Monthly Archives: August 2016

Yet another super-talented reader

Reader Julia D has the habit of painting the covers of her favorite books in oil paints, and just look at what she did with After the End! Isn’t this AMAZING???


Julia explained to me that she painted with oil paint directly onto the book:

“Oil paint mixes and flows together really well so that how I did the sky. I actually watched someone on YouTube do this! First I did the sky with one solid color, then mixed in yellows and blue while it was still wet. Then the stars with water paint by using a splatter method. Then painted the forest/mountain with just one solid blue and then the trees with a smaller brush.”


Just wow.

She went on to tell me, “My favorite part of After the End is probably when Miles breaks Juneau out of his dad’s house, so adorable, and Miles has my sense of humor.”

This has got to be the hundredth time I have said this, but I am so honored to have such creative and brilliant readers who are kind enough to reach out to me and let me know what my books mean to them. Much love to Julia and to you all!



The other day I was in the middle of getting my hair cut when suddenly I was gripped by a strange feeling. Like somewhere nearby, something big was going down. Little did I know that a few blocks away, an epic battle was taking place in my apartment. The dispute was over who would be the guardian of my house.

This status had been held for the last three years by Poe, my beloved stuffed raven, bought in honor of his namesake in my After the End series.




But it was about to be challenged by Obi, my new Labrador puppy.



Obi was the newcomer, with only four months under his belt. But he had an advantage. He was alive.

The battle began with a stare-down.

“I haven’t noticed you here before,” Obi commented after eight seconds, irked that he had lost the blinking contest so quickly.

“It’s because Amy puts me on a high shelf when she leaves you home alone,” Poe replied. His beak didn’t move when he spoke.  Obi found that unnerving.

“Oh yeah? Then why didn’t she today?” he asked.

“Probably because she closed the door between my room and your room.”

“What door?”

“The one you just rammed open by throwing your body against it for the last half hour.”

Obi looked over his shoulder at the broken lock. “Oh. That door.” He looked back at the bird. “So, how are we going to settle this thing?”

“What are you talking about?”

“The guardianship of Amy’s house.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re a spazzed-out puppy and I’m a wise old bird. I’ve been on the job here longer than you’ve been alive.”

Obi had been trying to keep his attention trained on the raven, but something was itching right…down… He twisted around and frantically gnawed at the base of his tail. When he finished, he looked back up at the bird. “There can be only one.” His voice was weirdly high-pitched, and he spoke with a strange accent.


Obi cleared the phlegm from his throat and repeated, “There can be only one.”

“I heard you the first time, dog. But that’s stupid. There’s plenty of room for both of us.”

“No, it’s true. It’s from a movie. And movies are always true.”

“Highlander is not the source of all wisdom. Do you take your advice from a French guy with a sword and bad hair extensions?”

Obi had no idea what the bird was talking about, but he wasn’t going to let confusion get in the way of his mission. “It’s not from Highlander,” he retorted. “It’s from Star Wars. I should know, I’m named after the guy who said it.”

The bird trained its glass eye on him. Obi flinched. The bird spoke. “First of all, your name is short for Oberon, king of fairies, not Obi Wan Kenobi, Jedi master. Amy just told her kids that so they would agree to the name. And secondly, Jedi Obi never said that.”

“Did too.”

“Did not.”

“Did too.” Obi’s voice trailed off. The more the bird stared at him, the more unsure he felt.

“Listen,” the bird said with a sigh. “If you said, ‘There is another,’ or ‘There is still good in him,’ or ‘That’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time,’ THAT would be Obi Wan. But ‘There can be only one’ is Highlander.”

“How would you know?”

“Amy watched Star Wars IV, V and VI a million times. I could recite the scripts by heart. I, II and III, however aren’t worth the film they’re printed on. Or would that be chips they’re digitized on? I’m not good with technology.”

Obi was starting to feel like he was in over his head. He scratched his haunch with his hind paw and said the first thing that came into his mind. “Well, I’m bigger than you, and I say there can be only one.”

Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

Obi froze and stared at Poe. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t know. I just like to say it.”

“Well, don’t.”


“I said don’t say that.”


“You’ve pushed me too far, bird.” Obi, growled, and made a leap for the mantle.

This was all that was left of Poe when I got home.


That, and some weird feathery chunks Obi threw up in the corner of the living room. I cleaned it all up, heart in my throat and tears in my eyes. A mighty battle had been fought, and poor Poe had suffered the indignity of yet another death. I said a little prayer to that Great Raven in the Tree and threw his remains in the big green non-recyclable bin.

I went to bed that night, thinking it was all over. There was no one left for Obi to fight. He had already taken out the beaver skull and the crocodile head from Florida the week before. But I was wrong. It wasn’t over…yet.

When I woke up the next morning, there was a note on the mantle in the exact spot where Poe used to stand guard.



Kiss the Girl (A Short Story)

Back in January, I was invited to write a short story for the awesome author-run site The Hanging Garden. I and 8 other YA authors were given 6 gif prompts to choose from. I chose a close-up of waves, and wrote a story about…

Actually, I won’t spoil. But I will say that when I read it to my kids, my daughter ran to her bedroom crying, and my son said, “Mom, that story isn’t for children.” So on that note…enjoy!




And be sure to check out the other stories by

Zoraida Córdova, author of LABYRINTH LOST cc: @zlikeinzorro
Lamar Giles, author of ENDANGERED cc: @lrgiles
Rachel Hartman, author of SHADOW SCALE cc: @_rachelhartman
Kirsten Hubbard, author of LIKE MANDARIN cc: @kirstenhubbard
Justina Ireland, author of PROMISE OF SHADOWS cc: @justinaireland
Alethea Kontis, author of the BOOKS OF ARILLAND series cc: @aletheakontis
Mari Mancusi, author of the SCORCHED series cc: @marimancusi
Myra McEntire, author of the HOURGLASS trilogy cc: @myramcentire
Chris McKitterick, author of TRANSCENDENCE cc: @mckitterick
Gretchen McNeil, author of RELIC cc: @gretchenmcneil
Sara Raasch, author of ICE LIKE FIRE cc: @seesarawrite
Jessica Spotswood, author of WILD SWANS cc: @jessica_shea
Shveta Thakrar, author of “Krishna Blue” in Kaleidoscope and “She Sleeps Beneath the Sea” in issue 31 of Faerie magazine cc: @shvetathakrar