The Crimson Five series

Let’s Be a Little Brave

“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”

I’ve made it no secret how much I love CARAVEL by Stephanie Garber, and quotes from the book like this one are one of the million reasons why. Do you believe in fate? I’m not sure if I do but I am sure we have the power to change our outlook and chase our dreams. We just need to be brave.

So please tell me why, since Caravel is one of my all-time favorite books, that I haven’t read Legendary (the sequel) yet?? It could be because I’m absolutely sure I’m going to love it and so I want to save it for a time when I can savor it? I know, so ridiculous, right? To make matters worse, Finale (Book 3) is out now too. I’m seriously the worse reader/ fan on the planet! 

Have you guys read this YA series? If not, you must check it out. Such a spectacular story. But the bigger question is… Are you being brave today, doing something that will change your situation or help you chase your dream? Quotes from books can inspire us, (and I love that they do!) but it’s totally up to us to take action. So I’ll be brave if you will. I have more dreams to chase too and there is strength in numbers, right?! 💛

The Crimson Five series

Focusing on the Gems

No one knows you better than you know yourself. Because you only show the side of yourself that you want people to see. We all do. Right now, my house is a wreck with suitcases and clothes because we’re moving our kids down to Orlando for the semester next week. It has us all crazy right now! And after running errands all day, I definitely don’t want to share a pic of that!

Instead, I’m sharing a photo taken awhile ago, when Flip the Silver Switch was weeks away from publication. The cover is purple and black so my daughter and I did a mini photo shoot. We TRIED to get a good pic for this website. But seriously, why is it so hard to find a decent picture of ourselves?!

Today, since many of you are new to this blog, I thought it’d be fun to share my post from Instagram with the side I don’t mind showing. The good stuff… 10 gems about myself. But remember, as great as things seem on social media, no one’s life is perfect. I just choose to focus on the good stuff and all the things I’m grateful for. So here are a few gems about me. In case you’re interested!

💎 I’ve been married for 26 years and have a 22 year old daughter & a 20 year-old son. And a huge extended family!

💎 We moved into a new house on a golf course about 6 months ago and I’m still pinching myself!

💎 I’m a Disney Girl. If I could stroll around Main Street in Magic Kingdom and World Showcase in Epcot every day I would!

💎 I love all things Royal. I wish I had an English accent…and a royal wardrobe.

💎 I’m obsessed with The Young & the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, the Crown, and HGTV.

💎 I’m a middle grade author of The Crimson Five books. The 3rd, Pop the Bronze Balloon releases in August!

💎 I was a cheerleader for 13 years and coached the sweetest Junior Varsity team for 2. (Go Blue Devils!)

💎 I’m a former Odyssey of the Mind World Finals coach, reading teacher, and corporate trainer.

💎 I have a Masters Degree in Education and Bachelors in Psychology both from Nazareth College where I cheered for basketball and made lifelong friends.

💎 I hate driving and cooking but love road trips and baking. I love coffee dates and chatting. Talking to people and motivating them to chase their dreams is one of my favorite things to do!

Have a great weekend everyone. But first, what are a few of your gems? What’s something good about you?

The Crimson Five series

Has Your Dream Found You?

I’m curious. What did you love DOING when you were little? Dream of BEING when you grew up?

I loved writing plays and acting them out. It was one of my favorite things to do. So for years, I dreamed of being a soap opera actress!

I was never a theater kid though. Although I had the lead in both my middle school plays, I couldn’t even get cast for a minor role in my high school plays. They were musicals and apparently one needed to be able to sing to get picked! Ugh! So, even though I thought being an actress was my dream when I was young, at some point practicality stepped in and I let go of it…and dreamed new dreams.

Dreams are constantly changing. Our stories are constantly changing. No, I didn’t become a soap opera actress, but I do still love watching them! And now that I write books for middle school kids, I’ve found a way to write skits and plays into each one of them. Funny how the right dream has a way of finding you, even if takes you a while to know it’s looking for you!

Has the right dream found you? Does it relate in any way to what you loved doing as a child? What did you dream of doing or being? I shared my embarrassing story. Your turn!

Being in Disney World has always inspired me to dream bigger than ever. And if I’m honest, today I’m dreaming of having a cute little writing cottage (like this one in World Showcase) in my own back yard!

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The Crimson Five series

Two Years Already?

It’s January 9th… and my first book, Spin the Golden Light Bulb, is 2 years old already! How have 24 months gone by so fast? My head is truly spinning at the thought!

