In the dungeon with the kids? You need books on Kobo? Here you go!

Have you got a Kobo ereader down there? I can get you some books. ©Laurel Decher, 2020.

The Good News:

Kobo is having a wonderful sale on Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale books in time for the launch of the newest exciting adventure for kids ages 8 to 12!

Book 1 is free until October 31st.

Book 2 is 40% off if you use the top secret promo code: OCT40

It works for Canada, United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand!

Book 3 is full-price because it’s brand-spanking new!!!

The BAD News:

Today (October 28th, 2020) is the LAST Day for Book 2! So please hurry! I don’t want you to miss it! Especially if you are spending time in the dungeon with kids! You need stuff to read that’s good for the whole family.

P.S. I told you the dungeons in the Seven Kingdoms are famous for their hospitality. You didn’t believe me, did you?

P.P.S. Don’t forget the promo code for Book 2: It’s OCT40. It works on other books in the sale too, in case the grown-ups also need something.

A Seven Kingdoms #BookBirthday Celebration!

Available Now! Click here for more.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Beat pumpkin, sugar and oil. Add eggs and mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, add to pumpkin mixture and beat until well blended.
Pour into greased 15″x10″x1″ baking pan (jelly roll pan). Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.

Frosting: 1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened (6 T)
5 T. butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 to 4 tsp. milk
chopped walnuts (optional)

Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add sugar, mix well. Add milk until frosting reaches desired spreading consistency. Frost cake. Sprinkle with nuts. Makes 20-24 servings.❈

**********Thanks to Debbie Clark for this much-loved recipe!!!***********

Happy Birthday to the Queen! (And to a brand new winter squash!)

It’s a brand-new, baby squash seedling! Hooray!!!

Why all the excitement? I don’t know how things are going at your house, but I re-planted three times this year. I’d given up hope.

Wishing you lots of hope this summer–we’re getting lots of chances to re-plant our lives in 2020! May they bear good fruit for all of us.

Dear friends, 

You are invited to a royal tea party. . .with little boats carrying cakes, cream puffs, and eclairs for you to choose from!

It’s a challenge to celebrate, but we must be inventive together–like the nameless princess. 🙂 

Queen Elizabeth is very different from the Blackfly Queen! (Those Corgis would have been handy with the croquet fever.)

As a party favor, TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS will be discounted from June 11-16th on Kobo, Apple iBooks, Amazon, and many other stores in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.

Could you all help spread the word? Queen Elizabeth will be 94 this year. I’m planning a special surprise for you as a gift if we reach 94 downloads.

So, if you have friends in Commonwealth countries, spread the word! 🙂

Thanks very much for your help!

Happy Reading!


P.S. The next Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale is getting underway! Keep reading below for more details and the beautiful submarine on the cover.

P.P. S. If you want to take the virtual Tour of the Saffron Kingdom, check it out here.

It’s the Queen’s* Birthday Sale!

Trouble With Parsnips tablet, phone and hardcover editions

To celebrate, the nameless princess’ got all dressed up in a brand new cover. (Print editions coming soon!)

How do you like her new outfit? 🙂

GO TO KOBO ‘s online store for the Birthday Party Sale!

*No, not the Blackfly Queen’s–her birthday parties aren’t safe.

If you don’t read on Kobo, you can choose your favorite online store here:

cover of Under Pressure With a Squash: The Mutliplication Problem. Shows girl archer standing on top of submarine with baby dragons playing. Boy looks out of top of submarine


For eleven-year-old Princess Saffy, tests ARE the point. Her twin, Prince Magellan, thinks tests are pointless.

But when their beloved dragon gets them into trouble with the Fairy Kingdom. . . the Saffron twins must face the ultimate test–together!

How can they beat the pressure?

Get on board the Hubbard submarine and find out!

What is International Book Giving Day?

This beautiful poster was created by Sanne Dufft, an illustrator and picture book author from Germany.

What is international book giving day?

Get the poster, bookmarks and bookplate here.

