Battle of the Books!

Hey guys!

I just had the best time in the Terre Haute area of Indiana, presenting as part of their awesome Battle of the Books!

Star in the Forest was one of about twenty books involved in the battle, and I was honored that they asked me to come and meet all the participating kids, who came from schools throughout Vigo County.  There were a few hundred kids total, and they were all amazing!  And so were the teachers and librarians who worked so hard to organize the Battle events.

I wish I'd remembered to take pictures at the presentation, but I was so busy chatting with these incredibly enthusiastic students that I completely forgot.  (Thanks, Angie Miller, for the above photo!)

I did manage a few pictures with my delightful liaison, Kathy Deal, who gave me the warmest welcome an author could hope for...

My farewell lunch included this gigantic milkshake... I didn't even get hungry on the plane ride home.

 I was so impressed with all the friendly cooperation among community members to make this event a success!  Thank you, Vigo County, for an unforgettable visit!

And now, on a different note.... I can't resist whispering this to you:  
Exciting, new-book-related stuff is happening in my life right now!  I hope to be able to tell you about it soon... but in the meantime, let's be secretly happy together! :-)


Visit to the Southern Ute reservation in SW Colorado....

Hi guys,

One of the best unexpected perks of being an author is this...

... traveling over the Rockies to lovely nooks in my state that I've never had the opportunity to see before.

I do about a dozen school visits per year, mostly in Colorado, but also farther-off places like California, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, Pennsylvania.... It's so interesting to get to know more of my country.  Above is Marcia Vining, the awesome librarian mastermind behind my visit with the middle and high schools.  I love meeting creative and BIG-thinking librarians like her... such an inspiration! Her community is really luck to have her.

It's also really exciting for me to meet students who are working on their own stories and novels.  I connected with several teens who are passionate about creative writing... Emerald, above, is one of them!

Thank you, Ignacio, Colorado, for the warm welcome!

I hope you all are enjoying these first inklings of springtime... I'm guessing my juniper allergies will kick in any day now (ugh)... but I'm eagerly searching for the first crocus of the year (yay), now that the snow here has *finally* melted.


One Book One Unionville: The Queen of Water!

The Queen of Water inspired art by student Terner Thompson

Hey, guys!

Just got back from an author visit to Unionville, Pennsylvania for their One Book, One Unionville program.  I was honored that they chose The Queen of Water for their first year!  The program was initiated by teachers at the high school, and they did a great job of getting the entire school and community excited about the book. 

I gave two assembly presentations for students, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the book, and then did a third presentation in the evening for community members.  I loved everyone's enthusiasm and insightful comments and questions... such a treat for me!

The goal of the program was to "promote student success by instituting a new academic tradition, creating a sense of belonging through shared experiences, providing opportunities for school and community interactions, and encouraging students to further reflect on citizenship and engagement."

The high school students and faculty read the book over the summer, and then had discussions and projects related to the book.  I also did two Skype visits with community members at the local public library.  The program was well-publicized through the town's newspaper, and a number of book clubs chose to read and discuss the book. My visit was the culmination of months of reading and discussing the book.

I was thrilled and a little nervous that Queen would be the first book of the new program-- I really wanted it to be successful so that the community would continue with this program for years to come.  Thankfully, the feedback was really positive about the book selection and my presentations... I'm excited to see what book they choose for next year!

One of the coolest parts for me was to talk with readers and see how they connected with the book.  

Student Terner Thompson did this amazing illustration, inspired by the end of the book. He wants to be an animator.  I think he'd make an incredible one, judging by this masterpiece. 

In the school library with wonderful administrators and the talented Terner

with the delightful librarian Diane (who styled her hair and chose her pretty water-themed blouse just for my visit!) She presented me with this gorgeous book on Longwoods Gardens.

Awesome student projects were hung around the library... I always love seeing interesting activities that teachers come up with and the creative ways students approach them.

Zoom in on the above pic, and you'll see this great scene with Cheetah the goat fending off angry dogs! Love this!

And another close-up-- such a beautiful drawing. My interpretation is that it's young Virginia curled up on the sheepskin rug that she imagines is Cheetah. That's the night when she first comes to the Doctorita's house and is feeling lonely and scared.

