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The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Sunday Snippet: Seekers of the Lost Boy; An Author Interview and a GiveAway!!!

May 13th, 2013 · 68 Comments

We are writing all about books this week including a couple of Author Interviews. It is going to be fun and lots to read – they aren’t called writers for nothing!!! So settle in and join us: The First Author is Taryn Hayes, a friend of ours who recently wrote her first novel. And we have a signed copy to GiveAway…

We liked this book – a lot!!! My middle kids romped through it in a sitting, they were not going to put it down… and I am busy reading it to my younger children, who are eager to hear more, more and more… This is the story set in a post-apartheid South Africa, writing about life during the apartheid era… We are transported along by a homeschooling family who are searching for the answers to a question they found in a Message in a Bottle that was thrown into the sea thirty years before.

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Everything about this book makes it not your typical book. Firstly, I don’t think my children have ever read about a homeschooling family in the modern era – plenty of pioneers, but lets face it there are not many books were the lead characters are homeschoolers. And not just homeschoolers, but a homeschooling family, which is how homeschoolers tend to roll. The family is a normal family, in that there is no such thing as a normal family. Like most families they have their own pain that they are carrying in their hearts and that they have to deal with, within the covers of the book.

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Then, it is a book set in Cape Town, our very own city – filled with landmarks that we know well and recognise. And this book talks about the murky cloud of South African History, the apartheid era. My children are interested in history but I have said it before and I will say it again – there is a gap in our local history that understandably for very painful reasons folk just don’t want to talk about. The Group Areas Act of the apartheid era was a viciously cruel machine that divided families and friendships and our children need to know about it… folks are so quick to blame troubles in our country on “the previous regime” but nobody really says what that is. It is really time to bring our murky past out of the closet, a forgotten history is one waiting to be repeated. Places like The District Six Museum, instrumental in the book, are doing a great job at bringing that history to life.

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Taryn Hayes with her family. Photo Credit: Susie Leblond

So, the oldest child in the homeschooling family, 12 year old Simon, discovers a bottle on the beach – you follow the children on their quest to discover who wrote the letter and why. The children dash through their bookwork so that they can work on their project. They use the internet and library resources and do a fabulous research project and discover the author of the letter. The meet him, but circumstances mean that they have to hear the writer of the bottled message’s story before they can reveal that they have found his letter – so many years later. This book is an emotional one, you feel the joys and the sadness along with the main players as you read along. It is a great read for chapter book readers and quite honestly we are looking forward to more like it!!!


Se7en + 1 Interview Questions… Asked and Answered

  1. Obviously you love writing, you wrote a whole book!!! Can you think of a childhood book that spoke to you and said, “I want to write my own book one day.”
  2. Growing up I had loads of inspiring authors whose books I got to enjoy: Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, CS Lewis, to name a few. They all made me want to create stories of my own. But, the children’s author that really inspired me is one I was introduced to only as an adult, and that is Patricia St John. Her amazing ability to tell biblical truths through the circumstances of her characters, all while telling a compelling story, made me want to write stories just like her.

  3. There aren’t many books written about modern day homeschooling families; or books that that address apartheid and post apartheid South Africa; or books that share the gospel… did you plan to interweave these topics or did the story drive itself?
  4. I’ve always wanted to write meaningful stories. Stories that touch the heart and leave one thinking deeply. But that was for “another season of life” when the kids had grown up. But after reading Patricia St John’s books and when we kept encountering excellent living books through our homeschooling curriculum, Sonlight, I felt moved to create something for my own kids that was relevant to them. Relevant to their faith. Relevant to their history. Relevant to their lives. We had never encountered modern-day homeschooled kids in books, so, I thought, why not create them? And while I’m at it, perhaps I could create something that merged all three desire? So, yes, I did plan to interweave the topics, but the story – the plot – drove itself in a big way. What started as a spark of a story idea took off like a raging fire in no time. I am grateful to that, because it was only after I wrote it that I became aware that seasoned writers are of the opinion that the best stories don’t have an agenda driving them! With Seekers, the agenda frames it, for sure, but the story sustains it. God’s kindness to this newbie writer, methinks!

