My BWL (Book Wish List)

I’ve been querying my novel, Thorn Pricked for a few weeks now, and that means I’ve been doing LOTS of research on agents. In order to receive manuscripts that fit their preferences, agents create manuscript wish lists that explain what types of manuscripts they are most likely to represent. These range from a sentence or two, to multi-paragraph essays on what they like.

Reading all these manuscript wish lists (MSWL for short) always makes me want to write my own. No, I’m not an agent, and no, I don’t need an MSWL, but as a distraction from the nerve-racking process of querying, I created my own MSWL, or my BWL (book wish list). If you know of any books that match the list, send them my way!


Wish List

In non-fiction I prefer science, especially physical science, history that reads like a novel, and am always a fan of little known and underrepresented figures. And bears. Send me books about bears. Not interested in how-to, self-help, or pop-culture.

For picture books, I like short, funny, and/or rhyming books done well. Less interested in sentimental and “lesson” books, but if they are amazing, then send them my way. Continue reading

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Being a mother is hard and doesn’t come with the luxury of bad days. This poem (yes I know, another poem) came from a day that started bad, and only got worse. Kids’ whined and fought from the moment their eyes opened. I forgot snacks, missed team pictures for soccer, and made a bigger mess of everything. By noon, I could barely breathe.

Staying home, in the prison of our communal anger, would suffocate me, so I ran away. Thankfully my husband was there to watch over the family while I was gone. I found an asphalt trail nearby, and I started running, my breath wheezing out along with tears for the first miles. But the warmth of the sun sucked both sweat and pain from my skin, and by the time I was done, I could breathe again. So I went back to my family. Because that’s what mothers do. Continue reading

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Teacher Candle Poem

Most of the time, poetry is not my chosen form of reading or writing. I know there are a whole set of rules and styles that come with writing poetry, and quite frankly they scare me to death, so I give it a wide berth. But every once in a while I write a poem anyway.

While cleaning out my kid’s toys (I got rid of 5 garbage bags of toys), I realized we had a lot of broken crayons. Not wanting to just toss them, I sorted out the old tiny pieces and saved them for some grand, although unknown, use.

Fortunately, Pinterest exists and has a million uses for old crayons, one of which is making candles. What a great Christmas present for teachers, I thought. Candles made of broken crayons. It’s cute and deep and also symbolic or something. Whatever, we decided to try it, and you can see the results below. I used a modified version of the instructions on Brit + Co to create my candles

My candle results. Festive right?

But after I made the candles, which definitely have a “homemade charm” to them, I thought, how are the teachers going to know these are deep, symbolic candles? I have to tell them! But I couldn’t just tell them. That would be weird. What I needed was a cutesy poem to do it for me. I assumed this would also be on Pinterest (every cutesy thing that has ever been created is on Pinterest), but I couldn’t find anything like it. So I decided to write it myself.

I’m well aware that I’m no poetic genius, but I was pretty pleased by the results. More pleased than I was with the candles, actually. Pleased enough to want to share my poem with you.

Every day ​
You take small hands ​
And teach them something new ​​

Continue reading

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10 Early Reader Books That Will Get Your Kid to Love Reading

Let’s face it, the learning-to-read-stage can be a little painful if you don’t have the elementary teacher gene. Simple words, books with no actual plot, ten (thousand) minutes per page. When my twins were in this stage it took every ounce of my limited supply of patience to get through some of those books. They’ve graduated onto early chapter books now (we survived!) but fortunately we managed to find some early reader series that both the kids and I could enjoy during the learning-to-read-stage.

I’m sharing some of our favorites with you, so that you can survive and maybe even enjoy this stage with your child. And maybe they’ll learn that reading can be fun too.

KapowThe Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow and other Andy Griffins books We discovered this book near the end of our time with early readers, but my kids loved its bright cover and nonsensical silliness. Kids absolutely judge books by their cover, and so standout artwork is an important part of  early readers. Humor is a big selling point too, and not just for the kids. Books are a lot more tolerable to listen to when they’re funny. Griffins has a pile of other books that we didn’t get to, but they look equally silly and fun. You know you have the right book if your kids are giggling their way through it. Continue reading

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Arrow-part 3

Third and final part in a short story set in the same world (different time and location) as The Darkest Hour. Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2, if you need a refresher. As always, let me know what you think.

bahamas 108By the time the stranger stopped, Johnny’s arms ached from holding on, and his face felt like it’d been through another spinner. His eyes burned, open or shut, but he was so tired, he mostly kept them closed.

