Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Next Wednesday, I'll be leading an author panel in front of eager young writers at the middle school in Altoona, WI.
These are the lovely authors who will be joining me.

Mike grew up in a forest near Lake Michigan where he spent his summers chasing wizards and battling evil ogres. He'll often share stories from his past, and some of them are even true.

After time dragged him from childhood, Mike moved into freelance editing, helping other authors improve dozens of stories. During the daylight hours, he writes software to help with genetics research. He leads the Rochester MN Writing group and often speaks on topics from writing and editing to engineering and robotics.

Luckily, Mike now has two sons, so he has plenty of excuses to set down the pen and play. He lives in Minnesota where he, his family, and a band of pirates can still be found battling ogres, dust bunnies, and even the occasional dragon.

Twitter: @mikekalmbach

I grew up in Hastings, Minnesota with my parents and older sister. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Paralegal and Corrections (double major) from Winona State University; I worked as a Paralegal for various law firms around the Twin Cities for 14 years. I left the legal field to become a Senior Buyer for a technology company.

Currently, I live in Eagan with my husband and 2 Calico cats. I love attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. Purses and shoes are my weaknesses and I probably have way too many of both.

Being an avid reader of YA and Women's Literature stories, I still find the time to read a ton of books in between writing. My first book, The Guardian, a Sword & Stilettos, will be published in May 2015 by Distinguished Press

I live in Kasson, Minnesota, with my wonderful wife, Beth, a 4-year old daredevil named Charlie, 1-year-old twin boys named Henry and Jack, a 12-year old attack cat named Gracie and a 9-year old dog named Ernie, who is the twins’ favorite toy.

I am a graduate of the MFA creative writing program at Hamline University as well as an award-winning reporter at the Rochester Post-Bulletin. As a reporter, I have written more than 1,000 stories about the lives of teenagers. While at Hamline, I wrote two books. Writing my first book was a learning experience. I made many, many mistakes, but luckily I learned from them and my second book BIGGIE will be released by Albert Whitman Teen in March 2015!

I love watching sports, movies, HBO television shows and playing basketball. I also love to sing, but promised my family to only pretend to be a rock star when no one is looking.

Twitter: @DerekESullivan


Growing up an only child, I learned to entertain myself.  During summer vacations, my greatest form of exercise consisted of turning the pages of a book.  Now I’m all grown up, and full of stories half-written in my head.  I have to write them down so I can find out what happens next.

Published How to Date Dead Guys with Curiosity Quills last summer, and have two more books on the way.

Originally from Eau Claire, I now reside in Rochester, MN. Another fun fact: one of your teachers, Mrs. Colleen Chmelik, is my lifelong friend. And, yes, she was always this awesome.

Twitter:  @AnnMNoser

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Now that you've read the first 3 chapters,
Amazon has put the paperback of HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS
on sale for under $10! Buy here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS, chapter three

Call Down the Moon

   Angie Peterson breezes into our dorm room, wearing an amethyst amulet and an organic cotton peasant skirt. Her cell phone twinkles new age music from within the depths of an artistically decorated fabric tote.

   She fishes for the device, glances at the caller I.D., and sighs. Yes, Mom, I just got here so I hadn’t had a chance to call you yet... Don’t worry, the drive was fine. I didn’t have any trouble... Okay then, bye now. Love ya. Call ya later.Angie snaps her phone shut. Can you believe her?

   “I know. Shes been calling me every five minutes for the last half hour. Where were you, anyway? Youre late. We already ordered the pizza and everything.A drying blue mud mask covers Chrissys face as she debates what color to paint her nails.

   “There was a good song on the radio so I missed my turn.Angie chooses a bottle of ruby-red nail polish and shakes it. Use this one. Its a good luck color.

   “You and your good luck.Chrissy snorts. She grabs the bottle out of her sisters hand.

   “Believe what you will.Angie plops down in our lounge chair. Hello, Emma. How are you?

   “Good.My smile is tight and short-lived. Except youre going on a date with the cutest guy Ive ever seen, and Im trying really hard not to hate you because of it.

   When Angie visits, the three of us usually hang out together the whole time. Neither Chrissy nor I have access to a car on campus, so having Angie drive us around is a sweet ticket to freedom.