The website suggests 6 ways you can get involved:

14th February is about getting books into the hands of as many children as possible on 14th February #bookgivingday

“1 in 8 disadvantaged children in the UK don’t own a single book” [source: National Literacy Trust, Dec 2017]

6 Ways You Can Get Involved in International Book Giving Day!

  1. Subscribe to our website, join over 14,000 already committed to #bookgivingday.
  2. Leave a book for a child to discover, donate to a local charity.
  3. Connect with others celebrating International Book Giving Day via Facebook, Twitter  and Instagram #bookgivingday
  4. Download and print an International Book Giving Day bookmark and/or bookplate to attach to a book you give. They’re free!
  5. Share a photo of yourself celebrating International Book Giving Day. Use #bookgivingday on social media so we can find you.
  6. Invite your community to celebrate International Book Giving Day. Proudly display the #bookgivingday poster.

In addition, we encourage people to support the work of nonprofit organisations (i.e. charities) that work year round to give books to children. See the links in the side bar. This is not a comprehensive list, by any means.

International Book Giving Day has continued to grow & grow since it began in 2012.

International Book Giving Day is celebrated by people in over 44 countries, including – Ukraine, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Australia, Canada, South Africa, France, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Brazil, Egypt, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Mexico, Macedonia, Malawi, Hungary, Malaysia, Israel, Denmark, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Thailand, Indonesia, Jordan, China, Puerto Rico and Bulgaria.

We hope that people around the world will think about the best ways to help children in need in their communities.

International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books.

International Book Giving Day is run by Emma Perry (My Book Corner, UK) and brilliantly supported by Catherine Friess – Story Snug (Germany) on Twitter.Contact: Emma Perry . email: emperry @ gmail dot com  — general enquiries

A magical gift for you!

“Trouble At The Christmas Fair” is free at online booksellers during the holidays! It’s perfect for ages nine to twelve.

(December 2019 through a little bit of January 2020.)

Get your magic here.

Book cover for bonus story Trouble at the Christmas Fair shows snow on German Christmas market
This complete short story is a heartfelt THANK YOU to faithful readers.
Or an appetizer for those of you who’d like to check out the Seven Kingdoms.
For ages 9 to 12.


Eleven-year-old Prince Nero has got his hands full! His royal mother wants to solve their kingdom’s money problems with her Quality Blackfly Gingerbread.

The problem is. . .not everyone agrees with her ideas of what “Quality” means.

The gingerbread oven isn’t the only thing heating up!

This complete short story is an appetizer (22 pages) for the magical world of the Seven Kingdoms.

TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS and LOST WITH LEEKS are much longer. Tales can be read in any order. 🙂


In each Tale, a fairy godparent gives one lucky child the perfect leadership gift. Abracadabra!

If only they’d remember the training wheels! Yiiiiiiikes!

Whether it’s speaking up at a feast, or reading a map in a strange kingdom, these Tales are all about finding more magic in your life.

Get yours here.

Happy Day-Before-St. Nicholas-Day!

Small bread baked in the shape of gingerbread men in a bakery window
These “Bread Guys” are in a Luxembourg bakery. ©Laurel Decher, 2019.

Would your family like to celebrate St. Nicholas’s Day this year? At our house, it’s always been a nice start to a busy month.

Making Stutenkerle or “Bread Guys” is a fun, easy, and reasonably healthy after-school activity on December 5th.

Afterwards, the kids can do what German kids are doing: clean their boots and put them out for St. Nicholas.

On December 6th, our kids’ boots were full of things to get their own presents organized.

  • Gift bows or
  • tags,
  • ribbon,
  • a roll of wrapping paper.
  • And a chocolate St. Nicholas.

And the Bread Guys!

Bread Guys make breakfast the next morning VERY cheerful.

In the Rhineland where I live, you can buy Weckmänner in the bakeries.The word sounds like “Men who wake you up.” I’m still waiting for someone to explain that to me. . .  🙂

What, no German bakeries?

The easy way to do this:

  • refrigerator biscuit dough from the grocery store* and
  • raisins,
  • sprinkles,
  • almonds,
  • red hots,
  • or whatever you have for decoration.

