FREE School Day Webinar with Picture Book Authors from the SCBWI MD/DE/WV Region

Check out this free webinar hosted by the MD/DE/WV Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators! This webinar is open to everyone as part of the Read Local Challenge, which gives you the chance to win prizes by reading books by featured authors from Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.  Join us as these authors discuss their inspirations and challenges and answer your questions!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 10-10:30 AM Eastern: A Conversation with Picture Book Authors Veronica Bartles, Sue Fliess, and Megan Wagner Lloyd

As this event happens during the school day, teachers are welcome to log in live with their classes to watch and submit questions to the authors!  The webinar will last for 30 minutes.

Register here to attend live or receive a link to the recording after the event.






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Cool Stuff in DCI’s Online Auction!

I’m thrilled to be supporting the latest fundraising effort for Deaf Camps, Inc., a nonprofit I have been volunteering with since 2001.

To support its 2018 Scholarship Fund, Deaf Camps, Inc. is holding its 2nd annual Online Auction from April 15-May 15.  Check out the many handmade items, travel packages, gift certificates, and event tickets – but especially these items of interest to the bookish:

Critiques from my amazing agent, Steven Malk of Writers House 

Known for his sharp editorial eye, Steven Malk represents a wide range of authors and illustrators, including 2016 Newbery Medal Winner Matt de la Pena, 2017 Newbery Medal Winner Kelly Barnhill, and luminaries such as Jon Klassen, Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith, Mac Barnett, Marla Frazee, Kadir Nelson, Ruta Sepetys, Colin Meloy, Carson Ellis, Jennifer Donnelly, Cynthia Rylant, Adam Rex, Sara Pennypacker, Loren Long, Christian Robinson, and Jillian Tamaki. There is simply no one like Steve for unlocking the potential of a manuscript and giving you the feedback you need to get it to the next level – and the knowledge of the market to know where to pitch it.

Critiques from the incredible Andrea Morrison of Writers House

Andrea Morrison is an Junior Agent at Writers House, where she started as an intern in 2009. She’s had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators in genres ranging from picture books to middle grade and YA to adult literary fiction and nonfiction. Having studied Literature/Writing at University of California, San Diego and having earned her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, Andrea is hands-on editorially. She is hungry for YA that blends crazy-beautiful language with characters navigating the nutty, magical, and hard parts of being a teen, middle grade that is whimsical and magical, laugh-out- loud funny, or heartbreaking, and picture books that, whether funny or sweet, will be read multiple times.

Critiques from the inimitable Hannah Mann of Writers House

Hannah Mann is a Junior Agent at Writers House. She grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and has always loved stories. She got a BA in Narrative Studies from the University of Southern California, where her career goal morphed from doctor to writer to editor to agent. She has been assisting Steven Malk in the San Diego office since 2013 and began building her own client list in 2017, focusing on Children’s work from young picture books through YA.

Exclusive Sword and Verse/Dagger and Coin Book Package

This exclusive package features a signed hardcover of Sword and Verse, a signed bound manuscript of the sequel, Dagger and Coin (which will be published by HarperTeen in October 2018), AND a special collection of extra stories and scenes from the world of the novels. This collection includes all of the extra stories found here PLUS five new scenes and stories not available anywhere else, including a novella from Mati’s point of view.


$100 toward any Stories By Hand Program

My Stories By Hand programs bring basic American Sign Language to libraries, schools, camps, childcare centers, and homeschool groups through stories, songs, and fun activities.  Find out more about the range of programs available at



More about Deaf Camps, Inc.:

deaf camps inc logoDeaf Camps, Inc. is an entirely volunteer-run non-profit organization dedicated to providing fun, safe, communication-rich camps that promote the physical, spiritual, and social development of Deaf/hard of hearing children and children learning American Sign Language.


Check out all the items for bid  here and make your bids, knowing that every dollar raised goes straight to Deaf Camps, Inc.’s 2018 Scholarship Fund. Thank you for helping us bring needy kids to camp!

The DCI Online Auction is run through A credit card is required to register and bid.


