Wednesday, June 19, 2013



I’ve been meaning to post events here for a while, and what better time to get around to it than on the cusp of the Summer Solstice, and my first hometown book signing the following day? That’s THIS SATURDAY, June 22nd, from 1 to 4 pm. I'll be perched outside the store with table and books, 100 yards or so from Starbucks. (That's not a hint. Ok, it is.)

When I look at this list...well, I’m gawping. Three months ago, my in-person calendar was blank and I was quaking at the prospect of the next inevitable stage of Life as a Published Author (bar holing up in my writer's cave with an infinite amount of chocolate treats). Now, with 5 book signings and 5 presentations already under my belt, I can’t wait to do more!

So, below is the next far. Thanks for dropping by, and please feel free to commentI love reading what you have to say!

Saturday, June 22, 1- 4 pm: Farley’s Bookshop, New Hope, PA. Book signing.

Saturday, June 29th: Barnes & Noble, Neshaminy Mall, Bensalem, PA.
Panel and signing along with fellow KidlitAuthors Club members Alissa Grosso, Ann Malaspina, Artie Bennett and Charlotte Bennardo; 13 pm

Friday, July 19, 3–4:30 pm: West Windsor Branch Library, NJ,
Discussion with YA authors E.C. Myers and Alissa Grosso about not-to-be missed YA and MG books!

Sunday, July 21st, 11a.m.-2 pm: A Paperback Exchange, Belmar, NJ
Signing with other local authors

Tuesday, July 23, 2–4:00 pm: Cranford Library, NJ
Panel event with Alissa Grosso and others (tba), 

Saturday, July 27, 10–12 am: Toadstool Books, Milford, NH
Book signing (solo) and critique event,

Saturday, July 27, 3–5 pm: Toadstool Books, Keene, NH
Book signing (solo) and critique event,

Saturday, August 3, 7–9 pm: Booksmith, Brookline, MA
Panel, readings and book signing with fellow Lucky 13s authors Rachele Alpine, Justina Ireland, Alex Lidell and Mindy Raf (YA) and Elisabeth Dahl (my MG companion for the event!)

Tuesday, September 10, 7 pm: 9/10 Wall Library, NJ
Panel Q&A, So you want to be a writer, with NJAuthors Network members (tba)

Sunday, September 15, (time tbc): Towne Book Store, Collegeville, PA
Educator panel with fellow Kidlit Authors Club members Cyn Balog, Nancy Viau, Amy Holder and Ann Malaspina, followed by meet the public and book signing.

Saturday, September 28, all day: Warwick Book Festival, Warwick, NY 
Book festival! As it sounds…a ton of authors, all selling and signing books.

Sunday, September 29, 2:30: Baltimore Book Festival, Baltimore, MD
Panel discussion in the Children's Tent, followed by signing.

Saturday, October 5, all day: Collingswood book festival, Collingswood, NJ
Another one! Authors galore, selling and signing.

Monday, October 21, 9 am–10:15: Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Conference
Panel on Why we love writing Middle Grade, with Jonathan Auxier and one other (tba).

Saturday, October 26, 10-12 am:  Howell Library, NJ
World building in Fantasy Fiction. My first solo presention! Open to writers and all comers.

Thursday, November 14th, 7—pm: Somerset Co. Library, Bridgewater NJ: 
Query Q&A panel and critique raffle with Kidlit Authors Club members Alissa Grosso, Alison Formento, Nancy Viau and Charlotte Bennardo.

Tuesday, December 3, St. Katherine of Sienna Grade School:
Assembly presentation, grades 5-8, followed by Book Fair at Barnes & Noble, Bensalem, 7pm.

Also in the works:
October 13-17: Possible NJ library events for Teen Read Week with Kidlit Authors Club
Saturday October 19: Lucky 13s School Library event, Cleveland, OH

Wow. Wow! Wow...That's almost until Christmas. And I've barely started booking school events for the Fall. Watch this space... 

I’m so grateful for every opportunity to meet children’s book lovers of all ages—especially the kidsand to take The Flame in the Mist out into the world. Without the camaraderie of various local author groups like the fabulous Kidlit Authors Club, who invited me into their midst, this list wouldn’t be half as long. So Thank you, thank you, thank you to my fellow authors for your energy and enthusiasm, as well as to the wonderful event organizers at the bookstores, libraries and schools that host us, and who are so willing to go the extra mile to help us out.

