Joshua David Bellin: Blog Tour Stop for SCAVENGER OF SOULS.

I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Joshua David Bellin’s sequel to his amazing post apocalyptic debut SURVIVAL COLONY 9.  SCAVENGER OF SOULS continues the story and had me riveted from the very first page. I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for this fantastic book which launches tomorrow. You can check out my review for SCAVENGER OF SOULS on goodreads:

About the book:   Querry Genn is running out of time. He may have saved his survival colony and defeated a nest of the monstrous Skaldi, but that doesn’t mean he has any more answers to who he is. And Querry’s mother, Aleka, isn’t talking. Instead, she’s leading the colony through a wasteland of unfamiliar territory. When they reach Aleka’s destination, everything Querry believed about his past is challenged.

In the middle of a burned-out desert, an entire compound of humans has survived with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists find no welcome there, especially from Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as he is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and her colony, the more he uncovers the gruesome secrets that haunt Mercy’s past—and his own.

With threats mounting from the Skaldi and the other humans, Querry must grapple with the past and fight to save the future. In the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with Survival Colony 9, JSOS_compSMSoshua David Bellin narrates a tale of sacrifice, courage against overwhelming odds, and the fateful choices that define us for a lifetime.

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Age: 12+

Release date: August 23, 2016

For order links, visit

Available in hardcover and e-book

Praise for Josh’s first book, Survival Colony 9:

Tantalizing mysteries abound among the human and inhuman inhabitants of the bleak landscape, and the post-apocalyptic plot is satisfyingly full of twists.—Booklist

Joshua David Bellin brings serious game in a post-apocalyptic thriller that collides breathless action with devious world building and genuine heart. A terrific novel!—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and V-Wars

Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, Survival Colony 9 is both an adventure and an exploration of what it means to be human.—Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times bestselling author of the Missing Series

I asked Josh about the series and whether there will be more “survival” stories and how he conducted research for the books:  Here’s his response:  I consider the Survival Colony series complete in the sense that Scavenger of Souls wraps up Querry Genn’s story. But I’ve been thinking about how much fun it would be to write a prequel, narrating the events before Querry’s time: the wars, the first appearance of the Skaldi, the rise of the survival colonies. We’ll see if that ever comes to fruition!
Regarding the research I do for a series like this: since it’s science fiction, I had to make sure the fiction was founded in science. So, for example, a few of the things I had to research were how long canned goods remain edible, which parts of a truck’s engine could crack due to heat, how viruses overwhelm host cells, and what scientists have discovered about certain types of bacteria that live directly off electrons. No matter how seemingly bizarre the events were in the book, I wanted them to have plausible explanations!
 About the author:

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, with the sequel, Scavenger of Souls, set to release on August 23, 2016. A third YA science fiction novel, the deep-space adventure/romance Freefall, will appear in 2017.

Launch party portrait 2Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

To find out more about Josh and his books, visit him at the following:







Happy Birthday National Parks!

August 25, 2016 marks the 100th birthday of the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.  As film maker Ken Burns said…it was one of America’s “best Ideas”.  Some of the most beautiful and breathtaking views are preserved for us and future generations thanks to the system that set aside land in all 50 states for public enjoyment.

How many National Parks have you visited?  Which one is your favorite?  Here is a view from ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK in Colorado.  2014-09-17 01.39.11









National Parks feature some of the most amazing sights and opportunities to view wildlife.  On a recent hike in Rocky Mountain National Park  I spotted these wonders.

2014-09-17 01.33.312014-09-16 04.43.552014-09-16 04.44.44HERE ARE SOME FUN FACTS:

Can you name the National Park that is home to mountain goats and bighorn sheep?  (Glacier National Park)

Which park’s mountain range grows 1/2 inch each year?   (Grand Teton National Park)

Which park features more than 300 geysers?  (Yellowstone National Park)

For more FUN FACTS about the 10 most visited national parks in the US visit:

For a round up of some of the best National Parks in all 50 states visit:

Why not celebrate the Centennial of our National Parks by visiting one soon.  You’ll be amazed.

Make Some Blackberry Jam.

