Sunday, September 2, 2012


- Win a copy of LET THE REASON BE LOVE by Merrill Osmond (Ends 9/14)
- Book Review:  ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick
- Win a copy of DEMONKEEPER by Royce Buckingham (Ends 9/3)

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM), a weekly event hosted by author Shannon Messenger. For a list of other MMGM posts, click HERE.

Jackson Keene
Treble Heart Books
220 pp.
Young Adult

TJ’s just an ordinary fourteen year old kid with extraordinary problems at home and school: A broken up family from his parents’ bitter divorce, evil bullies almost every afternoon, failing grades, boring classes, snobby girls, mean teachers, cut from basketball tryouts, few friends. Life is rough for TJ Cockrell.

And then that mysterious little green book had to go and throw him into the past. And not just any past, but into the untamed forbidding forests of 1802 eastern Tennessee along with the savage Indians, wild beasts, bloodthirsty robbers, backwoods ruffians, and log cabin living! Yup, it’s definitely not 2011 Knoxville anymore.

And he thought his present life was bad news! But TJ’s adventures are only beginning. Along the way, he fights off killer beasts and bandits and braves, gains a world of confidence in himself, finds his first real love, and meets a fantastic frontier family who really has it together. When he returns to the present, he’s a brand new person––ready to defeat deadly robbers in his own home, beat the bullies at school, win the girl, gain friends, and make great grades. He even gets his family back together again. Sort of. In the end, the little green book is really cool. And TJ can’t wait to go on another action-packed adventure into the perilous past!

NOLICHUCK is an adventure story for middle grade readers. Author Jackson Keene stops by for an interview today and is giving away a copy of his book. To find out how to win, be sure to read the details at the end of this post.

     1.       When and why did you start writing?

I've had the "itch" to write for 20 years.  I finally woke up one day and realized that I'd be an old man if I didn't start soon!  I wrote plays and short stories as a kid, and have had several ideas for novels over the years, but never jump-started my writing in a serious fashion until NOLICHUCK came along.
      2.       What inspired you to write Nolichuck?

NOLICHUCK was a combination of many things stewing around inside.  I was born and lived in Tennessee as a kid, and knew some of its history.  Like TJ, the main character of our story, I had to constantly fight off bullies in school.  I always loved history, but wanted to write about periods of history that are less written and less celebrated than the great events -- a look at common people living everyday lives, so to speak.  Davy Crockett was a childhood hero, and I wondered what it was like for him as a teenager.  Of course, I originally planned to be a history professor, so naturally one of my characters HAD to be that.  I was never the star athlete in high school, so I emphasize with TJ's disappointments in sports.  Above all, I wanted a story that would deal realistically with the hard life issues that far too many young adults face today:  Bullying, divorced families, struggling with grades, not making the "team", not part of the most popular cliques, mean teachers, boredom, unhappiness, few close friends, lack of meaningful communication with either parent, etc.  
3.       What is the hardest part of writing Nolichuck?

For me, developing strong characters and creating believable dialogue was the hardest part.  Coming up with an imaginative plot with subplots is fairly easy, but fleshing it out with people and interaction that really captures the reader’s attention is what it's all about.

4.       What is your favorite place to write?

In our den with its fireplace, the comfy couch (where I can catnap now and then), and my personal office set up is where I can fully concentrate on thinking and writing.  Although, truth be told, some of my best ideas and plot revisions come to me just as I'm drifting off to sleep at night.  I keep a notepad and pen next to the bed to capture "brainstorms" when they come.
5.       Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

The next book in the YA series is:  Reds!  TJ's Wacky War Adventure


Jackson is providing a copy of NOLICHUCK to one lucky reader. To enter the giveaway, just fill out the rafflecopter below.
This giveaway will end on September 17th!


  1. Virginia, that's where I live and it's a beautiful state, visited other states but no desire to move.

  2. I have to stick with Michigan because I was born and raised, and still live, here. It needs all the help it can get now with the recession. However, it still has some of the most beautiful waterways in the world!

  3. Hmmm, tough one. I have a couple favorites. Texas because I was born there, love the heat, and cowboys.
    Virginia cuz it is beautiful and has mountains and seashore. And Colorado because of the Rocky Mountains, Estes Park, and lots of family there.

  4. Tennessee, it's where I have lived all of my life and I love it!!

  5. My favorite state is West Virginia, it is where I was born and lived for the first 20 years of my life. I love the mountains they are beautiful.