This past weekend I participated in not one, but TWO book fairs! I got to meet lots of interesting people and loads of new readers.

For all my readers spread far and wide who couldn’t attend, I thought I’d give you a little BOOK FAIR RUN DOWN so you can imagine you were there...


TRANSPORT Topanga literary festival


Topanga Public Library, Topanga, California

The Vibe:

Very relaxed and chill. Grounded by a deep sense of appreciation for art and literature. To give you a flavor for the type of event this was, the day opened with a performance of America The Beautiful by a local cellist. So beautiful! Other acoustic performers sang and strummed throughout the day.

Have you ever been to Topanga? If so, you’ll understand exactly what I mean when I describe it as a world of its very own.

Topanga is located in the Santa Monica Mountains between Malibu and the West Side of LA. The name of the fair is very appropriate because when you turn off Pacific Coast Highway and drive into the mountains, you instantly feel transported to another world, another era.

The hills are dappled in gold and green, backed by the vast blue horizon of the Pacific ocean. The mountain’s winding roads are dotted with old-timey general stores, cabins, and shops that feel like you’ve entered the old west. Topangans are an interesting bunch made of actors and performers, writers and artists who pride themselves on their eclectic community and their unique sense of free-spiritedness.

My Fellow Authors:

I got to meet and share stories with Eric Pierpoint, author of middle grade historical fiction. He shared his interesting stories of getting published and his experience writing his middle grade novels. 

I also spotted a name tag for Chuck Rosenthal, my creative writing professor at Loyola Marymount University. I didn’t get to see him, unfortunately, so maybe I’ll send him a book.

Reader Low-Down:

There were tons of locals here and many of them writers, too! Mostly older adult readers, but a few teens as well. The event organizer, Oleg Kagan, also happens to be quite the reader. He's on Goodreads and is head of the Topanga Library


Event Highlight:

By far the best part of the day was the Social Media Panel with a whole group of amazing book bloggers, book tubers, and bookstagramers! They gave a great talk about their love of books, reading, and sharing them with readers and authors online.

Here’s who was there:

Jesy Elyse, a bookstagrammer and booktuber from Southern California!

Carmen Seda, known on Instagram and her book blog as Oh The Book Feels.

Ciara Orness bookstagrammer on Instagram as Lost In Reading.

The panel was chaired by Topanga local, Caden Armstrong, known on Instagram and YouTube  as A Thousand Books to Read. 

Aren't they an awesome bunch?

 From left to right: Carmen Seda, Caden Armstrong, Ashley Mansour, Jesy Elyse, Ciara Orness

From left to right: Carmen Seda, Caden Armstrong, Ashley Mansour, Jesy Elyse, Ciara Orness

Top takeaway from the panel...

They say don’t judge a book by its cover but that’s exactly what book-lovers do, according to our panel of social media mavens. 

Cover art is vitally important when it comes to the bookish community finding a novel and falling in love with it. And it should be exactly what its name suggests: art!

If you follow the book-loving community you know that shelfies are a thing and that book-lovers take great pride in displaying their collection. So cover art matters in the book world. 

So when it comes to designing a beautiful book cover, the girls have some advice. Listen up!

To achieve a striking cover, Jesy recommends authors and publishers branch out and work with artists of different mediums. I was so flattered (and surprised) when she mentioned that the cover of Blood, Ink & Fire was one of her favorites! 

Carmen also added that a good book cover should have an air of mystery about it, or an element in the artwork that ties into the themes and meaning of the story. Her point was that authors and publishers should avoid putting details on the cover simply because they are aesthetically pleasing. If they don't tie into the content of the book, they don't belong! Well said, Carmen!

All in all…

It was a really cool day that opened my eyes to just how vast the reading and writing community is. This was the first year the TAG the Topanga Author’s Group had hosted the event in conjunction with the Topanga Library, but I sense that it will be the first of many literary festivals they put on.


Orange County Children’s Book Festival


Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA

The Vibe:

Aside from the book signing I did with Alex Pettyfer at Costco last December, I’ve never done a large book event before so I truly didn’t know what to expect.

Talk about a change of pace from the quiet hills of Topanga! The OC Children’s Book Festival was a huge event and you knew it from the second you got there.

There’s nothing like the feeling of pulling up in the early morning hours to your booth, coffee in hand, the bustle of all your fellow authors and exhibitors setting up and getting ready. Everyone’s there for a purpose and the anticipation in the air before the festivalgoers arrive is palpable.

Getting ready and setting up the booth is an exciting feeling, and makes you feel really proud to be there showcasing something you created.

