Selected Works

A Young Adult Novel, 2014
A Young Adult novel, 2012
Adults and Young Adults
A 2010 Green Earth Book Awards Honor Book
Younger Readers
A new twist to a very old story. Beautifully illustrated by Heather Solomon.
A tall tale from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Winner of the 2002 Charlotte Zolotow Award for best writing in a picture book. Available in hardcover and paperback.
Works in Progress
A new YA novel
A collection of essays about Fairy Tales

Quick Links

Transformations in Writing

Very passionate blog review of FS

October 15, 2012

Tags: 4 Secrets, Bullies, Writing Life

This was not just another blog review for me. This one deeply moved me because the book so deeply moved the blogger. It's from Feathered Quill.

"In this amazing YA novel, not only has the author gone in-depth on this subject, but does so by offering a mysterious plot, fantastic characters, and a wealth of emotions that will truly leave the reader with something to think about!...(T)he writing is remarkable, and being able to spotlight this very dangerous problem while still weaving an unforgettable plot, shows that this is one author with a true gift! Quill Says: Buy this! Now!"

Read the full review here

Ramblings about Bullying since it's Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

October 11, 2012

Tags: 4 Secrets, Bullies, Writing Life

It's Bullying Prevention Awareness Month
Later in the fall I will be speaking in several Chicago schools about FOUR SECRETS and my thoughts about the social problem of bullying in schools. Tonight I am wondering if there is anything to be said about bullying that hasn't already been said.

Do students really need to hear another adult tell them how much pain is inflicted by the mundane cruelties of the modern high school?

Aren't the very terms--bully, bullying, bullied--starting to have the empty ring of cliche for many teenagers?

I want to use my book as an example of how an episode of bullying cracks the surface of a life and takes a child into a place of psychological trauma. It requires courage, stamina, will and resolve to just GO to school when you are being bullied. Standing up to bullies calls for heroism and self-awareness. The self-awareness is what can turn the experience into art--the response of the artist, writer, musician, dancer, athlete--some form of action and creation to counteract the helplessness that the victims of bullying feel.

Art is connection. Counteract bullying with ART. Words, colors, shapes, sounds, movement, spirit. Push back. Keep track. Guard your unique and precious souls by telling the truth of what is happening to you.

More thoughts to come.

THE BULLY PROJECT: A phenomenal site about bully prevention HERE

Haunting Trailer for FOUR SECRETS

September 27, 2012

Tags: 4 Secrets, Bullies, Writing Life

with Jeff Joanisse, director of the trailer.


I am delirious with excitement about the trailer for FOUR SECRETS. It was created by my stepson, Jeff Joanisse, an accomplished director and filmmaker, from a script I wrote using quotes from the characters. The kids in the trailer are friends of my grandson, Isaac Joanisse--Maya Denslow (Renata), Cam Lund (Nate) and Kylee Kowalksi (Katie). They did an amazing job and I loved using all local (Grand Haven & Spring Lake) talent. We shot it at an empty room in the Piano Factory building in downtown Grand Haven. The piano music is courtesy of the fantastic local musician Garrett Born. Very very proud of the effort put into this bleak little gem of a book trailer. View it here

The Social Worker

August 9, 2012

Tags: 4 Secrets, Summer of Silk Moths, Bullies

Mrs. Shield, The Great She
Katie's Journal: "I like Mrs. Sheild, Journal. I like that she doesn't seem upset or shocked that I'm actually in juvie. She doesn't treat me like a criminal, she just talks to me really straight, no feeling sorry for me, no tears."

Nate's Journal: "I am lost, Great She. I don't know how much longer I can last in here. I wish I could tell you everything, but there is danger all around me and it will be worse when I get out if I do not keep my promises."

(NOTE: Many thanks to editor Andrew Karre for helping me to remember that 4 Secrets is not about Greta Shield's secrets, not her story at all; the quest belongs to the three young "prisoners," despite her devotion to them.)

My dear friend Virginia Gordon, to whom FOUR SECRETS is dedicated, made me promise that I would not redeem the cruel and desperate bully, Chase Dobson, who is responsible for the chain of events that lead his 3 victims to juvenile detention. She knew me well, to make me promise that. She knew that I have an ongoing impulse in my work to transform/reform my characters, as I did with Nora in SUMMER OF SILK MOTHS. She was right on this one. Thank you, Ginny. I miss you.

Illustration by Bill Hauser