Happy 5th Birthday to The Poison Box!

My most beloved book baby, The Poison Box, turns 5 years old today. Actually, that only marks her debut into the world. She’s actually much older than that - more like 23 years old! I started that book when I was 19 years old and rewrote it several times until I was satisfied with it.

I’m launching a week-long celebration on social media to honor my sweet book baby. I love this book so much and am so proud of the work I put into it. And Mary Raedwolfe, the protagonist, has become a dear, dear companion over these long decades. In fact, I’m still writing her story. I’m almost finished with the next book in the series, and halfway done with the third!

Here’s a video in which I talk about the book, and the sequels. Please forgive the video - my camera really did a number on me and there are a few places in the video where the audio and video don’t match up (ugh, major pet peeve of mine!). My apologies. Maybe just listen instead of watching. ;)

Please follow along on social media and join in the fun!

Thank you, friends and readers for your support.

Pre-Reading Tips

It’s a myth that a successful reading session with your child would look like them (or you) reading a book cover to cover together without any other discussion. There is actually much more to a successful reading session than you might realize. In this short video, find out what you can do before you even start reading together to build a strong reading practice.

Introducing the triplets

~June 9, 2017~ This is the second time I captured the triplets on video (the first being the day I discovered there were three - not two - of them). I had already observed the tight-knit relationship between Lyra and Sirius, and knew that Vesper was always on her own. Incredibly, I referred to Vesper here as the "reluctant" one. At the time I filmed this, I hadn't written - or even conceived of - The Reluctant Owlet. It's amazing to see how one observation can plant a seed in the mind that later becomes a piece of our creative fabric.

Have you subscribed to my YouTube channel yet?

I’ve got some really exciting, fun projects over at my YouTube channel. I’m working on two series that will be released over the course of the next few months:

LITTLE OWL LITERACY

Now that I’m a children’s book author, I have an excuse to talk about one of my favorite subjects: literacy. I used to be a teacher and literacy specialist, and there’s something about decoding text that really revs my engine. (#LiteracyGeek) Throughout this video series, I share many of the tips I learned in grad school and during my experience as a teacher. You’ll get to know “literacy lingo” and receive actionable steps to take to help your child build their literacy skills - something that can be a challenge in a world filled with distractions.

OWLING 101

A lot of people have asked me to share advice on how they can become owlers. In this video series, I outline all my tips for starting a successful owling hobby - from safety to sartorial requirements.

Be sure to check it out. Videos will be released about once a week (for the most part, the two series will alternate from week to week). If you like them, subscribe and forward to a friend.

Enjoy!

The Reluctant Owlet is about to take flight!

I’ve finally got the date set for the release of The Reluctant Owlet.

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January 3, 2019!

Wahoo! Celebrate! I’m so excited about this.

Why is this book so special to me?

1. I have wanted to write a children's book since I was a teenager. It only took 25ish years, but my dream finally came true!

2. This book is my way of sharing my passion for owls with the world.

3. The story is a fictionalized account of the owl family I observed during the summer of 2017. I created the artwork from actual photographs I took of those owls.

4. My little brother, Chance Martin, contributed the best photos in the whole book, making this a family project.

If you want a sneak peek, check out this video. You won’t believe who made a guest appearance at the end, by the way…


The Second Briarlore Book

When I started the Briarlore series, I intended to begin with a different story than The Fox at the Door. However, writing - or any creative expression, for that matter - never goes as planned. So my intended debut story (also about a fox) was set aside.

Photo by    Tim ten Cate    on    Unsplash

It has sat heavily on my mind for the past 7 months. I have literally carried around the half-finished, hand-written manuscript with me for 3 months. I was intimidated by the story, and afraid I couldn't do it justice.

I got quite frustrated with myself on Sunday night and decided it was time to type up the manuscript. As I typed, I had a flash of what the next scene would be. And then the next. And then... My hands were flying across the keyboard for HOURS. I was even switching between that story and my manuscript for the second Raedwolfe novel. It was like goddess Tori Amos pounding away at two pianos at the same time.

I finally had to turn in at midnight, knowing I'd forfeit any Monday productivity if I didn't get some sleep. The next morning, I expected to finish the first draft in an hour. And again, I found my plans and expectations thwarted with interruptions, distractions, and insecurities. I finally wrapped up the story just before 10PM.

It was nothing like I expected. It's long, for one thing - probably twice as long as The Fox at the Door. A major plotline that I'd been envisioning left the story ENTIRELY, leaving room to dive quite deeply into the heartbreak of the story's heroine. I cried at the end, as I was typing it. And I don't do that. If I ever feel too weepy over something in my writing, I usually cut it, worried that I've strayed into false sentimentality and/or manipulative cliches. I might find that to be true here, as well...it's too early to tell. But for now, in an unprecedented move, I'm going to leave the ending as is and trust what came to me.

And strangest of all…right now in this moment…I love it. I love the way it turned out, despite the surprises.

These past few weeks of choosing my writing, first, of pushing myself directly into my creative insecurities has been an amazing experience. Finishing the second Briarlore tale has been particularly helpful in reminding me to trust the creative process. Which is something I need to remember as I dive into creating the illustrations.

Trust the work. And your capability to bring it through.