*Fun fact:Knack und Back” is the German name for those refrigerator rolls that you smack (“Knack”) on the counter and they pop open. “Back” means to bake.

Stuck for ideas for those shiny clean boots? How about a copy of. . . . [you saw that one coming, didn’t you? 🙂]

Boy holding leeks in a hot air balloon with dragon and fairy godfather overhead, sleigh chained to the hot air balloon basket


A Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale, Book 2

Argh! Crown Prince Nero is lost again. That’s what he gets for trying to fly a hot air balloon. Thanks to his fairy godfather’s gift, every map and compass goes kerflooey as soon as Nero touches it.

Even worse, his royal mom has just kidnapped St. Nicholas.

If Nero can’t find his true North in a hurry, he’ll never rescue him before St. Nicholas’s Day!

Ebook available at:




Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

More stores coming soon!

Paperback and Hardcovers available at online stores and wherever books are sold (or borrowed!)



Book Depository

Lucy Goosey


Happy St. Nicholas’s Day!!!

Prince Nero goes to Luxembourg?!?

We book people know that books are a doorway to adventure so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I got to visit a whole new country because of the Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tales.

Unlike Prince Nero, I didn’t get lost. Because I had help from my friends at the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. *waves* That’s the purple SCBWI banner in the photo above.

The Prime Minister of Luxembourg strolled by our booth, evidently a book person too. Lots of families speaking lots of languages strolled by too. 🙂 I recognized English, French, Luxembourgisch, Italian, and German.

Luxembourg is full of orange and yellow trees at this time of year and nestles down into deep valleys in true storybook style.

As usual, I ran across bits and pieces of new stories:

the flame at the veteran’s memorial,

the glass roof over the historic train station where Jewish people were deported to concentration camps in World War II,

a mysterious stone building with a tower tucked into a deep valley,

and the French versions of “Bread Guys” that show up everywhere in honor of St. Nicholas’s Day. The stained glass window showing Luxembourg City is above the train arrivals and departures. Elegant, no?

If you live in or near Luxembourg and are looking for English language children’s books, check out the selection at Lucy Goosey. Lots of happy book buyers were browsing at their warm and friendly booth.

Find the Lucy Goosey bookstore here. Or if you’re not into Facebook, this helpful blog post might interest you.

tablet phone ebook hardcover images of LOST WITH LEEKS

If you get lost as often as I do, you might enjoy Prince Nero’s adventures in LOST WITH LEEKS.

Click here for more about the book.

There’s more to explore!

The second book in the Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale series is all about exploring–with a prince who has no sense of direction!

A map of the Seven Kingdoms from the Proclamation. The kingdoms in the Rhine and Mosel River valleys are: Cochem, Marigold, Indigo, Magenta, Saffron, Rose, and, of course, Blackfly! ©Laurel Decher, 2019

Just for fun, here are the real castles that inspired the Blackfly and the Saffron Kingdoms. LOST WITH LEEKS stars the Blackfly Prince Nero and the Saffron royal twins: Prince Magellan and Princess Saffy!

Nero’s a trouble-magnet–for compasses, maps and magical creatures. Worse, his royal mom has kidnapped St. Nicholas. Nero’s got to map out a rescue right away!


This will be short and SWEET! 🙂

The second Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale is almost ready!

Argh! Twelve-year-old Crown Prince Nero is lost again. That’s what he gets for trying to fly a hot air balloon. Thanks to his fairy godfather’s “gift,” every compass and map goes kerflooey as soon as Nero touches it.

Even worse, his royal mom has just kidnapped St. Nicholas. If Nero can’t find his true North in a hurry, he’ll never rescue him before St. Nicholas’s Day!

Why read Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tales?

Everyone knows the leaders of tomorrow will need lots of skills. Whether it’s speaking up at a feast, or reading a map in a strange kingdom, these Tales are all about finding more magic in your life.

For ages 9 to 12. Click HERE for more about the book, including where to order. Thank you!

Another Veggie of the Week Challenge: Romanesco to the Rescue! Plus A Giveaway!

metal wok on table with butterfly pasta, red peppers, romanesco cauliflower that looks like tiny green Christmas trees
Red Pepper, Romanesco, Leek, and English Bacon Pasta. © Jan Decher, 2018.

