Happy Book Birthday to me!

We didn’t really make a cake… but we should have!

Today is the release day for The Code, book three of my medical thriller series. Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered and sent warm wishes!

It’s available in multiple formats: kindle, paperback, BN (Nook,) Kobo, Apple books, smashwords.

Dr. Kate Deming has spent four brutal years working in a Chicago ER. When a sophisticated ransomware attack originating from her computer paralyzes the hospital’s EMR, she is the FBI’s main suspect. She thinks this is her biggest problem until her daughter’s friend overdoses, and her daughter knows far too much about it. Can Kate crack the code before another child gets hurt?

Big Announcement!

No, I’m not pregnant, but thanks for asking.

My new book is coming out on October 7!

Cover of The Code, available October 7

Dr. Kate Deming has spent four brutal years working in a Chicago ER, swinging back and forth from tragedy at work to guilt for what she’s missing at home. The prescription is a new job that will allow more time with her growing daughters: an eight-year-old pirate wannabe planning to run away to the high seas, and a twelve-year old expert in eye-rolling and sarcasm who is the star of her middle school’s new code breaking team.

When a sophisticated ransomware attack paralyzes the hospital’s electronic medical record, the hospital pinpoints Kate’s computer as the electronic gateway. She thinks it’s a misdiagnosis until the FBI raids their apartment and arrests her husband, whose home tech support now appears all but benign.

Meanwhile, her daughter’s classmate overdoses to get away from a sextortion scheme that her daughter knows too much about.

Can Kate crack the code before another child gets hurt?

If you’re looking for the paperback, you can order it from your favorite independent bookstore, or from Amazon.

The ebook is available at: kindle, Barnes and Noble, kobo, Apple Books and smashwords, or you can request it from your local library.

If you’re planning to read it, pre-orders are especially useful for helping others find my book.

Thanks for reading!

Giveaway: a book stack!

I am so excited to be featured in Becky Clark’s Big Bodacious Box O’Books (and Purse) Giveaway.

Yes, it’s a mouthful. But even bigger (and better) is the big stack of mysteries by some of my favorite Colorado authors.

Becky writes mystery humor and has a new book coming out, Foul Play on Words. It’s the second book in her Mystery Writer’s Mystery Series that began with Fiction Can Be Murder.

Fiction Can Be Murder (A Mystery Writer's Mystery Book 1) by [Clark, Becky]

The winner of this giveaway will receive (do I sound like Bob Barker yet?) a signed book from each of these authors:

as well as a super-cool handmade book purse (you’ll have to go to Becky’s site to see it- but it’s so great!)

There’s something for everyone in the stack.

If you like police procedurals with a literary edge, Mary Birk’s Mermaids of Bodega Bay (Terrence Reid Mysteries) is for you.

If you like cozies, you’ve got Becky Clark’s Foul Play on Words (Mystery Writer’s Mysteries), Nora Pages Better Off Read (Bookmobile Mysteries), Cynthia Kuhns The Semester of Our Discontent (Leila Maclean Academic Mysteries) and Karen C. Whalen’s Just What I Kneaded (Culinary Cozies).

If you enjoy paranormal suspense, you’ll be excited to read Shawn McGuires Family Secrets.

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy Margaret Mizushimas Killing Trail, set in the Colorado high country.

The second book in my Kate Deming medical suspense series, Lost Things, is included.

Okay, how do you enter? Go on over to Becky’s website and sign up for her mailing list, or comment, or share on your favorite social media site… all the details are there. The contest ends on March 30, and good luck!

Snow books

It’s finally snowing here for our first day of winter break, and we’re going to pull out all our favorite snow books today. They are (in no particular order):

Product Details

The charm in Uri Shulevitz’s Snow is that Boy with Dog knows better than everyone else who tells him it’s not going to snow. The illustrations are fantastic, and the sparse prose is exactly right.

Product Details

Virginia Lee Burton’s classic, Katie and the Big Snow, is chock full of details. The only thing I change when I read it aloud is “The doctor couldn’t get her patient…”

Product Details

Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon perfectly captures the haunting silence of a snowy night.

Product Details

Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day was Phoebe’s favorite when she was little (and I’m sure that had nothing to do with the fact that I substituted her name in for the main character’s.)

Product Details

Jaqueline Briggs Martin’s Snowflake Bentley is the true story of Wilson Bentley, the man whose passion for natural beauty led him to photograph snowflakes. His work was amazing, and this children’s book about him is beautiful.

Product Details

I loved Carolyn Haywood’s Snowbound with Betsy growing up and dug an ancient copy up a few years ago. I still love it.

Product Details

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter haunts my dreams: the food running out, the Christmas box that couldn’t make it, the cutting for the train…

Product Details

Winter Holiday, the third book in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series, takes place on a frozen lake and is full of all the fun you imagine you’d have with like-minded kids and utter freedom.

I don’t think we’re going to have enough snow to give me time to read all of them today… but I’m going to give it a shot. What snow books am I missing?

