…just workin out way toward home…

“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or somethin in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin out way toward home.”
Same Kind of Different As Me
Ron Hall and Denver Moore

Same Kind of Different As Me blog





This is one of those books that changes your life. It’s a powerful true story that I highly, highly, highly recommend if you haven’t encountered yet. You really don’t know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. It’s in those times people teach you more about life than you thought possible.

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4 Questions with Award-Winning Ron Bates

He’s a fellow Austinite, so that little piece of information should solidify that he’s a legit author. He also is author to a witty and hilarious tale of friendship that all kids need to read. As I mentioned in my review, How to Make Friends and Monsters, Bates uses “witty writing, humorous monologue, mischief and mayhem, that will leave you laughing and understanding the true meaning of friendship!”

So of course I wanted to host him here! Not only do we get the regular 4 Questions, but a few bonus questions about Howard Boward, inspiration of characters and a love of monsters!





Ron Bates is a writer, journalist and humor columnist who has produced creative work for a variety of mediums. He began his career as a newspaper reporter, and his frequently funny takes on life caught the attention of Legacy Publishing, which hired him as a resident humor-columnist for their three regional magazines. As a freelance writer, Ron’s work include the children’s story Arnold Bought a Bug, and St. Mary’s and the Art of War, the true story of how Italian POW’s transformed in a tiny Texas church. Rob is the author of the Cranium Comics series Brawn, the inspirational play Flight 1615, and Underground Ink, a collection of humorous poems. As an award-winning copy-writer, Ron lives and works in Texas.

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1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
That anyone would want my autograph. I still feel like I should apologize whenever I sign a book, it’s this sense that I’ve somehow left a permanent blotch on an otherwise perfect page. Getting to do something like that is an honor and one of the most gratifying parts of the book-writing experience but it’s surreal. I guess it’s because authors aren’t accustomed to being onstage — the book is the star, we’re somewhere back behind the curtain. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful but I always half-expect people to say they’re joking and then pull the book away.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
The hard part is limiting it to just one thing. But, looking back, my biggest regret is the time I wasted. It’s not a matter of wishing I’d worked harder or longer, it’s more about wishing I’d seen the path earlier. Writing a book was always something I was going to do “someday.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that any day can be someday–it’s not some magical point in the future. In hindsight, there were an awful lot of some days I let slip away while I was waiting for some huge, life-changing moment.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
In college, I joined the speech team mainly because it was a good way to meet people and you got to travel to events around the country. We were at nationals one year in Kansas City and a group of us came up with a game we called “elevator Frisbee.” The name pretty much says it all — we divided and got into elevators facing each other and, when the doors opened on the next floor, we’d throw the Frisbee to someone waiting in the elevator on the other side. This continued all the way to the top floor. The object of the game was to time your throw perfectly so that, the second the elevator doors opened, a Frisbee would come whirling through them. It was stupid. But I remember laughing as hard as I have ever laughed at anything, and the looks on the faces of the hotel guests watching a Frisbee fly out of one elevator and into another was priceless. I don’t really think it was this ridiculous game that made me happy, it was that I’d found a group of really creative people who were just as warped and immature as I was and together we were “greater” than the sum of our parts. It was a special time.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
The world neither starts nor ends with you. That sounds so obvious but every generation seems to struggle with the concept. For some reason, there’s this point in our development where we believe we have to change things, and only we can do it because we have all the answers. That’s not the next generation, that’s every generation. The trouble is, we forget that others felt this way long before our arrival. There’s a reason things are as they are, a reason our predecessors set us on this course. That doesn’t mean it’s the right course but it does mean you don’t change everything just for the sake of change. You owe something to the next generation, just as the previous one owed something to you, so don’t throw away the past carelessly. You might be robbing those to come of something precious.





And now a few about How to Make Friends and Monsters!

5. Where did the idea develop? Are you a big Frankenstein fan?
I grew up a big fan of old monster movies. I’m not just talking about the “classic” monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman, I liked them all–Mothra, Gamera, the blob, the giant ants from “Them.” One of my favorite memories is staying up late on Friday nights and watching the cheesy midnight movies that always involved some nuclear mutation bent on destroying the planet. But just when you thought you knew everything about monster history, it changed. Sesame Street gave us Cookie Monster and Grover, Harry and the Hendersons gave us a lovable Bigfoot, and we met Sulley and Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. Suddenly, monsters, which had always been the scourge of mankind, could be friends.

In a lot of ways, the book is an examination of one question — what is a monster? Is it a monster because of the way it looks, because of where it came from, or because of its actions? At its heart, this is a story about a friendship between two kids, one of whom just happens to be a “monster.”

6. Were any of the characters inspired by real people?
Definitely. There are elements of people I know in all of them but they’re not exact copies. My brothers and my sister, for example, have all found instances in the book that happened to them while we were growing up. Those parts were when the story felt most “real” to me because they were real experiences. When I picture Winnie McKinney in my head, I know the face I’m thinking of and it belongs to a real-life person. Is Winnie her? The best answer I can give is “kind of.”

As for Howard, he looks at the world a lot like I do. I think he worries about the same things I worried about at his age, so I know I’m in there, part of the mix. Hopefully no one I grew up with will see themselves in the bullies in the story — but if they’d been on the other end of the wedgie back then, there’s a good chance they might.

