Greetings, friends. I know I haven’t been blogging much lately, so I wanted to give you a quick update on what I’ve been up to in order to reassure you I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth…

  • I finished revisions and edits on After the Shot Drops! This took a couple rounds and a few months, but (hopefully) the book is much better now. From here, I’ll need to do copy edits (proofreading the actual pages, basically), then I should see a draft of the cover. In a couple months, the ARCs (advance review copies) should start going out to reviewers, and then it will hit shelves in spring 2018!
  • I felt like writing something new, so I put The Goblin & The Whale on the back burner (it needs some heavy revisions before it’s ready to start shopping to publishers). I’ve written about 6,000 words this new secret project, and it’s much more personal than my other books. My goal is to finish the first draft by summer.
  • I’ve picked up the habit of reading a bit of poetry every night. With my own writing, I started with poetry, but then I kind of stopped reading it/writing it as I began to write fiction. However, there’s a power in imagery and musicality of language that I feel like my writing’s been lacking, so I’m hoping dipping back into poetry can revive those skills. I’ve since read Patrick Rosal’s Brooklyn  Antediluvian and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, and now I’m making my way through Sarah Kay’s No Matter the Wreckage and Jason Bayani’s Amulet.
  • I’ve consumed a ridiculous number of articles about the state of our country. I’ve attended protests and readings, I’ve had countless conversations with people about what’s going on. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do beyond writing fiction and teaching in a way that fosters empathy. No answers, yet.
  • For some self-care, I’ve been playing video games (Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, and FFXV), reading comics (Jonesy,Black PantherThe Arrival, Through the Woods, Love is Love), watching TV (Blackish, Modern Family, Fresh Off the Boat, This is Us, Steven Universe, Over the Garden Wall), and hiking (we went to Yosemite for the first time a couple of weeks ago!).
  • I’m still teaching high school English full time, and I’ve been prepping for a 17-day trip to Israel that leaves today. I’m going as a chaperone for our school’s junior class trip.

See–I have been doing stuff!*


*I’m speaking more to myself here than to any of you.


As a debut novelist, I lived with the constant fear that my first book would be so horrible or sell so poorly that I’d never publish anything ever again. Well, in your face, crippling self-doubt! I’ve sold my next YA novel to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Weekly:

After the Shot Drops - PW Announcement

And you can add it to your TBR shelf on Goodreads here!

I’m really excited to be working with editor Margaret Raymo (who works with such powerhouses as Lois Lowry, Kwame Alexander, and Barry Lyga) and with HMH (whose list includes such greats at The Giver, The Crossover, Curious George, The Little Prince, and many more).

I love the characters in story so much, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet them. (Sorry that it will take a couple of years. That’s just how publishing works.)

In the mean time, here are some GIFs to properly convey my emotions.


(Stay tuned for a post about the return of self-doubt.)



The first book I ever wrote was a YA zombie apocalypse novel. In my defense, this was before THE WALKING DEAD became a TV show, before WORLD WAR Z was made into a movie, and before the plethora of YA zombie novels that now exist.

It’s not very good.

Correction: it’s not good.

Mostly, for me it was about learning that I could write a novel. That I could make up some people and lead them through roughly 300 pages of made-up events. Along the way, one of the things I also learned is that Google is a ridiculously valuable research tool even for writers. But sometimes I had to Google things that made me uncomfortable, things that might make anyone just perusing my search history wonder if they should report me to the authorities. Here’s a sampling:

Types of guns

How to fire a gun

How to reload a gun 

Taste of human flesh 

Map of cave systems in US

(The story practically writes itself, eh?)

After that, I wrote two contemporary YA novels, so my search history mellowed out a bit. However, I’m getting ready to revise a dark fantasy story I’ve been working on, and the sketchiness factor has ratcheted up. Here’s what I’ve been scouring the Internet for in recent days:

Filipino myths and legends

Filipino ghost stories 

Map of Cemeterio Norte de Manila (North Cemetery of Manila) 

Cemetery squatters

Human corpse rate of decomposition 




Cult leader psychological profile 

Cult member psychological profile 





Bolo knife 

Sacrificial rituals

Aaaaaand that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Fellow writers, what are some of YOUR sketchiest search terms for the sake of story?



WELCOME HOME publishers marketplace announcement

I’m excited to announce that I’ll have a short story in a collection of YA adoption-themed short stories edited by Eric Smith, to be published by Jolly Fish Press in fall 2017. Check out his far more meaningful/detailed post about it over here at his site. Or, if you’re too lazy, here are some snippets:

“Welcome Home collects genre-spanning short stories centered around the theme of adoption, with tales about foster care, searching for birth parents, group homes, adopted siblings, struggling adoptive parents, and more by a number of amazing authors…The list includes Adi Alsaid, Dave Connis, Helene Dunbar, Kate Leth, Lauren Gibaldi, Libby Cudmore, Matthew Quinn Martin, Mindy McGinnis, Shannon Parker, Randy Ribay, Nic Stone, and many, many more we’re going to reveal over the coming months…The book will be out with Jolly Fish Press in the Fall of 2017. We’ll be donating the book’s royalties to organizations that work with adoptees and foster kids…I’m still looking for stories, particularly from diverse voices.”

(Aspiring–or established–authors, note that last line!)


NYC Teen Author Festival 2016


I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining a billion awesome YA authors as part of the NYC Teen Author Festival in March. I’ll be on a panel at the NY Public Library about writing realistic fiction on Fri, 3/18 and I’ll be signing at Books of Wonder on Sun, 3/20. If you’re around that weekend, I hope you can make it!

Here’s the entire festival schedule.