Ghost Lights, Kindness,
and Jon Bon Jovi

Sixteen-year-old Rae Ballester grew up listening to ’80s rock with her dad. But since he died, the music is her way of escaping from the world. On the anniversary of his death, a stranger commits an unexpected act of kindness and tells Rae to pay it forward. She decides to audition for the school play and finds a group of kids to join in her kindness crusade, as well as a boy who gives Rae a reason to ditch her earbuds. Mac helps her open up again, only to wind up more confused and heartbroken than before. It will take an anti–burn book, a tortoiseshell cat, a silver bell, and a botched béarnaise sauce to show Rae that all the kindness in the world won’t be enough if she’s not first kind to herself.


Cancer. It’s not a word seventeen-year-old Dell Marshall expected to hear. As an avid runner, she’s used to pushing herself through a certain amount of pain, but she suspects going through chemo will be nothing like that. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is a photographer, ready to capture the truth and wonder of life. But Dell can’t imagine how he’ll find beauty in what she’s about to endure. As her treatment progresses, Dell grows weary of living life like it’s a battlefield. But that doesn’t mean she’s giving up. Sometimes it takes not knowing what tomorrow will hold to make you realize what’s worth fighting for today.

About me

Having written stories since childhood, I have long been passionate about words. After majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, I embarked on a career as an editor at an oncology-based advertising agency. Outside of work, I gravitated toward literature for children, with a focus on young adults. The novels above are the products of years of learning, living, and loving.


I believe kindness is like dominoes: one kind act can set off a chain of similar events. So I created a website to celebrate all the ways people can choose to be kind. With ideas related to animals, books, food, letters, and more, with suggestions for good deeds to do for family or friends, neighbors, or coworkers, and with a calendar of fun holidays and nice ways to commemorate them, The Kindness Effect makes it easy to set a kindness domino in motion.


Paper art is my jam—check out some of my work.


If you’d like to get in touch, please drop me a line.


“I suspect that what you’ve developed over your years of writing is voice.  Apart from the craft items that you’ve mastered (dialog, plot, pacing, etc.) your voice is distinctive and strong and that’s so crucial to a great story.”
—Kathryn Erskine, 2011, following the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua