Cover image of the book THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA

THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA is available for PREORDER!

In February, I told you I’m representing Wisconsin in the upcoming spooky anthology THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA. I’m thrilled to tell you that the book is now AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER! Here’s a look at the cover, illustrated by by Solomon Hughes.

Cover image of the book THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA

Releasing from Macmillan Publishers on July 9, 2024
ISBN 9781250819413

Friends, there is simply no better way to support an author and their work than to preorder their books. Even if you think you won’t read the book for months or years, preorders count in the crucial first week of publication and can determine a book’s entire trajectory. So please do order a copy, either here or through your favorite bookstore. And trust me, by the time you get the book in July, you’ll be facing spooky season again and you’ll be ready to embrace some spine-tingling tales.

To remind you, this creepy collection features 52 twisted short stories, one from each state plus D.C. and Puerto Rico. My Wisconsin tale is personal and oh-sooooo-haunting. I spent countless hours at the Seven Bridges in my youth, so when I learned about this upcoming anthology, I knew I had to set a story there. My terrifying tale includes scenes from the archway, bridge, and trail shown below.

Sign at the entrance to South Milwaukee's Seven Bridges, which reads, "Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature"

It reads, “Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature.”

The Seven Bridges opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

The Seven Bridges opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

Image shows Seven Bridges trail

A trail dappled in light.

Thank you so much for your preorder and overall support. May Halloween 2024 be frightening fun,

 

 

 

 

What I’m reading – Under the Blanket Sky, Restart, Twerp, The Devil Particle, and The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet

Yaaaay! I am so glad to be back blogging. I’ve spent the past month recovering from elbow surgery, which kept one hand in a support brace, so I’ve refrained from too much typing, except for the ineffective, one-handed variety, haha. But now I’ve been cleared to type with two whole hands again (huzzah!), which is incredibly important in most aspects of my life, so yay! I’m back! 🙂

During my convalescence, I did (and am doing) quite a lot of reading. It’s also summer, and I always say I want to spend more time reading in the summer. Here are some of the gems I’ve hit upon.

UNDER THE BLANKET SKY by Tim Fischer (picture book, May 2023, DoubleDay). A lonely boy is visited by a mysterious owl (perhaps imaginary?) who spends summer with him enjoying playful adventures before it must eventually move on.

This quiet, gentle book feels like a hug to lonely kids everywhere, or maybe to kids who find themselves alone at important moments and wish they had a forever friend to share them with. I was touched by the unspoken themes of time, friendship, and bittersweet goodbyes, leaving me a little breathless afterward. The illustrations are soft, ephemeral, luminescent. And another thing I loved about it: the boy wears glasses. I know it seems small, but there aren’t enough books with kids who wear glasses, and it is so affirming for kids to read about others like them. This picture book is simply lovely. An Amazon Editors’ Pick. A new classic. Recommended.

 

RESTART by Gordon Korman (middle grade, March 2018, Scholastic). A boy suffers amnesia after falling off a roof and gets a rare second-chance to reset his life’s trajectory.

I’m a bit late to reading this considering it came out five years ago and is published by Scholastic, where I recently worked. But hey, definitely better late than never! This Amazon Teacher’s Pick hits so many themes I can’t resist: unreliable narration due to memory loss, discovering who you are compared to what others expect, restarting yourself after new experiences, joy, regret, processing an emotional renaissance. It’s all there. I can see why this book is a teacher’s favorite, and I can see why any kid who feels stuck might cling to it like a lifeline. You can change. You can start anew. You can reset your life. It’s never too late. Recommended.

 

 

 

 

TWERP by Mark Goldblatt (middle grade, May 2014, Yearling). A 6th-grade boy in 1969’s New York City is given a choice by his teacher to either keep a journal and write about what got him and his friends suspended or write a report on Shakespeare, which the boy is sure he’d flunk.

