The Story Behind Alien Kid

I stumbled into writing kids’ books a few years ago, and in doing so, I discovered a love for creating books that made kids laugh. When I published the final book in The Adventures of Zelda series, I knew I wanted to write another kids’ book series, but I didn’t know what.

In the fall of 2016, amidst a job transition with my husband and caring for a new little guy in our house, I felt the itch to start a new writing project. Without the time or bandwidth to write quite yet, I decided to do some research on the kids’ book market. I went to the local library, talked with the children’s librarian and checked out the books that she said were the most popular. For the most part, I knew many of those books and series.

Over the next few weeks, I read through the books and found myself disappointed in what I was reading. The books were funny, but often at the expense of a kid in the story. I often didn’t like the main characters in these books because of their bad attitude or disrespect toward teachers, siblings, and even parents. After reading several of these books, along with a few great ones, I began to brainstorm what would become Alien Kid.

I created Alien Kid to be a series for middle grade readers (think 9-12 year olds) that makes kids laugh, but not at the expense of others. Charlie Baker, the main character in Alien Kid, is not perfect. He makes mistakes, but he learns and grows from those mistakes. Alien Kid is a book that parents and grandparents can hand to their kids and not worry that they will learn a bad habit or idea from the story. Instead, he or she can laugh at Charlie’s funny sayings while getting transported into a story about a kid who is trying to find his place in the world, like every one of us. 

Buy Alien Kid on Amazon

The Final Zelda Book

I am both excited and sad to announce that The Adventures of Zelda: The One and Only Pug is now available for sale. This fifth book in the Zelda series marks the final installment of the series (at least for the immediate future). I have loved writing these books and hearing from parents, kids, and pug lovers who loved reading about a stubborn pug named Zelda. But after five books, Zelda needs some time away from the spotlight, and I don't want to sacrifice quality to pump out another book or two. It feels right to end here. Maybe some day in the future Zelda and Peach will go to space, but until then, I hope you will pick up a copy of this book and laugh some more at Zelda and Peach. Thanks for spreading the word about this series over the past few years and stay tuned for a brand new kids' book series from me in the next year!

Buy Now on on Amazon Kindle, Paperback, iBooksGoogle PlayBarnes & Noble and Kobo

The Adventures of Zelda: The Four Seasons

Laugh your way through four seasons with Zelda Pug and Peach! 

Zelda the pug is back for her fourth book of adventures with her Boston terrier sister, Peach. Together, Zelda and Peach face the evil vacuum cleaner. Zelda discovers fireflies, and Peach learns to ice skate. But one question remains. Will Peach finally catch a duck?

The Adventures of Zelda: The Four Seasons is now available for sale. Pick up your copy at  AmazonApple iBooksBarnes & NobleKobo, and Google Play.

For those new to the Zelda series, read the first chapter below! Or you can watch Zelda and Peach pick winners for my pawtographed Zelda book giveaways. Watch Zelda's video here and Peach's here to see how they picked a winner! (The videos are ridiculous, I know. I apologize for my craziness.) The winners were selected from my email list. I give away signed books and gift cards every month, so join my list!

Chapter 1: Vacuum's Return

My sister, Peach, and I stay indoors during the bright hours of the hot summer days. When the light fades in the evening, we play in the backyard or take long walks with our family. But after many dark sleeps of this pattern, I begin to long for days with adventure and nights filled with mysteries to solve. The calm and quiet are not for a pug like me. 

One day I search the house for new toys. In the backyard, I sniff the entire fence looking for traces of squirrels. On our walks, I inspect the light posts, and Peach searches the mailboxes. We find nothing. 

With no adventures in sight, I slip into a pug depression. I wake up only to eat. I can’t help it. I can’t get excited about the same old routine. Peach, on the other hand, is her normal, spunky self. She jumps on my head when I’m sleeping under the blankets, and she tries to play with me. If that doesn’t work, she barks in my ear until I give in. We run laps around the living room or play keep away with a toy or a ball. Usually, Peach riles me enough that I pug sprint through the whole house with her chasing. When I break into pug sprints, I feel joy again. I’m glad Peach forces me off the couch. 

