Countdown to CHIRP: Writerly Time Management (It’s all about the charts, baby…)

Welcome to Countdown to CHIRP, a wonderfully nerdy blog series about the writing process behind my February 2020 MG novel, CHIRP. Here’s a little about the book from Bloomsbury, so you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I share all the nitty-gritty writing and revision details…

When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she’d rather forget.

Mia’s change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram’s thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram’s farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she’s been hiding–and find the courage she never knew she had?

In a compelling story rich with friendship, science, and summer fun, a girl finds her voice while navigating the joys and challenges of growing up.

So… I’m not actually going to talk about writing CHIRP in this post. I’m going to talk about planning. And time management for writers.

When I started working on this novel, I was also juggling a handful of other upcoming writing projects. I keep a bullet journal (which I blogged about a while back), and that helps me to manage both daily tasks, monthly goals, and longer term projects. It’s especially helpful when I’m working on multiple project at once and trying to keep track of various deadlines. Here’s a look at some of my monthly tasks from April 2018…

That month, one of my goals was to organize all of my cricket notes and other brainstorming for CHIRP so that I could get started on a plan for my rough draft. I also needed to wrap up final revisions (a few more line edits!) on my picture book, THE NEXT PRESIDENT, which comes out with Chronicle in March 2020. Also? I’d been researching invasive Burmese pythons in Southwest Florida – following curiosity again! – and had pitched an article about that to Scholastic Storyworks magazine, so I needed to finish that up.

Travel mixes in with my writing deadlines, too, which is why you see “Programs for Sharjah” on this list. Before I left on a trip to the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in the United Arab Emirates later that month, I needed to prepare the presentations that I’d give at the festival and at schools in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

By August 2018, I was using my bullet journal to set very specific goals for completing that very first (and very rough!) draft of CHIRP.

When I’m fast-drafting, I’ll often aim for a chapter each day, so this added up to fifteen really intense writing days in August. The other writing days that month were devoted to starting my research for Ranger in Time #11: Escape from the Twin Towers, which meant a lot of library time as well as a trip to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City later in the month.

I put daily to-do lists in my bullet journal, too. Everything in my life mixes together in those – the daily writing jobs, my fitness and water-drinking habits (writing it down helps!), family events like my daughter’s track meet, volunteer work I do in the writing community, like maintaining my author Skype list, and connecting with a writer friend.

Mixed in with all those to-do lists are pages of brainstorming and notes, like this one where I was imagining my main character, Mia, unpacking boxes in the new house and trying to decide what to keep and what to shove in the closet.

Is this a weirdly specific brainstorming tool? Definitely! But it was the exact tool I needed to make some decisions about Mia’s character and where she was in that summer she moved.

I also keep big project charts in my bullet journal – a trick that my brilliant author friend Tracey Baptiste taught me – where I keep track of all the progress and milestones on each project. Here’s what my master project chart looked like when I’d finished up CHIRP.

I use these charts to keep track of progress for each project. So it includes the project title (or working title), when it sold to a publisher, and when I completed my research, outline/planning, draft, Revision I (which includes the 3-4 revisions I usually do before I send to my editor), the date I sent the revised manuscript, and finally, the completion of the rest of the revisions that happen after I get my editorial letter and notes. (There are other steps in the process that aren’t on here – copy edits and reviewing page proofs, etc. – but your chart can only be so big, and those tend to be smaller jobs, so I don’t include them here.)

By now, you might be wondering what all these time management tools are doing in a blog series that’s supposed to be about the writing process. Fair enough… The truth is, they’re not really writing, but they’re an essential part of my process because without them, I couldn’t clear the brain space to get my actual writing done. For me, getting everything in a plan on a page frees me to let go of those logistical things so I can be creative and really immerse myself in a character’s world. And that’s what happens once I start drafting – the subject of next week’s post!

For now, I’d love it if you’d consider pre-ordering CHIRP. If you do that through my local indie, The Bookstore Plus, I’ll personalize and sign your copy to be mailed out on release day. And wherever you pre-order, Bloomsbury will send you a special gift – a CHIRP poster and a class set of bookmarks to share! Details on that are here.

