Author Archives: Carrie

Sick during the Holidays? See a Doctor Instantly with Amwell!

DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post with Mums the Word Network and Amwell. All opinions are my own.

If you’re a mom, you know the holidays can be hectic! Shopping, cooking, wrapping, visiting…and then one of the little ones gets a sniffle.  That sniffle turns into a cough, your kid coughs all night, no one gets any sleep.  AND, this always seems to happen on a holiday or weekend!

What if I told you there was a way you could visit with a doctor–anytime–from the comfort of your own home?  Well there is!

Amwell is the newest way to get your child or yourself seen by a doctor.  It’s all done online–via an app on your device or a visit to the website on the computer! You can choose from numerous doctors in practices such as psychology, nutrition, dermatology, and of course pediatrics.  These are all REAL, US trained, board certified doctors, so you can be sure you’re getting the best of care!


Once you go through the simple two step registration process, you can then choose the physician you want to consult with.


My child is fortunately feeling well, so I decided to meet with a dietary provider to speak about some issues I had been having during my third trimester of pregnancy.

Once you choose the type of doctor you need, you can then look through profiles and find the best fit for you.

I chose a dietician who was also a lactation consultant! Breastfeeding moms, how cool is it to know you can contact someone to help you with those latching questions in the middle of the night?

After answering a few questions about medical history and medications, I was connected with my provider in less than 10 minutes.  That’s definitely less than I would spend in a traditional waiting room!


The video was clear and flowed smoothly, and I never had any connection problems.  You get a 25 minute visit that can be extended is necessary.  I’m happy to say my chosen provider was courteous and knowledgeable.  I felt like I was talking to a friend!  I got quick and precise answers to my questions and she was very professional.

I would definitely not hesitate to use Amwell again in the future! Did I mention you can even get prescribed medications during your visit, and the prescription is sent to the pharmacy for you?! Amwell does accept some insurances, but if you are uninsured, a visit is around $49 or less.  You can even get your first visit FREE by using code CARENOW19 on the payment screen.

Next time your child is sick in the middle of the night, don’t wait till morning–use Amwell and get instant peace of mind.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Crow Made a Friend by Margaret Peot

Crow Made a Friend

by Margaret Peot

Children’s Fiction

Book Description

Try, try again is the lesson Crow teaches beginning readers in this picture book reader. Crow was all alone. But like all crows, he was very clever. Using autumn leaves for wings, sticks for the body and a crab apple for the head, Crow made a friend! But winter winds blew in, destroying his creation. Undaunted, Crow fashioned another bird friend out of snow but could not prevent it from melting in the warm spring sun. Alone again, Crow heard the caw, caw, caw of a real, live bird. Together they built a nest and by summer, Crow had a family. This warm, satisfying story, celebrates perseverance and ingenuity.



My first grader and I read this book together! It’s the perfect length for a bedtime story, not too wordy and with only a sentence or two on each page.

This book is about a crow who’s lonely, and tries to make himself friends.  The crow fails a couple of times, but he never quits.  I like that the lesson of perseverance is taught in the book in a way that’s not super blatant or detracts from the story.

The reason I took away one star is that I felt the ending was a little rushed and not something kids could understand–crow meets another crow and then suddenly there is a family?  As an adult, I got it I suppose, but my seven year old was like, “Mom, where did the family come from?”

My child’s favorite part was definitely the gorgeous illustrations.  He loved pointing out the crows’ beautiful and shiny feathers, especially on the last page when they were all together.

Crow Made a Friend is a super book for beginning readers and one your child will be happy to share with you.

About the Author

Margaret is an artist, writer and costume painter. Margaret has two new books out in 2015, Stencil Craft (F&W) and an early reader picture book, Crow Made a Friend (Holiday House). Margaret’s book Inkblot: Drip, Splat and Squish Your Way to Creativity (Boyds Mills 2011) was awarded a Eureka! Silver Medal for non-fiction children’s books. She is also the author of The Successful Artist’s Career Guide (F&W 2012), Alternative Art Journals (F&W 2012), and Make Your Mark (Chronicle Books, 2004), voted one of Library Journal’s best how-to books of 2004.

An avid believer that art making can be for everyone, Margaret has presented art workshops with cancer survivors, elders, children, parent and teen groups, writers, nurses and caregivers, at The Creative Center at University Settlement’s Creative Aging conferences, and their Artist-in-Residence Training program, with EngAGE Utah, at Gilda’s Club, The Huntsman Cancer Institute, Operation Exodus in NYC, and at Miami University’s Scripps center with Dr. Like Lokon, and Opening Minds Through Art.