After today’s round of chase, I daydream on the couch about past adventures. I think about the snowman, Squeaks, the skate park, and Vacuum. 

Vacuum!

I haven’t seen Vacuum in a long time. What happened to her? Finally, I have a mystery to solve. 

Peach is sleeping next to me on the couch. I nudge her with my paw. She blinks a few times and then closes her eyes. I push her a little harder. She groans at me. She is a pain to wake up! I bark twice, and with another loud groan, Peach opens her eyes. 

I jump to the floor. After three more groans, Peach hops to the ground. I lead Peach around the house, sniffing each door for signs of Vacuum. Peach follows me, but she is confused. I don’t think she has met Vacuum yet. 

Where could Vacuum be? 

When we hear Ben and Lucy walk through the front door, we sprint down the stairs to greet them. With my tail dancing, I jump in circles around them, licking their hands. 

“Hi, Zelda!” Lucy says. Peach jumps in the air, and her long tongue licks Lucy’s face. 

“Hi, Peach!” She laughs. Ben pets both of us on our head. 

“How was school?” Hannah asks, walking into the living room. Ben and Lucy drop their bags on the floor. Lucy hops on the couch. Peach joins her, giving her more kisses. Ben stoops to pick up a ball. He throws it, and I scurry after it, knowing Peach isn’t far behind. 

The Vacuum mystery is pushed to the back of my mind over the next few days. With the sun no longer burning our backs during the day, Peach and I spend more time outside. Peach chases the birds that fly through the backyard. I watch the leaves swirl in the air, knowing the leaf piles will appear soon. I can’t wait to run and jump in them. 
After a walk with Nate, Ben, and Lucy, Peach and I step into the house. A well-known scent fills my nose. 

She’s back!

I dash through the house. I smell her everywhere, but I don’t see her. I run up the stairs with Peach on my tail. The smell of Vacuum is stronger upstairs. I follow my nose to a door in Hannah and Nate’s room. The door is closed, but she is behind the door. I know it. I scratch at the door, trying to pry it open. Peach barks behind me. She doesn’t know what I am doing or why, but I can’t explain Vacuum without showing her. I bark back. 

“Zelda, Peach, leave it,” Hannah says. She stands in the doorway of her bedroom. I scratch again at the door. 

“Fine,” she says. Hannah walks over to us, opens the door, and then walks away.

Vacuum stands before us. She doesn’t make a sound, but I feel her glare. I lunge for her and bark. Peach sits next to me staring at Vacuum without a trace of fear in her eyes. If Peach only knew …

Over the next few days, I check on Vacuum in the closet. After my walks or any time outside, I sprint up the stairs to the closet. I bark at Vacuum and then run away. Some days, I bark more, hoping to get a reaction, but nothing happens. Peach follows me to Vacuum, but she stops after a few days of the same pattern. I know she thinks I am crazy. 

Several more dark sleeps pass by, and the whole family is home on this day. It’s a warm day, and I notice the breeze flowing through the windows into the house. Hannah lets us outside in the backyard. We run to the back fence and sprint through the yard. While we sprint and tackle each other, I hear a strange noise. I stop and listen. 

Vacuum! 

I bolt for the back door. On my hind legs, I scratch at the door. Peach joins me. I can’t see Vacuum, but the noise is present. I scratch and bark, hoping someone will hear us. 

Finally, Lucy wanders into the kitchen. She sees us at the door and lets us in the house. I scamper in the door and sprint up the stairs. I find Vacuum and Hannah together in Lucy’s room. 

Not Lucy’s room!

