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Let me tell you about my friend Ann.

Simply put, Ann Kaner-Roth was an amazing woman. Early in her career, she was an advocate for early childhood education. She was perhaps best known as the leader of Project 515, a nonprofit organization in the mid 2000s that fought to overturn the 515 laws on Minnesota’s books that discriminated against same sex couples. Her work there evolved into being one of the driving forces behind Minnesota United for All Families, the movement that successfully stopped a proposed 2012 constitutional amendment to prevent same sex marriage in Minnesota. When love became the law of the land, she went to work for the ACLU and then eventually became deputy secretary of state for Minnesota.

Ann passed away yesterday. She’d been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year and did what she always did: she fought like hell. In the end, she lost the battle. In November, she’d been given about three months to live. She only ended up with barely three more weeks.

I wasn’t Ann’s closest friend, not by a long shot (she had so many….). But I loved her. I’d only known her about ten years. I met her through my husband who’d known her since the 80s. From our very first meeting, I knew immediately that she was a person of infinite kindness, compassion, and love. In fact, there was not a single thing in her life that Ann didn’t do in the name of love, whether it was because she loved the cause or because she was fighting so others could love. She is someone I will always associate with that word.

At one point during the service today, an event that packed the facility, the attendees were asked to stand if their marriage is now legal because of Ann’s actions. So many people stood up, and I was proudly among them. I’m glad I once got to thank her for everything she did so that my husband and I could enjoy the same rights as all married couples. We were so lucky to have her at our wedding. I hope she knew how many others in Minnesota were grateful as well.

She leaves behind her adoring husband and three super amazing kids (she lived long enough to see her youngest get bat mitzvahed a couple months ago). I know they’ll all be hurting for a while, but I know equally well that every single one of them will more forward with a piece of Ann inside them and they’ll continue to do everything they do in the name of love.

I will miss her a great deal. But I thank her for all the love and kindness she put out into the world and I’m glad I can count myself among those who are better people for having known her.

Published in: on December 22, 2017 at 2:54 pm  Comments Off on Let me tell you about my friend Ann.  

I lost a bet and now YOU must pay the price…

Short version until I can write more:

–I lost a bet.
–I had to write a short story as a result.
–I did not get to choose the title of the story. That was the punishment for losing.
–I had to write a short story around the title “If the Bra Fits.”
–Kimberly Pauley, who gave me the title, is pure evil and I will have my revenge.
Here is the story.

Published in: on November 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm  Comments Off on I lost a bet and now YOU must pay the price…  

The Bet VII–Lucky Number 7

I must be a glutton for punishment.

Once again, fellow writer friends and I are indulging in THE BET. Short version: we bet on how horses we choose will finish in the Kentucky Derby. Those who choose poorly are forced to write short stories with titles provided by those who choose wisely. We then post these stories for free on our respective websites for the world to enjoy (and/or mock us for losing).  It’s a lot of fun and I can’t believe we’ve been doing it for seven years now.

As always at my side, I have the amazing Kimberly Pauley and the effervescent Catherine Ryan Hyde. The three of us have been doing this since the very beginning and every year brings a fun new set of twists and turns. New to our cadre this year is young David Oppegaard, a rakish scamp with mad story skills. The horses we’ve chosen are:

KimberlyRoyal Mo

CatherineAlways Dreaming

DavidLocal Hero

Me–Thunder Snow

Here’s more information on past bets and links. Join in the fun on Twitter as we harangue each other, talk trash, and just have a generally good ole time in the weeks leading up to the Derby (set for Saturday, May 6, this year). If nothing else, send me good vibes so I win this year. I haven’t won in a while. It’s embarrassing. And I have titles I’m dying to assign to each of my fellow Bettors. Trust me, you want to read stories with the Evil TitlesTM  I’ve selected.

Last Year’s Bet

A Summation of all Bets.


Tally ho!

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 8:45 am  Comments Off on The Bet VII–Lucky Number 7  

The Bet VI

So, if you don’t know the history of the Bet, I recommend catching up on these posts here, here, here, here, and here. These links will also take you to all other stories from the past that were written to satisfy the Bet.

Short version: I lost a Bet and had to write a short story based on a title given to me by Kimberly Pauley.  This year, the title provided to me was “The Walking Cage.” Here is the story I wrote.

I need to up my game. I’m tired of losing the Bet. Next year will be my year. MARK MY WORDS WELL.

I will link to the story that Kimberly wrote (with a title provided by Catherine Ryan Hyde) once she posts it.

UPDATE: Kimberly’s free story is here.