After years of studying chronic disease epidemiology, I’m convinced that vegetables are hugely important (And delicious.)

But. . . .when I’m writing a story, I forget how much I like healthy food. Soooooooo. . . .

Each week, I’ve been celebrating a vegetable in a Half-way Healthy supper.


Until December 3rd, you can sign up here for my email newsletter and get  TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS free (ebook or Kindle). Unsubscribe at any time.

Note: This is the complete book, not just the preview.

Why? PARSNIPS are humble root vegetables. This short giveaway is a little pizzazz to help make friends with new readers.


Back to our regularly scheduled program: (TA-DAAA!)


The Veggie of the Week Challenge


No recipes will appear here in their entirety.

No holds barred. If the crew orders out for pizza, you’ll get the details here.

At least one inexpensive vegetable must appear in the meal. (Honor of an epidemiologist!)

Half-way healthy. An attempt at lower fat and whole grains will be made, but cream and cheese will inevitably appear. You’ve been warned.

It’s a cauliflower! It’s a broccoli! No, it’s . . .


Whole head of pale green cauliflower with green minarets on a red napkin
I’m sure aliens must eat Romanesco. *makes note for sci-fi novel* © Jan Decher, 2018.

Half-way healthy: This supper starts off with a leek.

If you aren’t used to leeks, slice off the roots on the white end, and any wilty or tough parts on the green top. Lay it down and slice the whole thing length-wise. Wash each half well under the faucet (or you’ll have grit). After it’s washed, slice it thin across the grain. It is worth it–leeks have a nice mild-but-interesting flavor. (You can use an onion, if you don’t have a leek.)

Sauté: Sliced leek with a few chopped slices of English bacon (looked leaner than the American kind) in olive oil.

Core: Take off the outside leaves and core the Romanesco. My sous-chef a.k.a. photographer cut it into small pieces (Thanks sous-chef!). The florets don’t break off like regular cauliflower.

Even with the cover on, the Romanesco took longer to cook than I expected–about 15 minutes. It’s not as fast as broccoli. Red pepper wedges went in as the Romanesco was getting tender. I turned the heat down to keep the pepper peel tender.

Sauce: A spoonful of cornstarch dissolved in a cup or two of cold water plus a healthy bouillion cube. Add to stir-fry and heat gently until thickened.

Cooked separately: Cooked whole wheat pasta went in after the Romanesco was tender. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Cheap: I splurged on the Romanesco because I thought you’d enjoy how it looks. So, not cheap (under $5 or 5 Euros). But it makes a lot of food–easily supper for six adults.

Oddly, there was one head of Romanesco in the middle of a box of normal cauliflower at the local discounter (Aldi). So, it could have been cheap. If I hadn’t already splurged. Yes, I know, I’m weasel-ling.

Vote: Needs more pep. The Christmas-tree shape of the Romanesco is charming. Overall, the team went along with it, but they prefer “normal” cauliflower for flavor.

We all wished for the Chili-Garlic Puree from our grocery store in Vermont to pep things up. If you can get some, try it. 1/2 teaspoon would be perfect in this supper.

Years ago, I read in a library book (natch!) that Chili-Garlic Puree is the key to authentic Chinese cooking, but I can’t give you the source. 🙁


If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for my Reader’s List. Once a month, I share new middle grade fiction, story-related freebies, and/or related blog posts. If it’s not your thing, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Until December 3rd, use this link to sign up, so you get your free copy of TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS. Thanks for your interest!

The Reading Wonder Giveaway for Middle Grade eBooks includes LOTS of middle grade authors, check it the whole giveaway here.

book cover image for TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS princess with toolbox standing on top of a burning tower

If you enjoy visiting Cochem castle as much as I do, you might like the story of this inventor princess.

It’s save-the-kingdom time. . .

Can she finally use the one tool that’s never worked. . .her quiet voice?

It’s a way to spend a little more time in the Seven Kingdoms.

Happy reading!

Click here for more about the book.