7. What’s one of the main things you hope your young readers come away with after reading this?
Fitting in isn’t about becoming who you think the crowd wants you to be. It’s about being who you are and finding your place among people who wouldn’t have you any other way. You might make friends by pretending to be someone you’re not, but you’ll never really be one.

8. So is there anything on the horizon for Howard?
Indeed there is. I’m finishing the second book in the series right now and it takes place a little later in the year, during the winter months when the first snow has just fallen. We tend to think of snow as this pillowy layer of fluff that floats down from the sky but Howard sees it as something else entirely. Rolled into a ball, it becomes a cold, hard weapon and he is its unfortunate target. Naturally, with his passion for inventing things, you can count on him coming up with a very unusual snowman. It’s not that Howard means for it to be unusual, it’s just that his inventions never quite turn out as planned. But most of the main characters from the first book are back and Howard is still trying to survive the perilous halls of Dolley Madison Middle School, so hopefully it’ll be a fun read.

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Thank you so much Ron! Looking forward to following Howard’s mishaps and adventures!

And if you want to join in Howard’s journey through Jr. High, be sure to connect with Ron on Twitter or his website!

How to Make Friends and Monsters | Ron Bates

Friends of the internet. You must know one thing about this book: this kid is hilarious! A Jr. High student full of wit and comebacks…we would definitely have been friends.

If you’re looking for a book to pass along to your kids, check How to Make Friends and Monsters by Robert Bates!

With witty writing, humorous monologue, mischief and mayhem, creative illustrations and an enjoyable time, Bates’ tale will leave you laughing and understanding the true meaning of friendship!

So if you know anyone ages 9 and up, be sure to pass this along. they’ll come away with important life lessons and lots of laughs! It comes out a week from today (7/22)!

Any middle grader who’s ever been on the bottom rung of the popularity ladder or prefers a chemistry set over a football jersey will relate to the main character in author Ron Bates’ How to Make Friends and Monsters.

The book follows 7th grader and frequent wedgie victim Howard Boward. A bespectacled loner, with a mouth full of braces, Howard is often the target of a school prank. That is, until a lab mistake involving Wonder Putty helps him “make” a new friend.

What began as a blob becomes a big, hairy, jovial creature who Howard names Franklin Stein. They are instant buddies. For the first time, Howard doesn’t have to sit alone at the lunch table. The cool kids finally know his name.

Unfortunately, Howard soon learns that playing God has a price. When certain members of the UPs (über-popular crowd) hear about Howard’s secret experiment, they want him to make them a special friend, too.

But things quickly spiral when the true nature of each monster emerges. Howard must find a way to fix this disaster—even if it means going back to being friendless.

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Enjoy the trailer below!

(I received an Advanced Reader Copy from DJC Communications in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!!)

Unrivaled | Siri Mitchell

I mean really, is sleep that necessary?

That’s what I kept telling myself when I started Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell one Monday evening and then couldn’t stop. It got later and later, but y’all I had to finish. Half way through the book is “almost done” right? But there was simply no choice in the matter. So I stayed up and finished the book in one sitting. Kindle Paperwhite, thank you for existing and making my midnight reading so easy. Let me tell you how awesome I was Tuesday morning though. Surprised I didn’t crash at my desk.

But it was worth it!!

This was my first read of Mitchell and if her other novels are anything like this one, I’m reading them all.

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Lucy Kendall always assumed she’d help her father in his candy-making business, creating recipes and aiding him in their shared passion. But after a year traveling in Europe, Lucy returns to 1910 St. Louis to find her father unwell and her mother planning to sell the struggling candy company. Determined to help, Lucy vows to create a candy that will reverse their fortunes.

St. Louis newcomer Charlie Clarke is determined to help his father dominate the nation’s candy industry. Compromise is not an option when the prize is a father’s approval, and falling in love with a business rival is a recipe for disaster when only one company can win. Will these two star-crossed lovers let a competition that turns less than friendly sour their dreams?

The story is written from both Lucy and Charlie’s perspectives and I have to say, I chuckled constantly at their inner commentary. We’d so be friends. And whoa, the candy biz does not mess around!

But more than just a great story, I love the lessons throughout of family, relationships, love and forgiveness. Did I mention it is a great story?? I highly recommend it!

(I received a free copy for review from Bethany House Publishers)

In Memory of Denver Moore

When I decided to start this blog, I made a rule that I wouldn’t discuss a book I have already read (unless I reread it). And plus I would be posting way too often. Yet, only five blog posts in, I decided to break that rule.

On March 31st, 2012 Denver Moore passed away in his home at the age of 75. Denver and Ron Hall’s story, as told in New York Times Bestseller Same Kind of Different as Me, shares the powerful and inspirational story of an unlikely friendship between an art dealer and a homeless man hardened by the streets and how faith and an amazing woman named Deborah brought them together.

Y’all, I have never cried so much in a book. It truly is one of the most profound stories I have ever read. It’s always the first book I give to people when they ask for recommendations. This story truly changed my life. So if you are looking for your next read, this needs to be it.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Denver:
“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or somethin in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home.”

Trust me, read it! It’s less than $10.00 on Amazon right now. Click here to get it!

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