I have to admit, I get a little thrill when I see the words "The Queen of Water: The Movie."  This student cast Salma Hayek as the Doctorita-- she's a great actress, so I think she'd be able to pull it off.  Ah, maybe one day....

Here's a close-up of part of a project-- I thought it was so cute-- Virginia on the forbidden red sofa watching the forbidden MacGyver, hahaha!

This newspaper activity looked fun... there's an article about the winner of the Queen competition, as well as a review of the Hotel Otavalo, MacGyver gossip, and new classes at the Republica de Ecuador school.  

Thank you, Unionville, for your warm welcome!  I was so impressed with your great energy, and wish you lots of luck with future One Book One Unionville programs!


P.S. I wasn't sure who to credit for the above student projects and artwork, but if you see yours, let me know, and I'll credit you in the caption!  ;-)

Cool Creations from Readers!

Hey guys,

Thought I'd share with you some lovely things that readers have made, inspired by my books.  This is such a magical thing about writing stories-- something I didn't know about until my first book was published-- how the stories take on a life of their own, and add their spark to other people's creativity and on and on it goes...

Oona from Baltimore made me this gorgeous bracelet! The beads are the colors indigo, ruby and jade, one for each book in my Notebooks series. LOVE!  (And the jade bead is actual jade!)  

She made a beautiful pair of matching earrings, too (complete with Red Glass)!  (I could only find our cheap camera, so I can't do good close-ups here.) Aren't they pretty?

Here I am with Oona at the Baltimore Book Festival-- SUCH a treat to meet this super-creative girl in person!

 Here's a stunning Red Glass dish made for me by Judy Edwards, whose wonderful book club I visited last week! Here's what it looks like held up to a snowstorm, but it's even more stunning in bright sunlight.

A couple months ago, I visited a group of students at a local middle school who'd read The Queen of Water, and done some cool projects inspired by the book.

They each chose several projects from about twenty possible projects.  One of them was to write a picture book inspired by a character or theme in the novel (or something along those lines...)  Cheetah the goat was a popular character for this!

I got to hear the students read their books aloud-- lots of fun!


Here I am with Mrs. Baker, the mastermind behind the project possibilities, and a student's parent.

My Lil Dude is asking me to cuddle with him on the sofa, so I'll just give you a few bits of news and then hang out with him:
  • My book Star in the Forest is in the latest Scholastic Book Fair flyer! You can see it here.
  • You can watch a TV interview with me in Spanish here.  Three local middle school girls interviewed me!
  • I have three events coming up-- two in Fort Collins, and one in Chicago.  If you can come to any of these, I'd love to see you there!

    Sat, March 10, 10:00-1:00-- Laura Resau will do her workshop "Creating Vivid Worlds," hosted by Northern Colorado Writers. Fee and Registration required-- see here for details (and scroll down). 


    Sat, March 30, 2 pm-- Reading/Signing/Chatting with teen authors Laura Resau and Jeannie Mobley at Old Firehouse Books (232 Walnut St, Fort Collins). Free and open to everyone! 


    Saturday, April 6-- Chicago. Litworks: A Teen Lit Festival. 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This begins at Eisenhower Public Library and moves to Ridgewood High School at noon. Other authors there will be Matt de la Pena, Alex Flinn, Mark Crilley, Jennifer Bradbury, and Brent Crawford. Details here. Free for teens, $5 for adults.

Thanks for swinging by!


Mini Maryland Tour Recap

Just got back from marvelous and muggy Maryland-- my homestate! The first stop was Clemente Middle School in Germantown, with awesome librarian Alexis Gerard and fun groups of students and staff...

After that came Dunloggin in Ellicott City, my very own middle school. I was greeted with this colorful poster in the entryway, complete with maps of where each book is set.  Cool!  If you told middle-school-me (back in the mid-eighties, eek) that she'd be coming back over two decades later to talk about her books.... what on earth would she think??  For one, she probably she wouldn't have cared quite so much about how perfectly feathered her hair was and whether her jeans were properly folded and rolled up, hehehe...

With my beloved 6th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Witt! (Oops, I mean Sandi!)

