Sisterhood of Sleuths!

I’m excited to share the cover of my next middle-grade novel, Sisterhood of Sleuths! The cover was illustrated by Sarah Watts and art directed by Sasha Illingworth.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Maizy always assumed she knew everything about her grandmother, Jacuzzi. So when a box full of vintage Nancy Drew books gets left at her mom’s thrift store, Maizy is surprised to find an old photo of her grandmother and two other women tucked beneath the collection. Stranger still, when Maizy shows the photo to Jacuzzi she feigns ignorance, insisting the woman is someone else. Determined to learn the truth — and inspired by the legacy of Nancy Drew — Maizy launches her own investigation with the help of new friends, Nell and Cam. What they discover not only points to the origins of the iconic series, but uncovers a truth from the past that will lead to self-discovery in the present, connecting three generations of women.

This intergenerational mystery filled with literary history, friendship, and family secrets delivers a captivating tribute to the world’s most famous girl detective.

Sisterhood of Sleuths will be published September 27 with Christy Ottaviano Books/Little, Brown! Learn more or pre-order your copy here.

Signed Copies of the Book Scavenger Series

I recently visited my local indie bookstore The Wandering Jellyfish Bookshop and signed copies of all my books in hardback and paperback. If you’d like a copy, you can order online (if the web page hasn’t been updated to show all options, just call or email them), or stop in if you’re local. You’ll not only be supporting me, but a brand new (very awesome!) children’s bookstore in my area.

If you already have a copy of my books and would like a personalized bookplate (and/or a bookmark and stickers), email me at and I’ll be happy to send you one.

Notes from the Revision Cave–April

This year for newsletter subscribers, I’m sharing about my process as I work on my next middle-grade mystery. I’ll repost here on my blog a few weeks after they appear in the newsletter, but if you want to follow my writing process closer to real-time, or you don’t want to miss out on my monthly Book Love giveaways, or you want to be the first to hear Book Scavenger updates and other bookish fun, then make sure to subscribe. I’ll be sending out a new one with the latest soon!

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I’ve come to the point in my revision process where I clean my office. No, seriously, that’s part of my process! With every draft of every novel I’ve written, there is always a point (or multiple) where the clutter and piles and pet hair build up around me as I work and then I can’t stand it anymore.

So, I clean my office.

You might be saying, that’s housekeeping, not part of writing! Or maybe it sounds like procrastination. But I think of it as part of the revision process, because I see meaning in it. There is a reason why I can ignore the clutter and piles and pet hair for a stretch of time, and then suddenly can’t anymore.

Right now, my thoughts about my revision are feeling jumbled. It’s like, in the beginning, you have a map and you know your destination. But then the directions get complicated, and there are multiple routes you could take, and you might be looking at the map upside-down for awhile there. It can feel hard to make sense of which way you’re going. And for me, writing in a messy office is like trying to make sense of that map while in fast-moving traffic on a freeway. There’s just too much going on. And when things feel chaotic inside my head, it helps me focus better if what’s around me doesn’t feel chaotic too.

This wasn’t a major deep-dive, super-detailed cleaning session, mind you. All I did was move the piles out of my office, relocate anything that belonged in another room, throw away or recycle the obvious stuff, vacuum, mop, dust my desk, and then move the piles back in. If I really wanted to procrastinate, there is plenty more cleaning and organizing that could be done. Things are still jumbled in my head, but now it feels like I’ve exited the freeway and can focus better on where I’m going.

Book Scavenger Website Update!

The Book Scavenger website has a new look! I can hardly believe it, but it’s been over six years since I launched the website and the game for the publication of Book Scavenger in 2015. Six years!!!

At the Book Scavenger launch party at Linden Tree bookstore.

Back then, I had no idea if anyone would read Book Scavenger, let alone want to play a version of the game in the book. But I kept thinking about how if I had read Book Scavenger when I was a kid, I would have wanted the game to be real. And the first thing I would have done after finishing the book would have been to look it up and see if it was. So I wanted something to exist for other readers like me.

