So grateful that THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET has been named a finalist in the Georgia Children’s Book Award for 2015/16.

RatchetPBBlogSizeI’m looking forward to all the new Georgia readers who will be enjoying RATCHET’s story.

Happy Reading,


THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET a Rebecca Caudill Nominee 2016

So happy to announce that This Journal Belongs to Ratchet has been named a

2016 Rebecca Caudill Nominee.

As a former teacher in Illinois, I’m thrilled to be chosen for such a fabulous list.

Every year the Caudill Books are enjoyed by many students and teachers all over the state.

I’m looking forward to all the new readers I’ll meet as a result of this wonderful opportunity.

A HUGE thank you to the Rebecca Caudill Committee for all their hard work and dedication in putting together a list like this!

Happy Reading,


A New Theme for a New Year – THANKFULNESS

Toward the end of 2014, I began doing daily “Today I am thankful for . . .” tweets on Twitter.  Sometimes I tweeted about out of the ordinary things like awards, accolades, or big news for my books; but other times my daily thankfulness tweets were about the every day things in life that I sometimes forget to be thankful for such as a good bowl of soup, a sunny day, or reading a really awesome book.  This simple act of tweeting out thankfulness has at the very least caused me for a moment or two each day to pause and think about all I have to be thankful about.  My hope is that the moment or two I pause to think of a “Today I am thankful for . . .” tweet will grow into an even more grateful attitude all day long.  This grateful attitude of course is easier on some days than on others, so to give myself even more reason to pause and think about the good things I have to be thankful for, I’m planning to use my blog as an extension of my “Today I am thankful for . . .” tweets.

As a way to kick off my “Thankful Blogging,” I’d like to share a photo of one of my favorite Christmas presents from this past year.

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My fabulous editor, Aubrey Poole (Sourcebooks), made this supercute, very creative photo frame from my novel ALWAYS, ABIGAIL.  I absolutely loved this thing and every time I look at it I am reminded of how thankful I am to have an editor like Aubrey – supportive, insightful, patient, and as you can see, also super creative.

Wishing you an attitude of gratitude,


THANKFUL FOR . . . November Highlights

This gallery contains 26 photos.

A November full of fun!

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Thank you Santa Monica Public Library for awarding THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature.  What a very cool trophy!

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A warm welcome at Prairie Point Elementary in Oswego, IL.  Thank you teachers and students for a fantastic morning!

A Great School Visit to Green Bay Public Schools.  Thank you for treating me like a rock star and a queen all at the same time.  Thank you Green Bay students and teachers for a fabulous two days of pure FUN!20141106_132233 (200x150) 20141106_124733 (640x480) (200x150)20141106_132253 (200x150)20141106_184410 (200x150)20141106_132223 (150x200)20141106_184420 (200x150)20141106_185039 (200x150)20141106_190718 (150x200)20141106_194742 (150x200)20141106_194802 (200x150) 20141106_194819 (150x200) 20141106_194832 (150x200)

Visits to six schools and a warm welcome at each one.  The student-made posters looked fantastic!20141106_194837 (150x200) 20141106_194855 (150x200) 20141106_194902 (200x150) 20141106_194910 (150x200) 20141106_195311 (150x200) 20141107_074059 (200x150) 20141107_144641 (200x150) 20141107_144704 (200x150) IMG_1218 (200x150) IMG_1220 (200x150) IMG_1225 (200x150) IMG_1227 (200x150)


Fall has been busy with school visit, Skype visits, conferences, and even a little bit of writing on Book 3, CAMP SISTERS, due out in Spring 2016.


This weekend I head for St. Paul, MN for the School Library Journal Summit.  I’ll be attending an author reception with Baker & Taylor.  Earlier this month I stopped by the Sourcebooks office in Naperville to pre-sign some copies for the event.

An ALWAYS, ABIGAIL book signing at Barnes & Noble in Bolingbrook.

Thank you Barnes & Noble for being such big fans of ABIGAIL and RATCHET!


A fantastic Virtual Visit with Bandera Elementary School in Texas!  Look at these fabulous student-made posters!

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For information about how your school, library, or book group can set up a Virtual Visits with me check out

Happy Reading,



Recently I returned to the place where I attended elementary school.  The building is no longer used as a school.  The swings, monkey bars, jungle gym, and superfast merry-g0-round are all gone, so it looks somewhat abandoned and sparse; and of course, as many places we remember from childhood, it seems much smaller than I remember it being.


Part of me had a sort of sad lonely feeling when I saw my old school looking this way, but another part of me was overwhelmed with good old school days memories.

  • First days of school when I rushed off the bus to find my name listed on the class rosters scotch taped to the door.
  • Remembering to wear shorts under my skirts so that I could hang upside down on the monkey bars.
  • Closing my eyes so that I was brave enough to ride that superfast merry-go-round even when the big kids pushed it faster than fast.
  • Running out the recess door the split second the bell rang so that I could get a swing next to my cousin.

