Hybrid Author Panel Summary – Check it out!

On Saturday I sat on the hybrid author panel and answered some questions about my experiences as a self-published author. Here is the link to Kristen Wixted’s summary of the event at The Writers’ Loft.

Me, Brendan Halpin, and Kristine Carlson Asselin on the hybrid author’s panel

Posted in Uncategorized

Indie Life – Panels!


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I love when others share their knowledge. In my before-kids-life I used to teach adults how to use apps. When I was a kid, my sister and I taught our youngest sister to read over a single summer. So I personally enjoy sharing knowledge. And that’s one of the things I appreciate most about the Indie experience. Authors are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with others.

As I continue to help with the upcoming NESCBWI conference tasks (I’ll post more on the conference soon, I promise. It’s going to be awesome!!), I’m also working on the information I’m going to share as I take part in a hybrid author panel that will be held on January 25th. If you have questions about the various ways to publish, stop by and ask us all your questions. We’re more than happy to share!

Click *here* to see the cool promo layout for the hybrid author panel

Posted in For Writers, Indie Life, Signing Event Tagged with: , ,

Indie Life – Cookie Recipe


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Happy Holiday Season everyone!
Because I’m inundated with Christmas prep I’m posting a cookie recipe that is our family tradition. Good luck getting ready and maybe you’ll try out this great cookie!

Christmas Cookie time!
For as long as I can remember my mom has made cookies at Christmas time. Some of my most favorite, like Sand Tarts (a really thin, buttery sugar cookie cut out) and Springerle. Springerle are easily my favorite cookie of all time. Very few people even know about them. So I’m here to hopefully create a new favorite for you.

You can read a bit about the Germanic history behind springerle and why the cookies have pictures on them. I don’t yet own a springerle rolling pin. I think this is the year I’m going to buy one. They’re not that expensive and they look so pretty.

I want to say you should be a fan of licorice before you start this recipe. But the anise gives the cookie a much more subtle flavor than licorice. It is distinct and, at least to me, perfect with a cup of hot steamed milk.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday from my family to yours.

Mom’s Springerle Recipe
4 eggs
1 lb. box of confectioner’s sugar (4 cups)
1 teaspoon Anise Extract
4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Anise seed (available in the spice section of the supermarket, especially during the holidays)

Beat eggs until light. Gradually add sugar and beat on high until it’s like a soft meringue. Add anise extract. Sift together the flour and baking soda. Blend into egg mixture on low. Cover bowl and let stand 15 minutes.
Divide dough in thirds. On lightly floured surface roll, with a regular rolling pin, each piece into an 8″ square, a little more than 1/4″ thick. Let stand 1 minute.
With a floured springerle rolling pin roll across the dough firmly to create the imprints. Cut cookies into squares with a sharp knife. Cover cookies with a towel and leave overnight. This dries the cookie and helps retain the picture, and helps make the cookies cake-like when baked.
The next day, grease a baking sheet, sprinkle with anise seed. Rub the underside of each cookie with a bit of water. My mom would keep a cup near the pan to dip her fingers. This helps the seeds to stick to the cookie.
Bake at 300° for 20 minutes until a light straw color. Do not allow them to brown. These cookies should be yellowish when done.
These cookies keep well in an air tight container for weeks, although I eat them pretty quickly. They do get pretty hard after a while… definitely a dunking cookie by the end of the week. Great with cocoa too.
If you don’t have a springerle pin, or the anise seed, the cookies will still turn out awesome!

Posted in Indie Life Tagged with: ,

Kindle Countdown Deal – Starts Today 8am pst

#Kindle Countdown Deal – Beginning Today 8am pst. Get GANGSTERLAND at a great price! Check out the reviews and see why it’s a great book for tweens 10+

Click the cover to find out!Gangsterland_CVR_tiny



Posted in Uncategorized

Something new – A Book Review!


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Hi everyone! Today I’m going to do something new. A Book review.Al Capone does my shirts

I recently read Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko and Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (yes, THAT Suzanne Collins).

Both books are wonderful reads for very different reasons.  But one theme ties them both. Each book deals very closely with family.

In Al Capone Does My Shirts, Choldenko writes about a 1930’s boy whose older sister has autism. They have recently moved to the island of Alcatraz where their father now works as an electrician and guard. Our main character, Moose, loves and protects his sister throughout the story, even when things get rough.

Gregor the Overlander1

The same can be said for Gregor in Suzanne Collins’ novel. Although this story is about a fantasy world that Gregor and his baby sister fall into, Gregor protects and shows his love for his sister, and his family as he searches the strange underworld for his missing father.

