Monday, October 23, 2017

Life Goes On With Bad Puns

Wow, I didn't know the chocolate milk post would be so popular! Stay tuned for Christmas time when I spout my thoughts on eggnog.

Actually, scratch that. I don't actually like eggnog. Peppermint, maybe? Hot cocoa? We'll see.

As for today, this is pretty much a news post. First, my book is still up for SCBWI BookStop. Come visit my page, watch the video, post a comment or click "like." Enjoy some (virtual and therefore imagined) chocolate milk and cake. I love visitors.

And, while you're there, go browse the collection. If you have any readers you're buying Christmas presents for, this is a great way to find new books.

Second, I'm doing a radio show! Next Monday, October 30, at 4 pm Mountain Time, I'll be doing an interview on Young Adult Cafe with Laura Moe.I'm way excited; I'm super-honored and a bit terrified to be doing this. Listen in and hear me embarrass myself!

No, but seriously, listen in. I'd feel a lot better about this if I knew I had friends in the audience. And, if you can't, I'll share a link to the recorded interview after it happens (if I can). So, next week's post may be a day late.

And, third, my ARC tour for Arts and Thefts is still happening. If you're interested in reading Arts and Thefts ahead of the publication date and leaving me a review on Goodreads, email me at

Thank you for all your support. I really appreciate it. I want to leave you with something fun, to make coming to my blog worth your time, but all I have are these terrible Halloween puns:

Why are there fences around cemeteries?
Because people are dying to get in.

What do you call a cleaning skeleton?
The “grim sweeper.”

What did the werewolf eat after he’d had his teeth cleaned? 
The dentist.

What treat do eye doctors give out on Halloween?
Candy corneas. 

Why do ghosts shiver and moan? 
It's drafty under that sheet.

What is Dracula’s favorite circus act?
He always goes for the juggler.

Why do ghosts like to ride in elevators? It raises their spirits.

What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog?
He is mist.  

What is a vampire's least favorite food? 

What do ghosts say when they hear jokes like these?

And one joke for my Philly friends (you'll see why):

One Halloween a trick-or-treater came to my door dressed as “Rocky” in boxing gloves and satin shorts. Soon after I gave him some goodies, he returned for more. “Aren’t you the same ‘Rocky’ who left my doorstep several minutes ago?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, “but now I’m the sequel. I’ll be back three more times tonight too.”

Here's this week's debut:

Young Adult:

JJ Strong - Us Kids Will Know (10/24)

Monday, October 16, 2017

An Ode to Chocolate Milk

First things first, did you know there's a Stranger Things mobile game? Because there is, and I've spent half of the last week playing it.

It's like Legend of Zelda meets Stranger Things, and I've having more fun with it than I have a right to. But...season 2, guys. Season 2.

Second, I want to remind you about my Arts and Thefts ARC tour. If you're interested, follow the link I just gave you, and you'll find all the information on how to join. I've already sent the ARCs out to the first readers!

Third, I want to tell you about this thing I'm doing through SCBWI. It's called BookStop, and it's a promotion for children's books. I made a page for it (you can find it right here) so come and visit me! I have information about my book, a little piece of trivia about the writing of it, and a video review.

You can also visit the BookStop homepage, which is pretty fun on its own. There's a good list of children's books that have come out in the past year, so you can browse and look at all the lovely books. Hey, Christmas is coming; if you know a book lover, this is a good place to start!

I should probably get to the meat of the post here. I'm two weeks out from the Haunted Half Marathon, which I do every year. What's new this year is that I have a time challenge for myself: I'm trying to do it in under two hours.

I should be able to do it. My training has been promising and I know the trail, which is a mild one. Still, it's requiring me to keep a faster-than-comfortable pace, so I've been finishing my training rather spent. Ergo, loss of water and nutrients. Ergo, headaches and crankiness all day.

Naturally, I don't like this, so I've been trying to find ways to refuel better. A couple weekends ago, I bought a bottle of chocolate milk for my post-run, since I like it after a race, so why not also after a training run?


I don't think I've ever really appreciated chocolate milk before now. I mean, I knew that it was a good post-run drink, but I don't know if I knew it.

To say it hit the spot would be an understatement. I felt like a video game character with my little health bar increasing with every swallow!

Much like Elsa, I'm never going back. I don't think I need this heavenly nectar after every run, but after the long ones, it's amazing. I feel so much better; my hunger is abated, my energy is higher, and I'm happier because, hey, chocolate milk.

