August 12–I get really excited talking about storytelling and kids’ books. And the lovely Emily Humphries recorded it during our conversation about stories of redemption, growing up, and the moral imagination on her Simply Stories Podcast. On this episode, we chat about writing for kids and raising kids and the Tree Street Kids (my middle grade series from Moody Publishers). PLUS, there’s a special interview at the end with her sweet daughter and one of my readers—soon-to-be-famous podcaster N.B.
You can listen on your favorite podcast platform or at the Simply Shenanigans website.
August 4–Book 4 is underway, and . . . the title is no longer a mystery! I mean the book is a mystery, but the title isn’t . . . well, except it kind of is! It’s Mystery in Crooked Creek Woods. Blurb coming soon. I can tell you it involves some history from the Chicagoland area and the Potawatomi tribes that populated the land along rivers like the Calumet, Chicago, and Des Plaines. What inspired the storyline for book 4 was discovering that a nearby suburban cemetery had once been the site of a Potawatomi village. As part of my research, I visited the cemetery and saw the two monuments erected to mark what had once been a trail and a former burial mound.
July 7–I can’t believe it, but I just sent book 3, Lions to the Rescue! to my editor. What?! It feels like just yesterday I was brainstorming ideas for the Tree Street Kids series. Here’s a blurb:
If getting tackled is the best way to make new friends, that’s okay with Jack. After all, starting fifth grade at a new school is even rougher than pee wee football. But how can he join the Lions and help Ellison build the Most Epic Bookmobile Bike Ever? Jack devises the perfect game plan–until he fumbles it with the most epic bike crash ever and a game day disaster.
June something–I’ve lost track of time! But The Hunt for Fang is also available on audio! Yay! This book is an exciting story and perfect family read for the summer!
May 17–Woohoo! Just in time for a happier summer and maybe even a family road trip: Jack vs. the Tornado is NOW AVAILABLE ON AUDIO! Just a note that the audio version doesn’t include the “fun facts” that are in the print books, but you can download and print those for free from treestreetkids.com.
May 4–Life has been crazy with working all day, launching the books (marketing, podcasts, guest posts, school visits), and writing the next two books. (I’m planning a nice vacation for fall of 2022.) Check out my fancy new Media page for links to the podcasts I’ve been able to join for some fun book chats.
April 6, 2021–It’s release day! Jack vs. the Tornado and The Hunt for Fang are now in the wild and available at all major booksellers (see below). We had am amazing cade to celebrate this lifelong dreaming coming true.
February 8–Books 1 and 2 release in early April. Paperback and ebook versions are available for pre-order now at any of the websites below!
January 16—EVEN MORE EXCITING! Here are the covers for both books! And the books can be preordered at Amazon.com, Moodypublishers.com, Indiebound, or other booksellers. If you’re a library goer, please ask your local library to order copies! Thank you to the talented illustrator, Aedan Peterson.
December 29, 2020—THIS IS SO EXCITING! I have been working with illustrator Aedan Peterson, and book covers and interior illustrations are underway (or under paintbrush)! We’ll soon have cover reveals for both Jack vs. the Tornado and The Hunt for Fang. Seeing the Tree Street Kids come to life visually makes this publishing adventure all the more real. Can’t wait to share–stay tuned!
November 23, 2020–Have you ever heard of a “God wink”? Or, as I call them, “God nods.” They are moments that speak to you so specifically and surprisingly that you feel as if you’ve walked through a cloud of magic fairy dust. But they have nothing to do with magic and everything to do with a God who sees us, who cares, and who has an almighty sense of humor. This happened to me the other day during a hike in the woods that are the setting for book 2, The Hunt for Fang. In the book [SPOILER], Midge leaves cheesy fish crackers along the trail when she becomes lost.
Look what we found while hiking an unfamiliar trail . . . !
October 29, 2020— I’m in the throes (what are throes, anyway?) of editing book 2 and moving (in two acts)! I may have to experience a nervous break down in the Caribbean when it’s all done. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at my next bestseller (which would also be my first bestseller).
August 27, 2020–Dogs and cats and coyotes are some of the main characters in book 2, The Hunt for Fang (April 2021). To mark National Dog Day, I shared an excerpt on YouTube. In this scene, some strange sounds outside waken Jack and his little sister Midge. YEEOOWWL!
July 22, 2020–Book 2 of the Tree Street Kids series is demanding my attention like a hungry, sleepy, and poopy toddler. I’m working hard to get the draft to the finish line at the beginning of September . . . and into the hands of my editor. And exciting news! We have an OFFICIAL TITLE! View the video!
June 17, 2020–Here’s my analogy for the draft (thus far) of book 2: a quintuple-knotted shoelace on the sneaker of a kid who just returned from a day of frog hunting in a muddy creek. (Also the shoelace is missing its aglet.) But it’s OK! We see how life can feel the same as a rough draft. An utter mess. Pages and pages full of conflicts and not enough resolutions. But we keep using our words and our gifts and our belief in a better story.
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. –Toni Morrison
April 16, 2020–Check out our new YouTube channel for a read-aloud from Jack vs. the Tornado! In addition, you’ll find a playlist of our weekly Kids’ Table Book Review.
PLUS! I’m really excited and thankful to now have an official editor for Jack vs. the Tornado. Being a book editor myself (nonfiction), I know how much editors can help writers see places to improve their books. An editor is a writer’s second pair of eyes (kind of like the eyes moms seem to have in the back of their heads).
(Btw, this is not my editor.)
December 31, 2019–I’m finishing the decade today with “The End.” Tomorrow the spruced up draft of Jack vs. the Volcano goes to beta readers (aka the Tree Street Reading Team)!
December 10, 2019–The beta reader welcome kits are getting packed and ready to mail! Each item relates to a character in Book 1, Jack vs. the Tornado.🌪 Now to finish the first round of edits . . . (tchotchkes are so distracting!)
December 6, 2019–Have you ever slidden into home base a split second before the ball hits the catcher’s mitt? I haven’t. But I DID finish the first draft of Jack vs. the Volcano the day before my self-imposed deadline of Dec. 1. It took a minute to feel the relief, to let out the breath I’ve been holding, but I did get on my knees and read a few psalms of praise aloud…alotloud.
Now on to the first self-edit before—GULP and YAY!—the book goes to beta readers! I’m taking a break from social media this month—except for our Thursday #thekidstablebookreview on Instagram—to make more time for editing…oh, and Christmas.
I would SO appreciate a prayer from you as I edit. For clarity and patience and even new vision.
November 25, 2019–This week I started the FINALE of Jack vs. the Tornado. (If you’re a writer and curious, the finale is “beat 14” in Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat Writes a Novel.) Ironically, I was writing the finale as the sun was rising. And my draft was way less spectacular than that amazing sunrise.
This is often how you get a book written . . . in itsy, bitsy, (bumpy) blocks of time . . . When you’re exhausted from 12-hour work/commute days . . . When you’re not sure how the story is ever going to come together. When the sunrise is TOTALLY showing you up. Actually, maybe it was totally cheering me on. Yep. That’s it.
November 16, 2019–Welcome letters have been sent to the moms and dads of the TREE STREET KIDS READERS TEAM members!
These beta readers will be giving me honest (OW! OOCH! YAY!) feedback on Jack vs. the Tornado after they read the first draft at the end of the year.
Can’t wait to send them their official TSKRT pins!