QUIRKY QUILL is for and by young writers and readers, hosted and moderated by me, Sharon Kirk Clifton. Welcome!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Whatcha Reading?

[If you know who created this image, please let me know so that I may credit the artist. It appears on I love it.]
My elder grandson recently had a birthday. He's an MK (missionary kid) living on the other side of the planet who loves books and reading, so I had him choose a book on as a birthday gift. Together we had read the Red Rock Mysteries series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry, so he knows he likes their writing. With my ordering The Book of the King, he's starting on The Wormling series by Jenkins and Fabry.
       Why didn't I send him my two Kindle books, Up a Rutted Road and The Second Cellar? He already has them! In fact, I read Up a Rutted Road to him.
       We love to read books aloud in our family. Does your family do that, also? It's much more fun and beneficial than watching TV.
       I'd love it if you'd use the "Post a Comment" section to tell me what you're reading right now. Also, what is your all-time favorite book or series?
       Who's your favorite author?
       Have you ever written or sent an email message to an author? Did he or she write you back?
       Have you ever met an author in person?
       Are you a writer? What have you written?
       As always, I'd love to hear from you.
Keep reading! Keep writing! I will, too!
Because of Jesus,

Friday, May 16, 2014


Summer vacation is coming! Get ready! Get set! Get Up a Rutted Road downloaded to your e-reader today! Find it on and GET READING!
CAMIE McCAIN had never met a hermit, not till Claude shows up smack-dab in the middle of Aunt Charlene’s old-timey kitchen. Camie reckons Uncle Glen is the recluse’s only friend. Off and on that summer, she spies Claude in the most unlikely places, but he vanishes before she can catch up to talk to him. Does he really live in a barrel in some lonely holler like the kids at church say? Is he on the run from the law? How come he shies away from folks like a skittish colt?

What do I like to read?

I'm an eclectic reader. My reading tastes cross many genres, including mystery, high fantasy (think Lord of the Rings), non-fiction, books about writing, historical fiction, adventure, poetry, biography, picture books--my tastes are varied. Two genres I will not read: what I call blood-and-gore crime and anything that even hints at the occult (no vampires, werewolves, zombies, or anything that glorifies the dark side or the enemy of God's people).
       I love nearly everything I've read by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia, etc.), J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, etc., although I found The Silmarillion a little daunting), Kate DiCamillo, Patricia Reilly Giff, Sharon Creech, the team of Jerry Jenkins and Chris Fabry, and too many others to list.
       When I was in the eighth grade, my health teacher assigned us to write our autobiography. I thought my own life was too boring to write about (which was wrong, of course), so I fictionalized it, saying that I had survived many adventures all around the world. Of course, my teacher held me after class to question me about my travels (which included some journeys to other planets).
      "I read a lot," I told him. "I've been to all those places and done all those things through the pages of hundreds of books." He smiled, nodded, and gave me an A.
       Don't you love books? They can take you on amazing journeys through space, time, and imagination to places you'd hardly be able to visit physically.

Your Turn!

  • Where have books taken you?
  • Who are your favorite authors?
  • What's your favorite genre?
  • How do you feel when you finish a really good book you've spent some time with?
  • Do the characters seem like friends?
Please answer in the "Comments" section below. I'd love to read your responses. So would others. Thanks for visiting Quirky Quill!
Keep reading good books!
Because of Jesus,
Sharon Kirk Clifton

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

13-Year-Old Author Signs with Penguin

      Congratulations to Jake Marcionette, 13, for signing a contract with Penguin Young Readers Group for a two-book series! Read more about it here!

Not having read the book--it releases in early 2014--I cannot recommend it. Nonetheless, I'm pretty excited that someone so young is getting pubbed by a major house. Huzzah, Jake! Write on!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CRASH THE ROADBLOCK! Six Rules for Brainstorming

Most writers run into roadblocks at one time or another, something that keeps their story from moving forward. It may be as simple as trying to come up with a name that's true to the story's era and a character's nature, or it could be more complex, say, a major plot twist that isn't playing out well. At such times, we send out frantic S.O.S. for a little help from our writerly friends. Observing a few simple guidelines can make our idea sessions more productive.

Rule One:  PRAY! Ask the Lord to make your brainstorming fruitful. Also ask Him to give you wisdom to recognize the best choice from many.

Rule Two:  BE SPECIFIC about your purpose for brainstorming. Clearly articulate what your need is. If the group starts chasing rabbits, tactfully draw them back to task. 

Rule Three:  ACCEPT ALL IDEAS AS BEING EQUAL--yours and others'--no matter how random, wild, far-fetched, bizarre, awkward, or exaggerated, without judging them. No put-downs, rolled eyes, or smirks allowed!

Rule Four:  ENCOURAGE PIGGYBACKING! Let one person's idea spark another possible solution. And another. And another. Etc.!

Rule Five:  UNDERSTAND that as a member of the brainstorming team, once you voice an idea, you relinquish ownership of it. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. You've essentially given it to your friend who sought your help.

Rule Six:  In light of Guideline Five, BE COURTEOUS. Someone asked for your help, and you agreed to participate. If your idea turns out to be the accepted solution, congratulations! It is considered rude--not illegal, but definitely rude--to snatch back an idea you've tossed into the brainstorming ring and use it yourself in your own writing. If you really want to use it (in a different way), meet privately with the person for whom you were brainstorming, explain your plan, and ask her permission. Once again The Golden Rule rules!