   Angie is the type of person I secretly long to be. Last year, I went home with Chrissy once for the weekend. I marveled at the hand-painted, glow-in-the-dark constellations standing watch over Angies room. Colorful candles covered every surface. A bright handmade quilt pieced together from the remains of their grandmas wardrobe covered her bed. On the bedside table rested a witchcraft book Angie inherited from her grandmother, the Book of Shadows.

   Chrissy said her sister was devastated when their grandma died, but Angie doesnt seem to need anyone. She produces an endless river of her own healthy self-esteem. If I could generate even a trickle of what surges through Angies confident veins, I know I could be a much different sort of person.

   Angie never wears any makeup and proudly says she doesnt need to, which is actually true. She only paints her nails in hues to enhance her good fortune and happiness. For some reason, Chrissy never clamors that her younger sister needs a makeover, like she always does with me.

   However different we might be, the three of us usually get along well enough whenever Angie visits. But this time around, I cant help but feel cheated out of my rightful half of the double date tomorrow night. Since the party, Ive run into Mike twice on campus. Both times weve walked together, since our next classes were in the same building, but that doesnt mean hes interested in me. Hes probably just being nice.

   Now, to make things even worse, Angie peppers me with questions about Mike. What year is he? Whats his major? Whats he like? Is he as cute as Chrissy says he is?

   “Why are you asking me?I help myself to another slice of the gooey pizza we had delivered to the dorm, since Chrissy cant go anywhere after applying that mask.

   Angie shrugs. You just seem to know more about him than Chrissy does.

   “Oh. I see.I nod and avert my eyes. Thats because Im obsessed. I remember every single word he ever said to me, but I dont want anyone to know that.

   We spend the next day shopping at Oakwood Mall on the other side of town.

   Chrissy examines the racks of flattering jeans and hip, trendy tops. I need something great to wear on our date tonight.

   Angie tries on a series of organic, loosely flowing clothes.

   I pick out a blue and green shirt and hold it up in front of me.

   Chrissy frowns. I dont know what it is about you, Emma, but everything you wear looks exactly the same.

   I sigh and hang the shirt back on the rack.

   Eventually, we return to the dorm, where Angie and Chrissy prepare for their double date. Angies done after a quick shower, but Chrissy takes even longer than usual, trying on outfit after outfit until shes satisfied.
I roll my eyes. I thought you were going to wear that dress you just bought today.

   “Now Im not sure,Chrissy whines.

   Angie sits beside me. Why dont you come with us tonight? Wont you be lonely here all by yourself?

   Chrissy throws her a horrified glare.

   I hesitate a moment before answering. Could I really tag along? No, that would be stupid. I dont want to be a third wheel.

   “Fifth wheel, actually,Chrissy corrects.

   Then theyre off to dinner at that fancy Fanny Hill restaurant, and I dont know what to do with myself. The book I wanted to read last weekend no longer holds any appeal. I pace the halls, watch something lame in the TV lounge for awhile, and eventually clump back to our dorm room to mope. After cleaning off the clutter on top of both my dresser and my desk, I erase my whiteboard.

   “Might as well put up a new quote,I say out loud to no one and write out the words:

The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence.
―Marianne Moore

   Then I drop down on my bed and close my eyes. My cruel imagination bombards me with images of Mike laughing at something Angie said. Why am I torturing myself? I roll over and will myself to fall asleep.

   Hours later, I wake to the sound of a key in the door.

   Angie whispers in the darkness. Should we ask Emma if she wants to come along?

   “If you want to be the one responsible for waking her up,Chrissy warns. She isnt always that pleasant to be around in the morning.

   I could say the same about you.I roll out of bed and rub my eyes. Where are we going? What are we doing?Please let it be something with Mike.

   Its a secret,Angie teases, tossing me my jacket. Come on, sleepyhead. Weve got important business to attend to.

   “Okay, Im coming.I yawn, still half-asleep.

   Chrissy chatters about the details of their date, but I dont pay much attention. I watch Angie copy some words from her Book of Shadows onto a pink piece of paper. She always brings that mysterious book with her when she visits, along with a stack of colored candles and matches, and a framed picture of their grandma.
I know its wrong, but I wish Id thought to read that book while Angie was out on my date. Id love to know whats in there.

