FROM THE GRAVE Earns a Finalist Spot!!!

Such exciting news: FROM THE GRAVE is 1 of 3 finalists

for the ZIA AWARD presented each year by the New Mexico Press Women for outstanding literature. I will be reading from my book at the awards luncheon in Las Cruces, NM on April 22, where the winner will be announced–and I will be signing books there as well.

I am extremely honored to have my book chosen for this literary achievement! In fact, I’m feeling as awesome as this breathtaking shot from Ojo Caliente in northern New Mexico–a land of  amazing vistas and endless possibilities!

Monster Update!!!

Exciting Stuff…

Whew! It’s been a hectic couple of months for me with final edits and rewrites, but I’m thrilled to say:

Monster or Die, Book 2:


is off to the copyeditor and very soon will have its Cover Reveal!

October 10, 2017 is the release date for the new monster adventures–just in time for plenty of Halloween mayhem. Please put it on your To Be Read list!

Next up for this author is the MISSOURI ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL LIBRARIANS conference in St. Louis next week–March 26-28. I will have the opportunity to share FROM THE GRAVE with all the awesome librarians there. I’ll also be on panels talking about Authors Helping Teachers and Monsters & Mayhem. Click on the link to get an idea of what my fellow author, Stephanie Bearce, and I will be presenting.

Stay tuned for more upcoming author events where I’d love to meet you! Questions or comments–please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Scary on!




ALMOST PARADISE by Corabel Shofner

A fun contemporary middle grade (9-12-year-old) story coming July 2017!


I had the privilege to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this entertaining and endearing novel. The story opens with Ruby Cylde Henderson being spirited away (on her twelfth birthday) on a road trip by her mother’s awful boyfriend, Carl—or as Ruby refers to him, Catfish. Her mother is along for the ride as well. Ruby’s sentiments toward her mom can be summed up as, “Mother was no help at all, but don’t hold that against her.” She’s a loving but ineffective mother, which means Ruby often needs to step in to run the show.


When the troop rolls into Little Rock, Arkansas, Ruby and her mother try to rescue a performing pig, Bunny, from the IQ Zoo. Catfish fires rounds from his new gun to implement Bunny’s breakout. As they approach Austin, Texas—and a reunion with her mother’s estranged twin sister, an Episcopalian nun—the trio stops at a gas station. Unbeknownst to the mother and daughter, Catfish proceeds to rob the store at gunpoint. Her mother is waiting in the car while Ruby is walking Bunny, when “Sirens whipped around, churning my heart so hard I grabbed my chest to hold it in.”


Catfish is caught and Ruby’s mom is arrested as well. Ruby manages to stay hidden and proceeds to search for her aunt. With some help from friendly locals, Ruby finds Aunt Eleanor, a mostly reclusive and silent nun, living at Paradise Ranch and growing peaches. After a number of weeks living together, Aunt Eleanor and Ruby begin to communicate. Ruby has finally found stability in her life. She no longer must function as the adult. Even though Ruby misses her mother, she and her pig Bunny have truly found paradise.


But soon Ruby discovers that her aunt is battling cancer. Her aunt takes Ruby to Austin to visit her mother and the lawyer representing her. On this trip Aunt Eleanor faints and must be hospitalized then undergo surgery. An anxious Ruby waits by her beloved aunt’s bedside in the hospital. “Time keeps moving regardless of how you feel about it,” she notes. Ruby feels “as wiggly as a snake on hot rocks.” As she contemplates her circumstances, Ruby gains some perspective on her bittersweet life. “You have to love what you get.”


Aunt Eleanor recovers from the surgery and, with her benefactor’s help, bails Ruby’s mom out of jail. Aunt Eleanor decides to “un-nun” in order to better help Ruby’s mom know how to mother. Ruby watches as her mother learns how to cook and drive and better care for her. The two adult sisters, distanced by time and circumstances, come to a new understanding and a renewed love. “Sometimes we are faced with impossible choices and that is life.”


I don’t want to spoil the surprising ending, so I won’t divulge it here. But I will say how much I loved twelve-year-old Ruby Clyde, who’s “as flat as a pancake” and looks like a boy and hates to wear dresses. I loved her determination and her outlook on life. “Love begets love, even if it is in small flawed pieces.” The author mixes a cast of quirky characters with an engaging plot and colorful prose to create a stunning contemporary middle grade debut novel. The characters and tone remind me a bit of one of my favorite contemporary authors, Kate DiCamillo. So now I’ve added Ms. Shofner to my favorites list as well. Although this is her debut novel, I’m sure she will be penning many more awesome reads in the years to come, and middle grade readers will truly be in “paradise.” This would be a great read aloud for classes or at home. Don’t miss it!

Winter Reading List

The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators has a great list of titles for young readers from Picture Books–Young Adult.

It’s back! The SCBWI Winter 2016 Reading List is available for download on the website at

This is our second list and we’re very excited to have over 1,100 books from 328 publishers created, by our PAL authors and illustrators located in 15 geographical regions. They have created some of the best children’s books around from picture books to YA fiction to nonfiction and more. The list is comprised of books by writers and artists from around the world, and from right near your hometown.

We hope that you, your families and friends download the list and discover a book that makes the winter months more enjoyable. And please share the good news with others. Here’s some sample language to use in a social media tweet or post. 

Find a great book for a kid or #youngadult on the Winter 2016 #SCBWIReading List. #kidlit #middlegrade

And look for the new Summer Reading List coming in 2017! 

FROM THE GRAVE is listed on p.36 under the Mid-South!

Download your copy today and START READING!!!



Frankenstein ALIVE

Who wouldn’t love a face like that?

Okay, so I’ve been hanging around with monsters for much too long–and I LOVE IT!