Thank you, chocolate milk, for all the strength you give me. After my race, once I (hopefully) have made my goal, I will celebrate in your loving arms.

Or, you know, those of your alter ego, the Wendy's Frosty.

Here is this week's debut:

Young Adult:
Nikki Katz - The Midnight Dance (10/17)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Arts and Thefts ARC Tour

Last night I dreamed that my brother was Captain America and I was a regular person faking superpowers (long story). People kept skulking on our lawn all night, and I had to go out and fight them. I spent the second half of the dream trying to convince my brother that he should do the fighting because he's the one with the super-soldier serum.

Apparently (according to my coworker) I have entertaining dreams. Just thought I'd share the latest with you.

Anyway, on to the news. I don't have a lot to share this week; work is keeping me busy and I'm also working on a new project, though it's too early to share much about that one. If you want a hint, though, see the above passage about my bonkers dream.

But I want to now start something I've wanted to do for a while: an ARC tour of my second book, Arts and Thefts.

What does this mean? Well, I have two Advanced Reader Copies of this book that I am willing to send out into the world. If you're game, I'll send you a copy to read before the book comes out in February. You can be a literary hipster! Or, if you read and liked the first book (some of you exist, right?), you'll be able to read the next one ahead of schedule. In return, I ask you to review the book on Goodreads and then, in February, copy that review onto Amazon.

It would be helpful to me, if you request the ARC, if you gave it a positive review, but I do want you to be honest. I wouldn't ask you to lie, obviously. But I would appreciate some positive publicity out there before the book comes out, if you can help me with that.

So, how would this work? If you would like to take part in the ARC tour, email me at and request an ARC. Send me an address to mail it to. I'll send you an ARC, and then, when you're done, you'll send it to the next person. Email me again when you've finished and I'll give you the name of the next person to send it to, and we'll keep it going until we're done or February comes!

I'm a little scared and excited to start this. I hope some of you decide to take part in this! It would help me out, and I hope it would be some fun for you.

Here are this week's debuts:

Young Adult:
Tara Goedjen - The Breathless (10/10)
Lisa Rosinsky - Inevitable & Only (10/10)
Heather Kaczynski - Dare Mighty Things (10/10)
Tracey Neithercott -Gray Wolf Island (10/10)
Julie C. Dao - Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (10/10)
Caitlin Sangster - Last Star Burning (10/10)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Light in the Darkness

Hello, everyone. I take it you've heard the news.

I spent the weekend listening to the LDS General Conference, which was full of so much light and joy and goodness and love that coming back to regular life is always an adjustment, but even more so today with the news about the senselessness of the Las Vegas shooting. It's always described like that: senseless. Without sense. And it is. It always is. It defies sense to wreak such horror on other human beings.

It's hard, seeing the darkness in the world and feeling like there's nothing I can do to stop it. I want to; I'm not one to be content doing nothing. I believe that if you really care, you should act on that care. But, sometimes, due to finances and distance, hoping and praying are all you can do, even if you want to do more. So I'll start with that.

It's times like this that make me think of Sam's speech in The Two Towers. "How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened?" But the speech continues with, "But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." I do have hope in a brighter future.

That said, I also believe in the small lights in the darkness that are still around us. Such terror and tragedy make the news, and I'm not trying to ignore them or say that they're not important to recognize and fight. But there are also smaller, quieter victories that rarely get attention, that perhaps do quite a bit to push back the darkness. I've been hoping to do a post like this for a while, and this seems to be the right time.

Here are some recent stories about tiny lights in the darkness:


"As thick, black smoke billowed around the dock, the Leightys realized they had to do something. Thrust into a horrible situation, they helped to rescue two injured people from the boat. Looking back, the husband and wife know they were there for a reason."


"As Hurricane Irma bore its fury down on the state of Florida, faith-based groups in Brevard County and across the state like New Shiloh Christian Center were ready to shelter the poor until the storm passed, and then feed and help the needy."


"Three students at Rogers Middle School in the Affton School District were recently honored by the city and county as local heroes after coming to the rescue of their ailing bus driver on the way home from school."  


"Our disaster response teams are in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos working hard to feed, rescue, and deliver medical care to desperate animals affected by Irma. As Hurricane Maria approached earlier this week, our teams had to seek shelter and unfortunately wait out the storm before resuming their work."


"For 11 consecutive years, La Grange teenager Crofton Kelly provided a generous helping hand to kids with cancer by organizing, implementing and coordinating a local tennis tournament designed to raise funds to benefit the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation."


