After a lifetime of reading and a decade of slinging books at the library and herding cats with the PTA, Rebecca began to turn her experiences into books of her own, publishing her first (The Ninja Librarian) in 2012. That failed to quiet the voices in her head, but seemed to entertain a number of readers, so she wrote some more, which generated still more voices. Despite the unlimited distractions provided by raising sons to the point of leaving home, not to mention the mountains that keep calling (very hard to resist the urging of something the size of the Sierra Nevada), she has managed to produce many more books in the years since.
For those who enjoy murder and mayhem with a sense of humor, Rebecca’s Pismawallops PTA mysteries provide insights into what PTA moms and island life are really like. If you prefer tall tales and even less of a grip on reality, visit Skunk Corners in The Ninja Librarian and its sequels. And for those who’ve always thought that fantasy was a bit too high-minded, a stumble through rescues and escapes with Halitor the Hero, possibly the most hapless hero to ever run in fear from any and all fair maidens, should set you straight.
Through it all, she has continued to pen flash fiction, for a time sharing a new story on her blog nearly every week. Now those stories are getting new life in a series of novella-length ebooks, with an omnibus paperback coming soon.
Why does Rebecca write so many different kinds of books (there’s even an alphabet picture book in the mix!)? It might be because she has a rich lifetime of experience that requires expression in many ways, but it’s probably just that she’s easily distracted.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on Vashon Island, in Washington State. The Island was semi-rural, which meant that my friends lived too far away to just run over and visit. Since you can't always play with older brothers (though I certainly tried, and was a terrific tomboy!), I had a lot of time to fill on my own. I discovered books and the library early, and developed a passion for reading that has served me well all my life. Anyone who wants to write would do well to have been an avid reader as a child!
When did you first start writing?
I began writing stories as soon as I learned to write at all. I can remember in fourth grade writing writing an on-going saga of my future life raising horses and writing books. I believe I was actually turning in weekly installments as part of our writing assignments for class, though I have no idea if we were meant to be writing fiction. Writing stories when I was meant to be writing essays was a habit that never left me.
There's nothing so peaceful as island life... unless the island is Pismawallops Island. This bit of glacial detritus in the middle of Puget Sound is the home to JJ MacGregor and her best friend Kitty Padgett, and the PTA to which they dedicate more energy than they can spare. And trouble follows them faster than police chief Ron Karlson can clean up the messes!
When a local pariah is killed in a scenic Maine village, no one seems to care except outsider Seffi Wardwell. Seffi brings her good heart and decades of experience teaching science to the problem in a race against indifference on one side and murder on the other.
When a prominent Pismawallops Island businessman drops dead at JJ’s feet in the Have-A-Bite Bakery, there’s more on the line than catching a murderer. Can JJ save the bakery—and maintain her supply of espresso brownies?
Libraries: where all the words live. In this collection of tales about books and libraries, we meet dragons and wizards who run some unusual libraries, and bibliophiles who are willing to go to great extremes to visit them. And perhaps some cautionary tales about what can happen when we love books not wisely, but too well.
JJ MacGregor hates working for Wilmont Charleston-Rutherford, but she doesn’t want him dead. Someone did, though, and JJ’s life won’t get back to normal until she and her best friend Kitty figure out who killed the most annoying man on Pismawallops Island.
JJ MacGregor is ready for summer vacation. She just has to get through Senior Prom, graduation, and a divorce hearing without going nuts. Then she trips over a body behind the gym and her life gets more challenging.
Seven authors, seven new tales to twang your heartstrings and tickle your toes. Will the Christmas fairy be ready to grant your wishes? Will Shirley Link solve all the clues to her presents? And will Santa's reindeer, a lost and forlorn hero, and a man under the spell of a wicked witch find their way home during the bleak midwinter? Find out in this second anthology from the MG BookElves.
A would-be Hero in training, looking for a princess to rescue. A Fair Maiden who breaks all the rules. In this fantasy adventure they form a team that seems doomed to failure. Halitor would be willing to settle down to work as a kitchen boy, as long as they feed him. But Melly wants to find her father, and he has to help. Halitor is in over his head, but he learns a lot more than how to be a hero.
Seven stories, seven situations threatening the festivities – a postbag that gets bigger, a Santa in summer, the strange disappearance of the gifts, a petnapping gang, a snowstorm in the wilds, a kidnapped messenger, and a whole raft of celebrations that are too strange to contemplate.
Will the holidays be a disaster? Or will seven bookelves weave seasonal magic?
Pismawallops Island is a Puget Sound paradise. . . until the local gadfly shows up dead. Then JJ MacGregor finds out just what she’ll do for the PTA, even while she has to deal with a teenaged son, a Yearbook deadline, and a serious crush on the local police chief.
When Big Al wakes up one morning and finds the Ninja Librarian has left town, everything seems to go wrong. And just about the time she’s thinking maybe the town can cope after all, he comes back. After that, it’s business as usual in Skunk Corners: bad guys, irritated skunks, and crises big and small that require the Librarian’s unique brand of outside-the-box thinking and direct action.
The Ninja Librarian is a humorous set of tall tales set in the highly fictional gold-country town of Skunk Corners. It’s the story of a dusty, tough, unfriendly town that gets a new outlook on life thanks to the advent of the Ninja Librarian—a mild-mannered librarian who offers his wisdom with a little extra when folks don’t listen.
on March 25, 2012
An entertaining bit of science fiction. The writing style seemed a bit rough to me, and I admit I was taken by surprise--I missed the bit about it being a short story, and expected more. But overall I'd say it worked pretty well.
