Please note:

Spark and Blaze are currently temporarily unavailable for purchase in paperback form because...drumroll please...

they're getting NEW COVERS!

I've been working very hard lately on my drawing and digital painting skills, and I'm much closer to drawing what I see in my imagination. I'll reveal the new covers here in a few days and the books will be ready for purchase very soon.

Hooray for new book covers! 


Each year that I do the Middle Grade Book Bomb I worry a little...that no one else will drop any books, or that no kids are going to go looking for them.

It's just like that first day of school when you can't help but wonder who will be in your class and if anyone will like you.

Of course, my worries are always pointless.
Because people share my love of stories.
And so they drop books and find books and read books and love books...
...and they usually like me.

Thanks to all those who participated in the Book Bomb this year.
You are awesome.

And now...
This is the story of my book drop 2017.

It was pretty much a fairytale. And by that I mean the skies were blue, the sun was hot, and I had a whopping total of eight books to drop! Yeah, I may have gotten a little carried away at the used book shop. But I'd never been in the shop before...and they had so many of my favorites...just calling out to me! Really, they were like forlorn little puppies in a pet shop, just begging for a good home.

I decorated them with colorful pom poms and tucked a bookmark and a note from me in each. I was giving away copies of my own three books, Spark, Blaze and Agent Apple, so I was sure to sign them.

On that Saturday morning, the day of the drop, I thought I would be dropping books all by my lonesome, which is very sad. My niece and nephews were going to be joining me because I ALWAYS drops books with a few middle graders for helpers. But they couldn't make it. So at the last moment I was rescued by a knight on a white horse - or a brother in a black car. Either way, it was still a fairytale.

My baby brother, Cody, who is much older than a baby, but much younger than me, brought along a book to drop and we set out together on a literary adventure. This is Cody, dropping his book, The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester.

We picked three locations for our drops: a museum that looks out over the prairie coulees, a little lake surrounded by park, and a downtown art gallery and plaza. These are places where families go in the summer, and they're also super recognizable in pictures, which means we could post some really good photo clues.

And we did...

Several authors joined the drop from places as far afield as Georgia, which is quite on the opposite side of the continent from Alberta. My local library even got in on the fun and left a few books laying around for kids to collect. My dear sister-in-law and her middle grade daughter took charge of dropping books in their neighbouring town, which means there were a couple dozen books dropped in our little corner of the world alone.

That means that over the weekend, there was a nice heaping handful of tweens settling down in some cozy reading nook to begin a new book. It feels really good to know that you gave someone the gift of a pleasant surprise - that you let them know that people still care about each other. And that people still care about paper and ink and bookmarks and cozy reading nooks.

One mom posted a pic of her three girls finding one of the books I dropped. I love it when moms do that.

Yes, the Middle Grade Book Bomb truly makes me happy.

I think it could make you happy too.

The drop will return in July 2018, and you could be a part of it.
If you'd like to receive an email notification a month in advance of the event so you don't miss it, please click here to get on my email list.

Or, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you can simply DM me and ask to get on the MGBB list. I will personally let you know when the new drop date is announced and how to participate.

So that in 2018, there will be more than a heaping handful of tweens with new books - there will be a heaping armload!


It's July. It's July. It's July!

Which, among many other wonderful and exciting things, is Book Bomb month!

If you know me at all, you'll know that on a Saturday in July each year, I very happily drop a few middle grade books in my community for kids to find and take home for free. And I encourage pretty much everyone in the entire world to join me.

This year, books are dropping on July 22nd.

So please, please, please...

Click here to learn how to drop a book or two of your own to promote literacy worldwide and have some fun doing it. You don't need money. You don't need to be an author. You can be anyone...and you can be anywhere. You just have to care about kids and books.

I'm giving away my own 3 books as well as a few favorites. 

Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see where I drop them.

And follow the hashtag #mgbookbomb to see where other books are dropped. 

Let's give away a lot of books this year!!!


I feel a rant coming on.

Designing a book cover is frustrating.
Because who the heck am I designing it for anyway?

Here's the problem arising for cover artists everywhere...

Do you make a book cover for the ten year old reader...or the ten year old's mother, who has the money?

