Conquest of Greystone Valley is Available to Pre-Order!

Conquest of Greystone Valley“Quick! Everybody count your fingers and toes!”

Halloween seems like a long way off, but in less than three months Conquest of Greystone Valley will be on the shelves! The sequel to Greystone Valley, this novel takes Sarah back to the world between worlds, where she and her friends must face a new villain who now rules the valley with an iron fist.

Conquest of Greystone Valley is now available for pre-order through Grey Gecko Press! To see what Sarah and the gang are up to, click the link below and reserve your copy!

Preorder Now:


Image: Jessica von Braun

6 Reasons a Library Card is More Useful Than You Think

Public Library

September is Library Card Sign-up Month, which targets the 40-50% of modern Americans who don’t currently have library cards. In the day and age of the Internet and easy access to information from virtually any device, one might wonder what role libraries still play. Can your local public library still enrich your kid’s life?

Well, this would be an awfully short blog entry if the answer was “No.” Although libraries have more technology and better computers than they did when I was a kid, they still play about the same role – they’re a great way for kids to direct their own reading, do research, and build social skills.

Why should your kid have a library card in a world where and Wikipedia are accessible with a moment’s notice? Here’s a few of the advantages that libraries still offer even in a world of easy Internet access.

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Sorry, but I’m Perfectly Happy if my Daughter is a Girly Girl

Princess Crown

“Don’t let your daughter be a girly girl.”

This is something that multiple people have told me. I’ve been warned not to let my daughter dress in pink, not to show her Disney Princess movies, and to generally shelter her from the things that modern society associates with femininity. And while I can see good intentions behind that thinking, I disagree with it.

I recently wrote a novel called Conquest of Greystone Valley, which is targeted toward young adult girls. It’s a sequel to my previous novel, Greystone Valley, which I wrote before I started giving any thought toward gender politics in fiction. This time around, I started thinking about the girly girl conundrum, so to speak.

I hadn’t written Greystone Valley with gender in mind, but I was happy in retrospect that it had several strong role-models for girls. As an author, that’s a good thing – I’ve written stories that don’t pass basics like the Bechdel Test, and it’s kind of a lousy feeling to have that be your blind spot.

However, one thing I did notice about my story is that the protagonist, Sarah, was very much a tomboy. And actually, the most common way that writers make a “strong” female character is to make her more masculine. A good example in Disney films would be Merida and Mulan.

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The Awesome Silliness of Fantasy RPGs

Flumph GoblinsOriginally posted on

If you’re a fan of role-playing games, you probably got introduced to the game through a little thing called Dungeons & Dragons. It may have come by a different name back then, such as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but the general gist remains the same. In my unscientific study, about 99% of gamers were found to have come into the hobby via some iteration of D&D.

I’ve hopped around a lot in the RPG hobby, and while I got off the D&Dtrain, my current game of choice, Pathfinder, is an extremely close cousin of the world’s first role-playing game. While there are a lot of reasons I tend to stick close to the D&D tradition, one of the major ones is the oddball humor that the game’s history is steeped in.

I like a good beer and pretzels game, where the play is fairly casual and the jokes are frequent. And when it comes to D&D-style fantasy, the jokes have been baked into the game for decades now.

Read more at the Screamsheet!

You’re More Likely to Forget a Kid in the Car Than You Think

Kid in CarEvery summer, there are entirely too many cases of children dying in hot cars. Despite this being many parents’ worst fear, it happens to an average of 37 children every year. And the really unfortunate thing about these tragedies is they can happen to anybody – even you.

It doesn’t take a negligent parent to forget their child. It doesn’t even take an absent-minded one. Sadly, the reason so many kids get forgotten in the back seat of the car during the summer boils down to biology. Our brains are betraying us. Preventing this problem means outsmarting human nature.

The human brain is a powerful tool, but its attempts to streamline the decision-making process sometimes leads to bad results. If you’ve ever found yourself on autopilot while grocery shopping, that’s this phenomenon at work. When something gets done often enough to become muscle memory, the brain will free up thoughts for more complex tasks.

The brain creates a neural pathway for everything we do, and that pathway gets stronger as a task becomes habit. I can walk through my house with my eyes closed because it’s so familiar, but a slight change could cause me to walk into a wall. My brain might not account for the new information.

If your kids are in school or daycare for most of the year, your brain might be used to that fact and might not always adjust to changes in the routine. These changes tend happen most often in the summer, which is also the most dangerous time to forget something so important.

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Could the Sugar High Really be a Parenting Urban Legend?

Sugar Rush

It’s a story that every parent knows: you bake some cookies or take your kid to the fair, and an hour later they’re bouncing off the walls and driving you crazy. Bloody sugar highs. But almost 20 years of research indicates that the legendary sugar high doesn’t really exist at all.

If you’re anything like me, the suggestion that a sugar rush is a myth has you shaking your head. I don’t care what kind of research they’ve done. I don’t care that studies dating as far back as 1994 all come to the same conclusion. This phenomenon must exist because I’ve seen it myself.

Or have I? Maybe seeing isn’t believing. Maybe because I’ve been told from an early age that sugar causes you to get hyper, and because I myself used to go nuts when I had sugary treats as a kid, my own brain is wired to see signs that aren’t really there.

Mark Wolraich, MD of Johns Hopkins University was part of that 1994 study and part of numerous studies afterward that examined hyperactivity in children. The conclusions have remained the same for more than 20 years: sugar doesn’t necessarily get kids wired, but it does make parents look for signs of misbehavior.

Do kids get wound up after parties, trips to the carnival, and other events where sugar is plentiful? Yes, but it’s more excitement than sugar. The most common places where kids get sugar are events that excite them, making them more likely to go nuts and less likely to listen to their parents.

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Conquest of Greystone Valley: Coming Halloween 2016!

Conquest of Greystone Valley

Another bolt of lightning struck Sarah. It tickled this time.

With cover art by the amazing Jessica von Braun and the help of a terrific editorial team at Grey Gecko Press, Conquest of Greystone Valley will soon be on the shelves!

A mysterious new villain has conquered Greystone Valley and done her best to keep Sarah from returning. But armed with friends old and new, she’s ready to enter the world between worlds once again!

Conquest of Greystone Valley will be available for sale on October 31st. In the meantime, keep an eye over at the Grey Gecko Press store, where you’ll have a chance to preorder it soon!


Image: Jessica von Braun