Episode 165: Millie Florence Interview and the Joy of Storytelling

In this episode we chat with author Millie Florence on the launch day of her newest book! She’s so much fun to talk with. We had some technical problems, so the interview was cut short; however, we hope to talk with her more in the future. She may also encourage your children who love telling stories and writing. This is one episode you may want to listen to together. 

Our Guest: Millie Florence

Millie Florence’s earliest memories are of lying under the covers at night, whispering stories to herself long after her parents had told her to go to sleep. She published her first book, Honey Butter, at age 13 and hasn’t stopped since!

Millie lives in a picturesque blue house in the woods of southern Illinois. She loves adventure, good food, and just about all things yellow.

Show Notes:

00:10 – Introduction
00:52 – New book launching today: The Balter of Ashton Harper
04:40 – Honey Butter
05:44 – Free audio or ebook
06:10 – Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen
07:10 – The heart of a writer and storyteller/the benefit of homeschooling
11:06 – Closing

Books Discussed in this Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Terrie:

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. Today we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Millie Florence and she is a very young author who’s already launching her third book. I’m so excited for you to hear from her today. Well, Millie, thank you so much for being here today. I’m looking forward to talking with you.

Millie:

Yeah, I’m really excited to be here.

Terrie:

So tell us all about… today is your launch day for your newest book, so let’s start with that. Tell us about your brand new book.

Millie:

Yeah, of course. Oh my goodness, I am so, so excited to finally be giving this story to everyone. It’s been so long coming. So The Balter of Ashton Harper is a middle grade historical fantasy novel set in the Regency Era. So imagine like Jane Austen, but with magic and adventure and written for kids.

Terrie:

Oh, fun.

Millie:

Yeah, I was always a big Jane Austen fan, that was kind of me and my mom’s thing. We would watch Jane Austen together, so I love returning to that world for a book. Anyway, the story follows 12 year old Ashton Harper, who is a ballroom dancer with his sister Zizi, and their dream is to get into the Overmorrow Academy of Arts, and at the beginning of the book, they get an opportunity to perhaps audition to try and get into this school, their dream school, but along the way they discover some mysterious magic that perhaps was best left undiscovered and shenanigans ensue.

Terrie:

So you said this is a middle grade novel, what age group would that be exactly? Just for our listeners.

Millie:

Yeah, so it’s middle school like grade levels, which I’m homeschooled, so I also find that confusing, but roughly ages 9 to 14, but I write all of my books with really more of a family read aloud focus in mind, so there’s stuff in there that adults will enjoy as well if they’re like, reading it to their kids, especially moms who are into Jane Austen, they’ll see all sorts of little nods to that kind of fiction, and the themes are stuff that older teens can appreciate and relate to as well, but there’s also lots of wonderful whimsy and magic and humor that even the youngest ages will enjoy, so it’s really a family book, but by more technical genre standards, yeah, middle grade, so ages roughly 9 to 14.

Terrie:

And does it have a Christian theme to it or does it stay pretty much general market?

Millie:

So I am a Christian, so all of my books have a Christian leaning in the sense that we want to promote God’s goodness and truth and beauty and we need more books in the world that reflect that I think, so all of my themes that my books are about, the lessons that my characters learn, are very biblical themes in terms of they’re about kindness and selflessness and family and all of that, but generally it’s more general market, yes, because I want to reach all kinds of people and I think the biggest thing that our world needs right now, especially in the entertainment industry, is just good books with no agenda, so that’s my big thing. I like to say, you know, my only agenda is telling a good story, and of course I’m a Christian, so those themes will be very Christian, but yes, general market. However, I will say one of the fun little easter eggs that I enjoyed with The Balter of Ashton Harper is, in the Regency Era, everyone was Christian, or majority, or at least said that they were Christian, right? Like that was just kind of the accepted religion, so I did get the opportunity to have the mom character in the story quote a few different Bible verses in some of the early chapters, which I thought was very fun and a little bit sneaky.

Terrie:

I love that, that’s great. Okay, like we said, this book is launching today and you can pick it up on Amazon and I’m sure other places as well, but if you do get the book, the one thing we ask is would you please give us a review that means the world to us as writers, if you will review the book after you read it, and especially a brand new book that has just launched, that would mean the world to us, so we would appreciate that. So this is your third book. Let’s talk about your first two books, what was your first book that you wrote?

Millie:

So my first book was Honey Butter, which I actually published when I was 13 years old, so I’ve been doing this for a little while. And Honey Butter is a contemporary novel, so unlike The Balter of Ashton Harper, it takes place in the real world, there’s not magic. Instead it focuses more on the metaphorical everyday magic of beautiful things and finding these lovely little moments in life, it’s about everyday adventures and everyday joy. And Honey Butter is the story of seven year old Jamie Johnson who is obsessed with collecting paint cards, like the little samples you would find in a hardware store. It’s about what happens to her one fateful summer when she befriends the slightly mysterious homeschooler, Laren Lark.