  5. There seem to be two types of writer in the world – those who write by hand, copious notes in notebooks and then put it all together or those that hammer away from start to finish at a keyboard. How do you keep track of your thoughts while you are so busy doing other things?
  6. Do I have a style? I think I could answer this question better after having written a few books! I wrote this book in evening spurts when the kids were in bed – hammering away at my keyboard, as you say. When I was not typing away, I’d think about the storyline as I was drifting off to sleep, while exercising, while brushing my teeth, in discussion with my husband and even in traffic, while absent-mindedly tapping away at my steering wheel! I didn’t really need to keep track of my thoughts, because my thoughts kept track of me! It was as if the story was following me around like an eager puppy, not letting me forget that it was there! Thankfully, though, life is busy enough not to let the story plot take over. Marketing, however, is a difficult kettle of fish! I find that a whole lot more difficult to ignore!

  7. Tell us about your work style… are you a disciplined “same number of hours or words a day kind of writer” or inspired “when inspiration and or opportunity hits you dash off chunks.” Do you have any – a special spot, a special snack, a special pencil?
  8. I am definitely not disciplined! The first few chapters spilled out onto my keyboard simply because I could not contain the ideas in my head any more. Then, things slowed down a bit with the busyness of life taking over. But, once I started up again, it was like picking up with an old friend. I couldn’t wait to visit the Ward family and create the next chapter in their lives. It wasn’t difficult to set aside evening hours to write simply because I felt driven to write until it was finished. As for a special spot… my physiotherapist and osteopath friends would be alarmed to know that my favourite typing spot is in bed with my lap top on my knees!

  9. You share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your book, can you tell us briefly how you became a Christian?
  10. The first few years of my life were in a non-Christian family. My dad was not interested and my mom was backslidden. When we moved to Cape Town when I was 5, my family started going to St James Church at the invitation of my uncle. My mom and brother both committed their lives to Jesus and started attending regularly, and somehow the rest of the family kept going too. By the time I was 6, I had heard the gospel story a few times over at kids’ club (Livewires, in those days!) and Sunday School. The message only really hit home, though, one late afternoon while I was playing on the front lawn of our home with the dogs. I remember lying on the sweet, dewy grass staring up at the clouds and thinking, “I want to pray and ask Jesus to come live in my heart.” So I did. I experienced the most amazing feeling of warmth flood my being, from my chest moving down to my stomach, like a wave. I was so excited I ran straight into the house to tell me mother. But, two years later, as an 8 year old who was very aware of her own sin, I began to believe that I couldn’t be a Christian any more. It really bothered me, but I never told anyone about it. Then, while on a children’s camp, our leader, Aunty Laura, shared the gospel again, but this time she invited children who felt that they were no longer a Christian to the front to chat. I knew I had to find out whether I was or not, so I went to talk with one of the leaders, Uncle Noel. He explained to me that once we ask Jesus into our hearts, we have to ask Him to leave if we do not want Him to be our Saviour and Lord. He explained that even though we are saved from the punishment of sin, we are still living in a sinful world and so we would still sin, but the aim is to try glorify God in what we do because we are grateful to Him for saving us and because He is God. With that knowledge, I gratefully rededicated my life to Jesus. It’s not been an easy path, but I am still grateful to this day for the saving grace of God, and for his faithful servants, Aunty Laura and Uncle Noel.

  11. Do you have other research projects that you would like the Ward family to work on. Do you think you will write about the same era again or will you create a mystery from another period of history?
  12. The idea and hope is to create a series where the family have another great adventure, experience a little more history and learn a lot more about the Bible. My goal is a lofty one, but I hope (and pray!) that I can create more books with gripping story lines, yet also explain deep theological truths in a way that will sink deep into the hearts of children and adults alike.