You've all seen this scenario (perhaps even lived it):
Mom takes kid to bookshop. Kid gravitates immediately to the cartoonish/anime/graphic novel looking cover art. But mom favors the trendy kinda retro/magazine worthy/ graphic designy cover art. Mom says, "This one sounds good, honey," as she studies the beautiful font and adorable character design, having barely skimmed the description on the back. Kid holds up book with comic inspired cover. "I like this one," he says. "But you have lots of books just like that at home," mom replies. "Let's get this one! It looks interesting." Kid shakes his head and moves on but Mom doesn't put the book back on the shelf. Oh no. She carries it around with her as if it's a done deal. This conversation is repeated several times. Finally the kid has to make a decision: fight mom and leave the store empty handed, or just let her buy him the damned book she picked out.

Or perhaps you recall the library version:
Mom follows behind kids as they peruse the library shelves and surreptitiously sorts through their picks, putting back the ones with old-school or comic covers, and slipping in ones with trendily designed covers she likes best. I admit, I'm guilty of this one.

Here's the thing...it's a gnarly temptation for parents to control their kid's style. You don't want your kids to be all about popularity, but you've all had visions of raising truly "cool" kids. So you want them to like the cool music, the cool clothes, the cool bike, the cool hobbies, and the cool books.

Cool according to whom?
Yeah, you know the answer.
And you remember kids in your grade who were cool by "parent standards".

I have this argument with my brother who hates some of the movies his young daughters watch and tries to steer them toward the stuff he prefers. But here's the truth - in what universe does a grown man and a six year old girl have the same taste?

How can any reasonable adult expect a nine year old to have the same design preferences as a thirty five year old?

They'll like some of the stuff you like - but not all of it. Never all of it.

When I was redesigning the cover for my first book, Spark, I sketched out a few ideas and showed them to my test group which consists of nieces, nephews, and cousins of varying ages. The ones that are over twelve like the trendier graphic design. The younger kids honestly prefer the stuff that's more narrative. They want to see the story - not a clever, artsy representation of it.

So as an author who designs her own covers, what am I to do?
Market to my actual reader?
Or to the grownup who's paying for, and most likely ultimately choosing, the book?
The mainstream publishers are going all in on the graphic design lately and moms everywhere are just eating it up. But as an independent, I don't want to just sell books. I want to reach kids in the world where they live. I don't yet have the ability to create the covers I envision, but I get closer the more I practise and the more I interact with middle graders.

Yeah, I think I'll keep doing what I feel is right for me and for my readers,
and work toward having the artistic skill to match...

...and hope that there are some parents out there who actually let their kid pick the book.


Kids understand technology...so let them use it to create!

My nephew Ty is writing a zombie book. Awesome, right?

When I was his age (10), I loved writing stories, although all I had for writing tools was a pencil and the left-over blank pages of last year's language arts scribbler. If you had given me access to a computer, I wouldn't have had the skills to do anything with it. Not so with today's youngsters. 

They know how to do stuff.

So here is Ty using my laptop to learn the basics of Word. It took me all of ten minutes to show him how to set up a new document, do some basic formatting, and save his story so he can work on it whenever he wants. So he can create his own art rather than spend all his time consuming other people's creations.

Easy peasy. Lemon squeezy. Can't wait to read the finished tale.


To redesign or not to redesign...that is the question.

It's the dilemma that faces every person with a brand - and that means you too. Every author/illustrator is a brand unto him or her self. And the honest truth is that if you don't know how to market your personal brand, you are not going to get noticed.

The other honest truth I'm laying down here is that kids are more design savvy now than they have ever  been and they are as drawn to a clever use of color or an appealing font as their parents and teachers.

So the answer is yes. Always be tweaking that website. Always be improving your presentation. Don't be afraid to change things up once in a while. Keep your personal style. Keep the vibe of your brand. But give your readers new visual stimulation. Stay current and stay interesting.

Sure, there are elements that must remain static in order to become recognizable. A brand like Nike certainly couldn't suddenly forego its famous swoop - but darlin', you aren't Nike. You are in the perfect position to be tweaking.

