My First Author Visit (with pics and special added cat and dog gifs).

My first school visit was to the Crain’s Creek Middle School through The Country Bookshop. (The Country Bookshop is a wonderful sixty-plus-year-old independent bookstore. I wrote a little about them here at author Shannon Roat’s blog for her ‘Bookstore love’ series.) Of course, I was nervous. I’d never presented to students about my book before.

My first group was around a hundred – maybe more – sixth graders. When I saw the crowd, I felt a bit like this:


But it’s not that I’ve never spoken in front of students. I taught high school and college biology for ten years. I usually do pretty good in front of a crowd. Usually.

One thing I’ve learned teaching, however, is I can never predict how well a presentation, workshop, or lesson will go. Even when everything should go right, I can have a bad day, the class can be grumpy, the great techno gods can smite the computer game I worked for hours to make. All I can do is prepare, take a deep breath, and not take myself too seriously.

It can be a bit tricky. (This sentence is here just so I can add a cat in a box.)

giphy (1)

Actually, I have three basic rules for presenting things:

1. Have a good detailed plan but not a script. It’s easier to tweak a plan halfway through than change a script if things go wonky. And wonky happens.

2. Entertain myself. That way, at least one person in the room is having a good time. Me. Besides, if I’m bored, I can’t expect everyone else to be interested.

3. And of course, I make sure they the students learn something. Hmm. Maybe this should be number one?

I always hope for this type of audience:

Kittens paying attention

As opposed to this falling-over, can’t stay awake, need some excitement version:

Sleepy Cat

I tried to apply those same teaching skills to my author visit. I guess once a teacher, always a teacher. Although, I also talked about my book. It’s an author visit so that seemed necessary. And I made a game with a horse and dragon, and a ‘can you spot the differences’ cover activity thing. I thought there was like a 60% chance it would work well.

Here I am, foam sword in hand, starting my visit:


The question, of course, is how did it go?

It went great! I was lucky enough to have a good day and a wonderful crowd of students. Seriously, I was so impressed with the students at Crain’s Creek. I spoke to sixth graders first, then seventh and eighth graders next.


Afterwards, I met with the Battle of the Books group.


They really made my day. (<–My type keeps turning blue here. This is not planned.)

It never hurts to wave your foam swords, either.


I just hope all my school visits are as great as the first.


Filed under Events, Recent Ramblings


This book starts with Jinx – Satan’s youngest son – hanging from a tree. You can’t go wrong with that type of beginning! I liked Jinx. I enjoyed his accidental ‘good’ disasters and the friendship that develops between him and Tommy – a girl who really shouldn’t be in Hell. There’s a mix of underworld/hell/Hades mythology that I really enjoyed, too. And who doesn’t love a son trying to save his home and father! It’s such a quick, fun, funny, interesting read!

THE D’EVIL DIARIES by Tatum Flynne

The D'Evil Diaries by Tatum Flynn

Leave a comment

Filed under Books I've read, Middle-grade


I want to read the next book! While this story is nice and complete, there’s more I want to know about the characters and about the world of sprites and wisps. I want to know what happens to Lottie, Fife, Oliver, Ada, and Eliot next. This is a great book with a magical and dangerous world and with likable characters. I want to spend more time with them and their enchanted land. And I want to root shoot.


The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee

Leave a comment

Filed under Books I've read, Middle-grade

School Visit through The Country Bookshop

I’m going to go visit Crain’s Creek Elementary and then do a quick ‘Meet and Greet’ at The Country Bookshop in Southern PInes, NC. The bookshop even put up a window display :) It’s great to visit the area where I grew up. Check out the window and the article in the local paper – The Pilot.

photo (4)

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, YAY!

Middle-grade March (and a bit of April) Madness

Currently, there are a group of 30+ middle-grade authors giving away a book a day on twitter. All you have to do is retweet the author of the book of the day’s tweet to enter. It’s a cool thing. Here is a list of books available each day.  VILLAIN KEEPER is the last book of the giveaway on Friday, April 3rd.

Also, here is a dragon to share the excitement.