Published in: on July 11, 2016 at 7:52 am  Comments Off on The Bet VI  

Lovely things

dreadwillowcoverIt’s nice to have lovely things in your life. I’ve been fortunate of late to have wonderful people say very lovely things about my new book, The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse. Thanks so much to all who have taken the time to give this book a read and were kind enough to share their thoughts with the world.

” Farrey weaves a captivating and suspenseful tale of the power of female friendship and the pain of growing up. .”

Starred Review–Kirkus Reviews

“The labyrinth of characters and dilemmas expands as the novel progresses, culminating in a rewarding ending that highlights the importance of embracing emotions, curiosity, and measured choices.”

Publishers Weekly

“This book is wise and wonderful.”
– William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.”
– Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy

Published in: on February 5, 2016 at 8:53 am  Comments Off on Lovely things  

Remembering Corey

Corey Allan Farrey 1977-2015

                   Corey Allan Farrey 1977-2015

“Corey’s a good kid.”

It was hard to sum up my brother. Often, especially later in life, this seemed the best way to do it. Almost everyone in our family had to concede this at some point.  Oh, he had his problems. He was dealt a rough hand in the form of a number of health problems that plagued him throughout his life: epilepsy, autism, diabetes, spinal and stomach concerns.  A combination of these concerns—coupled with the fact that he’d stopped taking his medications about a week ago without telling anyone—finally caught up with him. He passed away this past Sunday night, peacefully in his sleep. My husband and I had seen him just twenty-four hours before when we left to come back to the Cities from my hometown, Wisconsin Rapids, where we’d spent Christmas.

I start by saying he was a good kid because he really was, even at age 38. Despite the raging temper and the occasionally completely irrational behavior, you got the sense that he was someone who always wanted to do right (even when the temper and irrational behavior overruled that desire.)  Long after my sister and I had moved from our hometown, Corey remained and helped take care of my parents and later just my father. (Although, his independent streak meant he insisted on living in his own apartment across town.) He would help Dad clean, get groceries, take garbage to the dump, shovel snow, and probably more things than I even know about. Dad paid him but I truly believe Corey would have done it just to be helpful.

He had trouble processing emotions. He basically had two modes: happy and angry. But there was still nuance. A couple months ago, he called me, very upset. He couldn’t find Dad. He’d called Dad’s landline and cell and Dad wasn’t answering either. I told Corey that maybe Dad had made a quick run to the store and to try calling again in half an hour. If he still couldn’t get in touch, he was to call me back. Corey called me ten minutes later. He’d driven out to Dad’s house and still couldn’t find him. Which put him in even more of a frenzy. “I worry about him,” he said to me over and over. This kind of emotion was always rare with him but very, very genuine when it emerged. (Long story short: we found Dad, he was well, and Corey chewed him out for worrying him.)

Corey and I shared a bedroom with bunk beds growing up. I’ll be the first to say I probably wasn’t the best brother. There were seven years between us and I’d never really had autism explained to me (also, his diagnosis came fairly late). I always thought he was a belligerent kid. I didn’t understand that there was so much of his behavior that he couldn’t regulate. We grew closer as adults. When I got older and came to comprehend the battles he faced on a daily basis (not just from his various medical conditions but from people who sought to take advantage of him and people who bullied him), I worried about how he’d find his way in the world. I knew, at some point, the work my parents had started—guiding and helping him—would fall to me. I always hoped I’d do as good a job as they did.

This past summer, he did something that really made me proud. Corey was obsessed with trains. When he learned that the Twin Cities had a light rail that he could ride all day, he became determined to come visit us and do just that. With Dad’s help, he got on a Greyhound and came to the Cities. He spent the weekend riding the light rail across the Twin Cities and back—no real destination; the trip was the thing—and then boarded the Amtrak to take him back home. Corey was never big on travel, especially if he was in any way responsible for driving. (He drove around town just find but long distance did not agree with him.) For him to come here and back on mass transit was huge. It was something I never imagined he would go through with. But he did and even though I worried about him every step of the way, he pulled it off without a hitch. He had planned to come again next summer. He would have been welcome.

Corey’s behavior—those fits of rage were something to behold—sometimes got him in trouble with the law. Nothing too major but enough to give him a reputation with local police. I always hated that. Because I kept seeing this good kid. This goofy kid. This kid who struck up conversations with strangers in the Amtrak depot, just to tell them how excited he was to take the train home. This kid I pulled aside after Mom died five years ago and told him I needed him to keep a close eye on Dad and, man, did that kid step up to the plate.

Fact is, Corey was a great kid.

Published in: on December 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm  Comments (4)  

NCTE Bound!

I’ve always wanted to go to NCTE. I’ve heard marvelous things about it. Now, it’s coming to my hometown(ish) and I get to see it in all its glory.