   Angie tucks the paper, some candles, and matches into a tote bag. Now were ready to go!

   “Where?I ask.

   “Just follow me.Angie smiles, her eyes sparkling. We head out into the crisp night air. Angie points to a large rock near the edge of the Putnam woods. Lets sit over there.

   “It feels strange to be outside this late at night,I whisper as we cross the parking lot.

   “Do you think the campus cops will drive by and stop us?Chrissy asks.

   “Why would they stop us?Angie reasons. Its just a little love spell.

   “A love spell?I turn to Chrissy. Does she really believe in this stuff?

   “Yes, a love spell,Angie confirms. Kevin is definitely a keeper. Hes the best guy Chrissy has ever dated.

   “I agree,Chrissy says as we near the rock.

   “And youve dated a lot.Angie smiles as she kneels down and spills her sack upon the ground.

   “But youve only just met him.I settle down on the grass.

   “So what? I just know hes the one,my roommate declares.

   Chrissy always decides after the first or second date if a guy is worth her time. How can she be so sure of herself and her first impressions?

   “So, Angie, what did you think of Mike?I ask. My heart thumps. Do I even want to know?

   Chrissy glares at me, as if Ive interrupted something important.

   “He was nice,Angie says noncommittally. She places one red and one white candle upon the large rock. She reverently strikes a match and lights them.

    I hate the word nice. It doesnt mean anything at all. I stare into the flames that seem to call down a moon so full one could drown in it.

   A few crickets chirp, a lone frog bellows, and then silence. Even the dark trees hush their leaves to listen.
Angie hands the pink paper to her sister. You have to read this carefully, or it wont work. You have to believe in your heart every word is true.

   Chrissy clears her throat then reads:

Oh, Moon, upon me shine.

Steal his heart and make it mine.

Guide his eyes so he will see

The only one to love is me.

Seize his voice and make him say
That he will never go away.
Change his plans and claim his mind
Make both intertwine with mine.
Oh, Moon, oh, Stars, upon me glow,
And force his love for me to grow.

   After Chrissy finishes, Angie takes the paper. She ignites each bottom corner with a separate candle. We watch as flames crawl up the spell. Angie lets go at the last second, and a single weakly glowing ember floats down to the ground.

   I stare at the red spark until it disappears. In the silence that follows, I wait for someone to play a haunting Beethoven melody to fill the empty air. Instead the wind begins to stir. Through the darkness, I hear whispers
calling my name. I glance over my shoulder to see if someone is really there. An image of the dead floating body flashes through my mind, but I dismiss it. I cant think about that, or Ill go crazy.

   I point at the night sky. Did you see the full moon tonight? Its gigantic.In fact, it seems bigger than I remember. Is that possible?

   Angie nods. Its the perfect stage of the moon for this spell.

   She seems to really believe shes done something with her little poem and ritual. Even Chrissy appears pleased, which surprises the heck out of me. Why am I the only one freaking out?

   Later, Chrissy and I brush our teeth in the communal bathroom.

   I clear my throat. Do you really believe in Angies spells?Even if she says yes, I still cant tell her about the dead people I see.

   “Normally, I would say no, but Kevin is awesome. Ill take all the help I can get,Chrissy says. And Angie has always had such exceptional luck with guys. She must know what shes doing.

   Oh, no. If Angie wants Mike, Im doomed! I need to find out if she likes him, right now. I whip out my contacts, shove on glasses, skimp on flossing, and burst out of the bathroom, leaving Chrissy behind. I practically run Angie over as she exits our room with her reusable water bottle. I push her back into our room and shut the door.

   “Are you going to put a spell on Mike, too?My heart races.

   She smiles. Would you like me to?


   “I wondered if you liked him.Angie laughs. Why didnt you ask Chrissy if you could go on the date instead of me?

   “What do you mean?I try to act innocent.

   “You can tell me if you like him, Emma. Hes definitely good-looking. I could do a love spell for you, too!Angie sounds way too excited.

   “What? No!Crap! Why did I have to go and ask her about Mike? This is so embarrassing.

   “So you dont like him?Angie cocks her head.

   “I didnt say that,I mumble. What is this? Confession?

