Monday, February 24, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Below

Opening line of Below by Meg McKinlay: The day that I was born, they drowned my town.

Sucks the reader in. Totally and completely. As a writer, I know how much importance is placed on a book's opening line, but honestly, I've read some clunker first lines of some really good books. But no first line has stuck with me like this one -- because the whole book is pinned to that one, single line.

The premise: The day Cassie's town was drowned, her family was rushing to the hospital to deliver the eight-weeks-early Cassie. Twelve years later, Cassie is drawn to what's beneath the lake, the place where Old Lower Grange now lies. And during this extra-hot summer, the lake level starts dropping, and Cassie and her friend Liam start exploring on the lake's forbidden side. Sometimes they even explore below the water.

What I loved: The mystery! And the unique concept behind it (or below it). :-) The unraveling, compelling story and mystery leaves readers anxiously turning pages. Meg McKinlay grabs readers at the get-go and keeps their noses right inside this book until it ends.

For more middle grade recommendations,
follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading,

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sweets, Snacks and People

I love sweets and snacks and eat way too many of them. Dark chocolate tops my list of favorites by way more than a mile, and I'd rather eat dessert than a delicious meal any time. So it's no surprise that certain people in my life are associated with sweets and snacks, and when I see or hear about these items, I think about those people.

My husband = Mountain Dew
My son = Tostitos
My daughter = Doughnuts
My dad = Circus peanuts (yeah, those weird orange things)
My mom = Jelly beans
My grandpa = Chocolate covered cherries
My father-in-law = Snickers

For instance, when I'm walking my dog and see a discarded Mountain Dew can, I think about my husband. And then I pick up the can and toss it in a recycling container because people shouldn't litter. Hopefully it wasn't my husband. Or when I sashay through the candy aisle at our local Fleet Farm, I catch a glimpse of circus peanuts and it's like my dad is standing right next to me.

So, you get the picture. If I added myself to the list, dark chocolate M&Ms would be behind my name. And now that I think about it, M&Ms end up in every middle grade story I write. No coincidence there whatsoever, I'm sure.

So what about you? Do foods remind you of people? What food goes behind your name?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Back to Blackbrick

This little gem, Back to Blackbrick, caught my eye while I browsed a local bookstore one day. I'd never heard of the title, but its retro-style cover and colors (it released in 2013, however) enticed me pick it up and read the jacket flap. And I was hooked. Up to the checkout I marched, plopped my money down, drove home, and read.

The premise: Cosmo's granddad is losing his memory; his mind is failing. But when he gives Cosmo an old key and insists he must journey to Blackbrick (and bring a pen and paper), Cosmo promises he will. He uses the key and steps back in time about seventy years -- to when his granddad was only 16.

What I loved: The love and friendship between Cosmo and his granddad. Neither is perfect, but their love and devotion to one another are. This is a book about the heartbreak of memory loss and being forgotten by someone who loves you. But it's more than that. It's about the power of love and family. Think of it as an Irish twist on the 1980's movie Back to the Future.

Back to Blackbrick is an upper middle grade read; the inside cover states ages 10-14. In my opinion, there are not enough books geared for this audience, for the in-betweeners -- the not-quite MG but not-quite YA either. And this books contains some difficult issues, things that may be hard to understand and absorb for younger readers, so take heed that it reads older than much middle grade.

For more middle grade recommends, follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading, 

Monday, February 3, 2014


There's no shortage of social media, that's for sure. So with all the social media sites available, how do you choose which ones you spend time using? For me, I simply spend time on the sites I enjoy, and for the most part that means Twitter. It's fun, fast, and if I miss stuff, oh well. I also adore Instagram, but it's only for personal stuff, so my Instagram following is small and my account is private.

As far as Facebook, I think I'm over it. The site has become too congested and, well, it's just not entertaining or interesting to me anymore. And I know there are many, many more social media sites out there, but I keep up with the sites I enjoy and the ones I can handle timewise.

But . . .

A micro-blogging site. Not to be confused with blogging because it's completely different. I set up a Tumblr account about a year ago. It's right here. And I like Tumblr. Love it really. Like Twitter, it's fun, fast, and if I miss stuff, oh well. The problem is I haven't figured out how to use it effectively. And because of that, I don't post very often, I follow a small amount of people, and I have a pretty small following.

So . . . I'm hunting for Tumblr assistance.

Are you on Tumblr? If so, what's your username? And I'd like ideas on using Tumblr so it's not a rehash of Twitter and my blog. Because . . . don't you get super-tired of seeing the same post from the same person on all the sites they use? I totally do. And if you've mastered the art of reblog, what about copyright? That issue concerns me.

But if you're not on Tumblr, have you considered giving it a try?