Brainstorming is a pleasurable, productive way to solve problems with your fellow scribes. Keep it friendly and . . .

Write on!
Because of Jesus,
Miz Sharon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Up a Rutted Road, is available for download through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Sony, Apple, Diesel, Page Foundry, and Baker & Taylor. It is a middle-grade novel set in eastern Kentucky in 1950.

(Notice: Blogger is playing with the fonts again. I apologize for any reading issues that might cause.)

"I often wished I was a bird and could fly away south. I'd dream of running through tall pasture grass with Elsie Blue at my heels."
~Camie McCain, Chapter 1, "Up a Rutted Road"

"Uncle Glen had always told me dogs could smell fear. I wondered if roosters could, too." ~Camie, Chapter 2, "The Rooster"
"I hadn't noticed any bad smells coming from the old hermit. To me, he smelled like the woods—like dampness, old leaves, and fresh air. If he took only two baths a year, wouldn't he stink to high Heaven?" ~Camie, Chapter 3, "The Hermit"
Are the rumors about the old hermit true? Does he live in a barrel out in the woods? Does he bathe only once or twice a year? Are "all manner of vermin" swarming through his clothes and long beard, like Aunt Charlene says?
What ever made Claude become a hermit in the first place? Had some woman jilted him? Did someone hurt his feeling real bad? Had he escaped from jail and come to the mountains to hide out? What if he'd murdered somebody?
Can a channel catfish be taught to play catch ball?
What eternal lesson does Camie learn from a locust (cicada)?
How did Uncle Glen come to be such good friends with Claude?
What's it like to live in a wagon on top of a mountain and go to church three times a day every blessit day for a week?
Does God punish you if you pray the wrong way? Is there a "wrong way"? Can people die because of faulty prayers?
Read Up a Rutted Road for the answers to these and other burning questions. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Just Released: Up a Rutted Road

CAMIE McCAIN had never met a hermit, not until Claude shows up smack-dab in the middle of Aunt Charlene’s old-timey kitchen. Camie reckons Uncle Glen is the recluse’s only friend. Off and on that summer, she spies Claude in the most unlikely places, but he vanishes before she can catch up to talk to him. Does he really live in a barrel in some lonely holler like the kids at church say? Is he on the run from the law? How come he shies away from folks like a skittish colt?

Camie has the summer of her life and one adventure after another. She tames an ornery rooster, helps put by for winter, learns to swim, and goes to camp meetin' with all the mountain folk.

Then one day tragedy strikes the mountain. Camie blames herself. Angry and afraid, she bolts into the mountains where she gets lost in a thunderstorm, tumbles down an incline, wrenches her ankle, and encounters Claude—this time in an abandoned mine. She tells him of the grief that has come to her family and claims it’s her fault. After all, didn’t she pray all wrong? And didn’t she keep a deadly secret?

Up a Rutted Road is available for your e-reader at and

* * *

Now it's your turn. Have you ever had a summer vacation that went wrong? Tell us about it in the "Comments" section. (Feel free to submit as "Anonymous" or use a pseudonym.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Wish You a Very Merry Literary CHRISTmas!

Two things you should know about my grandson Reuben: he loves--I mean loves--mysteries, and he loves for me to read aloud to him. Well, I am a storyteller so I do all the voices and sound effects.

Two things you should know about me: I love--I mean love--to read aloud to an appreciative audience, and I only choose those works that are well-written. Well, I am a writer and a former English teacher. (Some would argue there is no such thing as a former English teacher. They may be right.)

Reuben and I recently discovered the Red Rock Mystery series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry. I was familiar with some of Jenkins's adult novels, having read the Left Behind series and The Betrayal, the second in his Precinct 11 trilogy, so when I saw that he also has written several books for middle-graders and 'tweens, I knew I had to check them out.

At first, I didn't realize the books were numbered. I had a duh! moment when I realized we actually read Number 4 in the series first, Wild Rescue. We backtracked to Number 1, Haunted Waters, and are now taking them in order.

Chapters are very short, so we usually read ten to fifteen chapters at a sitting. For those of you who also write, Jenkins is a master at crafting end-of-chapter hooks. It takes extreme discipline to close the book and say, "That's enough for today." Since my grandson lives in another city, much of my reading aloud is done over the telephone, so I often end up reading until the cordless phone dies in my hands.

The series blurb on says:
Watch out! The Timberline twins are on the loose. Bryce and Ashley are ATV-riding tweens from Colorado who unearth action-packed mystery and adventure wherever they go. From clearing the name of a local miscreant to thwarting a gold-stealing heist, the twins' growing faith and the strong example of their parents guide them through even the most life-threatening situations. With the trademark page-turner style used by Jerry Jenkins and Chris Fabry in the Left Behind: The Kids series, these fast-paced books will keep even reluctant readers on the edge of their seats. Readers will definitely get hooked by the unbelievable cliff-hanger at the end of book one, Haunted Waters. Perfect for ages 8-12.
Reuben and I highly recommend the Red Rock Mysteries series for readers who enjoy heart-stopping mystery and adventure. Have you already read them? If so, which is your favorite and why? (Don't give away endings!) Do you have another favorite mystery series? Tell our readers about it in the "Comments" section.

Because of Jesus,
Miss Sharon