  13. We would like to know a little bit about you and your book. What was your favourite part about writing this book: searching it, reading it to your kids, celebrating when it was done!!!
  14. Oh, I have so many favourite parts! Writing the exciting parts filled me with the same sense of anticipation that I feel when reading a page-turner. Except, I got to experience the feeling for a lot longer, as writing a page takes a lot longer than reading it! My favourite, and most difficult, passages to write were the gospel chapters. At one point, I had to stop and just pray. The privilege of sharing the gospel with others in this way seemed so weighty, I felt like I was a child playing with a valuable gift, terrified I would drop it or mishandle it. I’m not ashamed to say that those passages made me shed tears just at the enormity of what Jesus has done for us.

    I also loved reading it aloud to our homeschool co-op group, the Lunch Bunch. Their shouts of “please read another chapter!” were so rewarding. Nowadays, I absolutely love hearing what parts resonated with readers. When I get feedback, I feel like Seekers is part of a huge, growing family with each person having ownership in some way or another. Their experiences, their reactions, somehow make the story richer and my joy bigger.

    And the Se7en + 1th Question…

  15. Inspiration: If you had one piece of inspiration for our readers and aspiring young writers… what would it be?
  16. It would be something that I first heard from our pastor, Mervyn Eloff, but can be attributed to GK Chesterton: “anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” We are so used to hearing “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” but the truth is that if there is something worth doing, it’s simply worth doing. Full stop. Period. Too often we are hindered by our false belief that something is only worth doing if it’s certain to be done well. I had no idea if I could write this story well. I just knew that there were no books that I knew of that fulfilled my idea of a great story with homeschooled characters. I felt that it was a job worth doing, so I did it. Not because I think I’m great. Not because I think I have skills. In fact, I’ve never written even a short creative story since high school! I did it because it was a job worth doing. So, to your readers and young writers, I’d say, like the famous shoe brand, “just do it!”


The GiveAway


Meanwhile, we have a signed copy of Seekers of the Lost Boy by Taryn Hayes to GiveAway. This GiveAway works in the usual way, comment before the end of this coming Sunday, 19 May 2013, and we will draw and publish the winners the following week.

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I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone, that is worldwide. If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

I would like to say a huge thank you to Taryn Hayes, who gave us a copy of the book to review and another copy to give-away. She also answered all our interview questions in record time. As usual we were not paid to write this post and any opinions expressed are entirely our own. I should add that while the book is available at all leading stores the best price is available from our Sunday Snippet Book Donor, Christian Book Discounters.

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Tags: Reviews · Sunday Snippet

68 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Linda B. // May 13, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Thanks for introducing us to another wonderful book!

  • 2 Wendy Meijer // May 13, 2013 at 7:29 am

    My son would enjoy this :)
    Wendy Meijer´s last blog post ..Five Minute Friday : Comfort

  • 3 A Seekers Giveaway at Se7en | // May 13, 2013 at 7:42 am

    [...] is  … there’s another opportunity to win a signed copy of my book happening over at Se7en’s [...]

  • 4 Dhesh // May 13, 2013 at 9:06 am

    This sounds like a wonderful book from a very talented lady.

  • 5 Lizanne // May 13, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Dying to read this book :) I’m a history nut and love our rich heritage. Would be fab to read Taryn’s take on some of the events.

  • 6 Jo // May 13, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I would love to win this to read to my kids. Taryn is a friend so I have heard a lot about the book, but haven’t read it yet.

  • 7 Tammy // May 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Man I do want to read this with my kids!

  • 8 Latasha // May 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I’ve been following Taryn’s blog and read about the book,so I’m also very excited to read the book,can’t wait!!!

  • 9 Tiffany W. // May 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    My brother would like this. He likes mysteries and is interested in history. This would help with learning world history.

