For Educators, Homeschool Groups, or Book Clubs
If you are interested in using the Nellie Nova series in your classroom, homeschool group, or book club, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to provide a discount for orders of 20 or more books. I also can provide a special educator’s guide to accompany Nellie Nova Takes Flight free of charge with a bulk order. The guide contains more information about the science and history concepts in the book as well as art, science, writing, and history activities for kids.
I love visiting schools and homeschool groups. If your school or group is within two hours of Raleigh, North Carolina, I would love to come do a reading for your students. I can also do Skype presentations for those outside of my driving range.
I love hearing from educators. I’d love to hear more about how your schools or groups are using Nellie Nova.
Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Book Deal
If you’ve been thinking about buying some Nellie Nova books for kids in your life, now is a great time! Use code GIFTBOOK17 on amazon.com to take $5 off any book order over $20. Can be used with any combination of books.
Happy shopping, book lovers!
Nellie Nova’s Summer on the Run Now Available!
I have spent the past year and a half working hard to get this project finished. It’s been so fun writing my newest book. I recently had a release party here in Raleigh and it was a blast! Snacks, crafts, and a reading made for a really fun day. I hope all of Nellie’s fan’s check out book number two!
Nellie Nova’s Summer on the Run is a great read for kids in 3rd-6th grades!
About the book:
A year has passed since Nellie Nova built her time machine, the Purple Flyer. She and her brother, Niles, have been busy traveling throughout history to meet amazing women. Everyone in the Nova family, including their “Auntie” Amelia Earhart is very happy that the pesky government agents who tried to steal their time machine last year have finally backed off. One day, after traveling in time to meet the Native American trail guide Sacagawea, Nellie and Niles return home to find out that Agent Riley and his team of operatives are back in town and they’ve come for the Novas! Ruthless as ever, the agents chase Nellie and Niles through town, park their car in front of the Novas’ home, and even show up to Nellie’s dance recital. The Novas have had enough, so they pack their bags and head to Washington state to hide out in the mountains for the summer.
Worst of all, Nellie’s parents forbid her and Niles from using their time machine until things settle down.
Will they ever get away from the agents? And will Nellie ever be able to use her time machine to meet her newest heroine and namesake, reporter Nellie Bly?
If you’ve been itching to buy the second installment of Nellie’s story, check it out on Amazon today! The Nellie Nova series is a great way to gently encourage a love of science and history in young kids.
How Do I Do It All?
I don’t know how often some well meaning friend or acquaintance will say to me, “I don’t know how you do it all!”
How do I write, homeschool three kids- two with special medical needs, one with autism, take care of my home, and cook from scratch for allergies, all while living with chronic illness?
The answer is simple.
I don’t “do it all” every day.
Some days, my house is a mess.
Sometimes, I go a week without writing anything.
Sometimes, my kids don’t get the world’s healthiest dinner.
Sometimes I look at my 5 year old and wonder when he last had a bath.
I can’t do it all.
I can’t do everything well all the time.
I pick what’s most important at the moment. Usually, my kids win. But sometimes, the house has to get cleaned and I know that they’ll learn plenty if I send them outside with a magnifying glass and a jar and tell them to look for bugs.
Sometimes, the pain from my autoimmune disorder is just too much and we lay in bed and watch Bill Nye the Science Guy together.
But, I think when I leave this world, my headstone will read, “Mama Tried.”
And that’s really all any of us can do.
I am not perfect.
I drink too much coffee.
Sometimes, I swear.
Sometimes, I yell at my sweet kids.
Sometimes, I forget to call a friend back for a month.
But I’m trying.
And I know that all my mama friends are trying just as hard.
I know that we live in a picture perfect Instagram/Facebook/Twitter world, but let’s be real. My life doesn’t look exactly like my Instagram feed. I don’t take pictures of the pile of dishes that needs to be washed and add a pretty filter and put it on the internet. I don’t blog about when my ten year old acts entitled or my five year old hits his siblings.
Maybe I should, though. Maybe we should all be more honest with one another.
So here I am, telling you honestly: I can’t do everything. I am not Wonder Woman or Super Mom. I have laundry that needs washing and boxes in my garage from when I moved. In March. I have so many projects I want to work on, but I can’t, because there isn’t enough time in a day. And that’s okay.
Coming Soon! Nellie Nova’s Summer on the Run
I am so excited to share a bit about my latest project with you!
Fans of “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” have been patiently waiting for more adventures with Nellie and Niles. I am happy to say that the wait is almost over! I am currently working with an illustrator and editor to make my book shine. It should be ready by the end of the summer!
I will share more about the book and the Nova kids’ wild summer tomorrow. For now. I’ll just say that they travel in time to meet Sacajawea and reporter Nellie Bly, and spend a lot of time trying escape pesky government agents who won’t give up their quest to steal the time machine.
Check out these illustrations by artist Jo Painter. Nellie and Niles have an amazing adventure ahead of them!
Introducing Nellie’s Girls
In the months since “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” was released, I have had the privilege of traveling to schools, museums, camps and homeschool groups to do readings of my book. I have met some truly amazing kids. These kids have inspired me to start a new feature on the blog: Nellie’s Girls.
Once a month, I will feature a girl who reminds me of Nellie Nova. A girl who is smart. A girl who is strong. A girl who won’t give up. A girl who won’t let archaic ideas about what little girls are supposed to do get in her way. The girl will get to be interviewed by me, be featured on the blog and will get a signed copy of my book as well as a commemorative certificate.
Do you know a girl who loves science? A girl who raises money for a charity she loves? Maybe a girl who plays football? Is there a girl in your life who has inspired you? If so, tell me about her!
How to nominate a girl you love:
Send me an email at email@example.com and tell me all about her. Please include 1-5 pictures of your nominee. If possible, please include pictures of her participating in the activity you find inspirational. If she is chosen, I will conduct an interview via email or phone and post it here on the blog.
*parental permission required.
Finding Hope in Children’s Literature
I think I write for kids because there is a certain authenticity that we can have with children that is harder to accomplish with adults. Kids are not carrying the baggage adults carry. Kids don’t need to pretend that their little hearts are not soft in order to make it through their days. When you are a child, your heart and mind are more willing to soak up all of the goodness books can pour out. I think this is why children’s literature sticks with us throughout our adult lives and is why, years later, our hearts can be healed by simple words.
I don’t know about you, but with all of the sadness in the world right now, I need some healing. I need to be able to believe in the goodness of mankind. I need to be able to remember the happy days of my youth. I need to be able to believe that, as a nation, Americans can do better. I mourn for the people of Orlando. For the families of the victims. For their friends. For our nation as we sit here trying make sense of madness. I pray for change that is long overdue and answers that no one seems to have.
I’ve put together a list of quotes from children’s literature that give me hope. My desire is that they will bring you some hope as well.
And If I may add some words of my own- In “Nellie Nova Takes Flight,” Amelia Earhart has these words of wisdom for Nellie and Niles:
Children’s books continued to bring me joy and wisdom into my adulthood. It really is why I write them. I hope and pray that I can inspire kids in the way I have been inspired.
Today, I hope that you leave this post with your spirit renewed. Our world can often be filled with so much tragedy. but let’s not overlook the good. Let us never forget to BE the good.
I pray for this nation. That we learn to love one another and that we can make the changes needed to overcome hate and fear.
My 2nd book will be available in June! It’s called “Nellie Nova’s Flight Plan: Educational Activities for Knowledge Explorers.” The book is a companion to “Nellie Nova Takes Flight.” It’s filled with fun, educational activities, information, and resources relating to concepts introduced in “Nellie Nova Takes Flight.” Topics covered in the book include: Amelia Earhart, Physics, Botany, Victorian England, and the Ancient Aztecs. The projects and activities in the book are fun-filled and help kids learn more about these topics. The activities include science projects, art extensions, writing prompts, engineering tasks, and more! I am very excited about this new book! It would be great for homeschoolers and teachers. but also for any kid who loves to learn and can’t get enough of Nellie Nova!
What Does it Take to Be a Hero?
A few days ago, my hero died.
My Grandma Ann, who some of you may remember from my book dedication, passed away on Sunday evening after a long battle with cancer.
That’s her in the photo, running her first marathon. At fifty.
She didn’t let her age restrict her.
Not even at the end. As long as she was able, she ran, then walked through her neighborhood daily.
She went to college when her kids were grown. Not a lot of women went to college when she was younger.
She did not let society’s ideas about gender limit her.
She traveled the world with my Grandpa Jim. (He was another great hero, a fire chief, Purple Heart recipient and a wonderful man.) They spent 18 months living in Costa Rica and learned Spanish to do so. She also drove from Maine to Oregon with him- in a fire truck.
She didn’t turn away from adventure.
She was always kind, even when she did not have to be.
She acted with grace and respect at every turn.
She was stubborn in the best possible way.
She never gave up.
As an author, I create pretend heroes. The heroine of my book takes characteristics from my grandma. This is no accident. When I was writing “Nellie Nova Takes Flight,” I used a writer’s workbook to help me fine-tune the book. At one point, it asked me to think of a moment when someone showed a characteristic I wanted my protagonist to have and I thought of my grandma.
A few years ago, my grandma fell and broke her hip. I flew from TX to WA to visit her after she had hip replacement surgery. The next day, the hospital staff asked her to walk, with a walker. I thought, “That’s too much! She’s still recovering! She’s in pain!” But my grandma got up and did it. Each step was excruciating, but I vividly remember the look of determination in her eyes. I will never forget that strength.
She was strong beyond measure.
That moment is what I looked back on when I wanted to think of ways to make my character strong.
There are several definitions out there that tell us what a hero is supposed to be, but I don’t need one. I have a lifetime of memories of my grandmother to illustrate what the life of a hero should look like. I only hope I can live my life with half of the strength,dignity,and bravery that she did.
Goodbye, Grandma. I’ll see you again someday.
Who are your everyday heroes? Tell me about them in honor of my Grandma Ann.
Adventures in Book Promotion- Radio Edition
Last month, when I was visiting family in Seattle, I got an email inviting me to be a guest on Radio Active Kids on Asheville FM. I gladly accepted and started planning quick trip to Asheville, NC with my family. I thought that the kids would really enjoy seeing how radio programs are made, plus the whole Asheville area is ridiculously beautiful.
A few days before the show, my husband suggested that I go alone so I could have a relaxing trip.
Okay, moms. You get this. ALONE.
Friday afternoon, I returned home from a reading at a local elementary school, packed up my stuff and headed out the door. Even though I had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of me, I was excited. I had two new audiobooks on my phone. I listened to an entire book on the way there. (“Your First 1000 Copies” By Tim Grahl) Even though I was basically working while driving for hours it was great. It was quiet. The scenery, while it was still light out, was beautiful. The book was interesting and seems like it will be helpful.
I got to Asheville about 9:00pm. I’d booked a room with Air BnB and stayed in the home of some local musicians halfway up a mountain. It was gorgeous and my host was friendly. IE she offered me an adult beverage after my arrival. This is glamorous stuff for a homeschooling mom of three. The wild woman that I am, I took my single drink to my room and worked some more. It was so quiet. I loved it. (Also- my Educational Activity Guide to go with “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” is really coming along!)
The next morning, I awoke to realize how much colder it is up on a mountain than it is in Raleigh. Duh.
I didn’t pack for 40 degrees. It was in the 60s when I left Raleigh. So I got dressed and shivered my way to the car. I was pretty excited when I found my husband’s winter jacket when I got to the car. I mean, I looked ridiculous wearing a cute dress with little birds all over it, heals, and a large ski coat, but at least I was warm.
I drove to the radio station and got there 30 minutes early. I was excited. Can I admit that? This stuff is still new to me, so being interviewed on the radio was a really cool to me. Yes, I said cool. I may sound like an overzealous teenager talking about meeting a boy band, but I felt that way. I got to be interviewed on the radio!
The interview went really well and was actually a lot of fun. It can be found here until 4/16/16. Scroll to “Listen.” It’s about 36:30 into the episode.
Afterward, I wandered around Asheville a bit and did some shopping. I was able to get some birthday gifts for my son, who turns nine today. Then I had to head back to my husband, who had come down with a nasty virus and did not want to be alone with the kids any longer.
I listened to Mindy Kaling’s “Why Not Me?” on the drive home and enjoyed all the beauty North Carolina has to offer. I was happy and feeling pretty good about myself. I stopped for gas and snacks in some tiny little town. As I got back on the freeway, I was thinking about how maybe, just maybe, my writing career could take off. I picked up a piece of candy and unwrapped it, only to find that it was stuck to the wrapper. There’s nothing like trying to pry a grape Laffy Taffy out of its wrapper with your teeth to knock you back down to reality and make you think that maybe you have a long road ahead before you’ll be successful.
And that’s okay. I get to write books. I get to speak to kids about writing! Kids have told me I have inspired them to write or read more often! And I still get to teach my own kids. Things are pretty great.