I charge at Vacuum. Vacuum backs up, but Hannah is right behind her. I bark and take a nip toward her tube. Hannah and Vacuum move away from me to the other side of the bed. I run after them. 

“ARFFF! ARFFF!” 

Peach is next to me, with her high-pitched bark. She lunges at Vacuum, and I know she gets it. We bark and lunge in unison at Vacuum again and again. 

The noise stops. Peach turns to me. I look up at Vacuum. Hannah stands behind her, shaking her head. 

“Fine. I will put the vacuum away,” she says. She pushes Vacuum back into the closet. Peach and I prance out of the room together. Vacuum is back, but now it’s two against one! 

 

Books I Love: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I recently finished listening to the audiobook of Where She Went by Gayle Forman. Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay. I enjoyed the first book, but this second book was phenomenal. I loved it. First, I enjoyed that the book was told through Adam's perspective. (I might be a little exhausted of female YA narrators.) I liked that it's a slow burn to learn about what happened with Adam and Mia since the accident. I love the characters. The author even managed to catch me a little off guard with how the story wrapped up. I loved the details, description, and the shooting star lyrics at the start of the chapters. Magnificent! If you are looking for a great contemporary ya book, check this one out. Here's the link to it on Amazon

Sidenote - You should probably read the first book beforehand, although I think it stands well on its own. 

Lillie is on Tour!

The Evolution of Lillie Gable is on a blog tour the next two weeks, so book bloggers will be reviewing and writing about the book and a little about me. Stop by each site and check them out. 

May 3 - Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours - Kick Off

May 3 - Penny For My Thoughts with Interview

May 4 - Texas Book Nook

May 5 - Andi's YA Books 

May 6 - A Life Through Books

May 7 - Head in the Clouds with Interview

May 8 - Young Adult Book Madness

May 10 - What U Talkin 'Bout Willis

May 11 - The Things We Read

May 12 - Coffee Book Mom

May 15 - Dreams Come True Through Reading

May 16 - Books Direct

May 17 - Simpson's Paradox

May 17 - RABT Reviews - Wrap Up

Plus, to celebrate the blog tour, The Evolution of Lillie Gable is on sale for $0.99 in the Amazon Kindle Store. If you haven't picked up a copy, now is your chance to get it on discount. Here's the link to buy your copy. Thanks & Happy Reading!


Fan Letters - A Letter from a Great Artist

Today's post is the second in my new "Fan Letters" series. Simply put, I'm posting some letters I've received from kids after meeting them at school author days. They are awesome and brighten my day. I hope they brighten yours too!

Check out the first "Fan Letter" post too!

Sneak Peek Snippet: The Adventures of Zelda: The Four Seasons

I am excited to announce that I sent the fourth Zelda book: The Adventures of Zelda: The Four Seasons to the editor this week. I'm aiming for a summer release, but I haven't nailed down a date yet. 

To celebrate the upcoming release, I'm sharing the first sneak peek into the fourth Zelda book. Here is a good portion of Chapter 2: The Hike. Enjoy!!

Ben shoos me away. Fine. If they don’t want me here, I will find something else to do. I walk away from my family to search the clearing for something fun to do. My nose leads me on a trail to the base of a fallen tree. I know the smell is squirrel. I love squirrels! 

I look at my family talking and eating. Peach sits on the ground beside them, hoping for food. Nobody is paying attention to me, so I leap on the log. I walk on the log further in the air. It leads to a tree. The smell continues up the tree to the branch above me. This tree is huge–the tree reaches high into the sky and its branches are almost as wide as the trunk.

I look up to the next branch. The gap is small. I make it to the branch with a long step. I cross the gap and follow the branch away from the trunk. The scent leaps to the branch above. I step up to that branch and walk across it to the other end. The scent is getting stronger. I leap across a small gap to another branch. 

“Mom I’m tired,” Lucy says. I look to my family. They are way below me. I didn’t realize how high I climbed.

“I know. We are heading back soon,” Hannah says. 