I will be signing ARCs of my forthcoming middle grade fantasy, THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE, this Friday (November 20) at 2:00 in the Algonquin Young Readers Booth (525-527). People have been saying nice things about it:

“This book is wise and wonderful.”—William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.” —Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy

“The carse is a dark, foreboding place within a creepily blissful land. Like Aon and Jeniah, I felt myself drawn there . . . A compelling examination of what it means to be sad while finding unexpected happiness.”—Sarah Prineas, author of the Magic Thief series

“The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse is a deep, lyrical, satisfying story that will stay with you long after you have finished it.”–Sage Blackwood, author of the JINX trilogy

If you’re attending NCTE, I would love to see you. We can chat. About the weather. About that fabulous cover by Matt Rockefeller. About DOCTOR WHO (yes, please, I’m dying to). Or about anything, really. Or you can just show up and I’ll smile at you nervously. Which hopefully isn’t as creepy as it sounds.

Hope to see you there!


NCTE 2015 Brian Farrey Signing Social

Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 9:28 am  Comments Off on NCTE Bound!  

Vengeance shall be mine

So, I lost the Bet.paintbrush-315639_640

I mean, there were two other losers too. But I lost the biggest. This is the second time I came in last. Which infuriates me because it means I can’t give an Evil Title to someone else. But I’m not bitter. Just, you know, vengeful. Next year will be my year. This I swear. Woe to ye who gets my Evil Title next year.

My title was given to me by the esteemed Catherine Ryan Hyde. That title was “Seize the Night.” (Because, see, the stupid losing horse I chose was Carpe Diem.  Ha, ha, Catherine’s funny. True story: I had narrowed it down to two horses. Carpe Diem and American Pharaoh. I kid you not. That was my back-up horse. The one who, you know, went on to win the Triple Crown. But I’m not bitter.)  Here is my short story.

This post will be updated as the others post their stories as well.

Oh, and all hail Kimberly Pauley, this year’s winner. Kimberly didn’t have to write a story. She knew better than to pick Carpe Diem. Actually,  the first three horses she’d chosen all scrubbed and she made a last minute choice just minutes before the race started. And she won.

But I’m not bitter.

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments Off on Vengeance shall be mine  

The Bet (Our Five Year Anniversary)

horse race

photo credit: _MG_3387 via photopin (license)

Wow. Can you believe it?

Catherine Ryan Hyde, Kimberly Pauley, Andrew Smith and I have had a running bet for five years now.  Good gravy, time flies.

Here’s the gist: we place a friendly “wager” on the Kentucky Derby. We each pick a horse (not necessarily by their odds of winning but more based on some sort of personal connection we feel with the horse’s name).  Whoever’s horse comes in ahead of all the other chosen horses (not necessarily win, place, or show, just besting the others) is the winner. This person then provides the person whose horse came in next with a title and that person must then write a short story using that title. The person who came in second then passes a different title on to the person who came in third and so on. You can learn about the origin of this bet here.

Last year, we had some new blood and were joined by David Lubar, who is sadly unable to participate again this year. But the four original betters are back and ready to provide the world with free short stories based on titles we have no say in whatsoever. It’s fun. And scary.

This year, Andrew Smith is offering a prize to the random Twitter person who picks a horse for him. This person will get a character named after them in Andrew’s story (if, in fact, Andrew loses the bet; he won one year). NOTE: This offer is true as of this writing. First come/first served. Once Andrew has his horse picked for him, this is no longer valid. Andrew’s horse has been chosen.

Here are links to the past short stories from our losers:

2011 (This link from Kimberly is great in that it rounds up all the stories.)

Here’s to five years of mayhem with three writers I’m very fond of. Cheers!



Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 10:26 am  Comments Off on The Bet (Our Five Year Anniversary)  

You want to hear a scary story?

Last year, I did a lengthy post detailing all the Halloween costumes/themes I’ve been part of at work. I’ve been Edward Scissorhands. I’ve been DEVO. I’ve been Larry Craig. The list goes on. In 2013, our department’s theme was Alice in Wonderland.

And this year’s theme was…  Famous SNL Characters!

Halloween 2014-2

We’ve got Wayne and Garth. We’ve got Mary Catherine Gallagher. We’ve got the More Cowbell Guy. We’ve got Dieter from Spockets. And Hans und Franz are here to pump… up! I am, of course, Hans (or Franz, take your pick). I wanted to come as the Church Lady (my hero) but couldn’t find the right kind of dress.  Boo.

We decorated the aisles of our department in SNL catchphrases (“Well, isn’t that special?” “Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!”) and had a jolly good time. As of this writing, we’re still waiting to hear if we won the best costume contest…..

Published in: on October 31, 2014 at 12:34 pm  Comments Off on You want to hear a scary story?