Again, I was late to the party on this one, but I’m so glad I discovered it. TWERP feels to me like a (lower stakes, gentler) middle grade CATCHER IN THE RYE. We see the world through the eyes of a genuinely likable boy who knows he made a bad choice — well, several, most of which he’s willing to admit, except for the story his teacher most wants to hear. The protagonist has a good heart, though, and cares about his friends and family. You can’t help but root for him and you’re so glad when he comes to terms with it all. I’m about to start the sequel, FINDING THE WORM. TWERP is good stuff. Another Amazon Teacher’s Pick. Recommended.

 

 

THE DEVIL PARTICLE by Kristin A. Oakley (young adult dystopian, June 2023, self-published). A 17-year-old boy living in a post-apocalyptic world competes to save humanity by becoming the single vessel containing all the world’s evil.

Whew, that’s some heavy stuff, isn’t it? And who would want to do such a thing? It turns out there are plenty of altruistic, caring youth who vie for the chance to change the world, to better the planet, to save others. But first the candidates must compete in The Trials, with its cruel and deadly challenges. There’s plenty to chew on in this book. Who’s to blame for evil — and evil acts? How can we as a society and world curtail it? Would we be willing to sacrifice one innocent for all people when that innocent  is someone we know and love? And are The Trials what they appear to be? Fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and a good race to the finish will enjoy sinking their teeth into THE DEVIL PARTICLE. Recommended.

 

 

THE HEAT WILL KILL YOU FIRST: LIFE AND DEATH ON A SCORCHED PLANET by Jeff Goodell (adult nonfiction, July 2023, Little, Brown and Company). The planet’s temperature is rising, the reality of climate change is hitting home, and heat is already becoming the world’s first-order threat.

I am up to the minute on this read! The book came out 15 days ago as one of the most anticipated books of the season and is already an Amazon #1 Bestseller and a New York Times bestseller. This fascinating, fast-paced, well-researched book looks into and explains the many climate-related terrors we’ve been experiencing the past few years, from deadly heat patterns to apocalyptic, orange skies laden with wildfire ash. Guggenheim fellow and bestselling author Goodell shows how even the privileged few among us will grapple to escape the cascading catastrophes of global warming. And he notes what’s impossible to ignore on the horizon (blistering, deadly heat; rising seas; crop failures; social unrest; mass starvation; large migrations) if action isn’t taken immediately. I’m not finished reading it, but so far it’s an incredible read. Highly, highly recommended.

I’ve listened to a few audiobooks lately too, and there’s one I’m really enjoying so far, so I’ll talk about those soon. I find it lovely to have stories read to me.

Hope you’re also enjoying some good reads this summer. 🙂

 

(The above are Amazon Affiliate links, meaning I make a few pennies off the sale of each book, at no cost to you.)

 

 

SCBWI’s faaaaaabulous Fall Luncheon

A weekend away can seem like an extravagance, but sometimes it’s worth every penny.

I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut. I allowed myself time this summer to read, but as September rolled around, I felt a bit stymied with my writing. Months ago, I suspected I’d appreciate an in-person writing event come October, and wow, was I right. This weekend was g.l.o.r.i.o.u.s in so many ways.

Sunday was the SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Luncheon, an event just a few hours long, in which writers meet up, enjoy a lunch, and hear a single speaker. Sara Schonfeld, editor at HarperCollins imprint Katherine Tegen Books proved to be an excellent speaker. More on this later.

Backing up, I decided to make a whole weekend of it. I booked a three-day stay at the hotel. The drive north was wonderful, all by itself. I think this is one of the most colorful Wisconsin autumns I’ve ever seen. Does that correlate with today’s early, first snowfall of the season? I have no idea, but the drive to Door County was stunning. Feast your eyes.

Wisconsin's fall foliage, Oct 2022

Wisconsin's fall foliage, Oct 2022

Wisconsin’s glorious fall colors (captured at a rest stop, don’t worry). 🙂

When I got to the hotel, my room was ready early, thank goodness, and I quickly settled in to write. Wow! I wrote like a person possessed. A change of scenery can induce that? You betcha. Mission accomplished by Day One.

