Holiday Mingle at Print Bookstore!

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 in Events, Uncategorized | 0 comments

PRINT Holiday Mingle Image

Don’t miss this chance–signed book for all the people on your gift list, plus chance to support a great local business and chat with Maine authors and illustrators! Merry merry!

Print Bookstore is at 273 Congress Street in Portland. See you there!

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Victory Over Adobe!

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Uncategorized, Writing Process | 0 comments


One of the photos I very nearly paid $142 for.

I needed some good-quality images to use in a presentation, so naturally, Adobe Stock Photos was the place to go. I was irritated to find out that I had to sign up for a monthly membership in order to download ten or fifteen photos–this seems to be more and more of a trend these days, doesn’t it, companies trying to hook you into a long-term relationship when you just want a date? Er, I mean, a single commercial transaction? (I’m looking at you, Microsoft.) But the site said I could cancel at will, so I went ahead and signed up.

Of course, I forgot to cancel. As one does. A thirty-dollar charge showed up on my credit card. Rats. Oh well, lesson learned. I went to the site to cancel my membership.

Only to learn that I’d be charged $142 for cancelling before the end of the year.

Now, I may have missed some fine print, but I swear I didn’t know I was locking myself into a twelve-month membership with significant penalties for opting out. I stared at the screen in dismay. It’s nearly December and I’m a freelancer. December is an expensive month for most people, and even more so if you pay your own health insurance (HSA contribution!) and manage your own retirement funds (Roth IRA!) I’ve got a lot of use for $142. But I figured it was probably my fault. I’d made a mistake, I hadn’t read the information carefully enough, I’d suck it up and pay the fee.

Wait. No I wouldn’t.

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Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Book: Deadly Wish, Educators & Librarians, Writing Process | 0 comments


A first draft pages from Deadly Wish. Am I the last writer alive to do first drafts longhand?

I was flattered and excited to be asked to donate signed copies and original manuscripts of Deadly Flowers and Deadly Wish to the Ted Hipple Collection of Young Adult Literature at the University of South Florida! My books will live on the shelves beside books by Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton, so you can see they’ll be in very good company.

I must confess I’m a little sad to give up the original first drafts, though. It’s funny–I save all my first drafts, although I don’t know why. I don’t look at them again. They just take up space. I don’t mind throwing away intermediate drafts, but those first, handwritten ones–they feel like part of me. I’m surprised by how much of a wrench it feels to send them away. Like sending a kid off to college, I imagine. You always hoped they’d get there, but they’re not all yours anymore. Time to see what they can offer the world!

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Talking about The Eureka Key at Victor Intermediate

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Author Visits, Book: The Eureka Key, Educators & Librarians, School Visits, Secrets of the Seven, SERIES: Secrets of the Seven | 0 comments

IMG_9623 This week I visited Victor Intermediate School in Victor, NY, a lovely little hamlet near Rochester. What made it super exciting to me was that this school had picked The Eureka Key for a community read. It was my first time (as far as I know) to be read by an entire school (of 1100 kids, no less).

Now normally I’m in a favor of a LOT of choice when it comes to reading. We’re not all the same as readers; let’s let the nonfiction kids read about dinosaurs and the fantasy kids read about dragons and the sensitive kids read tearjerkers. It’s all reading! It’s all good!

But I have to admit to a certain thrill in having a shared experience of reading every now and then. It was part of what made the Harry Potter phenomenon so fun. It wasn’t that they were the best books in the world (not the worst, either). It was the joy of sharing Hogwarts with so many other people. With your friends and classmates and strangers you met on the bus. It brought the fictional world into real life, joined us together into a community who shared our imaginary lives. It was lovely.

I felt a little bit of that in the school today. The kids were so excited to see me and so eager to take in what I had to share about writing and so excited to do some writing themselves. And sharing the book with the whole school, kids and teachers and families and all, was what built that excitement.


I signed A LOT of books!


Everybody made their own “Eureka Keys” with terms describing themselves–the keys to their personalities!


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What I’ve Been Reading

Posted by on Nov 10, 2017 in What I've Been Reading | 0 comments

BraveNewWorld_FirstEditionIf you get bold enough to read 1984, of course you’ve got to follow it up with Brave New World. Which I must say I liked significantly less.

I get Huxley’s point, I really do, warning us that human beings don’t need a totalitarian system to crush the our spirit into sand….we can entertain ourselves into dumbness and passivity and inert happiness. Can’t argue with that. But the sour and savage distaste for the female body in this book–either as a voluptuous, pneumatic instrument of seduction and promiscuity and more of that mindless pleasure that’s going to ruin us all, or as a fat (horrors!), filthy, weak, flabby embodiment (literally) of mortality and corruption–well, that made it hard to appreciate the savage satiric genius. I could see that the genius was there, but I couldn’t much enjoy it.

And it’s not just the body, it’s the human spirit that is rendered disgusting in Huxley’s antiseptically clean prose. 1984 made me feel that the humanity was at risk, but still precious. Brave New World made me feel that the human spirit wasn’t worth the struggle. Might as will take a gram of soma and go to the feelies and watch it disintegrate.

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What I’ve Been Reading

Posted by on Nov 10, 2017 in What I've Been Reading | 0 comments

24921988The remarkable Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist. Will Porter, blind since birth, experiences sight for the first time after a corneal transplant. Wonderful, right? A miracle of modern medicine, right? Not exactly.

The ending is a bit rushed, which is a real shame, because the book up until this is a fascinating and entertaining musing on honesty, beauty, and the many different types of perception. Sharp, funny, not in the least sentimental, and guaranteed to make you think.

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The Man, His Work, and Its Impact–The Dr. Seuss Controversy

Posted by on Nov 3, 2017 in Children's Literature, Illustration, Race | 0 comments


Not one of Dr. Seuss’s finer moments. He did get better.

Maybe you’re not up on what’s going on with Dr. Seuss? For details of the current controversy, check out this and this.

I was going to post my thoughts, but I have to take a back seat to Grace Lin here: she says everything that needs to be said, thoughtfully and wisely and eloquently.

A few highlights:

We know that Dr. Seuss’s early career is filled with creations of racist propaganda. He drew horrible stereotypes against Jews, African-Americans–you name it…. However, as time passed, Geisel began to regret his earlier images. It is widely accepted that his beloved book, “Horton Hears a Who!” was his way of apologizing for his earlier art….That is what makes Geisel a good man and artist. Because he was willing to grow from his original mindset, realize the harm the his work could do and get better.

No artist deserves to be judged and dismissed on the basis of one work or one image. No artist gets to be judged and idolized only on the works he or she would prefer to be selected.


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