I routinely make changes to my website graphics - but always maintain my slightly grungy style. I use a lot of black. I keep my warm colors bright and my cool colors on the smoky side. I love fonts that are distressed or a little bit scribbly. I love big, bold sidebar buttons. But within those parameters, there is a lot of room to have a little fun.

Like so...

One of the greatest tips I could give authors/illustrators who market their own work (and if you aren't marketing your own work, who the heck is marketing it?) is to learn those little tech skills that will allow you to freely change colors, add graphics, and shift things around on your online pages. If I can learn how, anyone can.

You just google.

As they say...learners are earners.
If you want to sell books, or anything else for that matter, never stop learning.

Take a good hard look at your online presence now and determine where you need to redesign.


Has anybody else been waiting around for a certain spy novel to be completed? 

Because I feel like I've been waiting an eternity...
But here it is:
Agent Apple

The story that had me all tangled up for the last year.
Tangled up, because it became a book that means a lot to me and when a book  means a lot to you, it's somehow much more difficult to write. As much as I adore my Nathan Christopher Coville, writing Truly Daniels has been a true journey for me. A tough one, but a good one.

You see, Truly Daniels is shy.
And I mean really shy.
And I was very nearly as shy as she.
I once mispelled words on a spelling test on purpose because I was the best speller in the class and I didn't want to be noticed for it. How's that for shy?

Now that I'm practically an old lady...well not quite yet...I've learned how to be visible rather than invisible. And I love that Truly has to learn the same life lessons I did.

Except her life lessons involve spies and terrorists, and mine did not.

I really hope y'all enjoy Agent Apple. I hope you love Truly.
I loved writing her for you.

Click HERE or on the Agent Apple link to your right and explore. Check out my character portraits and a very special travelogue where you get to see some of the amazing places Truly and her best friend, Ty, travel to in the book.

Happy reading!


It's a brand new year and that means it's a great time to discover new books. But while it's fun to peruse the stacks in your local bookstore for new releases, I wanted to recommend my two favourite established book series that you may not have seen - or perhaps you passed them by, not knowing how fabulous they are. Both are unique, exciting, and have great heroes. And both are far enough along in the series that you won't have to read the first book and then wait a whole excruciating year for the next book to come out - and by then you've forgotten half of the first book and have to read it again.

I hate that.

Anyway, there are three books in each series so far, so you can really sink your teeth into them. I'd say both series are for boys and girls aged 10 and up - both have some complexity to the plot that might be difficult for younger readers. Also, both have intense situations where the hero is in grave danger.

Itch - by Simon Mayo
First we have the brilliantly different story of a boy who collects the elements of the periodic table. Like zinc, boron, and magnesium. I know right? Such a good idea...and it's filled with science geekiness than anyone can get into. I'm more of an artist than a scientist, and yet I was fascinated by the could-actually-be-real science parts of the series. When Itchingham Lofte discovers a new, highly radio-active element, he becomes its unwilling protector as bad guys seek to harness its explosive power. You know I love stories about kids saving the world. And the fact that the hero of the books is called "Itch" makes me very happy. My name is Ginger, so as you can imagine, I like to read about people with odd names. It's smart, fun, and definitely one of my top recommendations for any middle grader.

the Eight Day - by Dianne K. Salerni
Secondly, I have to suggest y'all read this highly entertaining adventure about the modern day heirs of King Arthur and his knights of the round table. It begins when Jax Aubrey discovers the existence of a completely unknown and invisible eighth day of the week. As if that isn't strange enough, he learns that he is part of a magical order that created the eighth day to imprison some very nasty wizards - who would do anything to escape. The characters are fascinating and it is, in my opinion, the perfect mixture of our known world and one that is completely made up. I don't often buy an entire series of books, but this is definitely one that I'm collecting. Ooh, and the characters have tattoos. I don't know why that should appeal to me, but it does.

I kinda want a tattoo...

When shopping for new books this year, don't just head for the new releases - check out the book series that have been around a while. The ones you saw on the book shelf and for whatever reason, walked away from. There are gems everywhere. And that one you just put back on the shelf could be your new favorite.