2019 Authors in Schools Literacy Program and the Amelia Island Book Festival


Last Friday I had the extra special treat of visiting Southside Elementary School students in Fernandina Beach, Florida in conjunction with the Amelia Island Book Festival’s Authors in Schools Literacy Program.


Photo courtesy of Southside Elementary School. 

I spoke to 600 plus kids from kindergarten to second grade about how I became a writer and the writing and revision process. The students asked amazing questions. My favorite question of the day (if one can have a favorite) came from a little boy who was curious about how my son convinced me to get three dogs.

Through the extreme generosity of the Amelia Island Book Festival, 27 authors presented to more than 12,000 students at 16 Nassau County public schools, five volunteer pre-kindergarten programs, and one private school. A grand total of 12,300 books were purchased for students.

The following day I attended the book expo where I had the chance to sign books for some of the Southside Elementary School students, answer many, many questions about Phil, Jim, and Harry, and I also learned that Amelia Island is very peacock friendly.

Here are a few photographic highlights:

I’d like to shout out a VERY HUGE THANK YOU to the Amelia Island Book Festival, Southside Elementary School, and to all of the hard working volunteers at the expo. I can hardly wait for next year’s festival.



Chicken Soup for a Children’s Book Author on the Mend: The SCBWI’s 20th Annual Winter Conference

2019_NY_conf-home-5.jpgI must confess that I’ve been a tad delinquent about the blog lately. I do have an excuse. It’s a good one too! On January 13th, I had a second seizure. I never thought I’d say this but the first seizure went more smoothly. I was sleeping when it happened. The second one wasn’t as kind. I was standing in the kitchen, thinking about two upcoming author visits and revisions, and the next moment that I remember is sitting on the kitchen floor with two EMTs in front of me asking me questions. And you know you’re having one of those no-good-really-bad days when you get to the E.R. and the doctor warns you that the swelling and black and blues on your face will only get worse over the next couple of days. (Apparently, I had fallen flat on my face and broken my nose.) The bump on my forehead has been wickedly determined to stick around, but I am very happy to report that I’m on the mend. I’d like to shout out a VERY HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for your good wishes.

Now, there’s no better chicken soup for a children’s book author on the mend than the SCBWI’s Winter Conference. It was DY-NO-MITE! I attended three incredible workshops: one on writing picture books (never hurts to go back to the basics) and two on author visits. (Unfortunately, I missed the Golden Kite Gala Awards and Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s speech.)

Here are a few photographic highlights:


Welcome and Introduction by Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver


Opening Keynote Speaker: Jarrett Krosoczka


Picture Book Workshop taught by Allyn Johnston, Rubin Pfeffer, and Marla Frazee. 


Women were well-represented at the conference and this little attention to detail was much appreciated (although the sign should be edited to say, “Gentlemen” rather than “Gentleman”). 


Me and Linda Sue Park


Meg Medina introducing keynote speaker, Elizabeth Acevedo.


Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Acevedo


Me and the amazing Elizabeth Acevedo

(I so hope every teenager gets to hear her speak. Wow!)


Upping Your School Visit Game Workshop taught by Phil Bildner.


Closing Keynote Speaker: Christopher Paul Curtis


Happy Birthday, Jane Yolen! 


Peter Brown


Floyd Cooper


Laurent Linn


Elizabeth Acevedo


Angela Dominguez

Thank you SCBWI for all that you do for each and everyone of us. Fingers and toes crossed I will make it to my first summer conference in L.A.