The Crimson Five series

Things You Do Not Need to Write a Book

 A gorgeous office, a cute coffee shop, a fancy computer program, a literary agent… or permission from anyone. I wrote my first two unpublished books with a pencil on notebooks like these, and then retyped the chapters onto a Word doc on my ancient desktop computer.

I wrote all three of my published (or soon-to-be published) books in my living room (with my laptop propped up on my lap) sitting in an old green recliner.

I had no fancy office—or any office for that matter. But I still got my stories written. In the early years, no one knew what I was working on, except me. I liked it that way. I didn’t want anyone telling me that my dream was foolish or out of reach.

If you have the notion to write a book you don’t need much. Just an idea, a notebook & a pencil or a computer, and the obscene desire and determination to make your dream come true. If you have those things, the rest will follow. Just believe you can do it and you will.

When I started writing seriously, I had no idea if my writing was good enough. I had no idea if I would ever get a literary agent. I had no idea if my books would ever sell. And I certainly had no idea if anyone other than me would read them or like them!

In fact, back then, I would have given anything for real feedback… someone (anyone who knew what they were talking about) to tell me that I had even a speck of talent and should keep going. But at that point I had never even heard of critique partners or writing groups. I had no idea they were even a thing. So, I just kept writing. All in hopes that the stuff above would happen.

I wrote and wrote and wrote because I truly loved it. It was my thing. It made my heart happy. I loved my stories and that was enough. I didn’t have connections. I didn’t know any literary agents. I didn’t even know how to write. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. My writing was bad. Really bad. Like, when I read my early work now, I am positive that the fifth graders I write for have more skill than I did then. But I didn’t let that stop me.

Why?

Because I really wanted it. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to see my books on bookstore and library shelves. I wanted to write stories that kids read. I wanted them to love those stories as much as I did. So, I kept writing with just my notebooks, laptop, and a crazy determination that I could do this.

Now, as of a few months ago, I have an office. I have a desk, a prettier chair, and walls to hang pictures. Pictures of my book covers! And let me tell you, that reality has not sunk in yet. At all. But today as I write my sixth book, one that I hope will be published one day too, there are still things I do not need. I don’t need this office. I don’t need a coffee shop like you see in the movies. I don’t need Scrivener. I need the same things I’ve always needed:

…an idea, a pencil & notebook, and a laptop. And, an obscene desire and determination that I can do this again.

If you have these things, just know it is possible. And there’s at least one person out there who believes you can do it… me!

So, let’s hear it! Are any of you writing a book? If you are, yayyy! Is it for adults? YA or Middle Grade? Nonfiction? A picture book? Romance or whatever? Let me know. I miss my cheerleading days and I’d love to cheer for you!

Pop the Bronze Balloon is up for pre-order: Click here for details!  

The Crimson Five series

Happy World Read Aloud Day!

There are some days when I feel more like an author than others. Today was one of those days! To celebrate World Read Aloud Day, I spent the day Skyping with middle school students throughout the country. We talked books and writing, I read the first chapter of Spin the Golden Light Bulb, I recommended books that I love, and answered amazing questions. Yes, it really did take me four years to write STGLB. Yes, I love Mac and Cheese. I mean, who doesn’t?! It was such a fun way to spend the day, reinforcing the idea that reading aloud has so many benefits to children and adults alike. Thank you to all the classrooms I visited today. I loved chatting with all of you!

I think the art of reading aloud at home should be an everyday thing. And not just for the little ones. They aren’t the only ones who love listening to a good story. Hello podcasts and audiobooks! Why not read to each other? It’s a great way to connect and a great way to share stories. What do you think?

What are you guys reading today? I began reading Shannon Messenger’s middle grade series a short while ago. I’m reading the first book, the Key to Lost Cities right now. It’s so good! I can definitely see why it has been a best seller. I love so much already! But picking it up is going to have to wait until later tonight. I have a thousand words to add to my WIP first. Wish me luck. And if you’re writing today, good luck to you too!

The Crimson Five series

Get Your Mind Straight. Imagine the Best!

“Grandma Kitty always says that worrying is just imagining the worst possible outcome, and I never want to imagine the worst possible outcome. I want to imagine the best.”

Pop the Bronze Balloon (The Crimson Five: Book 3) releases 6 months from today, guys! Six. So, obviously I had to use a quote from it for my first Stuff of Storybooks post of February. I love so many quotes from this book and this is definitely one that I try so hard to live by. My girl Kia Krumpet does too and if I ever have trouble staying positive, I think of her and my mind gets straight again.


I hope you’re not worrying about anything today. Listen to my protagonist. She may only be 12 but she knows good advice when she hears it! She imagines the outcome she wants and then makes it happen… with a little help from her team! See why I love her so much?

Are you typically a bright & sunny or gloom & doom kind of person? Comment with a word or emoji. I’m definitely all about positivity 🥰✨🌺☀️🌸⭐️!

The Countdown is on! August 4, 2020
The Crimson Five series

Take the Leap. You Know You Can!

“They say if you dream a thing more than once, it’s sure to come true.”

Aurora sure was a smart girl.

You guys know I love my Disney quotes and this one from Sleeping Beauty is in my top five. Besides, I’m a testament to the fact that if you dream every single day, with your whole heart (and also think and work and persevere long enough too) your dream will come true. That’s called daydreaming… and determination.

My stories would never have turned into books without either. So when I see this quote, on this sweet statue my son gave me years ago, I’m reminded that dreams really do come true. And they can for you too, if you dream about yours every single day.

For those of you who are new to my blog, our kids are doing the Disney College program this semester. It’s an amazing opportunity for them but ugh it was so hard to leave them. My husband and I are back from Orlando now, after a week getting them settled (well, and having a little Disney fun too!) and I’m surprisingly okay. Maybe it’s because I’m throwing myself into writing something new now and I’m too tired to be sad. Or maybe it’s because I know they’re chasing their dreams and I’m so grateful they had the courage to take the leap.

Here they are on their first day. I may be biased but I think they’ll do a great job!


Have a great week, guys. I hope you’re finding a way to take a leap… and chase your dreams too!

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!

.

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!