The Artifact Hunters

Coming August 2020

A magical, page-turning, spooky escapade!

I had the opportunity to devour an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this Viking publication. The sequel to THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE combines historical fiction and adventure in a sure-to-please middle grade novel. Most of the original characters are back, along with a new lead character, Isaac–a Jewish boy from Prague. He’s trying to escape both the Nazis and the evil spirits chasing him. I love how the author, Janet Fox, combines elements of fantasy and history to create an intriguing, fast-paced plot for young readers. I certainly learned a few interesting facts and would gladly join the charmed crew for the next time-travel trip. And it does appear there might be more artifact hunter adventures ahead. I certainly hope so!


Claire Fayers newest fantasy adventure is set in the misty and magical world of Victorian England, where the Fair Folk have gone into the UnWorld—specifically a placed called UnWyse. Humans have been left with only a few magic mirrors as portals between the two worlds. In the real world, eleven-year-old Ava Harcourt—whose parents have recently died—and her older brother Matthew find themselves alone and in dire straits. Their father had been a conjurer at one time, but for some unknown reason sold his mirror and quit magicing. Ava and her brother were warned by their father to avoid Lord Skinner, the mysterious yet all-controlling leader of Wyse, the last human town where magic works. But with nowhere else to go, Ava and Matthew return to Wyse, forced to trust Lord Skinner for the jobs and lodging he offers them.

In the UnWorld, apprentice Howell Fletcher works at the House of Forgotten Mirrors. Howell is a Fair Folk without any magic, but he soon finds himself approached by the intimidating and all-powerful Mr. Bones. The mission thrust upon Howell only leads to more confusion. It introduces him to a strange new magical friend who may easily lead him astray.

And so begins their journey into danger, intrigue, and surprising disclosures as the protagonists of THE BOOK OF UNWYSE MAGIC are thrust into the clash between the two worlds. Ava and Howell must rely on her own initiatives and bravery, as well as the help of a few new friends, to discover the truths that will set things right in the World and the UnWorld.

A brief selection from The Book—the covenant between the worlds—begins each chapter. These cheeky lines were some of my favorites parts of the story because The Book can predict the future. For example: “By the way, you might want to close your eyes in a page or two. Things are about to get unpleasant.” The Book plays a vital role in the story’s outcome as well—but I won’t spoil the fun by revealing any more. THE BOOK OF UNWYSE MAGIC is a totally entertaining tale for middle grade readers who enjoy fantasies, quirky characters, mysteries, and satisfying endings. The story is told through the eyes of both Ava and Howell for an effective contrast—highlighting the importance of each individual’s uniqueness as something to be valued.

So beware! The next time you look into a mirror, take caution that it’s not a magical one. Or better yet, read THE BOOK OF UNWYSE MAGIC and share in all the enchanted fun!

COMING March 26, 2019 from Henry Holt.

  • ISBN-13: 978-1627794220



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

Debut Middle Grade Fantasies

Two new out-of-this-world reads that released in January!

BOUNDERS by Monica Tesler.


In the not-too-distance future, a group of specially gifted students visits Earth Force Academy for the first time. Here they begin to learn how to use their talents. They also learn of the grave dangers facing humanity. This is an action-packed story with an entertaining, diverse group of characters to root for in an out-of-this-world adventure. Intrigue, suspense, surprises, and appealing characters all add up to make this a winning middle grade read!




In 19th century Mars, an unlikely young hero finds himself (and his family) caught up in the middle of a plot by a nefarious celebrity seeking to rout an ancient dragon tomb. The hero must stop the villain from uncovering the tomb’s secrets and free his family, all while facing dangerous Martian creatures and evil combatants. This is a truly humorous and inventive read.

Writing and Drawing

I’m in the middle of revising one of my fantasy novels. This one involves fairy tale characters, so there has to be at least one castle, right? And a giant and…yeah, lots of fun characters and settings.

When one of Rich Davis‘ drawing posts came into my mailbox last week, it reminded me how fun the illustrations will be for this story I’m working on. Too bad I’m not a super illustrator like Rich. But with his step-by-step instructions, most anyone can become an artist.

