Greetings everyone! What monumentally tough times we are going through as Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter continue to cause worldwide uncertainty, anger, reflection, and loss. Often, I find that escaping into books helps me feel a little less overwhelmed, while opening up captivating worlds inhabited by relatable and courageous characters.
Not surprisingly, middle grade fiction is my favorite genre to read and write! Among the recent titles I couldn't put down are Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams, From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, and My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi. I also loved Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte, The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O'Shaughnessy, and The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead. I highly recommend each of these fabulous books.
By the way, the right-side photo at the very top is little me when I was almost twelve, the same age as my main character, Lizzy! Even though the pandemic forced me to cancel my official book launch at the Town Book Store and subsequent school events, Lizzy and Until the Ocean Freezes are continuing to attract attention. I couldn't be more excited that my debut novel is making a mark -- albeit a tiny one -- in the world of middle grade literature!
Until the Ocean Freezes was selected as one of a small sampling of indie books to be included in the May 1 edition of the Kirkus Reviews magazine. Kirkus praised UTOF as "a well-written tale for tweens that may spark conversations about dealing with crucial changes." Click here to read the full review.
In addition, on May 25, I was featured in blogger Melissa Roske's "Ask the Author" series, and a few days earlier, Paula Tursi, the founder of my yoga studio, Reflections Center for Conscious Living & Yoga, interviewed me about my writing process for her "Community Chat" program; listen here.
Until the Ocean Freezes (available on on Amazon and in select bookstores) tells the story of a tough summer in Lizzy's life. Why is it so hard? Because she has to move to a new home, plus she's worried about her dad whose multiple sclerosis is worsening. It's a lot for an eleven-year-old to deal with, which is why Lizzy needs to find friends who understand what she's going through. That's where Cassandra and Walt come in. You'll have to read the book to meet these engrossing characters.
If you click here, you can read an excerpt and listen to an audio sample recorded by yours truly. Inside UTOF you'll find a scattering of Lizzy's drawings (she's an artist and favors colored pencils) created by my twin sister, Shantih Clemans, and my niece, Chloe Clemans Shapiro. They beautifully capture Lizzy's creativity and imagination. Drawing helps Lizzy cope with her sadness and anxiety, while building up her confidence.
Before schools shut down due to the pandemic, I had a wonderful time reading Until the Ocean Freezes to middle school students. Their enthusiasm, passion for the writing process, and incredibly thoughtful questions and observations have filled me with such joy and gratitude. I've made some read-aloud videos, co-starring my dog, Spencer, that students at home may enjoy watching.
Thanks to everyone (family, friends, students, co-workers, and fellow writers) who helped me reach this moment. I appreciate you so much! Please take a moment to review my book on Amazon or Goodreads.
Special thanks to my readers, young and not so young. You make it all worthwhile. I'm working on my second book, which will continue Lizzy's story. I promise to keep you updated.
Stay safe, wear your mask, and happy reading! Better days are ahead.
Here's a photo of me with Shantih.
Can you tell who's who?