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Breath of Angel

Breath of Angel (The Angeleon Circle #1) by Karyn Henley. WaterBrook Press,  Expected publication: June 21st 2011. ISBN13: 9780307730121. Paperback, 277 pages.

On March 3, 2011 thanks to the efforts of librarian Hope Hall, I was able to join with other librarians and meet Nashville author Karyn Henley.

Breath of Angel is Karyn Henley’s first Young Adult title. It is book one of The Angeleon Circle. She has written three titles so far. Books one and two are under contract. She is editing book two and hopes to have a contract for book three in May. June 21, 2011. Breath of Angel will be released by Waterbrook Press – a division of Random House. The e-book will be simultaneously released.

Karyn Henley began a blog last August to take people along with her through the steps “from contract to release.” She has a facebook fan page and a twitter page. In April she anticipates opening a fan-based blog focusing on settings, characters, and themes with a contest to win an ARC (advanced reader’s copy). Karyn is a long-term member of SBCW and will be at BEA (Book Explo America). She will check with her publisher on attending the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. (I strongly encourage this) Her website is

Karyn has published many other titles including preschool, easy reader, and curriculum titles. She is the author of the original Beginner’s Bible. While her name will help do half her marketing in the Christian market, she does not want this young adult title pigeon-holed as a Christian book.

Karyn began her novel while attending the Vermont College of Fine Arts writing program and continued working on it for three semesters there. She has stayed in contact with her 13 co-horts including two Tennessee connections – Helen Hemphill of Nashville, TN, and Wilmoth Foreman of Columbia, TN.

Karyn shared with our group information on contracts, copyrights, royalties, and how to obtain “A Poor Man’s Copyright” by writing a novel; sealing it in an envelope; mailing it to yourself via certified mail and keeping it unopened with a clear date on it. She reminded us that if we put something on the internet, it is considered published, so we should put our copyright © on it.

During her time at VT, her professor urged her to try a young adult novel. Karyn’s philosophy is “If it scares you, it’s probably the place you should go.” She told us that if we worry something is too big or we could fail, we need to go there.

Karyn began Breath of Angel with an emotion – the feeling of betrayal by a friend. The advice is given to “Know what you want to write about and that you will write best what you like to read best.” Karyn likes to read fantasy and historical fiction. Breath of Angel is loosely based upon ancient Greek and Roman culture.

She began submitting her title for publication after Vermont, but it wasn’t ready. It needed work and something really special because she states “To be published, a book needs to be unique and something special.” Her friend Helen Hemphill helped her search for that something at the (now closed) Davis Kidd bookstore. They inspected the YA Department and Helen asked Karyn if she’d like to write about … vampires? … werewolves? … angels? Ah-Ha! Angels.

Another piece of the plot for Breath of Angel came to Karyn while listening to an NPR interview with Margaret Atwood one day. Atwood was talking about her book Payback: Debt in the Shadow Side of Wealth and the word DEBT leapt to Karyn’s attention.

Karyn Henley loves editing and revising. She stated that the rough draft is much like a ball of clay. It needs to be sculpted for themes to rise and stand-out. The big themes that emerged for Breath of Angel are:

  • Betrayal and Forgiveness
  • Fear and Courage
  • Choice and Responsibility
  • Family Relationships
  • Mythology

Karyn is very supportive of writers and readers. She is willing to meet with school groups – even the informal ones like our library club lunch group. She provides a Teacher/Reader Guide and a guide for Creative Writing Exercises that can be incorporated into the curriculum of instruction. One of the strong areas of her instruction centers on the similarities and differences between myths, legends, fairy tales, and fables. Genre instruction is often needed in middle school.

I look forward to bringing Karyn to my school to work with my students on their writing.

What’s my take on Breath of Angel? I was hooked in the beginning and compelled to keep reading this fantasy. I admit that the large number of characters was confusing midway and I caught myself double-checking on some names. Of course with this being the first in a series, it is common for authors to introduce us to many characters and this doesn’t detract from the story enough to prevent you from reading it. The plot-line was well-planned. There were numerous surprises just when I’d get smug and think I’d figured out where the author was going. The romance seemed a little hasty to be, but it was “clean” so not as controversial as some paranormal titles.

While listed in Christian fiction, there is nothing in this to isolate it as such. None of my Hindu,  Islamic or Jewish students would have any problems with the elements in this story. All in all, it was a satisfying first book in a series and I’m happily anticipating books 2 and 3.

Karyn is a member of Elevensies and suggests that everyone go to to download their latest poster. Follow the directions online at to enter the contest to read these debut novels by tween and teen authors. The next deadline is August 31, 2011.

It’s simple. All you have to do is display their poster, which invites your patrons to enter their own giveaway. Then email them a photo of the poster up in your library and receive one entry for the random drawing.

You can participate in up to three drawings this year:

Spring – Random drawing took place April 30.

Summer – Random drawing takes place August 31. Poster will be available May 1.

Fall – Random drawing takes place December 30. Poster will be available Sept. 1.

When your patrons enter, they select which package they’d like to win. If YOU are a winner, however, you get ALL of the books that are available that season. They will be delivered within three weeks of each season’s drawings.

Want extra entries? Encourage your readers to mention your library when they enter. Each time they do, you’ll receive another entry!