"In case you need proof of some good in the world, look no further than Alaska: There, two women oversee The Magic Yarn Project, a nonprofit that creates yarn wigs for children diagnosed with cancer. Since the project — which recently celebrated its second anniversary — was launched in fall of 2015, more than 3,000 volunteers have made nearly 4,000 character-themed wigs for children in 29 countries."


"This brings me to my not-so-humblebrag of the week! Last week, we got to introduce our babies to an actual, real live hero -- the legendary Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County! Hrabowski, if you don’t know, has been the head of the university for nearly 25 years, and in his tenure has elevated the tiny institution from relative obscurity to national prominence."

I'll stop there, although I found many, many examples of local people doing good for those around them. In times of so much bad, I'm comforted and encouraged by stories of people being heroes in their own, small ways, bringing a little light to others. They make me want to do what I can, as little as that might be, whether to help issues that get national or international attention, or more local problems.

To end, then, here are two more links that might inspire more heroism:

How to Help After the Las Vegas Shooting

How You Can Help Hurricane Victims in Puerto Rico

And here are this week's debuts:

Middle Grade:
Amanda Hosch - Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying (10/1)
Supriya Kelkar - Ahimsa (10/2)
Jake Burt - Greetings from Witness Protection (10/3)
Karina Glaser - The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (10/3)
Jodi Kendall - The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City (10/3)

Young Adult:
Hope Cook - House of Ash (9/27)
Gwen C. Katz - Among the Red Stars (10/3)
Marit Weisenberg - Select (10/3)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Salt Lake Comic Con 2017

It's interesting how you can have low expectations for something and then have them totally reversed by the end of the day. That's what happened this year at Comic Con, for me.

Now, I always have high expectations for the Salt Lake Comic Con. It's run well and it's always interesting, and the guests are always so great. However, this year I was only able to go for half a day. How much fun can you have in half a day, and is it worth the ticket price?

But I went anyway. I am working on two nerdy stories, so I needed the research, and I wanted to buy a nerdy lanyard for work. I did all I could to maximize my experience. I cosplayed as Vanessa, aka Human Ursula from The Little Mermaid.

I went to panels.

And I enjoyed the sights.

And I had a really, really good time!

The panels alone would have been worth the ticket. It was great hearing Elijah Wood talk about doing the Lord of the Rings movies and how it felt returning to the set for The Hobbit, and Zachary Levi is a really, really good guy. He was funny and dorky and so humble and fun. I enjoy getting to know the celebrities that come to Comic Con, just a little bit. It always makes me like them more when I find out that they're good people for real.

Zachary Levi would hug you for $20, which would go to charity. I wanted to do that, but he was leaving just as I got there. So bummer.

I got my sister a nerdy shirt at Comic Con, which I found fun because this particular sister isn't geeky and normally wouldn't like this stuff, but she is a fan of Stranger Things, so I took a little joy in getting her a nerdy shirt at a nerd convention, knowing she'd like it. It was one of these:

One of the highlights of the day was meeting Heather Dixon!

She's my favorite blogger. If you haven't read her blog Story Monster, you should. It's fun and interesting, and she talks about everything from her art and books to funny and sad things that happen in her life. And then, you should read her books Entwined and Illusionarium. There's a real magic to her work, and I love it all.

I totally fangirled over her, and I hope it didn't freak her out. She was one of the few people who recognized my costume. And I got a signed print of Tiffany Aching! If you read this, you know how much I love Terry Pratchett.

So, yeah, highlight. It was a good day. I'm glad I went, even though I couldn't stay for very long. I got my lanyard and some chocolates shaped like Baby Groot's face, so that was good, too.

I'm currently working hard on several projects, so I'm pretty busy. I'll keep you posted with any developments with Arts and Thefts or my work in progress. Thanks for reading, as always!

Here are this week's debuts:

Middle Grade:
Kim Ventrella - Skeleton Tree (9/26)
Patrick Moody - The Gravedigger's Son (9/26)

Young Adult:
Margaret Rogerson - An Enchantment of Ravens (9/26)
Jared Reck - A Short History of the Girl Next Door (9/26)
Kes Trester - A Dangerous Year (9/26)

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Goose is Getting Fat

It has been a wonderfully, autumnly cool week in Utah, so I, being me, started getting excited for a perfectly seasonally appropriate holiday.


