Here’s a Story I Hope… You’ll Like…

It’s the one about the Girl Who Was Riding Her Bike… Uh-oh.

I gotta be honest. I wasn’t really up for writing this post. Lots going on in the world, and in the lives of the people I love, that makes me wonder whether blogging here should continue to be a priority… or even on my to do list at all.

We celebrated E’s 13th birthday this past weekend. That’s her new cruiser bike. Warmer rail trail riding weather can’t come soon enough.

In other news:

If you missed it last week, fellow author L.D. Rose interviewed me. She asked me to share something about myself that readers might not know and which of my characters I’d bring to life if I could.

My laptop is showing signs of age. Glitches. Weird messages. Generally crankiness and being an occasional, downright pain in the ass. Feel like I just replaced it… but I guess it’s been a while.

My house is also showing signs of age. It’s not that old, but with the damage done by Tug(g) and annual wear and tear, I think we’ll be forced to do some moderate home improvement this year. I’m meeting two contractors tomorrow to get some preliminary estimates.

So how about you? How was your week? Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll post a couple of 2017 Reading Challenge posts. In the meantime, work, write, read, bike… try to be an engine in your life as much as a passenger.

Disney, Backstage Magic Tour, Magic Kingdom, Review

#endofsummer2016: Penny Reviews #Disney’s Backstage Magic Tour

Mid-summer, I admitted how swamped I was with various non-blogging obligations so I asked my two daughters to pitch in and help. E reviewed two graphic novels for me and Penny reviewed the Backstage Magic Tour that we took together during our June trip to Disney World. Since tomorrow is Labor Day — the unofficial end of summer — I figured I’d close the season out with Penny’s post. (A good ending always takes readers back to the beginning. 😉 )

Brief programming note: As many of you know, Pocket Full of Tinder will FINALLY be releasing this December. That means this blog will be in “promo mode” through the fall. I will still have guest bloggers, and may post random stuff from time to time, but many of the posts will be related to promoting my fourth book. My attitude toward promo is to try to make it fun and/or interesting. Even if you started following this blog for reasons other than being a Noon fan, I think you’ll enjoy the posts and links. And, hey, I haven’t promoted anything in two years!!! None of my followers can complain that all I ever do is promote my own stuff. 😀

What’s scheduled so far:

September 15th: Cover Reveal! Almost forty bloggers signed up, which is the most hosts I’ve ever had for a cover reveal. I’m very grateful to everyone who signed up!! I’ll be posting individual links, info about a Twitter contest, and, of course, the cover, in mid-September.

September 19th: Halloween Spooktacular Kickoff! A month and a half long event featuring authors who writes stories with supernatural characters, terrifying tales, haunted homes, witches, vampires, werewolves, demons and more. There will be blog posts, features, reviews, and a multi-author Facebook party (I’ll be hosting on Oct. 19th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST), PLUS there’s a spooktacular (sorry, couldn’t resist) giveaway — a Kindle Fire. More details later.

October 22, 2016: HallowRead! I’ll be there. Not 100% sure in what capacity yet, but will bring copies of first three Noon Onyx books to sell and sign, as well as some giveaways for Pocket Full of Tinder (bookmarks, sample chapter booklets). IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE THERE AND WANT TO MEET, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

Okay, enough promo for today! Back to lamenting the end of summer…


Penny‘s Review of

Disney World’s Backstage Magic Tour

The Backstage Magic Tour is an eye-opening, real life look at what goes on behind the scenes in Disney World. With a tour bus of about 30 people, we hit some great sights! I will share my experience, however, I won’t give too much away, because I do encourage any Disney enthusiasts to take this tour themselves, and experience the magic without spoilers. 🙂

We started off at EPCOT, where our tour guide took us behind the scenes of the American Adventure show, which features audio-animatronics. Did you know that the cast members do two run-throughs of the whole American Adventure Show before they even open the show? I thought that was really impressive.

Next we went to see the costume design warehouse, where the cast members hand-make all of the costumes for the characters in the rides. It was really cool to see characters that aren’t being used in the rides anymore. For example, three of the old characters from the Haunted Mansion were on display there. We also got a sneak peek at the material the costume designers used for one of the character’s costumes in the new Frozen ride (Astroturf!).

After that we went to the set design warehouse. We got to see so many things, from cars being painted for the Test Track ride to trash cans being touched up. It was really neat to see how much work the cast members put in to making Disney World special. When we saw how many Christmas lights go on the castle during the holidays, it was amazing. Guess how much electricity all those lights need? Only enough to power two loads in a standard Dryer. Crazy, right?

