Young Writer’s Workshop at Lark and Owl Booksellers and More Events


I’ve been loving my social media free-summer so far, but I wanted to check back in to let any readers out there in the Central Texas area know about a great new bookstore and a free writing workshop I’m doing there next week!

Lark and Owl Booksellers has graciously invited me to do a signing and short fairy tale writing workshop for young writers at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31st. Come by to write, listen, and buy a book – any book! Details at the link.

I hope to see you there, and to thank you for reading this far, I want to give a couple of heads-ups for other great book release/launches coming to town. In fact, the other events are all on the SAME DAY at Bookpeople in Austin, and they include FOUR of my favorite authors in the world. <3

First, on August 10, Kathi Appelt, Varsha Bajaj, and Carmen Oliver will bring a Picture Book Celebration to town with a  triple book launch at 2 p.m.


And then the amazing Christian Soontornvat will introduce her new Scholastic series, Dairy of an Ice Princess, at 5 p.m.


STEM and princesses? Oh heck yeah.

I hope to see you there as well!

Happy Summer,


School Visit Fun: RJS STEM Makes the News

Howdy, y’all!

I am just back from Whidbey Island, where I spent a week writing in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

I came thisclose to finishing a draft of a new novel, and that made me very happy.

What makes me happy today was an email from the lovely Ms. Drake at Roy J Smith STEM Academy in Killeen, Texas, where I had the great good fortune to present writing workshop and author talks in early April, along with my friend PJ Hoover!

It was a glorious day, and they welcomed us so nicely…


and then the newspaper did this lovely article!

Feeling pretty fancy. 🙂

Y’all, have a wonderful April, and write what your heart tells you to.


Texas Writes at the Lake Dallas Public Library

Happy Almost Spring!

I’ve been writing up a storm, taking a few breaks now and then for super fun things like school visits, workshops, and festivals. And now, if you live in the Dallas area, I might get to take a break to see YOU!

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, at 10 a.m., I will be at the Lake Dallas Public Library along with renowned poet/author/editor/activist ire’ne lara silva, as a part of the Writers’ League of Texas’ Texas Writes program.

Join us for a morning of discussion, writing exercises, book talking, and cookies. I’d love to see you there.

Coming Soon! The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in San Antonio

Happy 2019, writer and reader friends! I hope your year is full of books… and maybe even a few short films. 🙂

Once again, I have the great pleasure of co-hosting the annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in San Antonio, alongside the funny and talented James Kennedy (author of The Order of Odd-Fish). We sing, we dance, we make terrible jokes and have altogether too much fun. This year, the shindig is on February 9, 2-3:30 pm at the Witte Museum!

If you are from the San Antonio area, or know folks who are, you don’t want to miss this! Kids read Newbery award and honor books, write and produce short films that are hilarious/spooky/heartwarming/silly, and the best of the best are chosen to win prizes for their schools and libraries, courtesy of HEB.

Come to the film festival! Say hi to me and James and meet tomorrow’s famous Hollywood directors.

You can get tickets here.

Now, back to the writing!

Spooky Story Celebration at Bookpeople, 10/20!

Join Kat and me for a writing and craft-filled workshop sure to scare the stories out of you!


Are you a young writer (or know a young writer) in search of the perfect creepy tale to tell?

Join the amazing Kat Shepherd and me for a writing and craft-filled workshop sure to scare the stories out of you! There will be creepy snacks, lots of fun, and just the right amount of scare… go to Bookpeople’s event page to register.


Houston SCBWI 2018 Conference/Book Recs

Howdy, y’all!

I am excited about this weekend (September 28-30), since it means I’ll be in Houston at their amazing SCBWI conference teaching and learning and playing with all my big city writer friends. I’m giving a mini-workshop on writing unforgettable settings. In addition to talking about what I call Big Settings in Children’s Books (including, of course, Narnia, Hogwarts, Terabithia, and more), I’ll be bringing some newer books that treat setting in masterful and unique ways, including:



I hope to see you there! Keep writing – I sure have been. 🙂





Writers’ League of Texas Conference and then… Off to New Mexico

I don’t know what it is about the area outside Santa Fe, but there’s something there – in the air, the land, the light – that inspires me. It’s inspired lots of other artists, too. In fact, Georgia O’Keeffe herself painted in the place where I wrote large portions of Wish Girl, Nightingale’s Nest, and the manuscript my lovely agent Ginger is sending around right now. (It’s hard to type with fingers crossed, you know.)