Terrie:

I love that. I have that book and started it and I just haven’t had a chance to finish it yet, but it’s so cute. Okay. Oh wait, but we have to tell everybody the good news about the first one! If they sign up for your mailing list, they get to download this book, and what else?

Millie:

Yes, so if you go to my website and you join my email newsletter, you get both the eBook and audiobook of Honey Butter for free, which is very cool, and the audiobook is narrated by me, which also I had a lot of fun doing that.

Terrie:

Oh, fun. Okay, and tell them your web address.

Millie:

Oh yeah, thank you for reminding me. MillieFlorence.com is my website. If you go there, you’ll be able to sign up no problem.

Terrie:

Okay, and we will have the link in our show notes so they can just link right from there. Now tell us about your second book.

Millie:

So my second book is Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen, and it is the story of 11 year old Lydia Green who lives in the magical realm of the Valleylands with her mismatched family of fairies and philosophers, until one day that is, when she hears about a mysterious force known as the darkness that dwells within the forest tenebrae, but not only does it dwell within the forest lately, it has begun to creep into Lydia’s own mind. That is my second book, and a big announcement about my second book is happening next week, so stay tuned for that. If you join my newsletter like we talked about before, you will definitely hear about it, but it’s a bit of a secret for right now,

Terrie:

So mysterious. That’s awesome. Alright, well I’m so excited to get to talk with you because you are so young and getting started so early and your books are, like I said, I haven’t finished them, but what I’ve read I’ve really enjoyed. So how did you get started so young?

Millie:

So for me writing, I don’t actually know exactly when I got started because for as long as I can remember, I’ve just been obsessed with books and telling stories. Like, my earliest memory is of laying under the covers at night, whispering stories to myself when I was supposed to be asleep. It just grew from there, so I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer and be a storyteller, and it was really just a matter of time. I think it was around like age 9 that I started like actually thinking about publishing, and for me that felt like a very natural next step, cause I’m like, well, I’ve been telling stories my whole life, the next thing is to share them with people, right? And how you do that is you publish them and you put them in a physical form somehow, like the things I’m seeing in the library. So I was like, “Okay, I want to figure out how to do that.” And I started researching from there. And of course years later, Honey Butter came out when I was 13, so it’s been from a very early age. I think I was like maybe six or seven, my parents got me a recorder for Christmas that I told all of my stories allowed into because I wasn’t very good at typing at that point, but I had all these stories in my head that I just needed to get out. I would also like, dictate them to my parents and they would type them for me, which got very time consuming, cause I was telling stories all the time, so there was even a point where we had like a mother’s helper who would help my mom around the house sometimes and they told her “Christie, just sit and type Millie stories for like half an hour because we don’t have the time.” So I was literally bursting with stories from a very young age.

Terrie:

Wow, that is so amazing, I love that. And you said you were homeschooled, and has that been a positive experience for you?

Millie:

Oh, absolutely yeah. Homeschooling is the thing that allowed me to pursue this career the way I have. My mom likes to refer to our homeschooling as “delight-directed” because a lot of it is directed by the things that me and my siblings are passionate about, and you know, for me that was storytelling and writing, right? So a lot of my homeschooling revolved around books and writing and reading, also publishing. I like to say that pursuing something you’re passionate about is one of the best educations for a person, because yes, I was excited about writing, I wanted to publish my books and get them in a library, right? But through that I also had to learn about data analysis for book sales and business writing for all the emails I was sending out, and public speaking for podcasts and doing events, so there were all these other things that I had to learn in the process of pursuing this career from a very young age. And again, it was one of the best educations I could have had was pursuing something I was so passionate about and all the things I learned along the way.

Terrie:

Your parents were so wise. That’s awesome. That’s the thing that I try to share with homeschoolers, is you have a great opportunity to follow what Proverbs says when it says train up a child in the way they should go. The Hebrew actually says in the bent that God has created them and to help them become the person He’s created them to be. That’s kind of the connotation in the Hebrew, and I love, love, love that. And we have such an opportunity with homeschooling to do that, so that’s brilliant, I love it. Well, Millie, it has been so much fun talking to you and getting to know you a little bit, and I love your books. I’m excited for what God is going to do through you, and so thank you so much for coming here and talking with us today.

Millie:

Thank you so much for having me. I had a lovely time. And listeners, go order The Balter of Ashton Harper, I’m so excited to be able to share this story with you. Thank you guys so much. Bye!

Terrie:

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people will know we are here or leave a review on one of the podcast host sites, we truly appreciate your help in letting others know we’re here. If you would like to connect with Millie, you can reach her on MillieFlorence.com. The link will be in the show notes and you can link right from there. You can find out about her and all of her books. And if you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on TerrieHellardBrown.com, we love to hear from you and we respond to every comment and question. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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