About Me

I'm an author and arts administrator living in New England with my family and pugs. I'm also a caffeine addict and voracious reader. My latest middle grade fantasy novel, THE STAR SHEPHERD, is available now from Sourcebooks Young Readers!

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Next Event

Feb
7
Fri
2020
all-day CCIRA Conference 2020 @ Denver Marriott Tech Center
CCIRA Conference 2020 @ Denver Marriott Tech Center
Feb 7 all-day
I’ll be presenting a session at the CCIRA conference on Leveraging Children’s Books to Teach Creative Writing, and will also be doing a signing (details TBA).

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2019 – Closing Out the Decade with a Bang

Photo by Wout Vanacker on Unsplash

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of another decade! Time is very sneaky like that.

2019 was, overall, a good year. It was my first year with two books out, which was challenging, but also really awesome. And, thanks to those books, I had a lot of new opportunities and experiences for which I’m so very grateful.

But it was bittersweet in many ways too. Last year ended with several things up in the air that have now settled. My parents are both at care facilities, and while that’s sad, I’m grateful to the people who look after them day in and day out. My siblings and I had to clean out our childhood home and sell the house in order to help pay for that care, and it hasn’t been easy to let go of the place I’ve called Home for most of my life. But it was necessary and now I can put that phase behind me (I hope!).

Some highlights from 2019:

The Last Decade:

10 years ago, I wrote a looking back at 2000-2009 post, so I’m picking up the thread and doing it again. It’s interesting to see what I was excited about back then (writing more books! Past MK would be pretty pleased with Present MK) and how things have changed. So, here’s the last decade in a very tiny nutshell:

2010: Sold our condo, packed up our pug, and moved across the country to Phoenix, AZ.

2011: Realized we were miserable being 3,000 miles away from our friends and family, so we packed up our pugs (we gained a second one while in AZ) and moved back home to New England. Got new job in Boston – back to epic commute.

2012: Three BIG milestones: 1) Bought our first house! 2) Signed with super agent Suzie Townsend and 3) We sold my first two books to Harper Collins!

2013: Left job with a crazy toxic boss without another job lined up. Terrifying, but necessary for my mental health and well-being. (Was also very keen to stop working in Boston after being in the office the day of the Boston Marathon bombing only a few blocks away). Luckily, my last day was a Friday, and by Monday I had a job offer from my current employer, HILL for Literacy. Took the leap to working part-time.

2014: Paid off my student loans.

2015: Monstrous was published!

2016: Sold more books (Shadow Weaver duology! The Star Shepherd!)! Monstrous hit the NYT list…on the same day as the election results came in. Also, we finally took the honeymoon we always wanted to Hawaii. A few years late, but still amazing!

2017: Had my first child. Added 3rd pug to family, but lost our first pug not long after 🙁

2018: Sold two new duologies – Hollow Dolls + Sequel and Twin Daggers + Sequel! Parents both had sudden, unexpected health issues that left them in care facilities.

2019: Spent significant portion of year dealing with fallout from my parents’ declining health. Helped my siblings empty out and sell our childhood home. Wrote two sequels in one year while juggling multiple editorial deadlines for the first books in the series and somehow survived. Went on my very first legit book tour (probably will never happen again, but still a bucket list item)!!

All in all, it was a pretty decent decade. Lots of highs and lows, but I definitely can’t complain with where I’ve ended up. Here’s hoping the next decade is even better! 🙂

HOW DID 2019 AND THE LAST DECADE TREAT YOU? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE NEW YEAR?

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2018 – A Year of Extremes

This year has felt like several years all squished into one. So much has happened in my tiny corner of the universe (let alone the insanity going on nationwide in the political arena).

