“Writing is reading turned inside out.”

That’s what Marjorie Bruce used to say. She was my favorite English teacher, and as a writer I’ve always kept her words in mind. Whether I’m working on a novel, chapter book, picture book, or play, I try to create stories that I would enjoy—stories with humor, mystery, and characters I care about.
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Middle Grade Novel - Albert Whitman, 2016

Everyone in the City is assigned a job by the choosers— keeper, catcher, computer. Callie Crawford is a computer. She works with numbers: putting them together, taking them apart. Her work is important, but sometimes she wants more. Jeremy Finn is a dreambender. His job is to adjust people’s dreams. He and others like him quietly remove thoughts of music and art to keep the people in the City from becoming too focused on themselves and their own feelings rather than on the world. They need to keep the world safe from another Warming. But Jeremy thinks music is beautiful, and when he pops into a dream of Callie singing, he becomes fascinated with her.


Night on Fire
Middle Grade Novel - Albert Whitman, 2015

Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn’t think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town’s residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can’t help but feel stuck—and helpless—in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by. So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views.


The Year of the Bomb
Middle Grade Novel - Simon & Schuster, 2009

When Paul and his friends Arnie, Crank, and Oz find out that a horror movie will be filmed in their town, they can’t believe it—they even manage to get onto the set and meet some of the extras. But then they learn that some of the actors are really undercover agents, and the four boys find themselves tangled in an investigation. Nuclear bombs, conspiracies, and pod people are only supposed to exist in horror movies—right?


On Beale Street
Young Adult Novel - Simon & Schuster, 2008

In 1954 Memphis, fifteen-year-old Johnny Ross meets an unknown singer named Elvis Presley. Johnny lands a job at Sun Records, where legendary record producer Sam Phillips helps Elvis and Johnny look deep inside themselves to discover a new thing—part blues and part country, part street and part gospel, part black and part white.


Monkey Town:
The Summer of the Scopes Trial

Young Adult Novel - Simon & Schuster, 2006

When school lets out in sleepy Dayton, Tennessee, fifteen-year-old Frances Robinson has one thing on her mind—spending time with handsome schoolteacher Johnny Scopes. But when Frances’s father has Johnny arrested for teaching evolution, overnight Dayton becomes the center of the universe.


Monkey Town
Paperback Edition - Simon & Schuster, 2007

Monkey Town
Audio Book Edition - Random House Audio, 2007