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About Threadwalkers:

After her father’s death in a plane crash, 16-year-old Miranda Woodward’s life begins to unravel. On her birthday she receives a mysterious gift: a small wooden box containing a spool of gossamer golden thread, left behind by her now-deceased father, which begins a chain of events that soon leave her former life in chaos. Her pet cat is replaced with another, though her mother denies noticing a difference; her teachers don’t have her on their roll call at school, even her closest friends forget who she is. When her mother vanishes into thin air, Miranda becomes desperate for answers. She follows clues to meet a man known only as the Tailor. With his help, she must find a way to fix her life before it’s too late. 

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Y’ALL. It’s finally here.

My book, Threadwalkers, is finally OUT for purchase on Amazon! WOO HOO!

You can also find it on Goodreads, if you like to track your reading that way.

AND we’re having a virtual BOOK LAUNCH PARTY on Wednesday, 25 October, 2017 so Save the Date! You can RSVP for over here at my publisher’s event page on Facebook. (And be sure to like my Facebook page, too!)

So now that it’s here, here are some updated FAQs:

Can I find it in my country?

There’s a solid chance that YES you can find it in your country! The publisher set it up for the widest possible distribution in hard copy and ebook, so take a look on your local Amazon site before paying for international shipping.

Is it only on Amazon?

For now, yes. In a few weeks, it will be picked up elsewhere, and then I’ll have info for you lovely indie bookstore shoppers on how you can request it (and I’ll be submitting it to bookstores as well).

Will you sign my copy?

I would love to sign your copy! However, please do NOT mail your book to me. Instead, reach out directly and I will either let you know when I will be in your area or arrange something else specific. (For friends and family, email me directly!)

Book signing events???

I don’t currently have any scheduled, but will let you know as soon as I have anything to share! I’m relocating in December, which is taking most of my fall schedule, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be anything.

Speaking of events, how can I reach you to discuss hosting one?

Email me directly or fill out my contact form, and please be as specific as possible. Is it a library, bookstore, school event? Where is it? What time frame do you have in mind? And so on.

What if I have other questions?

I am happy to answer questions either on my contact form, Facebook, Goodreads, or via email.

So here we are!

Thank you to everyone who has already supported the book by purchasing a copy, sharing it online, or generally telling folks about it. I really appreciate it, and you. ❤

HELLO.

It’s been a busy summer. I said that already, didn’t I? But here in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s now officially FALL which means…. It’s nearly time for THREADWALKERS!

Along those lines, here are some updated FAQs (and maybe not all are frequently asked, but things that have COME UP) for you:

Release Date?

MOVED UP to October 16! That means it’ll be here in about 2 1/2 weeks! EEK. I’m furiously working on last line edits (making sure the commas are all where they are supposed to be, to the best of my and my editor’s abilities!) and then it’s getting submitted VERY SOON.

Where can I pre-order?

Unfortunately, it’s not currently available as a pre-order, but you can bet I’ll be making LOTS of noise when it’s available for pre-order and then purchase!

Where can I find it to buy?

Amazon, mostly. But you can also request it at your local bookstore! I’ll have more details on that closer to release day. (I know, it FEELS awfully close already.) BUT it will be available in both print AND ebook to ensure that the most number of people possible have access to it!

Lydia asks: What type of tea should I drink whilst reading Threadwalkers?

I LOVE THIS QUESTION from Twitter so I have decided to answer it here as well. The story takes place in the autumn, so a nice chai (or even chocolate chai) might hit the spot nicely! (Feel free to ask me for any other food or beverage pairings, though I will say tea is pretty much my drink of choice for most books.)

I want to review your book!

THANK YOU. I ALSO WANT YOU TO REVIEW MY BOOK.

Where should I post a review? (Amazon, Goodreads, other?)

Amazon is a good place to start, as that will help me encourage sales in the initial release, but I would also appreciate Goodreads reviews (I’ll link it as soon as I have the page for the book live!) and any other press you would like to send my way. Got a question? Just reach out!

Will you come to my library/bookstore/school?

YES (within reason, obviously). My travel is all out of pocket, but if you are, say, within an hour’s drive of the Chicago metro area, and you would like to invite me to your library or bookstore or school, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH. Or if you know I will be in your local area for some other reason, ALSO GET IN TOUCH. I am excited to talk to as many readers as possible, especially students! (PLEASE NOTE that my “home radius” will be changing this winter, so if you are in SoCal… after January, LET ME KNOW.)

What can I do to support the book?

Buy the book! Bug your friends about buying it. Give it as a gift. (See, your holiday shopping list is now DONE. YOU’RE WELCOME.) Post reviews online. Creating buzz is key, and you are all part of my swarm now. D’awwww.

Got other questions? Ask them here! I’ll answer what I can.

Travelogue: Scotland 2017

It’s been a long summer.

I originally saved this draft in mid-August, about a week and a half after I returned from Scotland, but it has sat empty since then because Life has been happening and I just haven’t had the time to really write up a proper recap. My instagram was probably a pretty good overall peek, though! All the same, I’m including a gallery of some of my favorites with a highlight from each day of the trip below, to the best of my memory a month later. Better late than never!

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Day 1, we arrived in Edinburgh six or seven hours later than intended after a very long delay on our JFK layover that meant we pretty much hit the ground running. We had an opening dinner that night and got to hit some of the shopping highlights, but most of day 1 was jetlag and trying not to fall asleep before 8pm. I mostly succeeded.

In the middle of Edinburgh Castle

Day 2 began with a city tour and then a visit to Edinburgh Castle, and it was really neat to get to explore it again after having last been there 11 years prior. The weather was also nice and the crowds weren’t awful, and because the bus had deposited us at the top of the giant hill that makes up the Royal Mile, we were able to explore along its length on the way back down to our hotel, including stops at St Giles Cathedral and other historic spots along the way. We ended the evening eating in a cozy pub on Rose Street near our hotel, hiding from the rain.

St Andrews Cathedral ruins

Day 3 was a bright and early bus trip north to St Andrews to tour the town, visit the ruined Cathedral, and, of course, walk along the Old Course. I enjoyed getting my feet wet in the North Sea and walking barefoot on the beach (which is actually one of the only times I’ve gotten to do so this summer… weird!). I also made friends with a hawk named Bracken whose job it was to keep the seagulls off of the golf course. We ate in a fabulous fish and chips shop for lunch as well. That night we got to attend an event at the National Gallery to view their exhibit on Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Beyond Caravaggio) and for a traditional Scottish dinner with ceilidh (“kay-lee”) dancing.

Holyroodhouse Palace in brief sunshine

Day 4 had a free day, so we decided to stick around Edinburgh and head down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse for most of the day. I hadn’t gotten to see Holyroodhouse on my previous visit, as Jared and I happened to be there during the week of the Queen’s annual residence, so it was neat to explore it for the first time. The Palace is home to a huge collection of art, furniture, and other artifacts belonging to the Royal Family, and the tour book for purchase was worth every penny: we knew something about every room we visited, and were able to find notable specific pieces. The Palace grew off of the old Holyrood Abbey, which is now in ruins but much of which dates from 13th century and earlier.

Setting sail on Loch Lomond

Day 5 we took another bus trip out into the Scottish countryside, this time to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond. We began in Stirling, where the castle has been largely restored to look as it might have at the height of its occupation, but which means there are many modern-produced fixtures and the like. It was interesting to see how brightly colored everything must have been when it was new (hundreds of years ago). From there we continued to Loch Lomond and took a short boat trip out into the water. We also ate lunch at a little shop with a garden and very good soup, which was very welcome on a cold, wet day.

Royal Yacht Britannia

Day 6 was our last full day in Scotland, and we headed to the other side of town to tour the Royal Yacht Britannia. It’s been retired for quite a while now, but has many of the state rooms, as well as the dishes, serving pieces, art, and other artifacts houses aboard open for public display. We enjoyed a peek into 1980s and 1990s history, along with tea on board with a view of the harbor. We rounded out the night with a closing dinner, including bagpipes, and a lot of good food.

