Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Jake and I are thrilled to wish FERAL (one of this week's PW Book Picks) a happy book birthday!

We also want to take the time to thank everyone celebrating with us: the blurbers and reviewers, the blog tour hosts, librarians, and booksellers who have shared their excitement and helped spread word of the book leading up to the release. 

Thank you!

To show my appreciation, I'm giving away a signed copy of FERAL.  The giveaway runs until September 2.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 18, 2014


We're growing ever closer to the release of my next YA, FERAL.  In fact, the book releases a week from tomorrow!  To celebrate, here's the final sneak peek of the first chapter:

Be sure to pre-order your copy to make sure your copy arrives as soon as possible following the release.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I was delighted to get my hands on an advance copy of Darlene Beck Jacobson's WHEELS OF CHANGE.

For those of you who haven't yet heard of this MG, the jacket copy:

"Racial intolerance, social change, and sweeping progress make 1908 Washington, D.C., a turbulent place to grow up in for 12-year-old Emily Soper. For Emily, life in Papa’s carriage barn is magic, and she's more at home hearing the symphony of the blacksmith’s hammer than trying to conform to the proper expectations of young ladies. When Papa’s livelihood is threatened by racist neighbors and horsepower of a different sort, Emily faces changes she'd never imagined. Finding courage and resolve she didn't know she had, Emily strives to save Papa’s business, even if it means going all the way to the White House."

I love a good historical read, and this one hauled me in from the very beginning.  I especially relished the sensory details in the opening pages.  I also really enjoyed the family dynamics, and the smaller moments really sparkled in the pages (in one of my favorite scenes, Emily's mother helps her hang a horseshoe for luck).  Jacobson smartly juxtaposes the changes in young Emily's personal life (she's slowly leaving behind childhood and making steps toward becoming a young woman) with larger changes in the outside world (racial and gender upheaval as well as technological advancements).  Emily can't keep the demands of turn-of-the-twentieth century womanhood at bay, nor can she keep the world from driving automobiles and abandoning her father's glorious carriages.  But the reader will absolutely be glad that Jacobson takes us back to revisit this moment in time.  A lovely tribute to Jacobson's family (text at the end indicates that the book is partly based on family history).  Highly recommended.


Side note: Jacobson includes some mouth-watering recipes at the end of the novel.  Mama's Peach Pie sounds especially delightful, if you happen to be a baker.  Every time I try my own hand at baking, I wind up opening the oven door, cocking my head to the side, and saying, "Huh.  Wonder why that happened."  These recipes look good enough for me to give baking another whirl, and that's saying something, too...

Friday, August 1, 2014


I originally wrote the following post for my YA group author blog, YA Outside the Lines.  It turned out to be my favorite blog post of all time.  I'm reposting here:

When I was sixteen, I took guitar lessons with Bill Brown.  This was a big, big deal in my world.  It was Bill Brown.  The first time I’d ever heard him was when I was fourteen, at the John Lennon tribute concert, which we once held annually here in Springfield, MO.  And I was blown away.  I had no idea that there were people who could play like that who were not on MTV. (I’m actually being completely serious about that.)  I spent the next year and a half going from venue to venue around town to listen to his various bands play (his best-known group was undoubtedly the Ozark Mountain Daredevils).

I was utterly starstruck when I took lessons with Bill.  To this day, I have never been around anyone so innately talented—actually, I think I could live to be two hundred, and meet the very best the world has to offer, and still never be around anyone as talented as Bill.  He was also hilarious.  And kind.  And goofy.  (He used to greet me by singing XTC's "Holly Up on Poppy."  He loved XTC.)  I can’t adequately describe how I looked forward to seeing him every Saturday, in the back room of Third Eye Guitars.

I’d already played piano for several years, and could read music.  But Bill also taught me about playing by ear…most importantly, he got me to bring in some of my poems, showed me some of the basics of songwriting.  

I totally stole this pic from the FB page for Bill's '80s band, The Misstakes.  It's very close to the way he looked when I knew him.

…This past week marked the tenth anniversary of Bill’s passing (he died in a house fire with Don Shipps, another Springfield musician).  Like I do every year on the anniversary, I got out my guitar and played a few Beatles songs in his honor.  I also played a few of the songs I wrote when I was a teenager.

There’s absolutely a rhythm to the written word—a music in language.  I can’t help but think, then, that those music lessons in Third Eye were early lessons in writing a novel.  And I can’t help but think that Bill’s influence is easy to find in my books. 
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