First Time Ever — Free Promo for Sam and the Dragon

Sam cover thumbnailHi book fans! In honor of the release of the Medieval Mars Anthology, on this Wednesday and Thursday (8/5-8/6) I am running my first ever free kindle promo on Sam and the Dragon, which is included in the anthology. Sam and his cousin Ahni set off across the wilderness of Mars in search of a dragon who has been eating their family’s goats, but their quest turns into more than they possibly could have imagined. This heartwarming story includes illustrations by concept artist Phil Wade and a map by author Bill Sullivan.

Categories: Mars, Promotions | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Most Unusual Piano Duet

As you can tell from the books I’ve written, I like elephants and I like piano.  So what could be more perfect than an elephant playing a piano?!!

Categories: Musings | Tags: | Leave a comment

New Release: Medieval Mars: The Anthology

Medieval Mars AnthologyI am excited to announce the release of Medieval Mars: The Anthology!  This anthology is a collection of stories that take place in Travis Perry’s world of Medieval Mars.

It’s been about a thousand years since Mars was terraformed and settled by people from earth, but then the civilization collapsed and people returned to a way of life reminiscent of medieval times.  Knights called Riders patrol the roads and contend with dragons, bioengineered by the early settlers who added wings to Komodos.  Apparently they couldn’t figure out how to make the dragons breathe fire, so they made them spit acid.  Yipes!

Read about the war between the mons, a wild west style snake-oil salesman, a young man who would brave anything to save his bride from a mysterious illness, a woman who finds herself too old to continue her passion as a racing bird jockey, and more!  My novel Sam and the Dragon is included, along with stories from eight other authors.

Available in kindle and print versions.  Check it out!

Categories: Mars, New Book Release | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes

ATimetoDieCovA Time to Die (Out of Time Book 1) is a powerful dystopian novel by author Nadine Brandes.  It’s all the more incredible that this is the author’s first novel.  Brandes writes a story every bit as compelling as Divergent, Hunger Games or my favorite, Saving Mars, but A Time to Die comes with a Christian twist which transforms the story into a dystopian novel with hope.

Parvin Blackwater comes from a Christian family in a futuristic society which bans parents from teaching children about religion.  In this world a Wall separates the USE from whatever is west of the Wall.  Everyone in the USE receives a clock at birth.  The clock tells exactly how much time the person has before he or she will die.  The clocks have the interesting effect that no one is afraid of unexpected death (it’s impossible to die before your clock runs out), and yet it is easy to become a slave to the clock. If you destroy your clock, or if you don’t have a clock, you are labeled a radical and are cast out through the Wall to die.

At age 17, Parvin knows that she has only a year to live.  Feeling she has wasted her short life, she is inspired to create something that will make a difference.  She finally decides what she wants to do with her last year, but unexpected events turn her somewhat boring plans into something more real and intense than she possibly could have imagined.

The appeal of dystopian fiction is a mystery to me, however I simply could not put this book down.  A Time to Die is very original and also unique because of the Christian elements which flow through the novel but are not at all heavy handed.  The book actually made me think about time and how I use it. My only criticism is that the story seemed to move very slowly for a while before it catapulted into high gear.  There is nothing slow in the rest of the book!  So if you enjoy dystopian fiction, I highly recommend this book, and I highly recommend that if you find it slow at first, hang in there.  I could tell you the exact moment when the pace picks up, but then I’d be giving you a “clock” just like the characters have.  Keep reading.  You won’t be disappointed.

Five stars.


Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Roots: Sam and the Dragon

Family on MarsWhen I was in elementary school I wrote tons of stories.  Unfortunately, I only know where two of them are.  From fifth grade I have one story which is laminated and another, my first “chapter book,” which was typed by an aide or volunteer who must have deciphered my handwriting.  Bless them.  We made fabric book covers, but apparently no one knew how to assemble the books, so I have ditto printed pages stacked inside the cover with an old rubber band to keep it all together.  No matter.  I’m so glad I still have the first chapter book I ever wrote!