I have so many great memories of 2018, the year Spin the Golden Light Bulb debuted, and one of them is pictured here. It’s a photo taken at the Irondequoit Library when I saw my book on their bookshelves for the very first time!

It was always my dream to know my books would be accessible to readers through libraries. Seeing it in person at my hometown library was just so surreal.

Now two years later, not only is the sequel, Flip the Silver Switch, out in the world too, but the third book in the series is coming soon as well! 2020 marks the year Pop the Bronze Balloon will land on bookstore and library shelves too. I know I’m a lucky lucky girl.

It may not release until August 4th, but you can add Pop the Bronze Balloon on Goodreads or preorder it right now. ☺️ Thank you so much if you do:)

Add it on Goodreads.

Preorder from your favorite independent bookstore.

Preorder from Barnes & Noble.

Preorder from Amazon.

I know I’ve said it before but thank you to so many of you who’ve read and shared my books. You’re seriously all so sweet to do so, seriously all the best!

The Crimson Five series

You're Never Too Old to Set another Goal

Why do we all think we have to achieve certain milestones by a certain age? Graduate college by 22, get married and have an amazing career by 25, have babies by 30, find your life’s passion by 40, retire at 60…like what? Does it really matter if and when we hit certain milestones?

On the flip side, what if we reach a certain age and haven’t gotten to where we want to be? What if our dreams are still BIG but we haven’t reached them yet? I say, “So what? Do it now! Make a plan. Write it down. Take the first step!”

C.S Lewis was so right. “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.” I can’t be the only person who does more than wish. Wishing is stuff of magic and fairytales (which you know I love obviously!) but dreaming indicates an obtainable goal. I’m a dreamer and I know you are too. It’s a good day to take this fantastic quote to heart. I’m certainly going to and I hope you will too!

The Crimson Five series

Going Places in the New Year

How great is this quote? Storybooks are filled with great messages and this one from “Oh the Places You’ll Go” is perfect for the start of the new year. I love it in the literal and not so literal sense.

So where are you going in 2020?

I’m determined to be more fearless and intentional with my goals this year and also explore more of the ordinary places that I often overlook. More libraries. More indie bookstores. More coffee shops. More hidden gems in my own city. My problem is that I just love being home! But, if Dr. Seuss believes I have places to go then I guess I better get going!

Happy New Year, my friends! Cheers to a year filled with good people and good places for all of us!

The Crimson Five series

Need a Last Minute Costume?

Happy Halloween, from me… and my favorite costumed characters!

The Crimson Five’s skit was one of my favorite scenes to write, and their costumes were so much fun to think up. Need a last-minute costume idea? Spin the Golden Light Bulb has you covered:

• Kia: a dreamy-eyed little girl in pigtails, yellow overall shorts, and 10 rings

• Ander: a silly dancing jester in baseball pants, a vest with pointed shoulders, and a jester’s hat

• Jillian: a dramatic towns woman in a sparkly pink flapper dress, pearls, long white gloves, and a feather boa

• Mare: a bratty teen in a mini skirt, boots, choker necklace, and snapping gum

• Jax: an eccentric gatekeeper in a black top hat, cape, and very serious face

• Or you could always dress up as my personal favorite, their team preceptor: bubbly Seraphina, who would never be seen without a purple outfit of any type, purple platform heels, purple lipstick, and purple nail polish.

Have a fun day, everyone…I hope you see lots of creative costumes tonight!

And ready or not, it’s almost that time… Let’s hope they come! Or I’ll be forced to eat all this candy myself, along with the five extra bags that are waiting in the wings!

If you happen to be on Instagram, check out my post tomorrow. I’m doing a paperback giveaway of the Crimson Five books and I’d love for you to win!

Stay safe tonight! And don’t forget to save some candy for the kids!

The Crimson Five series

Letting Your Book Go…Until Release Day

A few months ago, a dear author friend, Vivian Vande Velde said something that made me laugh. We were talking about our upcoming book releases and she asked me why publishers refer to publication dates as release dates. She said something to the effect of, “It’s like our books our being held hostage or in jail.”

If you aren’t familiar with Vivian’s books (or her sense of humor) you should be! She’s the sweetest person and the author of 39 books! I can only imagine having that many stories in me or such amazing longevity as an author. She’s written mostly middle grade and YA, though she’s written a picture book too. So needless to say, she has been in the publishing business a very long time, and apparently, the term release day is sort of new. But it got me thinking. It does feel like our books are held hostage for a bit. We’ve written them, revised them, and edited them. We’ve done our job. But then we send them off to our publishers so they can do their jobs. We have to let go.  

