The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen
Book One, Second Edition
Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: June 12, 2016
Number of pages: 70
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It’s the beginning of summer and Uncle Mike and Aunt Melanie invite Mackenzie for an extended summer vacation in their hometown of Houston, Texas. On the first day, Mackenzie finds her cousins, Cristen and Chloe, helping their parents prepare a special meal. Come and learn about the holiday and celebration of Juneteenth with this first book in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a cultural journey of joy, family, and fun!
Summer Vacation is the first installment in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a five part journey of family love and fun. Each adventure finds the cousins learning history, exploring cultural themes and traditions, and discovering the joy in the world around them.
PRAISE FOR SUMMER VACATION
“I read Summer Vacation by Belinda Everette. I thought it was educational regarding the true history of Juneteenth and portrayed realistic events in the lives of the characters. I did pass it on to one of my daughters with a special interest in children’s books. This seems to be a good moment for this kind of story, with increased interest in African-American history with readers of all ages.”
— Ronne Hartfield, Co-Chair, Harvard University Arts Education Council, Executive Director, Art Institute of Chicago, Author
“Summer Vacation is very good. This book is entertaining and informative. The author has given us a unique way of presenting history to our children. This book should be published in Spanish and other languages to share this history with other cultures.”
— Irma P. Hall, Academy Award nominated American Actress, Poet, Author, Language Educator (ret), Dallas Public School System, 30 years.
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Where did your love of books and writing come from?
I was a very shy and timid child. Reading was a form of entertainment for me and a way to experience new and different things and I read voraciously, then and now. Because I was shy, I didn’t talk much and would write as a form of self-expression and a way to live vicariously through my characters. I adore the written word.
How long have you been writing?
I can remember writing my first short stories in the third grade. In junior high, I began to write poetry as well as short stories.
What kind(s) of writing do you do?
Short stories, fiction, children’s fiction and memoir.
What are some of the day jobs you have held? Did any of them impact your writing?
For 26 years, I held positions in banking beginning in 1986 as typist in a word processing pool, typing foreclosure letters due to the catastrophic collapse of the oil and gas industry in the ‘80s. This was a time of reinvention and creativity in the American workplace. I went from a small mortgage company in Oklahoma City, OK to the financial district in Chicago, with Citibank, and Wells Fargo in Houston. From typist to auditor, to the front lines of banking as a branch manager and ending as S.V.P. for wholesale lending for the central United States with Countrywide/Bank of America. Each position, each opportunity expanded my world and afforded me growth and development not only as a leader, but as a single mother, a woman, a citizen. I traveled and met many extraordinary people and was privileged to work with outstanding individuals with valuable contributions to make. Lastly, I was able to affect real positive change in people’s lives. From approving lending decisions and seeing thousands of first time homeowners over the years to hiring, developing and promoting hard working dedicated men and women striving to build a life, a career. At the core of what I worked toward, helping people was the best reward.
Who are some of your favorite authors you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Zora Neal Hurston, J. California Cooper, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Walter Mosely are some of my favorites, and I try to read every word they have ever written. Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a book I read every summer and always, always end up giving the book away to share the magnificent story of love, tenacity, and endurance.
All of these writers is prolific in their own right, but they share a unique gift in their own individual style and process of capturing a vivid, panoramic view of the life and history of African-American people in this country: a history so rich and broad that it is a multi-faceted, plethora of insights, images and stories of a people that has been historically under-documented and under-written.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Learning to show the reader the story, rather than tell the story. That’s the key to a great story I believe. When your words become vivid strokes on a personal, mental canvas, the reader becomes involved. I try to paint the picture with words.
The least – well if you learn something it’s automatically useful isn’t it? But, at times, the period before the quotation slows me down. “.” Or “”. ? (lol!)
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
Gloria Naylor, Women of Brewster Place. I read this book in the late 80s and discovered for the first time the unique beauty and artistry of African-American authors and their magnificent stories that were interesting, entertaining and encouraging in their pain, sometimes despair, and through all things hope.
Zora Neal Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God. This book makes my summer reading list every year – LOL! Set in 1917 it is a fantastic story of a woman who takes her identity in her own hands and discovers who she truly is. Beautifully written, it’s almost lyrical. I enjoy the book every summer and after reading give it to someone to read. I have purchased this book every year for the last 30 years and look forward to reading for 30 more!
What projects are you working on?
Summer Vacation is the first book of a five-part series. Books one and two are complete and published, and book three will be out this summer. The balance of this year, I will be working on the fourth and fifth books of the series.
Like most people, when life throws lemons, you make lemonade and that was certainly the case for Belinda Everette, the author of The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen book series. After twenty-six years as a Senior Vice-President for several Fortune 500 financial institutions, life circumstances required a change. Belinda put down her briefcase, enrolled in Rice University’s creative writing program, and began to pursue her lifelong dream of writing.
When not writing, Belinda supports several of her favorite charities which focus on providing housing and improving living conditions for those in need, including Houston’s Star of Hope, Covenant House, and Houston Achievement Place.
“Family is my greatest joy,” Belinda adds “nothing is better than a houseful of family and friends with lots of children running around, enjoying a delicious meal and good Christian fellowship.” Cooking, entertaining, and music along with daughter Ashley, son-in-law Ron, and grandchildren, Mackenzie and Evan, keep live full and happy. Belinda and her constant companion, a four-year old Shih Tzu, reside in suburban Houston, Texas.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
1 Grand Prize Winner wins
Signed Copies of Summer Vacation and It’s Just A Song, plus a tote bag
2 Other Winners each win
Signed Copies of Summer Vacation plus mouse pads
July 20 – July 29, 2016
Check out the other great blogs on this tour!
7/20 Hall Ways Blog – Review
7/21 Country Girl Bookaholic – Excerpt #1
7/22 Reading By Moonlight – Author Interview #1
7/23 Margie’s Must Reads – Review
7/24 StoreyBook Reviews – Guest Post
7/25 The Crazy Booksellers – Excerpt #2
7/26 Missus Gonzo – Review
7/27 Byers Editing Reviews & Blog – Author Interview #2
7/28 The Librarian Talks – Promo
7/29 My Book Fix Blog – Review