Author of Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

Published by Guardian Angel Publishing December 2014:

Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel
Jeremiah needs a little help and he gets it with the sudden appearance of his guardian angel. Chapter book for ages 7-10.

Jeremiah Lucky Finds Puppy Love
Jeremiah dodges a kiss from a princess and falls head over heels for a lost puppy. Chapter book for ages 7-10.

Watch for these titles coming soon:

The Whispering Chimney
Eleven-year old Bethany finds a stone chimney and discovers a beautiful but terrifying past. (upper middle grade)

(Beyond the) Stone Eagle Gate
David, age fifteen, flees a false accusation and takes refuge in a haunted, abandoned mansion. (YA, historical fiction ghost story)

The Interplanetary Adventures of Yan Sunnara: Book I Rescue on Lato
Cultural scientist Yan Sunnara rescues an unusual child on the planet of Lato with the help of an exotic and beautiful Uvian archaeologist. (Adult, soft Science Fiction, Rescue on Lato is the first of a series of four novellas.)

Cross Over
Three teens are connected by a mysterious and sometimes frightening ability to cross over from one dimension here on earth to another. This YA novel placed in the top three in Florida Writers 2013 RPLA competition. Speculative Fiction.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I love finishing projects, tidying up, looking around for something new. When writing a novel which turns into a trilogy, it's not always easy to reach that plane of satisfaction. Over the last few weeks I have seen the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Books One and Two are in good shape: proofed, critiqued, revised and ready to go. Book Three will require a few more months. But by Christmas, or January at the latest, I expect to be able to put it away for a rest and turn my creative efforts to something new.

Over this past weekend I attended Florida Writers Association's fall conference in Lake Mary, FL. This conference is always a joy. Well-organized with time to "network," enjoy some very tasty food, and learn from the varied presentations, FWA conference gave me a sense of renewal. I was inspired by the speakers, learned several new techniques to enhance my writing, and connected with fellow writers, many of whom are becoming old friends.

An interesting book that I read over the last month is Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. There are many wonderful things to say about this story. Written in first person, the voice is of an eighth grade boy, Doug Swieteck. Doug's dad is abusive and easily led by a dishonest buddy Ernie Eco. The time period is the summer, fall, and winter of 1968 in upstate New York. The Vietnam War rages, the imminent moon landing in the news.

What is amazing about this story is the way the author reveals so much between the lines. Doug loves baseball, especially the Yankees. He has a cap given to him by slugger Joe Pepitone which is promptly stolen by his older brother, traded to his delinquent buddies and eventually lost. When Doug is forced to move, his friend gives him Pepitone's jacket which had been given to him during the same school visit. Doug wonders at his friend's incredible kindness, but the reader sees why. Doug is a quality kid despite his circumstances. His friend's unselfish act tells the reader this clearly. And this is but one example. Okay for Now is rich in its details of the time period, the relationships of the characters, Doug's struggles to learn. In this story change happens to all of the characters including Doug's brothers and father.

Throughout the book beautiful images of Audubon's Birds of America appear as chapter lead-ins. Doug is revealed as an artist. He sees with an artist's eye and with subtle encouragement, he finally discovers his gift. Gary D. Schmidt is a master at spinning a story that matters on many levels. Okay for Now not only sticks with the reader long after it is finished, it inspires, renews.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Challenging Summer

   As some of you know, I started off summer by breaking my left arm at the top of the radius: two places. I was out for a morning run on Memorial Day and was surprised by an aggressive dog. As I whirled around to confront him, I fell. He ran away happy. The bone was set and put in a cast but two weeks later it had shifted and surgery was needed. I am now five weeks post surgery and can now type for short periods of time. Needless to say, much of my day is spent with therapy exercises. I also know a few more things about pain than I knew before. One surprising tidbit is when my life partner was driving me to the E-room, I lost my vision for a brief amount of time. Everything went white, not black. It was an eerie sensation. My writing is somewhat stalled although I have managed to plug away at book three of my trilogy. I need a few good things to happen to get cranked up again. I have placed all my eggs in the basket of a top agent who has my entire manuscript for book one, entitled Cross Over. He's the one, I am sure, but he's going to have to find time to read my story before he knows this. I also hope to hear some good news from Florida Writers RPLA competition. I entered three full novels: one Middle Grade and two Young Adult. I'd love to hear one or all three are designated finalists for this year's awards in October.

Here are some great YA books that have kept me happy and inspired.

Blood Red Road by Moira Young
     I love a good story and this one has climbed to the top of my list. In a dystopian future eighteen-year-old Saba is on a quest to find her twin brother Lugh. He has been kidnapped, their father killed. Emmi, their nine-year-old sister complicates her search when she disobeys and follows Saba after being stowed at a friend's place. Emmi is unloved and resented by Saba whose only thought is to reunite with her beloved twin. I loved all the characters, especially Saba and her sister Emmi. The action was compelling and fast-paced. Also loved the first person voice that Moira Young gave Saba. Best book this summer!