They pulled off the highway into a copse of trees. Johnny’d never been this far from home. Were they even in his micro-nation anymore? The stranger cut the motor and walked the cycle into a thicket before pulling Johnny off the back and setting him on the ground.

Johnny curled himself into a ball and sniffed.

The stranger folded his arms over his chest. “What’s your name, little guy?”

Johnny ducked his head into his knees and didn’t answer. No one called him little. Ever. Johnny’s mom used to say he was born weighing as much as a calf and hadn’t stopped growing since. Continue reading

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Arrow-part 2

Part 2 in a short story from the same world as The Darkest Hour. You can read Part 1 here. Look for the final part, coming soon. 

bahamas 108The stranger continued to investigate the ruins, moving farther away from Johnny. Silence enveloped him, broken only by the creaking of the boards as the man moved around the destruction. Johnny willed himself to move. To run. At least then he had a chance. But no matter how much his brain screamed at his legs to move, they didn’t listen.

In the silence another sound emerged. Another motor. Faint, but even far away, Johnny could tell it was bigger than the stranger’s cycle. The stranger must have heard it too, because the stomping and creaking stopped for ten heart beats and then pounded back toward him faster. Continue reading

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Arrow-part 1

While looking through my files I found this three-part story, set in the same world as The Darkest Hour, but in a much different location and time. Since I haven’t posted any fiction for awhile, I thought I’d post this story, told from a young boy’s point of view. Let me know what you think.

bahamas 108The storm only left two things intact, Johnny and the green hat with the turkey feather that his mother had made him for harvest festival last year. And the hat didn’t even fit anymore. Everything else– his home, his mother, father, and older brother, Davy—had been flipped inside-out and mixed together until nothing was distinguishable from what it had been.

Johnny had never seen a Spinner before, and he guessed he hadn’t really seen one now, just felt it all around him. Davy saw one once. He said they were called spinners because the storm spun itself fast enough to rip the world in two. Maybe that was true, but Johnny thought it must be because the Spinners spun the insides to the out and the outsides to the in, until nothing looked the way it should.

He wiped his arm across his nose, smearing mucus over his sleeve. It mixed with the dust. Far away, a growling rumble pierced the silence. Another Spinner, he thought, come to finish the job. But just as quick, he knew it wasn’t. The new sound didn’t come from everywhere. It didn’t fill his bones like the Spinner had. No, this was a motor. Continue reading

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10 Must-Read Science Picture Books

Since they were tiny, all three of my kids loved books. Just last night while reminiscing, I asked my husband if he remember at what age our (almost) 3-year-old started loving books. He said two months. Obviously that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but pretty much as soon as she could move on her own she was stacking books in a pile, cozying up with her blanket and “reading”.

Kids learn from books, but they also learn from asking me approximately ten thousand questions a day. And although I am super smart and know almost everything, they do slip some questions in that I don’t know the answer to.

It was due to one of these rare occasions that I ventured into the non-fiction children’s section of the library. What I found was…disappointing. While a lot the books were full of pictures and used a child friendly vocabulary, they were not narrative and not meant to be read like a picture book. They dumped lots of useful information for say, a school report, but I wouldn’t want to read them cover to cover. My kids’ eyes glazed over after the second paragraph on the first page.

Thus began my quest to find great science picture books that read like fiction. After years of searching I’ve found my top ten: Continue reading

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Improve Your Writing: Be a Beta Reader

If you’ve been writing for any amount of time, you have come across the scores of writing rules that float around the writing-verse.IMG_20190130_153914

Show don’t tell

Adverbs must die

If you don’t use the oxford comma we can’t be friends

Passive voice is the worst

Prologues are…

You get the idea. And I’m sure you’ve heard them all. But what is a rule if it can’t be broken? As soon as rules are formed, some writer is breaking it. There is one rule that applies to everyone in every writing situation, and it goes something like this.

If you want to be a good writer, you have to read.

Reading extensively is one of the best ways to improve your writing because you see examples of good writing and, less often, examples of poor writing. Without even consciously choosing to, you pick up these writing techniques as you read them.

Reading can help you consciously improve your writing as well. One of the best ways to do this is to become a beta reader. I’ve already written about the attributes of a good beta reader and why you need to get beta readers to read your writing. But being a beta reader yourself, can also help you to improve your writing. Continue reading

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10 Attributes of Good Beta Readers

In my last blog post I talked about why beta readers are an important part of the writing process. But beta readers come in all varieties and and a bad beta read can hurt your writing and emotional well being. So what is it that makes a good beta reader? I’ve created a list of 10 attributes a good beta reader has, so you can find (and be) the good ones. Continue reading

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