I pulled my old book off the shelf recently and was amused to see the similarities between what I wrote in fifth grade and my latest book, Sam and the Dragon: A Medieval Mars Story.  Both books are intended for middle grade readers.  My original book, “Family on Mars,” is a story about a family who moves from earth to Mars.  The main character, Greg (age 13) lives with his parents and his sister (age 10).  Sam and the Dragon takes place on Mars.  Sam (age 14 in earth years) lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin Ahni (age 12).  But what really tickled me was how the story begins.  Compare my fifth grade story opening to the opening of Sam and the Dragon.

From “Family on Mars”

On April 1, 2010, the never-forgotten day, Greg rushed in with the newspaper. “Hey, Dad,” shouted Greg, “there’s an ad in the paper that says we can go to Mars!”

From “Sam and the Dragon”

Sam burst through the doorway of the red brick hut. “Uncle Al! Uncle Al!”

Pretty funny.

Categories: Children's Books, Mars | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Lunch with an Author!

Come see me at “Lunch with an Author” this Thursday, 5/7 at 12:00 at Indulge! Antiques in Springfield, OR.  I’ll be there talking about my books with host Amanda Bird.  Should be great fun!

Here is a link for directions:

Categories: Book Signing Events | Leave a comment

Educator: A Clear Explanation of Why State Testing Hurts Public Education

I just want to add my two cents to this discussion. In my state we use the Smarter Balanced version of these tests. I have examined the sample questions and they are WAAAY over the heads of the kids who have to answer them. The worse part to me was the fact that children have to answer every question in order to complete the test.  Where there is multiple choice, it’s easy to just guess and move on.  However, many questions require the students to compose an answer (each answer in the math section also requires different use of the technology — even I had trouble figuring out how to put in answers for some questions).  So if a child does not know how to answer the question (likely!), they have to just make up something and type it into the test.  I don’t know about you, but making up senseless answers is not something I want my child to be taught how to do!  There are so many things wrong with this test that to list them all would fill a book. If you haven’t already, and if it’s not too late, please look into opting your kids out of these tests.

Diane Ravitch's blog

One of the biggest challenges to those of us who oppose privatization, school closings, high-stakes testing, and the rest of the failed ideas mistakenly called “reform” have a big job to do. We must educate the public. The public hears the word “reform,” and they think it means progress and improvement. They don’t know it means chaos and disruption of their local public schools. They hear about testing, and they think, “I took tests, what’s so bad about that?”

Here is a fine example of educating the public. It appeared in my local newspaper, the Suffolk Times-Review (recently recognized as the best weekly in New York state). It was written by Gregory Wallace, a former “educator of the year.”

Wallace explains in plain language for non-educators why the Common Core testing will harm public education.

He writes:

As a seasoned educator, I strongly believe that well-designed tests are a valuable…

View original post 522 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Palm Sunday

Although I visited Guatemala and Honduras multiple times as a child I have never had the privilege of seeing firsthand the incredible dyed sawdust carpets of Semana Santa, holy week.  These are temporary works of art, forming a carpet for the parades and processionals that take place throughout the week leading up to Easter.  The first photo is from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the rest are from Guatemala.  Aren’t they magnificent?

..sawdust carpet in tegu

..sawdust 5

..sawdust 2

..sawdust 4


Categories: Musings | Tags: | Leave a comment

Welcome new readers…

Welcome to new readers!  I’m so glad you found my website and The Purple Elephant book!  I write books for kids from kindergarten through middle school and my books are filled with humor, usually in the form of animals doing things animals don’t usually do!  Like Duck, who owns a farm, and the purple elephant who… well, I don’t want to spoil any surprises.

I came across this picture the other day and it is purportedly not photoshopped.  There is a famer in Scotland who dyes his sheep for the amusement of tourists.  I thought something like this would be perfect for a Duck and Friends story.

dyed sheep 2

Categories: Welcome | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Amazon sale on Duck and Friends

Hi Duck fans!  I wanted to let you know that the e-version of my early reader Duck and Friends: The Dinosaur Bones will be on sale at Amazon from 2/10-2/15.  Sale price $.99, regularly $2.99. Tell your friends and let’s make a splash in the rankings! Great for ages 4-8.

Here’s the link:

Categories: Children's Books, Duck and Friends, Promotions | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at