Monster Read Aloud

If you’d like to hear the first chapter of my book FROM THE GRAVE, click on the link. This recording was originally made for World Read Aloud Day 2019.

Perhaps during these days of quarantine, my monster adventures might appeal to a middle grade reader (ages 9-12) in your house.

Monster is as monster does in the odd world of Uggarland. However, Frank and his misfit classmates don’t fit the monster mode. They must prove they’re more than monster enough in this “fun and fast-paced” award-winning novel with just enough creepyness–and more than enough adventure–to prove a page-turning pleasure.

I’ve provided a link to my favorite local Indie: Novel Neighbor and to Amazon if you’re interested in buying a copy.

Stay Safe!

50% OFF SALE!!!

Start your holiday literary party off to an awesome start with this amazing sale from my publisher, JOLLY FISH PRESS. You can have my monsters and more, all for half price!!!

You’ll be celebrating long after the holidays have passed with your very own copies of FROM THE GRAVE and INTO THE SHADOWLANDS.

Don’t miss out on the MAYHEM!



Draw Your Own Monster–And Win a Book!

The monsters are joining art school!


Local artist Todd Tevlin‘s class on HOW TO DRAW MONSTERS will include a chance for students (7-11) to win copies of FROM THE GRAVE and INTO THE SHADOWLANDS!!! Each student will be given a 20% discount to buy the books at THE NOVEL NEIGHBOR  where the classes will be held. Hurry and sign up. Class size is limited. Don’t miss your chance for mayhem!


Inquiring Middle Grade Minds Want to Know!


I had such fun reading and responding to students’ questions I received this week from Holt Middle School in Fayetteville, Arkansas that I wanted to share their awesome words!


I really enjoyed you describing the characters for us and reading the first couple of pages of your book. I can’t wait to lose myself in your book. Thanks for visiting our school. Maggie

Thank you for the bookmark and I hope I can stick it in one of your books because I would really love to read FROM THE GRAVE. Kyndal

I am so excited to read your new book. I am happier than a elephant in a room full of peanuts. I hope we get to see you in real life! Maddie

You were so prepared and organized. I really like listening to you read the first part of your book. I can’t wait to read your book! Ashton

Thank you for Skyping us and letting us talk to you. It was fun doing it! Jose

I am so excited to read your book, FROM THE GRAVE! …My favorite character is the Dragon because she doesn’t abide by people’s expectations! Rian

I love how you teach people to not bully in an adventure with monsters. Finally, I would like to ask you when your next book in the series comes out so I can tell my friends about it. Matthew

Thank you for showing us that different is ok with your book. Mariano

Questions & Answers


Mikayla: How many books have you wrote in your career so far?


Hi Mikayla! So far I have written four picture books which explore parts of speech: THE PET GRAMMAR PARADE series, and another picture book called GIFTS FROM GOD. I’ve had two short stories published in anthologies—story collections: “The Emily Explosion” in THE GIRLS and “The Dragon Artist’s Tale” in SPREAD YOUR WINGS. FROM THE GRAVE was my first middle grade novel for readers your age. Book 2 in the MONSTER OR DIE series will be out October 10: INTO THE SHADOWLANDS. You can go to my website to find out about all my books.

Thanks for your interest and happy reading!


Ella: I am reading your book right now … I can’t wait to read the second book …


Thanks, Ella! I really appreciate your reading and enjoying my story. That helps me know that my writing is working. It helps me be a better writer. The second book (INTO THE SHADOWLANDS) is coming October 10, but because all of you at Holt Middle School have been so supportive of me I will try to send Ms. Jewell an advanced reader copy if I can. I’m sure it won’t arrive before school ends for this year, but at least you can check it out first thing next year!


Aidan: Were you scared of monsters when you were little? Is there going to be a second book to the From the Grave?


Hello Aidan! Yes, I was very scared of monsters when I was young, and I think a lot of kids are. So I enjoyed creating monster characters who are misunderstood and a whole lot like regular kids. I guess that’s how I made my monsters less scary—to me anyway. The second book: INTO THE SHADOWLANDS is coming October 10. I sure hope you can read it. And I really appreciate nice reviews on Amazon if you and any of the other students have enjoyed reading my books!


Zachary: Do you have any brothers? Are you married?


Hi Zachary! Yes, I am sandwiched between two brothers—one older, one younger. You can visit my author website ( in the ABOUT section to find out a little more about them and me. And yes, I’m married to the most wonderful man I could ever find. He’s my number one fan, so I am very lucky. He even dressed up like Frankenstein for my book release party last October! J


Madison: Do you like writing books? How long have you been writing? Are you going to retire?


Hey Madison! Thanks for your questions. I love writing books. It seems the best job in the world—creating fun characters and stories to share with readers like you. I’ve been writing since I was your age. I also loved reading and writing. I hope you are writing too! And no, I don’t plan to retire any time soon. I have retired from my library work, so I can write full time now. I’ve just started to get going with my writing, so I hope there will be many more stories to come.


