Wednesday, December 07, 2016

IWSG: Where Will We Be in Five Years?

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you haven't yet, join in. You'll be glad you did!

Each month we have a question. This month's question is:

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

This month's question is quite a challenge. Of course, when every novelist imagines five years into the future, we dream of big success. Maybe a movie based on one of our books or a few weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List.

But in reality, I think many of us just want our books to be read. We work hard to put words onto the page and we hope someone, somewhere reads what we write and connects with it.

This year has been an amazing one for me. I spent my time in schools, telling children about my books.

I worked with a group of writer friends to create a great book...

AND I saw my freelance writing work appear on, Mental Floss, The Week, and a handful of other great sites.

Personally, I've come to a bit of a crossroads in my freelance writing career. In five years, I hope to have many more middle-grade and chapter books on the shelves. But my super-secret behind-the-scenes content writing pays better than some of the above-mentioned websites, as glamorous as they may be. Glamour is overrated.

The exception is the writing I do that helps me reach possible readers. I have an upcoming piece in this magazine:

As well as this magazine:

I may never be famous enough to make the cover, but more bylines like that will make me plenty happy! Besides, fame is HIGHLY overrated.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

P.S.: Autographed books make great Christmas gifts!!! I'll be signing copies of my books for my online friends on December 19th. Order by December 16th, specify what names you'd like them signed to, and Parnassus will ship them directly to you!!! Click here to go to the site. (There are also a ton of other great signed books you can order from there.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Cover Reveal: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen

I think I've said a million times that my publisher has the most AWESOME covers! I'm in love with every single one of them. Today's cover is yet another example of that. For uber-talented author Beth McMullen, this is her very first middle grade book. Scroll down to read all about it!


A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut.

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks… 

Buy Links:


Beth McMullen is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and several adult mysteries. Her books have heroes and bad guys, action and messy situations. An avid reader, she once missed her subway stop and rode the train all the way to Brooklyn because the book she was reading was that good. She lives in Northern California with her family, two cats and a parakeet named Zeus, who is sick of the cats eyeballing him like he’s dinner. Visit her at


Monday, December 05, 2016

Mystery Monday: Ray Gricar

It's Monday, which means it's time for:

Every Monday, I'm presenting a new mystery. Some have been solved...some remain unsolved to this day. 

Last week's mystery focused on a businessman who disappeared and was eventually found. This week, we look at a very similar story...with one key difference: Ray Gricar's body is still missing.

From 1985 to 2005, Ray served as the district attorney of Centre County, Pennsylvania. He was involved in numerous cases during his time, but in retrospect, the most notable was his decision NOT to prosecute this man during the first round of child sexual abuse allegations in 1998:

But several years before word of Jerry Sandusky's elicit activities came out, Ray vanished. He was last seen on April 15, 2005. That morning, he woke up early and told his live-in girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, that he would be playing hooky from work that day.

Ray's girlfriend, Patty Fornicola

He was still at home when Patty left for work that morning. He called her around 11:30 a.m. to tell her he'd taken his Mini Cooper for a ride. Long drives were a favorite pastime of his.

When Patty returned from work that evening, Ray still wasn't home. Calls to his cell phone went straight to voicemail. After a few hours, she called 911.

The next day, officers found his car in the parking lot of this antique store approximately 55 miles from his home:

The car was locked, his cell phone inside, and there was a strong tobacco odor in the car. Ray was not a smoker and he would never have let anyone smoke in his car, loved ones said. There were cigarette butts on the ground nearby.

Family members made the connection between Ray's death and the death of his brother, Roy, who had committed suicide eleven years earlier by jumping off a bridge into the Great Miami River. Ray's car was found near the Susquehanna River. Did Ray commit suicide?

Just as everyone was settling on that theory, though, more evidence was found. Three months after Ray disappeared, police found his work laptop in the nearby river, but its hard drive was missing. Two months later, the hard drive washed up on the banks 100 yards away. The data on the hard drive was unrecoverable, even by the best minds in the FBI and Secret Service.

Just before his disappearance, though, someone had used Ray's home computer to search the terms "how to fry a hard drive" and "water damage to a notebook computer."

Ray Gricar's office

When Jerry Sandusky was later arrested, the media immediately made the connection to Ray Gricar. The Grand Jury investigation into allegations against Sandusky began in 2008--three years after Ray's disappearance. In 1998, Ray had cited "insufficient evidence" when choosing not to investigate allegations against him. Is it possible someone had a reason to get rid of Ray and his laptop? Could there have been evidence on it?

What do you think happened to Ray Gricar?

Check this out!!! I'll be signing copies of my books for my online friends on December 19th. Order by December 16th, specify what names you'd like them signed to, and Parnassus will ship them directly to you!!! Click here to go to the site. (There are also a ton of other great signed books you can order from there.)