Nation by Terry Pratchett
   This story gripped me from beginning to end. So much so that I woke in the morning thinking about it! All of Terry Pratchett's books are wonderful reading and now, for me, NATION is one of his best. I loved the "almost realistic" setting, the growing love story, the jump into "today" at the end. When God gave out imagination Terry Pratchett must have been at the head of the line. More than just a fantastic story, NATION is a beautifully written and supremely well-executed tale.

  On Little Wings by Regina Sirois is a sensitive and truly lovely literary novel for YA. If ratings on Goodreads could go above five stars, this intriguing and heartwarming story is a full "10" in my judgement. Growing up surrounded by Nebraska wheat fields, sixteen-year-old Jennifer finds an old photo of a young woman hidden in a book in her parents library. The woman is her Aunt Sarah, her mother's older sister, a woman Jennifer did not know existed. Angry at the lies that have been told by both her mother and father, Jennifer contacts the aunt she so resembles, then insists her parents allow her to visit the tiny town of Smithport, Maine. Once there, Jennifer unearths the secret that her mother had buried. I found the story interesting but the exquisite writing, the real and appealing characters, the subtle love story were threads that wove this story into my heart.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weeding the Garden

Although I live in beautiful Florida with my dear friend for most of the year, I am privileged to own a stunning home on a lake in northern West Virginia. My son keeps the home fires burning for the most part, but in May I want to be there to go through my gardens, see what plants are thriving, pull out the weeds. As a person who loves any reason to be outdoors, weeding and mulching my flower beds are labors of love. The fresh air and bird song from the surrounding woods calm my spirit as nothing else can. I have lots of "volunteer" plants in my back garden, plants that spread themselves from their original location. I almost always let them stay where they've decided to be. Makes a wild mixture sometimes, but I like the natural feeling.

Working outside allows my mind to wander, stories form, plot twists appear. Just this morning I realized that pulling weeds in a garden and finding plants in unexpected places is not unlike the editing process I go through when I have written a story, let it sit for a while, and then delve back into it almost like a new reader. Then I can remove the "weeds," the unnecessary words or phrases that clutter up the overall picture I strive to create. And during that process, new descriptions pop up, adding color and texture to my original work. I can see then where the story is thin, needs more development. Characters and settings can be enriched, nourished as easily as plants can be pruned, transplanted, and fed. And the result, when enough time has been put in, satisfies as a well-tended, much loved garden.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Extremely well-written and organized, this fantasy tell the story of almost magical horses that are meat-eaters and live in the sea. These beautiful, dangerous animals come on land during the late fall of the year. The location of this story is a fictional island called Thisby which I imagined to be off the coast of Scotland or Ireland.

Two main characters propel this story forward: Puck (Kate) Connolly and Sean Kendrick. Sean is 19 and a genius with horses, particularly the capaill uisce, the water horses.Some have been captured and are traditionally raced along the shore in the annual Scorpio Races held on Nov. 1. Sean has won for the past four years on a fiery red capaill named Corr. This year he races to win the right to buy Corr from owner Benjamin Malvern. He also runs to protect Puck who has entered the race as the first female ever to compete. Braving convention, her parents dead, she needs the money to save their small farm. Puck does not have one of the faster capaill uisce, but she has her beloved mare Dove who runs fast, straight, and true.

This exciting story is strengthened by the antagonist character of Mutt Malvern, the son of the most powerful man on Thisby, Benjamin Malvern. Benjamin is Sean's boss. Sean's ability with Mutt's father's horses earns him the esteem of everyone on the island and Mutt's irrational hatred.

What I admire about this story is the high degree of tension that the author maintains and her ably written descriptions. The minor characters are well-drawn, too, especially Finn, Puck's younger brother. Other characters enriching this story are islanders Peg Gratton and Dory Maud and especiallty George Holly, an American tourist there for the festival and races. Richly woven and totally engrossing, The Scorpio Races is a YA masterpiece.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review of Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

   I avoided these books for a while, not really wanting to read any more about werewolves, vampires and the like. I'm not sure what made me change my mind, but I think it was that I kept hearing praise for author Maggie Stiefvater and as a writer myself, I wanted to see if I agreed. I do, wholeheartedly.