AUGUST 30 is Frankenstein Day!

So you still have time to put on your costume and monster mash the night away!


FRANKENSTEIN FRIGHTFACE GORDON from my upcoming MG fantasy novel FROM THE GRAVE (October 18, 2016) is not a typical Frankenstein–he’s blue, prefers a crisp white button-down shirt, and the quiet life.

Still he’s full of surprises, the best of friends, and can certainly pull his weight in a tough situation. BLUE is COOL!

Preorders are happening right now–and an amazing giveaway! Don’t miss your chance to win a MONSTER OR DIE T-shirt.


Follow the link and learn how to make a FRANKENSTEIN CAKE–perfect for today’s celebrations or anytime you want to Monster On!!!


And if you want to make your Frankenstein cake look like my character FRANK, just switch blue icing for the green. Remember, BLUE is COOL!


Oftentimes When I Start Writing a Story…

There will be a good guy versus a bad guy. My fantasy FROM THE GRAVE seemed pretty straightforward in this respect with Frankenstein Frightface Gordon—a less-than-monsterly monster—as the good guy. Malcolm McNastee—a true blood troll on a mission to end misfits—seemed the obvious bad guy. But then, as I dug deep (please forgive the obvious cemetery allusion) into the story, my characters started revealing who they really are. Their quirks and shortcomings. Their fears and failings. And of course, I love them all the more for it.


Looking Deeper

While Frank maintains his good guy persona, he’s not without his numerous shortcomings. He has a quick temper that he’s tried to put under wraps, which sometimes causes him to be too cautious. He doesn’t initially lead the charge to stand up for exiled misfits. Rather he must be convinced by Georgina—a dragon without a trace of fire—and by his dear, departed granny—from the grave!


Malcolm, on the other claw, isn’t a totally tough creature. He has a big soft spot for his little sister, Nelly, who exhibits some disturbing misfit traits. Plus, Malcolm has his own secrets to hide—secrets that would destroy his perfectly gruesome image. One of Malcolm’s favorite sayings is “Less thinking and more monstering.” But that is not always easy to do. In fact, being a monster is far from easy but wonderfully entertaining, as I hope you’ll discover in FROM THE GRAVE coming October 18 from Jolly Fish Press.


 More Monsters!from-the-grave

For more information on creating characters and details on FROM THE GRAVE, visit these What’s New blog posts:

Monster Writing Prompts: Creating Characters

1/29 Friends

1/21 Family

1/17 Appearance

1/8 Likes & Dislikes



An Original Valentine’s Day Story

by Cynthia Reeg

Theodore Kong III, a young gorilla of few words, lived in the deep, deep jungle. He loved swinging from tippy-top branches, stamp-stomping mini-earthquakes, and pat-a-tat-tatting his chest. He was an exemplary young gorilla.

Until one Valentine’s Day when he found SOMETHING quite astonishing and wore it to breakfast.


“T…T…Teddy?” stuttered his parents. “What is that?”


Mmmrrrgg,” Teddy rumbled.


“A LONG pink scarf!” said his father with a pat-a-tat-tat.


“Black is the ONLY color gorillas need.”


Teddy’s mother touched the scarf’s heart-shaped spots.


“Why! They’re the shades of misty morning sunrises… BUT gorillas don’t need colorful hearts.”


Mmmrrrgg,” Teddy grrrrrrrumbled louder.

“I don’t care how… ahhhhh…soft it is!” said Teddy’s father.

Mmmrrrgg,” Teddy grrrrrrrrrrumbled even louder.

“Or how splendid the hearts are,” said Teddy’s mother. “Gorillas do NOT wear soft, pink, heart-dotted scarves. Ever!


With that, Theodore Kong III, sss…pun the scarf from his neck.


Up to the tippy-top branches, he swww…ung with it!


Into the fallen leaves, he stamp-stomped on it!



Finally, with a grrrrr…roar louder than ever before, he zzzip-ripped the long, soft, pink, heart-dotted scarf into pieces!


Into THREE pieces.

Mmmrrrgg!” Teddy roared sweetly. “One for each of us! Happy Valentine’s Day!”


His proud parents smiled back.

Then Teddy scrunch-crunched them both in a hairy hug—and that said it all.

Microsoft Word - Red Valentine.doc

Fenway and Hattie

Dog Adventures to the Max!

Author, Victoria J. Coe, has created a canine main character with wonderful charm. Fenway is a Jack Russell terrier who adores his short human, Hattie.

Things seem to be going well in this dog’s life, when suddenly he and his human family are uprooted from the familiar city to the suburbs. Fenway faces the supremely slick Wicked Floor (where his food bowl resides) and too many bad squirrel dreams, all while trying to keep Hattie happy. But Hattie is lured away from her best bud by a neighbor girl with a baseball mitt. Hattie’s snuggles are few and far between.

Can Fenway master his obedience class? Can you he overcome the Wicked Floor? Can he regain Hattie’s companionship? A laugh-out-loud “tail” with an adorable furry hero! Don’t miss out on these doggone great adventures.


In this bittersweet story set in the United States during 1942 and World War II, 10-year-old Manami—a Japanese-American girl—endures evacuation and internment at the dessert camp of Manzanar. Forced to leave Bainbridge Island with her family, she must abandon her beloved dog and settle in a harsh new environment.

The author writes in poetic prose of the heat, drought, crowding, and awful food. Poor Manami becomes mute due to the hardships, but she sends colorful letters (paper wishes) on the wind in hopes of better times.

This powerful story is a testament to bravery and fortitude. It is a touching and finely-executed glimpse into a difficult period in American history. Told in a simplistic style, this book would be a wonderful read for even younger middle graders.