Spells & Spies

10 03 2014

photo PatriceI love it when I see authors using creativity to hook readers. Had to smile at Patrice Lyle’s preparations for her Skype visit with a school.

With her Spells & Spies sign in the background and crystal ball in hand, she was ready to discuss her tween mystery in the Poison Ivy series, The Case of the Invisible Witch. Other props included items from her paranormal collection (the figure she used to inspire the series) and surprise visits from two of her three cats.

She also gave the schools a pdf with discussion questions (authored by Mary Helen Sheriff, along with some great Common Core activities)and writing prompts as well as tidbits of interesting information about herself, such as the fact that her father was a detective and she used to snoop in his files. That’s how she learned so much about solving mysteries.

And just to clarify, the pink room is her writing room, not her daughter’s bedroom, as one student guessed.

Interested in a Skype visit with Patrice? You can contact her through her website. Learn more about her at her Leap Books author page or Twitter (@Patrice_Lyle).

Poison Ivy Cover

Poison Ivy Cover


Thirteen-year-old Tulip Bonnaire, Witch PI, runs Spells & Spies out of her dorm room at Poison Ivy Charm School, a school for polite witches and warlocks. She has only 72 hours to figure out her latest case, or her classmate, Missy, will never be seen again. Literally.

When Missy shows up in Tulip’s dorm room around midnight, she’s invisible. As in not even x-ray vision could spot her. The mean triplets who call themselves The Belles have cast an invisibility spell on poor Missy. But if Tulip can’t break the spell in 72 hours, Missy will remain invisible forever.

It’s a case Tulip can’t resist — between her mom’s annoying new boyfriend and her own secret crush at school, Tulip understands how much it stinks to feel invisible. Luckily for Tulip, her two best friends and her cute, techy guy friend help dig up clues on a case that turns out to be her freakiest one ever.

Junior FBI Agents Solve Mysteries

20 12 2013

Fallen Prey    CoverIt’s always exciting to announce new releases from other Carolinas SCBWI members. And today, I’m lucky enough to have mystery writer Ann Eisenstein here to talk about her new release, Fallen Prey. Not all mystery writers have Ann’s background, so I’ll let her share about herself and her qualifications.

I grew up on a farm in Sidney, Ohio, where weekly trips to the library made it possible to explore and dream about the world beyond. I attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, graduating with a BS degree in Education, with an English and Journalism minor.

I taught elementary school in Ohio and California before obtaining my M.Ed. in School Psychology from Wright State University, Fairborn, OH. As a psychologist, I served in school systems in Texas, California, Michigan, and South Carolina, in adolescent psychiatric treatment facilities, in private practice, and for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. I taught college level Psychology in Columbia, SC, where I currently reside.Ann E Eisenstein

I continue to volunteer and mentor with Richland County Schools, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

My first juvenile fiction, Hiding Carly, was published in 2012. Fallen Prey, book two of the three-part Sean Gray, Junior Special Agent Mystery series, was released in November, 2013.

A lot of people have asked me why I wrote Hiding Carly. Where did I get the idea, the inspiration, and the mystery? None of my persona operates in isolation. I was mentoring a fifth grade boy at the time. I work a lot with kids in that community on various skills from school problems to social skills and problem and conflict solving. He was not much of a talker. And struggled academically. He was from an extremely low social-economic stratum.

Sean Gray JSA BadgeAlong with his fifth grade peers, he was engaged in a unique program offered by the FBI, the Junior Special Agent Program. I witnessed a growing interest in what this program had to offer. He was genuinely interested in something! It was exciting – and gave us something to talk about! (Besides his baseball games – which I loved watching!)

An idea crept into my head about a Junior Special Agent protagonist! I struck up a conversation with the Special Agent in charge of this program, relaying how much my mentee was learning and benefiting from it. And I mentioned “the book”! The agent agreed to an interview! A seed. A kernel. A beginning.

And from that seed the series began. Hiding Carly was the first book and the latest is Fallen Prey.


Twelve-year-old Junior Special Agent Sean Gray is in a race against time.

Could there be a connection between his testimony in the trial of an international child kidnapping ring and his mysterious accident?
While the sheriff’s department and the FBI are investigating, his new friend, Gabby, gets caught in the web of an online predator and disappears. She’s been missing for more than 48 hours, and the authorities have not been able to find her. Sean goes undercover to bait the mysterious hunter. But when he becomes the prey, how will he rescue her?

To find out more about Ann and the Junior Special Agent Sean Gray series as well as her other books, you can visit her website. And if you’d like to win an autographed copy of Fallen Prey, just leave a comment any time up until January 2, 2014. We’ll pick one lucky winner in the New Year.