Out Today! The Powerpuff Girls: Superhero Crime-Fighting Games & Activities

9780399542732-1This was such a fun project! When I started working on
The Powerpuff Girls: Superhero Crime-Fighting Games & Activities, only the very earliest roughs of the reboot were available for research/reference. Animation is a world that’s always fascinated me, so it was pretty cool to see how those shows come together from a behind-the-scenes POV. Also, even without the final art, the episodes were FUNNY (“Painbow” was my favorite)–a testament to good comedy writing.

Most of the activity books I’ve worked on have been much more about coming up with puzzles and games and less about writing. (No shade on puzzle and game creation–I love that part, too.) But with the Powerpuff Girls, I was delighted that there was room for a bit of story to run throughout, packed with as many puns as punches. The art and design is gorgeous (of course), props–as always–to the art team.

A bit more from the Penguin Random House site:

The Powerpuff Girls are back, and even better than before!

Play along with Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup in this action-packed, full-color Powerpuff Girls activity book with stickers! Help Blossom read maps, color in crime-fighting scenes with Bubbles, and play silly games with Buttercup. Saving the day with the Powerpuff Girls has never been so much fun!

The Powerpuff Girls: Superhero Crime-Fighting Games & Activities is available in stores and online:
Northshire Bookstore
Barnes & Noble

On Stands Now! Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to Star Trek

8b31be10f9d4Super excited to have written two pieces and a list (I think the young people call it a “listicle”) for this special edition of Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to Star Trek. My favorite of the three pieces–if I had to pick–is “Who’s Your Captain,” in which I rank captains based on who would make the best wingman (or woman), road trip buddy, life partner, etc. Any job that requires you to re-watch your favorite Star Trek episodes is a fairly wondrous thing. So I reeeeeally enjoyed researching and writing these pieces, as well as being a small part of the bigger 50th anniversary celebration.

I could write for weeks about how Star Trek was ahead of its time in so many important ways. But other deadlines loom. So instead, I’ll leave you with this quote, often attributed to  Gene Roddenberry. I couldn’t find a solid source for this one, but thought it was an appropriate sentiment for this horrific week and very in-line with Star Trek‘s remarkable legacy.

Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. […] If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.”
Gene Roddenberry, (maybe)

Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to Star Trek is available at magazine stands, in bookstores, and online.

Out Today: The Star-Spangled Banner

Happy Flag Day! In a bit of publishing synchronicity (that I’m certain was no accident), The Star-Spangled Banner is out today. It’s a Level 4 Reader in Grosset & Dunlap’s Smithsonian series. A bit about the book from their site:

The original Star-Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry, Baltimore, in 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that would become the national anthem of the United States, is the showpiece of the Smithsonian! In this lively nonfiction book, young readers will read about the story behind the flag, the song, and how the Smithsonian cares for this most precious national treasure.

Researching this book was a tremendous amount of fun–I learned so much about the flag, the anthem, and the extraordinary efforts the Smithsonian Institute has made to restore and preserve the Star-Spangled Banner. Did you know that Francis Scott Key was a lawyer? Or that the Star-Spangled Banner was bigger than the house in which it was sewn?  Or that almost 200 square feet of the flag were lost to snippets cut for souvenirs? There are so many fascinating facts in the flag’s story–I hope that kids (and those reading with them) will enjoy learning about the Star-Spangled Banner as much as I did.

You can buy the The Star-Spangled Banner here:
Barnes & Noble

Out Today: Spider-Man Storybook Collection

Does whatever a spider can! Marvel’s new Spider-Man Storybook Collection is out today! I wrote four stories for this book, featuring (in addition to Spidey, natch) Ms. Marvel, Venom, Doc Ock, Green Goblin, and Electro. They’re not all in the same story, of course…but, maybe next time!

When this project came through, I’d just finished reading Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, so I was especially excited for an opportunity to write a story with Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan. (If you haven’t read the new Ms. Marvel comics yet, do so ASAP–they are smart, witty, and so much fun! Seriously, go read them now. GO!)

You can buy the Spider-Man Storybook Collection here:
Astoria Bookshop

Out Today, Falcon: Fear of Flying

514bkh-5KBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_My latest project for Marvel, Falcon: Fear of Flying, is out today. It’s a Level 2 in Marvel’s emerging reader program, “World of Reading.” In it, Falcon is forced to confront some unusual super-fears in order to help a friend out of a tough situation.