  • 10 Belinda // May 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I also know Taryn, and am looking forward to getting a copy of the book – whether through this giveaway or not! I have nephews and nieces who would love it!

  • 11 Erin M // May 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you for telling the story behind the story. This book sounds like a great read.

  • 12 Jamal Stroupe // May 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Can’t wait to read this book :)

  • 13 Lopke D // May 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Sounds so WONDERFUL!

  • 14 Delene // May 13, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Oh this sounds wonderful. We are doing a year of South African History this year and this would be a great story to read.

  • 15 Helen // May 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I have enjoyed Taryn’s blog and would love to win her book! I live in France, and it would be a great way of sharing my Southern African heritage with my children.

  • 16 Cindy R // May 13, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    I can’t wait to read this with my kids–it looks wonderful!

  • 17 Robin E. // May 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    I have this book in my Amazon cart, just waiting for the next time I need to place an order (for the free shipping, you know)!
    Robin E.´s last blog post ..The Missing Dollar

  • 18 Zena // May 13, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I’m South African : ) and am absolutely intrigued to read this book myself, never mind to my children!

  • 19 Shout4Joy // May 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    this sounds like such a delightful book! I’ve added it to my wishlist in case *I* don’t win!
    Shout4Joy´s last blog post ..Design Wall Monday – and a sleepy Army Guy

  • 20 Katie // May 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    This sounds like such a fun book!

  • 21 Kelly Pardee // May 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Look in a book and you will see words and magic and mystery.

    We love books!!!!!!

  • 22 Tricia // May 13, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    This book sounds great and I think it would enhance our study next year when we do Sonlight core F!

  • 23 Christine // May 13, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Yes, please. Pick me!! Pick me!!

  • 24 Paige // May 13, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Would love to win this one!

  • 25 Ann // May 14, 2013 at 12:54 am

    We’d love to read a book set in the city my kids were all born in, even tho we live in Malawi! Sounds great!

  • 26 Corli // May 14, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Interesting!
    Corli´s last blog post ..it’s a long way!

  • 27 Connie // May 14, 2013 at 2:59 am

    This sounds wonderful!

  • 28 kristina hargraves // May 14, 2013 at 3:02 am

    This sounds like a great book to read with my kids!

  • 29 Anna // May 14, 2013 at 5:09 am

    I would really love to get to read this book. Sounds so interesting.

  • 30 Krista // May 14, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Sounds like an amazing book!

  • 31 Cilla // May 14, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Oh yes! Count me in! I too loved Patricia St John as a child!!

  • 32 Heide Goodman // May 15, 2013 at 7:52 am

    would really like to read this book to my girls

  • 33 Essa // May 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    This looks like a book that my kids would love to read; and I think I’d enjoy reading it too them too!

  • 34 Mary // May 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Can’t wait to read it with my children!

  • 35 Betsy // May 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I think this sounds wonderful! Looking forward to reading it–

  • 36 Biddy // May 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Would love to read this with my son!

  • 37 Katherine Aitken // May 15, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    If I sf don’t win, then this will definitely be one to buy.

  • 38 Jessica Brammer // May 16, 2013 at 3:38 am

    I would love a book about a homeschooling family!

  • 39 Rikki // May 16, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Sounds like a great book! It sounds like a book that needs to be sent to Sonlight for them to consider including somewhere in their curriculum!

  • 40 Robbyn // May 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    The cover art is beautiful. (we have artists at home) The story excites me. Southern Africa -esp Botswana interest me, but so does South Africa. I love that the hs kids will be portrayed. It’s affirming. & will look for at CBD and my library !

  • 41 Deb // May 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    What a wonderful thing to have a book featuring homeschoolers!

  • 42 Cara Kapp // May 17, 2013 at 7:31 am

    My oldest would love to read this book. Please count us in.

  • 43 Joy // May 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    This book sounds so interesting!

