The Art of Holding on and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz

4 autographed copies will be given away on Friday, February 10, 2017!

Competitive climber Cara Jenkins feels most at home high off the ground, clinging to a rock wall by the tips of her fingers. She’s enjoyed a roaming life with her mountaineering parents, making the natural world her jungle gym, the writings of Annie Dillard and Henry David Thoreau her textbooks. But when tragedy strikes on an Ecuadorian mountaintop, Cara’s nomadic lifestyle comes to an abrupt halt.

Starting over at her grandparents’ home in suburban Detroit, Cara embarks on a year of discovery, uncovering unknown strengths, friendships, and first love. Cara’s journey illustrates the transformative power of nature, love and loss, and discovering that home can be far from where you started.​

Exclusive interview with the author:

1) Which authors/books are you most influenced by?

I’m especially drawn to authors who write about nature – Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, and especially Barbara Kingsolver. Her stories have profundity, and the reader grows along with the characters. I also spent many years binging on mysteries, beginning with Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. I’ve never written a classic murder mystery, but there always seems to be some thread of mystery woven into my stories.

2) Do you have a favorite writing beverage/snack?

I am obsessed with hot tea. It doesn’t feel right to sit down at my desk without it. Loose-leaf white, green, and oolong teas from China are my favorites. I’m such a tea geek, I even wrote a blog post about it:

3) When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Have you had other jobs along the way?

I was a bookworm growing up and always wanted to be a writer, but somewhere in my teen and college years I lost confidence in my writing. I pursued degrees in psychology and social work instead. I moved from Michigan to Georgia to California and back to Michigan, and along the way I worked in a teen runaway shelter, a family counseling center, a school district, an agency for children with developmental disabilities, and a children’s hospital. Social work was a detour on my writing path, but it greatly expanded my worldview.

4) Be honest, how many drafts did you have to write for this book?

Oh I lost count long ago. It took ten years to get this book published, and it was re-written many times along the way. I received so much conflicting feedback from agents and editors, and I tried to incorporate all of it. I got lost in my own story and had to set it aside, multiple times. Ultimately, I had to trust myself. It was wonderful to finally connect with an editor who shared my vision, and we spent four months intensively revising. I really grew as a writer through the process.

5) What’s up next for you?

Elephant Rock Books is an award-winning small press, and I had such a great experience. I wish I could do it all over again with my next book, but they only publish YA novels through their Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize. I was their 2016 winner, and they’ll be looking for their 2018 winner next. My new novel is about a girl who meets a mysterious boy at a runaway shelter and the secrets that keep them running. I’m revising it now, and my agent will be submitting to editors soon. Fingers crossed!

About the author:

Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). The Art of Holding On and Letting Go is her debut young adult novel. Learn more at

Giveaway info:

Title: The Art of Holding On and Letting Go
Author: Kristin Bartley Lenz
Publisher: Elephant Rock Books
Author website:

4 autographed copies will be given away on Friday, February 10, 2017.

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