  In Shiver Grace loves wolves, one in particular. At the story's beginning, Grace does not know that they are werewolves and neither does the reader. Strangely, Grace was attacked by these same wolves who are often in the woods behind her house. It was eight years before when Grace was dragged off her tire swing and pulled into the woods. She has vague memories of one wolf preventing the others from killing her. And it is this wolf she constantly watches for, sometimes feeds, dreams of running side by side in the woods. The wolves in this story change back to their human form in the warmth of spring, changing back to wolves in late fall. Grace finally meets Sam, "her" wolf, when he is shot and she finds him naked and bleeding on her porch. Grace takes him to the hospital, then home. Grace's parents are often absent in her life, not really engaging her even when they are there. Sam is a secret easily kept.
  The end of this first book solves one problem with book two, Linger, presenting another. In this story Grace's parents discover Sam in her bed and decide to start parenting. But Grace's problems with her parents become less concerning than her growing illness. A new character is introduced into this book, Cole, a former rock star who has chosen to become a werewolf at the invitation of Sam's adopted father Beck, who leads and provides for the wolves when they are in human form. Cole figures out the cause of Grace's illness. As she is saved from dying, she turns into a werewolf herself.
   Book three Forever is a masterpiece of writing for YA. Stiefvater presents her characters in close first person point of view, each character having their chapters. Forever starts with a prologue written from the point of view of Shelby, a wolf who is angry and has a lot of hatred for humans. Shelby kills a girl who lies helpless in the woods, just as she is changing from wolf to human. Shelby is low in the pack, nearly outcast. She wants to rise to the top and later this motivates her to attack others in the pack. The story's main problem is the wolves are once again going to be hunted, this time by helicopter in an aerial shoot. Without revealing the story's ending, I applaud the rise in tension in book three and the way the author gets closer and closer into the heads of her characters. Stiefvater's writing is excellent, powerful and moving in places. Very good choices for teens who like a little fantasy, exciting action and a sweet love story.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to Work

Well, it's over: the fantastic NYC SCBWI winter conference. I, with over a thousand others, crowded the halls, wandered in search of the break-out rooms, congregated finally in the hotel bar to somehow make sense of our day and each other. I have my notes, my hand-outs, my memories from this event which seemed to fly by all too quickly. The informative program filled me up while it left me thirsting for more. When my head clears, I know I'll be able to build on new knowledge of re-visioning and the advice of those editors and agents who discussed their likes and dislikes in their presentations. Several especially resonated, spoke across the crowded room when they described what they seek and it sounded so like my ready-to-submit story.

If I have a regret (and I am realistic about this) it is that I was not able to talk in any kind of personal way with the several editors and agents I so longed to meet. I had a list and high expectations, knew the protocol, never intended to corner anyone or pitch my stories unless asked. Still, I hoped to meet, say hello, admit I "followed" on Twitter, let these pros see my smiling face. Alas. The Friday function widely attended by a myriad of agents and editors was only for the VIPs, not for the ordinary attendee. It would have been nice as well to have a gathering for YA writers similar to the ones that were organized for illustrators, international conference goers, and those interested in writing for the LGBTQ audience.

Today is a day for family visiting from up north, for making soup, talking a walk in Florida's restorative sunshine. But tomorrow I will get back to work, synthesizing notes, making lists, and maybe even sending out a couple of queries. Most importantly, I will write another chapter for my work-in-progress, the third book in my as yet unpublished trilogy. I want to have it ready for revision by spring. Despite all the interruptions and excitement of the last few days, I listened, Kathryn Erskine, and I will light my candle.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review of Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

For the past two years, I have steeped myself (my non-writing, reading hours at least) in reading the best of YA fiction. I go for award winners, heralded authors, widely acclaimed titles. Several months ago I came across a stunning literary masterpiece: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh. Published in 2010 by Atheneum, Nevermore is Creagh's (pronounced Cray) first novel. I'm delighted to find out her sequel entitled Enshadowed is in the works for August of 2012. Wish I didn't have to wait that long to read it.

What makes Nevermore such a memorable read? Many facets: wonderful writing, an intriguing and unique story, a chilling imaginative setting, the juxtaposition of the mystique of one of American's greatest writers into the lives of two modern day teens. Nevermore starts with a Prologue, setting October 1849, relating the last days of Edgar Allen Poe and his demons. With this taste of things to come, the author introduces the reader to Isobel Lanley, cheerleader, indifferent student, a secure member of her high school's In crowd. Isobel is assigned to partner with the enigmatic, goth-dressing Varen Nethers to research a deceased American author. With the ten-page report and classroom presentation looming, Isobel knows a failing grade will bump her off the cheering squad and she'll miss the National Championship competition.

As the story progresses Isobel is increasingly drawn to Varen. In order to meet him she lies to her friends and her controlling football star boyfriend. The author Varen chooses is Poe. More and more is revealed about Varen and his painful home life while Isobel fights to remain on her cheer squad and cope with being friendless at lunch. Central to the plot is Poe's story "The Masque of the Red Death." As Isobel struggles to actually read the story, her own life takes on a surreal turn. She is pursued by demons in the park, sees a mysterious Poe-like figure who appears in strange places. Both Varen and Isobel become caught in an in-between life and death region, the Woodland of Weir. Without revealing the ending, it was obvious that only a sequel would suffice to answer the many questions that remain. Hopefully, Enshadowed will have the energy and gripping power of Nevermore.

Some Great MG and YA books

  • Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
  • These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
  • Red Blood Road by Moira Young
  • On Little Wings by Regina Sirois
  • Nation by Terry Pratchett
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (Printz 2012)
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore