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Monday, May 24, 2010

My other fun Chicago school visit

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Hey everyone!

I've been traveling and doing more school visits lately... and now I've got a backlog of photos.  I've been meaning to post these pics from my visit to Lloyd Elementary in Chicago last month.  I had a blast with these kids!

Here we all are...

These shots were taken later, during writing activities inspired by my presentation.  Don't you love the intense concentration?  It's the look of getting lost in the world you're creating...

And here are some of the cool cards they made  me, which feature characters from Red Glass... (you'll have to tilt your head sideways-- for some reason, my computer rotated the images... go figure!)

Thanks for a wonderful time at Lloyd-- I loved your energy and enthusiasm!

I still have some IRA photos to post from Chicago... so many exciting things happened that week, I'm *still* trying to catch up!  And meanwhile, this past week I've had some more fun school and bookstore visits in Maryland-- I'll post those pics soon, too.

I'm going to sign off now and get some tea and delve into Scumble by my talented friend Ingrid Law.  This is the sequel to Savvy, which I've been anticipating for a long time! (It's a review copy-- the book officially comes out in August, I think.)  So far it's a scrumptious read.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicago School Visits (finally!)

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Hey everyone,

I did lots of fun events in Chicago a couple weeks ago... and I've been meaning to post these pics ever since then!  One of my school visits was to the eighth graders of Bateman, who read Red Glass.  What an incredible visit-- I loved the teachers and students I met, and was blown away by their enthusiasm.  It's such a joy doing school visits like this, where the students have thought really deeply about the book and connected with it in so many interesting ways.

Delicious taco lunch with students...

The teacher, Mrs. Tellez, worked with university professor and author Steve Wolks to put together phenomenal activities to go with Red Glass.  (Steve is writing a book for educators on using literature in the classroom to explore social issues, and Red Glass will be featured in the chapter on global social issues.  I can't wait to read this book, and I'm sure I'll be recommending it heartily, based on seeing his ideas at work in the classroom.)  Here's a smattering of some of the activities displayed on the eight-grade classroom walls-- the first involves writing about memories:

They also did some interesting extension activities-- one involved learning more about the genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Guatemala.  And they took the international theme a step farther by talking about journeys they'd like to make... 

Inspired by the poetry that Sophie reads to Pablo and Angel on the roadtrip, students wrote their own journey poems:

And another poetry activity, to encourage students to make connections with poetry outside the book:

Here's another fun activity:

Not surprisingly, many students picked the scene in the world's most disgusting bathroom! ;)

I love seeing readers' visual interpretations of characters and scenes-- so much fun!


Here I am with the teacher, Mrs. Tellez, who put so much energy into making the Red Glass reading experience special for her students!  I'm grateful to her and Steve Wolks for letting me share their activities with you all...

Before Chicago, I was in Michigan for an event at Schuler Books (a great indie bookstore), I did a library presentation to a fabulous audience of avid readers and book clubbers.  Here I am with some teens from the library's teen group and the genius behind it all, librarian Mary Hennessey.  The world has some pretty spectacular teen librarians in it... and I'm lucky enough to meet a lot of them!  And the teen readers were so smart and funny and insightful... it was lovely having dinner with them after the presentation.

 I also did another fun school visit in Chicago, and had a lovely day with folks at the IRA conference-- I'll share those pics in my next post-- time to get Lil  Dude dressed and ready for his day now!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

EMLA retreat!

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Ah... Chicago in the springtime... tulips galore!

One of the many amazing things I experienced last week in Chicago was a retreat with the authors of EMLA (which stands for Erin Murphy Literary Agency)-- also called the Gang of Erin. The retreat was my third, and it was truly phenomenal-- three energizing and inspiring days... I learned heaps about everything from the publishing industry to techniques for plotting and revising novels and much more...

The best part, of course, was the people... spending time with my agent, Erin...

 and the agency's other wonderful agent (and author), Ammi-Joan Paquette (here she is in green) with Cate Tiernan (her next book, Immortal Beloved, will be coming out soon!) perusing review copies of other authors' books...

and nearly thirty other fabulous authors...

It was a special opportunity to bond with everyone in person (after months or years of only online conversations.) And what I'm most grateful for is that everyone, whether published or prepublished, was a talented writer with so much to offer in discussions-- and everyone was so warm and gracious and enthusiastic about each other's writing. I love these ladies (and man-- hi Bob!)  Here's Ruth Barshaw, Ammi-Joan, and Audrey Vernick (in the middle-- I can't wait to read her picture book Is your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? with Lil Dude!)

I feel SO lucky to be part of this group, and can't wait for next year's retreat (which will be in Austin next spring). I know I seem overly-gushy and mushy, but I'm not the only one... we all came away from the retreat just spilling over with gratitude.

                        me with Sarah DeFord William

We spent mornings in large-group discussions in a comfy suite on the 19th floor, and then we scattered for the afternoon-- some of us (me) writing in our rooms or at cafes, some sight-seeing, some lounging in the suite and talking.  Then, in the evenings, we gathered in small or large group for dinner.  Delightful! Here I am with Natalie Lorenzi, Liz Garton Scanlon, and Cynthia Omololu-- we're in a pretty little park, waiting for our scrumptious deep dish pizza...

Below, Ruth Barshaw (of Ellie McDoodle fame) never fails to crack me up... and she's one of the warmest, kindest people you'll ever meet.  She carries a wee sketchbook everywhere she goes... I'm sure it's hidden somewhere under her mink...

which brings me to the vintage minks...  they were decorations on our beds in the Whitehall Hotel (a charming place, right down to the tiny old creaky elevators).  Actually, I suspect the furs came from some other animal-- beaver?  Who knows.  But we had fun with them on Saturday night after dinner...

A few people brought along family and friends to participate in some events with us.  Here I am with one author's lovely daughter, Emily, an avid reader and writer who offered us great ideas and insights from a teen perspective...

Here (from the left) is Cynthia Omololu -- author of Dirty Little Secrets-- a teen novel involving hording, which sounds fascinating. In the middle is Natalie Lorenzi, whose pre-published novel about a Japanese-American family sounds really good, and right up my alley... and she has a background in ESL teaching, as do I!  Then there's Sarah DeFord Williams on the right-- her first novel, Palace Beautiful, just came out, and I'm so excited about reading it--there's magic and mystery and secrets in an attic... the kind of story I always adored as a kid (and still do).

Below (laughing) is Jennifer A. Nielson on the left, whose debut novel Elliott and the Goblin Wars is coming out in October-- this'll be so fun to read aloud with my son in a few years.  And on her right is Susan Vaught (also laughing), author of Trigger and Big Fat Manifesto, among many others-- she creates fantastic voices, and her books deal with timely and important issues (and did I mention she's also a practicing neuropsychologist?)

We spent lots of time in informal small-group conversations-- it's such a delicious feeling to talk with writers who you can really relate to... there were many great bonding experiences throughout each day. Here is super-cute Susan Larsen, pre-published YA author (on the left), Liz Garton Scanlon (in the middle), author of one of my son's favorite picture books-- All the World (and she's just as dazzling in person as I'd imagined she would be after reading her poetic words every night at my Lil Dude's bedtime).  Zu Vincent is on the right-- she's the author of The Lucky Place-- a beautifully written and touching YA novel.

Here are Ruth Barshaw and Jennifer Nielson looking radiant at dinner on Saturday night.

And there were so many more lovely, talented people-- I wish I had the space and time to do all 28 authors justice.  This is just a little smattering, but I hope you enjoyed it!  Lil Dude just woke up from his nap, so I don't have time to link to everyone's individual websites.  If you're interested, you can go here to see a list of Erin's clients and their websites.

In my next posts, I'll give a recap of some super-fun school and library visits I did earlier that week, in Chicago and Michigan.  Thanks for  reading!