Kristin Wolden Nitz's Blog

April 29, 2019

Shut Down!

It kept happening. My Dell laptop would freeze up and slowly shut itself down. I performed search after search of what could be causing it. Was it an update? Was it a fan that had too much dust? I made sure that I only had one program up when I was meeting a self-imposed deadline to get my manuscript to my agent. I lowered the brightness setting on my screen, but it kept happening. Auto-recovery was my friend. I never lost too much.

But then I had an event coming up where I was supposed to be leading a workshop on the first pages for mysteries for the IFW. I could not disappear for ten minutes as my laptop leisurely shut itself down. I started searching again and found a post from Ask the Manager. This person had discovered that it was possible to edit the power plan. I changed my settings per the recommendations.

Problem solved!

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Published on April 29, 2019 18:39

April 26, 2019

Nitzpicking: A Manuscript Review Service

My manuscript review service focuses primarily on middle grade and young adult novels.  It starts with a “Let’s Get Acquainted” review of a manuscript for thirty dollars. I spend a half an hour reading an excerpt and making comments followed by a second half-hour in which I briefly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your project. If you think we’re a good fit, we discuss what you’re looking for via email. It can anything from a tight edit to a Skype discussion based on my notes, which I would send in advance.  If your project contains horror or sexually explicit scenes, I am not the right person for you. I don’t read or write in those genres, so I don’t know the conventions.

While I have helped one author edit a couple of her independently published picture books, I feel that I have more to offer novelists. In fact, when I attended a retreat with award-winning picture book author Lisa Wheeler, this was how she opened our one-on-one: “You’re a novelist, aren’t you?” I told her that I was guilty as charged but wanted to attend the retreat with my friends and needed to submit something. But here’s the thing.  If you want to tell your story in a certain way, I can help with punctuation, continuity, and logic.

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Published on April 26, 2019 12:37

April 3, 2019

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Commas

To use a comma or not: that is the question. Here are some variations on punctuating dialogue and dealing with dependent phrases and clauses.  The repetition could seem mind-numbingly boring, but I wanted to write the same content in a number of different ways for clarity with respect to punctuation and capitalization.



“Come with me. You’ll have fun.” My friend held out his hand.

“Come with me. You’ll have fun,” my friend said, holding out his hand.

“Come with me. You’ll have fun,” my friend said.

“Come with me,” my friend said. “You’ll have fun.”

“Come with me.” My friend held out his hand. “You’ll have fun.”

“Come with me,” my friend said, “and we’ll have some fun.”

My friend held out his hand. “Come with me. You’ll have fun.”

My friend said, “Come with me. You’ll have fun.”

“Come with me?” my friend asked. “You’ll have fun.”

Come with me!” my friend shouted. “You’ll have fun!”



When my friend held out her hand, I went to her.

I went to my friend when she held out her hand. (No comma here!)

Holding out his hand, he backed away.  (Apply the “while” test to participle phrases.)

While holding out her hand, she backed away.

He backed away, holding out his hand.

He backed away while holding out his hand. (No comma here either.)

After holding out his hand, he backed away.

As he held out his hand, he backed away.

He held out his hand as he backed away.  (No comma.)

Going with her would be fun.






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Published on April 03, 2019 12:12

October 19, 2017

Defending Irene


[image error]A thirteen-year-old American girl plays on a fiercely competitive boy’s soccer team during the year her family spends in Italy and experiences culture clashes both on and off the field.


What keeps this tale from being just another soccer story with play-by-play action is the unique setting; the inventiveness of the chapter headings, which consist of Italian words, pronunciations, and definitions; and Irene’s determination.

School Library Journal

September, 2004

Soccer fans, especially girls, will appreciate the well-drawn action sequences and Irene’s feisty spirit.

Horn Book Guide

Fall, 2004

I love the way the author has translated the dialogue. The kids are speaking in Italian, and even though she writes it all in English (with a few Italian words we come to know sprinkled in), she conveys the spirit of the Italian by using word choices and arrangements a little different from colloquial English. It reminds me of native German speakers speaking English.


May, 2004

[image error]

Send a free sample to your Kindle or read a chapter online.

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Published on October 19, 2017 09:56

August 9, 2016

U.S.A. vs Colombia at 6:00 pm Eastern and 3:00 Pacific!

During so many events at the Olympic games, the local crowds have tended to cheer against the U.S.  But will they feel the same about the women’s soccer team? We’ll see. One fan thinks that Tobin Heath is secretly Brazilian.  And there are rivalries in South America. My Peruvian sister-in-law is always happy to cheer against Brazil.

For me August 9th is a day of undiluted soccer happiness. My 2004 novel about an American girl playing on an Italian boys’ soccer team is being released as an e-book.  B&N has an excerpt.

