Smack Dab in the Middle

Terrifying Tales

Here is a FROM THE GRAVE clip featured on Smack Dab in the Middle:

Frank’s Tale

Three larger piranhas leaped from the water below. Their sharp teeth snapped at the back of my neck. I tried to dodge but lost more ground, drawing another inch closer to my watery grave.

“You wouldn’t really let that happen,” I cried, digging my neatly trimmed nails into the rickety bridge. My fingers were quickly losing their grip. “I mean, what would you tell my parents?”

Principal Snaggle’s lips curled up. “The truth, of course. ‘Your son had an accident at school.’ And you can guess what they would say, ‘It’s probably for the best.’”


Thanks to Holly Schindler and the other authors at Smack Dab in the Middle for hosting me on Monday on their middle grade blog spot.

Please stop by.

You’ll discover several more scary  FROM THE GRAVE clips, as well as a reminder about National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.



Another Great Review for FROM THE GRAVE

Children’s author, Beth Anderson, had this say about my new middle grade fantasy

From the Grave:

Why I like this book:

First, a disclaimer. I know Cindy as a critique partner and admire her writing skills. However, I hadn’t seen this story until I received the advance copy for review.

Cindy had me at the first chapter. Immediately, the text became a movie in my head. The incredibly humorous and endearing characters came alive with all their misfit idiosyncrasies.

Pale blue neatnik Frank does his best to pretend to be “normal,” but he just can’t deny the good feeling that comes with slicked back hair, neatly trimmed nails, a buttoned down collar, and tucked in shirt tail. His misfit buddies include a mummy who trails his loose wrappings, a gargoyle with two heads that nag each other, a dragon who spews water, a witch who fears flying, and a one-eyed diva ogre. Any child who has ever felt like a misfit (let’s face it, that would be all of us) will connect with these maligned monsters, each one so full of heart.

One of the great joys of writing is word play, and, clearly, Cindy had a blast with this story. Slobopatamus and beezle bugs. Moanday and Frightday. Barfeteria and unsocial studies in a school guided by the principles “No Monster Left Behind” and “Mayhem When Appropriate.” Exclamations of snotfargle and dingle rot. The totally fun language is irresistible and, no doubt, will inspire young writers’ creativity.

What has always amazed me about Cindy’s writing is her ability to imbue each character with such heart, allowing the reader to connect on a deep level. While I love the action filled plot, humorous take on the world, and word play, I am drawn to the themes of acceptance that really hit home. FROM THE GRAVE is a monster hit in every way.

Due to a transition period for Jolly Fish Press, production of FROM THE GRAVE was temporarily suspended, but it is still available for order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any Independent bookstore and should be back in print shortly. The monsters appreciate your patience–keep calm and scary on!

To read the Beth’s entire entry, click on the link above.


In my upcoming fantasy FROM THE GRAVE, I wanted to explore the concept of prejudice and bullying from a totally different perspective. So I created a world of monsters where conformity and rule following is extremely important. I wanted to show the absurdity of creating mandates based on preferences and obscure reasoning. Each chapter begins with a rule.


Some are nonsensical:

Monster Rule #33: Mayhem is appropriate only when those in authority determine it to be so.


Monster Rule #5: A monster is judged by his actions, so act up!


Some are simple:

Monster Rule #1: Follow the rules, or else!


Some are funny:

Monster Rule #55: Expect the unexpected and then eat it for lunch.


Some are alarming:

Monster Rule #71: Torture is often a necessary component of monster education.


All of them are rather extreme:

Monster Rule #13: Monster or die!


The theme in this sometimes wacky and often intense monster world explores how a society’s views are shaped by conventions: rules, customs, laws. Of course, we need guidelines to create a safe and livable environment. What I wanted to present was a society that had established too many unnecessary rules and regulations on how its inhabitants should look and act. The punishment for violating these monster rules is termination. In this fantasy society, rather than looking for the talents and potential in an unconventional monster, the creature is automatically excluded—unless it can somehow conform.


As might be expected, monsters shy away from change (Monster Rule #913: A well-educated monster knows not to ask any questions.) But I’m hoping FROM THE GRAVE will provide not only an entertaining middle grade read but also serve as a catalyst for discussion on discrimination and intolerance in our own society.


Monster on!