Author Guest Post With Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs has kindly agreed to guest post here about her work, and share her inspiration for becoming a writer in honor of her newest release, Heir to the Lamp.

 About The Author:
Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities. When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group.

Michelle Lowery Combs on the Web:
Twitter | Official Page | Goodreads | Facebook | Google+
Guest Post:

 Hooray for YA!

Michelle Lowery Combs

I’m often asked, both as a reader and a writer, “Why YA?”  Why is it that as an adult woman in her mid-thirties I gravitate so strongly to fiction traditionally considered to be for younger readers?

I guess the answer largely boils down to the fact that I became an avid reader as a teen.  My attitudes, fears and aspirations of that time in my life have heavily influenced my taste in literature.  Sure, I have several grown up authors and their work that I love:  Phillipa Gregory’s historical fiction about Tudor England, Jill Conner Browne and Celia Rivenbark’s humorous non-fiction about life in the South, anything set in Appalacia between 1850-1960; however, it’s Young Adult literature that I always return to.

Above all, I’m a fan of reading and telling stories told from the perspective of a child.  YA fantasy in particular, where characters in new and unknown worlds make great discoveries, wield magic, battle dragons, face their deepest fears and emerge victorious!  It’s a break from the drudgery that can be a grownup’s life.

Because I have so many children—five still at home—some might not understand why I would immerse myself in children’s stories with the scant little free time I have.  Some may wonder what true pleasure I could possibly derive from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian’s, DM Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo Trilogy or Neil Gaiman’s Coraline or The Graveyard Book?  In response I’d have to ask, what’s not to love?  Who doesn’t want to see someone grow into the person they themselves might once have hoped to be as a child?

The coming of age of the main character(s) is one of the things I love most about YA literature.  The way the world changes for them as they discover who they are makes the world change for me in some small way, too.  These stories also give me perspective in another way.  Clues about what I’m doing right and doing wrong as a parent preparing to send my own young people out into an ever-changing world full of its own kind of monsters and dragons.

I’m not alone in my love for YA.  According to, a 2012 study by Bowker Market Research revealed that “fully 55% of buyers of works that publishers designate for kids aged 12-17—known as YA books—are 18 or older, with the largest segment aged 30 to 44, a group that alone accounted for 28% of YA sales.”  The study also noted that in most cases these adults aren’t purchasing for others.  When asked about the intended recipient, participants in the study reported that 78% of the time they were purchasing the books for their own reading.  That’s good news to those of us who not only love to read YA but write it as well.

Hooray for YA!



New Study:  55% of YA Books Bought by Adults.  Publisher’s Weekly.   September 13, 2012.  web.

About The Book:

17900590Heir to the Lamp (Genie Chronicles 1) a YA novel by Michelle Lowery Combs.
Publication Date: July 16th 2013
Publisher: World Weaver Press

A family secret, a mysterious lamp, a dangerous Order with the mad desire to possess both. Ginn thinks she knows all there iss to know about how she became adopted by parents whose number one priority is to embarrass her with public displays of affection, but that changes when a single wish starts a never-ending parade of weirdness marching through her door the day she turns thirteen.

Gifted with a mysterious lamp and the missing pieces from her adoption story, Ginn tries to discover who…or what…she really is. That should be strange enough, but to top it off Ginn’s being hunted by the Order of the Grimoire, a secret society who’ll stop at nothing to harness the power of a real genie. Ginn struggles to stay one step ahead of the Grimms with the help of Rashmere, Guardian of the lamp and the most loyal friend a girl never knew she had. The Grimms are being helped, too—but by whom? As much as she doesn’t want to, Ginn’s beginning to question the motives of her long-time crush Caleb Scott and his connection to her newest, most dangerous enemy.

Read the digital edition for $6.79
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Find Heir to the Lamp (Genie Chronicles 1) Online:

Excerpt from Heir to the Lamp

Reason Number 253 to hate having more-siblings-than-should-be-legal in the 21st century: crappy birthday presents. There were two things I wanted for my thirteenth birthday: to win my first JV Girls’ Basketball game and a new cell phone. With four brothers and a baby sister draining my parents’ checking account like a pack of vampires in a blood bank, I figured the phone wasn’t going to happen—even on a birthday as epic as my 13th. I had no idea that all it would have taken to have my heart’s desire was wanting…wishing, to be exact. Turns out, I could have wished for the moon for my birthday and it would have fallen from the sky into my back yard.

Oblivious to my awesome moon-falling-from-the-sky potential, I sit in the family minivan peering out my window. Pastures of grazing cattle and newly harvested cotton fields whir past in a blur. The voices of Dad’s favorite Saturday morning sports announcers stream from the radio, but they’re talking football and it doesn’t take long for me to tune them out. The boring familiarity of the drive is helping with the tight coil of nervousness I’ve felt in the pit of my stomach all morning; it unwinds a little with every mile that brings me closer to the gym and the biggest game of my life. I’m beginning to feel more relaxed and confident than I have in days, when my older brother CJ pulls a pair of earbuds from his ears and shatters my calm the way only a brother can.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” he says, leaning toward my side of the van like some sort of TV spy about to give up a nation’s biggest secrets, “something you should know about Plainview.”