Connect with Margaret

Website | | Facebook | Twitter Pinterest (Crow) | Pinterest (Birding)


Amazon | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble


One reader will receive a copy of Crow Made a Friend!

Let me know which animal is your child’s favorite in a comment below!


Beautify Your Staircase With These Simple Ideas

The right artwork on a staircase wall can greatly enhance the look of a home with minimal investment. You will probably come in closer, and more frequent, contact with this aspect of your home’s interior design than you do with many others, as you’ll pass right by it multiple times a day. To make sure you get just the look you’re going for, keep these tips in mind.

Dealing with Angles

Some homeowners find it challenging to accommodate the angular nature of their stairs when hanging art, but this doesn’t have to be a significant obstacle to decorating a staircase wall. A good rule of thumb is that the center of a picture should hang 60 inches above the stair to which it is centered. Follow this rule when hanging single pieces or a connected series. A single, large piece of art next to a staircase can create a bold, eye-catching statement. For a series, decide on a set interval of steps at which to hang each item. For example, you might hang one picture 60 inches above every fourth step. This will ensure that your pieces are perfectly spaced and that they follow the angle of the stairs. Lay your chosen artwork out on the floor before hanging it to make sure you like the look the series creates. It’s usually a good idea to choose pieces with similar mats and frames in order to create cohesiveness.


Image from

Family Photo Gallery

A staircase wall is an ideal place to showcase family photos for multiple reasons. There is often plenty of wall space that isn’t taken up by furniture or other obstructions. This is also a central feature of the home, used by all family members throughout the day, so it makes sense to use this space to celebrate the family’s most treasured memories.

Unlike works of art, which usually work better in moderation, family photos are often displayed in large clusters. This can create a challenge – you want to find a balance between clustering your photos and ending up with a space that looks busy or cluttered. The goal is for viewers to be able to appreciate both the overall look, and each individual image. One way to create a visual anchor is to establish an unbroken vertical and horizontal line running through your photo cluster. Another is to start with a large piece in the center of your staircase and cluster smaller photos around it. You could also group your photos into a series of larger rectangles that progress up your stairs.

Ultimately, the look you choose should be pleasing to you – after all, you’re the one who will be living with it every day. Select an approach that you feel works best with your space, and go for it!

Fill Your Kids’ Holiday Free Time with TROVE, the MMO

The Thanksgiving and then Christmas holidays are right around the corner, and of course that means our kids will be out of school.  If you have a tween or teen, you know that it’s usually not long before you will hear, “Mom, I’m bored!”

I’d like to introduce you to a fun way to occupy your kids’ time this season!  Trove is an MMO, or massive multiplayer online game that is totally free to play.

Adventure, explore, and create in Trove, the acclaimed voxel RPG set in a massive universe of online worlds. Whether hunting treasure in far-off lands or building realms of your own, it’s never been this good to be square!

 If your kids like Minecraft, they will probably love Trove.


I downloaded the game and gave it a few hours playing time.  The download itself took less than 15 minutes, but it probably would have been faster if I also hadn’t been watching Netflix at the time :D

Once you start the game, you are free to choose who you’d like to be, where you’d like to go, and what you’d like to do!  Want to be a knight, ninja, or faerie? Raid dungeons, or build a cool home?  You can do it all and more in Trove.

The gameplay is controlled with the keyboard and is easy to learn, though if you’re not a super-experienced gamer, you may want to make a cheat sheet of sorts to keep in front of you until the keys become second nature.

It didn’t take long before I was engrossed in battle just by exploring the world around me, but you can also just hang out at your home base and build things just the way you like.  In Trove, you can take on as much or as little action as you want!

I recommend Trove to kids 10 and older who maybe have already played and loved other MMORPG’s, and building games such as Minecraft.  The game isn’t hard to learn, but good reading skills are important if you want to achieve your quests.  This is also a great game for kids and parents to play together!

Trove is free to download and play, and is available for both PC and Mac. Discover the cool new gaming craze before all your friends do!

REVIEW: DuckyMeter Bath Thermometer by Ozeri

If you’re a mom of a newborn, there is already so much to worry about.  Taking your baby to the tub should be a fun, relaxing time for both of you!  If you’re never quite sure that your baby’s bath water is the right temperature, it’s time to get a bath thermometer. The DuckyMeter from Ozeri is one fun choice!


