New! For Teachers and Librarians – Virtual Author Visits!

It’s tough to be an author and even tougher to be a teacher in these “remote learning” times. How can we visit schools, when schools might not even be in session?

My Spooky Middle Grade clan of authors, led by the wonderful Kim Ventrella, is putting together a series of virtual author visits that you can watch at any time.  In this video I talk about The Artifact Hunters and The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle:

We introduce ourselves and then answer some of the most interesting “frequently asked questions”. Questions like, “How do you make your fantasy spooky?” and “How long did it take you to become an author?” and “How many revisions do you have to write?” If your students are interested in writing – maybe they dream (like I did) of one day becoming an author – we hope that these videos will inspire.

And we also have a new Bookshop page, which supports indie booksellers, yet allows you to order all our spooky books online.


News, And Fun

Last week Mr. Schu of Watch. Connect. Read. featured the release of the cover of my next book, Carry Me Home. The novel launches August 24, 2021 from Simon & Schuster.

I love this cover and am thrilled to be able to bring it to you now:




Carry Me Home is the story of Lulu and her little sister, and the disappearance of their dad, when they are in a difficult situation. This book is very close to my heart.

And here’s a little interview I did with Kim Ventrella, of my Spooky Middle Grade authors group!


Thrill in Yellowstone National Park

As you all know, I’m the author of Volcano Dreams: A Story of Yellowstone, which mainly focusses on the geologic aspects of this super volcano.

This past weekend, I had the thrill of a lifetime. We took a short trip into the Park (mask-wearing and distancing, of course), and just by chance arrived at Norris Geyser Basin, when the unexpected happened. Steamboat Geyser, the largest in height in the world, erupted, a major eruption. We estimate that at its height it topped about 250 feet, smaller than some but still enormous. And what a lot of water!!

The video here is about 20 minutes into the eruption, which was still going strong when we left. The sound is amazing, so be sure your sound is turned up. We could feel the vibrations under our feet.

I’ve been coming to this geyser basin for over 20 years, hoping to catch an eruption of Steamboat, so this was a complete thrill.

We also managed to watch two bull elks sparring with horns locked, heard elk bugling in the hills (what an eerie sound!), and experience the beauty of yellow aspen, snow on the mountains, and crisp fall weather.

If you can’t get to Yellowstone any time soon – or if you are a teacher or librarian and want materials to support studying the geology of a super volcano – check out my resources on Yellowstone, including videos and teacher guides.

Authoring Around

Lately I’ve been bouncing around the internet (cause bouncing around in person is not happening right now, sigh). I’ve been having lots of fun with these interviews and such. If you are into a bunch of authors spending some time talking about books, you may be interested.

Here is a Youtube video from the Books in Common discussion that I had recently with author Rosanne Parry. It was lots of fun – she was discussing her book A Whale of the Wild, and I was talking about The Artifact Hunters – but the nerdy book stuff was wide ranging. Rosanne and I were debut authors together. If you’re a book nerd too, you might find it interesting.


And here’s a discussion that four Spooky Middle Grade Authors had featuring the 10 Most FAQs from readers. Lots of laughs in this one!

And Kim Ventrella interviewed me on Facebook Live talking all things “spooky”:

And just in case you are more into audio than visual, I was interviewed reently by author Susanne Dunlap on her “It’s Just Historical” podcast.


Stay the Course

Writing is hard. It’s hard even when life is going smoothly, when your kids are in school and happy, when your finances are secure, when you have a support system/beta readers/great computer. When you’re not being chased by a pandemic or a fraught political and social climate.


So, if you are struggling right now, please don’t beat yourself up.

A puppy pic. Cause who doesn’t need a puppy pic?

I’ve been watching as my writing friends admit that they haven’t written in weeks (or months). Watching as sometimes they have a breakthrough (yay!) only to fall into despair days later when no more words will come. Watching (and, yes, experiencing myself) as their books march out into the Covid world to be met with a resounding echo of silence, because there are few opportunities to promote, and no one is really interested in paying for anything.

If there ever was a time that a writer might contemplate quitting, this is it.

