The Repair Shop for Writers

the repair shop show logo

Are you watching The Repair Shop? It’s a soothing, satisfying show on Netflix that features repairs of cherished family heirlooms. I love this show. It’s not without its problems, specifically that almost every single family bringing a valuable item is white. There are too many families that had their connections to their family history torn away and destroyed by slavery and colonialism.

But the show is not without it’s useful lessons. One important one came from repairing a lamp. Steve had to rewire a lamp that had a convoluted, complicated  shape. How did he pull the wire from the lady’s foot to the torch she held aloft?

He went down to go up.

(Just like Lightning McQueen had to go left to go right.)

Steve dropped a weighed string DOWN the lamp first so he could tie it to the wire and pull the wire UP second.

He went backwards to go forward.

How can that help you as a writer? Where do you need to go backwards in order to move the story forward? Do you need to know more about your character’s backstory? More about the history of the town? Do you need to do better world-building outside the story so you know about politics or economy?


New Graphic Novels for Young Readers

I’m so excited to share these new graphic novels for young readers! These three new fun, fiction stories introduce readers to reading graphic novels. I adore the illustrations – they really brought each story to life. I couldn’t resist including some of my favorite topics.

Anyone familiar with my instagram will recognize some baking disasters in Even Fairies Bake Mistakes.


I’m a huge Megan Rapinoe fan. She’s the inspiration behind Mermaid Midfielders.


They say write what you know and I KNOW I have a serious sweet tooth. That’s part of the fun in Quest for the Unicorn’s Horn. 

Meet the Northern Saw-Whet Owl

Are northern saw-whet owls the cutest birds in the world?


Earlier this year, my family adopted a northern saw-whet owl for me. I couldn’t wait to meet the little critters in person, plus participate in some community science. So I waited for the announcements from the National Aviary to join in Project Owlnet.

Unfortunately, the spring lockdown meant it was cancelled. But in the fall, we were able to join Project Owlnet while safely socially distancing outdoors.

We walked through dark woods to the mist nets that waited to catch the owls as safely and softly as possible. A recording of the saw-whet call, an insistent “toot, toot, toot” echoed through the trees. The owls are migrating south and don’t actually make noises as they fly. But the recording calls them low to the ground – why, researchers don’t exactly know. They wait in the net until we released them. We checked the nets frequently. The owls are about as big as an adult’s hand. But they are feisty. They snapped their beaks to scare us. But their big golden eyes were endearing and their soft feathers were irresistible.

We carried the owls back to the picnic table and took several measurements. We measured wing size, tail length, and estimated age by looking at wing feathers. We blew open feathers on their chest to measure fat tissue. We put them upside down in plastic cups to weigh them! All the owls we caught were big, for saw-whets, and were female. They were brave little ladies.


After recording all the data, we took turns stretching out our arms like tree branches, setting the owls on them, and watching them fly away. We quickly lost sight of them in the dark, but I’m sure they could see us perfectly.


I’m chugging through revisions of The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci. This book is coming out fromNomad Press in May 2021)I really love all of the activities included in the book. I can’t wait to see readers try them and share their results!

Revisions can be hard, but how often in life do we get a chance to fix our mistakes? One of the reasons I love being a writer.

Do You Use a Standing Desk?

Do you use a standing desk? I’m trying out a new standing desk in my office.

I used to have a very tall craft desk. I thought I might stand to write, but I couldn’t stand for eight hours. I ended up buying a tall drafting chair so I could sit sometimes. Then I ended up sitting all of the time.

So when I bought this little standing desk, I did NOT buy a  TALL CHAIR.

I’m not sure it will be easy for actual writing, but when I’m researching – reading, taking notes, watching videos, listening to zoom lectures – I’m going to try to stand.

My new desk is adjustable and rolls around on wheels! I won’t be walking and writing though. If I want to do that, I can always pop down to the treadmill and put my laptop on an old shelf. I rest the shelf on the arms of the treadmill and get walking. That’s easiest when I’m watching videos.


Reading and Writing Against Bias

I’m so excited about an upcoming workshop that I’m taking through the Highlights Foundation. “DISMANTLING THE KALEIDOSCOPE: ESSENTIAL CONVERSATIONS IN KIDLIT, A VIRTUAL SYMPOSIUM 2020” will challenge participants to “talk about misrepresentations in books” and “develop action plans for resisting them.”

I’ve got all the books for the reading list. I can’t wait to learn and listen.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know your thoughts!

  • A Phoenix First Must Burn Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope, edited by Patrice Caldwell (Viking)
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Quill Tree Books)
  • Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (Neal Porter Books)
  • Hands Up by Breanna McDaniel and Shane W. Evans (Dial Books)


Virtual Author Visits

Are you a teacher or author looking for a virtual author visit? I love connecting with classrooms and talking about nonfiction. We can work with a local bookstore to get kids copies of signed books. We have great discussions about research and writing about technology, medicine, mistakes, and more. I can do author Q&As or brainstorming activities!

This is a great time to have authors interact with students when you don’t have to worry about travel fees or bad weather cancelling events.

Contact me about fees, timing, technology and any other questions. Stay safe!

author visiting a classroom

Watch This Space

owl cookies

I’m excited that Spider magazine recently accepted a fiction story and a recipe. They will be in print at some point. Magazines work very far in the future (think eight months to two years!) Eventually I’ll be able to share the actual publications.

I also received a rejection for a word game that I submitted. Rejections always sting, but it’s important to take a breath. Remind yourself it’s (usually) not personal.

For me, it helps to have lots of projects going on and to try a revision. How do you handle rejection?

Pittsburgh Writing Events

Where do you find out about Pittsburgh writing events?

Of course, my favorite is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 

But there are many more writing groups active in our region. There is so much going on. There are so many opportunities even though we can’t gather in groups. Sometimes I can feel overwhelmed trying to pick between different events, but I would never want the pendulum to swing the other way. No, there’s no need to feel like a lonely writer toiling away at your craft. Stay connected, share events with other writers, be nosy, and be involved.



Pittsburgh Book Festival

Bookish in the Burgh