“Red, White, and a Blue Sedan”

Dear Kids and Other Readers,

Given that I’m posting this blog on my website on the Fourth of July, it seems timely that I finally share some excerpts from Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets. In Chapter 14, entitled, “Red, White, and a Blue Sedan,” the USA’s Independence Day is discussed. Well, mentioned. Okay, I’m stretching it, but any excuse to give you a peek at the mystery!

Here’s the backstory: The Botanic Hill detectives–Lanny, Lexi, Moki, and Rani–were ready for a break. After being hired by Mrs. Thornsley to find the ancient urn her late Egyptologist husband had been accused of stealing, the four detectives had been involved in a few close calls. Then, the night before, they’d had a sleepless yet boring stakeout at the Egyptian pond in Mrs. Thornsley’s backyard. The squad now decides to head to the beach, catching a lift from their tutor, Bruce Wilding, in his cool blue ’67 Mustang convertible:

Excerpt 1: “Hey, guys,” said Lanny, “it’s so muggy, and rain isn’t due for hours. Let’s postpone our visit to Mr. Bailey and head to Mango Beach instead.”

“Yeah, and it’d be fun to see how Boardwalk Boulevard’s been decorated for next week’s Fourth of July celebration,” said Rani. She popped a grape into her mouth from the fruit bowl.

They knew Bruce would be willing to go. The tutor came home just as Uncle Rocky finished packing the lunch basket. The four kids had already put on their swim gear and gotten their surfboards. After a long, hot morning in class at the local university, Bruce was very ready for a dip in the ocean himself.

The five soon arrived at Mango Beach. The boulevard shops were elaborately festooned with patriotic bunting and signs for the Fourth. Red, white, and blue flags and lights were strung from one palm tree to the next lining the beach. The group captured the last parking place close by and loaded themselves down with their beach gear and lunch basket. Soon, they found a sandy spot with a patch of blessed shade, courtesy of some sizable palm fronds that dipped toward the sand . . . .

[Time out: The four enjoy some surfing, then return to stretch out on their beach towels. While devouring their picnic lunch, Lanny leads a discussion about their prime suspects in the mystery. Soon their fun is interrupted. Next excerpt.]

Excerpt 2:  . . . . the rainstorm abruptly threatened to arrive ahead of schedule. The clouds had scared away the sun, wind noisily swooshed the palm fronds, and a few raindrops splashed the beachgoers. Bruce suggested they pack up fast and head to the car for home. But not before stopping at Moo Cow’s Dairy Town shop a few blocks away for their traditional, after-beach ice cream cones, Moki reminded him.  

As Bruce collected a few stray towels from their beach spot, the four detectives, with arms loaded, made it to the parking lot. They stopped to admire more palm tree holiday decorations when Lexi suddenly screamed. She swung her board at the others, knocking Rani and Lanny down and causing Moki to jump backward, away from her and the road. A speeding sedan roared by, missing them by inches, then zoomed out of the lot. Their beach gear was scattered everywhere. And so were they.

“That same blue car again!” Moki yelled . . . .

Was everyone all right? Who drove the blue car and why? What happened next? Watch for Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets to release on February 1, 2020, and you can find out!


Spotlight on Brightly

Dear Kids, Family Members, and Teachers,

Please check out this terrific website for kids’ books called Read Brightly. Log on at https://www.readbrightly.com.

So get a clue, Readers, and investigate these tabs on the site: The first is “Ages and Stages” where you can peruse reading lists for ages 0-13+. The second is “Popular Topics,” such as Animals, Beloved Characters and Classics, Books Boys Like, Books Girls Like, Educator Resources, Family and Friendship, Kid-approved Books, Parenting Advice, and more. Plus, there are interesting feature articles. Kids, get lost in books this summer. Happy, happy reading all summer!



Suspenseful Cover-up

Dear Readers of All Ages,

Drum roll, please–Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets now officially has a front cover! It’s stunning…but I can’t release it yet. Awww, shucks!

So get a clue, Readers, and watch on November 1st for the great Cover Reveal. Then, please weigh in with your comments.

Summer is Simmering–Finally!

Dear Readers,

San Diego gets socked in each spring with a thick Pacific marine layer, a.k.a., “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” But, yay! It’s finally burning off. Off came the patio furniture covers and winter blankets; away went the black walking coat; out came sundresses and sandals.

So get a clue, adults. Join your kids and me in saying, “Welcome, Summer!” I love that its bright sunlight and birdsong enter my windows before 6 a.m. That it warms my early-morning walks with my dog, Jimmy Lambchop. The way it coaxes a profusion of flowers from every crevice. And its sweet scents, like a freshly laundered linen dress, that drift through my windows at dusk. Get ready. Things are heating up. Summer’s simmer is coming to a rolling boil!

Get Your Lion On

Dear Readers,

Is it time in your personal or professional life to let risk-taking become part of your “living on the growing edge”? Want to stop limiting yourself? Stop comparing yourself to others? Flee your fences? Own your expertise? Roar like a lion? These were the questions posed by Marni Freedman as she discussed her book, Permission to Roar, last Saturday in San Diego.

Her favorite three strategies: Risk 10% or more. Be willing to make a mess. Celebrate every single risk you take.

So get a clue, Readers: Read the book. Then, get your Lion on! Wear your invisible superhero cape. Practice roaring until it’s a habit. Clucking is for Chickens.

Got It Covered–Almost

Dear Cover Browsers,

Most of my writing time this May has been spent working with the publisher and designer on the cover for Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets. The process hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been worth it.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But the truth is most people do! Think about it. You’re shopping for a new book. The cover must catch your eye and be compelling enough so the volume finds a new home in your world.

For us Middle Grade (preteen audience) writers, the cover must be age appropriate, yet have “wow factor,” plus reveal something irresistible about the characters and story–enough for the book to grab the hand and heart and stick like Crazy Glue.

My vision for my cover has changed during the negotiation process with the publisher and designer over points enormous and minuscule. One moment, I’m disappointed when a cherished idea is rejected. Then, I’m elated when one is approved! Suddenly, a great idea I hadn’t thought of enters the mix. When I can remain objective, it’s inspiring to behold the designer’s artistry, the publisher’s expertise, and my wishes shift and merge. It’s definitely a give-and-take process, making the cover better with each round. As of today, we’re almost there! Later this year, I will have the great “Cover Reveal” for your take on our efforts.

So get a clue, Readers, and get my book, cover and all, next February. I hope it grabs you and doesn’t let go long after you’ve finished reading it, cover to cover.