Okay, now you're laughing (maybe at me, or maybe at the pug) or screaming in rage. That's fine. I love Christmas. My love for Christmas and Christmas music doesn't diminish my love for the other holidays; somehow, I've perfected the ability to be equally excited for Halloween and Christmas at the exact same time. But come on, people. Look at this trailer!

It's a movie about Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol. How was I not supposed to get in the right mood with this?

Over the years, I've received a lot of criticism for starting to listen to Christmas music too early (I start in August or September, on Sundays and when I feel like it), and for enjoying the holiday before Thanksgiving has passed. Again, I love Thanksgiving, and I get just as excited for it as anyone else does. But I still find myself defending enjoying the holiday too early.

I could, and do, make reasonable arguments about how the music makes me feel loving toward others and inspires goodness and joy. I tell people I save certain songs and movies specifically for the season. But that takes too long.

Maybe you also are a Yuletide early celebrator. Here are some good, short responses for when people ask about it and you don't have time to debate.

Them: "Why are you listening to Christmas music? It's not even Halloween yet!"


- Say nothing. Hand them a candy cane.
- Again, say nothing. Sprinkle tinsel on their head.
- "I do what I want."
- "What do you have against peace on earth, good will toward men?"
- "Better not shout, better not cry about it."
- "Because gingerbread."
- "Are you still mad about the mistletoe incident?"
- "I used to be normal like you. Then I took a peppermint arrow to the knee."
- "Nah." (and walk away)
- "I like things before they're cool."
- "I tried to avoid it, but the visions of sugarplums are relentless."
- "To fulfill prophecy."

These could be adapted for other holidays and interests. Anyway, they're yours to use. Happy holidays!

Here are this week's debuts:

Middle Grade:
Emily Blejwas - Once You Know This (9/19)

Young Adult:
Axie Oh - Rebel Seoul (9/15)
McKelle George - Speak Easy, Speak Love (9/19)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Arts and Thefts Is Coming!

Hey, all!

I've had a busy but good week. I started a new job, which is lovely, I saw the One Republic concert in Salt Lake (which was my first rock concert and it was a BLAST!) and I learned that the new local edible cookie dough shop is actually quite delicious. Oh, and my ARCs came.

Yes sirree!

They came! I got ARCs for Arts and Thefts!

It's real! And it's great to see the cover of the book and hold the thing in my hands and feel its weight. Wow. A few years ago, I was dreaming of publication, and now I have two books. Life is interesting.

So, Arts and Thefts comes out February 13, 2018, and is the sequel to Under Locker and Key. Here's the summary, straight from Amazon:

Middle school retrieval specialist Jeremy Wilderson must team up with preteen private detective Becca Mills once again to solve his most mind-boggling case yet in this action-packed MAX novel.

Ahh, summer vacation! Jeremy Wilderson, Scottsville Middle School’s first (and only) retrieval specialist, is enjoying a slower-than-usual season of retrieving (NOT stealing) lost objects in order to help the under thirteen population of Scottsville.

But crime doesn’t take a vacation! And when sabotage strikes Scottsville’s event of the year—the Summer Art Show—threatening to ruin the burgeoning painting career of Jeremy’s best friend, Case, it’s up to Jeremy to figure out what’s going on. Of course, his archrival Becca Mills, who just happens to think Jeremy, Case, and their friend Hack are involved in the crime, is also looking into it.

Jeremy has only a few precious hours to stop the sabotage before more contest entries—and kids’ dreams—are slashed and burned.

But Jeremy’s specialty is retrieval…not detective work! The only solution is to team up with Becca to solve the case, something Jeremy’s not exactly thrilled to do. Not to mention, he has to keep his alliance with Becca a secret from Case and Hack, who will disown him if they see him working with the enemy. Somewhere between being stuck inside an air vent and slathered in red paint, Jeremy has to wonder: is he in over his head?

If you're interested in learning more, or preordering it (because that's available now), you can check it out at this link. I'm hoping to have some promotional events soon regarding Arts and Thefts, including an ARC giveaway, and I'll keep you posted on anything coming.

This was a lot of fun to write, so I hope it's fun to read. Right now, I'm working on a new project that is also a lot of fun (superheroes), and I look forward to keeping you posted about that one's development.

To close, I want to share this link. It's a site that navigates good charities to donate to or help, and here's their page for charities helping with Hurricane Harvey. If you're interested in helping out, this is a good starting place:

Hurricane Harvey: Charity Navigator

Here are this week's debuts:

Young Adult:
Scott Reintgen - Nyxia (9/12)
Ismee Williams - Water in May (9/12)