Looking forward to Advent

I hate Halloween.  I’m like a Halloween Grinch.

Image result for grinch

And I especially hate that Halloween falls during my birthday month (yes, I’m that annoying person who wants the whole month to be about me), so that all of October as I’m admiring the gorgeous fall colors, giant plastic pumpkins and creepy skeletons keep intruding.  There’s a giant plastic spider in a polyester web over an exam room at work that made one of my young patients scream the other day, and I knew just how he felt.

This is what I love about October.

And this, too.

The one thing I like about Halloween is that it tells me Advent is almost here.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving and especially Christ the King Sunday (the last Sunday before Advent, this year on November 20).  But I especially love Advent. It’s a season of contemplation and prayer.

I love that the Giant Retail Machine has not figured out how to turn Advent into a commercial enterprise.

In a fit of pique about a particularly icky lawn ornament I saw the other day, I came home and pulled out our Advent books, just to see if there were any gaps I wanted to fill in.  (There were.  I ordered a few new-to-us books.)

If you don’t have any Advent traditions, or want to know what the Advent fuss is all about, let me recommend a few of my favorite Advent resources.


For advance planning and ideas for how to meditate and celebrate at home, I recommend Let Us Keep the Feast, edited by Jessica Snell. For each of the church seasons, it provides a collection of resources, including an introduction to the season, an explanation of the calendar, information on seasonal traditions- old, new and international, seasonal recipes, suggestions for how to celebrate with the very young, ways to serve beyond the home, selected readings, music and prayers. (I wrote the section on Ordinary Time, but that isn’t my favorite one.)  The book is available from Doulos Resources, or Amazon, both in electronic, pdf and paperback forms.

Elizabeth Foss has an Advent devotional called Comfort and Joy that looks beautiful (though I haven’t tried it.)  She also has some lovely book lists I’ve used to shape our collection of special books we read during Advent.

In past years we have enjoyed Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Jesse Tree, which we’ve read as an Advent family devotion.  This year, I think we’ll be back to Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

Do you have an Advent resource to recommend as we look ahead (past Halloween)? Please share in the comments.

Middle School History Through Literature Unit: World War II to 2000

I wanted to share this booklist for those looking for a group of novels covering the 2nd half of the 20th Century.  All these books are well-written, thought provoking without being preachy, and full of compelling characters.  My children still can tell you about every one of these novels, even though we read some of them a few years back.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but only ones I think make a good complement of books to examine 1940-2000. Without further ado:

World War 2:

Product Details

Code Talker (Joseph Bruchac)- This is the true story of a group of Navajo men recruited to the Marines in WWII to create a code the Nazis couldn’t crack.

Product Details

Bomb: The Race to Build- and Steal- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (Steve Sheinkin).  This book paints the Manhattan Project and all its implications in vivid color and sets the stage for the Cold War.

Product Details

The Endless Steppe (Esther Hautzig): Hautzig’s account of living as a Jewish exile in Siberia during WWII is both very specific in its details and broad in its view of human nature.  Unlike some more modern children’s literature (I’m looking at you, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), it does not suggest that the power of friendship was enough to mitigate the evils of the Holocaust.

Product Details

The House of Sixty Fathers (Meindert DeJong): This book tells the take of a Chinese boy whose village is destroyed by the Japanese.  I think we often focus on the European aspects of WWII.  DeJong’s book is a good way to introduce the Pacific front.

Product Details

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Eleanor Coerr): Sadako is the simplest title on this list, but it is a beautiful book and a good complement to Bomb.

Product Details

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights (Steve Sheinkin) is another non-fiction title for youth that holds both the real people and the implications for history in perfect balance.  Great fodder for discussions on racism, civil rights, and WWII.

Product Details

Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein) is a novel portraying the friendship between two teenagers who signed up to fight WWII in England and France.  The brutality of war is portraying without being too graphic, but this is a book for the older middle school crowd.  This book is perfect for lots of “what would you have done?” questions.


Product Details

October Sky (aka, Rocket Boys) (Homer Hickman) is a memoir of a future NASA engineer and his buddies who, inspired by Sputnik, decide to build a rocket in a West Virginia mining town.  While my kids were most focused on the rocket building adventures (and misadventures), we all absorbed lots of late-fifties history and had an eye-opening encounter with the dying mining culture in Appalachia.  I did edit a bit of the teenage love/angst.

Product Details

Dead End in Norvelt (Jack Gantos): Pure fiction set in 1962, full of humor and great characters.  We were so entertained we didn’t notice how much we learned about the importance of history and life during the early Cold War.

Product DetailsProduct Details

Countdown and Revolution (both by Deborah Wiles): Countdown tells the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis from the perspective of Franny Chapman, an entertaining fifth grader.  Within the book are actual newspaper clips from 1962, which fascinated my readers.  Revolution is the story of the “Freedom Summer” of 1964, also accompanied by primary documents embedded within the book.

