I’m rich! No, I’m not. Wait, I am? Nope.

So, the landline rings and the caller ID reads, “Unavailable “ so I just know it’s a salesman. But I pick it up anyway and there’s a two second silence after I say hello, which is another tip off it’s a salesman, calling multiple numbers. The third kicker, the man’s thick Indian accent.

I decide to listen to his pitch for fun anyway, and he claims he’s from the US Grants office and wants to send me $7,000 because I pay my taxes on time.

So, I assume my brain works similar to yours. Here’s the thought process:

  • This is a scam, I’ll listen to him. It could be funny. I’ll pretend to be interested for a minute.
  • Wait. Did he say the ‘US Grants office,’ whatever that is? He says it’s the government. Wow, this scammer is pretty audacious to be claiming to be the US government.
  • US? Maybe this is legit? I mean, the US wouldn’t hesitate to take you to court if you used their name for a scam, right? Maybe it’s just odd enough …
  • No, that’s ridiculous. Ha ha.
  • I mean, there’s about a one in twelve zillion chance this is legit.
  • Still, there is that one in twelve zillion …
  • Ha, ha. I’m ridiculous.
  • But the US government is pretty screwed up so maybe …?

Then the guy asks if I want it on my credit card, bank account or if he should mail a check to my house.

I tell him I’ll take the check, as reality settles in. I mean, there is no way I’m giving anyone bank or credit card information on the phone.

The guy tells me he just needs to confirm my name and address.

So I wait. Silence. I tell him I’m happy to confirm my information. Go ahead.

No, he says. I need to give him the information.

But then – I point out — I’m not confirming anything, I’m telling you something. You must have my name and stuff, right? I’m happy to confirm it for my $7,000.

No, says the man. All he has is my phone number.

So I hang up. And then I Google the scam and confirm this is a pretty common ploy. It was pretty horrible of me to entertain any other thoughts, even for a split second.



Wait, my phone is ringing. “Unavailable.” Hmmm. There’s that one in twelve zillion chance …

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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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