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Read This!: THE SHIP BEYOND TIME by Heidi Heilig

The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl From Everywhere, #2)The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

Summary: After what seems like a lifetime of following her father across the globe and through the centuries, Nix has finally taken the helm of their time-traveling ship. Her future—and the horizon—is bright. Until she learns she is destined to lose the one she loves. To end up like her father: alone, heartbroken. Unable to face losing Kashmir—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—Nix sails her crew to a mythical utopia to meet a man who promises he can teach her how to manipulate time, to change history. But no place is perfect, not even paradise. And everything is constantly changing on this utopian island, including reality itself. If Nix can read the ever-shifting tides, perhaps she will finally harness her abilities. Perhaps she can control her destiny, too. Or perhaps her time will finally run out.

I loved THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE and I found myself utterly swept away by THE SHIP BEYOND TIME. It actually took me a couple of weeks to read it, not because it was hard to get through, but because this is the kind of book I wanted to just lose myself in, so I refused to even pick it up unless I had time to do so. This is a book to savor, from the lush, intricate worldbuilding, to the complex characters and their shifting relationships, to the rich premise that Heilig constantly takes in bold, unexpected directions. Heilig writes my very favorite kind of fantasy: the kind that engages both your brain and your heart. Nix is one of my favorite YA heroines; she’s smart and studious and full of agency, and strong without ever falling into Girl Warrior tropes. Her conflicted relationship with her father is one of the highlights of the books, and is heartbreakingly resolved in this book. And the swoon level in this book is high; let’s just say that getting several chapters from Kashmir’s point of view felt like a gift. If you’ve been looking for a wonderful fantasy novel to lose yourself in, dive deep into THE SHIP BEYOND TIME.


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Upcoming Webinar: Promoting Your Work Through Collaborative Marketing

I’ve often said that starting The Sweet Sixteens debut group was the best decision I made as a new author – not only did it give me a great support network, but it also helped me understand that some of my best marketing and promotion moments happened when I was supporting other authors’ work. Since then, I have been honored to serve first as Published and Listed Member Coordinator and now co-Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators MD/DE/WV region, and have lots of opportunities to connect and cross-promote with other authors. One of the most exciting has been participating in the Read Local Challenge, a massive multi-author reading incentive program run by human dynamo Veronica Bartles. I am honored to co-present this webinar with Veronica:

Promoting Your Work Through Collaborative Marketing

90 minute webinar presented by Veronica Bartles and Kathy MacMillan

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 7:00pm Eastern/ 6:00pm Central/ 5:00 Mountain/ 4:00 Pacific

SCBWI Members: $15         Non-members: $25

Learn from home! A 90-minute webinar to help you better promote your work, whether you are traditionally published, self-published, or a hybrid author.

Many writers and illustrators dread marketing, but promoting your work doesn’t have to be a chore! Sometimes, spreading the word about others’ books is the best way to market your own.  Learn how to collaborate with other children’s book creators on events, programs, and initiatives that will raise the profile of your work without turning you into a carnival barker.

Veronica Bartles is the author of the picture book, The Princess and the Frogs (Balzer + Bray), and the young adult novel, Twelve Steps. As the Published and Listed Coordinator for the MD/DE/WV Region of SCBWI, she coordinates the Read Local Challenge to facilitate connections between schools/libraries/bookstores and our local authors/illustrators.

Kathy MacMillan is the author of the young adult novels Sword and Verse and Dagger and Coin (HarperTeen), the board book Nita’s First Signs (Familius), and many resource books for parents, educators, and librarians. She is the co-Regional Advisor for the MD/DE/WV Region of SCBWI, and is the founder and lead administrator of The Sweet Sixteens debut group.



Register now!

A recording of the webinar will be available for one month after the live event. The recording will be for registered attendees only, so if you can’t make the live event, you can register to view the recording. Registration will close on April 24.


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AwesomeCon and Awesome Giveaway

Hope to see you this weekend at AwesomeCon in Washington, D.C! I’ll be signing at the Nerd Girl Books Booth (K07) on Saturday from 1-5 PM and Sunday from 10AM-12PM and 3-5 PM. 

