Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and blogger who studied business and English at Jacksonville State University. She lives in Alabama with her husband and their army of children. When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens, and teens, Michelle can be found among the rows of her family's farm, neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next bestseller.
She is a member of the Alabama Writers' Conclave and the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).
Check Michelle out at her website MichelleLoweryCombs.com
The Magic of a First Kiss
“You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss…” Except for when it comes to a first kiss. As all lovers will tell you, the magic in a relationship sparks or fizzles with that first kiss. It is a dealmaker or breaker.
When a first kiss burns hot, love blooms. According to a 2012 ABC Science poll, 90% of lovers, irrespective of age, can remember when and where their first kiss occurred. When a first kiss goes badly—as 60% of first kisses do according to the same poll—all hopes for a lasting romance are lost.
I was ten years-old the first time I fantasized about holding a boy’s hand—a very specific boy with blond hair parted by a cowlick on the right side of his forehead, tiny freckles dotting his perfectly upturned nose, and grey-blue eyes that reminded me of the sky before a summer storm. I often daydreamed about walking past him one day and letting my hand brush his. In my daydream, he would take my hand and we’d stand there together. That was as far as my ten-year-old mind had worked things out. Having accomplished my goal, I supposed we’d just stand there holding hands for eternity. I wanted it so badly.
When I was twelve years-old, that same boy—who was by then fourteen and over six-feet tall, gave me my first kiss. As we sat together in a wooden porch swing, he reached out to lift a strand of hair that the gathering wind had blown into my face, and as he leaned in to tuck the hair behind my ear, he kissed me. “I want to remember you just like this,” he said, “with the wind and that strand of hair in your face, always. You’re perfect.” I could have died! It was the most romantic moment of my life. At twenty-seven, I married that boy and he hasn’t said anything half as sweet to me since that long-ago summer of 1990. It was the kiss that did it, though. It was a kiss with the potential to see us through many of life’s storms, and even at twelve and fourteen years-old we knew it.
In Solomon’s Bell, the second installment of the Genie Chronicles, thirteen-year-old main character Ginn Lawson contemplates bartering her first kiss for what she hopes is information she needs to save her family. Caleb Scott, an older boy and Ginn’s longtime crush, is a descendant of Grimms, members of the Order of the Grimoire, who’ll stop at nothing to possess a genie as part of their magical menagerie. Caleb turns from the Order in hopes of proving his devotion to Ginn, but when Ginn asks Caleb to return to his Grimm roots to help save her family from the clutches of a golem, Caleb has but one request: a kiss. Ginn agrees, only to worry later that it’s been bad luck to barter her first kiss for intel on her most dangerous enemy. As the story progresses and Ginn is swept up in the adventure of battling golems both at home and in 16th Century Prague, she forgets about the promised kiss; but that’s never the case for Caleb. Will their romance burn bright or is Caleb’s past and their new mission too dark to let in the light?
To save her family, Ginn uses her newfound genie powers to transport herself and her friends to 16th century Prague. Only one thing there remains the same as at home: she can't let anyone know what she really is.
The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic. In pursuit of it, they’ve waged war on the citizens of their city. In the citizens' defense, someone has brought to life a golem, a dangerous being with connections to an artifact capable of summoning and commanding an entire army of genies.
Can Ginn escape the notice of the Emperor as she attempts to discover a way to defeat Prague’s golem in time to save her family from a similar creature?
Solomon's Bell is the sequel to Heir to the Lamp and the second book of the Genie Chronicles series.
Grab your copy now!
Haley Hardy blinks up at me, her big blue eyes made larger with surprise. Haley’s the newbie: a tiny ten-year-old my family has been fostering for the last few months. Mom and Dad want to adopt Haley, but she hasn’t decided on Charles and Molly Lawson and their chaotic brood of six children yet.
“What’s up, Haley?” I ask, trying to sound as though I don’t know she’s seen me appear from out of nowhere. I turn my back to her, retrieve the lamp from the ground, and stuff it into my pack.
“Sixty-four percent of people believe the Loch Ness monster really exists,” Haley says in her high voice. “Of course, you’d have to use a point zero one significance level to test that claim; the survey I saw was online.”
Half the time I have no idea what Haley is talking about. She’s insanely smart—a genius even. I can practically feel my IQ plummet whenever I try to have a conversation with her.
“Um, really?” I ask, trying to imagine where this is going. Haley half turns toward the open door of the small barn as if she’s about to leave. I sigh with relief, but Haley seems to think better of it and turns to face me again.
“Did you know that there’s an ongoing project to have collected evidence validated by science and the Sasquatch officially recognized as a species?”
What? “Haley, where do you come up with this stuff?” I sink onto the wooden bench behind me, peering into the bright eyes of the strangest kid I’ve ever met.
“I like to read,” she says, looking away. Between her right thumb and first two thin fingers, Haley rolls the fat glass marble she carries with her at all times. Mom says it’s a kind of security object, like how some kids develop attachments to stuffed toys or blankets from their babyhood. Mom also says the rest of us kids shouldn’t make a huge deal about it. Haley’s been in six foster homes in five years, and Mom figures the marble could be a keepsake from her life before all that, though Haley hasn’t said as much. She’s so intense sometimes; I don’t think anyone knows what to make of her. Mom says some of the other foster families exploited Haley; she’s been on a major talk show and even won twenty-five thousand dollars for one of her foster families on some game show before they abandoned her on the steps of the Children’s Methodist Home on their way to Las Vegas. Watching her with her marble, seeing how slowly she works the ball of glass flecked with every color of the rainbow, I can tell I’ve hurt her feelings.
“Reading’s cool,” I say, hoping to reassure her. Sure, I thought about divorcing my parents when I found out we were taking in another kid, even when in the beginning the arrangement was supposed to be only temporary, but I kind of like the little brainiac. Mostly because of the way she’s able to keep Eli and Jasper in line. The Twosome are crazy about our new foster sister. Part of me is starting to wonder if Haley’s stats on Bigfoot could have anything to do with the boys’ obsession with B-grade horror movies.
“I’d be satisfied with being half as smart as you, Haley. I’m having the worst time in algebra.”
“Mr. Lawson is teaching me trigonometry,” Haley says brightening. “Algebra was a breeze.” My parents are homeschooling Haley; they say it’s for the best. She’d be at least a junior at my high school otherwise. I can imagine all four and a half feet of her struggling on tip-toe to reach a locker—that is if her statistics about the Loch Ness Monster didn’t get her stuffed into it. “I’m happy to tutor you,” she tells me.
“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”
I stand and watch Haley eye the backpack on my shoulder. She looks from my face to the pack a few times. I think she’s about to say something about what she’s seen or thinks she’s seen with the lamp when Jasper bursts through the barn door.
“Hay-wee!” he exclaims. “We need wou, quick! I fink we found a chupacabwa!”
“It’s highly unlikely that a goat sucker or el chupacabra would be found this far north of Latin America, Jasper,” Haley says. She corrects my seven-year-old brother even as she allows him to tug her excitedly from the barn.