Product Details

The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 (Christopher Paul Curtis)- Curtis tells a beautiful and powerful story of family and consequences through the Watson family’s journey from Flint, Michigan, to Birmingham Alabama, in 1963.

Product Details

The Wednesday Wars (Gary D. Schmidt): The Wednesday Wars remains one of our family’s favorite books of all time.  It tells the story of Holling Hoodhood’s 7th grade year, 1968.   It is a seamless weaving of specific history, Shakespeare, the universal trials of childhood, and the power of love.

Product Details

Okay for Now (Gary D. Schmidt) follows a supporting character from The Wednesday Wars, Doug Swietek, through the year of his dislocation and his wounded brother’s return from Vietnam.  This is no warm, fuzzy tale of family reunited.  It is the story of what you do to survive a broken family, and how hope may come from surprising places.  This one is a hard read emotionally and has very difficult subject matter. Save it for your older readers.

Product Details

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood (Ibtisam Barakat): Barakat’s memoir is told in vignettes from her family’s flight from Ramallah, Palestine,  during the Six Day War in 1967, and its aftermath.  She writes beautifully and without self-pity.  Lots of questions to discuss about war and peace.

Product Details

Revolution is Not a Dinner Party (Ying Chang Compestine): This is the story of 1972 during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, as seen through the eyes of 8 year-old Ling, a narrator with vision beyond her years.  My son liked it so much he made my husband read it.

Product Details

A Long Walk to Water (Linda Sue Park): Park weaves together two refugees’ stories. Salva flees his small Sudanese village in the wake of a 1985 explosion to make his way to a refugee camp in Ethiopia, and eventually to the US.  Nya, an eleven-year-old in Sudan in 2008, spends her life walking for water.  The intersection of these two characters is beautiful and astonishing.

Product Details

The Day of the Pelican (Katherine Paterson): Paterson tells a powerful tale of modern refugees through Meli and her family’s flight from Kosovo in 1998 until they make a new home in New England, just after September 11, 2001.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list, but a manageable one.  What are your favorite late-20th Century books for middle schoolers?





Book Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Product Details

Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a beautiful book.

After a reading string of well-written, compelling but very sad stories about refugees (The Road from Home, The Day of the Pelican, The Endless Steppe), my children requested “something NOT sad.”  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon fit that bill.

Minli, a young Chinese girl in a rural farming village, lives with her father (a story telling farmer) and mother (who doesn’t appreciate stories).  When Minli sees an opportunity to change her fortune, she takes it, leaving her village to find the Old Man on the Moon.

Minli encounters many story tellers, including a stone lion, an incognito king, and an imprisoned dragon.  Their stories weave beautifully into a powerful narrative about what fortune ultimately means.

It’s labeled for Grades 3-6 but made a lovely family read aloud, which everyone loved.  Highly recommended.

Quick Lit: April 2016

I’m starting with the YA titles this month.

The Fourteenth Goldfish (Jennifer L. Holm): This book is a delight.  Ellie is your average 11 year-old whose grandfather is a mad scientist.  And yet, maybe he’s not mad.  We listened to Georgetta Perna’s lovely recording and enjoyed every minute, so much so that we fought over the CDs when we had to take 2 cars.  Highly recommended.

Product DetailsFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Kate DiCamillo):  DiCamillo’s highly illustrated novel may seem like an odd choice for an audiobook, but K.G. Campbell’s reading made me wish she read me all the comics my children bring to me.  Flora and Ulysses are an unlikely pair, but when I need a superhero, I’ll be calling them.  Highly recommended.

Product DetailsOne Plus One (Jojo Moyes): Like its characters, One Plus One is a hard sell.  Its narrators are a divorced cleaning lady/waitress, her odd math genius daughter and mascara-wearing stepson, and a tech developer accused of insider trading. It took me a bit, but knowing how much I’ve enjoyed all Moyes’ other titles, I persevered.   Once the pieces had come together, I was hooked.  There was only one moment when I had to put the book in the freezer.  Highly recommended.

Product DetailsThe Bronte Plot (Katherine Reay): I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I expected to.  Like Reay’s other offerings (here are my quick reviews for Lizzy and Jane and Dear Mr. Knightley), The Bronte Plot depends heavily on a literary background of the Brontes and Austen.  This time, however, it felt less like name dropping and more like dysfunction.  I was still rooting for Lucy, the troubled MC, but this time it was harder to find her among all the books and vases and tourist attractions.  Still recommended.

Come join us!

In two weeks, Tuesday, March 29, I’ll be joining a panel of awesome Colorado writers at Metro State University for Mystery, Murder, and Mayhem.  (Love that Oxford comma!)

When: Tuesday March 29, 3:30-5:30

Where: The Tivoli Multicultural Lounge, Metro State University, Denver

Who: Peg Brantley, Karen Docter, Ann Dominguez, Becky Martinez, Jools Sinclair (and hopefully, you!)

I hope to see you there!

tribes-poster designs