I had a lot of fun writing this story, especially since we’ve been working with leveled readers at Read Ahead. Seeing kids interacting with these books in real life really crystallized for me what an important role they play in a child’s journey toward literacy. I also think it’s great that World of Reading (and other leveled reader series) offer so many options across such a wide range of interests.

In a moderately failed experiment, I brought the first book I ever read on my own, The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine, to a Read Ahead session. I had to track it down online, as my own copy had long since been donated to my mom’s kindergarten classroom. I was surprised to find out it was also a leveled reader (though mightily of yore), from the “10 Word Reader” series. My reading buddy politely went along with it, but was ultimately less than impressed. Not surprising, considering the options today are so much better. I mean, mud puddle vs. Iron Man? No contest. (Sorry, mud washing machine! You’re still marvelous to me!)

**As I mentioned with Ant-Man: Game Over, the incredibly talented artists Rachelle Rosenberg and Ron Lim deserve a special shout-out again for their brilliant art and illustrations.**

Falcon: Fear of Flying is available at bookstores and online:
Northshire Bookstore
Barnes & Noble

Welcome to 2016!

new-years-day-2016-5637619880820736-hp2xWell, we’re a week in–how is 2016 treating you so far? It was rough coming off a semi-break (you’re rarely totally “off” when you run your own biz), but I have a lot to look forward to this year, both work-wise and writing-wise. What follows is slightly bragsplanitive, but I’m trying to be better about the grossness that is self-promotion. After that though, it’s all totally aspirational, so if you’re not interested in how I pay the bills, feel free to skip down to “Writing” and see what makes me cry in the shower! I jest, I jest…mostly…

Work: In February, Marvel Press publishes my next reader, Falcon: Fear of Flying. Later, in the spring, I have several new short stories publishing in Marvel’s Spider-Man Storybook Collection. Further ahead, new projects for Grosset & Dunlap and Penguin Young Readers, as well as essays in an upcoming LIFE project. I also have a bunch of fantastic new copywriting projects coming up this year. Those projects are harder to talk about–sometimes they are locked down by an NDA, other times there’s just no specific public-facing element to which I can point and say, “Check out this thing I did!” For example, marketing consulting, social media campaigns, or catalog copy–all sort of invisible to the public, but just as important to my business as the showier projects.

Also new this year, I’ll be joining the Children’s Media Association as an event coordinator. The CMA is, by far, one of the best professional organizations to which I’ve belonged, and I’m excited to take on this new, more involved role within the group.

Writing: As of August 2015, I’d submitted ZERO short stories for publication in my life. By the end of the year I had four new stories and 14 rejections under my belt, two of them personal. I know that might sound like splitting hairs or Pollyanna-ing the situation, but personal rejections are extremely encouraging and often very helpful in pitching that story elsewhere. Behind the rejection section* is the more exciting news–I’m writing my own short fiction again, FINALLY. I love short stories and it feels good to work in that format again.

“But, didn’t you just mention you sometimes write short stories for work?” Yes, technically that’s true and I know it seems like I’m splitting hairs again. But for work writing, although the stories are my own, the characters are not. Also, at the end of the day, it’s the client–not I–that must be happy with the final draft. That said, all those stories (all my projects, really) have taught me something new about writing and storytelling–it’s one of the many reasons I love what I do.

All this brings me to my writing goals for 2016. If I’m ever going to be able to add a “Fiction” tab to this site, I’ll need specific, actionable goals.

  • A query-worthy draft of my novel by May  (this may still be too vague, I’ll work on breaking it down further)
  • At least six new short stories (written and submitted for publication)
  • Begin the agent query process (I can’t say “get an agent” definitively–though I’d like to–there are just too many factors outside my control. What can I control? Getting on that crazy train and committing to riding it as long as necessary–woohoo?)

That’s it for me. Whatever your goals are for 2016, I’m rooting for you!

* I’m writing lyrics to a song called “Rejection Section,” sung to the School House Rock classic, “Conjunction Junction”–wait for it!

Out Today: 5-Minute Avengers Stories

5 min avengers My final Marvel project for 2015, 5-Minute Avengers Stories is out today! I contributed three short stories to this collection: “Daybreak” (Captain America), “No I in Team” (Black Widow and Hawkeye), “Freaky Thor Day” (Thor, duh). While they were all fun to write, my favorite is probably “Freaky Thor Day.” I don’t want to include any spoilers here, but will give you this tiny teaser from the excellent illustrations within.




As always, I’m super grateful to the Marvel Press team for letting me (legally) write about some of my favorite super heroes.