In many ways, it’s been an amazing year. Our little boy Logan is a toddler now. He learned to say his first few words (Mama, Dada, Dog, Wow, Tree, and more), and how to crawl, then walk (and run!). It is absolutely incredible watching him grow. On the writing side of things, this has been the best year yet. 2018 began with the launch of a new book (SHADOW WEAVER!). It even got starred reviews and was nominated for the New England Book Award and the Texas Bluebonnet (still pretty darn floored about this). My superhero agent Suzie sold not one, but TWO new duologies for me, meaning that for the next 3 years, I’ll have two books out each year (yes that’s kind of nuts, but also awesome and wow am I excited about it!). I even got my first ever royalty check – not a thing I’d expected to happen for a while, but a very, very welcome surprise!

But while all that was happening, some of the hardest things we’ve had to go through also happened this year.  I debated whether to include them in my year end post. I usually like to keep things upbeat here on the blog, but I also believe in transparency and leaving those challenges out felt wrong, even deceptive. Art is a part of life; we can’t create it in a vacuum. Traumatic events have ripples and impact. Yes, I had a ton of wonderful things happen–which I’m incredibly grateful for–but it was also a year filled with considerable loss.

[Trigger warning suicide and other traumatic events]

 

 

In the spring, my brother-in-law committed suicide. It was – and still is – devastating for the entire family and has left behind a hole that can never be filled. One of my first memories of meeting my husband’s family was at his brother’s 13th birthday party. It still just seems unreal that he could be gone.

On my side of the family, both my parents’ dementia came to light and had grim results. In September, my mom was hospitalized after being catatonic for 3 days before my dad realized he should call 911 (she had dangerously low sodium levels and a BP of 233/180 – and no, that’s not a typo). While she has mostly recovered in a physical sense, mentally she isn’t the same person she was even just this past summer. Now that she’s wheelchair bound and needs round the clock care, she’s moved into an assisted living facility. My siblings and I tried to convince my dad to move in with her, but he insisted he didn’t need it and instead chose to live alone at their house, hoping that she’d be coming home very soon.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, my dad suffered a massive stroke. It’s the nightmare scenario of having elderly parents who live alone. No one knew it had happened until my mom called me on Monday morning worried she hadn’t seen him all weekend. From what we can piece together, he was disoriented from the stroke and fell out of bed as he was trying to turn off the light on his nightstand. He was on the floor unable to move for at least two days before I found him. While that was certainly one of the most traumatizing events of my life, I’m so grateful I found him alive. He spent 3 weeks in the ICU before he was stable enough to go to a rehabilitation center, and soon he’ll go to a skilled nursing facility. He can’t speak or move one side of his body, but he knows we’re there and he can hug us with one arm and answer yes/no questions. It’s awful to see my once very active father like this, but really, it could have been far worse.

Finally, add to all of the above the fact that a kind elderly friend who has been a surrogate grandmother to me for the past 2 decades also passed away this fall, and it’s been one hell of a year.

So, if you’re reading this, hug your loved ones a little tighter, OK? 

 

Anyway, let’s end on a more positive note, shall we? Despite the hard times, there really were so many bright spots this year too. Here are some of my favorite highlights from 2018:

HOW DID 2018 TREAT YOU? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE NEW YEAR?

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2017 – A Year of Endings and Beginnings

To say 2017 was an eventful year is an understatement. In some ways—especially the current political climate—it was catastrophically bad, and in others very good.

In my little corner of the world, we had ups and downs too. In April, we adopted a third pug, Teddy, but in September we lost our beloved Tootsie. It was a difficult month and it’s been hard to talk about it online, though I imagine some may have noticed her absence from my Instagram. She was our first dog and such a sweet little girl. We miss her every day. But the most wonderful part of the year was the birth of our son Logan. He’s brought so much joy to our lives and he’s such a good little boy. We can’t imagine our lives without him now and can’t wait to grow with him!

On the writing side of things, we announced a new book deal in the spring! THE STAR SHEPHERD is a heavily illustrated middle grade fantasy co-authored with the awesome Dan Haring (it will be out in Fall 2019!). And I reached all of my “must-do” goals but none of my “want-to-do” or “might-do” goals. Hopefully next year I’ll accomplish a little more!