Here’s the link to his “Draw a Castle.”  I hope you’ll give this picture a try–or try one of the other drawing lessons on Rich’s site.

As you can see below, I truly do have a CASTLE in my very own backyard. And a friendly GIANT lives there. He loves to go sledding with the children who drop by. 🙂

Jonathan Stroud Interview

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend an evening listening to Patricia Polacco–the incredible children’s picture book author and illustrator. And this week, I was quite excited to have the opportunity for a live presentation with British children’s author, Jonathan Stroud–the creator of the Bartemaeus Sequence. I’d read the books some time ago and loved their rich storytelling, adventures, and humor. I thought it would be quite a treat to meet Mr. Stroud in person, as well as learn of his new series–LOCKWOOD & CO: The Screaming Staircase.

But alas, this author event was forced to be cancelled due to some misfortune with Mr. Stroud. It seemed rather like one of the blocked avenues in his tales when the protagonist’s best laid plans goes awry. Lucky for me, however, I stumbled upon an online interview with Mr. Stroud, via PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. In fact, they have a number of interviews with various children’s authors available for a listen.

So while the online interview couldn’t take the place of a live author sighting, it was great to hear Mr. Stroud. I enjoyed his enthusiasm for his books and characters and felt privileged that he shared some of his writing insights.

I hope to listen to more of these online interviews–hope you can too!
But I plan to keep all the lights on 🙂

Newbery Honor Author — Ingrid Law

The American Library Association has a short video interview with Newbery Honor author, Ingrid Law, talking about her wonderful book, SAVVY. To find out more about SAVVY, read my review of it along with another super fantasy story, THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY

So many great stories to read. 
On your mark. Get set. Go!
Grab a book and start reading.

New Fantasy Books with Girl Main Characters

I’ve been reading some great books during the holiday break, and I wanted to share a couple of the new fantasy books with you. Both of these books have girl main characters and some similar story elements, but they are decidedly different in their voice. Plus, they are both great page-turning reads that can’t be put down.

THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY by Victoria Forester.
Piper McCloud, a home schooled, lonely child, discovers early in her life that she has a special ability–she can fly. When she finally can’t keep her secret hidden any longer from the world, she is whisked away by a secret government organization to an underground school with other special children. At first she enjoys hanging out with these talented kids–the Mustafa twins who can stir up storms, Violet–who can shrink down to almost nothing, Daisy–who is strong enough to lift a tank, Smitty–who has x-ray eyes, and several more unique students.
But when Piper discovers everything isn’t as it is supposed to be in this secret hideaway established to study unusual phenomenon, she sets out to free the children–even if it costs her everything.
Two thumbs up for this fantasy tale which explores society’s tolerance for the out-of-the-ordinary. This book would make a great read for a middle grade book discussion group.
SAVVY by Ingrid Law.
This title earned the 2008 Boston Globe Horn Book Award. It is an outstanding read for upper middle grade readers. 
Mibs (short for Mississippi) Beaumont is about to have her 13th birthday, which for the Beaumont family is a major milestone. Each child has inherited a special savvy (or power) which manifests on their 13th birthdays. Her older brothers, Rocket–17 and Fish–14, can command electrical power or rouse up hurricanes, respectively.
On the eve of Mibs’ big birthday, her world takes an unexpected turn when her father is involved in a car accident and seriously injured. He’s placed in a hospital over an hour’s drive away, and Mibs believes her new savvy might have the power to heal him. So she (along with an unlikely team of friends and family) stow away on a the Heartland Bible Supply Company’s pink bus to make the trip to the hospital. But the trip, of course, doesn’t go as planned. 
The story is filled with fun characters like Bobbi, the preacher’s 16-year-old daughter, and Lill, the always late waitress stranded by the roadside, and Lester, the down-and-out Bible supply bus driver. SAVVY explores young reader’s insecurities while taking them on a roller coaster ride of plot twists and turns. Another two thumbs up for a memorable read.