The day was full of upbeat music, loads of different stages and performers, face painting, Baby Olympics, a full-on Scholastic booth and so many other book vendors, authors and publishers.


My Fellow Authors:

I got to meet some really cool fellow YA authors. We were all on the YA/Teen panel together, and I was really surprised to be the only woman there! I met…

  • Aaron Galvin, author of The Salted Series, Vengeance Trilogy, and The Grave of Lainey Grace.
  • Michael Mullin, author of Simon, a modern day Hamlet adaptation for YA readers as well as several other awesome middle grade and YA titles.
  • Derek Taylor Kent, author of Kubrick’s Game, which just released on the 26th! Congrats, Derek!
  • Daniel Sweren-Becker, author of the new YA sci-fi series, The Ones.

Also one of my favorite picture book authors, Sheri Fink was there! I wish I had stopped by and said hi. Hopefully I'll get to meet her soon. Checkout her Facebook page

Reader Low-Down:

Okay so this was a family day out. And by family I mean families with really young kids who want their faces painted and to get glittery hairdos and eat funnel cake. I have a feeling that most of the teen readers ended up at South Coast Plaza, which is just minutes from the fair.

Surprisingly though, I did get my fair share of middle grade readers approaching the booth, intrigued by the front cover. The rest went to parents, other authors, and teachers. It was interesting to see who came along and who was attracted to the Blood, Ink & Fire booth.

Event Highlight:

I had signed so many books throughout the day that I eventually lost track. But one reader stood out because he and his brother got a signed copy to share between them. Later on at the close of the fair, they walked past my booth again and one of the brothers (whose name I remember was Gannon), turned, held up his book and said, "Thanks for the awesome book!" He then gave me a thumbs up sign and a huge smile. 

 MIddle graders getting their signed copies of  Blood, Ink & Fire !

MIddle graders getting their signed copies of Blood, Ink & Fire!

When things like that happen I remember: that's why I do what I do. 

All in all…

The OC Children's Book Festival was a fun-filled, truly awesome day. I learned SO MUCH from my fellow authors and gained the most valuable experience working the booth, giving out stickers, signing books and just generally talking to loads of new readers, some of which have already reached out to me and followed me on social media. If that’s you- thanks for finding me!


I’ll be at the POMONA READS book fair all day on Saturday, October 15th and I seriously cannot wait. I’ll be signing books, meeting readers, handing out goodies and even speaking on their awesome YA panel!

If you missed my last book event, don’t worry. October 15th promises to be even bigger and better. I hope you’ll come along because I would love to meet you!


Saturday, October 15th, 2016

Pomona Civic Plaza


YA Panel from 2:00pm-3:00pm

An Open Letter to Autumn

Hello, Autumn, you beautiful beast of a season.

You are so welcome here, you have no idea. We have been waiting for you.

We have been craving your shorter days, your tall hedge of evening colors growing higher, shielding us from the horrors that abound when it is hot and intolerable and stifling. My goodness, it has been a long, fitful summer. Welcome, welcome. People everywhere will be glad you are here.

If you’re arriving in the U.S., you know that we’ve been riding a political rollercoaster that seems to be screeching along toward a terrifying finish. We’re at that point where the lights flash unexpectedly, where our faces get caught in the most horrific expressions just before we face the last, most anticipated ghastly drop.

Perhaps we will soon be at the point of reflection, where we look back at the snapshot and wonder, What were we thinking? How could we have let ourselves be preserved like that in such a startling, unflattering moment of falter, with our humanity so unrecognizable even to ourselves? There’s no going back once that picture is taken. We’ll have to look on it throughout all of history and wonder how we could have been so careless.  

If you’ve been absorbing what passes these days as “news” you have undoubtedly seen Britain vote to leave the EU. You’ve seen migration explode, lifejackets littering the land like fallen leaves, rivers of humans in uproar. You’ve heard talk of walls, chromium in our water, and children trapped in pockets of vast misfortune, suffering in incomprehensible ways.

Amidst all this there have been random acts of terror we cannot come to grips with or understand. There have been more unjust shootings of innocent people in cities across America than my feeble brain can comprehend.

It’s been a difficult and terrifying summer, Autumn, and I, for one, am glad you are here.

There’s an internal heaviness that’s set in lately that I’m hoping you can help me with. It’s too much a burden to ignore, too much on my shoulders to continue to skip forward, lightly, without stopping to try and shift the load.

I take comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in this. Behind the smiles, flavored coffees and emojis that stand for our feelings and those rare unpredictable moments of intense, awkward laughter we anxiously claw after to keep as evidence of our joy... behind all of that there is an awareness of our condition.