Some highlights from 2017:

HOW DID 2017 TREAT YOU? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE NEW YEAR?

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A Year For Words

2017 is going to be an interesting year. In 2015 and 2016, I had new books coming out but this year, I do not (I know! Sad!). However, I do have a new middle grade series beginning in early 2018 which I’m very excited about and a couple surprises in store for 2017 too (sorry, you’ll just have to wait and see :P). So this year my focus will be on looking head and laying the ground work for the great things on the horizon in 2018.

Which essentially means writing lots and lots of words. Words in books (at least 3!), but also words in letters to my state representatives, house and senate committees, etc. about issues that are important to me. 2018 is also a year for midterm elections and a pivotal opportunity to gain ground for the rights the incoming administration threatens. I know a lot of people say that writers should keep politics out of their books and online presence — personally, I think that perhaps they don’t quite understand the nature of writing. Writing is a conduit for freedom of expression. It is a thing we are able to do freely in this country due to the protections of the First Amendment. Writing is an inherently political act, and like it or not, we (at the very least) subconsciously imbue our works with our own moral, ethical, and political undertones. Ignoring that, denying that, feels dishonest to me.

I think recognizing this is particularly important when writing for children. Teens and tweens are much smarter than they are often given credit for being, and they’re aware of what’s going on in the world. Avoiding those issues is doing them a disservice and denying them the chance to process their fears in a safe space: within the pages of a book. Themes of being bullied, parents getting a divorce, family members battling a disease are seen in all types of fiction from contemporary to fantasy to post-apocalyptic. Tackling any of the many potential issues from the incoming administration is no different — it’s about to become a real part of our lives. Looking the other way will not change that. So, I’ll be doing my part in the ways that I can. Writing stories and writing letters and doing what I can to help create positive change.

Anyway, it’s tradition for me to post my fiction writing goals on my blog each year to keep myself accountable. Last year, I managed to complete all the “Must Dos” and all but one of the “Want To Dos” which is not too shabby. Maybe this will be the year I’ll finally cross everything off this list!

MUST DO:

WANT TO DO:

MIGHT DO:

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2017? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!

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A Year to Maintain Momentum

2016

2015 was quite the whirlwind, and I can hardly believe my second book will be out in a mere 6 weeks. I can’t wait for everyone to meet Greta in Ravenous come February 9, AND for the prequel novella Precious to be out too (it’s a 100-page story about Rosabel that will be published as bonus content in the back of Ravenous)!

If you happen to be in the Boston area, consider yourself invited to my launch party on Sunday, February 21, 2016, 2pm at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA (it has parking and it’s T-accessible). If you’re not local and you’d like a signed copy of Ravenous, you can pre-order one from Porter Square Books here. AND if you’ve already pre-ordered Ravenous, you rock and I’d love to send you a Swag Pack!

When I set my goals for last year there was the unknown quantity of time to be spent promoting Monstrous, but now I have a better idea of what that will take for Ravenous in 2016. And I have a better sense of my limits of what I can reasonably accomplish without stressing myself out too much 🙂 I feel really good about Monstrous and how launching it went, so here’s hoping we can maintain that momentum into 2016 for Ravenous, too! Really though, my primary resolution is the same as last year’s: to do the very best I can on those things within my control. Worrying about things I can’t do anything about will only drive me nuts, so focusing on what I can do is something I’ve found helps considerably.

Last year was also a decent year for writing (which is nothing less than a miracle) and I managed to accomplish about 2/3 of my goals and even drafted a random young adult fantasy novella and a sizable chunk of two additional middle grade projects on top of that. (Can you tell I never sleep? Sleep is for the weak!). This year, I really hope I’ll be able to do all of my Must Dos and Want To Dos at the very least – they’re all projects I’m really excited about! Again, I hope to build off the writing momentum I had going in 2015 to keep my writing projects all on track!

MUST DO:

WANT TO DO:

MIGHT DO:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2016? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS!

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