Mattie: When did you know you wanted to write books? Why did you write this book and was this books suppose to teach you a lesson about something? Finally did you write the book about past experiences?


What great questions, Mattie! As soon as I learned to read and write, I started writing my own stories. I hope you are too! I wrote this book because I wanted kids to think about how awful bullying and discrimination is—even if you’re a monster. So yes, I hope FROM THE GRAVE will help kids think about being kinder and more accepting of each other—no matter if they’re blue like Frank or a sparkly dresser like Vanya. 🙂 I think all writers use a bit of their past experience in creating their stories. For me, I moved with my family quite often when I was a child, so I knew how scary it was to start in a new school with no friends. I wanted to fit in. I was generally lucky that things went pretty well, but there were a few times when others bullied me. I’m hoping you and the other students at Holt Middle School encounter no such “monsters!”


Jonah: Do you plan to make a movie?


Hi Jonah! I think it would be very cool to make a monsters movie, but so far no one has offered to do it. But I did collaborate with a video game maker to create a bit of monster animation. I hope you and the other students at Holt Middle School can open this short introduction to FROM THE GRAVE. If the link below doesn’t work, try and type in the title in the search box to open the video. You will need to click to advance the story. It works best in the manual mode to be able to read the text. Let me know what you think. Or you might try to create a book trailer of your own for the monsters. I’d love to see that!

FROM THE GRAVE–ZIA Award Winner!!!

On Saturday, April 22 in Las Cruces, New Mexico

I was thrilled to accept the 2017 New Mexico Press Women’s ZIA Book Award for my debut

Sharing some monster magic and thanks

middle grade fantasy, FROM THE GRAVE published by Jolly Fish Press.

Receiving the 2017 ZIA Book Award from New Mexico Press Women

Thank you to Jessica Savage, the Zia Award Chairperson, and to all the committee members who took such interest in my monsters. The Zia symbol is ancient to the people of New Mexico. It represents the sun and is found on the New Mexico flag. The rays of the sun can also represent the four directions–north, east, south, and west or the seasons of the year. The Zia symbol can also relate to life stages–childhood, young adult, adult, and seniors. Thanks again for this awesome honor!

Below is a copy of my acceptance speech.

Thank you so much for honoring my middle grade novel, FROM THE GRAVE as the 2017 Zia Award winner. I’m thrilled and flattered that I was included among such wonderful authors as Joan Livingston and Caroline Starr Rose. And now, if I may, I’d like to share with you some post-truth era insights from my monster tale that I have entitled:


Make Way for Monsters and Alternative Facts


Sometimes fact (and I do not mean alternative fact) is surprisingly close to fiction—or as stated by the publication, Business Standard News: “reality is so strange nowadays it could be true.” Such is the surprising example with my debut fantasy– FROM THE GRAVE, in which Frank—a misfit Frankenstein and Malcolm, an intimidating troll—try to prove they are monster enough. I created this juvenile parody, combining horror, humor, and heart, to focus on issues of bullying and diversity. Why then do I say that this fantasy—complete with quirky monsters of every kind—so remarkably mirrors aspects in our current world?


You see, in Uggarland there is a newly elected president named Vladimir (even in the monster world there are possible Russian ties it seems). Vladimir is intent on laying down the law as he decrees it. In order to be elected, President Vladimir has played on the fears of the masses—and I quote: “Misfits suck the life from our failing economy. I will put them out of their misery before they make each of our lives a misery, too.” The president has found the latest scapegoats to abuse—young misfit monsters slow to change their unacceptable behavior or appearance. With swift action, he’s implementing a new law to banish them all.


And there’s another surprising mirror character, Principal Snaggle, the leader of Fiendful Fiends Academy. With each flick of his furry tail, he’s ready to hide any number of sinister secrets. He’s intent only in adding to his own renown—as can be noted by his coveted Principal of the Year trophy prominently displayed on his desk. The principal aims to make every situation resolve in his favor no matter the fallout along the way. He’s also quick to spin the facts to meet his vision. Let me read you an excerpt of the principal and Malcolm plotting the end of Frank and his friends, as a terrible storm—a Run For Your Lives HORRORCane is coming to the Shadowlands. Malcolm, who tells this segment of the story, has also recently learned that his long-lost father is—of all things—a misfit. :


At last, under the principal’s hypnotic stare, my monster wiles kicked into gear. I leapt from the chair. “I’ve thought of it!”

“Have you now,” said Principal Snaggle, arching his back. “Do tell.”

Leaning close I whispered, “A scavenger hunt for the misfits into the Shadowlands during the storm!”

“My, my, my. Such wonderfully wily ways, McNastee. A young monster any father would be proud of.”

I gulped. Even the principal’s praise couldn’t stop me from smarting at the mention of my father.