Both stories show the strength and bonds of love of family especially that of brothers and their sisters, and sons and their fathers.  I highly recommend both novels for these wonderful themes as well as the adventures contained within their pages.

Happy Reading!!

Have you read these books, what did you think?  What are some of the themes in the books you’ve recently read?

Posted in Book Review Tagged with: , , ,

Always be Writing


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I just had a chat today with the wonderful Laura Pauling and we came to a conclusion. As indie authors we should always be writing.

 I’m actually in the throes of revision right now but I really want to be writing. Especially as I watch all the Nano-ers rack up the word count. I love writing that first draft. Actually I have a love hate relationship with drafting. Most times it comes out of my brain like a fury and I have to hurry and write everything down as fast as my fingers can fly across my ergo keyboard. Other times it’s like pulling teeth.
But one this is certain. As an indie author we need to PRODUCE.


<<<——————– NOT this!



WRITING is really the key to success. Get books out to your readers. I’m not saying to create and publish books quickly, hurriedly and in a rush.  At some point you realize your own production schedule for what creates a great quality book and I think you should stick with quality first and foremost.

But as writers we need to write new stuff. I realized this after I spent the majority of last year not writing but focusing on promoting. In reality the best thing to sell a book is to have another book available for sale… and another and another.

So, my plan that I plan on implementing is to write new material (drafting) in the morning about 1k words and revise about 10 pages in the afternoon. I’m aiming high so let’s see what happens.

How about you, as an indie do you have a production schedule?


Posted in Indie Life, Writing Tagged with: , , ,

Classroom Visits and the Importance of Library


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Good Day everyone!

As promised  here I am with my update on my classroom visit that I did in early October.

The experience was awesome in many ways. Awesomely rewarding. Awesomely awesome.

Sept2013 032

I was scheduled to present to the first period class at 8:20am. The school was about an hour away, and if you know anything about Rt.495 rush hour traffic in the ‘burbs of Boston, you’ll understand why I was a little anxious about being on time. So to avoid this I woke up at 5:00am and got in the car by six. This avoided traffic altogether, and thanks to my handy dandy GPS, I arrived an hour early. I figured I’d sit in my car, listen to music and go through my presentation. But luckily the teacher was in his room and we chatted about his favorite subject and mine, BOOKS!

Things I learned:

I also learned from him, when I offered to donate books to the school library, that his school no longer has a library. This is where I almost cried. More on the importance of libraries in a moment.

Things I brought:

I brought with me 10 extra books. The teacher had informed me that some kids and teachers may bring in money the day of the event. And I did end up selling every single one that morning.   I also brought about 100 signed bookmarks to hand out to the classes in which I presented. I gave the extras to the teacher. I’m glad I remembered to bring 2 bottles of water with me, because I drank them both!

I am very glad I emailed a copy of my presentation to the teacher. His room was all apple products and I have a PC laptop so I would have had a hard time setting up quickly. I’m sure I would have figured it out, I’m a former IT tech, so that was my job at one point. But I’m all for going with what’s already working, so we used the presentation I had sent him that was already connected to the projector.

More things I learned:

The classes were wonderful. The first period class was a much quieter class than the two classes I had that came in after their gym class. But everyone was supportive and the kids asked the best questions.

This was my first time presenting to a classroom (I have lots of experience presenting to adults) and I found that I will need to create some room in my presentation for the kids to interact with me about what I’m telling them. Adults sit and take notes during a lesson. Kids want to share. I LOVED THIS. But I realized I hadn’t left much opportunity in my presentation for the kids to share their thoughts. But will definitely be tweaking my presentation accordingly.

As I mentioned before I worked with the treasurer of the PTO to handle the collection of money and the order forms. Because we were on a tight time constraint (the orders were placed the same week as my visit) the teacher was kind enough to send me the names of the kids who ordered autographed books. So I had them all personalized and signed before I showed up at the school.

I did sign those 10 additional books that morning but we fit it into the schedule. The one thing that surprised me the most was how much the kids treated me like a celebrity.  I wanted to tell them I wasn’t a celebrity at all, but then they felt special that I was in their classroom. So I didn’t burst their bubble and tell them I still had laundry to do, a cat box to clean and dinner to make when I got home. 😉 The last class of kids asked me to sign their creative writing books! I hope meeting me inspired them to keep writing.

Later, I spoke with the treasurer and we exchanged funds. I donated a portion to the PTO, which, to me, is never enough for all the work that they do. THANK YOU PTO MOMS and DADS!!

If you guys have any questions about details of my classroom visits please feel free to comment or email me. I’d love to help!

