The Smell of Author Copies

Author copies of my new middle-grade novel, Bone’s Gift, came yesterday!

Aw, the smell of freshly printed books. It’s the smell of dreams, heartache, and hard work. It’s the smell of believing in something even when others don’t.

You see, I started thinking about this story, this world many, many years ago. I wrote different versions, never quite completing them, trying to get to the heart of what was calling to me about Bone’s world, the place my mother and her family grew up. But I wasn’t really ready to write the story. I wasn’t a good enough writer yet, among other things.

So I wrote some other stories–even got some of the published. In fact, I wrote a series of YA science fiction books. After that, I revisited Bone’s world, first with a short story, “The Jelly Jar.” That worked, so I started writing the novel. I felt like I was ready to write it finally. As I wrote, I had that feeling that there was something good there. I’ve learned to trust that little feeling. Excited, I sent the draft to my agent….um, my first agent.

She did not get the story at all! Admittedly, I was crushed–but I still believed I had something, even if it needed some work. So we parted ways. And then I had to go give a talk about taking risks in your writing life! Oy.

Long story short, I found an agent–and eventually an editor–who saw what I saw.  (In the meantime, I also panicked a bit and went back to school to get a Masters in English so I could teach! ) Hopefully, the story is good, and readers will see what we saw, too.


Dramatic Discoveries

Author copies!!! I really enjoyed writing this one. It’s all about weird and wonderful discoveries–often by accident–from ‘hobbits’ in Indonesia to zombie-ant fungus to the cryovolcanoes of Enceladus.

The publisher of Dramatic Discoveries (12 Story Library) creates awesome companion websites for all of their books. Each has links, news stories, photos, videos, and even Twitter feeds about things mentioned in the book. Here’s the one for Dramatic Discoveries:…/unbel…/dramatic-discoveries/



Today I got ARCs (advance reading copies) of BONE’S GIFT today! It’s the first book in my middle-grade series GHOSTS OF ORDINARY OBJECTS.

That moment when you realize the cover of your latest book matches your kitchen!

Here’s the jacket copy:

In this supernatural historical mystery, twelve-year-old Bone possesses a Gift that allows her to see the stories in everyday objects. When she receives a note that says her mother’s Gift killed her, Bone seeks to unravel the mysteries of her mother’s death, the schisms in her family, and the Gifts themselves.

In a southern Virginia coal-mining town in 1942, Bone Phillips has just reached the age when most members of her family discover their Gift. Bone has a Gift that disturbs her; she can sense stories when she touches an object that was important to someone. She sees both sad and happy–the death of a deer in an arrowhead, the pain of a beating in a baseball cap, and the sense of joy in a fiddle. There are also stories woven into her dead mama’s butter-yellow sweater–stories Bone yearns for and fears. When Bone receives a note that says her mama’s Gift is what killed her, Bone tries to uncover the truth. Could Bone’s Gift do the same? Here is a beautifully resonant coming-of-age tale about learning to trust the power of your own story.

You can preorder the book from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

If you’d like a copy of the ARC to review, please contact Kerry McManus ( at Boyd’s Mill Press. 

Happy Reading!



New Nonfiction

Two new nonfiction books of mine are coming out in the near future. One is about dramatic (and sometimes accidental) scientific discoveries, from penicillin to earthquakes shortening the day to zombie ant fungus. I really enjoyed writing this one! Plus the publisher has a great companion website so you can keep up with other weird and wonderful discoveries.










The other book is actually about sports–STEM in basketball, that is.  What’s the physics of hang-time? How did engineers make backboards (almost) unshatterable? How have researchers used computer sims to perfect the free throw? What’s the probability of filling out a perfect bracket?