We humans know we are not in a good place, collectively speaking. We can’t ignore that Mother Nature, the planet, and all its living things are conspiring to remove us, or at the very least awaken us to our steady march toward extinction. We know something has to be done and that somehow we have to be the someones to do it.

You know us well, Autumn. After all, you’ve been around a very long time. So you’ll believe me when I tell you that we really need your help. We need change and you are just the season for it. 

Summer and winter are far too harsh and unstable. They have nothing to offer, nothing to give, too assertive in their own extremes, too far flung in one direction or the other. And spring is far too mercurial, too aware of its power, making too much of its lushness and dew and rebirth. It’s another extreme, in a way. And we definitely don’t need extreme right now.

What we need is a bridge. An in-between. A middle-goer who moves briskly and easily alongside us humans, drawing us together. The moment of shift where the breeze is neither one thing nor another. Where you could forgive yourself and others for thinking it might be too cold or too warm and leave the house wearing too many clothes or too few.

Forgiveness and a stretch of time dedicated to nothing but transition and change. That’s what we need. That’s you, Autumn.

You’ve always been my favorite season. That’s why I insist on capitalizing the first letter of your name. It feels wrong not to because I’ve always thought of you as alive. Ever since we cut out little leaves in your honor at school and pasted them around the chalkboard. Ever since we brought the outdoors inside with our pumpkins and wreaths and harvest colors.

I don’t want to sound too affable or affectionate but it’s true. You’ve always brought comfort and goodness to me, and even when you didn’t I saw that you had tried at least to be kind, that your ways were subtle and assuring. I’ve liked you best because you always made it clear that we could leave summer behind and it would be beautiful still, and that winter would come and somehow that prospect could be welcome.

So today you’ve come back and stood outside my door. I knew you would be there this morning. The deep bonfire air that walked with me the night before was like a telegram announcing your arrival. Even though I couldn’t yet see you, I felt you instantly when I stepped outside.

I noticed and appreciated your fresh optimism. It’s a new year for you. A clean start. How wonderful.

For us it is just the continuation of 2016, which so far has not been all that great. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had good times and many, many blessings that I cannot deny. I am certainly very fortunate, all things considered. But I’m talking about on a human scale. I’m talking about the big picture, the gigantic marble responsible for hitting all the little ones.

Even though I am personally okay, it’s hard not to notice that most things in the world aren’t. And maybe that’s why I’ve been to the doctor so many times this year and developed chronic migraines and started a thing called a “treatment plan” in order to “get them under control.” Maybe that’s my personal signal. Because I’m almost certain there is a tiny blot of recognition growing inside all of us, making us suffer just a little bit, so that we realize that we need change and we need it very fast.  

I’m not a scientist or a politician or a biologist or an activist or an environmentalist or anything like it. My job is rooted somewhere in feeling and understanding and translating that into words and stories that can communicate something to other humans. Maybe it is because of this job that I have this acute sensory receptor which is making a startling reading. If it were an alarm it would be blaring. If it were a siren it would be wailing. If it were a bell it would be furiously ringing loud enough to wake the dead.  

Do you hear it?

Of course you do.

That’s why you’ve been waiting eagerly in the wings, watching the deplorables taking over  the summer too stubborn and self-righteous to stop them  knowing full well that it will soon be your turn.

Now that you’re here, I need to ask you: Can you offer us a chance to change?

I know it depends on us. We will see what your season brings.

Thanks for coming, by the way. I know global warming probably didn’t make it easy. I hope others will feel the way I do and welcome you in.

Who knows, maybe just your being here will awaken something relevant and concerned in us. Perhaps there will be a collective pause, a momentary lapse from the crazy, which in truth might be all we need to stop just before that flash and ask ourselves how we wish to be known in that picture. Whether we want to look back and see ourselves terrified and broken, reaching the final plummet, or whether by some slim margin we can muster our courage and face the future head on and unafraid.



Questions From Readers: "Can you discuss the role of the publishing editor and how you worked together on Blood, Ink & Fire?"

Questions From Readers:  "Can you discuss the role of the publishing editor and how you worked together on Blood, Ink & Fire?"

This question came from Siina over Facebook. Thanks, Siina! Before we dig in, let's cover the basics.

How editing basically works

There are several major steps to editing a book during the publishing process.

1.    Developmental editing

2.    Line editing and copyediting

3.    Proofreading

Ideally, you would have a different editor for each. A fresh pair of eyes covering each phase of editing helps ensure the manuscript is as clean and error free as possible.