Last Castle view as we packed to head home

So that’s a (very) brief overview of the trip, but I wanted to write it all out while it was still relatively fresh in my mind. There will be more coming soon, I’m sure, as I’m gearing up for the book release and also getting closer to moving (less than 3 months away now, eek!).

Okay.

We have “Hard Copy Orders” in hand. This means that J is officially set to transfer to….. San Diego! Ta-da!

But this also means that now it’s time to start all of the hoop-jumping that’s involved in actually, y’know, setting it up. This isn’t like doing a civilian move (which I just negotiated last March, as we had to move within Chicago on kind of short notice). We’ve got to have forms, copies of things, signatures, dates set months in advance…. and all on the beast that is move.mil (the DoD’s website for PCSing).

I’ve been at this long enough now that I remember when you used to have to schedule a “counseling” appointment, and actually go into an office on base and have some random clerk person fill out the paperwork for you while you tried to keep your head from spinning. Then they “upgraded” it so that you STILL had to go into an appointment in an office on base but you had to log into one of the DoD’s ancient PCs and use a digital form (that was kind of like using DOS in middle school was) to submit, and then still sign it with a “counselor” who was there to answer any questions. That stage of this “upgrade” my questions mostly were “WHY are we sitting here doing this at a junky old computer??” and “WHY can’t the counselor sit here with me when we need help with every other question??” and other gems.

Now the process is fully online, including the paperwork. You can download, sign, scan, and re-upload your forms all in one go. But the process to getting those forms? It’s still a pain. I spent probably 3 hours trying to get the website to work properly because, as a DoD site, it doesn’t run as well on new browsers. And you’ve got to allow it to generate pop-ups, and even once you do THAT, it only actually pops up about half of the time. It doesn’t tell you when it’s timed out until you suddenly can’t save anything anymore, and sometimes it times out while you’re actively submitting things. (I literally uploaded two forms, and when I went to click “Submit” it told me it had timed out. But when I logged back in, there were the forms! I DON’T KNOW EITHER.)

Thank goodness for good friends who help me keep my sanity:

PCS no cats or plants

(I’m in pink, click to make bigger.)

SO. If you’re here looking for tips to set up your PCS, here’s what I’ve got:

  • Move.mil isn’t terribly user-friendly, so once you’ve found your ETA SSO Portal and the actual DPS page, bookmark them both. You’ll have to log into the ETA SSO Portal first regardless, but having the DPS page bookmarked will save you the twenty minutes I always spend hunting down the right link.
  • The system will actually save where you left off, after you’re a certain amount along in the process. I’m not sure exactly how much that is, but I’ve been able to go back and work on setting up the household goods (HHG) shipment in pieces.
  • Military spouse/dependent? Be SURE to add yourself as an authorized agent for both pick up and delivery. It doesn’t hurt to hold a Special Power of Attorney covering HHG shipments specifically.
  • Add the new orders to the system (and upload them as a PDF to the website!!) BEFORE you start adding your HHG shipment.
  • You can sign and upload the documents you need directly to the site– DO NOT CLICK SUBMIT until you’ve done so!
  • WHEN YOU CHOOSE DATES, be aware that it’s asking for your “Preferred Pick Up Date” which means the LAST day that you will have movers. Anticipate them being scheduled for 1-2 days before this. (So if you want to start moving on Monday, list that Wednesday as your Pick Up Date. If you list Monday, they’ll come the prior Thursday, and so on.)
  • If you get an errorjust close out your DPS page and go back to the ETA SSO Portal. Click CTRL + F5 to give the page a clean refresh, and then go back to the DPS page. This resolved just about every error I encountered.

I was reminded of all of this last week as I fought the very clunky system. Got any other tips? Leave them in comments below. (I could probably use them. Heh.)

