Pitch Wars Mentee Bio


I’ve decided to participate in Brenda Drake’s PITCH WARS contest, which is ramping into action even as I type. The contest allows mentees to submit a work for consideration by numerous literary mentors (MG-Adult). If a mentee wins a mentor with his/her fabulous entry, then the two will collaborate on the manuscript, polishing it to perfection with the hope of garnering favor with an agent during the second round. I love the idea of working with a talented writer and bringing new life to my story. This year the mentors have requested some bio info on perspective mentees, so here is mine.

DSC03252  Writer-in-trainingJr. Hi Picture_adobe

I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t reading or writing (as depicted above by a local grade school artist. Yes, that’s me on the right in middle school.) So in pursuit of all things literary, I majored in English Lit in undergraduate school and then earned a Masters in Library Science. We moved fairly often, so I’ve shared my love of books with students in numerous states in both school and public libraries where I’ve worked.

Writer BOOK


For the past 10 years or so, I’ve actively pursued my writing career. I’m a member of SCBWI and ALA. I try to attend as many writers’ conferences and classes as possible. I belong to a couple of critique groups and continue to learn the craft. Some of my short stories and poems have been published in children’s magazines, like HIGHLIGHTS and LADYBUG. I’ve won the SCBWI Missouri Mentorship and a few other regional awards, earning spots in anthologies. Earlier this year, I signed a two-book deal with Jolly Fish Press for my MONSTER OR DIE series.

FROM THE GRAVE is slated for publication in Fall of 2016.from-the-grave



I like to make magic with words.

I love writers like

Kate DiCamillo


Louis Sacharabracadabra_jean_maurice_

Ransom Riggs

Cornelia Funke

Richard Peck

Jonathan Stroud….the list could go on and on.



I try to flex my writerly muscles, taking on new challenges and improving my technique.


I’m creative and love the language of words, priding myself on creating musical prose.





I’m an attention-to-detail person and open to revision. I know that good writing can become even better.


danceBOOKI love to write stories that appeal to

reluctant readers, especially boys. What can I say, I was sandwiched between two brothers growing up. I had two sons of my own and now two grandsons.

20150319_105951I like action, adventure, silliness, laugh-out-loud humor, magic, and spooky stuff. I want readers to finish my book and ask the librarian, “Do you have another one like that?”



Thanks, Mentors, for volunteering and your pay-it-forward attitude!

Hats off to everyone entering!

39 Years

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 🙂

National Library Week, National Poetry Month, Earth Day, and More

This has been a busy week. It’s NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK, so I certainly hope you’ve visited your local library at least once this week. I’m reading Elise Broach’s fun mystery story for middle grade readers called, MASTERPIECE. A cockroach named Marvin is the main character. He has an amazing talent which takes him on an adventurous quest. Click on the link and hear the author read from the book.

And it still POETRY MONTH. I’ve been writing a poem a day. How about you? One of my favorite young adult novels is written in free verse poetry–OUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse. Or another free verse novel, this one a middle grade read by Sharon Creech, is LOVE THAT DOG. This story is wonderful also.
Monday, April 20, is EARTH DAY. Here are 3 suggestions for green activities:
  • cut two minutes off your morning shower to conserve water
  • pick up trash in your neighborhood
  • plant a tree or some wildflower seeds

What else can you think of do? 

Last, but not least, I invite you to visit MY LIGHT magazine for the April issue which features my article on St. Catherine of Siena, a 14th century young adult celebrity. 

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.

Exciting News!

I just found out THE GIRLS, a middle grade anthology with my short story, “The Emily Explosion,” is to be released on August 15! Blooming Tree Press is publishing the story collection. I’m so glad the book will be available as the new school year starts. What a great addition to a school or classroom library–or for your very own.

Here’s a quick look at what “The Emily Explosion” is about:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell
They’d banish us, you know.

Dee-Dee Tunley, a seventh grade literature loser, enjoys doodling much more than analyzing Emily Dickinson’s weird poems. However, when Dee-Dee is forced to do extra credit work on the above poem, she finds a connection with Emily and discovers they may both be somebodies rather than nobodies.