I shift in my seat. What could CJ know about the team I’ll be facing later? “What—they’ll be the team in navy and gold?” I ask, pointing to the orange and black Alexander Lady Cubs game jersey I’m wearing. “Very funny.” I flick the curly brown pony tail resting on my shoulder and roll my eyes. Brothers!

“I’m serious, Virginia. Of course, if you’re not interested it’s your loss—and, I mean that literally, Miss Know-It-All.”

CJ reclines in his seat, replacing the tiny speakers into his ears.

I have to take the bait—what choice do I have if winning the game is really at stake?

“Okay…so what’s up?” CJ closes his eyes, notching up the volume on his iPod, and pretending not to hear me.

“What’s up?” I repeat, tugging at the cord resting on his chest until the earbuds pop free from the sides of his head.

“Remember my friend Caleb Scott?” CJ asks after a fit of faked annoyance.

“Yeah, I remember.” I picture the tall, copper-haired skater-boy with turquoise eyes who used to text CJ pictures of his torn jeans and wrecked boards with captions like “killer” and “sweet.” He might not be the brightest crayon in my brother’s box of friends, but Caleb is definitely the cutest. Other than his yearbook photo and a couple—okay, a few dozen—visits to his facebook page, I haven’t seen him or heard CJ talk about him in months. “What’s Caleb got to do with the game?”

“He’s going to Plainview this year—says their JV girls’ team is practically guaranteed to win every game. They have a secret weapon.”

I laugh. “Guaranteed to win? Ha! No team is ever guaranteed a Win—it’s the first rule of basketball.” CJ’s valuable information sounds like stupid guy talk.

“Coach Mac has had us studying Plainview’s plays for over a week. All of them, CJ. So, unless Caleb says they’ve come up with something new in the last seven days, we’re good.”

“A new girl: some kind of gnarly giantess. She’s a seventh grader, but Caleb says she’s over six-feet tall. And, get this, she’s his cousin.”

“What?” I shout. Dad raises his eyebrows at us in the rearview mirror. I lower my voice. “Coach hasn’t said…”

“Look, I don’t know why you weren’t warned about this girl. Maybe Coach Mac doesn’t know about her. Caleb says she’s a transfer. She’s only been at Plainview since the beginning of the practice season. I’m telling you because I thought you’d want to know. Think of it as a birthday present.”

CJ smirks and I want to punch him—right in the face so many clueless girls are gaga over. If there’s anything about him those dummies like more than his gray eyes and tan skin, it’s his ridiculous hair: the “masterpiece” that’s supposed to look casual and wind-swept like he travels everywhere by air-tunnel or something. I can’t see in him what keeps my friends and teammates giggling like lunatic hyenas whenever they’re within fifty feet of him. I’ve smelled his feet, heard him pass gas, and know that he forgets to brush his teeth every other day. There are a dozen things about CJ that gross me out at any given second.

“Why didn’t you say anything sooner?” I grumble. At 5’10,” I haven’t expected to be out-sized on the court that day.

“I didn’t hear from Caleb until last night. You were already having trouble sleeping, so I waited. Give me a little credit.”

“Were you in my room last night?” I haven’t told anyone about the nightmare that’s been keeping me up all week.


It’s probably true. As far as I know, he’s still avoiding the place like a week’s worth of homework after barging in a couple months ago and seeing two of my bras hanging from a knob on my dresser. “Ugh!” he’d groaned, hurrying to cover his eyes. “Put that stuff away!” I’d have been decorating my room with underwear since getting my first training bra in the fourth grade if I’d known that’s all it would have taken to keep him out of there.

“I’ve heard you during the night,” he says. “The night before last, I even listened at your door to make sure you were okay. When I heard you crank up that chainsaw of yours, I knew you were dreaming and went back to bed. Girls shouldn’t make the kind of noises you make in your sleep, Ginn. Your snoring was so loud; I thought you’d wake the whole house.”

“What position does this new girl play?” I ask, changing the subject. I have more than CJ’s possible trespassing and bad jokes to worry about.

“Power forward. She’s big and not too fast. Caleb says they pretty much keep her under the goal—somebody on her team misses a shot and she’s there to sink the rebound.”

“Sounds familiar.” I’d played power forward for years in a youth league before making the JV team and getting a chance at point-guard.

“What about defense?”

“Well, there’s where you might have some trouble. Caleb says she’s a beast!”

I try to ignore the coil contracting in my gut, growing as heavy as a chunk of steel. There has to be a solution for this extremely large problem.

“Outside shots and free throws,” CJ says as if reading my mind. “She’s big…so shoot around her. And, if she’s as aggressive as Caleb says she is, she’s bound to make a few fouls.”

I grimace, envisioning an Incredible Hulk-like teenage girl laying waste to my entire team. “Things could get ugly.”

CJ nods. “Looks like you’re gonna have to slay a giant.”

Happy reading until next time!