Add, that my room was beautiful. Add, that I got a few hours socializing with great friends before the event even started. Add, that I learned to play pickle ball and, omg, it was so much fun! And add, our group’s first in-person event in three years. It was heavenly, this weekend. Truly.

Sailboat on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

A sailboat on Sturgeon Bay beside where we played pickle ball. We were having so much fun, we forgot to take a group picture!

Sara gave a well-presented, insightful talk on revising like an editor. No one could walk away without at least one (but likely many) new tactics to try when they get to that stage. I thoroughly enjoyed both her talk and getting to know her. She’s a delight.

photo shows a group listening to Sara Schonfeld, editor at HarperCollins imprint Katherine Tegen Books

Sara Schonfeld of Katherine Tegen Books and Deb Buschman, leader of SCBWI-Wisconsin

Sara Schonfeld of Katherine Tegen Books and Deb Buschman, leader of SCBWI-Wisconsin (photo courtesy of author Sandy Brehl)

Here are a few more photos of the luncheon. Special thanks to Deb Buschman and all SCBWI volunteers for putting on an outstanding event.

photo shows authors Silvia Acevedo, Amanda Zieba, and Christy Wopat

photo shows authors Pat Zietlow Miller and Kate Penndorf

photo shows attendees at the SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Luncheon

The previous three photos are courtesy of author Sandy Brehl

photo shows Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, during the autumn of 2022

photo shows Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, fall of 2022

Just outside the ballroom, the view of Sturgeon Bay

If you’re thinking that your creative endeavors could use a change a scenery, you may be right. I recommend giving it a try. I’m so grateful I did. 🙂

 

 

WWA Anthology is out!

Image shows cover of the book "Wisconsin Writers Anthology 2022."I just added another title to the Books page of this website, and I’m thrilled that it contains my first published horror short story. Creepy short stories are definitely my bag. I love reading them. I love writing them. And I’m thrilled that my short story won an Honorable Mention in the Wisconsin Writers Association’s Jade Ring Contest and publication in its anthology.

This paperback is just $6.99 as of the date of this writing. That’s a bargain for 113 pages of original writing by Wisconsin creators, so order your copy here and support WWA and local authors!

 

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a few cents if you order through that link, at no charge to you.

What I’m reading – Other Terrors and Less is Lost

It’s fall, and, while I typically try to hunker down and get writing again when the colder winds start to blow, I’m still heavily reading, so here’s what I’m enjoying (with $affiliate links).

Image shows covers of the books LESS IS LOST and OTHER HORRORS

OTHER TERRORS; AN INCLUSIVE ANTHOLOGY. This is a collection of creepy tales from critically acclaimed, diverse authors with a broad spectrum of diverse and contemporary characters. These wonderfully inclusive and modern tales are not only riveting but also manage give a reader creepy crawly chills. Whooeee, some of these stories really strike a nerve, and others will leave you seeing circumstances in a whole new light. I especially loved the story Waste Not by Alma Katsu because, ooh, what a line it crosses; also, Idiot Girls by Jennifer McMahon and The Turning by Hailey Piper. Shivers and shakes. Highly recommended.

LESS IS LOST by Pulitzer Prize winning author Andrew Sean Greer. Its prequel, LESS, had me in stitches when I first read it in 2018, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads. I just reread it, and it still hilariously holds up. It’s the story of a struggling novelist who receives an invitation to his former lover’s wedding, and, rather than go, decides to accept every harebrained literary invitation he’s received, from places around the world, to escape. I’m only a few pages in to the sequel, and I can’t wait to see where Less takes us next.

What I’m Reading – Blackout; In the Wild Light; Less; and Aaron Slater, Illustrator

My cute cat Glyph, an adorable orange tabby, lying across the book Aaron Slater Illustrator

My sweet, affectionate cat Glyph enjoying “Aaron Slater, Illustrator”

I (and one of my cats) have been reading a lot lately. Like, a lot. I typically have a harder time writing in summer than other times of the year because, well, I want to be out enjoying summer, so this year I decided to mostly take a break from writing and instead catch up on reading, which I find easy to accomplish in the snatches of free time throughout the day.