My local farmer’s market has a bumper crop of blackberries this time of year.  Many markets even offer a “Pick your own” option.  While the berries are perfectly delicious to eat right out of hand, they are also yummy to have year round.  You can have the “taste of summer” by getting the kids together to make some homemade blackberry jam.  This recipe is courtesy of my blogging friend Katey Howes:  Visit her wonderful blog with reflections on motherhood and all kinds of fun activities for kids:

2015-08-09 02.32.52

Smash blackberries to make 2 2/3 cups fruit. Put to boil with 2/3 cup water or juice, 3 TBSP low-sugar pectin. When it boils, add up to a cup of sugar (or equivalent of no sugar sweetener) and a teeny tiny pat of butter. Stir and boil hard for one minute. I just put it up in jars for fridge or freezer, but you can can it by processing filled & sealed jars for 10 minutes. Makes about 5 pints.

How’s that for easy?  Use it on toast, muffins, waffles or as a topping for ice cream.  YUM!

Easy No Bake Key Lime Pie.

For me, the taste of Key Lime Pie and summer go together.  That tart, sweet taste just can’t be beat for a refreshing and satisfying treat.  This recipe is super easy – and kid friendly.  You need only 5 ingredients: graham crackers, butter, limes, heavy whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk.

****You will need to juice the 4 limes ahead of time and put the juice in the freezer for an hour or so so that it is cold and partly frozen.****  Before you do this, ZEST the peels so you can add this to the mix.  See photo: 2015-08-05 00.35.14

Instead of a store bought crust that has a lot of “junk” and tastes store bought, I like to make my crust from scratch.  IT IS SO EASY, THE KIDS CAN DO IT!

CRUST: Crush one sleeve of graham crackers into crumbs.  You can use a food processor or put them onto a zipper lock gallon sized bag and take turns crushing with a rolling pin until the crumbs look like Panko bread crumbs.  Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a saucepan.  Stir in the crumbs until coated.  Press this mixture into the sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie pan.  pie 1

Set aside.

Whip 1 C of heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Fold in one can of sweetened condensed milk, the lime juice and zest. Stir until blended.

Pour into the crust.  Freeze until firm –  usually 4 hours or overnight.

Enjoy this tart and tangy summer treat anytime you want  since no baking is required. 

key lime pieIt may not be quite what you get at Blue Heaven restaurant in Key West, but, it will taste yummy just the same. 

Let me know what you think! 

More Summer Fun and Games.

It only feels like summer is over.  There is still plenty of time for fun and games.  If your kids are bored or you just want them to enjoy some fun away from technology, check out these sites for some ideas:

  1.  For some old-fashioned jump rope rhymes try:

2.  For imaginative platy and telling stories with nature here’s a wonderful site hosted by my writer friend Katey Howes:…th-nature/

3.  For great summer crafts for kids of all ages:

Here’s another site for dozens of ideas for summer or rainy days.  This site even has light sabers, salt dough dinosaurs, bubble art, weaving, and plastic flowers to name just a few.

Other ideas:  Make ice pops by putting your favorite juice in paper cups with a popsicle or craft stick resting in each.  Freeze until firm.  Tear away the paper and enjoy.    Water balloon catch is perfect for a hot afternoon.  Bubbles provide endless hours of fun for even the youngest kids. Go on a NATURE WALK and look for things in unexpected places.  Even in your own back yard you can find nests of birds, rabbits, a butterfly chrysalis, caterpillars and the like.  Nurture the young scientists in your house and discover the wonders of the great outdoors.

What do you like to do for fun?!


Take a Trip to a Hall of Fame.

Feel like summer is slipping away?  Haven’t had a chance to do something unique and fun?  There’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy a weekend road trip to one of the numerous HALLS OF FAME found in just about every state in the USA.  Here are a few to sample:

  1. National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester NY will have something for everyone from grandparents to toddlers.  Find the Easy-Bake Oven, View-Master, Star Wars Figures and many more.  There are interactive displays and hands on exhibits as well.

2. Robot Hall of Fame in Pittsburgh, PA lets you test your skills in air hockey and basketball against a robot.  You also get a behind the scenes look at the making of “famous” robot friends such as WALL-E, and C-3PO.  Robotics fans will have a blast.