Thank you. Again.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

MY FIRST SCHOOL VISIT: An Alarming Experience, and a Book Fair

I’ve always dreaded public speaking. Serenading an audience of thousands? Easy by comparison, with a guitar and mic as props. Book signings? No problem meeting people one on one, while the book sits there looking pretty. But talking to even 20 people in a room, let alone a whole assembly full of students? Eep. I’ve known for some time that as a published author, I’d have to face this big fear (aka, terror) sooner or later. “Later” being the option my Inner Procrastinator kept whispering. Deal with this in the fall, it soothed. Build up to it! 
Destiny, however, had a different plan. Through Bonnie Lynn Wagner, a book blogger who’d hosted a stop on my blog tour (you can see Digby’s character interview here), I connected with Elizabeth Ullmer, the Community Relations Manager at the Barnes & Noble in Bensalem. “Ask her about book fairs,” Bonnie wrote me. “Better than signings.” Book fairs? I didn't know what they were, but fairs are fun, right?
Pretty, but don't be fooled
I called Elizabeth, who was delightful and enthusiastic. Within hours, she called me back. The New Foundations Charter School in NE Philadelphia were excited to have me do a school visit on May 29th if I was available, followed by their book fair that evening at the store. Wait…what?? A book fair involved doing a school visit? A zillion grubs in my stomach instantly hatched into mini butterflies. “Sure!” I blurted, before Inner Procrastinator could come up with any excuses. “Tell me more!” It would involve 2 presentations each about 30-40 minutes long, Elizabeth explained, to an assembly of about 225 kids at a time.
225 at a time? Uh…really? Not a mere 20 or 30 (gulp) in a classroom? And I didn’t even know PowerPoint yet! Amazing how mini butterflies can grow into carnivorous, stomach-gnawing Papilia really fast.
Well, what else to do but prepare? I learned PowerPoint (aka hubby learned it, then showed me how) and put together a presentation full of the typically Brit castles, cottages, and general spookiness that found their way The Flame in the Mist. I rehearsed to an audience (aka hubby, a few stuffed toys, and the imaginary crowd in my head, all listening patiently). I actually began to look forward to The Day. And then, it arrived. 
I met Elizabeth for a quick breakfast before we drove down to the school. She was as lovely in person as on the phone, and put me at ease. Tum-butterflies fluttered gently, as if playing around a sunny flower garden. At the school, we were warmly welcomed by Bobbie Tyndall, who organizes the school’s author visits. My laptop connected easily to their projector. The sound worked. Bobbie took goofy snaps. Everything was going perfectly! No glitches! The first group of kids began filing in. Some smiled. Some looked curious, others skeptical. A few more virulent butterflies flew in with them. Never mind. I was ready. This was It!
And then...the alarm rang. Fire drill! Only it turned out it wasn’t a drill. Grabbing handbag and laptop, I filed outside along with the kids, and Elizabeth and Bobbie. What were the chances—a fire alarm, on the threshold of my Big Event? Saved by the bell! Sigh of relief? No. I was disappointed. I'd been raring to go! By now, excitement had totally squished any remaining tummy 'flies. 
A mysterious cause for alarm
We stood in the school yard for an eternity – at least 10 minutes. The fire department came. Elizabeth and I laughed at the absurdity of timing. I wondered whether nerves would ramp up again, but they didn’t. All I wanted was for there to be time to give both presentations, and experience the kids’ reactions. What would they think? Would they enjoy it? After all the build-up, would I even get to find out, when goodness knew how long the firemen would be milling around? Finally, the mysterious cause of the alarm undiscovered, we were all allowed back inside. By 9:10, the kids were in their seats again. Bobbie introduced me, and off we went.

Rehearsals paid off. So did getting the kids to say “Wooo!” every time I said the word “spooky”. Several times, they caught me out. (Who knew I said “spooky” so much?) Booing the Agromonds went down well too. Time being shortened, I had to clip through a few sections, but still showed the trailer at the end. The kids cheered. They cheered! Wow. 
I anticipated that the second group, being older (through 8th grade) would be more reserved, more hesitant about joining in with booing, woo-ing, and shows of hands. But if anything they were louder. Again, cheers after the trailer. I was floored. As nervous as I'd been in the weeks before, then as fun as it had felt giving the presentation, I could never have imagined that happening. Let alone the message that turned up later that day on my YouTube trailer page: “omg, you came to my school and you were amazing.”
Book fair at B&N

At the book fair that evening, The Flame in the Mist found a lot of new homes, helping it become the store’s best selling children's book last week. None of it could have gone better—even the alarm was part of the perfection! But nothing beat seeing the look of excitement on kids' faces, their anticipation of reading a book they’re excited about. And to think I’d been so scared, I’d have avoided this if I could. So thank you, Destiny, for shoving me in the deep end; and thank you, Elizabeth and Bobbie, for helping me swim; and thank you, Bonnie, for being the hand that gave that first nudge. And thank you, New Foundations students, for making my first school experience so great!
As to my next school visit, no more cause for alarm. I can’t wait.
Even Inner Procrastinator agrees. 
-->With thanks to Elizabeth Ullmer and Bobbie Tyndall for the New Foundations and B&N event photos