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Published on August 09, 2016 09:32

Defending Irene was Released as an E-book Today

My soccer novel about an American girl playing on an Italian boys’ team in Italy was released as an e-book today. Since DEFENDING IRENE originally came out in 2004, a few sections will undoubtedly read more like historical fiction. But so many things hold up. Italian women and girls are making slow but serious headway against the perception that they shouldn’t be involved in such a violent, brutal sport. In fact, they just missed qualifying for the Euro Cup this year. Barnes and Noble has an excerpt of the first few chapters of DEFENDING IRENE on its site at the bottom of this page.  Amazon customers can go here, but there’s no excerpt so far.


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Published on August 09, 2016 09:16

July 1, 2016

Italy vs. German: Euro Cup 2016

My name and heritage might be German, but I’ll be cheering for the Azzurri this Saturday, July 2, at 3:00 Eastern time and noon Pacific time on ESPN 2 when the Italians take on Germany in the Euro quarterfinal match. After all, once upon a time, my American son dreamed of playing for the Italian World Cup team.  He’d lived in Italy from pre-school through second grade and attended the local schools.  The whole idea of citizenship thing wasn’t quite clicking for him, and he’d once mistaken a dollar bill for a Deutchmark.

While we lived in Italy, I had the opportunity to watch a local Italian-speaking team play against a local German-speaking team while doing the research for my soccer novel, Defending Irene. So I know some of what will be shouted from both sidelines.

“Schnell! Schnell! Schnell!” from the Germans.  (Fast, fast, fast.)

Dai!, Dai! Dai!” from the Italians. It sounds like “Die! Die! Die!” which might have been a bit unsettling to English players even though they undoubtedly expected it. I don’t have a really good translation for dai, but it’s similar to “Come on!”  I’ve heard “Ma dai!” used as a protest.

If you’re curious about just how passionate Italians are about soccer, consider checking Defending Irene out of your local library. It’s also available in hardcover at Amazon.  The Kindle edition, while available for pre-order now, will be released on August 9th. I’ll include an excerpt from the first chapter in the coming days.

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Published on July 01, 2016 17:55

December 10, 2015

A Few International Reads

On my bookshelf, I have all sorts of outdated Rick Steves guidebooks from the days my husband I roamed around Europe with our kids. Product Details In one of his books, he recommended that parents have their kids watch movies to help get them excited about different locations before they arrived.  I remember picking up the Italian-dubbed version of Anastasia at the library in Merano where we lived.  My Saving the Griffin could be a good choice for kids visiting Tuscany. While most of the book is set at a villa there, several chapters take place in Siena.


Here are a few titles that really brought me back to France and Italy after I returned to the U.S.:




Product Details Product Details


A Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet (Paris)

A Box of Gargoyles by Anne Nesbet  (Paris) Previous book’s sequel


Product Details

Black Radishes
by Susan Lynn Meyer (Opens in Paris)





Product Details

The Thief Lord (Venice)

Product Details

Bloomability by Sharon Creech (Much takes place just north of Italy, but there’s a trip to the Dolomites)


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Published on December 10, 2015 20:30

December 9, 2015

Regional Reads for Christmas

How do you pick out a Christmas gift for a young reader?  There are all sorts of ways to choose, but sometimes I like to pick out a book set in a place where those readers live or featuring characters from the same locality. Readers have enjoyed recognizing places from Suspect, my mystery set in Missouri with scenes that take place in St. Louis and Augusta. Defending Irene might be set in the Italian Alps, but it features a young American soccer player from the St. Louis area. Saving the Griffin is set in Tuscany, but it features characters from Minnesota.

What are some other fun regional reads?  Here are some other middle grade and YA selections that are some new reads and old favorites all mixed together that I could think off up the top of my head in this busy holiday season. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments. I’ll be adding and updating.


Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan (YA)


One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia

Quad by C.G. Watson

Millicent Min: Girl Genius by Lisa Yee


Katerina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley

Searching for Silverheels by Jeannie Mobley


The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck


Do You Know the Monkey Man by Dori Hillestad Butler


Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith



Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack



Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel


Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck

Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson


Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick

New Mexico 

Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft (YA)

New York

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

Eighth-Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

South Carolina

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Palace Beautiful by Sarah Deford Williams



Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith



Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft (YA)



Faithful by Janet Fox (YA)



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Published on December 09, 2015 12:47

League of Extraordinary Writers

I’ll be leading a workshop at the Powell’s in Beaverton, Oregon at 2:00 PM on the relation of conflict and character to story.

League of Extraordinary Writers

League of Extraordinary Writers

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Published on December 09, 2015 11:26