The DuckyMeter is an automatic digital bath thermometer that can tell you within seconds if the bath water you are running is too hot, too cold, or just right for your baby.

It doesn’t hurt that this device looks just like a toy! In this manner, it won’t look out of place among the other baby stuff around your tub ;) The DuckyMeter also features a soft yet durable outer cover that won’t harm baby if used as a toy in the tub.


The indicator light is super bright and the digital numbers are very easy to read.  The thermometer starts working instantly and works as long as it is in the water.  When you take it out, it automatically shuts off, so no worrying about the battery draining daily.

The DuckyMeter from Ozeri is a perfect tool to help you feel more at ease about bathing your baby.  It should be noted that you should always also check the water’s temp with your arm or elbow. Checking in more than one way will ensure your baby’s comfort, and ensure you and your baby some great bonding time.

GIVEAWAY: The 33–America’s Next Can’t Miss Film!

From Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures comes the untold true story of “The 33.”

In 2010, the eyes of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners had been buried alive by the catastrophic collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine. Over the next 69 days, an international team worked night and day in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men as their families and friends, as well as millions of people globally, waited and watched anxiously for any sign of hope. But 200 stories beneath the surface, in the suffocating heat and with tensions rising, provisions—and time—were quickly running out.

A story of resilience, personal transformation and triumph of the human spirit, the film takes us to the Earth’s darkest depths, revealing the psyches of the men trapped in the mine, and depicting the courage of both the miners and their families who refused to give up.

Based on the gripping true story of survival—and filmed with the cooperation of the miners, their families and their rescuers—“The 33” captures the never-before-seen actual events that unfolded, above and below ground, which became nothing less than a worldwide phenomenon.

The international cast is led by Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”), James Brolin, and Lou Diamond Phillips, with Bob Gunton and Gabriel Byrne. The cast also includes Mario Casas, Jacob Vargas, Juan Pablo Raba, Oscar Nuñez, Tenoch Huerta, Marco Treviño, Adriana Barraza, Kate Del Castillo, Cote de Pablo, Elizabeth De Razzo and Naomi Scott.

“The 33” was filmed on location in Chile’s harshly remote yet breathtakingly beautiful Atacama desert just kilometers away from where the event took place, and deep within two mines located in central Colombia.

“The 33” is a presentation of Alcon Entertainment, co-founded by CEOs Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson. A Phoenix Pictures production, the film is being distributed domestically and in select international territories by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. This film has been rated PG-13 for a disaster sequence and some language.



ANTONIO BANDERAS (Mario Sepúlveda) has received praise for his performances in film, television and theater, as well as behind the camera as a director.
Upcoming, Banderas stars in the films “Knights of Cups,” directed by Terrence Malick; “Security,” with Ben Kingsley; and Hugh Hudson’s “Altamira.”
He has earned three Golden Globe Award nominations, for his performances in Alan Parker’s big-screen adaptation of the musical “Evita,” opposite Madonna; Martin Campbell’s action adventure “The Mask of Zorro,” opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones; and the HBO movie “And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself,” in which he starred in the title role. Banderas also received an Emmy Award nomination for the last.

RODRIGO SANTORO (Laurence Golborne) was most recently seen in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s “Focus,” starring alongside Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Additionally, Santoro starred in Gavin O’Connor’s “Jane Got a Gun,” alongside Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton.
Upcoming, Santoro stars in the independent biopic “Pelé: Birth of a Legend,” on which he also serves as an associate producer. His upcoming projects also include Steven Bernstein’s indie drama “Dominion,” about the last days of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas; “Ben-Hur,” in which he portrays Jesus Christ; and the HBO series “Westworld,” based on the sci-fi feature of the same name.

JULIETTE BINOCHE (María Segovia) is an Academy Award-winning actress who has been recognized internationally for her work on the screen. She has the distinction of being the only person to win Best Actress honors at all three of Europe’s premier film festivals, most recently including the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for “Certified Copy.” She previously won both the Volpi Cup and Pasinetti Award for “Three Colors: Blue” at the 1993 Venice Film Festival, and the Silver Bear at the 1997 Berlin Film Festival for Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient.”