Principal Snaggle’s lips slid up toward his slitted eyes. “You and I can see how silly the weather warning is. Blazing bunions! What’s to become of this current generation if we don’t put them in harm’s way? It’s only a bit of debris and havoc—which, of course, may last for days. It’s such a mega storm that even the most seasoned of scavengers wouldn’t blunder into it. Why, of course, it’s a perfect opportunity to test my struggling students.”

I snorted. “To uh, prove they’ve, uh, changed.”

“Truly changed,” said Snaggle.

“And that they can follow orders,” I added grinning. “Monster or die.”

“Exactly,” agreed Snaggle. “Either they brave a turbulent Shadowlands experience and show they are monsters. Or they run away, proving they’re miserable mutants.”

“Um, sir, a cautious monster isn’t always a mutant,” I mumbled, remembering my barricade last night inside the mausoleum.

“Pfft.” Principal Snaggle waved his claw in the air. “Monster is as monster does, McNastee. We are drawn to mayhem like sloth beetles to the flames. Retreating misfits will certainly reveal their mutant natures amid the chaos. We’ll be able to ship them to Exxillium ahead of schedule.”

“If they make it back, sir.” My tail twitched uncontrollably. My words sounded jittery as well. “I’ve heard whole houses can blow through sometimes. They say once a witch had a house land on her.”

“Monster tales. Just monster tales for little tykes. We’ve all heard them.” Principal Snaggle waved a sharp nail close to my snout. “Don’t believe everything you hear. A tale or the truth. Monsters tend to mix the two up so frequently. But even if the witch did meet her end crushed beneath a bit of timber, what a gallant death. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, sir.” My head nodded so vigorously that my hair tuft bobbed down over my eyes. I envisioned Frank flattened beneath a house. My grin grew wider. “It sounds like a perfect plan.”



Honestly (no alternative fact), I started writing this story a number of years ago, long before the present real life political characters stepped onto the stage. Ironically though, my fantasy was published only a few weeks before the 2016 November election, which set this startling parallel into motion. My story is meant to be a satirical, adventure tale not a thinly veiled caricature of current events. Yet I hope that my monsters can serve as a talking point about the current politics and can open up dialogue about bullying, diversity, inclusion, and cooperation across boundaries—as well as the importance of distinguishing fact from fiction. Otherwise, I fear that Monster Rule #19 will continue to prevail; it says: When the truth compromises monstering, it’s best to lie. If we humans can’t find our way back to the truth, we may all be forced to “scary on!”


Thank you again for honoring my monsters and me with the Zia Award!

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!

The Monsters Are Coming–I Promise!

Patience, Please.

My middle grade fantasy, FROM THE GRAVE, was slated to release on October 18, however, there has been a bit of a cliff-hanger. The day before its release, Jolly Fish Press (its publisher) closed and was acquired shortly after by North Star Editions. Production of FROM THE GRAVE was stopped. Currently it is in the process of being printed, but all good things take time. The monsters are not expected to be released for another four weeks or so.

I apologize for the inconvenience, and I greatly appreciate your continued support.

Believe me, I know how difficult it is to wait for the monsters, but I also know it will be worth it! Over the past month, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to share a bit of the story with students, teachers, & librarians in three states. There were so many eager readers ready to enter into the haunted adventure. Contact me if you’d like me to bring the adventure to your school. Here are a few pictures of my school visits in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.









Happy Halloween! Monster ON!!!

The Gang from Fiendful Fiends Academy

wants to wish you a monstrously fun time on this Halloween!

And they’d like to share another great review of FROM THE GRAVE. This review comes from Kathleen Burkinshaw, author of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM (Sky Pony Press).

I loved my visit to Uggarland!
From the moment I read Monster Rule #9 “A monster’s appearance should incite fear and significant revulsion to scare the socks off mere humans.”, I knew I would enjoy this book!
But this is not just a humorous story. I loved the heart it had.  Frankie is not quite sure how to answer a questions that we all have wondered as humans-Does he fit in?  Monsters, like Malcolm have judged Frankie and his friends to be strange since they do not quite fit the “monster” description.  
Although as much as Malcolm may tease Frankie and his friends mercilessly, things are not what they seem on the outside for Malcolm either. 
I really loved the connection that Frankie had with his Grannie Bubbie and how her love for him lived on in his heart and “a bit of her magic coursed through his misfit hide.”
As worrisome events unfold with the visit to Exxillium, the friendship that Frankie and Oliver form with two others deemed misfits- Vanya and Georgina strengthens their resolve to Keep calm and monster on. But in order to do that, they must decide what is the “right way” to be a monster and whether they can be happy and proud of themselves if they conform to the monster edict. Or will they be able to prove that they already are more than monster enough?
Some great descriptive phrases, such as:
“My neck bolts sent a steady hum pulsing through my body.”
“Last night when I peeked out my cobwebbed window to spy on the demons, I’d seen a bat flying upside down.A bad omen for sure.
“The swirling gust stirred up a powerful aroma of decay and dread.”

Pictures from My Author Visit to Immacolata School