Thank you Chicago, ALA, and The American Writers Museum!


Chicago was anything but the windy city this weekend. It was warm and welcoming as it greeted thousands of librarians, publishers, editors, writers, illustrators, and literary aficionados for ALA’s 2017 Annual Conference and Exhibition.

It’s hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store when attending ALA. And like a well-prepared kid ready to take home a treasure trove of loot, I came prepared with my empty bags. In my years of attending ALA, I have also learned that the extremely patient Fed Ex worker, who is silently laughing at my creatively wrapped packages, has become my new best friend. (At this time, I would like to shout out a very big thank you to my Grandpa Harry for teaching me how to defy the laws of physics with masking tape.)

Here are a few photographic highlights from #alaac17:


Creston Books


Detectives Wilcox & Griswold, me, and Marissa Moss


Nancy Churnin


Marcia Goldman and Princess Lola


Laurie Wallmark and Sue Conolly


Marissa Moss and Kathryn Otoshi


Carol Weston


Monica Edinger and Donalyn Miller


Tracey Baptiste


Me and Emma Otheguy


The AWESOME Mr. Schu!


Laurie Wallmark, Mr. Schu, and me



Panel discussion, “Women Aren’t Funny (And Other Essential Untruths for Middle Grade Readers) with Sharyn November, Erica Perl, Betsy Bird, Cece Bell, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Andrea Beaty

During this literary palooza of a weekend, I also had the privilege of being invited to do a reading at the The American Writers Museum. With the mission of “celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives[,]”[1] The American Writers Museum opened its doors on May 15, 2017.


While walking around and gazing at the words and portraits of many of my writing superheroes, it was impossible not to reflect upon the impact each of these authors have had on all of us—how they’ve stirred our imagination; comforted us in times of grief; given us a serious case of the giggles; and put us to bed night after night.




As a writer, I also couldn’t help but think about the number of rewrites each of these authors had to do. How many authors were on the brink of giving up when they finally got their lucky break? What’s the tally on the number of rejections vs. successes?


Untitled Mural by Paul O. Zelinsky

Next time you’re in Chicago be sure to stop by this inspiring magical place. I promise. You won’t be disappointed.

[1] Source:


#nErDcampLI Rocks!


Nerdy Book Club + Ed Camp = nErD Camp

Have you ever had the experience of walking into a room and automatically knowing you were among your peeps? On Saturday, November 5th, I found my wonderfully nerdy peeps at the Second Annual nErD Camp Long Island held at Jericho Middle School.

nErD Camp is described as the “unconference” edcamp. It provides a fluid forum for educators, authors, and illustrators to discuss “all things” literary; get inspired and give inspiration; and teach and learn from one another.

So, how does nErD Camp work? Upon arrival attendees fill a session board with topics of interest. You can attend any session, participate in any session, create a session, and/or leave a session if there’s another one that is more tailored to your interests.


I attended a terrific session by Jackie Azúa Kramer and Selene Castrovilla about Reader’s Theatre, an immersive interactive story-telling experience that encourages students to act out written works. I also gave a talk about using fairy tales as a means of getting kids excited about writing—a tale of how to create fractured fairy tales. The discussion started with fairy tales and somehow morphed into a discussion about using mysteries in the classroom.

Here are a few photographic highlights:


Selene Castrovilla and Jackie Azúa Kramer

Jackie Azúa Kramer, Annina Luck Wildermuth, me, the AWESOME Mrs. C and her SUPER AWESOME daughter




Selina Alko


Corey Rosen Schwartz


Carol Weston


Selene Castrovilla 


Tracey Baptiste


Josh Funk 


Tara Lazar


Carol Gordon Ekster


Nancy Armo


Sean Qualls and Selena Alko


Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick


The line to buy books! 

I would like to shout out a HUGE THANK YOU to JoEllen McCarthy, Alison McDermott, and Kristen Picone for a fantastic day. nErdCampLI rocks!