Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Report!!!

I made the first Christmas cookies of the season!

Aren't they cute? They're Chocolate Candy Cane Kiss Cookies, from the recipe in the link in this sentence. If you look closely, though, you can see I added some red sugar sprinkles in with the white sugar on the outside, because I'm starting to feel like a fraud if I don't alter a cookie recipe in some way (even if it's pretty insignificant).

Anyway, today I need to share the cutest thing! My agent's nephew read Under Locker and Key and did a book report on it, and I freaking love it. She sent me pictures, which also ended up on Twitter (not by my doing):

I guess the assignment was to make a box for the book and fill it with items that represent the story. Those of you who've read Under Locker and Key, any guesses to what this kid put in the box? Okay, got your guesses? Now, scroll down to find out.

A key, like the master key.

Lock picks, always important for the aspiring retrieval specialist.


And we can't forget the burned rag that may have caused a grease fire. May.

I. LOVE. THIS. I think it's so cute and creative and I love seeing that kids are 1) reading my book and 2) enjoying it enough to make such fun book reports about it. It's very flattering. I know kids have a lot of great books to read, better than mine (I know because I read them too), so I'm honored that I could make the list some of the time.

I know one thing I'll be giving thanks for this week!

In other news, I'm still doing SCBWI's BookStop, and I bring this up because the holiday season is about to start, and mine isn't the only page. You can look at a whole bunch of new books and ind that special book for a special kid. Lots of great books on this list!

There are no debuts this week. Enjoy the holiday!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Adventures of Florida Man

You know I like superheroes, right?

And you also know I like internet memes, or at least I hope you do.

So, today I'm combining these things as I look at a true internet superhero: FLORIDA MAN!

I know, I know, I'm not the first to document this hero, nor am I the best. Consider this a tribute, a moment of entertainment, for you. Then go enjoy the Twitter for the full experience.

Maybe you've heard tell of Florida Man and his heroics:

Maybe you thought they were fake news, as surely nobody as amazing as Florida Man could possibly exist:

And honestly, half the time (or most of the time) I'm right there with you in that disbelief:

But in the end, there's often too much documentation to credit everything Florida Man does as a hoax:

Sometimes we fear that this cannot last, that sooner or later Florida Man's exploits will come back to haunt him, and sometimes we're right:

But then there's always another hero ready to take up the mantle:

So let's hear it for the hero we neither needed nor deserved, but when we're bored and in need of humor, we often want: FLORIDA MAN!

Stay tuned for the coming adventures of ARKANSAS WOMAN!

*DISCLAIMER: I don't actually know how many of these headlines are true or even honestly represented. I present them to you as pieces of a story about a character known by the internet as "Florida Man." Take them as the memes they are.*

In other news, I'm still doing the SCBWI BookStop, so come by and check out my page!

Here are your debuts for this week:

Middle Grade:
Jeff Ruby - Penelope March is Melting (11/14)

Young Adult:
Ruth Lehrer - Being Fishkill (11/14)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Halloween Weekend, Pt. 2


Another week, another post talking about what happened last week.

I'm still doing SCBWI BookStop, by the way. Come by my page and say hi!

The big news this week is Halloween. But before we get to that, I'd like to talk about the radio interview I did!

I didn't mess it up! So I'm pretty happy about it.

Laura Moe was so nice and friendly, and she did a great job. Although, I wasn't worried about that. I was more worried about how I'd do. But I think I kept my head and spoke clearly enough, although I was pretty nervous.

If you'd like to listen in on the recorded interview, the link is below:

Let me know what you think!

After that was over, it was time to start celebrating Halloween!


One of my favorite parts of Halloween is seeing everyone's costumes. This Halloween party was particularly clever. I wasn't able to take pictures of everyone, but I tried to get a good sampling.

I went to class on Halloween dressed in my Jekyll and Hyde costume. Pretty effective result, considering I'm the teacher. I think my students may have been slightly better behaved that day than usual. :)

I wasn't the only person dressed up on campus that day, either. Check out this link to see the other BYU costumes roaming the grounds that day.

Halloween itself was good. Pretty typical; good party, lots of candy. So much, in fact, that my house still has lots laying around! At least I'm recovering from a run, right? That Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin is necessary for my health!

Here are this week's debuts:

Young Adult:
Somaiya Daud - Mirage (11/6)
Anna Priemaza - Kat and Meg Conquer the World (11/7)
Amy Giles - Now Is Everything (11/7)
Amy Brashear - No Saints in Kansas (11/7)
Dave Connis - The Temptation of Adam (11/7)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Weekend, Pt. 1

Yes, this post is a two-parter. This is because it's a holiday weekend, and boy howdy, it's a doozy.

First, I want to remind you that the SCBWI BookStop is still going, so come say hi. Also, TODAY at 6 pm EDT I will be on Authors on the Air to talk about Under Locker and Key, so follow the link to tune in. Hopefully, I don't embarrass myself too much.

I have been pretty busy this weekend. Here it is, in pictures. Exhibit A:

A Stranger Things binge-watching party with my siblings since season 2 came out this weekend. My sister made the lovely lights wall that you see above out of rice crispy treats and M&Ms. Isn't it so great?

We watched the first three episodes together, and then broke to watch the rest on our own. It''s so good, guys. Creepy and thrilling and everything I'd been hoping for. I'm going to be screaming for so many different reasons for a while.

Some of my family went home to watch another episode before bed, or woke up and watched more the next day, but I didn't, because Exhibit B:

Another year of the Haunted Half Marathon, and another year of running as Dipper. This year, though, I had a goal to complete the race in under 2 hours. As you can see, I made my goal, but there was a cost. I felt fatigued at mile 10 and threw up at mile 11. I did finish, and I did make my goal, but I don't see this race as a total success.

I don't know why it was so tiring; I've done this race before and I know my training route is harder than this one. It was super cold before the race began, so it's been suggested that my warm-up wasn't sufficient for the cold and so my muscles were working harder than they should. My mental pacing may have also been off and I may have taken some hills harder than I should. Or, maybe, I just had a bad day. Either way, it's over, I got my goal, and I'm sore. I'm glad I can say I gave it all I had (including the contents of my stomach), but...everything hurts.

Which brings me to Exhibit C, aka, what I did after the race instead of having a nice, quiet, restful evening in:

A Halloween party, two which I wore this costume. Multiple pictures needed, as I went as Jekyll and Hyde. Jekyll on the far left, with a vial of green liquid (it's melon Powerade, and it's fun to start drinking it in front of people), Hyde in the center covered with blood and holding a knife, and then the half-and-half effect as seen from the front on the right.

I'm way proud of this costume. I'd wanted to do something like this for a while, and I think it turned out well! I think I'll keep this for later years.

The other costumes were excellent. I love seeing what other people put together and how creative they can be. At the party, there was a girl who painted her hair blue, wore an old-fashioned ship on her head, and had on a white T-shirt that said "WHALE." What a clever way of being Moby Dick!

I can't wait for Halloween and all the other amazing things to do and see! I'll have more to say, I'm sure, which is why this is a two-parter. Stay tuned for a report on how the radio interview went as well as (I'm sure) pictures of great Halloween costumes. I'm sad I didn't take any at the party I went to Saturday night, but in my defense, I was a little dead. And half evil.

Here is this week's debut:

Young Adult:
S.F. Henson - Devils Within (10/31)

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)