Then, we went to Disney’s Greenhouse/Topiary Pavilion. It’s where Disney grows all of their topiaries and plants for the Flower Festival at EPCOT, or even just to place around the park. Disney grows some topiaries that take a whopping ten years to grow. I honestly don’t think I would have enough patience to do that.

As we headed to Magic Kingdom, we ran into the Festival of Fantasy Parade, which features all of the characters, including of course, Mickey and Minnie… and a fire-breathing dragon!

Lastly, we went to what I thought was the most secretive place of all. The Tunnels. Yes, you read that right. Disney has tunnels underneath the Magic Kingdom. Have you ever wondered how characters get from place to place so fast? Or why you see them in one place, and then suddenly they pop up somewhere else? The trick is the tunnels. Cast members use them all the time! The tunnels are also a place for the cast members to escape if they want to step back into the real world. Not only is there real world music playing (i.e. not Disney music), but the cast members are able to step out of character and become themselves again for a little bit. We even saw one cast member ride his bike through the tunnel!

I absolutely loved the tour and highly recommend it for all you Disney enthusiasts out there. It really was a magical experience that I will never forget!  °o°

Thank you, Penny, for the awesome review! I had a great time touring with you!!! 🙂

Other Disney posts:

So Long Summer!
So Long, Summer ’16!

What we’ve been reading and watching (mother-daughter reviews | #graphicnovel #fantasy #wuxia)

Penny’s younger sister – who shall hereafter be known as “E” – shares her thoughts on two middle grade graphic novels she read this summer. I share my thoughts on one fantasy novel and a wuxia film.


Roller GirlRoller Girl is about a girl named Astrid, who loves to roller skate. One day, Astrid and her mom went to a roller skating competition where Astrid found her role model – Rainbow Bite, a grown-up roller derby jammer. Astrid had so much fun watching the competition that her mom showed her a flyer for a roller derby camp. Immediately, Astrid got excited and wanted to go. She packed and got ready but then found out her best friend, Nicole, wouldn’t be coming because she was going to ballet camp with another friend.

Astrid was a little nervous about going to the derby camp because she wouldn’t know anybody and most of the girls there had been skating for longer than her. Luckily, Astrid sat next to a very nice girl named Zoey, who was also new. At camp, Zoey and Astrid worked hard on their skating skills. But then Astrid got in trouble and lost some of her friends because she lied and acted silly and selfish.

Will Astrid win back her friends? Will Astrid do well at the bout? Will Astrid ever meet Rainbow Bite?

Read the book to find out! 🙂



AwkwardAwkward is about a girl named Peppi, who just moved to a new town. Her first day of school did not go as planned. She humiliated herself and a boy named Jamie in front of the whole school. Peppi spends weeks trying to apologize to Jamie, but it is very… well, awkward.

Peppi is in the art club and she’s very good at art. Jamie is in the science club and he’s very good at science. So good that he becomes Peppi’s tutor, which makes things more awkward because Peppi never apologized to Jamie for what happened on the first day of school.

There are many conflicts between the two clubs throughout the school year. The principal finally ends up banning both of the clubs from having tables at the school club fair.

Will Peppi’s art club and Jamie’s science club work together so that their clubs can go to the fair?

Read the book to find out! 🙂


Both Roller Girl and Awkward were Black Eyed Susan Nominees for 2016/17, Graphic Novels, Grade 6-9.

Favorite App? Follows on Instagram? The Final Five
Favorite App?
Follows on Instagram?
The Final Five

More about “E”

  • I love dancing, tumbling, hiking, and going to the beach.
  • I also love to pet sit. I’ve watched cats, dogs, a lizard, and a fish. Next month, I’m going to start volunteering at our local pet shelter.
  • Graphic novels are my favorite type of book. I love Raina Telgemeier!
  • I signed up for Engineering by Design this year because, some day, I hope to be an architect.


WoodwalkerI ordered this from my local indie bookstore at the beginning of the summer. It checked off a lot of boxes for me: it’s a fantasy-adventure novel about a disgraced forest ranger leading three wandering royals on a dangerous mountain journey. The author is an illustrator and she did the artwork for the cover herself. (How often can a trad published author say that?)

I really enjoyed this! The world was solidly built and the main character, Mae, was strong and loyal. I liked how her relationship with Mona, the deposed queen, developed over the course of the story. I would have loved to see some magic and more romance, but only because I love those story elements – not because Woodwalker is lacking in any way.

The author’s website is fantastic, especially her EXPLORE tab, which has character sketches (text + illustrations) and a wonderful interactive map. Click on the map for place explanations and more drawings – beautiful!



