Contagious Colors Is Out

The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School was released today, written by my close and personal friend, Fowler DeWitt. You can pick up a copy here:


Barnes and Noble



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I’m famous!

In the future, everyone will have their own Wikipedia page for 15 minutes. But not yet, so I’m delighted that I now have one. My mom is proud, anyway, and I’m guessing her neighbors will know about it soon enough. Check it out.

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See the Mumpley Trailer

So I created a trailer for my upcoming book, The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School. Since it’s written by ‘Fowler DeWitt’ it’s very Fowler-esque. Check it out:


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The Truth Behind Fowler

JK Rowling made the news today when it was unveiled that she wrote an acclaimed detective yarn under an assumed name.

She’s just copying me. Again. My next book, The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School (Simon and Schuster), is written under an alias, Fowler DeWitt.

So, you may  ask: “Fowler DeWitt? How did you think of such a wonderful nom de plume, and what does nom de plume mean?”

Firstly, nom de plume is French for,  ‘I’m named for a plum,” which is embarrassing, so people named plum often use nom de plumes.

Secondly, Fowler and DeWitt are two towns near where I grew up (in Michigan), and while I have never been to either town, together they make a wonderful name. It was between that and Chalmers Wolcott, which may eventually be the name of a character in a book I write, and are not towns near where I grew up.

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Writing in the Real World

Hey, I’ve got a guest blog today on “On the Write Tracks” Writerly Wednesdays. Go ahead and check it out!



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The Next Big Thing!

The Next Big Thing is a blog campaign that began in Australia. It features children and YA authors who have recently published books or books slated to be released this year.

Each author answers the same series of questions and then passes the buck to other authors. The terrific and talented Jenny Meyerhoff tagged me.

So, here goes:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

I’ve got two coming out in the Fall so I’ll plug them both: The Pet War (November) and The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School (September). The latter is under an alias: Fowler DeWitt.


2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wish I had a clever story about how I had pets as a kid (I didn’t ) or how a mysterious contagious disease made stripes appear on my skin (nope), but I don’t.  My theory: mysterious idea leprechauns break into bedrooms at night with their muse dust (patent pending).

 3) What genre does your book fall under?

“Humorous middle grade with a heart of gold.” That is a category at Barnes and Noble, right?

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Kid actors are a dime a dozen, so I’d transform the books into a mash up of adult drama and cliff hanging suspense. Brad Pitt plays multiple roles, and  Jennifer Lawrence is the mysterious dog trainer who catches a deadly disease (my movie is also a mash up of both my books). Robert Pattinson reprises his role as Edward Cullen, which has nothing to do with my books but should attract the teenage girls and assure box office success, so I’ll write him in somehow. Same with Taylor Lautner. Academy-award worthy cameos by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Judi Dench as teachers plotting various plots, complete the above-title credits.


Brad Pitt plays 24 different roles, 17 with speaking parts and 7 in which he has facial hair.


Robet Pattinson plays Edward Cullen just because.

 5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Pet War: Otto and his annoying older sister fight over adopting a pet—pitting themselves in a battle of love and war, wits and money making, while learning the importance of responsibility and locking the door to your bedroom.

The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School: When a mysterious illness sweeps through school and kids start changing colors with alarming consequences, sixth grade scientist Wilmer Dooley must find a cure … before it’s too late.

6) Who is publishing your book?

The Pet War: Scholastic

The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School: Simon & Schuster

 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Three to four weeks apiece. But I write my first drafts quickly. It’s drafts #’s 2 through 30 that create problems.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Pet War: Humorous books with warring siblings, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Also, books with “war” in the title: War and Peace, War and Remembrance, The Art of War, The Autobiography of Dionne Warwick, et al.


Mumpley: Books by Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl, in terms of quirky humor.


9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love writing books that make me laugh and that I would have loved to read when I was a kid. So I was inspired by 10-year old me.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hidden inside one book is a check for one billion dollars!

Seriously, The Pet War has sibling rivalry, dogs, cats and vomit. Mumpley Middle School has evil plans, romance, horrible diseases and also vomit. What’s not to like, especially if you’re into vomit? If you’re an 8-12 year-old boy, a reluctant reader or an avid one, you’ll love these. They’re perfect for the back of the school bus, before falling asleep, or while being attacked by carrier pigeons (while unlikely to happen, you can never be too sure). And if you’re an adult who sometimes acts like an 8-12 year old, then you should love these, too.

Again, thanks to Jenny Meyerhoff for tagging me. Go ahead and read her answers now! And next week, check out the blogs of awesome authors Amber McRee Turner, Shelley Moore Thomas and Shelby Bach for their answers — Amber, Shelly and Shelby, you’re up!

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How To Write a Bad Book

I’m doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you write a novel in a month) again this year. I did it two years ago with mixed results.

The good – I wrote and finished a book.

The bad – it wasn’t very good.

I then spent the next six to eight months trying to make it very good. And I failed.

So it sits on my hard drive (and my back up external hard drive) along with my other failed books: the boy vampire book, the haunted middle school book, the mysterious baseball star book, the possessed soccer ball book, the boy who ate a walrus book, etc.

Yes, all those books exist. And all aren’t very good. They are all good ideas, but I failed them.

So writing a bad book isn’t new for me, or rather failing in writing a good one. In general, it takes me 4-6 months to write a good book, and 8-12 months to write a bad one that I abandon.

I should just give up after seven months, figuring if it takes me that long it’s not very good. Except I’ve been working for almost two years on my favorite book of them all, so I won’t follow that advice.

I won’t mention that one, since I’m afraid I’ll jinx it. Although after almost two years, it’s probably jinxed already.

By the way, I usually am working on more than one book at a time. That’s how I can write so many bad ones. Right now I’m working on three books, including my new NaNoWriMo book.

I write many more bad books then good books. My goal is to just figure that out quicker.

In advertising, where I began my career, they say the difference between a starting copywriter and an experienced one, is that the starter comes up with 12 ideas but doesn’t know which ones are good. The senior comes up with six ideas, but knows exactly if they’re good or not.

So I’m hoping that same philosophy holds true with book writing. I feel like I’m exiting my beginning stage and going to the next phase, the mid-level phase. But really, qualifying for that phase will depend almost entirely on how fast I can recognize my bad book ideas versus my good ones.

I’m hoping my NaNoWriMo book is one of my good ones. I’ll let you know in six months.

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