I don’t have much time. 

The next jump is a big one. The branch on the other side is much smaller than this one. I’m sure it can hold a squirrel, but can it support a muscular pug like me? 

“Where’s Zelda?” Ben asks. 

Uh oh. 

Peach’s tail wags, her nose twitches, and she gazes into the air at me. She doesn’t hesitate. 

Arrfff. Arrfff. 

I scramble back toward the tree, but as I move, I hear cracking noises. I freeze. The branch is breaking! I need to get out of this tree. 

“She’s in the tree Nate,” Hannah says. 

“How did she get there?” Nate says. 

“I don’t know.” 

“Can you reach her?” 

I look at the next branch below me. It looks way too far of a jump to be safe. Is this the way I came? 

Nate walks over to me. He stands underneath me. 

“I can’t reach her. She needs to jump into my arms,” he says. I look down at him. It’s a long way down to him. 

Crack. The branch isn’t going to last much longer.

“Here, take these treats,” Hannah says. 

“Zelda, come here girl,” Nate says softly. I look into his eyes. “It’s okay. I’ll catch you.” 

Peach barks and whines. She’s worried. 

“Come Zelda,” he says again. Nate will catch me. He will catch me. 

My pug courage returns. I take a deep breath, and then I leap off the branch. The free fall is terrifying until Nate catches me in his arms. My heart is pounding, but I am okay.  

“Good girl Zelda,” Nate says. He gives me a bacon treat. 

“Hannah, can you hand me her leash?” Nate says. He leashes me and places me on the ground. Peach sprints to me and licks my face seven times. 

“How did she get in the tree dad?” Lucy asks. 

“I have no idea Lucy,” Nate replies. 

“Maybe she was hunting a squirrel,” Ben says. 

“Or maybe she thought she was a squirrel again,” Hannah says. Nate chuckles. 

“I don’t think we will ever know,” Nate says. “It’s another pug mystery.” 

Books I Love: Deathmaker by Lindsay Buroker

It's been several weeks since I highlighted a book I've enjoyed recently because my reading slowed down during the month of March. But, life is back to its normal pace and I finished a great book this morning–Deathmaker by Lindsay Buroker. 

I've read a few of Buroker's books now, and she is quickly rising to the top of my favorite authors list. She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and steampunk. Her books are filled with action, snappy dialogue, rich worlds and great characters. This is the second book of the Dragonblood series, but it reads like a standalone due to the focus on different characters. If you are looking for a new book to read, I recommend checking out the Dragon Blood series by Buroker. At the moment, you can pick up the first three books in the series for only $0.99.

When Lieutenant Caslin Ahn joined Wolf Squadron, she was prepared for the reality that she might one day be killed in the line of duty. She was less prepared for being shot down, assumed dead by her own people, and dragged off to the Cofah Empire as a prisoner of war. As if being thrust into a dungeon and interrogated wasn't bad enough, the sadistic commandant decides to give her a cellmate: the notorious pirate Deathmaker. Given the crimes he's committed against Iskandia, Cas owes it to her people to try and kill him. 

Part warrior and part scientist,
Tolemek "Deathmaker" Targoson has not only slain thousands with his deadly concoctions, but he has a special loathing for Iskandian pilots. It was Ahn's commander, Colonel Zirkander, who ruined his military career, forcing him to leave his country in shame and join a pirate organization. Years later, he uses his dreadful reputation like a shield to keep people away; all he wants is to be left alone to work in his laboratory. But when fate lands him in a cell with Zirkander's protégé, he sees a chance for revenge. Why kill the lieutenant when he can use her to get to his old nemesis? 

There's just one problem: it's hard to plot against your enemies when you're in prison with them. Cas and
Tolemek will have to work together if they hope to escape the Cofah dungeon. In the process, they may find that neither is what the other expects, and that they have far greater problems to worry about than ensnaring each other... 

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