The Long Ride Home

Maybe it is because I’m a high school teacher and spend my days surrounded by actual young adults that my standards for YA literature are so high. My favorite books for readers in their teens are full of characters facing real life problems with no clear solutions. The dialogue needs to sound like something an actual kid would say, or else I’m gone. No messages, please. No lessons to learn that could also be imparted in a thirty minute sitcom. No morals to the story allowed. Ever. If I’m going to recommend a book to anyone to read it has…

An Interview with Tori Rigby, Author of Because I Love You

Blaze Publishing’s forthcoming YA title Because I Love You looked so interesting to me that I had to ask Tori Rigby if she would be willing to answer a few questions for my blog. Read the introduction and you’ll see what I mean:   Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.  Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil…

Here

Catch the cool Q and A I did with the wonderful Catherine Warmerdam in the month’s issue of Sacramento Magazine. It was a fun conversation over tea on a blustery January day outside Tupelo in East Sacramento. Ever since I first moved to Sacramento, I’ve perused the pages of Sacramento Magazine looking for mention of people I knew. I usually know at least one person per issue in the society pages or within the features. I’ve always considered knowing people in Sacramento Magazine a good sign that I was connected to my community. Here’s the thing with Sacramento and me. This…

Cover Reveal: 27 Days to Midnight

I am truly honored to announce the cover reveal of 27 Days to Midnight, a new YA Steampunk novel from Giant Squid Books. Check it out on GoodReads here and enter to win the giveaway! Here is what 27 Days to Midnight is about: Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die…except her. Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father…

Read Books

At an interview today, a lovely journalist asked me if I read all the time. Answer: I do. I read every day. But reading isn’t a chore. This isn’t a blog for Puritans, despite the writer’s distaste for fun and compliments. When I was a kid, I loved the library. I spent hours there. I came home with piles of books. I read them with great pleasure. I love the library in the same way now, except that I can order books ahead of time and find them waiting for me there with my name tag attached. That’s like Christmas…

5 Brief Book Reviews

The Infinite Tides by Christian Kiefer The Infinite Tides is a story about a grieving astronaut that is relentless in its integrity. I always appreciate the rare author who can plumb great emotional depths without a hint of sentimentality or a single false note. I read this novel as instructive in craft, as well as a meditative study of grief and mid-life spiritual growth. Indeed, there is a complex spiritual truth woven throughout this narrative about nothing less than what human beings are essentially for. The Infinite Tides is impeccably and beautifully written. This is painfully honest work about grief, manhood, relationship,…

5 Things I Do to Raise a Conscious Child

Listen to New York Public Library podcast programs with her on the way to and from school. My twelve-year-old daughter is too young to read Beloved yet, but after listening to Toni Morrison’s reflection on the writing of it, she deeply gets why, for example, the success of  a children’s book glossing over the horrors of slavery is dangerous for young readers. Read together. According to a 2013 study appearing in Science magazine, reading literary fiction has a tendency to improve a reader’s empathy for other people in complex social situations. In my house, we set aside regular time to read…

How to Be Manly for a Year: A Great Yes

Yes is my favorite word. This week marks the one year anniversary of one of the greatest yes answers of my career. When Rachel Miller and Anna McCormally of Giant Squid Books told me they wanted to publish my YA novel How to Be Manly, they offered a big, beautiful yes that changed everything. I always believed in How to Be Manly. It was brilliant to find editors who loved my story too. I wrote How to Be Manly in 2009, inspired by my high school students who were showing amazing integrity and generosity through struggle. Many of these students…