Amazing Experience – #KidsNeedMentors Program

Last summer I signed up for the #KidsNeedMentors program advertised on Twitter. Coordinated by Jarrett Lerner, Ann Braden, Kristin Picone, and Kristin Couch– this program matches authors with teachers. The goal is to have an ongoing correspondence and relationship between writers and students, then meet in person before the end of the school year.

I enjoyed working with Ms. Miller and a group of 1st graders a few hours from where I live. I snail mailed a few letters and surprises to the students (stickers, Valentines, etc.), and they send cards back to me. They were excited to work on story ideas and create art.

Last week we met in person!  Here are a few photos from my visit to the school (name left off for privacy–all students are fine to have their photos displayed.) I did a free school visit, had fun creating crafts with the kiddos, and gave each student a signed copy of one of my books. It was a rewarding experience for all of us, and I hope the #KidsNeedMentors program continues next year so that more authors and more students can connect on a personal level! Hooray!

COVER REVEAL: Here it is – THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN with fabulous art by Dave Szalay

I couldn’t believe my GOOD FORTUNE when I learned that the amazing artist, DAVE SZALAY would be illustrating my next book. He’s an accomplished artist, college professor in the graphic design program at The University of Akron, a successful commercial visual artist entrepreneur, and all-around-super guy! I think you’ll agree that his art is simply gorgeous …

Anderson’s Annual Children’s Literature Breakfast

February always means its time for the annual Anderson’s Bookshop Children’s Literature Breakfast … it’s an opportunity to hear from leading authors, to visit with teachers and librarians, and spend a morning enjoying book discussions. Here are a few photos from the event: (Left: with author Natalie Rompella, who also hails from Waukegan!, Center: with author Heidi Roemmer, a poetry pal, Right: with Alice McGinty while signing books, an author based out of Champaign)

School Visits are a great opportunity for . . . QUESTIONS!

I LOVE spending time with students! Whether I’m sharing more information about how a non-fiction book is created (my “Join the Safari: Fun with Animal Facts” program) or discussing “Success Tips for Writers” with older students, I always enjoy the last few minutes of each program. That’s when we have time for Q&A.  You never know which questions you might be asked.

Some questions I’ve been asked:

Of your three books that have been published, which is your favorite?

That’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite son or daughter from the family–no can do. Just as I love all three of my sons dearly, I adore each of my three published books for their unique characteristics. My first book, Who’s Faster: Animals on the Move, is the realization of a publishing dream. And a sweet cumulative tale. My second book, Ballpark, is a special story about the importance of spending time together and creating fun traditions. And my third book, Sweet Dreams, Wild Animals, is a gentle lullaby for the end of a busy day–a moment for a reader and listener to snuggle together. There’s nothing better than closing out the day while reading a sweet story.

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas are all around us. Take a walk in the park or along the shore and consider nature-related topics. Grapple with a problem (a too-busy schedule) and there’s a subject to write about. Remember a recent experience (a great vacation or a fun outing) and maybe that has the beginnings of a great tale. Read a fascinating article about an important person in history–maybe there is more to the story there? These ideas are a great place to start digging. Some ideas may lead to dead-ends, but others can lead to a great story that will excite both you and your reader.

When is your next book coming out?

This fall–I’m excited for the launch of THE SUPERLATIVE A. LINCOLN on November 5, 2019! YAY! Take a look at my BOOKS page to learn more about this forthcoming title from Charlesbridge Publishing.

And my favorite question of all time (drum roll, please …)–

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Chocolate Chip!

Ice cream and writing questions–a winning combination!

 

 

Coming soon … The Superlative A. Lincoln!

Excited to share news of a forthcoming book, The Superlative A.  Lincoln, which will be published by Charlesbridge Publishing in Fall 2019. Stay tuned for more details!

 

 

Spring is the perfect time for . . . Author Visits!

A scene from a recent LITERACY NIGHT: Great time working with K – 5th grade students as we discussed — and they acted out a skit, about how an author researches material for a new book. In fact, I think I’ve found the perfect crew to dig up some new information for my next book project . . . Super Students!

Join the Safari: FUN with Animal Facts!

Join the Safari: FUN with Animal Facts!

New School Visit: Success Tips for Writers

Had a great spring visiting many schools! I introduced a new program, Success Tips for Writers —  and enjoyed sharing this program with upper elementary and middle school students. I talked about what it takes to be a writer and which strategies students can use to enhance their writing.

This is a highly participative program and we had a lot of fun. Here are a just a few of the comments I received:

From an 8th grade L.A. teacher:
Eileen “gets” middle schoolers. Her conversational, participatory presentation manner kept my eighth graders highly engaged during the entire session. She spoke to them writer-to-writer and shared the struggles & joys she has experienced in developing her craft and with the publication process. Key word: Resilience! This was a great term for her to use, as that quality is one of our school’s key character traits. It was an important message for the students to hear. She so inspired my students that some of them began writing essays (that were not assigned in class!) that week and asked me to contact her for publisher information. I would love to have her return soon!

From an elementary school principal:
The Success Tips for Writers program reinforced everything that we have been working on this school year!

Here are a few photos from the assembly:

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Lucky Me! Mailbox Surprise . . .

Last week I received a delightful surprise in the mail — letters from students I met at a recent school visit! Lucky me! Hearing from young readers always makes my day.
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Here are a few snippets:
“I love your fantastic writing!”
“Thank you for visiting our school and calling us up to be assistants in your program. It was fun.”
“Your books were cool to look at.”
“I was thinking about this program all week. Thank you for letting us ask questions.”
As I said — Lucky Me! I can’t wait for my next mailbox surprise.

Evanston Literary Salon: Publishing Books in the 21st Century

Enjoyed appearing on a panel at the Evanston Library last Saturday to discuss writing books for children. The panel was moderated by Betsy Bird, SLJ blogger and Evanston Library Manager, and included (l to r): Sara Shacter (author and SCBWI-IL Asst. Regional Advisor), Ruth Spiro (author), me (author and SCBWI-IL Network Rep.) , Terri Murphy (illustrator/author and Illustrator Network Coordinator), Betsy Bird, and Gemma Cooper (agent based in Chicago).

Evanston Program Pic Feb 2016