Posted in Emblazon, Middle grade, School Visits

Indie Life – Classroom Visit Followup and the Importance of Friendship


Click the pic to view the Indie Life List

Last time I posted for Indie Life I spoke about an upcoming Classroom Visit. I am definitely planning to let you in on all the inside secrets of the how-to’s and planning as well as presenting. Life has gotten “in the way” as they say, and I’ll be posting it on the 23rd during my regular Tween the Weekends post. I’ll also talk about the importance and benefits of being friends with your local library. Be sure to check it out!

Meanwhile feel free to visit the other awesome Indie Life posts going on today!!

(WP is giving me issues this morning, if you click the Indie Life banner to the right, it should take you to the linky list of Indie posts!)

Posted in Indie Life

Revision – What is it good for? Books that help.

As many of you know I have a classroom visit coming up where I’ll be discussing revision and it’s importance.I thought I’d take a minute today to show you some of the books I use during my revision process. Some more than others, but all are very helpful in learning the fine art of revision.

What is revision good for? Communication. As writers our job is to communicate our thoughts, our story, to our readers.  Seeing as telepathy is hard to come by, we need to make sure that the story that we see in our minds is the same as the one on the page. Revision is the step required to get it there.

Over the years I’ve come across a number of books covering revision, revision techniques and tools.  In no particular order, here’s a list of the books I turn to for help.

fire in fictionFire in Fiction by Donald Maass




self editing




Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King

first five pages




The First Five Pages Noah Lukeman



novel metaNovel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattison





breakout novel workbook



Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass




strunk and whiteThe Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White





The writers journey


The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler








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2. Ansha Kotyk 12. Monique Bucheger 22. Suzanne Warr
3. Cordelia Dinsmore 13. Mikey Brooks 23. A.L. Phillips
4. Lisa Orchard 14. Susan Kaye Quinn 24. Darlene Foster
5. Sharon Ledwith 15. Christina Mercer 25. Katy Pye
6. Lia London 16. D. Robert Pease 26. LM Preston
7. Lynn Kelley 17. J.L. Campbell 27. C. Lee McKenzie
8. Elise Stokes 18. Ima Bratt 28. Renata Suerth
9. Alan Tucker 19. D.M. Cherubim 29. You’re next!
Posted in Emblazon, Writer's Tools Tagged with: ,

Time Travel – New Release from Laura Pauling!



My good friend and critique partner, Laura Pauling has a great new book that I hope you’ll check out. This is one of my favorites for it’s moodier feel that reminds me of Eoin Colfer’s stories. I also really love how she handles the time travel, reminiscent of The Butterfly Effect, only with a lot more hope at the end. Here are Laura’s thoughts on the time travel aspect of HEIST.

I’ve always loved stories or movies that involve time travel. Not so much the science fiction aspect behind it, but how it affects the characters and the storyline. But, that didn’t mean I could ignore the science in my time travel novel.

At first, when Heist was going to be a humorous upper middle grade novel, there was going to be a science lab, a failed experiment, an explosion – and voila – time travel. That didn’t quite fit with the story that was coming out on the page. After the first draft, while doing more in-depth research, I stumbled upon a sickness called, the Stendhal Syndrome. This is a psychosomatic disorder causing dizziness, fainting, confusion, and even hallucinations, when exposed to a large amount of art, and more particularly, beautiful art.

I had my answer. In Heist, Jack Brodie, the main character, has this experience. Copies of the stolen art from the Gardner Museum Heist, bring him back to the night of the crime, March 17, 1990. Also, this fit better with my realistic, gritty time travel, then trying to have an actual futuristic time travel machine.



Laura Pauling writes young adult fiction. She lives the cover of suburban mom/author perfectly, from the minivan to the home-baked snickerdoodles, while hiding her secret missions and covert operations. But shh. Don’t tell anyone!Her YA Circle of Spies Series includes A SPY LIKE ME and HEART OF AN ASSASSIN. Book three, TWIST OF FATE will be released in the fall of 2013.

HEIST, a young adult, psychological thriller, was released the summer of 2013.

Posted in New Release, Young Adult

Available Now

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Gangsterland 1920's mystery GANGSTERLAND When Jonathan Brooks moves in with his dad, he's sure his life has hit bottom. Until the local bully causes him to discover an unusual skill: Jonathan can disappear into a book. The book requires him to solve a crime, rescue the girl and save himself...all before the final page.      

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Apocalypse Junction- Ink Portal Adventure #2 Can Molly and her friends win the geocache competition to rescue her sister before the last page of Apocalypse Junction?


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