With brilliant teacher friend Dylana!

I spent a couple hours in Historic Ellicott City, my favorite going-out place as a teen and the setting of the first chapters of my book-in-progress. I took notes and weird photos like this one (in this case, to remind myself of the cobbled alley area)-- I like to get these kinds of little setting details right.  

The Baltimore Book Festival was loads of fun, and very inspiring.  Here's Laura Amy Schlitz, talented children's author and Newbery winner.  She gave a powerful, funny, from-the-heart presentation that was exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my book-in-progress.  I came home feeling invigorated and ready to leap back into the labyrinth of my new story.  (I'll write more about her speech later, when I do a post on how it feels to be at the early draft stage of my new book. Stay tuned.)

I loved her props, which included an origami swan and a poster of a maze-- here she's holding a ball of yarn.

YA author Natalie Standiford and children's author Laurel Snyder-- both great writers and witty, smart women-- were on the "Baltimore Bred" panel with me.  Here we're exploring the hidden nooks of the gorgeous author hospitality area. 

I especially love Maryland visits because I get to hang out with my family-- to my right are my Aunt Liz and Uncle Barry. To my left is my dad, and on the ground is my mom.  And I'm sure you can guess who's hiding under the firefighter's helmet...

Here I am with the lovely Oona, who I've corresponded with all year, and finally got to meet in person!  She's one of my all-time favorite readers-- look, she made me that awesome shrinky-dink Jade Notebook amulet!!!  So sweet, and it brought back fun memories of my own shrinky-dink days.

I met new readers too... this is Isaiah and his sister.  He's an avid writer, with an incredibly supportive mom who drove him and his sister a looong way to the book festival!

At the dinner afterward, I got to know my fellow panelists better, including the weird faces they're capable of making.  Here's hilarious children's author C Alexander London on the left, and on the right, the beautiful Sarah, who was instrumental in setting up the Children's Book Stage events.

At the far end of the table, you can get a glimpse of co-panelist Adam Gidwitz, who writes funny, gory fairytale re-tellings.  Check out cool librarian Paula Willey's pink locks.

On my free day, I went out to eat with my grandmom, whom I adore-- she raised four kids and was instrumental in running her family peanut factory (Schindler's Peanuts).

Thanks so much to everyone who came to hear my presentations and panel discussion! It was truly a joy to spend time with you!

Oh, and Denver area teens-- this is for you!:

Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 -- FREE Writing Workshop for Teens! 2:00-3:30 pm, Denver Public Library (Central Library), Level 4 Rockwell Room.  Do you love to write? Do you dream of seeing your stories in print?  Here's your chance to learn more about the writing process. Laura Resau will kick off Teen Read Week by running a writing workshop just for teens (ages 12-18). Laura will teach her Creating Vivid Characters workshop using various activities.

This is free, but you need to register here: .  And please see here for more details. Thank you!!


Red Glass Art!

Hey guys,

Well, this weekend is the first of spring, and there are a few inches of snow on the ground... just in time for our Lil Dude's 3rd birthday party tomorrow at the Farm. When I planned it a couple months ago, I deluded myself into thinking that surely, spring would have come by March 20... Yet somehow, even from beneath the snow, those bits of tree pollen are managing to find their way into my allergic, red, puffy eyes. Not to complain... but man oh man, do my eyes itch right now. I always forget about this nasty side effect of springtime (even when it still looks more like wintertime out my window.)

So, on a nicer note, here are some very cool art projects done by an English class at one of the schools I visited in south Texas a couple weeks ago. It's so fun to see how readers envision characters, and what quotes from the book stand out to them. Some of these students should be graphic designers, I'm convinced-- I'd trust them to design my covers any day. I think their assignment was to make a movie poster for Red Glass (imagining it's been made into a movie... ahhh, if only...)

Love the colors in this one!


Oooh-- look at the blossoms-- and what a striking image of Sophie...

Angel looks so cute in this one...

Awww... how sweet!

Check out her Red Glass mobile!!

Close-ups of the dangling thingies on the mobile!

Heeheehee... love the image of Pablo as a chick hatching from an egg!

Thanks so much for reading!