JAMES BROLIN (Jeff Hart) is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor whose work runs the gamut from studio blockbusters to prestigious independent projects.
He is currently starring in the new CBS hit series “Life in Pieces,” which centers on one family via stories told by its different members. Brolin plays patriarch John Short, alongside Thomas Sadoski, Betsy Brandt, Colin Hanks, and, as the family matriarch, Dianne Wiest.

LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS (Don Lucho) has enjoyed great success as an actor, director, writer and producer across a myriad of platforms, including feature films, television and theatre.
On television, Phillips currently stars on the acclaimed hit drama “Longmire,” based on the Walt Longmire mystery novels by Craig Johnson. Phillips plays Henry Standing Bear, Longmire’s closest friend. The show is currently airing on Netflix.
Upcoming, Phillips has new projects for the stage and screen. He plays a pivotal role on the new hit NBC series “Blindspot,” in episodes that begin airing this November. On the big screen, he will star as Richard Ramirez in the independent thriller “The Night Stalker,” opposite Bellamy Young, for award-winning writer/director Megan Griffiths. In addition, Phillips wrote and is starring in the play “Burning Desire,” which will make its world premiere at the Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, Connecticut.


PATRICIA RIGGEN (Director) is today one of the few Latin American female directors working in Hollywood. Originally from Mexico, she started her career as a screenwriter, producer and film executive at the Mexican Film Institute. She later moved to New York to earn an MFA in directing and screenwriting at Columbia University.
Her thesis film, “The Cornfield,” a period short film set during the Mexican revolution, screened at more than 30 international film festivals and received 20 awards, among them the Student Academy Award, the Mexican Academy Award for Best Short Film, the Student Emmy and a Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award.
MIKE MEDAVOY (Producer) has played a role in the success of some of the best American films over the past 35 years. From talent agent to studio chief to producer, he has been involved in more than 300 feature films, of which seven have won, and 17 have been nominated for, Best Picture Oscars. They have also garnered numerous other awards, including many international film festival awards and guild honors.

ROBERT KATZ (Producer) has more than 24 years experience in worldwide film production, development and finance with over 23 motion pictures alongside highly accomplished writers, directors, actors and crews. The feature films on which he has served have earned a total of 13 Academy Award nominations, with three wins, and more than $850,000,000 in worldwide box office revenues.


To help celebrate the film’s NOVEMBER 13 release, Warner Bros has provided me with a gift pack to give away to one commenter!  You will receive a t-shirt and a flashlight.  Tell me if you plan on seeing this movie!

Preparing to Build a Deck

Are you looking for a way to improve the appearance and value of your home at the same time? There are quite a few ways you can go about doing this. The method you choose will have a lot to do with your budget and the size of your house. One of the most popular home improvements is a deck. There is a great deal of complexity involved with building a deck. Because of this, most people opt to hire a contractor to handle the assembling of the deck. Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind when you are preparing to build a deck.

1. Decide on a design for your deck

There are many different sizes and styles of decks you can choose from. It is very important that you finalize all of the details for your deck before work is started on it. The larger the deck that you decide to build, the more it is going to cost. Be careful not to get carried away if you have a limited budget.

2. Find a contractor to build it

It is unlikely that you will be handling the building chores for your deck on your own. Therefore, you will need to spend some time consulting various contractors in your area to find out what they have to say about your project. They may have some suggestions of their own regarding how to build your deck better for less money. These people are professionals and they build decks all the time. This is why you should listen very carefully to what they have to say. Strongly consider the advice they give you. They will also give you a quote for how much they will charge to build your deck. You will be able to find many pre-manufactured elevated decking components at

3. Get the permits and plan a schedule

You will need to consult your local city government whenever you build any type of addition to your home. You can’t simply build a deck without first getting permission. You will also need to get permission if any digging is going to be required. Once all of the proper permits have been secured, it will be time to make a schedule. You will need to figure out exactly how long it is going to take to build your deck. Try to have it built in the nicest weather possible.

Two for Thursday Book Blitz & Giveaway: Shadows Fall Away by Kit Forbes and Last Siege of Haven (The Undertakers #4) by Ty Drago #T4T



Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T
presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!

Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy,
and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!

You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you:

Shadows Fall Away by Kit Forbes and
Last Siege of Haven (The Undertakers #4) by Ty Drago

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!