Nerd Girl Books promotes female speculative fiction and nerdy authors, as well as female protagonists in new and familiar worlds. Authors include: Beth Woodward, Lynn Almengor, Mary Fan, Leigh Goff, Meg Eden, and me! We will also be offering a discount bundle deal with all of our books for a special price. Our books include genres of: magical realism, fantasy, urban fantasy, and contemporary. See you there!


And oh, by the way, bound manuscripts of Dagger and Coin are in the world now! The first giveaway is live, so listen to the adorable kitty and enter:

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Read This!: THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life

Can I just say “READ IT!!” over and over again and call that a review? There are a lot of reviews out there that do a better job than I ever could of exploring the place of this book at this moment in society, but all I can say is how it impacted me as a reader. When a book gets as much buzz as this one has, and wins so many awards, I always go into reading it a little suspiciously, like, “Can it really be THAT good?” The answer, in this case, is “OMG absolutely!” Even all the accolades didn’t prepare me for what a gut punch of a book this would be, for how immersed I would become in the world of the story -and for how much, despite the heavy subject matter, I would truly enjoy spending time with Starr and the other characters. It’s an incredibly timely book, but its message and its story and the depth of its characters situate it as a classic for the ages. I full expect to see it on required reading lists for years to come.

THE HATE U GIVE is out now.

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Coming Even Sooner: DAGGER AND COIN

Yesterday I got some terrific news: the publication date of Dagger and Coin has been moved earlier, to October 9.  And Sword and Verse will now be released in paperback on September 4.

Of course this is exciting because it means that my ambitious, impatient, sarcastic, smart, determined heroine will be out in the world even sooner…but it’s also exciting because I get to announce that the book’s launch with be happening at the coolest place – the Maryland Renaissance Festival! I’ll be at signing at Page After Page Bookstore inside the festival village all day on October 13 and 14, with special Dagger and Coin launch festivities happening on Saturday, October 13. Mark your calendar!  Details to come!

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Read This!: HOLDING COURT by K.C. Held

Holding CourtHolding Court by K.C. Held

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined. For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies. The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

This book has it all – a winning heroine, a quirky cast of characters, a chilling mystery, an unexpected love triangle , not to mention a gorgeous castle. The reader is carried along by Jules’ funny and warm narration as she approaches the fantastical events of the story – including her own inconvenient psychic blurts – with practical humor. This is the kind of book you’ll be excited to dive into each time you sit down to read; spending time with Jules and her friends is just fun (dead bodies notwithstanding).

HOLDING COURT is out now.

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Read This!: THE CASE FOR JAMIE by Brittany Cavallaro

The Case for Jamie (Charlotte Holmes #3)The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

Summary: It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Until strange things start happening to him. Strange things that might mean nothing at all—or that someone is after him again. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty, and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex. Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows that her Watson can’t forgive her. Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but there is someone who wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead. Holmes and Watson face the ultimate test: they must unravel the case of their lives without unraveling each other.

Given how much I absolutely adored the first two books in this series, it will come as a surprise to no one that I savored this third installment twice, just basking in its awesomeness, before I could bring myself to review it. I was afraid, in the beginning, that this would be an anxiety-inducing book, because the idea of Jamie and Charlotte being apart was difficult for me. But Cavallaro is such a masterful storyteller that even when they are apart, we see, in chapters alternating Jamie and Charlotte’s points of view, how much they are still entwined in each other’s lives, and how they are being irrevocably drawn back together. And when their paths do collide again, at exactly the right time and place, and in the most Holmes-and-Watson way possible, well, it’s just magic. Jamie and Charlotte occupy an important place in my heart, of course, but Cavallaro made me fall in love with so many other characters too, even when I was resisting like mad. (Especially Elizabeth, the girl Jamie dates when he’s trying to get over Charlotte. There is no earthly way I should like Elizabeth, and yet, she won me over in a few pages.) With gripping action, realistic relationships, and characters that are funny, flawed, and real, this book does not disappoint. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read it again.