A few weeks ago I got to attend San Diego Comic-Con for the first time as press. It was a vastly different experience than going as an attendee. I’m hesitant to say that one is better than the other, because it was just… different. There are trade-offs. But this is just meant as a recap of the event.

 

I arrived in San Diego on Wednesday, met up with my friend (and co-blogger) Meghan, grabbed some lunch, and headed downtown to the convention center for Preview Night. As press, we got to be inside the exhibit hall when they opened it up to the masses, which was an event unto itself, but I particularly enjoyed those few minutes to get our bearings and plan out how we’d cover that part of the convention. We stayed for a while, chatted with some exhibitors (and took photos of things for later), and headed out to a networking event.

I spent a good bit of the convention live streaming over at Geek Girl Pen Pals as I walked the exhibit hall floor and generally tried to provide an “experience” of the event for those who couldn’t make it. We are, after all, international, and California is a long flight, and convention badges are HARD to come by, so the goal was to make the event as accessible as possible for the community. (Random photo of the Batmobile is the actual, drive-able vehicle from the movie!)

Thursday afternoon, I headed to the Hyatt and checked in for our first big event– the Her Universe Fashion Show. You can read my full coverage here, but it was so much fun going to the fashion show. I had a clear view of the stage (in fact, seated right behind the judges, I had to work on keeping a neutral face in case one of them was on camera), the production quality was excellent, and the designers themselves put forth some amazing pieces. I can’t wait to see what new styles come out of the show, as the three winners get to collaborate on a spring line (Disney princess themed, no less!) for Hot Topic. (Winning styles pictured above in my blurry phone snap.)

Friday I covered the Let’s Get Fashionably Nerdy panel which included some of my favorite geeky clothing designers (not to mention Jordan Ellis whose Jordandene NYC tops I wear at least twice a week) talking about the shift from the “nerdy t-shirt” to actually fashionable attire that can subtly (or not) express the fandoms people love. Friday night is a bit of a blur but I feel like we had good food that night. Honestly, it starts to blur together. (WAIT!) Friday night was the Geek Girl Pen Pals meet-up! We went to a sushi place in the Gaslamp district and it was so fun! (See? Blurring together!)

Saturday morning Meghan and I got up pretty early because we covered some of the off-site events. San Diego Comic-Con is somewhat famous for these events, which are usually some type of immersive environment produced by a particular brand, production company (Netflix has one, for instance), or for a specific show. We started at the Game of Thrones experience, which was fairly neat. I have a lot of photos from it that I’ll post in a separate page about it, as the experience itself was pretty much one giant photo op. People waited in line for hours to get into this thing, and I have to say… it was cool, but not nine-hours-in-line cool. (I don’t think much is, to be honest.)

Next we visited the Netflix experience, and this is where the “cost” of being press starts to come in. I got to go through the Stranger Things themed part of the Netflix experience, but as I had to be at a press conference at 3:15, I couldn’t take the time to do the rest of the exhibit. I got an awesome photo– but I didn’t get to see everything. I don’t mind. It’s just the reality. (We get into these events at scheduled times but can’t always participate in the full experience.)

Saturday afternoon I attended the press conference for the upcoming series, Star Trek: Discovery, and I have to say that it sounds like it’s going to be a great show. Here is my bad photo of the full cast. I borrowed photos from another blogger and the official press docs for my full coverage. But it was fun, and I’m looking forward to watching when it premiers next month.

After the press conference, I met back up with Meghan for our appointment to go through the Bladerunner 2049 experience, and I have to say that it was the best of just about any off-site experience I’ve ever done. (Sorry, HBO, the Game of Thrones one wasn’t this good.) Even though as media we didn’t get to do the whole virtual reality portion of the immersion, we still got to walk into a huge hangar that was converted into a street corner from the Bladerunner world. In-character actors inhabiting the whole space, “rain” falling, mist and puddles, a noodle bar (not to mention noodles and whiskey tastings for those old enough), and no rush to hurry through. It was SO well done.

