Visionary Fiction Alliance website goes live!

logo for Visionary Fiction Alliance







Here’s the cool logo of the newly formed Visionary Fiction Alliance, of which I’m a founding member.

A handful of authors met at the Goodreads Visionary Fiction Group and we started a web ring in order to promote interest in visionary fiction. Our new blog went live on August 17th, and will serve as a resource for readers, authors, agents, reviewers, and publishers. I’m excited to be a part of this undertaking.

To celebrate the launch of the VFA, we’re offering a chance to win seven VF titles from our founding members. You can enter the giveaway through the end of August.

You can also check out my new article—Visionary Fiction Challenges Our Species to Evolve—which has been posted on the VSA site.

We each contributed a “blog blessing,” as well, and here’s my little ditty:

May the VSA
Inspire today
And foreshadow
A better tomorrow.



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A True Wonder: Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder





A couple of years ago I happened upon Bel Canto, a novel by Ann Patchett. The story moved along at a crawl. The plot was minimal. And yet I was entranced by the novel and couldn’t put it down. The characters were fascinating, the setting was described in such rich detail, the atmosphere was enchanting, and Patchett’s writing was exquisite.

I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up another of her novels. I suppose I didn’t want to be disappointed. After all, it seemed unlikely that she could write another such masterpiece.

State of Wonder was published last year by HarperCollins, and I finally got around to reading it this past week. Is it on par with Bel Canto? Well, no. But in my opinion, few books are.

Once again, however, the characters are wonderfully drawn and the settings are vividly brought to life. Once again, Patchett evokes an atmosphere that is spellbinding. And I found this novel even more emotionally engaging than its predecessor; several scenes were intensely moving.

It’s rare, even in otherwise excellent novels, that I encounter an ending that is fully satisfying. This one is unforgettable. I think it’s perfect.

Some detractors of the book complain that the scientific aspects of the plot are highly questionable, and I have to agree. For me, though, those elements were only mildly annoying and not central to the concerns of the novel.

Overall, I highly recommend State of Wonder. I can’t wait to read Ann Patchett’s other novels. Based on the two I’ve read so far, I’m convinced that she is one of our finest living authors.


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Tara Lazar: Mother, Author, & Blogger Extraordinaire



Back in 2009, Tara Lazar posted a review of Otto Grows Down on her blog, Writing for Children While Raising Them. Her review was so beautifully written and so enthusiastic that I immediately got in touch with her and we’ve been friends ever since. We critiqued each other’s manuscripts, commiserated with each other’s personal and professional struggles, and shared news and publishing industry gossip.

At the time, Tara had yet to have a story accepted for publication. Now, I’m thrilled to report, she has three! The Monstore will be published next June by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. They will also publish I Thought This Was A Bear Book in 2014, and that year will also see the publication of Little Red Gliding Hood by Random House.

I admire how Tara has accomplished all this while raising two young daughters as well as writing and managing one of the premiere kidlit blogs on the Internet. She is my hero!

So check out Tara’s blog. This week she features an interview with me and is also giving away a copy of Crashing Eden. I can’t wait to see Tara’s books in print!

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OTTO GROWS DOWN Goes Out of Print




My debut picture book, Otto Grows Down, was published by Sterling in 2009. I was lucky to be paired with the illustrator, Scott Magoon, a fabulous artist who has gone on to illustrate a bunch of wonderful books, including Spoon, Mostly Monsterly, and Chopsticks. Scott was a delight to work with, and Otto turned into a true collaboration.

Otto may not have won any awards, but it sold well, and it won the hearts and minds of many children and parents across the country. It has been gratifying to hear from parents, booksellers, and librarians that kids adore the story. In her blog post titled “What is Your Kid’s Favorite Book?”, Carissa Rogers wrote:

“I hope I can say this clearly enough. My little boy LOVES this book.
No. That was pathetic. Let me try again.
–He sprinkles this book on his cereal for breakfast.
–He sleeps with it.
–His older sister likes it just as much and often BEGS to read it to him!
–I’m not exaggerating. He would forgo a trip to the park, for an extra reading of Otto Grows Down.
–It travels on vacation with us.

–He plans to name his firstborn child Otto, regardless of gender.”

A college student was so taken with the story that she wrote a song about it and performed her creation on YouTube.

For those who never read the book, it’s the story of a boy who becomes trapped in backward time after making a birthday wish that his baby sister was never born. Like Crashing Eden, the central theme involves guilt and remorse over mistreating a sibling, and the wish to repair the damage.

Both stories probably emerged from my own remorse for having teased and harassed my younger brother. This theme of having harmed a sibling is such an abiding part of my psyche that at times I’ve wondered whether I’m a “womb twin survivor.” That’s someone who started life as a twin but was born alone, perhaps resulting in unconscious survivor guilt. (Yes, I realize that sounds bizarre, but who knows?)

Anyhow, it’s with some sadness that I announce that Otto Grows Down has gone out of print. Yet I take some comfort from Einstein’s belief that the past, present, and future coexist simultaneously, and that “the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.” If this is the case, then as Otto bows out he simultaneously arrives, and will exist eternally.

Here’s a poem I wrote that never quite made it into the book:


What Is Time?


What is Time? What is Time?

Can anybody say?

Can you go to sleep tomorrow night

And wake up yesterday?


Will last Tuesday ever come again?

Or next year come round twice?

If summer never went away,

Now wouldn’t that be nice?


What is Time? What is Time?

Have you solved the riddle yet?

Can you stuff Time in your pocket?

Can you catch it with a net?


The Past is now behind us

And the Future’s yet to show.

Let’s celebrate the Present—

It’s the only time we know!




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