Skipping Around Saving Atlantis

Skipping Around Saving Atlantis

With The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs out to the public and going through its second printing, I have been diligently working on book two–The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis (working title, but so far feels right).

My plan is to write all four books in the series to keep the flow going, and I have been challenged by an avid fan (my husband!) to have a working draft by the end of the month! Yes! This month, January, which only has 15 days left. I am almost at the halfway point. I don’t worry about what I’m writing so much as going by the feel of it. It is a very rough draft, which is where I should be for the first one.

A couple days ago, I was stumped. I reviewed my notes, but felt stagnant in the current chapter. At lunch, that avid fan suggested bringing in Dakota, one of our rescue dogs. To be honest, I was thinking about including Zoey, but she is more my dog and Dakota is more Peter’s. However Zoey’s personality and the signature white patch on her gray chest does remind me of a certain koalephant in Shimmer’s Eggs.

Dakota at 12 weeks when we first adopted him.

It was like an earthquake broke a dam and everything poured out. What if Peter found Dakota and brought him home? How would Dakota help Peter in his healing process? How did Dakota just happen to be in the dumpster that Rose and Peter just happened to be riding by at that particular moment? With many questions, come many answers, and great writing most likely ensues!

With all that activity, Dakota made his debut into The Puzzle Quests series. Wait until Zoey hears about this. She does have her own blog, but this will launch Dakota into permanent stardom!

Writing what moves me at that moment is the key to writing continuity. Where I placed this chapter right now may not be where it will stay, but the essence and power of that chapter is strong, and I know it will be a part of this book.

If you are stuck in your story and another thread pops into your mind, go with it. Writing is not linear. It’s like water, so let it pour out.

All I will say about Dakota’s story is he was rescued from a dumpster in Tennessee. He was starving and scared. How this plays into Saving Atlantis and Peter’s growth as a character will remain to be seen.

To find out when The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis will be going to press, Sign Up for my mailing list at


SCBWI Authors Share their Wisdom

SCBWI Authors Share their Wisdom

As NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) comes to an end today, the habits we formed from daily writing shouldn’t end. Getting support and advice from our fellow writers is key to keeping us motivated, but in the end it’s up to you to do the work and write your story.

SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) is a fabulous organization that I encourage any children’s writer or illustrator to join. The networking and knowledge  shared is vital to getting your work finished and published.

My local group which is run by the fabulous Nancy Castaldo and Lois Huey meets once a month at the Guilderland Public Library. This month we met at the William K. Sanford Library in Colonie and heard from four published authors: Nancy Castaldo, Rose Kent, Daniel J. Mahoney, and Eric Luper.


Rose Kent’s books

Each author spoke about the path they took to become a writer, which only proves that anyone can be a successful writer if you have the dedication to write what you are passionate about and practice, practice, practice. Nancy was the moderator, but her love of science and learning led to her writing. Rose was in the Navy, raised a family, became a freelance writer, was published in magazines, and then wrote her novels pictured above. Eric wasn’t much of a reader as a kid, but he enjoyed stories. It wasn’t until he was in a college writing class, that he became interested in writing. Even though he earns his living as a chiropractor, his first novel came out in 2002 and he has published many for Scholastic and Cartoon Network. Dan began his career as an illustrator and sent samples to publishers. He was published immediately by Clarion Publishers, who asked him to write the story to his illustrations. Dan also works as an x-ray technician. The path to publishing is different for every writer and it’s not easy, but it’s the love of what you are doing that has to keep you going.

When dealing with challenges, Dan recommended to keep writing and put your heart into it. Even though he was published by Clarion, when the company downsized, they didn’t want his type of books any longer. He kept writing and illustrating and seven years later was published again. Rose explained that giving birth to a story is messy and takes a long time. It’s an internal process and she also has felt the joy of publishing and the rejection. Eric’s first book was rejected 100 times.  He still gets rejections after 20 books and looks for other paths.

Harry Potter was rejected 12 times.

A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 28 times.

Jane Yolen who has published 365 books is still getting rejections!

