What would you do if you lost your Mom... and found a new Grandma... and found out that superpowers are real?
Gathering Grace is a contemporary novel about a superhero and her arch-enemy of 50 years, and the teenage granddaughter they have in common. Readers join the story when Grace is despondent about her Mom's death - and Grandma Ruth can't help her feel any better. In a moment of crisis, Ruth's nemesis appears -- does it mean disaster for Ruth and Grace? The compromise they make changes all of their lives.
Who should read the book?
Written most obviously for teenagers and preteen girls, Gathering Grace has been enjoyed by people from 10 to 78 years old. The vocabulary may be challenging for the youngest readers, but the pace of dialogue and plot keeps readers turning the pages. The story touches on themes of scapegoating, mob psychology, grief and loss, and what it is like to grow up significantly different. Readers who are willing to believe that anyone could have a superpower - a little extraordinariness of their own - will thoroughly enjoy this story.
One of the inspirations that drove this book is that every person has their own talent, their own extraordinariness that sets them apart. As a home health aide, the author discovered that her clients with autism had an ability to see the universe in ways she could not imagine. As a high school science teacher, the author came to the firm conviction that everybody is good at something, whether or not they have yet discovered that something. The combination makes for a challenge: aren't we all superheroes, on the inside?
November 7, 2008: National Novel Writing Month is in full swing! Join Victoria and thousands of others - both national and internationally - as they write 50,000+ new words of fiction in the 30 days of November. Victoria is "torreybird" on the NaNoWriMo site - add her as a buddy, send PMs, and grow your wordcount! Grace was written for NaNoWriMo 2006, and Victoria has been participating ever since. This year, her novel is about a post-apocalyptic trader, traveling around the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest.

October 11, 2008: The Midwest Book Review Children's Bookwatch reviewed Grace: "Growing up brings a lot of new things including new responsibilities, new privileges - and new superpowers? Gathering Grace is a fantasy set in modern times as Grace uncovers deeply held family secrets. Unknown relatives, the risks of her new abilities and how to use them responsibility, these are what Grace must deal with. But as all teenagers know, sometimes responsibilities aren't always followed and rules are sometimes broken. A coming of age tale set in the real world with a unique fantasy twist, Gathering Grace is very highly recommended to young adult fantasy readers everywhere."

August 14, 2008: Check out the new WordPress blog, dedicated to Victoria's writerly life! Look for posts to include: news about upcoming public events, thoughts on fiction in the news, notes on works-in-progress (WIP), and Victoria's own take on the quirks of being a writer. Comments and questions welcome!

July 28, 2008: Victoria will be at SpoCon 2008! Although she is a late-attender, hopefully she'll be reading from Grace in one of the author-reading sessions. Can't get your copy online? Come to SpoCon and get a copy directly from the author, signed and everything!
July 9, 2008: Have you heard of Wordle? The excerpt from Gathering Grace has been Wordled into the pretty picture on the left. The site colors, sizes, and arranges words by frequency of use; it makes word art that shows the relationships between the words in that context. Click on the picture to see more!

June 20, 2008: Gathering Grace is launched! In a small, private book signing event in at the Barnes and Noble store in Blacksburg, Virginia, a few early copies were distributed. Release day is coming soon - July 1!
Excerpt from Gathering Grace

"Grace needs to know why we're here today, Elizabeth. When are you going to tell her that?"

Grace could feel the muscles of her neck tighten. Grandma keeps making this awful. I wish she would just loosen up. Elizabeth isn't so bad.

Elizabeth's eyebrows raised, and the corner of her mouth twisted into a smile. "Why don't you tell her, Ruth? After all, didn't we agree?"

"Under duress, Elizabeth. You know I'm not happy about this."

"But you promised, and you agreed she's not happy about her life right now."

I hate being referred to in the third person. "What are you talking about? What are you going to tell me? Grandma?"

"Yes, 'Grandma,' what are you going to tell her?" Elizabeth needled Ruth, not-so-subtly mocking her.

Ruth looked at her Granddaughter and felt her heart break. She felt as if someone were hammering against her chest, but from the outside. Trying to get in...

Read more
About the Author
Victoria Newcomb lives in Seattle, Washington. Having earned degrees in both physics and education, Victoria's passions are about creating and communicating ideas. For nine years, she taught chemistry and physical science at Seattle Preparatory School, and has shown and sold her artwork in Seattle. Though she is not religiously affiliated, Victoria has participated in Gospel choirs and Catholic youth ministry, and has studied theology and ministry at Seattle University. Currently, Victoria pursues challenges in both technical and fiction writing. She delights in making new things and adding art and craft talents to her repertoire. She is devoted to her family, especially her partner and the several children she has had the privilege of parenting, and makes salad for dinner almost every night.
For Classrooms
Unlike some of the romance fiction often marketed toward teenage women, Gathering Grace asks some very tough questions about life and family relationships. For example:
"What happens when you lose a member of your family?" The challenging answer is, "you learn to live again." It is just plain difficult. From the very beginning of the story, we see the characters struggle with loss. Grace has lost her mother and grandfather; Ruth has lost daughter and husband. Movies that they would watch, food they order at their favorite restaurant - all of the routines and rituals of daily life have been disrupted. Grace and Ruth, along with the other characters whose lives are touched by these events, have to grow into living a wildly different life than either of them could have imagined.
"What happens when someone is different?" Gathering Grace explicitly compares the fictional problem of having a superpower to the very real problem that many people face of having a non-traditional sexual identity. In the story, people who reveal that they have such Powers are persecuted, whisked away to be "healed," and are treated as a threat by the general population. When Ruth (one of Grace's grandmothers) confronts this fear directly, she puts herself in great peril. Ruth is well respected and financially secure; how much worse is it for a teenager with a Power? How would it be for a homeless, autistic child, like Kamikaze? Superpowers exist across gender and ethnicity and age; how they are expressed by the person and accepted by the community are sources of real conflict.
Using her experience as a classroom teacher, Victoria has developed activities in the context of Gathering Grace that encourage students into more engaging writing. However, she taught science, not English! Recommendations and additional activities to share are eagerly accepted.
Download Resources:

Buy now, straight from the publisher!

Go to Hanford Mead Publishers, Inc. main site
Review Gathering Grace on Amazon.com - let others know what you thought about it!
Explore NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month, the not-for-profit organization with which Victoria wrote Gathering Grace in November of 2006.
Contact Information
Email Victoria Newcomb
Contact Hanford Mead Publishers, Inc.