Beck McDowell, Book Giveaway, book review, Cowboy Up!, John Gardner, Nancy Bo Flood, San Francisco Book Review

This is Not a Drill — Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

 “Setting exists so that the character has someplace to stand, something that can help define him, something he can pick up and throw, if necessary.”  ~John Gardner~

Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:


The ladies over at Writers Helping Writers, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, have another brilliant post. This one is about Understanding Character Wounds. Click HERE to see it. If you aren’t subscribed to Writers Helping Writers, you are missing a great bet, and their books – The Emotion Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus, and The Positive Trait Thesaurus are must-haves for your professional bookshelf. 


L. A. Weatherly wrote a guest post on Adventures in YA Publishing called Edit without Mercy. Click HERE to read it, then poke around the blog and find other wonderful stuff. They give away a TON of books on the blog, and they have really useful posts every week. 

K. M. Weiland wrote an interesting post about how minor characters can help you discover your theme. Click HERE to read it. 

I started something new on Friday. I’m hoping to post twice a week — one on Fridays to join Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Fridays and one on Sunday evenings to be part of the lovely Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays. That said, I will every now and then review YA or even (Dare I say it?) adult books. If you missed my post on Friday, I hope you will click HERE and take a look. I reviewed the perfectly charming Cowboy Up! and the author, Nancy Bo Flood has offered a signed copy of her book to one of my followers who leaves a comment. I won’t pull a name until next Thursday, so you still have time to win.


I was listening to the news on the radio a few weeks ago and heard there had been another school shooting. It was almost more of a mention than a story. Then the newscaster also mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that there had been nearly fifty school shootings in the U.S. since Columbine. Holy smoke! Could it be true? I looked it up and found that I either didn’t remember or had not heard of half of these. It’s not that I don’t pay attention, but perhaps my skin has gotten too thick. In any case, it brought me to dig through my bookcase and find a wonderful book I reviewed last year for the San Francisco Book Review. That’s what I will share with you tonight. I should have done this long ago.


Beck McDowell wrote a wonderful book for young people, This is Not a Drill, that will draw readers in and cause them to examine the totality of such an incident. Here is the review I wrote for SFBR.

It isn’t easy to be thrown together with your ex when volunteering to tutor first-graders, but that is

Beck McDowell

exactly what happens to Emery. Three days a week, she has to spend the morning with Jake. Emery focuses on the kids and the French lessons she has prepared. And she has a great role model in Mrs. Campbell, the classroom teacher. The door bangs open one morning, and a large man walks in yelling he’s taking his son, Patrick, with him. When he waves a gun around, everyone realizes the man has brought terrible trouble with him. Before the day is out, three people will be dead. When Mrs. Campbell, a diabetic, slips into unconsciousness, it falls on Emery and Jake to protect the children and themselves from a trained killer, back from war and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Emery realizes she is happy and grateful to have Jake at her side.

“Emery’s staring at me in horror, Stutts glares at me, and Alicia sits up, her eyes on the gun in Stutts’s hand.”

This story, seemingly ripped from the headlines of today’s newspapers, is told from two points of view – those of Emery’s and Jake’s – and is a gripping, page-turner from the get-go. Author Beck McDowell’s thriller, while sometimes slightly unbelievable, is a book young adults will find fascinating.

I recommend this book highly. It is well-written and will hit young readers on so many levels while teaching all of us some important lessons. I have a gently used hardback copy of this book I will offer to one lucky follower who leaves a comment. If you spread the word by posting the link to this post on Twitter, Facebook, your own blog, or any other social media and tell me what you did I will put your name in the proverbial hat an extra time. This is for U. S. addresses only. If you aren’t yet a follower, either subscribe by email or sign up as a follower. Free and easy. Check the right-hand column. I will choose a winner next, Sunday if all goes well. (Barring any computer viruses such as kept me from posting last week.)

Please make sure you check Shannon Messenger’s blog (click HERE) for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday links and Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog (click HERE) for Perfect Picture Book Friday.


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