The AssassinE and I watched this a few nights ago. I’d had a crazy-hectic day and was in the mood for exactly what this film is – a slow-moving montage of visually stunning scenes. If you are daunted by subtitles, don’t be. Feel free to ignore them. I’m not sure how much help they’ll be in understanding the plot anyway. I got confused early on – in the B&W prologue! – so I paused the movie to look up the plot – yes, I cheated; remember, crazy-hectic day? I realized then that I wasn’t the only one who was confused by the amorphous plot structure. But so what? The beauty of the movie is… its beauty. It also doesn’t hurt that Qi Shu as Nie Yinniang is an amazing actress. Her minimalist performance maximizes its emotional impact.

What’s wuxia? It’s a genre of Chinese fiction/film that focuses on martial arts heroes. I’m by no means an expert, nor can I even call myself an aficionado – because I haven’t consumed enough of it yet – but I enjoyed this movie and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves breathtaking cinematography and/or female assassin stories.

If I watch it again, will I even bother with the subtitles? I haven’t decided yet. Would be nice to be less confused the second time… but also might be fun to watch without the distraction of intrusive text. (Q: Are subtitles optional with director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s “meditative narrative” approach to filmmaking? Have you seen The Assassin? What do you think?)


Let us know what you’ve been reading and/or watching this summer in the comments!

Cape May Redux (a mother-daughter day-trip post) #flying #NJ

Last week I mentioned that I wanted to experiment with having my older daughter write part of a post. Today’s post is it! Because I’m fond of noms de plume, I encouraged her to pick a pen name. So henceforth, she will be known on this blog as “Penny.” 😀

Back in February, we took a flight to Cape May. It’s a frequent destination for us because it’s quicker to fly there than to the Maryland shore + it’s a charming, beautiful town with only one “ugly mug.” 😉 But don’t take my word for it. Penny’s post is below, as well as a picture gallery. Enjoy!

Cape May, New Jersey:

Five of My Favorite Places

On our recent trip to the Cape, we went to some amazing places. Five of my favorites were:

Ugly Mug Bar & Restaurant: This is my family’s number one restaurant to dine at. As you walk in, there are mugs everywhere — the ceiling, the walls — but they are actually more plain than ugly. They have great food and I really recommend trying it! We love their half & halfs (Arnold Palmers) and I love their burgers.

Great White Shark: This cute and colorful shop has everything — souvenirs, car magnets, t-shirts, jewelery, etc. When we were there, I bought a pair of orange anchor earrings and my sister bought a blue and white, long-sleeved shirt with Cape May written on the front.

The Original Fudge Kitchen: This place is known for its…you guessed it…fudge! Although I am not a big fudge person myself (I know, crazy, right?), I still like theirs. On our last trip, an employee told me that their fudge was made fresh every morning and that you can watch them do it from the front store window.

Cape Atlantic Book Company: I enjoy going to this quaint little bookstore mainly because my mom loves it so much. It’s always fun to check out what’s new. One quirky thing about it is that it’s in a building with an escalator that only goes up. If you want to go back down, you have to take the stairs.

The Beach: Duhhh. This one’s a given. We love to hunt for conch shells, which anyone can do! You just have to look hard enough. We also love to write in the sand and search for coins with my metal detector. The most interesting thing I’ve found is a nickel, lol.


More about Penny

Intrepid Teenage Traveler/Writer/Photographer
  • I enjoy biking and my favorite sport is field hockey.
  • I love flying and, once I’m old enough, I’d love to get a pilot’s license and join The Ninety-Nines.
  • My favorite genre is realistic fiction. I also love historical fiction. My first favorite book was COPPER by Rebecca Lisle.
  • I love taking photos with my Nikon Digital SLR camera and sharing the images I’ve captured.
  • I don’t know what the future holds, but when I grow up, I would love to work in a creative field.

Set in the fictional town of Exbury, inspired by Avebury, Wiltshire
Set in the fictional town of Exbury, inspired by Avebury, Wiltshire

What Penny’s Mom Was Reading

I know I’ve been HORRIBLE about sharing what I’ve been reading and watching lately. Mostly it’s because I haven’t had time to write a post that gives them their due. I may have to break down and just list them already in a future post. 🙂

In any case, during this flight, I was reading Susanna Kearsley’s MARIANA. If you like atmospheric, evocative prose that makes you long for England and a cup of tea (even if you’re a coffee-loving American who’s never been there), you should check her out. In her own words she writes “modern gothic novels that blend historical adventure and modern-day suspense with romance and a touch of something spooky, so they don’t fit neatly into any category.” Hmm… is it any wonder I’ve liked the two I’ve read?

* Photo gallery pics were taken by both Penny and me using iPhones and her DSLR.