So maybe held hostage isn’t quite right. It feels to me like they’re sent off to college. Like my kids. I know they’re there. I try to keep my distance and let them live their lives. I try to let go. But soon my book will be released. My kids will come back home. Both are cause for celebration! So much happens to books while they’re out of our hands—all necessary things. It’s incredibly hard to send a manuscript off for a final time, but that’s just it. When it’s time, it’s time. But the good news is, the next time you see your manuscript, it will be a book. Of course, it’ll be a galley or an ARC first, but once it’s released into the world, it will be the best version of itself. It will be published. Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!

I’m almost in that stage right now. I’ll have one more pass at Pop the Bronze Balloon before I have to let go of it completely. But the incredible news is, I now have a release date!

February 18. 2020

It may be the start of glorious Fall right now and the sparkly crisp season of winter will be here before we know it. But just as the dreariness of slush sets in, I’ll have this to look forward to. Pop the Bronze Balloon will be released into the world…finally soaring into the hands of readers! Ahhh, I’m so excited! I cannot wait for that day!

That’s really all I had to say today. My long-winded round about way of telling you that in just over four months, the third book in the Crimson Five series will be available. And readers will finally learn what happens to Kia, Ander, Mare, Jax & Jillian when they embark on a globe trotting adventure. I hope you’re just as excited as I am! Okay, probably not, but thanks for being happy for me! You guys are really the best!

Have a great day, lovelies! See you next week:)

The Crimson Five series

Writing the Acknowledgments Page of Your 1st Published Book

Have you ever thought about who you’ll dedicate your book to once it gets published? Or dreamed of writing the acknowledgments page? I bet you have. Writers imagine all sorts of things while writing their manuscripts and especially while out on submission. I most definitely did! Only, I never imagined the process of writing them would be so hard! Yesterday, I began the process of writing mine for Pop the Bronze Balloon and a couple of thoughts overwhelmed me: First, I cannot believe I’m writing this page for my third book, and second, this is just as difficult as it was the first time around! 

So because your book will get published one day, and I want you to be ready for it, I thought I’d tell you what it’s really like when you get that email from your editor that says: “Hey, just thought I’d check in. I meant to ask you… do you want a dedication page and an acknowledgment page in your book? If you do, I need them both ASAP!”

Um, yes! And oh, no! 

That’s when you drop everything and take a deep breath because you need to get your thoughts on paper like yesterday!

Okay. It’s fine. No big deal. Just one of the most important pages you’ll ever write. But you’ve got this. You’ve written a whole book. How hard can it to be to write a few paragraphs thanking a few people? 

Well, it is a little daunting. So, before you get started, here’s the deal:

10 things that will most certainly happen as you write your acknowledgments: 

  1. You’ve probably read hundreds of books through the years including every author’s acknowledgment page, but once you sit down to a blank screen to write your own, you have the terrible realization that you don’t actually know how to write an acknowledgment page. So, you grab the closest books to you and flip through the pages hoping to find a formula. That’s when you quickly realize…they’re isn’t one. 
  2. You’ll sob uncontrollably while writing them. The process of thanking the people who played a role in getting your 1st book published will feel like a therapy session turned trip down memory lane. And you’ll have an impossible time seeing the keyboard as you write. 
  3. A few paragraphs? Not likely. When you finally do get your thoughts down onto the page, it will probably read like an academy award acceptance speech. But longer. How can it not? So many people have played a role and you’ll feel like it’s your only chance to thank everyone because you may never get another book published again. And to be honest, there are a lot of people to thank. From your family and critique partners to your agent, editors, and publishing team there’s so many! Not to mention your friends, pets, and favorite coffee. The list is never ending!
  4. You’ll panic that you forgot someone. And panic some more. But trust me. You didn’t forget anyone because remember, your page is now is longer than your first chapter.
  5. You’ll try to write it in a humorous, witty, or other authorly way and it sounds terrible. But soon you’ll discover that if you write from the heart, the theme or tone you use doesn’t really matter. 
  6. You’ll revise, edit, and proofread it more times than some of your chapters. Because it’s your first book… and you are determined to get it just right. 
  7. You’ll be overwhelmed with gratitude because even though you spent years and worked incredibly hard on this book, it would have never been possible without all of these people working just as hard on your behalf.
  8. If you haven’t already, you’ll decide which person or people the book will be dedicated to. And it will feel like the most important decision of your life. It did for me anyway.
  9. You’ll stare at the page and wonder what life this is that you’re living, that this is really real. Your book will soon be published and you’re not dreaming any more. 
  10. And then you’ll reread the page one last time, sob some more, attach it to the email, and hit send…probably with a very happy heart. ❤

1st two paragraphs of two pages of acknowledgments for Spin the Golden Light Bulb

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I’m so grateful you did! I’m off to polish up my dedication page for Pop the Bronze Balloon today. But first, I’m cheering for all of you reading this who are hoping, dreaming, and wishing that someday you’ll be doing the same for your own book. Never stop believing it will happen. Your time is closer than you think and I can’t wait to read your acknowledgment page one day soon!