Double rainbow loveliness!

Before I leave, though, I’ll be serving on a panel at one of my all-time favorite writing conferences – the Writers’ League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference. I get to talk about how to prepare for publication day, and I think it will be a lot of fun and very helpful to authors approaching their debut pub date, as well as the newly agented or pre-published.


I hear the 2018 conference is sold out, but if you missed it don’t hesitate next year! It’s always a wonderful experience.

Keep writing, friends, and reading, and go somewhere that inspires you!

Spring at the Library!

Hi, y’all! I’ve been away from the blog for a while, mostly working on a couple of new books, but also visiting some great schools and libraries. I had a wonderful time last weekend at the new Seguin High School library. They had their first ever Matador Book Festival, and I had the great honor of being the afternoon speaker. It was pretty much Saturday author perfection – a giant room filled with books, librarians, parents and young readers.

Here are a few pictures of the day, although you can see some more on Twitter if you’re curious!

Christy Holt, super librarian, gave me my own Matador Library t shirt! (And bought me the most amazing shrimp tacos. Mmmmm.)

How do you know a district has GREAT administrators? They show up on Saturday to read to the kids! Bravo to Superintendent Matt Gutierrez for showing your students they matter – and books are fun!

Games and a book fair…

… and a good friend from my Zumba teaching days was there with her daughter! What a gift.

Over the next month, I have a couple of deadlines to meet, more school visits/writing workshops to look forward to, and my son is graduating from high school, so… see you in the summer! I wish you warm days, lots of ideas, and the time to sit down and put them on the page…


February Writing Fun: Texas Writes and Bookfest by the Bay

This month has been so full… and starting in a week or so, it will be full of fun, writing things! And if you live in or near Corpus Christi or Yoakum, Texas, I’ll be in your neck of the woods soon, and we can do some of that writing together.

This month, I am delighted to be a part of the annual Teen Bookfest by the Bay festival taking place in Corpus Christi on February 17th. It will be at the American Bank Center from 9 am to 4:30 pm and it’s free.

There will be some of MY favorite authors there… maybe yours, too!

Then, the following Saturday morning, Feb. 24, I will have the great pleasure of presenting a writing talk/workshop for the Texas Writes series, hosted by the Writers’ League of Texas. Phenomenal author Christie Craig (or C. C. Hunter) will be there with me, and I know it will be fun! Here are the details:

Place: Carl & Mary Welhausen Library 10AM


FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | Pre-registration Suggested (361) 293-5001 | Refreshments Provided

Hope to see you soon!


A Poem for My Grandma

Hello, friends. I’ve neglected my blog terribly because I’ve been taking care of something–someone–else. I’ve neglected my writing as well… but I’ve gotten a lot better on the guitar, and my singing voice is back in form. (Did you know I was a singer? I majored in voice at UT Austin before the page called me away.)

I sang my grandma out on Wednesday night. The week before, I brought her balloons and blueberry muffins and flowers for her 98th birthday. We laughed and talked about the kids for hours, even though she wasn’t feeling well.

One week later, she was gone.

Grandma was my biggest fan, my confidant, and more like a twin to me than a grandmother. She loved me completely, and I loved her back the same way. I’m so glad I took the time this year to care for her.

What a gift.


When I knew she was passing soon, I realized I would be asked to write her obituary, Instead, I wrote this poem.

My grandma was
watermelon and
one more chocolate
a favorite hymn
a salty mouth
a sweet little voice
and a fierce love that
went around and around
her kitchen with
broken toes and a strong back
for thirteen years.
She was
a hug a yardstick
a whole jar of divinity
underwear in the back bedroom
Spaghettios in the pantry
cookies and grits
vegetable soup and
bran muffins
interesting cakes
laundry on the line
feeding the old people
a radio left on
and more. She was
a drive in the
violets and birdsong
red lipstick
black hair
Solo Serve shoes
a packed lunch at the movies
in a Jeep Collins bag
mischief in a laugh
and horseshit little Eva.
Grandma was
everyone’s favorite
25 more kisses
than anyone else.
January 24, 1920