The “Foreignness” of Cloud of Witnesses

(Adapted from a talk I gave at the 2019 Illinois Reading Council Conference for teachers and librarians.) After writing and publishing my middle-grade novel, Cloud of Witnesses (Golden Alley Press), I discovered that it is but one of a handful of books currently being published that represents rural life. Most books coming out today for youth is... Continue Reading →

Hillbilly Elegy

a review I sort of hate it when movies, books, media reduce complex issues down into easily digested bites. That’s the trouble with Hillbilly Elegy, the movie now playing on Netflix: distilled into the Hatfield and McCoys. In fact that piece of mountain myth is referenced in the first 15 minutes of the film. My... Continue Reading →


With Cloud of Witnesses, I started with the idea of stereotypes: the dumb jock, the high school drop-out, the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks—and then turned it around.


When we empathize we can more easily feel someone else’s pain, understand their worries. It is the same concept as walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

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