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The Making Of Called Upon – Part 1- Bedtime

I have a rule about my kids’ bedtime. They can stay up as long as they want—weekends, school nights, whenever—as long as they are reading a book. Though my own parents didn’t spell out that rule to me when I was a child, it was intrinsically there. My mom was a voracious reader and taught me that reading was on the top shelf of priorities, wedged between food and caffeinated beverages. Obviously, sleep was on a lower shelf. I have countless memories of reading well into the middle of the night, fighting off sleep like a cancer.

“One more chapter. Just one. Okay, maybe another. Just another page. Well, ONE more…” Sometimes I’d fall asleep with an open book against my chest. Sometimes, especially after a few hours of R.L. Stein, I was certain that something slimy and weapon-yielding was lurking under my bed. Those nights I drifted off with the lights on because I couldn’t gather the courage to jump out of bed to hit the switch.

I liked ALL the books, classics like Anne of Green Gables and The Giver, as well as the Sweet Valley Twin varieties. To this day I bounce from genre to genre. Books like Cutting for Stone and Twilight have been known to touch each other on my nightstand.

Even as grownup(ish), I fight sleep to catch just one more chapter. I wear a headlamp now, because I am just THAT stylish, and also because my husband does not have the stay-up-as-late-as-you-want-as-long-as-you-are-reading rule. Bless ‘im.

One genre has always intrigued me most, though. It is the Sleepaway Summer Camp Fiasco genre.
Okay, I just made up that genre name, but I get to do that because I am an author now.

A remote and beautiful location, minimal adult supervision, prank wars, summer romances—this is the perfect backdrop for anything and everything to happen! I especially liked these stories as a young adult and I have ALWAYS known that I would one day write one such story. Called Upon is that story! I did it.

And not only does Called Upon have all of the crucial elements of a Sleepaway Summer Camp Fiasco, it’s got layers. Like, dark layers. Like mysterious layers. Like MURDER layers. This is the sort of book that you might just stay up way past your bedtime to read. This is the kind of story that will make you laugh out loud. It might gross you out a little, too. It is the book that might cause your 12-year-old to sleep with the lights on because there might be something slimy and weapon-yielding under his or her bed.

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Do You Like My Hat?

“Yes, I like it! I like your party hat!”


If you are a human person, it is highly likely you learned to read, or taught your children to read, by the book “Go Dog. Go!” By P.D. Eastman. For some reason, I could read this book over and over without wanting to gouge out my own eyeballs. Sorry, but some of those books for beginners can be hella-tedious (I am looking at you, Dr. Suess.) However, “Go Dog. Go!” somehow managed to cram a whole lot of whimsy into a handful of simple sentences.

One running storyline throughout the book is about Pink Poodle and her hat collection. Every time she wears a new hat, she excitedly approaches Yellow Dog and asks if he likes her hat. His answer is always “no” and Pink Poodle leaves him feeling dejected. This scenario plays out time and time again until the end of the book when the two meet up at a treetop dog party. Pink Poodle is wearing her most inventive hat yet, adorned with flowers, spiders, candy canes, a mop, a paper windmill, and basically every other knickknack one could find on the holiday shelf of the Dollar Tree. Once again, she poses the question to Yellow Dog, “Do you like my hat?” And he likes it! He likes her hat!

This part of the book always had me cheering. At last! At last he likes her hat! What a relief! Pink Poodle is also thrilled, finally receiving the validation she’d been wanting for years. Pink Poodle and Yellow Dog drive off into the sunset, probably to a lifetime of belly scratches and blimp tennis.

Only a few years ago, while reading this book for the hundredth time with my kindergartener, did I finally have the thought, “Wait-a-gosh-dern-minute….”

Why does it matter what yellow dog thinks of pink poodle’s hat? Did Pink Poodle like her hat? Why did she choose to live her happily-ever-after only when Yellow Dog gave her the thumbs up? Who the heck is this P.D. Eastman author anyway and why was THIS the moral to “Go Dog. Go!?”

Let’s set aside the misogynistic implications here and really zoom in on the issue of self-worth. Why did Pink Poodle only get her happy ending when someone else approved of her? It seems so silly when you think about it, but it took me years to even register this glaring problem with the book. And if it took so long to notice this in a book I’ve read a hundred times, am I failing to notice how I can be the Pink Poodle in the book “Go, Bethany. Go!?”

Ok. Truth moment. I actually am not the Pink Poodle in the book of my life. I understand my faults and foibles, and they are many, but I also know that I am a woman of worth. Whether you like my hat or “like” this post, it doesn’t change the fact that I am a daughter of a loving God. I cannot undo this love with sins, mistakes, or butt-ugly hats. My worth is set. And it is infinite.

And so is yours!

I have not always understood my worth. In fact, growing up I was about as insecure as I could be. I think that’s the case with so many young adults. Understanding self-worth is a lesson hard-won.

One of the main reasons I bring it up now is that my upcoming book’s underlying theme is that of self-worth. It is subtle, heavily shrouded in mystery and s’mores, but it is there. I put it in there because it is important.
Kaitlin, Called Upon’s protagonist, begins as a Pink Poodle in the book. How she realizes her worth is a key element of her journey. What she does with that knowledge is her personal triumph.