   “Why didnt you tell me? I wouldnt have gone on that date if Id known you liked him.

   I shrug. Whats the point?

   “How is he going to have any idea youre interested if youre so secretive about it?

   “But I dont want him to find out. Then hell just avoid me.Blushing, I cant look Angie in the face.

   “Why would he avoid you?

   I fidget with the hem of my pajamas. He probably doesnt like me back. Im not beautiful like my mom.

   “Chrissy told me your mom is very attractive, but youre pretty, too.” Angie sounds sincere.

   “Thanks for trying, but I dont really think Im pretty. Everyone says Itoo quiet and shy, and I spend too much time reading books, and I suck at every single sport that exists, and I study too much, and I dont know how to dress or...”

   “Stop it!Angie feels sorry for me, and for once, I dont mind. When people say things like that to you, just ignore them. Why do you believe anything bad somebody says about you, but you wont listen to me when I tell you youre pretty?

   I wince. Dont you think its easier to believe the bad things than the good?

   “No, I only listen to compliments, not complaints.

   “I wish I could do that, but I cant. Im just not wired that way.

   “Stop putting yourself down! Youre smart and funny. Give yourself a chance. Theres no reason why Mike shouldnt be interested in you.

   I roll my eyes, but Angie isnt deterred. If youd let me work a love spell for you, then hed like you for sure.

   “Do you have any spells that would make me less boring?I ask, only half joking.

   Angie laughs. “No, but,’re not boring.

   “Yes, I am.Clearly, you have not been paying attention.

   “No, you just think youre boring,Angie reasons. And I dont have any spells for that, either, but I do have lots of love spells in Grandmothers Book of Shadows.

   “Well, thanks, Angie, but I dont want a love spell.

   I dont believe in chanting, potions, and candle lighting anyway.

   At least I dont think I believe in them. However, even I have to wonder when early the next morning Chrissys phone starts ringing and doesnt stop. Angie doesnt seem surprised, but I watch, mystified, as Chrissy gets herself a new boyfriend.

   Kevin suggests we all go out to breakfast together. Im happy to join them until Angie starts playing matchmaker. I should appreciate her assistance. Instead, Im so uncomfortable I can hardly swallow my food.

   “Did you know that Emma gets straight As?Angie makes another flattering comment about me. Shes the smartest girl I know.

   No matter how good her intentions, I sound so very lame.

   “Oh.Mike focuses on his waffle.

   “And she has a belly ring.Angie smirks.

   “No, I dont!I protest, my mouth full of scrambled eggs, which is impressive for everyone else sitting at our table, Im sure.

   “Well, you should,Angie says.

   Both Mike and Kevin head toward the breakfast bar for seconds. I sit breathless with embarrassment, my stomach in knots.

   “Would you stop trying to make me sound more interesting than I really am?I beg.

   “Well, somebody has to do something for you,Angie argues.

   “Whats going on?Chrissy asks.

   “Emma likes Mike,Angie announces, much to my horror. Fortunately, the restaurant is packed with noisy diners, so I dont think the boys can hear us.

   “Good.Chrissy nods. Then you can come with me to Mikes twenty- first birthday party. I just know Kevin is going to ditch me to take Mike out to the bars. You can wait there with me.

   For once Im glad Chrissy always manages to make everything be all about her.

   As expected, when the boys return with heavy trays, the two sisters add a lot more to the conversation than I do. I notice that even with her seemingly carefree ways, Angie refuses to go get seconds, just like her diet-conscious sister. Not wanting to seem like a pig all by myself, I dont go back either, even after Mike tells me I should.

   “You girls are missing out. These waffles are great.

   Angie leaves in a flurry later that day, waiting until the last minute to collect her things. She calls home just before she departs. Okay, Mom, Im leaving... Yes, I’m packed... Don’t worry. Ill drive carefully. Bye now.

   Then Angie is gone.

   I miss her already. Despite my protests and embarrassment, I know if Angie was around all the time, shed help me with Mike.
   Then maybe Id have a chance. 

Hope you enjoyed this small taste of HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS.

Want more? Here are purchase links:
AmazonBarnes & NobleMagers & QuinnThe Local Store

published by Curiosity Quills.