Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Hello Readers!
I'm happy to announce that Jimmy Spoon and the Pony Express is back in
hand, and I've published it as a Kindle and in a fresh paperback.  For ages 10 and up, this picks up where THE LEGEND OF JIMMY SPOON leaves off, in a fast-paced, robust historical adventure based on the true exploits of Elijah Nicholas Wilson: 
   Salt Lake City, 1860:  It's been several years since young Jimmy Spoon returned from living with the Shoshoni and he's restless.  Working at the family store is drudgery.  He longs to get out of the city, to breathe fresh air, and to sleep under the stars.   One day, he sees a newspaper ad:  "WANTED:  Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18.  Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily, orphans preferred.  Wages $25 a week ... "
   It's the chance of a lifetime.  And Jimmy knows he's a perfect candidate.  After years with the Indians, he can ride a horse like no other white boy.  The trail boss hires him on the spot.
   But riding for the Express isn't easy.  A rider must cover 50 miles a day through rugged terrain that exhausts three or four horses on each trip.  Living conditions are primitive.  There are outlaws, angry tribes, blistering heat and below-zero winters.
   And all along, Jimmy yearns to return to his Shoshoni family.  Especially to rekindle his friendship with the lovely Nahanee.

** Booklist: "Gregory packs her chapters with enough action, drama, and humor to please even hard-core reluctant readers ... A painless way to learn about American history." 
** VOYA:  " ... terrific ... "
** School Library Journal:  " ... exciting ... those who have not read Legend will certainly want to do so after finishing this one."

I hope you enjoy meeting Jimmy Spoon, and I hope you enjoy reading about the research and true history of this story in my memoir,  BLUE SKIES: ONE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY, to be published this fall.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Hello Readers ... I'm excited to give you this news: BRONTE'S BOOK CLUB is back in my hands, and I've published it as an ebook and in paperback.  Kirkus Reviews calls it a "poignantly wholesome offering," and Booklist says, "This book shows how talking about a great story can spark connections."
   The novel tells of 12-year-old Bronte Bella who moves to a small California beach town. She tries to make friends by organizing a book club that gets off to a rocky start with jealousy, quarrels, and gossip. But as the girls discuss the historical novel ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O'Dell, they see parallels in their lives and that of the main character, Karana, the Chumash Indian who had lived alone on San Nicholas Island during the mid-1800s. As they reflect on, and quote from the story they begin to discover true friendship. And of course, a good dog is involved!
BFFs, I'm 2nd from left
Bronte is based on my own girlhood [PHOTO, left]. A few of us started the Manhattan Beach 4th Street Book & Snack Club. That wasn't its official name, but that's how we thought of it. With younger siblings tagging along, we rode our bikes to the pier then up the hill to the library where whispering--quiet whispering--was strictly enforced. There we roamed the stacks until we each found a book to check out, its plastic cover then crackling against our handlebars as we rode home, fast, because of the treats that awaited us. It was the best part of the club, eating Hostess Twinkies and red licorice while looking out at the ocean. Though we never actually discussed the stories we read, we sure had a blast.
   I hope you enjoy meeting Bronte, and I hope you enjoy reading behind-the-scenes of writing this story in my memoir,  BLUE SKIES: ONE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY, to be published this fall.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Purple prose: memoir 24

In 1982, a Telegram-Tribune editor gave it to me straight.
     I had covered a San Luis Obispo city meeting that dragged until 10 pm. Friday. I had squirmed trying to pay attention, but the speakers were dry as cactus. Time to jazz things up, I thought. I returned to the newsroom and typed like mad for the Saturday morning edition. With just thirty minutes until deadline, I felt someone stand behind me. A hand reached over my shoulder and yanked out the paper.
     "Kristi!" John Marrs shouted loud enough to stop the hybrid tapping of computer keys and typewriters. "You should be writing fiction!"
     A bit of courage raised my voice. "What do you mean?" I asked.
     "Your lead is too flowery. No one cares about the color of wallpaper or the potted plants. It's a business story! Do it over."
     Oops, more Purple Prose.
     That bit of yelled advice from the managing editor, a man I greatly respected, tore cobwebs off my brain. Fiction. Of course. Made-up stories had been my passion since a little girl.
     My days at the T-T waned. Budget cuts meant lay offs and I was one of them. Still renting a room for $50 a month, I dug in with writing and submitting to magazines only to collect rejections. Art Seidenbaum phoned one afternoon and asked if I'd be interested in being a columnist for a Beverly Hills weekly.
     "Lots of movie gossip," he said. It sounded like fun, but I didn't want to return to freeways and smog. He understood and continued to send books to review for The Times. Those few hundred dollars a month helped with my Spartan living.
     In the spring that year, the new city editor called and invited me back to the T-T. I had loved working there. Writing stories then seeing them in print the next day was such a high. I missed my colleagues and the wild pace of breaking news, but turned down the offer.
     A happy event had changed my life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Royal wedding: memoir 23

On a warm summer night in San Luis Obispo, California, my girlfriends and I gathered for an all-nighter: to watch The Royal Wedding!
     The date: July 29, 1981. At 3:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. in London) Diana arrived at St. Paul's Cathedral in a glass coach, veiled in lace. "Like Cinderella," we squealed, ignoring that the fairytale actually described a glass slipper and a pumpkin coach. Didn't matter. Diana was beautiful (and thin!), the train on her ivory-silk gown with puffed sleeves 25-feet long. We watched the ceremony, hushed, drinking coffee to stay awake, part of a global TV audience: 750 million, according to the BBC.
     Britain declared a national holiday, but we Americans went to work. At the Telegram-Tribune, I banged out the best piece I'd ever written. Swooning details included the coachman's scarlet-and-gold waistcoat and his bay horses, Lady Penelope and Kestral; Diana's veiled face so pretty and innocent. 
     I pulled the story from my typewriter and with a flourish presented it to city editor, Jeff Fairbanks, watching for his reaction from the safety of my desk. He read without expression. Then in one swift motion he crumbled the paper into a ball, yelled "incoming!" and lobbed it over to another editor who held out his wastebasket without looking up. Score.
     My story, trashed, just like that. I felt too embarrassed to ask why. Looking back, it probably oozed Purple Prose.

From BLUE SKIES: ONE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY, to be published this Fall.