Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Yesterday the ladies from #MGGetsReal, participated in a twitter chat. We discussed our books and tackling touch topics for a Middle Grade audience.

If you missed our chat, you can quickly read through the whole thing at Storify. 

Have you ever participated in a twitter chat? If so, was it a positive experience? Would you sign up to do it again? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.

Monday, November 28, 2016

An Author Podcast And #SHOPSMALL

On Saturday, I participated in my first ever podcast along with fellow Middle Grade author, Monika Schroeder. Our host was Ken Butcher, and you can listen to us at The Middle of the Air. Here's a picture, with Ken in the middle:

Immediately afterward, Monika and I signed books at Novels And Novelties, (Hendersonville, NC), for Small Business Saturday. My book is RUBY LEE & ME and Monika's is BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD. Novels And Novelties has  lots of signed copies on hand, so please stop in, and consider giving books for Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bluffton Book Festival

Bluffton is the most charming low country town I've ever been to, and I was thrilled to participate in the first ever Bluffton Book Festival. I spoke for half an hour on school integration, the teacher who inspired RUBY LEE AND ME, and the book's journey to publication. Below are some pictures from the event:

Friday, November 4, 2016

SCBWI Book Blast!

When it comes to marketing, it's hard to know what actually moves the needle, but that said, SCBWI's Book Blast is fast and cheap. They provided a template; I filled in the information and paid $25.

At last check, more than fifty people had viewed the Book Blast Page for RUBY LEE AND ME. You can see it too by clicking here: 

Several of my friends also have Book Blast pages. Take a look at BEAUTIFUL by Stacy McAnulty and THE FIRST LAST DAY by Dorian Cirrone.

Do you have a Book Blast Page? If so, post a link in the comments below, and I'll check out your page too!

Monday, September 19, 2016


Fifteen books were selected to be part of TRIO 2017, and I'm excited for RUBY LEE & ME to be among them. You can see all fifteen books chosen at the SIBA website:

For each book selected, a songwriter penned an original song inspired by the book, and a visual artist created a work of art. The Trio exhibit debuted this past weekend at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance conference in Savannah.

Artist Jennifer NyBlom created dolls that depict the main characters of my book, Ruby Lee and Sarah Beth:

I couldn't love these dolls more! The musician Chris Clifton wrote a song inspired by Sarah and Ruby's story. I haven't heard the song yet, but am really looking forward to it.

A big thank you to Shari Smith, the heart, soul, and mastermind behind TRIO!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August--#MSBookFest And #MGGetsReal!

Whew! August was a busy month. I attended the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson.

Here I am on a panel moderated by Deborah Wiles. The other authors are John Claude Bemis, Augusta Scattergood, Esta Spalding, John David Anderson, me, and Kathi Appelt. My new claim to fame is that I rubbed elbows with Kathi--literally! It was a tight squeeze down on the end.

Lots of cool marketing opportunities came my way with #MGGetsReal. Mr. Schu debuted the #MGGetsReal video. You can watch it on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read.

I grabbed the chance to blog for the Nerdy Book Club. You can read my post, "Middle Grade Books Serve As Windows and Mirrors," here.

Patricia Toht interviewed me about RUBY LEE & ME and the #MGGetsReal initiative. You can read it on the GROG.

And as part of the #MGGetsReal campaign, Kerry O'Malley Cerra compiled a list of 164 books that tackle tough topics for a Middle Grade Audience. You can view the list on The Pragmatic Mom blog.

A busy summer is winding down. Happy Fall, Y'all!

Monday, August 29, 2016

#MGGetsReal--A Conversation With Joyce Moyer Hostetter

I first read Joyce Moyer Hostetter's book, BLUE in 2006. I was especially drawn to BLUE because of its setting--rural North Carolina, near where I grew up. In BLUE, Ann Fay's daddy has gone off to fight Hitler during WWII, and while he's gone, Ann Fay is stricken with polio.

When I heard Joyce was writing a sequel, I couldn't wait to read it. COMFORT is one of those books that stays with you for a long time. Ann Fay was lucky enough to survive polio, but her recovery was a struggle. And while her daddy was lucky enough to live through WWII, he came back home a changed man, suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

Joyce's books have become perennial favorites among North Carolina school children, and now, nearly ten years after BLUE, Joyce has written a prequel. AIM is told from the viewpoint of Ann Fay's neighbor, Junior Bledsoe.

If you loved Joyce's prior two novels, I recommend pre-ordering AIM. And if you haven't read BLUE and COMFORT, then I recommend starting with AIM, and moving on to them. To celebrate Joyce's new book, I asked her a couple of questions that she's answered for my blog.

Hi Joyce, what book or books from your childhood left a lasting impression and why?

Blue Willow by Doris Gates  - This story of Janey Larkin, a migrant child, gave me a window into a world of poverty that I knew nothing about. The blue willow china plate which symbolized hope for Janey’s family captured my imagination and my sense of romance. For decades, I’ve collected blue willow dishes.

Elsie Dinsmore by Martha Finley –  The Elsie books are set on a southern plantation during The Civil War era.  Even as a child I had a love/hate affair with those books. I loved Elsie herself but I also thought she was impossibly perfect and that her moral standards were way too adult and unrealistic. But that did not stop me from devouring the books and I feel certain they had much to do with instilling in me a love of historical novels and a desire for authentic characters.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - From Anne, I learned about life during one of the world’s darkest periods in history.  I recognized in her an authenticity that I wanted for myself.  She was petty at times, feisty, earthy, and truth telling.  Maybe I learned from her that I could have a tender conscience as Elsie did while still being true to myself.  And while Anne was a Jew, I like to think she gave me insights into being an authentic Christian.

What book or books served as mentor texts when you were writing your own book?

I know that I was influenced by Sheri Reynold’s writing. The Rapture of Canaan and Bitteroot Landing are two novels (adult)  that come quickly to mind.  I love them for their spiritual themes and especially for their imagery and symbolism.

And then there are Sudie and Alice – two southern novels by Sara Flanigan. I love their heartfelt first person narratives and I wanted to tell a story by a compelling character who reached into readers’ hearts the way those narrators reached into mine.  Sadly, those books appear to be out-of-print and little known. But they represent some powerful storytelling and they deal with important themes of compassion, ignorance, abuse, and racism.  Those things are important to me also.

Thanks, Joyce, for sharing books that have influenced who you are as a writer! You can enter to win a copy of Joyce's book COMFORT and four other Middle Grade Novels by following this link and scrolling to the bottom of the page. #MGGetsReal