Happy Labor Day if you celebrate here in the U.S.! I hope you have special plans to celebrate all your labors this year.
I haven’t posted here since March! Life has been pretty busy—in all good ways—but I miss sharing with you all. So, let’s get right to the fun stuff! I’m giving away a fantastic mix of three middle grade hardcover books today—spooky, heartfelt, and adventurous. Be sure to scroll down to enter to win at the bottom of this post. Contest ends September 12th. U.S. readers only please.
Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur Bradley
From the critically acclaimed author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel comes a thrilling new middle grade mystery novel inspired by Alcatraz Prison. If you love ominous, atmospheric stories, then you’ll love this book.
Read my 7 Reasons Why to Like Daybreak on Raven Island and my full review here!
Sunshine by Marion Dane Bauer
Set in the northern Minnesota wilderness, a timeless novel about a boy and his imaginary dog explores the legacy of guilt and blame—and what really constitutes a family.
A must-read for dog lovers, children of divorce, and the imaginative and outdoorsy, Sunshine is a poignant, ultimately hopeful story about self-discovery, facing big realities, and finally, forgiving the things—and people—you can’t forget.
The Dare Sisters by Jess Rinker
Savannah Dare has always wanted to be a pirate. She grew up on legends of Blackbeard from her grandfather―her best friend and fellow treasure hunter.
But now he’s gone. Savannah and her sisters, Frances and Jolene are left to find Blackbeard’s lost loot on their own. It was their grandfather’s dream, and they can’t let him down.
Check out book 2 as well, The Dare Sisters: Shipwrecked!
And now for some bookish news of my own …
The final and third volume of Unicorn Island: Beyond the Portal has released digitally in a 5-part serial on the Epic! Unlimited platform for young readers. Get access here to the entire Unicorn Island series in a 15-part serial at the award-winning, leading digital library for kids: https://www.getepic.com/! However, to read the entire serial of Unicorn Island’s three volumes you’ll need the unlimited subscription for $9.99 a month. Plus, all the audiobooks are included as well! Not online here? No worries—the 3rd volume also releases in hardcover April 4th, 2023. Check out my Unicorn Island books and get all the Unicorn Island updates here.
Pre-Order Volume 3 in hardcover Beyond the Portal here! Out 4/4/23
And on to travel news! In May I visited my son, Joshua, on Oahu for three weeks. He picked me up at the airport after a very long travel day with a fresh lei! We had so much fun touring around the island from where he lives in Waikiki to botanical gardens to pretty Kailua Beach to farmer’s markets to my fave spot, Haleiwa at the North Shore.
The best part of our trip? Spending five days on the Big Island … because volcanoes! I immediately fell in love with this big island (literally like four times the size of densely populated Oahu). It’s wild, ruggedness was breathtaking. Plus, waterfalls galore and so empty and black at night, you see nothing for miles driving under the stars. The climate is wild as well. It can go from 50 degrees at night to 82 driving north then to 75 and 65 and back to 82 all in the span of an hour’s drive. We traveled down the 19-mile long Chain of Craters road all alone at night to walk an ancient petroglyph field with flashlights.
We stayed in this little Hawaiian paradise house on a private tropical acre where we heard and saw no one except dozens of tree frogs. Back in 2018, a volcano exploded in this neighborhood taking out 700 homes as lava made a swath to the sea. Miraculously, no one was even hurt but it’s eerie to drive around to come upon a road to nowhere as jagged black lava has taken over. And oh, there was more lava! Volcanoes National Park was AMAZING. To see bubbling craters and lava rivers at night was something I’ll never forget. We even hiked across an old lava crater lake. Our favorite town was Hilo—the largest on the island with 4,000 residents. Best farmer’s market, too! Local crafts and exotic food like ice cream fruit and sour sop fruit.
After Hawaii, there was more travel twice to Cape Cod for lovely writing retreats. I did lots of hiking along the bay and ocean and even kayaked among a pod of 50 seals!
We celebrated the release of my friend’s second novel, The Edge of Summer. If you’re looking for a heartfelt read check out The Edge of Summer by talented author, Erica George.
You’ll be swept away by this big-hearted novel about one girl navigating first loss and first love during her summer on Cape Cod.
Our son came home to visit in July, and we had a blast getting away for a week in the Finger Lakes of New York and touring Jim Thorpe, PA.
We had a peaceful cabin on ten acres to explore. There was hiking at Letchworth State Park and kayaking ….
On the way home we visited the Corning Museum of Glass. Highly recommend! You need an entire day to take in the glass blowing demonstrations, glass art, and historical glass collections going back 3500 years. Plus, the town of Corning is adorable and the perfect spot for lunch. Then Josh and I zoomed down to North Carolina as he wanted to see his grandpa.
I got to see my Little Sister again, too. My first Unicorn Island book is dedicated to her.
It’s been so wonderful to see her grow up over the years. While I’ve now moved too far away to officially be her Big Sister anymore, I’m still grateful to have her in my life. She is such a joy. I see the world through a different, amazing lens with her. This is so much why I love to write for kids. If you’re considering joining Big Brothers Big Sisters, I highly recommend this organization.
AND I’m so giddy as I decided to treat myself and rent writing office space away from my home office.
It’s the perfect space on an adorable little historic street and I’ve already met so many people in the neighborhood strolling by “the author’s office” who will be characters in future books. LOL!
And this office space was just what I needed to finish writing THE END on a new book! There’s nothing quite like this feeling of exaltation for a writer. I created the idea on a walk last December and didn’t start it until this spring. I struggled with it for many reasons … family needs, vacation, health issues. Also, the fact it’s a different kind of story for me. Writing middle grade in alternating points of view for the first time and in a school setting (I skipped much of school in my time, off daydreaming, reading, and writing in secret nooks!). It also includes characters with autoimmune issues like me.
Writing THE END again got me thinking of my book writing journey over the past years and I looked to what I’ve accomplished.
My first finished book sits printed in a shoebox (literally), others are unfinished or unrevised (or need major re-plotting!) or didn’t sell (yet!).
Here’s what I discovered I’ve achieved. It gives me heart, and to remember this when I’m feeling despaired over writing.
- 14 books written
- 6 books published
- 3 book ideas plotted to start
- 3 books to be revised
- 2 book ideas
- 2 books in-draft
- 1 book coming out 2023
- 1 book on submission through my agent
Others have done so much more than me, and others less. But this is my journey, no one else’s. Remember that for you, too. If you have dreams to achieve, I hope you write a list of all you’ve accomplished and take heart in what you’ve done–and all you can still do with the time you have ahead.
And finally, I’ve been working on a big project I’m super passionate about! As you all know I love being in nature and creating—so I decided to bring my two favorite combos together with my very own Etsy shop. My shop “Go Wild Design: Nature Inspired Gear, Gifts, and Apparel” offers my unique designs.
I have 150 products created but will debut this fall with about 35 and release more monthly. Here are some I’m working on. So much fun! Looking forward to sharing soon!
Happy reading everyone!
ENTER THE 3-BOOK GIVEAWAY!