But, please don’t quit. Kids need us, now more than ever. They need our hope, our tales, our worlds to escape to. Librarians and teachers need us. They need to have a place to send kids to that is safe and fun – and even if it might be scary, it’s still safe and fun. Parents need us, because reading provides a haven, and a book that is enticing may draw in even the reluctant reader.

Take time for self-help. Watch a rom-com. Take a long hike. Take a nap. Read a book just for fun. Exercise. Breathe. Be easy with yourself, especially if the words won’t come.

Write one sentence. Any sentence, about anything. Don’t push too hard, don’t make yourself stare at a blank page.

These are hard times, and yes, writing is hard enough in good times. Go easy on yourself, go easy on your writing. This too shall pass, and when it does, you’ll be ready to write again.

Please share your thoughts.


Writerly Craft Advice: September

As promised, I will continue to write about the craft of writing, and share those essays with you. They appear over on Medium, and when I can I’ll post the free-to-read link. If you like what you read there, will you please give it a “clap”? Thanks!


This article is the first by my writer son, Kevin Fox. He writes science fiction and his approach to world-building is unique and interesting. His approach is to treat your world as you would a character. You can read his article here.

The Opening Hook

In this essay, I write about what it takes to hook an audience – especially that all-important audience of one: an editor. Three things are required: a question, great voice, and the right tone. It’s important to study the “greats” and work harder on your opening sentence than any other in your story. Check out my article about this here.

Character as Gateway to Emotion

Kevin has also written an article on building characters, and on seeking the emotional engine that drives a story. Read more of his advice here.


And here you can find a post on the value of cliche – which might be surprising!

Creative Productivity

I subscribe to Shaunta Grimes‘s articles because they are filled with logical advice. Here’s one on how to be a productive creative.

I hope you enjoy reading these articles – please let me know if this is working for you!

A Change-Up

Dear Dedicated Readers…

I’m changing a bit of what I share on this blog.

As you may know, I love to write about the craft of writing. I have lots of thoughts – hopefully helpful! I also love to host other authors here, share favorite book lists, and other fun stuff.

Recently I became a Medium blogger. Medium is a subscription platform that attracts an amazingly huge audience, allowing writers to gain attention from new readers, and (here’s the kicker) pays the writer by the number of views the post gets. As a subscriber, you can view a certain number of posts each month for free, but otherwise subscription income is given back to the content providers.

Like me.

While we are not talking huge sums, income is income. My first post surprised me by gaining modest attention, and a few bucks. One catch with Medium is that the posts there must be completely original. I don’t think I can come up with two different craft posts every couple of weeks or more without exhausting myself.

So…I will be moving my writing craft posts over to Medium.


Don’t despair – I am allowed to share links that will allow you to read my posts for free. And I will do that here, each time I post on Medium, with a description of the content.

This blog will still host fellow authors. And I’m adding content for teachers, librarians, and home-schoolers – things that will help them in their work in these tough times. And I’ll talk about my favorite craft books. And, yes, I’ll talk about my own books, too, as it comes with the job description. I’ll still talk about writing, just not quite at the same level or frequency.

So please stick with me so you can retrieve the links as I do share craft thoughts over on Medium. Speaking of, here’s the most recent. It’s an article about why it’s important to let the writing mind rest, with a craft tip for how to see deeper into the story.

Thanks for hanging with me!!

Just For Fun!

I am part of a collective of authors who write “spooky books.” I love these other authors – and their books! Kim Ventrella, who is part of this group, is super-savvy when it comes to social media fun, and she turned me on to this cool site.

Take a look at what I did to have fun with the cover of The Artifact Hunters

For those rainy fall nights when you are taking a stroll downtown:


And here’s where I’d love to be! Broadway, up in lights (maybe some day…)


Or how about here! Option, anyone?


And last but not least:


Hope you enjoy!! Don’t forget to preorder at one of these fine vendors:

Authors in the time of Covid need all the help we can get. If you enjoyed The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, and think you’d enjoy The Artifact Hunters, please consider pre-ordering from one of these fine book sellers, with my thanks.

Country Bookshelf (signed copies! With fun stuff included!)