  • 44 Angel // May 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    sounds great, we have friends here in the states that are from South Africa, would be a fun way to get a part of the history

  • 45 Esther // May 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Would love to read this to my sons, especially reading about our recent history AND about a homeschooling family.

  • 46 Beth // May 18, 2013 at 1:11 am

    This book intrigues me and would fit right in with history next year. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • 47 Marie // May 18, 2013 at 4:52 am

    Sunds interesting!

  • 48 Erin Pongratz // May 18, 2013 at 11:48 am

    We would love to read this book as a new homeschooling family! We recently moved here from the USA and are missionaries living in Cape Town. Please pick us!

  • 49 Phillip Engel // May 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I teach at Capricorn primary school in the informal section of Vrygrond. I would love to have this book as part of our school library. This will certainly be a wonderful resource for school children. Hope you’ll consider my request. I was privileged to teach with Tarryn at JWCS. She was an amazing inspiration to my children esp. my eldest.

  • 50 Margie // May 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been longing to read this book.

  • 51 Tabitha // May 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    This book looks great!

  • 52 retha viljoen // May 18, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    can not wait to read it! my home-school kids are going to love it! I love the SA history-part and also the gospel part! thanks so much!

  • 53 Tanja Muller // May 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Thanks for a great post! I’d love to lay hands on this book! Thanks Tarryn for the excellent advise – I believe it is about to help loads of us break with the bondage of passivity.

  • 54 Carol W // May 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks for interviewing and getting the inside story to this enticing book.

  • 55 Kathy // May 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I loved hearing about your writing process. Sounds like the Holy Spirit working through you to write this book. As a writer and homeschooler, I identify with the challenge of finding time to write. I also identify with the angst that goes through with it. It sounds like God has truly gifted you with something you enjoy doing.

  • 56 Jannelie // May 19, 2013 at 12:00 am

    We just started homeschooling and this will be a GREAT read to my kids to see there’s other homeschoolers out there that love Jesus as they do and find so much more in the book!

  • 57 Laverne // May 19, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Oh, wow! Loved reading your review – can’t wait to read this book! I know our homeschooling family will really enjoy it.

  • 58 Susan // May 19, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Would LOVE to win this and introduce this to my Aussie friends!!

  • 59 Linnie // May 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you Se7en for this lovely interview! Now I’m even more curious to read Taryn’s book.
    Linnie´s last blog post ..Children – Ours for only a Short Period of Time

  • 60 Carla // May 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    i would love to read this book to my boys! in the majority I feel so inadequate in ministering the gospel to them. I am sure this book would touch their hearts. i just read the whole interview and I am reminded how blessed i am to be standing in grace. At 8+ many years I am so grateful that my sin doesn’t turn Jesus away.

  • 61 Paula // May 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Wow!what an inspiration! We would simply LOVE to read this as a family!

  • 62 Roswitha // May 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Would love to read a book with homeschool characters!! Don’t we all need a bit of inspiration on this endevor!!
    Congratulations!! I’m sure this was a job well done.

  • 63 Dawn A // May 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Would love to read a book with homeschool characters! Nice interview! Thanks for sharing!

  • 64 Jan // May 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful book for my TCKs. Hope there will be more to come.

  • 65 Shannon // May 19, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    How exciting, a book with homeschool characters!

  • 66 Denise // May 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Would love a positive homeschooling story for my girls!

  • 67 Sunday Snippet: Seekers of the Lost Boy - A Give Away Winner... - se7en // May 21, 2013 at 8:21 am

    [...] family living in a post-apartheid South Africa, on a quest to discover the past. You can read an interview with the author, Taryn Hayes, over here, but right now let’s see who the lucky winner [...]

  • 68 Se7en + 1's Complete Sunday Snippet Collection... - se7en // Jun 24, 2013 at 4:55 am

    [...] Seekers of the Lost Boy, an Author Interview and GiveAway and a Winner. [...]

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