Mark Stewart is one incident away from becoming a juvenile delinquent, and his parents have had enough. They ship Mark off to London, England, to stay with his eccentric aunt Agatha who is obsessed with all things Jack the Ripper. After a strange twist of luck, Mark is struck by lightning, and he wakes to find himself in 1888 Victorian London. His interest in a string of murders Scotland Yard has yet to solve make him a likely suspect. After all, why would a young boy like Mark know so much about the murders? Could he be the ripper they’ve been searching for? Convinced the only way to get back home is to solve the murders, Mark dives headfirst into uncovering the truth. Mark’s only distraction comes in the form of the beautiful Genie Trembly, a girl who is totally out of his league and who may have already caught the attention of the infamous ripper. To save her, he’ll endanger both their lives, and risk being trapped in the past forever.

add to goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD | iBooks | Google Play | BAM | Chapters | IndieBound




“If you enjoy YA time-travel mysteries, I think you’ll like this fast-paced novel.”Kimber Leigh Wheaton, Author


“I found Shadows Fall Away to be extremely engrossing. It’s the type of book you want to start and finish in one day because you can’t put it down.”Jennifer Bardsley, Author


“’Shadows Fall Away’ is a gripping and imaginative young adult novel that mixes time travel, historical fiction, and mystery to keep readers on the edge of their seats.” – Stephanie, A Dream Within A Dream



Kit Forbes

Kit Forbes has  been a lover of books, history, and all things paranormal for as long as she can remember. She lives in Western Pennsylvania with her youngest daughter and an assortment of cats who give new meaning to the world bizarre.

 Author Links:  Website | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest



While away on an undercover mission, Undertaker Will Ritter has made an unthinkable alliance…with a Corpse! But though Robert Dillin (aka ‘The Zombie Prince’) is indeed one of those alien invaders who animate and possess the bodies of the dead — unlike the rest of his kind, Dillin isn’t evil. In fact, he wants to help. And Will needs that help, because the Queen of the Dead has learned the location of Haven, the Undertakers’ secret HQ, and is planning a massive and deadly assault.

With the last day of the Corpse War finally upon them, Will and his friends find themselves in a desperate race to close the Rift between worlds and forever kill the Corpses. But can they do before Haven is overrun?

For that matter, can they do it at all?

add to goodreads

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Over all I really liked the book. It was literally nonstop action and I read most of it on one night because it was so great.” – Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer


“Ty Drago, an extremely talented author, has once again proven the adult mind can be as creative and intuitive as a child’s.”Ryan – Amazon Reviewer


“Fantastic conclusion to the series! Has us on the edge of our seats, and by the end, cheering and crying at the same time.” – Felicia, Amazon Reviewer



Ty Drago

Ty Drago does his writing just across the river from Philadelphia, where the Undertakers novels take place.  In addition to The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses,The Undertakers: Queen of the Dead, and The Undertakers: Secret of the Corpse Eater, he is the author of The Franklin Affair and Phobos, as well as short stories and articles that have appeared in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest.  He currently lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and best friend, the real Helene Drago née Boettcher.

 Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads






REVIEW: Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne

Everything She Forgot 

by Lisa Ballantyne


Book Description

They’re calling it the worst pile-up in London history. Driving home, Margaret Holloway has her mind elsewhere—on a troubled student, her daughter’s acting class, the next day’s meeting—when she’s rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage. Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the car just seconds before it’s engulfed in flames. Then he simply disappears.

Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret feels that something’s wrong. She’s having trouble concentrating. Her emotions are running wild. More than that, flashbacks to the crash are also dredging up lost associations from her childhood, fragments of events that were wiped from her memory. Whatever happened, she didn’t merely forget—she chose to forget. And somehow, Margaret knows deep down that it’s got something to do with the man who saved her life.

As Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very identity, Everything She Forgot winds through a riveting dual narrative and asks the question: How far would you go to hide the truth—from yourself…?

3 fleur


Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne

I suppose this book was marketed as a mystery/thriller, but I saw the plot coming from pretty early on. The best thing about this novel is the rich character development. The author gives you a background on almost all the major players, and it really offers a lot of insight into why these people might act the way they do.

Yes, the plot does involve a kidnapping of sorts–but in how many novels do you actually feel sorry for the kidnapper, and even see him as a kind of hero? The author crafts her characters in such a way that you can’t help but connect to (almost) all of them.

I finished the book quite quickly once I got into it, but it did take me a while to get into it because of all the time, point of view, and location switches. Once the story starts rolling nicely though, it really takes off. Sometimes, when you’re caught up in what was going on with Margaret and George in 1985, it’s a bit annoying to be thrown back into Margaret’s story in 2013.