Have you ever felt like a nobody? What helped you realize you were really a somebody? I’d love to hear your story.
I adore Emily Dickinson’s poems. Who is your favorite poet???

Baseball Books & a Birthday

Happy Birthday wishes are in order today for my son, Dan!!! He’s shown at the left with his father on his wedding day, two and a half years ago. From the very first, he loved sports–baseball, basketball, soccer…

So as a salute to Dan (who played a valiant Little League catcher) and in the spirit of the summer season, I’ll highlight a few baseball books today.

The Littlest Leaguer by Syd Hoff. Harper Collins, 2008.
An EZ reader in which the main character shows that determination overcomes obstacles.

Hello, Fredbird! by Ozzie Smith. Mascot Books, 2006. (I put this one in for Dan.)
St. Louis Cardinals’ mascot, Fredbird, shares his fun at the ballgame.

Swindle by Gordon Korman. Scholastic, 2008. When a boy is cheated out of a rare Babe Ruth baseball card, he leads an unlikely team of friends to right his wrong.

The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles. Harcourt, 2007. When 12-year-old House (a pitcher with a broken elbow) somehow manages to overcome his animosity toward pesky visitor, Frances, he helps combine forces for both an exciting baseball game and a winning performance for Aurora County’s 200th Anniversary pageant.

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlin. Atheneum, 2007. A bittersweet story of a family’s loss and legacy woven around the game of baseball.

Summerland by Michael Chabon. Hyperion, 2002. In this first novel for younger readers by the Pultizer Prize winning author, Mr. Chabon offers a rich fantasy story for older readers which weaves mythological elements into the ultimate contest of baseball.

I just had to include SUMMERLAND because I read it shortly after I’d finished the first draft of my fantasy baseball novel for middle grade readers (THE SLIGHTLY TANGLED TALES OF JIM-BO BAXTER.) I couldn’t believe that someone else had thought of combining the two worlds (although Mr. Chabon’s fantasy world is on a much more elevated level than mine.) Still I felt honored that I’d shared a bit of writing inspiration with such a great writer–and I recently had the opportunity to met Mr. Chabon and listen to his thoughts on writing. What a wonderful experience! And while my TALES has earned a regional award from SCBWI, it has yet to find a publishing home.

So hats off to my amazing son, Dan, on his birthday! And may his favorite baseball team, the CARDINALS, have another World Series winning season.

And three cheers for great summer reads!

Super Saturday

On Saturday, I had the privilege to hear Allyn Johnston, Editor-in-Chief at Harcourt, and Marla Frazee, children’s author and illustrator, give a presentation on picture books in Washington, Missouri.

Ms. Johnston spoke of “the power of picture books.” She said she believes good ones have “the ability to affect lives.” She also referred to a picture book as “a piece of theater on a 32-page stage.” She looks for the rhythm and repetition in a well-written picture book. “Perfect words in perfect places.” She said the last line of the story should resonate and the story should come full circle. To find out more about Allyn Johnston, here’s a link to an interview with her:http://www.scbwi.org/faces/getting_to_know/previous/johnston.htm

Ms. Frazee spoke of the physical structure of a picture book–the 32-page format. She said it is the combination of words and pictures that tell the complete story in a picture book. She emphasized her respect for children as her audience–how well they “read” her pictures. She stressed that picture books need to have an emotional component–even humorous ones. For more information on Marla Frazee, you may visit her website at http://www.marlafrazee.com/

What a great opportunity this was to hear these special insights from two such knowledgeable women in children’s literature.

The other excitement I was a part of on Saturday was Jody Feldman‘s premeir of her first children’s book, THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES, at Left Bank Books in St. Louis. Jody’s idea for THE GOLLYWHOOPER GAMES began many years ago when she was volunteering in a school library and witnessed a boy unable to satisfy his book thirst after finishing CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Jody wanted to write a book that would be similiar to Roald Dahl’s masterpiece. Her love for word games and puzzles led her to create this story featuring the Golly Toy & Game Company. For a read filled with interactive adventures, be sure to find a copy of Jody’s new middle grade novel. The official release of THE GOOLYWHOPPER GAMES is tomorrow, March 3. And to read more about Jody, you may visit her website at http://jodyfeldman.typepad.com/writing/