If you guys are interested in reading Spin the Golden Light Bulb, Flip the Silver Switch, or Pop the Bronze Balloon just add them to your Goodreads account or requests them at your local library. Both are free! The purchase links can be found on my book pages here as well so if you’re looking to buy them as a gift, or to read yourself, you can always do that too.

And as a nudge, if any of you have read any of the books (and like them!), it would help me out if you left a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads. Teachers, parents, librarians…any readers really, use those reviews to determine whether they should purchase . So if you have a second, I would appreciate it! As always…Thank you so much!

The Crimson Five series

Dialogue: Did the Right Person Say It?

Dreaming is good. Doing is better. If you want to reach your dream of getting your book published, then it’s time to get back to work on your manuscript. Last week I talked about characters—making your reader care about them by making them relatable, and making their goals crystal clear with high stakes. But those are just a few things your can do to strengthen your manuscript. Another is checking your dialogue—especially when you have many characters who show up scene after scene.

When dealing with multiple characters, it’s easy to assign dialogue to the wrong one. Each person needs to be involved in the conversation in some way and that way can be spoken or with a gesture. During the drafting stage, you just want to get the conversation on the page. Mare says this. Jax replies that. Ander looks at Mare, but says nothing. But once you’re in the revision stage it’s important to be sure the right dialogue is assigned to your characters. You may wonder why it even matters. Just getting the point across is enough, right? Well, no.

In Spin the Golden Light Bulb, the story revolves around a team of five kids. When they all speak in the same scene, it can be tricky to get the point across and make it sound natural. But it’s even harder than that because there are certain things that Jax would never say. Other things that Mare would definitely say. And Ander, well, Ander is Ander. He would never just look away without saying anything. How do I know? Because I know my characters like they are my own kids. Ander loves to be a part of the conversation. It would be very unlikely that he would be tongue-tied!

One of the adorable illustrations by Gabrielle Esposito in
Spin the Golden Light Bulb!

During revisions, I did a separate read through for each of my five main characters. I also did a sixth read through for the secondary characters. During each one, I would highlight their dialogue only and ask myself, “Would Mare say that? Is that the best response she could give? Does her response shed a light on who she is? Does what she’s saying move the conversation forward? Does it sound like something a real person would say? But most of all, I’m deciding if Mare is the person who should say that line, rather than maybe Kia or Jillian.

The process may sound tedious, and it is. But it’s so important especially with multiple characters in a conversation. You want your reader to get to know each one and this will help it to happen. You want your reader to be able to tell who is speaking, just by the sentence that’s spoken. Ander calls Kia by a nickname. Always. So when a sentence contains the nickname, it’s easy to know he’s speaking. The other kids never call her that. So when I’m revising I make sure that’s what he refers to her as. Ander loves to be the center of attention. He makes bold statements. Jillian is dramatic. Very. Mare is blunt. Dry. Kia is intense. She’s a worrier. Jax is quiet. Introverted. These descriptions don’t sum up all the reader knows about the five kids, but they are examples. And these types of things help me decide who would say what, when they’re interacting.

So that’s my best tip for dialogue. Make sure the right person is saying each line. Your story (and characters) will make more sense that way. I hope this helps as your revise your own manuscript. It’s definitely helped me!

On an author-life note, I’ve been paired up with a lovely teacher and class of fourth graders from Ohio for the Kids Need Mentors Program run by Kristin Crouch, Kristen Picone, and Jerrott Lerner. I’m so excited to work with them this year! I had an amazing experience last year with a class of fifth graders. It’ll be fun to see what comes of this new auther/ educator collaboration! I’ve also hit the 5,000 word mark on my new middle grade WIP. Not bad for just a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get a few thousand more words in this week and get to a point where it feels more like a story and not just a premise. Wish me luck!

I hope you’re making progress on your writing projects too. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Even a few words a day makes a big difference. I’ll be in my corner of the internet cheering for you…as I pour another cup of very creamy coffee and get back to work myself!

Thanks for checking in today. I’ll see you again next week!