Pre-order Chirp and get a poster and a set of 30 bookmarks for your school or library. Visit bit.ly/chirppreorder for details

Thanks so much for taking the time to read about CHIRP. I’m so hopeful that this book will find the readers who need it, and I’m grateful for the early praise it’s garnered from readers and reviewers alike…

“Kate Messner strikes the perfect balance of joy, pain, and strength in this deftly layered mystery about family, friendship, and the struggle to speak up.” –  Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of SPEAK and SHOUT

Chirp is so many things: a mystery, a family story, and a story of the power of friendship. It’s about learning to speak out when it seems the whole world would rather you shut up. Sure to be passed from kid to kid to kid” –  Laura Ruby, National Book Award Finalist and author of the York Trilogy

“Once again, Kate Messner has written a book that will be a dear and important friend to her readers. A loving and compelling ode to the joy of friendship, the many kinds of strength, and the everyday bravery of girls.” –  Anne Ursu, author of THE LOST GIRL

“Messner deftly weaves together myriad complex plot threads to form a captivating whole. . . . Rich, timely, and beautifully written.” –  Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

“Messner addresses #MeToo themes authentically and with care as her story moves toward empowerment: Mia displays fear and confusion alongside a hope to reclaim the strength she once felt as a gymnast. Layering mystery elements, strong and myriad female characters, and a poignant analogy involving chirp-less female crickets, Messner gently guides Mia on a journey of resilience that both comforts and inspires.”

–  Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

“Messner honors middle graders by exploring important, relevant issues at their level of understanding. This book will prompt discussions of gender inequality, consent, and sexual abuse. A must purchase.” –  Starred Review, School Library Connection

Countdown to CHIRP: The Story Spark (and why it’s always a good idea to follow curiosity!)

Welcome to Countdown to CHIRP, a wonderfully nerdy blog series about the writing process behind my February 2020 MG novel, CHIRP. Here’s a little about the book from Bloomsbury, so you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I share all the nitty-gritty writing and revision details…

When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she’d rather forget.

Mia’s change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram’s thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram’s farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she’s been hiding–and find the courage she never knew she had?

In a compelling story rich with friendship, science, and summer fun, a girl finds her voice while navigating the joys and challenges of growing up.

CHIRP is a lot of things. It’s a mystery set on a cricket farm. It’s also about warrior camp, young entrepreneurs and robot builders, summertime joy, friendship, entomophagy, family, and finding the courage to speak up. Where does a story like this come from? For this one, the spark was the cricket farm.

My husband is a part of a volunteer group that helps people launch small businesses in Vermont. Early in 2018, he came home one day, dropped a folder on the kitchen table, and said, “You’re going to want to see this one…”

It was a business plan for a startup cricket farm called Flourish Farm. He knew I’d be interested because I’d been fascinated by this 2013 report that came out from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The report is all about eating insects. It’s 150+ pages long (if you’re interested, you can read it here), but it boils down to two things.

    1. Insects are good for you. They’re a super-healthy protein. Also?
    2. They’re way more sustainable to raise than other things we eat for protein, especially cows.

The couple launching this startup cricket farm had read that same report. I was fascinated and made plans to visit their fledging insect agriculture setup. Not because I thought, “Hey, I’ll write a mystery set on a cricket farm!” That idea was still weeks away. I really just visited because I was curious. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a writer it’s that following curiosity is always interesting – and sometimes, it leads to a story.

The cricket farm had started out in the couple’s basement and eventually moved to a cavernous warehouse in a Williston industrial park. It was filled with big wooden bins, which were filled with cardboard “cricket condos,” and, of course, crickets. Hundreds of thousands of crickets.

I loved the sound of this place (so much chirping!). I asked a pile of questions. The whole idea of entomophagy – eating insects as food – was so interesting! And I started wondering…what would it be like to be a kid in a family that was running a business like this? I’d been wanting to write another mystery, and this seemed like a fascinating setting.

So then I began doing research in earnest. I read a lot more about crickets and cricket farming. And I made plans to spend more time at Flourish Farm. I talked with cricket farmer Steve Swanson, who patiently answered questions, showed me all the different stages in the cricket life cycle, and walked me through the daily routines of the farm, from moving eggs into the incubation area, to dumping new baby crickets (called pinheads!) into the bins, to changing the water and giving them food.

As I learned all about cricket farming, a main character found her way into my imagination. Mia, I decided, was a girl who was feeling small, for reasons I couldn’t quite figure out yet. But I knew she’d been hurt. I knew she was moving back to Vermont after a few years living somewhere else, and I knew that her beloved grandma, who’d had a stroke that winter, was in Vermont and running the cricket farm. I knew that somehow, they would help one another heal.

So all through the winter and spring of 2018, I popped into the cricket farm, took notes, scribbled story ideas, and brainstormed character details. I thought and wrote a lot about Mia, sometimes journaling in her voice, sometimes writing personal narratives of my own in order to mine memories that were similar to those that were part of Mia’s story. Those writings don’t end up in the book, but for me, they’re an important part of laying an emotional foundation for the story that feels true.

By late spring, I was ready to start writing. In next week’s Countdown to CHIRP post, we’ll take a look at the process of taking all that research, brainstorming, and pre-writing and corralling it into some kind of plan for a rough draft.