So what have I been reading? Mostly young adult and picture books but also a classic as its sequel is coming out soon. Here are some of my noteworthy reads (with $affiliate links).

Cover of the book Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon. Black background, the word Blackout in yellow, and author names in purple.Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon, all critically acclaimed authors. This is a collection of contemporary, interlinking short stories set during a power outage in New York City. Warm and affirming, these Black love stories show characters in many stages of love and self-acceptance. It was a sweet read, and I loved loved loved walking through New York City with all of them. It reminded me of so many of my own walks and explorations when I lived and worked there in 2021 and 2022. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

Cover of the book In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner. Black mountains and an orange and yellow sunrise in the background, the title words in black, and author names in white.In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner. Admittedly, I’m still in the first chapter, but just the first paragraph tells me I’m going to like this. I’ve always like Jeff’s writing and had the pleasure of hosting him at a writing conference for SCBWI-Wisconsin, which I co-led for a few years. I got so engrossed reading another book of his, that I missed my train stop and ended up way uptown instead of down. It was no problem, but seriously, if it could make me not hear three announcements and stops, that’s good writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of the book Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Shows an animated white man in a blue suit falling through the blue air, with typed pages falling as well. The title is in grey, and the author name is blue, matching the falling man’s suit.Pulitzer Prize winning Less by Andrew Sean Greer had me in stitches when I first read it in 2018, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads. It’s the story of a struggling novelist who receives an invitation to his former lover’s wedding, and, rather than go, decides to accept every harebrained literary invitation he’s received, from places around the world, to escape. I’m rereading this because, YAY!!!, its sequel is coming out in just ten days. Can’t wait to dive back into this world.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of the book Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts. The cover shows a very young black boy, maybe six years olds with a pencil behind his ear and holding a vine, as if it were a balloon tether. The vine grows to show an eagle, a dragon, and nature motif from the boy’s imagination.And finally, Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, in which a young boy, struggling to keep up academically with his peers, finds his voice through illustration and shares his talents with all those he loves. Such an important book with a protagonist you care for and certainly are rooting for. It’s just an exquisite book. It also has impeccable rhyme. If you’re a writer looking for mentor texts of rhyming picture books, here’s a great one to add to your list.

 

 

 

 

Also, today I enjoyed my first pumpkin spice latte of the season during breakfast, as I was writing this. Yummy. My rite of passage each fall. I loved it. 🙂

Have you read any good books lately? Tell me in the comments!

Image shows a toasted bagel with butter and a Starbucks coffee drink enclosing a pumpkin spiced latte.

Breakfast!

L.A., baby!

Haha, no, don’t worry. I’m not jetting off to L.A. But I did have something awesome tie me in to Los Angeles, and it’s so exciting I just have to share.

SCBWI holds two international conferences annually, one in New York City and one in L.A. I’ve attended both, and they are simply amazing. The New York one is smaller, which might be surprising as NYC is the global publishing hub, but the NYC conference is focused on craft. The L.A. conference is huge, typically bringing in several thousand attendees and is thus a networking extravaganza.

The past few years these events have been held virtually, of course. They’re still excellent events, well organized, chock full of practical  and inspirational tidbits. The speakers are stars in the kidlit field or up-and-comers or people with an expertise in their niche. I walk away from each speaker better for having listened.

This year, they invited me to speak. Me! Little ol’ me. I was stunned at the invitation and remain so even after having finished the presentation. Speaking at their international conference is a big moment for me, and I worked hard to make my session worthwhile. I hope it was. Importantly, I continue to be grateful for this wonderful organization.

All the presentations were recorded and available for 30 days, so you could still register to see everything. I too will watch as many of these recordings as I can. It will make for some pleasant upcoming days. 🙂

Graphic of author Silvia Acevedo ahead of her live presentation at SCBWI-LA

The slate posted ahead of my live presentation

Photo of Silvia Acevedo speaking at SCBWI's LA conference

Zoom-zoom-zooming to SCBWI LA.

