School Visits

Talking about The Eureka Key at Victor Intermediate

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Author Visits, Book: The Eureka Key, Educators & Librarians, School Visits, Secrets of the Seven, SERIES: Secrets of the Seven | 0 comments

IMG_9623 This week I visited Victor Intermediate School in Victor, NY, a lovely little hamlet near Rochester. What made it super exciting to me was that this school had picked The Eureka Key for a community read. It was my first time (as far as I know) to be read by an entire school (of 1100 kids, no less).

Now normally I’m in a favor of a LOT of choice when it comes to reading. We’re not all the same as readers; let’s let the nonfiction kids read about dinosaurs and the fantasy kids read about dragons and the sensitive kids read tearjerkers. It’s all reading! It’s all good!

But I have to admit to a certain thrill in having a shared experience of reading every now and then. It was part of what made the Harry Potter phenomenon so fun. It wasn’t that they were the best books in the world (not the worst, either). It was the joy of sharing Hogwarts with so many other people. With your friends and classmates and strangers you met on the bus. It brought the fictional world into real life, joined us together into a community who shared our imaginary lives. It was lovely.

I felt a little bit of that in the school today. The kids were so excited to see me and so eager to take in what I had to share about writing and so excited to do some writing themselves. And sharing the book with the whole school, kids and teachers and families and all, was what built that excitement.


I signed A LOT of books!


Everybody made their own “Eureka Keys” with terms describing themselves–the keys to their personalities!


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McArthur School

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Educators & Librarians, Events, Race, School Visits | 0 comments

IMG_8597Last Friday I did a round of poetry workshops with some of the classes at a McArthur Elementary. I snapped a picture of this fabulous quilt hanging up in the main office.

I loved the energy and excitement of the kids as they listened to poems and tried writing their own. Especially the Asian girl who earnestly asked for the right English adjective to describe quick, happy, upbeat music (she was pleased with my suggestion of “lively”) and then proudly read her poem aloud in her tentative English; the Hispanic girl who wrinkled her nose a bit at my Spanish accent but still smiled at me to make sure she wouldn’t hurt my feelings; the Caucasian boy who squirmed throughout my presentation until I thought he was bored out of his skull and then blew me away with one of the best poems I’ve heard; the Middle Eastern girl who hugged me and said she could now check “hugging an author” off her bucket list.

It was lovely to see all these bright, eager, American face light up with joy to be talking about artwork and writing poems.

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On Book Tour (Really?)

Posted by on Apr 5, 2016 in Book: The Eureka Key, Promotion, School Visits, Secrets of the Seven, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Eureka Key

The Eureka Key

As I type, I’m on a plane heading off for my very first book tour, to promote The Eureka Key. I’m quite startled by this occurrence. I mean, I knew it was going to happen; I’ve seen the itinerary and everything. But I can’t help but suspect that the book police will pick me up sometime soon for impersonating the kind of author who’s successful enough to have book tours.

Now that I’ve landed in Alexandria, Virginia, and taken a little stroll around the Old Town neighborhood, I can report that I’ve seen: handmade rugs that make my brain spin with the idea that somebody crafted something so glorious TO BE WALKED ON, a life-sized plastic horse in the back of an old-fashioned pickup truck, and a white-haired gentleman playing clarinet inside his (closed, locked) jewelry repair store.

I like this neighborhood.

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Writing Tips

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Author Visits, Educators & Librarians, School Visits, Writing Process | 0 comments

I am putting together a list of writing tips to use with schools when I do author visits. Perhaps you’d like to hear them?

Sarah L. Thomson’s Eight Best Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

First drafts MUST be MESSY.

Leave space in a first draft (skip lines) so there is room to revise.

For a second draft—don’t try to write it better. Write it different.

Stuck for something to write about? Take a story or an idea everybody knows (Cinderella and her stepsisters? Witches on broomsticks?) and CHANGE it.

Want to be a writer? Do these two things. Read A LOT. And try to finish whatever you write. Getting to the end gets easier with practice.

Alliteration (using words with the same letter sounds) is fun.

Plot outlines can solve the dreaded “I’m stuck in the middle of the story and I can’t finish it” problem.

I’ve done twenty drafts of some books. Two or three should be no problem.

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