Drawing Spooky Monsters

You can create your own colorful and creepy monsters right on your iPad. While I’m no artist, I do enjoy playing around with creative stuff when I can. If you’d like to try your hand—-or claw—-at crafting some of your own monster creations, watch my quick video on YouTube. There’s a link below. Then like Dr. Frankenstein, go create your own monstrous creatures!

Here’s a link to my YouTube video.

Which Witch



Emmie Enchanted featured FROM THE GRAVE on her book review blog this week.

I am pleased to share the link to this well-read nine-year-old reviewer’s look at Book 1 of MONSTER OR DIE. It was thrilling to see that Emmie was swept up into the monsters’ world and greatly enjoyed her time there. In fact, she’s informed me that she is busy reading Book 2, INTO THE SHADOWLANDS, right now!

These are the type of reviews I truly love–from my target audience. It pleases me beyond words to know that my story has entertained this reader and encouraged her to want more with the second book.

Miss Enchanted has a wide range of books reviewed on her site, Fantastic Books & Where to Find Them. I am thrilled to see my book on the same page as such greats like Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I hope you’ll check them out and show these and other book recommendations found on the site to middle grade readers you know. A good review from a student reviewer means so much more to a young reader since it comes from one of their own.

Here’s what Emmie had to say about FROM THE GRAVE:


Reading & WRITING

Emmie has also written a book of her own–THE MAGIC MYSTERY! This also thrills me. I love sharing writing tips with students–getting them excited not only about reading but about writing their own stories. For it is in sharing our words, our thoughts, and our ideas that we draw closer to each other. Reading and writing are the keys to success on so many levels.

Summer is almost ready to start. Check out Emmie’s list for some great books for your summer reading!



The Monsters Were a Hit in Orlando!

Educators Were Eager for Their Own Copies

It was an awesome experience signing books on Saturday at the International Literacy Association 2017 Conference in Orlando. What an awesome opportunity to meet these individuals who are making such a profound impact on young lives.

One special experience was meeting a teacher who told me that one of her students recommended my book, FROM THE GRAVE, to her. How cool is that! He told her she had to grab a copy of Book 2, INTO THE SHADOWLANDS How I love knowing that readers are connecting with my stories!

Another thrill was meeting closing keynote speaker for the conference, Bryan V. Garrett, in line for my books! Mr. Garrett has been called “One of the most compelling voices of our times.” He is the Chairman of the National Family Engagement Alliance and former CEO of the National PTA. He is also author of “The A B C’s of Life” published by Scholastic. It was an honor to meet him and to share my stories with him.

I encouraged all the teachers I spoke with to contact me if they would be interested in setting up a Skype visit with me for their classes. As I said above, I love connecting with students and sharing my joy for reading and writing with them!

The Monsters Are On Their Way to ALA!

Mayhem Coming to the American Library Association Conference in Chicago

On June 24 at 2:00 pm CST, the Fiendful Fiends Academy monsters will be invading the Exhibitor Hall in McCormick Place at the North Star Edtions’ Booth! Copies of both FROM THE GRAVE and Advanced Reader Copies of INTO THE SHADOWLANDS will be available for signing by yours truly!

How Monstrous Is That?!

Of course, Mrs. Charlotte Rathmite–the Fiendful Fiends Academy slybrarian–is thrilled! She’s done next to nothing but snap-snap-snap her pinchers since she learned of the big event. “Monster knowledge,” as Mrs. Rathmite always says, “is much too important to stay entombed.” So please come by and pick up copies of these middle grade spooktacular adventures–sure to entertain monsters and mortals alike.

For librarians, teachers, and reviewers who can’t make ALA, please contact me about receiving ARCs.




ESL Students Scary On!

I had the wonderful opportunity this past week to meet some adult ESL students and their children at the Inlingua Language School

in Key Biscayne, Florida where my son Matt teaches.









While these Spanish-speaking students of English (adults and children) are actively learning English, I found it helpful when preparing my presentation for the group to learn a few corresponding Spanish words.

Monsters Are Universal

In sharing FROM THE GRAVE’s creative journey with the students, I wanted to confirm that they could relate to monsters (los monstrous) and misfits (los inadaptados). I quickly discovered the Spanish equivalent for fear (el miedo) and intolerance (la intolerancia), primary themes in my fantasy story. 


Los Monstruos!

From the excited responses to the monster pencils I passed out, I knew I was on the right track.

While it was a small group of mixed ages, there were some eager young readers of fantasy and horror ready to experience the sights and sounds (las vistas y los sonidos) and smells (los olores) of my monster world setting (el scenario).

Scary On!

I’m hoping my misfits’ story (el cuento) will prove an entertaining and affirming tale to students who must often feel ostracized due to the language and cultural barriers. I certainly hope that after reading about my monsters, the students will feel more empowered to Scary on! no matter the differences they face.

And perhaps they will create their own monster stories with characters from their own cultures to share with all of us!


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.









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.



Art Contest!!!

Create a Creature and Win Awesome Prizes!

To celebrate the launch of FROM THE GRAVE later this month, my publisher, Jolly Fish Press, is sponsoring a contest.

Click on the link to read the details. But you DON’T want to miss out on this!

Amazon gift cards!

Dragon wings!

Monster puppets!


WHAT are YOU waiting for? Grab your pencil and start drawing!

Time waits for NO monster–Oct. 28 is the deadline to enter.

Don’t delay!

I can’t wait to see all the AWESOME creations!!! Scary on! 🙂

FROM THE GRAVE Pre-order GiveAway

FTG T Don’t Miss Your Chance!

Only 8 more weeks until my official FROM THE GRAVE book release—less than six weeks until Amazon and Barnes & Noble ships the book out! What a great time to PRE-ORDER!


Why pre-order? Well, it’s a big deal in terms of promoting my book. Pre-orders count toward the first week’s sales, which helps create buzz about the book. Buzz leads to more people noticing the book, which leads to more sales—which means more kids are reading!

In addition, when more people pre-order FROM THE GRAVE, then the publisher will increase the first-run of the book and book sellers are more likely to purchase the book—which leads to more buzz about the book. You get the picture. Pre-orders are important!


As a thank you, please enter the contest to win some MONSTROUS book swag:

A limited edition FROM THE GRAVE child’s t-shirt! This is your chance to win one of FIVE!!!

Simply pre-order FROM THE GRAVE and send a digital receipt copy/photo to publicity@jollyfishpress.com.

Here are some links to where you can place your order:


Jolly Fish Press






Barnes & Noble



Books A Million






Indie Store Finder





Or visit your local bookstore and order there. THANK YOU to those who have already pre-ordered and to all you who plan to do so! Don’t miss your chance to win a child’s FROM THE GRAVE t-shirt. Send in your receipt today!

The GiveAway ends September 23 

Monster on!!!