Friday Favorites: Deep Valley Book Festival!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Friday Favorite! But this week definitely deserves it. After today, the third week of Summer Reading will be in the books, I’ve gotten some writing done on the sequel, and I’ve got a book festival coming up on Sunday! Let’s check out some awesome happenings:

International Yoga Day

June 21st was International Yoga Day! I have been doing yoga for over four years now, and it has totally changed my life. For those of you who don’t know my hero backstory, I used to be hard core into martial arts (Muay Thai primarily) and competitive weight lifting. I trained six days a week, fighting in the ring as much as possible. Until one day. I got my knee blown out in a fight–I saw the kick coming and brought my knee up too late–and my fighting days were over. I got knee surgery in 2008, but couldn’t continue training at that level anymore.

A few years ago, I tried a yoga class for the first time and fell in love. The low impact was perfect for my knee; the intensity and challenge reminded me of why I loved martial arts. Over the years, yoga strengthened my knee so much that I can now mountain bike and hike without pain.

In honor of International Yoga Day, here’s one of my favorite classes with instructor Ali Kamenova (I highly recommend).

I do all my yoga at home, for free, solely through Ali’s videos on YouTube. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or equipment to give her classes a try! They come at all levels and lengths of time, from 15-minute Tabata intervals to over an hour of power yoga. Her style changed my idea of what yoga was (don’t think it’s all relaxing stretches. Ali will kick your BUTT and make you feel good at the same time). Yoga = Awesome.

Bubble Wrap Art


I was SUPER excited about this art project! What is Bubble Wrap Art? Prepare to be amazed.

Step 1: Take a piece of bubble wrap

Step 2: Paint it

Step 3: Put a piece of paper on a tarp

Step 4: Lay the bubble wrap paint-side down on the paper


This project was so much messy fun, I can’t wait to do it again!! We had over 140 people come to paint and stomp. Thank goodness for tarps. 🙂

Deep Valley Book Festival

My first ever Mankato book event is happening THIS SUNDAY! I’ll be at the Deep Valley Book Festival on June 26th from 11:00-4:00. In addition to selling and signing copies of Seven Stones, I’ll also be doing a Romp & Rhyme Story Time at 11:30, and a Yoga Story Time at 1:00 (so come say hi to Shane who will be manning my author table during those times. Make sure you ask him all the really tough questions about writing 😉 ). See you on Sunday!

Book of the Week

Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland by Ken Ilgunas

Book of the Week!

“It started as a far-fetched idea—to hike the entire length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. But in the months that followed, it grew into something more for Ken Ilgunas. It became an irresistible adventure—an opportunity not only to draw attention to global warming but also to explore his personal limits. So in September 2012, he strapped on his backpack, stuck out his thumb on the interstate just north of Denver, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles to the Alberta tar sands. Once there, he turned around and began his 1,700-mile trek to the XL’s endpoint on the Gulf Coast of Texas, a journey he would complete entirely on foot, walking almost exclusively across private property.

Both a travel memoir and a reflection on climate change, Trespassing Across America is filled with colorful characters, harrowing physical trials, and strange encounters with the weather, terrain, and animals of America’s plains. A tribute to the Great Plains and the people who live there, Ilgunas’s memoir grapples with difficult questions about our place in the world: What is our personal responsibility as stewards of the land? As members of a rapidly warming planet? As mere individuals up against something as powerful as the fossil fuel industry?”

You need to read this book. PERIOD. I usually don’t get into non-fiction, but I’ve been DEVOURING this narrative. It is told like a story, with plenty of adventure and Lord of the Rings references to keep me happy. Plus, it is a topic close to my heart. I highly recommend!

Happy Friday!



Seven Stones eBook is COMING!

June is here! It is officially summer! The close of my birthday season (aka, the month of May) means one thing: SUMMER!!! The first week of June also meant the start of my very first Summer Reading Program (which is why you didn’t hear from me last week). I have been preparing for this since the end of November, but I still couldn’t believe it was finally here! To say I was a bag of nerves and excitement was an understatement, but it turned out to be an AMAZING week!

We started off with our kick-off carnival where over 240 kids signed up for the program and over 300 people played inflatable carnival games, bean bag toss, ran in our bubble run, and ate tasty fruit kabobs. It was just so perfect!


So many kids excited to READ this summer!

Other highlights of the week included our Mayor Story Time where over 70 people attended. That’s right: 7-0!

story time

Yay, Story Time!!!

And I had my first Level Up! session. Of all the summer programs, Level Up! Is kind of my baby. I got the idea from MLA last year: rotating, ready-made STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs in a kit. We got all the materials from a wonderful grant, I put the kits together, and they are rotating around our branch libraries for kids to enjoy, play with, and learn all summer! The first was Electronic Music, complete with digital drum sets, digital guitars, synthesizer pencils (you can actually “play” your drawings!), and piano gloves! Put that all together, and you have one epic jam session in your library!

Needless to say, it was a crazy fun week! Emphasis on the crazy. 😉

And, yes, my birthday weekend WAS fantastic, thank you very much. Book of Mormon was HILARIOUS, as you might imagine. I got to see some of my best friends and favorite people in the world, and–oh yeah–I GOT TO PET SHARKS AND STINGRAYS!


At the Orpheum Theatre!

You guys made my birthday fabulous!

You guys made my birthday fabulous! And, yeah, Katie is dressed up as Elder Price. 🙂

Shane and I went to the Minnesota Zoo on Sunday where they have an open tank filled with Leopard Sharks, Stingrays, Swell Sharks, and Horn Sharks. The tank is deep enough where the animals can swim or dive deep enough to totally avoid humans if they wanted, but they hardly ever did. These sharks were so friendly and social, they would butt up against your hand like a cat. I was rubbing a stingray’s back like a puppy! If you ever get a chance to check out the Minnesota Zoo, DO IT! I’m going back to see my new friends as soon as I can. 🙂


Me and my new friends, the Leopard Sharks!

In book-related news, my publishers have started work on the eBook of Seven Stones! This has been the number one request from readers, and I am SO EXCITED to say that the eBook is ON ITS WAY! The final draft was sent off to the publishers for approval last week, and from there it will be converted into my first eBook.  I will DEFINITELY let you know as soon as it becomes available!

It’s going to be an exciting summer, everyone. Stay tuned!
Happy Sunday!