For now, I’d love it if you’d consider pre-ordering CHIRP. If you do that through my local indie, The Bookstore Plus, I’ll personalize and sign your copy to be mailed out on release day. And wherever you pre-order, Bloomsbury will send you a special gift – a CHIRP poster and a class set of bookmarks to share!

Thanks for taking the time to read about CHIRP. I’m so hopeful that this book will find the readers who need it, and I’m grateful for the early praise it’s garnered from readers and reviewers alike…

“Kate Messner strikes the perfect balance of joy, pain, and strength in this deftly layered mystery about family, friendship, and the struggle to speak up.” –  Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of SPEAK and SHOUT

Chirp is so many things: a mystery, a family story, and a story of the power of friendship. It’s about learning to speak out when it seems the whole world would rather you shut up. Sure to be passed from kid to kid to kid” –  Laura Ruby, National Book Award Finalist and author of the York Trilogy

“Once again, Kate Messner has written a book that will be a dear and important friend to her readers. A loving and compelling ode to the joy of friendship, the many kinds of strength, and the everyday bravery of girls.” –  Anne Ursu, author of THE LOST GIRL

“Messner deftly weaves together myriad complex plot threads to form a captivating whole. . . . Rich, timely, and beautifully written.” –  Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

“Messner addresses #MeToo themes authentically and with care as her story moves toward empowerment: Mia displays fear and confusion alongside a hope to reclaim the strength she once felt as a gymnast. Layering mystery elements, strong and myriad female characters, and a poignant analogy involving chirp-less female crickets, Messner gently guides Mia on a journey of resilience that both comforts and inspires.”

–  Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

Skype with an Author on World Read Aloud Day 2020!

Hi there! And welcome to the World Read Aloud Day author Skype volunteer list for 2020!

If you’re new to this blog, I’m Kate Messner, author of more than thirty books for kids, former middle school teacher, and forever reader. Reading aloud is one of my favorite things in the world. When I was a kid, I was the one forever waving my hand to volunteer to read in class, and still, I’ll pretty much read aloud to anyone who will listen.

For the past few years, I’ve helped out with LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day by pulling together a list of author volunteers who would like to spend part of the day Skyping with classrooms around the world to share the joy of reading aloud.

This WRAD, I won’t be available to Skype into classrooms myself, but it’s for a great reason – I’ll be on book tour for my new novel! CHIRP is a mystery set on a cricket farm and a coming-of-age story that’s earned three starred reviews. You can read more about it here.

And I have a favor to ask… If you’ve used my World Read Aloud Day Skype lists over the years and appreciate this resource, would you consider pre-ordering a signed copy? You can do that here, through my local indie, The Bookstore Plus. Just make a note in the comments about how you’d like it signed. You can also order an unsigned copy from any bookseller you like. To say thanks, Bloomsbury will send you a CHIRP poster and a class set of signed bookmarks! Details on that are here. 

Also…if you’d like to pre-order a copy as a holiday gift, I’ll happily mail you a personalized, signed letter and bookmark that you can wrap or tuck in a stocking to let your reader know a new signed book will be on the way. Here’s how to request that.

Okay…on to this year’s list!

WORLD READ ALOUD DAY IS FEBRUARY 5, 2020

The authors listed below have  volunteered their time to read aloud to classrooms and libraries all over the world. These aren’t long, fancy presentations; a typical one might go like this:

  • 1-2 minutes: Author introduces himself or herself and talks a little about his or her books.
  • 3-5 minutes: Author reads aloud a short picture book, or a short excerpt from a chapter book/novel
  • 5-10  minutes: Author answers a few questions from students about reading/writing
  • 1-2 minutes: Author book-talks a couple books he or she loves (but didn’t write!) as recommendations for the kids

If you’re a traditionally published author or illustrator who would like to be added to the list next time I update, please fill out this form.

If you’re a teacher or librarian and you’d like to have an author Skype with your classroom or library on World Read Aloud Day, here’s how to do it:

  • Check out the list of volunteering authors below and visit their websites to see which ones might be a good fit for your students.
  • Contact the author directly by using the email provided or clicking on the link to his or her website and finding the contact form. Please be sure to provide the following information in your request:
    • Your name and what grade(s) you work with
    • Your city and time zone (this is important for scheduling!)
    • Possible times to Skype on February 5th. Please note authors’ availability and time zones. Adjust accordingly if yours is different!
    • Your Skype username
    • A phone number where you can be reached on that day in case of technical issues
  • Please understand that authors are people, too, and have schedules and personal lives, just like you, so not all authors will be available at all times. It may take a few tries before you find someone whose books and schedule fit with yours. If I learn that someone’s schedule for the day is full, I’ll put a line through their name – that means the author’s schedule is full, and no more visits are available.  (Authors, please send an email to me know when you’re all booked up! And please note that due to travel and other obligations, it may take up to a week for me to update.)