Fire Dragon


March Middle Grade Madness Giveaway Schedule

Sunday March 1st: Jess Keating: OUTRUN A CROC and OUTSWIM A SHARK

Monday March 2nd: Gayle Rosengren: WHAT THE MOON SAID

Tuesday March 3rd: Kerry Cerra: JUST A DROP OF WATER

Wednesday March 4th: Laura Fitzgerald: UNDER THE EGG

Thursday March 5th: MarcyKate Connolly: MONSTROUS

Friday March 6th: Rachel Searles: THE LOST PLANET and/or THE STOLEN MOON

Saturday March 7th: Edith Cohn: SPIRIT’S KEY

Sunday March 8th: Miriam Spitzer Franklin: EXTRAORDINARY

Monday March 9th: Alison DeCamp: MY NEAR DEATH ADVENTURES

Tuesday March 10th: Dana Alison Levy: FAMILY FLETCHER

Wednesday March 11th: Jen Malone and Gail Nall: YOU’RE INVITED

Thursday March 12th: Adriana Schanen: QUINNY & HOPPER

Friday March 13th: Lauren Magaziner: THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES

Saturday March 14th: Isaiah Campbell: TROUBLES OF JOHNNY CANON


Monday March 16th: Tara Dairman: ALL FOUR STARS and STARS OF SUMMER

Tuesday March 17th: Paul Durham: LUCK UGLIES

Wednesday March 18th: Louise Galveston: IN TODD WE TRUST

Thursday March 19th: Jen Downey: NINJA LIBRARIANS

Friday March 20th: Robin Herrera: HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL

Saturday March 21st: Jennifer Torres: THE BRINY DEEP MYSTERIES

Sunday March 22nd: Varsha Bajaj: ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD

Monday March 23rd: Holly Grant: THE LEAGUE OF BEASTLY DREADFULS

Tuesday March 24th: Matt London: THE 8TH CONTINENT

Wednesday March 25th: Rebecca Behrens: WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE

Thursday March 26th: Sheila Grau: DR. CRITCHLORE’S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS

Friday March 27th: Kate Hannigan: THE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT

Saturday March 28th: Andrew Harwell: THE SPIDER RING

Sunday March 29th: Lisa Scott: SCHOOL OF CHARM

Monday March 30th: Heidi Schulz: HOOK’S REVENGE

Tuesday March 31st: Erin Entrada Kelly: BLACKBIRD FLY


Thursday April 2nd: Matt Myklusch: SEABORNE: THE LOST PRINCE

Friday April 3rd: Laurie Lyn: VILLAIN KEEPER

Leave a comment

Filed under Giveaways

Creative Spaces Interview

Thanks to Jenn Bertman – author of the upcoming Book Scavenger – for the creative spaces interview!  Check out her blog, her books, and other authors’ creative spaces here. Here’s a photo I took while writing at Bull Street Gourmet and Market to get everyone in the creative space mindset.


Leave a comment

Filed under Blog Interviews, Events

HarperChildren’s Tumblr Giveaway

Embedded image permalinkHarper is giving away copies of VILLAIN KEEPER on Tumblr. You can enter here. The giveaway is on until the first of March. And there is a cool pic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Giveaways


First, the cover of this book is gorgeous. The story is really interesting. It’s sort of a cross between BIG LOVE and FIRESalvageFLY. I liked reading about the journey of a girl who escapes a super oppressive culture and becomes her own person. She has such a distinctive voice. The way it happened felt believable to me, and she didn’t immediately break free from her upbringing. Also, the story unfolds on an interesting and futuristic earth which I found highly entertaining.

SALVAGE by Alexandra Duncan

My favorite part of this book is when the mc tells the story of how a woman sang too loud on the spaceship and alerted other spaceships to their presence and in reply another character told her it was hogwash. Sound doesn’t carry in space.

Leave a comment

Filed under Young Adult


The book hooked me immediately because, hello, super chickens. I loved that the main Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmercharacter, Sophie, wrote letters to her abuela and great uncle and Agnes to tell the story. And it was really interesting to see which things she choose to share with each. Also, I grew up in the country and the descriptions of the farm really made me feel like I was outside on a summer day. A great read!


I’m so happy I got to read the arc.

Leave a comment

Filed under Middle-grade

Staff Picks

I was really happy and grateful to be selected for staff picks at some great bookstores:

WORD Bookstores: There is a very nice write up for February picks. It just made my Monday. (I’m writing this on Monday.) It was a better treat than lasagna. I said this to someone without explaining I was in a Garfield mood, but thoughts of Garfield and lasagna just make me so happy. You can read it and other great staff picks here!

The Country Bookshop: I visited The Country Bookshop not too long ago.  And I grew up not far from Southern Pines. It makes it extra special to be one of their staff picks! Read the newsletter here. That strange smiling person in the picture is me. I’m in front of a castle made of cardboard boxes. That’s likely why I’m grinning like that. Cardboard castles are awesome. I just need it to be a little bigger so I can make camp there :)

Leave a comment

Filed under YAY!