THE CASE FOR JAMIE is out now.

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Kittens, Delays, and Upcoming Excitement

This winter has been full of cuteness, because we got two new adorable feline family members for Christmas:

The black and white one is Gruntle, named by my son because she is almost always content and never disgruntled – get it?  The grey and white one is Mary, named after NASA engineer Mary Winston Jackson because she is independent and determined and loves to explore.

As you can imagine, this much cuteness in one household can be distracting, especially when you’re trying to get your writing done! Fortunately we still have our wise elder cat, Pancake, to keep the little ones in line:

Pancake in her Ewok costume.


On the writing front, I have been working on preliminary promotion for Dagger and Coin, which comes out November 20 from HarperTeen.  If you haven’t seen the cover reveal, go check it out and enter to win a copy of the ARC and a bookmark with your name in the language of the gods!

I also just got word that my upcoming board book, Nita’s First Signs, which was due out April 3 from Familius Press, has been pushed back to June 16. The book has a unique slide-open design and lots of moving parts, so I guess the engineering required more time.  I so excited about how the design and artwork and story came together for this book, and I can’t wait to share it with you!  In the meantime, you can see some of the artwork in the sign demonstration video here.

Upcoming Appearances:

The MD/DE/WV Region is pleased to host a FREE webinar, open to everyone, featuring young adult authors Kathy MacMillan, Linda Budzinski, Meg Eden, Pintip Dunn, and Christina June! This webinar is presented as part of the Read Local Challenge, which gives you the chance to win prizes by reading books by featured authors from Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia!FREE Webinar! A Conversation with Young Adult Authors – Saturday, March 3 at 3 PM Eastern time

The MD/DE/WV Region is pleased to host a FREE webinar, open to everyone, featuring young adult authors Kathy MacMillan, Linda Budzinski, Meg Eden, Pintip Dunn, and Christina June! This webinar is presented as part of the Read Local Challenge, which gives you the chance to win prizes by reading books by featured authors from Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia! Join us as these authors discuss their inspirations and challenges and answer your questions! A recording of the webinar will be available after the event.  Please register below to receive access information for the live event or recording. Register at

MD/DE/WV Region SCBWI Conference March 17, 2018 – March 18, 2018 at the Maritime Conference Center, Linthicum Heights, Maryland

2-day conference featuring keynotes, breakouts, and intensive workshops for creators of children’s books. Opening Keynote: James Ransome. Closing Keynote: Hena Khan. I will be facilitating the Marketing Forum as well as serving as co-chair for the conference. Find the complete schedule and registration information at


Nerd Girl Books at AwesomeCon in Washington, D.C March 30-April 1, 2018

I am so excited to be a part of Nerd Girl Books, promoting female speculative fiction and nerdy authors, as well as female protagonists in new and familiar worlds. Authors include: Beth Woodward, Lynn Almengor, Mary Fan, Leigh Goff, Meg Eden, and me! We will also be offering a discount bundle deal with all of our books for a special price. Our books include genres of: magical realism, fantasy, urban fantasy, and contemporary.


nErDCamp NJ (Chatham, NJ), Sat, April 21, 8:00am – 3:30pm
This is a FREE EdCamp “unconference” with an exclusive focus on literacy instruction. More information and registration at http://nerdcamp​  I’ll be presenting “Creating a Calmer Classroom With American Sign Language” and participating in a panel on “Author Visits Using Skype and Google Hangouts”.


Washington Writers Conference 2018, May 4-5, 2018 at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in College Park, MD.

Plenary sessions on craft, agent pitch sessions, panels and more! I will be participating in the panel “Through the Wormhole: Debut Sci-Fi Authors Tell All” on Saturday afternoon at 3 PM with authors Tara CampbellNik Korpon, and Meg Eden. More information and registration at


Posted in Cats, Dagger and Coin, Little Hands Signing series, Nita's First Signs, On Publishing, Read Local Challenge, Upcoming events | Leave a comment