Looking Back with a Smile
on Oct. 16, 2012
Edward Farber's Looking Back with a Smile is a quick and fun read. Mr. Farber has taken the idea of a memoir in a slightly different direction, not trying to create any particular significance out of his life, but looking back and picking out the bits that make him smile, and that he thinks would do the same for the reader. The result is a rather episodic construction of a life lived through a good chunk of the 20th Century, both personal and nostalgic.
A quick and easy read at only 89 pages, LBWS offers both a fun glimpse into how our country was at different periods during the last 70 years, but also a reminder that we all have stories to tell. That, in fact, is largely the point of the work: to share the little stories that otherwise get lost, and to encourage his readers to do the same, even if only to share with their families.
In a way, what Mr. Farber has done reminds me of the NPR feature "Story Corps," where they get "ordinary" people to record conversations with a loved one, recalling some significant event or element of their history and relationship. In the end, none of the people seem so ordinary after all. The tone of the book is that of oral history, reminiscing around the fire on a winter night, and a reminder that all our lives are significant.
That the tone works is a tribute to Mr. Farber's skill in selecting and presenting the incidents he recounts. Occasionally, I wish he'd tell a little more, follow up a bit on what happened next. Most most of the time I could just smile and move on to the next little episode. LBWS isn't great literature. But it's a nice bit of entertainment you can read in an hour or so, or you can (as I did) dip into an episode or two at a time until suddenly you find yourself (alas) in the 21st Century.
I give Mr. Farber 4 stars, because he did what he set out to and did it well.
Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands
on Jan. 14, 2013
I received a review copy of Ginnie Dare last week, and being in need of a good middle grade read, jumped right in. Mr. Roche has written an engaging work of science fiction for the middle grade reader, and I will be reading the sequel.
Despite advance notice in the form of some comments in the book's information, it took me a while to figure out why the name "Ginnie (Virginia) Dare" seemed familiar. Mr. Roche has taken inspiration from the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, VA, and named his main character after a girl from that colony (I think "inspiration" is the best way to put it--this is far from a retelling of the story).
Ginnie is the 13-year-old (?) communications officer on her father's interplanetary merchant ship, and is definitely smart and able beyond her years. This may require a certain willing suspension of disbelief, but I consider that pretty normal for young heroes, and Roche carries it off convincingly. Ginnie is by turns over-confident and painfully aware of and/or annoyed by her own youth and inexperience.
When the Dare Company ship Helena arrives at the planet Eshu, they can't find the colonists. What they do about it and how Ginnie manages to negotiate between the natives, the military, and a crew of pirates drives the story.
The story caught me up pretty well by about the mid-point, but I did feel it was a little slow to start. In part, I was put off by a font that didn't work well on my Nook, resulting in text that was jammed together and a little hard to read. That is minor and Mr. Roche is working on it. But the story doesn't really take off in any case until the military shows up and there is some conflict to offset the original mystery. The mystery presenting itself without anything concrete to be done resulted in too much thinking and not enough action (though of course in life more thinking and less action is often a better choice, I find this is not really true in the first chapters of a book).
If I were just rating Ginnie Dare on the second half, I would give it four stars, free and clear. The slow beginning, however, leads me to knock it down to three and a half stars. An impatient 11-year-old might put it down before getting to the heart of the adventure, but continued reading will be rewarded.
The Traveler in Black and White
on June 08, 2014
The comment in the publisher's summary about "Chandler-esque" is spot on. This book is for older kids, more of a PG-13 sort of thing, though references to sex are pretty oblique and will go over the heads of younger kids. The level of violence is a bit higher than in the first three Princelings books, too. That warning out of the way, this is a very engaging story, told by a rather American Hugo, a.k.a. Mariusz of Hattan (Manhattan, anyone? Just guessing. . . .), who is trying to learn his way around a strange world and make a buck.
The story takes us back ten years in the world of the Princelings, so that the characters from the other books are much younger (a very young Victor is a total charmer), and some we have grown to love don't show up at all (like Fred and George). The story is fast-paced, adventurous, and has just a touch of the supernatural. I wasn't sure at first I liked that (just a taste thing), but Ms. Pett handles it with her usual skill, and there is nothing in the story that isn't necessary.
In a departure from the earlier books, Hugo tells his own story in the the first person, and his hard-boiled attitude lends to the fun. This is definitely not a series that is giving us cookie-cutter books, but each addition has been my new favorite, and this one was no exception.
For any readers old enough to cope with some violence and not to be put off by the implication that Hugo philanders a bit. Tweens up, with, as usual, as much or more appeal to adults as to the children.
on March 09, 2016
First, I have to state right up front that I may be biased, as Jemima Pett is a writing pal and a friend. I also read two or three drafts of the book and offered feedback, so of course I think it's great!
But seriously, when I proofed the final copy, even knowing the story quite well (that was the 3rd reading) I couldn't stop reading. The story just grabs me, and I'm definitely in love with the characters! So, you can discount my bias and still know you should read it if you like some good science fiction with just a touch of fantasy, some grin-inducing situations, and a few things that Asimov never put in his books.
The first of a series, the story comes to a satisfying conclusion but does prepare us for the next book--which I'm eagerly awaiting!
4 stars: I really liked it.