To launch the game, I asked my publisher if they’d be willing to give me 50 advance copies of Book Scavenger with the plan to give away one copy to a reader in each of the 50 states, with the hope that the recipient would read the book, like the book, hide the book, and then post a clue on the website for others to find. My publisher loved the idea, and so we did the giveaway. A book went to each state, and I waited. Soon enough–copies were hidden! And then found! And more were hidden and found, and so on and so forth until now nearly 20,000 tracking numbers have been requested and books have been scavenged in Iran, Australia, Japan, Canada, Spain, China, France, Chile . . . so many different places around the world!

I am so grateful to all of you–the young readers, the teachers, the librarians, the parents, the booksellers, everyone who has embraced my books and continues to recommend them to others. There have been times I’ve thought maybe I should retire the website and game because it does take a bit to maintain, and I often feel like I’m falling short there, but then I get a nice message from one of you, or see a new hidden book post, and I’m reminded of my kid self, the one I wrote Book Scavenger for and the one I had in mind when I launched the game, and I think, I can’t stop now. As long as you are out there enjoying my books and wanting to play the game, then I want to try and keep it going for you the best that I can.

So after six years, I decided it was time for a refresh. Take a look around–there’s some new content and a few fun surprises for you to find as well . . . A huge thank you to Websy Daisy for designing the website for me. I hope you like it!

Notes from the Revision Cave–March

This year for newsletter subscribers, I’m sharing about my process as I work on my next middle-grade mystery. I’ll repost here on my blog a few weeks after they appear in the newsletter, but if you want to follow my writing process closer to real-time, or you don’t want to miss out on my monthly Book Love giveaways, or you want to be the first to hear Book Scavenger updates and other bookish fun, then make sure to subscribe. I’ll be sending out a new one with the latest soon!

I have a fun update for you about the novel I’ve been working on. It has a title! Well, a working title, which means it could still change before it’s published in 2022. But my editor and I both like it, and she said I could share! We’re calling it The Case of the Nancy Drews. What do you think? I bet you can guess what the mystery revolves around . . .

I’m currently in one of my favorite phases of the revision process. My ideas are starting to gel, the writing in the opening chapters feels solid, and I have a handle on the characters and what they’re doing in the story. This is not to say it’s all smooth sailing and the words type effortlessly from my fingers, but it’s exciting to see and believe in the book’s potential. I’ve also been doing a lot of supplemental reading and research, which is fun and always inspires ideas.

Something that can be tricky when you get into the middle of a revision is keeping track of different threads and plot points. When I was working on Book Scavenger, I made a color-coded outline with the story broken down into short scene summaries. The colors were used to represent different characters and their plot threads. I’m a visual person and so the different colors helped me get a sense for pacing and how the different parts of the story were working together. The photo below shows the outline for one of the earlier drafts of Book Scavenger, so there are many differences from the final version (like a character named Mr. Condor, who I cut from the book, for example).

Recently, Steve Sheinkin shared photos of how he storyboards his nonfiction novels-in-progress. Author Melissa Stewart asked him questions about these photos and posted his responses on her blog, which I found fascinating. It’s somewhat similar to what I did above, but he uses colored notecards and tacks them to a wall, in columns under the chapter where they appear. I really like how he can move the cards around, and how he can see the entire landscape of a book at once. I don’t have a huge wall space, but I do have two small bulletin boards above my desk. Perhaps I could make cards small enough to fit across them for my Nancy Drew book? We’ll see . . .

I love learning about the different methods and processes of book creators. (That’s what inspired me to do the Creative Spaces interviews on my blog! They’re listed in the sidebar by author or illustrator name.) On her YouTube channel, Melanie Conklin shares how she uses sticky notes to brainstorm, draft, and revise a novel. I also liked seeing KA Holt’s process of laying out her novel on the floor. If you are a writer, what organizational methods do you like to use?