School Library Journal likes The Summer of Moonlight Secrets!

My editor sent me this review from School Library Journal; after reading it, I felt like dancing in the streets! YAY! Hooray!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

"Allie Jo Jackson, 13, lives with her parents in the famous, fading Meriwether hotel, near Hope Springs , FL. She is ready for a less-than-stellar summer when Chase arrives with his travel-writer dad and proceeds to break his arm while skateboarding down a hotel hall. He is soon followed by sweet Sophie and a beautiful mystery girl, Tara , whose gleaming hair, shining skin, startling good looks, and penchant for midnight swims start the others wondering about her identity. The old hotel, with its grand staircase, long halls, crumbling upper floors, secret passages, and abandoned speakeasy, is just as much a character in the book as the young teenagers, all of whom face personal problems. The cast also includes a group of mean girls who taunt Allie Jo, calling her “hotel rat,” and a creepy man who insists that Tara is his runaway niece. Described in chapters that are alternately narrated by Allie Jo, Chase, and Tara, the summer flows along, filled with ordinary activities like card games and polishing the hotel’s brass fittings. Then Allie Jo and Chase discover Tara ’s identity, but are not sure whether to believe her strange story. There is a touch of summer magic and a dollop of mystery in this compelling story."–School Library Journal

Six Word Stories

Don't have time for that novel? Come, dear reader, I have 5 six-word stories for you!

Shot cheating husband. Jail not bad.

Suicide noose broke. Must lose weight.

God: I knew they'd do that.

Woman travels time. World now fabulous.

Armstrong: "One small step—" Director: "Cut!"

Grand Prize Winner, Middle School

Karen is the middle school student who earned the Grand Prize with her catchy essay. Click on the pic to enlarge. Good job, Karen!
My note to Karen: Here’s what I loved about your essay and why it stood out from among so many other well-written essays: You captured the elusive quality known as voice. What I mean by voice is while reading, I got a strong sense of the narrator’s personality. The way you expressed sadness, hopefulness, and even the mischievous desire for chocolate chip cookies was breezy and humorous. I liked that voice!

My favorite line in the whole essay was “I was even going to miss the sidewalk.” What an excellent line! You used an example that demonstrated just how sad you were, rather than merely saying, “I was really sad.” That’s called “showing, not telling,” and that’s an important concept in creative writing. Your essay contained many details, many examples, and I loved your use of hyperbolic statements, such as the one above and “filled to the brim with only old people,” and “awaiting my fate.” By over-exaggerating your feelings in this way, you created a thread of humor that ran all throughout your essay. I’m pretty sure you didn’t spend hours gazing at a framed photo of the sidewalk, but I got what you meant and it made me laugh. In fact, I spent a couple of days reading all the essays, and the next day, I kept thinking about that sidewalk line. It was so funny that I had to rifle through all the papers just so I could read it again.

The things you worried about and the observations you made struck me as true. As someone who moved around a lot as a young person, I know that you really do feel the loss of the physical home because of all the good times and friends it represents. I liked that you worried about being surrounded by old people and then—oh, no!—it seemed like it was true when all you observed in the lines of apartments was the occasional old man watering his yard. I’m laughing about that even as I type this!

I loved your descriptions: the pale green paint, being committed to finding the cookies, and lines of apartments. (That one word shows your initial displeasure with what you saw because it makes the apartments sound like barracks.) In addition to expressing your feelings, you also appealed to senses one doesn’t normally associate with a story about moving: smell, taste, and hearing.

Karen, I am pleased to give you the award for Grand Prize Winner. I’m certain you must be planning to be a writer because your talent already shows. Stay true to your voice, and your writing will always be authentic. It was a pleasure to read your essay.

Interview and Book Giveaway!

The new site for all things middle-grade, From the Mixed-Up Files, is hosting me today: an interview, Q&A, and best of all, a chance to win a free hardcover of The Summer of Moonlight Secret! Come on over!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets available as E-Book!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets is now available as an e-book! It can be purchased through Amazon (Kindle), Sony, Kobo, or Go Spoken. Violet Raines will soon be available in the same formats. Wow!

FREE! NEW! NINE BOOK GIVEAWAY! This Summer's Biggest Book Bonanza!

Do you love middle-grade literature? This is your lucky day, my friend. A bunch of MG authors and myself have started a new site called From the Mixed-Up Files, and our inaugural post is a NINE BOOK GIVEAWAY to ONE LUCKY POSTER!

Are you still here? Make haste, MG reader--click this link for your chance to win THE BIGGEST MIDDLE-GRADE BOOK GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA YOU'LL SEE ALL SUMMER!

Grand Prize Winner, fifth grade

Here’s what I loved about Dylan's essay and why it stood out from among so many other well-written essays: Dylan, you offered a different look at the situation of being new. Drawing from your own personal experience, you helped me to see what it would be like to not only be new, but to be facing the additional challenge of trying to fit in when you speak a different language. You were very honest in your essay, and that honesty hooked me.

Even though I have never had your experience, I was able to relate to it because of how well you expressed it. I understood that it was lonely and frustrating to come to this country and try to make friends but have difficulty because you and they spoke different languages. I knew exactly what you meant when you worried about sounding weird when you spoke English. I feel the same way when I try to use the Spanish words I know! I’m not sure I have the accent or the pronunciation right.

Your writing was sensitive and insightful. You had a unique perspective on being a new kid, and I was very touched by your essay. GOOD JOB!

Cappuccino and Turkey

Some days, the forces line up. I whip the lightest froth, mix the proper sugar, & the espresso pours rich and dark. Today was that day. Yes, dear readers--the perfect cappuccino. I ask you, does it get any better than this?

Oh, wait--it does! My agent sold foreign rights to The Summer of Moonlight Secrets! My book will be printed in Turkey! I can't wait to see what the text looks like. HOORAY!