After all of that I was pretty worn out, and I had to get up at 4am on Sunday to catch a flight to North Carolina for the next leg of a whirlwind two weeks. But I learned a lot and I covered a lot and I can’t wait to do it again next year when maybe I can just go home at night in between (or maybe figure out a way to get a hotel room downtown.)

Because this is the big thing I’ll say about going to San Diego Comic-Con as press– YES there are perks (like appointment times for off-site experiences), and we had a lot of fun, but we were there to work. I spent a lot of time moving as fast as I could through a throng of 200,000 people trying to make it to appointments on time. I bought new inserts for my shoes. I drank pedialyte like it was my job. I loved it. But it wasn’t the same as being an attendee.

Here’s an example: I didn’t have time to stand in line when I wanted to. This may sound weird, but bear with me. There’s a reason they call SDCC “Line Con”– eeeeeeverything has a line. But you’ve got to make a time commitment to get into certain things. If you, say, wanted to get into the DuckTales panel (and didn’t realize in advance that David Tennant, the new voice of Scrooge McDuck, was going to be there because you were at Comic-Con to cover, say Geek Fashion), you wouldn’t be able to get in line far enough ahead of time to make it into the panel room. As I keep saying, THIS IS OKAY. I did many amazing things. Being press comes with, y’know, appointments to keep. It’s all balance.

Summary: I can’t wait to do it again next year.

An old stretch of Route 66 in Dwight, IL

I like roadside attractions. You know this by now. (See: Cabazon Dinosaurs for previous stop.) And in the US at least there is no place for roadside stops quite like Route 66.

Route 66 has become, in and of itself, a bit of a roadside attraction in its own right. Begun in 1926 and decommissioned in 1985, it nevertheless remains in the cultural consciousness of the US. It was the road that could take you from Chicago to Los Angeles, the Main Street of America, the Mother Road, and it embodies the automotive spirit of America like nothing else. Countless communities along it prospered as long as the traffic came. And did that traffic come! Especially after WWII, the whole stretch of Route 66 became one of the most popular road trips in the country, and the little towns and mom and pop shops along it became iconic stops. But the traffic got to be too much, and the Interstates were born.

You can still find most of Route 66 if you know where to look. It’s been recognized by Congress and the World Monuments Fund as a significant cultural site, and there is an organization committed to preserving what remains. The National Park Service even has a published itinerary with links to popular roadside stops and essays and maps. And there’s something really enticing about it, after all. Two lane roads and tiny diners and places ranging from the comfortable to the just plain bizarre.

I’ve been to the beginning, in downtown Chicago. I’d like to go to the end some day, in Santa Monica. In the meantime, I’m exploring the section that’s within a day’s drive of where I currently reside.

The Lily-pad Room in Onandaga Cave State Park‘s Cathedral Caverns.

For the July 4th weekend, we followed I-55 (which runs parallel to the old Route 66) down to central Missouri and the northern stretches of the Ozarks to meet friends who live in Kansas City. It was a lovely trip, but on the way down and again on the way back, we made a point of stopping on Route 66 as often as we could. Even our final destination, at Onandaga Cave State Park, is part of the cave system that includes one of the oldest stops along the famed highway, Meramec Caverns.

Jesse James Wax Museum outside of Meramec Caverns

Outside of the Meramec Caverns visitor center is a Jesse James Wax Museum that combines my love of roadside attractions with my love of interesting conspiracy theories: the museum posits that the famous outlaw Jesse James faked his own death and lived to be 103, dying in the 1950s. It was bizarre and entertaining and worth the price of admission (if you like that sort of thing, which I do).

The Mill on Route 66 in Lincoln, IL

On the drive home, we stopped at a site called The Mill which has just re-opened after about a decade of fundraising and refurbishment. If you look at some of the old photos, this place was brought back from near collapse by a dedicated team. I like that it sits right at the intersection of the train tracks and the old highway.

We’ve made a few other stops along Route 66 over the last couple of years, but these are the most recent. Have you driven any of Route 66? Do you have a favorite roadside stop that I should add to my list?