Learn from the process. Eric’s second book was in a different genre and was better because of his previous rejections.

All four authors absolutely love going into the schools and connecting with the children they write for. As Rose says, “It’s about hope. We don’t have answers to all the problems, but it goes back to hope.”

Their advice to writers:

Nancy–read, read, read and analyze like a writer. Keep a journal! Plot doesn’t always come when you want. You can refer to your journal later.

Rose–read and find the quiet space. Focus on the writing without the distractions. Write the story and make a mess.

Eric–try to write the book  you wish you had in your hands at that age. Write what you are passionate about. The most interesting things happen when he doesn’t know what will happen. Let it show up.

Dan–write about what happened to you or what you are familiar with. Push yourself to to work on your story every day.

It was a pleasure meeting the authors and listening to their stories and advice. Do the work. Sit and write. Network and learn from others. Grow your writing family by attending meetings such as this one. To find out more about SCBWI, visit their website at

For journal prompts to get the writing jitters out of the way, follow my blog


Ask Away!!

Ask Away!!



My favorite part of promoting a new book is connecting with my readers and hearing their questions. I especially love watching kids burst with questions and ideas. The questions they come up with are interesting and sometimes mind boggling, because of their insightfulness.

One of the kids on my husband’s soccer team started reading Shimmer’s Eggs and had a ton of questions for Luke today at his game. Luke said he wished I had gone to the game just so I could answer them for him.


I want to give kids and anyone who has questions a chance to ask away. Of course, I hope you come to my upcoming book events on November 18 from 3-4:30pm at The Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza. This is a book signing, but you can definitely ask questions and buy a book!

My book launch party will be on December 10 from 1-2:30pm at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. At this event, I will share the inspirations for my book, talk about my writing process, have a group writing adventure, and save a lot of time for questions. You can register for that at

But if you absolutely can’t wait to ask a question, there are two ways you can get some answers. The first is to email me at and follow this blog. I will post the answers here with your questions in the title.

Another place you can ask questions and get the answer is on my Goodreads page. In addition to asking questions, you can check out my other books and until November 30, enter a giveaway to win one of five of my autographed books!

Comments, reviews, suggestions for book two, which I have already started, as well as questions are more than welcome! I look forward to hearing from you!

8 Steps to a Successful Book Fairs

8 Steps to a Successful Book Fairs

Today, I attended the Glens Falls Chronicle Book Fair at the Queensbury Hotel. Over 100 local authors writing in every possible genre and for every age group shared their books. It’s a great opportunity to sell books, meet new people, and network.


There was a fairly good crowd, but with so many authors, it’s important to stand out and connect with the readers. Here is what I learned today to make my next book fair even more successful:

  1. Have an appealing and easily accessible table. I updated my table with bright signs with the prices. Once I did that, I actually sold more copies. It’s better to know the specials and prices right away without having to ask. Visuals attract. Many people were also lured to my table by the poster size cover of my book.
  2. Bundle books together. I sell my first two books, Warriors Within and Eyes of the Goddess as a bundle pack for less than they can be bought separately.
  3. Kid-friendly activities: When there are so many other books to look at, it’s helpful to have an activity for the kids. Not only does it involve the kids, but it allows the parents to talk to you about your books. I had brought a writing exercise, but most of the kids were a little too young. I did bring tattoos of Shimmer’s egg and a puzzle piece, which were very popular. Then the kids got excited when they connected the egg and puzzle to my book! Another author had handmade bookmarks or coloring pages that the kids really enjoyed.
  4. Have bookmarks or postcards to hand to people passing by. Even if they don’t stop at that moment, they have your information and can always order later.
  5. Engage the reader in conversation. You know that ‘elevator pitch’ you can say to someone the few seconds you have on the elevator? Have that ready for when someone asks you to tell them about your book. The author next to me was fantastic in connecting with people and pulling them into his story. He sold a ton of books! But also give people space to read the back of your book without constantly talking to them. It’s a balance.
  6. Provide promotional items–For The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs, I offered a free poster of the cover for the first 100 purchases. Everyone has loved these. Keith Willis, another author from Clifton Park, sells dragon pens with his fantasy book.
  7. Dress as a character from your book. There were a few people who were dressed like their character or dressed in a certain persona. It definitely sets you apart, but you have to be comfortable. Be yourself, share what you love about your book, and be authentic.
  8. Let people know you are going to be at the event! Social media, email, word of mouth. I texted and emailed friends who live in Glens Falls, and I was so happy to have Kacey stop by!