I truly did love the way the entire novel unfolded. I don’t think there could have been a better ending. I wish I could have seen one particular character get his comeuppance, but in my opinion it was implied that shortly after the events of the book, his life begins to fall apart. My rating of 3.5 is because although I liked the book, some of it was very predictable, and also, I didn’t like being thrown back and forth between time in the way I was. It works for some novels but I found it disjointed in this one.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to root for the underdog, and loves an unconventional family story.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Lisa Ballantyne is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated The Guilty One. She spent most of her twenties working and living in China, before returning to the UK in 2002. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.


Super Middle Grade Mondays Blitz & Giveaway: Author Spotlight – Charles Curtis #SuperMGMondays



Welcome to this week’s Super Middle Grade Mondays Book Blitz
presented by Tantrum Books/Month9books!

Today, we get up close and personal with

Charles Curtis

author of Strange Country Day
from Tantrum Books.

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis is a writer and journalist based in New York City. He has reported and written for publications including (where he is currently the site’s sports buzz reporter), The Daily,, ESPN the Magazine, Bleacher Report, TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. Charles has covered the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, golf, tennis and NASCAR. He has also written about television, film and pop culture.

In addition, Curtis has also written, produced and was featured in videos for and The Daily. He has made radio appearances on stations including 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine, WLIE 540 AM in Long Island and on morning shows across Canada via the CBC.
He can be reached on Twitter: @charlescurtis82.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


As a young 8th grade writer who published his first story in my school’s literary magazine, I was always encouraged to write what I know.

So when I sat down to write STRANGE COUNTRY DAY, I immediately knew my protagonist, Alexander Graham Ptuiac, would be a tall, skinny sports-loving new kid just starting middle school and trying to fit in. That’s because, at the age of 12, I was a tall, skinny sports-loving new kid just starting middle school and trying to fit in.

Alex’s first day of school starts out with a bang: During 7th grade orientation, he’s pulled into a room with his classmates for a ritual known as “Fresh Meet Friday.” When the event turns into a riot involving the older 9th graders, Alex discovers he has previously unknown superhero-like powers that propel him to punch the ringleader in the nose.

Unfortunately, my first day of middle school wasn’t nearly as mind-blowing as Alex’s, but I did draw a little bit from experience. I attended a private school where I was one of many new kids faced with making friends with a whole new group of students, many of whom already knew each other. Luckily, there were no hazing rituals I was forced to participate in (unluckily, I didn’t have comic book-like powers, either), but in STRANGE COUNTRY DAY, I tried to capture that same nervousness I felt about walking into a –well – strange environment, trying to fit in and attempting to adjust to an increased workload and new schedule.

In the past few years, I’ve often joked about how my interests in those days – I visited a comic book shop once a week to pick up my stack and played the card game Magic: The Gathering every day at lunch – are suddenly trendy now and lamented about how I would have been much happier if I’d been a middle schooler in 2015. But I realize now just how influential both were on my creativity and imagination.

The other huge influence? Sports, of course. I spent countless nights in front of the television (I promise, Mom and Dad, it was after my homework was done…most of the time) or at one of the many New York stadiums/arenas, taking in any and all Mets, Giants, Knicks or Rangers games I could watch. I always wish I could go back in time and tell my middle school self that one day I’d find myself in the press box at those very same arenas and stadiums. Middle School Charles would be blown away.

The one thing that truly separates me from Alex? With the help of those aforementioned powers, he ends up joining his school’s football team as a quarterback. Despite my love for the game of football, I didn’t have half the athleticism to even begin to think about playing on the gridiron.

But hey, adults – especially authors – are allowed to reimagine their pasts too, right?



Alexander Graham Ptuiac, the son of an inventor, wants to play for the school’s football team. During tryouts, and under the watchful eye of the team’s coach, he suddenly manifests mysterious superhuman powers. Alexander makes the team, but not before the some ill-intended adults take notice, putting his life in danger.

Alex struggles to suppress and control his strange new abilities, worried about exposing his secret and being kicked off the football team. Then he befriends Dex, a diminutive classmate who can somehow jump as high as ten feet in the air. Seems Alex isn’t the only one at school with a secret.

As the school year unfolds, Alex will find himself the target of bullies, holding hands with his first crush and discovering the shocking truth about himself and his parents.

add to goodreads

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