In-person events will come again

The first weekend in April was reserved on my calendar to attend the Marvelous Midwest conference. This large gathering is on by six Midwestern chapters of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I was really looking forward to it. During the early planning of the event, I was co-leading the Wisconsin chapter, and I reached out to many of the planned faculty. As I had already stepped down from that role, I wasn’t privy to any decision-making after Sept 2021. However, we original organizers had hopes for an in-person event.

Alas, it was not to be. It was postponed due to rising COVID-19 cases to a yet-to-be-announced date. In-person events will come again. In truth, many are already happening, but event decisions need to made months in advance, and no one has a functioning crystal ball. Those who made their events in person rolled the dice one way. Others are rolling it another. If the pandemic’s taught us anything, it’s that it behooves us to be flexible. And so we have to accept this with understanding and grace.

In a separate act of support for creatives, I just renewed my membership with the Wisconsin Writers Association. I was on their board of directors last year before the big move to New York, and let me tell you, this organization has a lot of great things going on! I’m lucky to be connected to such groups. They really make this creative journey a pleasure.

Promotional image for Marvelous Midwest conference, put on by six Midwestern chapters of SCBWI


Logo for Wisconsin Writers Association, showing a large W above a bar and the words "Wisconsin writers association"

The Haunted States of America

Whoo hoo! A short story I wrote will represent Wisconsin in a middle grade horror anthology!

THE HAUNTED STATES OF AMERICA will be published by Henry Holt/Macmillan. HH joined forces with the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators to feature 52 spooky short stories, one from each state plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. All stories are inspired by local events or myths and written by SCBWI members with a connection to the place. I created a spooky tale of South Milwaukee’s Seven Bridges, a beautiful but supposedly haunted place  where I spent so, so many hours in my childhood. The pictures of it below show how lovely — and at times secluded — it is.

I’m guessing the book will come out in one to two years, which is the usual pace for book publishers. When it does come out, I’m hoping you’ll buy a copy and read all the creepy tales.

And isn’t life funny that I learned this news the same week that I left my job at Scholastic? haha. But book news is great, and I can’t wait to read about our Haunted States.

The entrance to South Milwaukee's Seven Bridges

The entrance to South Milwaukee’s Seven Bridges

Sign at the entrance to South Milwaukee's Seven Bridges, which reads, "Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature"

“Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature”

The Seven Bridges opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

The Seven Bridges’s opening bridge, overlooking a deep gorge

The opening bridge's drop

The drop, which is much steeper than this photo makes it appear

One adventure ends and another begins

What an adventure!

New York City has so much energy, excitement, and cultural relevance. Every bit of it seems famous, the food and social scene are incredible, and there’s goodness all around. I love New York, and I’ve loved my time here, but the adventure is coming to a close.After seven months at Scholastic, I realized the job wasn’t working out, which isn’t the end of the world. I’m proud of myself for recognizing it. Plus, I have forces pulling me back home, in a good way.

Experiencing the publishing world in its global heart was amazing. I learned so much, made great friends, and might continue in another capacity, just not in NYC and not in this moment. Here are a few final pics before I head back to a Great Place Near a Great Lake (aka, Milwaukee —- who remembers that jingle?)

Jeff Miracola and Silvia Acevedo outside NYC's main library

Jeff and me outside NYC’s main library

Main-library-rose-room

The library’s famed Rose Reading Room

Main-library-rose-room

And from the other side

My daughter Antonia and Silvia Acevedo at Central Park

My daughter Antonia and me at Central Park

Family on the ferry

And on the ferry

Silvia-Acevedo-at-the-John-Wick-Continental-Hotel

At John Wick’s famed Continental Hotel. Sanctuary!

Silvia Acevedo with her yoga group

My yoga group as we wish each other well 🙂

Manhattan-skyline-at-night

The endlessly gorgeous Manhattan skyline, this time at night. Goodbye for now, my dear NYC.