So happy that Kacey came to see me!
There is never a guarantee on how a book event is going to go. I have been to events where I literally didn’t sell one book and others where I sold a bunch. Selling books is obviously a huge part of it, but networking and sharing your story are also great ways to build your business.


Creative Writing and Journaling

Creative Writing and Journaling


My fourth and fifth grade workshop students worked on getting to know their characters. Figuring out what they love more than anything else and the reason is a huge part of their motivation. Establishing their fear and throwing them into a dangerous situation where that fear is right in their face helps them decide what kind of person their character is. What are their strengths, weaknesses? Brave, strong, scared, helpless?

They are ready to begin their stories if they know the answers to these questions.


My middle grade writers had fun decorating their Grasping Gratitude gift boxes. This special box holds what they are grateful for.


It’s an endless gift that we can always go back to when life gets too hard.


When we grasp gratitude, we hold the goodness in life that makes it worth living. We heal from the pain and loss that we feel. We appreciate what we have.

This was their favorite part of the workshop. I hope they continue to grasp the positive.

The Joy of Launching a New Book

The Joy of Launching a New Book

Tomorrow is my first book event to launch my new book, The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs. It’s been 5 years since my last book came out. It’s amazing how fast the years fly by when you want to get a book finished. 

I started this book 10 years ago before my life drastically changed. Then I wasn’t in the right place to write it. 

Ironically, I wrote two book before getting back to this one. I can’t force a book but three years ago, I was ready. 

I’m excited to share this story with everyone. My whole heart went into writing it, and it brought back so many memories of my boys’ childhood. They are my inspiration. I love the interactions and conversations. 

Always willing to answer questions about my books and writing so leave one in the comments!

All Nuts Welcome!

All Nuts Welcome!


Nuts have not been welcome in my house for the last 20 years. Let me clarify–peanuts, almonds, cashews, brazil, macadamia, hazelnut, and walnuts. For the whole time my son, Stephen, has been on this earth, I have not been able to eat any of these nuts. It all began when I had a reaction to candy coated chocolate while baking. Testing showed that I would have a severe anaphylactic reaction to peanuts and almonds, so even the nuts that irritated me were eliminated from my life.

A couple times in the last year, I accidentally consumed nuts. One time it was potato chips cooked in peanut oil and the other was almond flavored crackers (Thank, Colleen:^). I didn’t react with either. Then there was the time when I ate pistachios, which are a drupe, and I realized they had peanut oil. Luke, Stephen, and I were traveling to a soccer game. I was in the passenger seat and Stephen was directly behind me. When I realized what I did, I opened the car window and spit out the pistachios in the rain. The wind and rain blew it all over Stephen! But hey I was all right!

In addition to nuts, I had been positive for dairy, shellfish, tomato (in the spring), melon (in the fall) allergies. As a vegetarian this severely limits me and makes me a tough dinner date. I’m not the person you ask to go out for a pizza.

Finally, I became sick of not knowing and went to an ENT for some testing. Today I got back my shocking results!


Dairy absolutely negative reaction.


Nuts are a go with the exception of hazelnuts. This means that peanuts are no longer life threatening.


Shellfish is on!

I was floored. All these years I haven’t eaten these foods and now I can. I immediately went to the grocery store and bought shrimp. Tonight I made a shrimp and rice fajita bowl. With trepidation and excitement, I tried it.


Success! My first shrimp dish in years, and three hours later, I feel good!


What’s next? Anyone want to meet for pizza? All nuts are welcome!