Funny how the memories are both vivid and hazy, sort of like trying to remember the dream I had last night – the one that was so real, yet so hard to explain when I try to tell someone about it.

As an author of children’s books I rely on my memories quite often.  In my mind, I revisit places like my old elementary school to remember what things were like because even though my readers are growing up in a much different world, there is something very universal about those school days memories.  I love having a job in which reminiscing about my childhood memories is a requirement.  For me, it’s just one of the reason I find writing middle grade books so rewarding.

Happy Reading,



The ALWAYS, ABIGAIL Launch Party was full of family, friends, and FUN!

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And the room full of everything “Abigail” was ready for celebrating!img_6741_0003 (200x133)

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20140809_193248 (200x150)20140809_193311 (150x200)Celebrating with my parents and sister made the night even more special!

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My nieces and nephews are always good for a little inspiration!

img_6778_0037 (200x133)img_6783_0042 (133x200)Middle Grade Readers are the BEST!


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The Lou Malnatis Pizza and the ALWAYS, ABIGAIL cake from the Jewel Bakery didn’t just look good, they tasted good too!

It was a party that both Abigail and Gabby would have loved.

I even think Old Hawk might have liked it.  🙂

Happy Reading,




ALWAYS, ABIGAIL – Pub Day Arrives!

August 5, 2014 ALWAYS, ABIGAIL makes her appearance into the world!

I celebrated first with breakfast at Egg Harbor in Naperville.


Then it was off to the Barnes & Noble down the street to sign some books!


Next I headed out to Bolingbrook and signed more copies of ALWAYS, ABIGAIL at the Barnes & Noble out there.


I ended my day at the Barnes & Noble in Oak Brook where I signed copies of ALWAYS, ABIGAIL and THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET.


A great way to welcome ALWAYS, ABIGAIL into the reading world!


Happy Reading,


Blog Hop Tour – Writers on Writing

So I’ve been tagged by Lara Chapman in a Blog Hop Tour.  Lara and I are lucky enough to both have the awesomely talented Holly Root of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency ( as our agent and because of Holly both of us have books out in the world.  Lara writes young adult and middle grade, and you can read about her and her fabulous books at

To keep this Blog Hop Tour going, I’ve tagged Rebecca Behrens the author of the new middle grade novel WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE.  Rebecca and I are lucky enough to share the best editor in the world – the wonderfully patient and insightful Aubrey Poole of Sourcebook/Jabberwocky  Rebecca will be writing her Blog Hop Tour post on Monday, April 28.  Be sure to check it out at

So now on with the tour!  My website tells a bit about me and my books, but this Blog Hop Post will give readers a peak inside my writing process.   So here we go:



Right now I’m working on Book 3 which is called CAMP SISTERS.  Though I don’t usually like to talk about my stories while I’m writing them (afraid I’ll scare away the muse I guess), I’ll share this short summary:  CAMP SISTERS is the story of Julia heading off to camp with her “Chinese Sisters,” Avery and Becca, two girls adopted from the same Chinese orphanage she was.  Though their friendship is forced, their cabin-mates nicknamed the “The Bermuda Triangle” cause Julia to surprisingly stick up for her “Chinese Sisters.”  In doing so, she makes a difficult discovery about herself, and at the same time makes a brand new friend.



My first two books THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET and ALWAYS, ABIGAIL are written in journal formats.  Ratchet tells her story through assignments in her homeschool journal, and Abigail tells her story through lists and letters in her personal journal.  Though CAMP SISTERS will be written in a more traditional format, it will also include excerpts from Julia’s camp journal.  I think writing in these different formats makes my books stand out.  I enjoy the creativity of writing this way, and I think my readers enjoy reading these different formats.



I write middle grade because it’s by far my favorite thing to read.  I always strive to write the kind of book I want to read so that’s why I write what I do.



The voice of my character usually comes easily for me, and these voices are really the inspiration for my books.  What is difficult for me is the plot.  I have to work very hard to come up with a plot that is compelling and full of conflict to keep my story moving forward.  That’s what I work on when I revise my writing, and I spend LOTS of my writing time on revision.


Happy Reading and Writing,




Gold for Ratchet in the Florida Book Awards

On March 17 and 18, RATCHET and I headed for Tallahassee for two days of awards and celebration.  It was very fitting that we arrived on St. Patrick’s Day because I spent the entire two days feeling like a lucky little Irish girl.

It started with an interview at WFSU.

 20140317_164250 (200x150)20140317_164602 (200x150)20140317_164707 (200x150)I got to hang out with some of my favorite PBS characters.

a (149x200)20140317_210216 (150x200)       Then Monday evening it was the awards ceremony.

The next day we enjoyed lunch at the Governor’s Mansion, and it was everything I dreamed it would be!

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20140318_134233 (150x200)First Lady of Florida Ann Scott welcomed us to the mansion for lunch.

As you can see, I felt right at home!

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Tuesday night I finally got the gold!

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Happy Reading,


JUST LIKE ME by Nancy J. Cavanaugh




ALWAYS, ABIGAIL by Nancy J. Cavanaugh


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