon’s influence is everywhere. And then there’s the drums that only he can hear.

Fauna brought Brian back like she was told, but now what is she supposed to do? Bellanok is succumbing to evil, her link to Father is severed, and she fears she’s set everyone up for failure. A recurring vision may turn out to be the first clue as to the next step.

I’m really excited to share An Urgent Quest with all of  you. Enjoy!

If you haven’t read the first installment, The Reluctant Savior, you can also check it out on Amazon.

If you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss each installment as they come out. There’s 3 more to come! You’ll also enjoy writing tips, story insiders, encouragement, and other fun stuff in your Inbox a couple of times a week.

What are YOU reading in the last week of 2015?

Forged Steel Cover Reveal!

I get very excited whenever one of my critique partners, past or present, achieves their dreams in one way or another. So I have to take some time to support them and spread the word.

Today, fellow fantasy writer and all-around fun gal H.A. Titus is having a cover reveal for her novel, Forged Steel. Now, I got to see this story in its early stages, so I can weigh in on how great the story was back then. I can’t wait to see it now!

Backcover blurb:

Downton. Coffee shop. 2 AM.

One minute, Josh is firing off sarcastic remarks at his best friend Marc – the next, they’re running from shape-shifters. Apparently, even best friends don’t share all their secrets.

Now Josh is in danger. He can see the monsters among the humans.

When Marc is kidnapped, Josh finds himself pulled into the schemes of the fae courts, and throws in his lot with Marc’s allies: the lovely Larae, a human named David, and the fighter, Eliaster. But what began as a rescue mission becomes something much more involved…

And all Josh wants to do is get out before it’s too late.


Forged Steel coverForged Steel is a new adult urban fantasy by H. A. Titus, releasing on July 17th. It will be available in print (Amazon) and ebook (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Scribd) If you’d like a chance to win free books, ask questions, and hear trivia about the writing/publishing of Forged Steel, there will be a Facebook event party on July 17th from 7-9 pm eastern time on the author’s page, H. A. Titus Author.

The first five chapters are available for preview on Wattpad.