3. The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, WI combines art and appreciation.  Next to stats on world record catches for more than 125 species of fish, there are antique lures and a 145 ft muskie – the world’s largest glass sculpture.

4. National Inventors Hall of Fame, Alexandria, VA: Interactive displays and a gallery of over 500 inventors from the US Patent and Trademark Office celebrate the minds behind the landmark creations of everyday items we now take for granted.

5. National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Fort Worth, TX: Here you can ride a mechanical bucking bronco, meet the ghost of sharpshooter Annie Oakley, and pose for a western movie poster.   This museum celebrates the women who defined and settled the west.

6. World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame, Long Beach, WA:  You will find a display of the history of this popular past time and art form.  There are over 1,500 kites from 26 countries including a 200 ft long dragon kite. Note:  The museum will hold it’s kite festival on  August 12-14, 2016.  Check the website for details:

This is just a sampling of the many Halls of Fame Museums.  Chances are, if there is a sport, past time, hobby, or interest, there is probably a HALL OF FAME celebrating it.

What Halls of Fame have you visited?  Let us know which ones are trip worthy.  Happy travels.

Book Giveaway – Pirate’s Perfect Pet – Beth Ferry

Couldn’t resist sharing the news about this fun new picture book form author BETH FERRY.

Writing and Illustrating

Ahoy Mateys! Author of Stick and Stone, Beth Ferry has agreed to do a book giveaway for her new book, PIRATE’S PERFECT PET that launched today.

Beth is having a book launch at her local indie, Booktowne, in Manasquan, N.J. on August 7, 2016 from 12 – 2 p.m. Everyone is welcome. There will be parrots!!

All you have to do to get in the running for the book is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Please make sure you check back on August 16th to discover the winner. Make sure I’m able to find your contact information, in case your name is drawn.

beth ferry


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Colleen Kosinski and Sunflowers.

Today’s post features one of my writer/illustrator friends Colleen Kosinski, who talk about her debut picture book LILLA’S SUNFLOWERS (Sky Pony Press)

I’ve been writing for many years. The journey began with picture books, then screenplays; moved on to young adult stories followed by middle grade manuscripts and returned home to picture books.
Before dipping my feet into the writing pool, I worked as a freelance fine artist.  That suited me well because it allowed me to stay home to raise my three children. As they grew older I became available to take on more challenges.  So I set down my paintbrush and picked up a pen. (Actually a computer keyboard but a pen sounds so much better. I imagine it as an ink pen complete with a feather with me dipping into an inkwell, scrawling my words by candlelight). After many years of solely writing, I combined my two passions to create picture books.      01_Lilla's Sunflowers_cover2_625h

Lilla’s Sunflowers originated like my career, through a journey of discovery. I first drew the illustration of Lilla you see on the front cover. I stared at her and realized she wanted a story. But what was her story? Why was she standing in a field of sunflowers? Was she sad when the sunflowers died? I started thinking about the seasons and how they applied to our lives. My first draft involved death. If you knew that my manuscripts for older children deal with death, reincarnation, and astral travel you’d understand why I went there first. Later in the process I thought the topic might be a tad morbid for a picture book so I had to keep thinking and sketching drawings for inspiration.

I’m not sure what particular moment it happened, but seeing videos of children and dogs being reunited with military men and women returning from service over seas, a light bulb went off in my head. The separation of a parent from child during a tour of duty is always difficult for all involved and is mirrored by the changing seasons with the anticipated return home similar to the blooming of plants in the spring and summer. It’s on this backdrop that Lilla’s strategy to stay connected with her father has wonderful unintended consequences.

Lilla’s Sunflowers shows how one small act of love and kindness can spread to people and places you’d never imagine.

My agent submitted the book to publishers and within six months we had a contract with Sky Pony Press. I worked very hard to meet all my deadlines and now, a little over a year since signing the contract, my book is real. I can actually hold it in my arms! My first book baby. Now I’m anxious to give it some siblings!                SUNFLOWER_AUTHOR_PIC_500_WIDE

To find out more about my work you can visit me at

Spread the sunshine!