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Davidson, Alongi release fifth 'Jennifer Scales' book

Fans of Hastings resident MaryJanice Davidson have a new book to read. "Rise of the Poison Moon," the fifth book in the Jennifer Scales series, was released July 27.

The book follows Jennifer Scales, a teenage weredragon, as she faces the struggles of her teen years as well as defending her town against those who wish it harm.

The series sprung out of Davidson's earlier "Undead" series, which up-ends romance and vampire clichés alike. The series took off, the most recent of which, "Undead and Unfinished" made No. 15 on the New York Times' bestsellers list in July.

The Undead series is romance, and although the cover doesn't explicitly place it in its genre, it is definitely not a book for kids. So she was surprised when she started getting letters from girls who read - and loved - her books.

"I hadn't expected fan mail from 11-year-old girls," Davidson said.

Even her own children, ages 11 and 15, aren't allowed to read them yet.

Right around the same time, she and Anthony Alongi (husband and co-author of the Jennifer Scales series) were searching for good books for their daughter to read, and Alongi noted the lack of good female protagonists in young adult fiction. They came up with the idea of Jennifer Scales, a typical teen - except for the fact that she turns into a dragon twice a month on the crescent moon. Together, they started writing it.

"We loved the idea of writing a series together," Davidson said.

Both Davidson and Alongi have been writing since their childhood. They even spent their honeymoon writing a Star Trek book. Jennifer Scales, however, is the only published series they've written together.

Each book starts out with an outline sketched out by Alongi. Then they write the chapters.

"We'll each pick the chapters that play to our strengths," Davidson said.

She prefers writing dialog, while Alongi excels at description. Once they write their chapters, they go back and edit each other's work - brutally, Davidson said.

After being married 17 years and together for 20, they've learned to match each others writing style.

"It gets really seamless," Davidson said.

Despite the economic recession, Davidson's books have sold well.

"I've been stupidly fortunate," she said.

Davidson and Alongi will be writing two more Jennifer Scales books to fulfill their contract, and they're likely to write at least five more. Davidson is also releasing the first book in a new series, "Me, Myself and Why" in September.

"Rise of the Poison Moon" is available at most book sellers, including Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, Wal-Mart and even some grocery stores. More information is also available online at www.jennifer and www.mary

"You can't escape us," Davidson said.