Monday, February 20, 2017

Places I'll be in the next few months

Want to know what gets my writer heart a pumping? Writer's conferences! I am going to some that I keep going back to because I love so much, and a couple that I'm excited to go to for the first time ever. If you're looking for some to go to to fill your writing well, you can't go wrong with these!

On March 11, I'll be at Writing for Charity. It's a one day conference that benefits charities, held from 9:30-5:30 on Saturday at the Utah Valley University Classroom Building in Orem, UT. I will be doing critiques, speaking on panels, running the silent auction (which has some fantastic stuff donated by authors!), and participating in the mass book signing.

Except for the first ever Salt Lake Comic Con, I've been to every one in the fall, along with every FanX in the spring, because they're THAT AWESOME. There are tons of writing panels, so many fun fan panels, and great celebrity presentations.Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience is at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT. I will be on panels and signing books.

I'm thrilled to be going back to Davis County School District’s Family Literacy Night event on March 20th. This year, it's at Northridge High School in Layton, Utah. This event attracts thousands of students, and is a blast! I will be doing mini workshops, then signing books. This is a family event and very much worth going to.

I've presented at Teen Author Boot Camp before, which is downright incredible. The same amazing folks are putting on a TWEEN Author Boot Camp for kids ages 9-12, and I'm so excited to be joining them for the first time! It's at the Provo Library in Provo, UT. I will be teaching workshops and signing books at the end of the day.

My hands-down favorite conference to go to for learning (so many high quality classes!) and socializing (750 people who are every bit as passionate about writing) is Storymakers Writing Conference. It's held at Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, UT. I will be leading one of the First Pages Clinic groups on Thursday, will be teaching How to Present Like a Pro on Friday, and will be part of the group book signing on Saturday.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming has a pretty impressive writer's group. They put on a conference every year, and this is the first year they are taking it even further. They've created a writing camp for kids, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it! On June 21, I will be teaching Writing and Brainstorming the Most Fantastical Ideas and Worlds at the Teton County Library.

And then on June 22-24, I'll be at Jackson Hole Writing Conference at the Center for the Arts in Jackson Hole, WY. I will be giving the keynote speech on Friday, teaching a class titled Writing Emotion: Pulling Your Readers in So Fully That They Can’t Let Go, giving critiques, and signing books.

Have you ever been to a writing conference? What are your favorite writing conferences to go to?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

School visit fun

I have been so thrilled and honored to go to dozens and dozens of schools over the past year and a half in Texas, South Carolina, Utah, and Nevada, and to Skype with classrooms over the country. Speaking at schools and visiting with students is one of my very favorite parts of being an author. I want to hug every single librarian for bringing me into their schools and into the lives of their students. It's an honor I take very seriously, and I love every second of it!

Here's just a few shots of all the fun:

Before starting the school year, it was time to stock up on bookmarks! This is what 15,000 bookmarks looks like all boxed up. That's 104 pounds! It lasted me nearly 2/3 of a school year.

This is my bookmarks suitcase. I load it up before each week that I head out to do school visits. A week's worth weighs about 35 pounds! 

A welcome poster from Brushy Creek Elementary.

I'm a teensy tiny bit afraid terrified of spiders. See this whole fenced in area in the picture above and below? This is at Chandler Oaks Elementary (you can see the edge of the school on the right in the pic below). That fenced in area is there to protect a rare breed of SPIDER that is close to extinction! I was simultaneously terrified and fascinated and couldn't stop staring (and checking to make sure no spiders had found their way inside the school and up my back). Someone seriously needs to write a book set here.

The Welcome sign at Chandler Oaks. Isn't that amazing?!?!

I got to visit Channing Hall ON HALLOWEEN! I've made it a goal in life to speak at a school every Halloween. So fun!

Some great volunteers helping me out at Deepwood Elementary.

Deepwood students.

Deerwood Elementary.

At England Elementary, the students had the opportunity to write an essay to their librarian about why they wanted to have breakfast with me. We had a great time sitting and chatting!

And of course, signing books!

At Forest North Elementary, one of the students made me these welcome signs. Get it? BOMB, as in "Bomb's Breath"?! I got the hugest kick out of this creativity and amazing work! I was so thrilled when I got to meet the artist behind them.

Speaking at Forest North, and having lunch with the kids who won the library's contest was a blast (see what I did there?), too! 

Presenting at Holt Elementary.

In Arlington, TX, I was speaking with a group of students, and one of the kids drew a picture of me as I was presenting, then gave it to me afterwards. Isn't that the greatest thing ever?

A wonderful welcome from Brushy Creek Elementary!

A full house at Canyon Elementary!

A wonderful visit at Eagle Springs Elementary. (Thanks for the pictures, Librarian Laura Jackson!)

At Eiland Elementary, each of the students got a chance to choose whether they'd like to be a jumper (like Hope), or an inventor (like Aaren). I loved reading their reasons!

Eiland Elementary was one of the most incredible school visits I've ever had. It's a school with 90% economically disadvantaged kids, and the librarian and principal worked hard to get every single kid in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade their own copy of Sky Jumpers. All the teachers read the book to their class, and all the kids were able to follow along, putting in Post-It notes whenever they had questions or connections, or thoughts they wanted to share. Signing books that looked like this will always be one of the highlights of my career. (As was answering their incredibly thoughtful questions about the book!)

A bunch of inventions at Epps Island Elementary.

One of the 5th grade teachers at Great Oaks Elementary read SKY JUMPERS to her class, and then they each wrote me letters. I cried more than once. There's some seriously sweet stuff there.

Some students at Hartman Elementary showing how they can work with their strengths!

Do you know what I love every bit as much as hanging out with kids? Hanging out with librarians!

I visited Haude Elementary, a school where a half wall surrounded their library. Every single 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader created their own invention, and they covered the walls with them! I stood and stared at this wall for the longest time. So much creativity in one place!

At Holt Elementary, they read on my website that my favorite animal is a meerkat, and had this adorable little guy there to greet me. Isn't that the sweetest thing ever?

At Locke Hill Elementary, I met a librarian who had an awe-inspiring influence on the kids in her school. I will never forget her. Looking out for the needs of others is something she's seriously pro at. She even had lunch waiting for me, along with sweet cards from students!

Some kids at Monarch Elementary came early to show me a wonderful welcome!

Oyster Creek Elementary has a lunchtime book club, and I got to have a wonderful lunch with them after visiting their school. This was a fun and outgoing group of girls!

At Pine Forest Elementary, I got to have a cupcake social with this great group of kids! We had so much fun chatting!

At Reinhardt Elementary they gave me a wonderful welcome, and a fantastic time at our assemblies!

A student in San Antonio recreated my cover for me. Such an artist!

At Timberwood Middle School, I got to speak with 515 6th and 7th grade students at once in a packed gym. They participated like crazy! We had an amazing assembly.

Fun chatting with kids after the assembly at Jones Elementary.

Some fun Skype visits at Naumann (above) and Pinkerton (below).

Chatting with some kids with great questions at West Pelzer Elementary.

Lunch and lots of questions at West Pelzer!

I've gotten a chance to speak with so many amazing, brilliant, thoughtful, vibrant, eager students, along with their equally amazing librarians, and for that, I will be forever grateful!