World Read Aloud Day – Skyping Author Volunteers for February 5, 2020

Authors are listed here, along with publishers, available times, and the age groups for which their visits are best suited. Please note that while they’re divided by age groups, some folks on the Elementary list might also be great for your Middle School Readers, so feel free to explore the whole list.

FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL READERS

Susan B. Katz

Scholastic, Random House, Barefoot, Bala, Callisto

Elementary

PST prefer midday (Also, I am Spanish bilingual)

www.susankatzbooks.com

Susankatz25@gmail.com

 

kevin sylvester

Simon and Schuster/Groundwood

Elementary

Eastern 8am-8pm

kevinsylvesterbooks.com

sylvesterartwork@gmail.com

 

Jody Feldman

HarperCollins/Greenwillow

Elementary

8:30 am – 4:00 pm CST

http://jodyfeldman.com

jody@jodyfeldman.com

 

Loree Griffin Burns

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Henry Holt, Millbrook, Charlesbridge

Elementary

Eastern US, 9am-5pm

www.loreeburns.com

lgb@loreeburns.com

 

Liz Garton Scanlon

Beach Lane Simon & Schuster

Elementary

Central time zone, 9:30 am-2:30 pm

liz@lizgartonscanlon.com

liz@lizgartonscanlon.com

 

Megan Blakemore

Bloomsbury and Aladdin/Simon& Schuster

Elementary

8:30-11:30 EST

www.meganfrazerblakemore.com

megan.frazer@gmail.com

 

KIM TOMSIC

HarperCollins and Chronicle

Elementary

Pacific Time 9 AM-4PM

www.KimTomsic.com

ktomsic@gmail.com

 

Jess Redman

Macmillan

Elementary

9:30 to 12 EST

www.jessredman.com

jessicaeredman@gmail.com

 

Kim Baker

Random House

Elementary

PST; 9 a.m-2p.m.

https://www.kimbakerbooks.com

kim@kimbakerbooks.com

 

Anne Marie Pace

Disney-Hyperion, Abrams, Beach Lane/S&S

Elementary

9 – 12 Eastern

http://www.annemariepace.com

annemarie@annemariepace.com

 

Fleur (F.T.) Bradley

HarperCollins Children’s

Elementary

Mountain time, flexible

www.ftbradley.com

Fleur@ftbradley.com

 

Juana Martínez-Neal

Candlewick and Roaring Brook Press

Elementary

PHX – 9am-12pm and 1pm-3pm

juanamartinezneal.com

me@juanamartinezneal.com

 

Tracey West

Scholastic

Elementary

EST, 9 am – 5 pm

www.traceywest.com; @traceywestbooks on Twitter;

purewest@verizon.net

 

Sarah Aronson

Beach Lane Books (Simon and Schuster)

Elementary

Central 8am-5pm

http://www.saraharonson.com

sarah.n.aronson@gmail.com

 

Laura Gehl

Albert Whitman

Elementary

EST 10-2

www.lauragehl.com

laurameressa@gmail.com

 

Miranda Paul

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Random House, Lerner, Holiday House

Elementary

9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Central Time Zone (US)

www.mirandapaul.com

mirandapaulbooks@gmail.com

 

Abby Cooper

Macmillan, Charlesbridge

Elementary

CST. Available 8 AM – 12 PM

Www.AbbyCooperAuthor.com

AbbyRCooper@gmail.com

 

Carmella Van Vleet

Holiday House, Charlesbridge, Nomad Press

Elementary

9:00 to 3:00 EST

www.CarmellaVanVleet.com

carmellavanvleet@yahoo.com

 

Erica S. Perl

Penguin Random House

Elementary

9 am – 11 am EST

ericaperl.com

erica@ericaperl.com

 

Janet Sumner Johnson

Capstone

Elementary

9:00 AM – 3:00 PM MST

http://janetsumnerjohnson.com/

pbjsociety@gmail.com

 

Michelle Cusolito

Charlesbridge

Elementary

EASTERN 1-3 pm

http://www.michellecusolito.com/

michelle@michellecusolito.com

 

Annie Silvestro

Doubleday, HarperCollins, Sterling

Elementary

9am -2:30pm EST

www.anniesilvestro.com

anniesilvestro@gmail.com

 

Sue Fliess

Albert Whitman, Sky Pony, Running Press

Elementary

EST, 9am-2pm

Www.suefliess.com

sue.fliess@gmail.com

 

Robin Yardi

Lerner

Elementary

PST 6am-2pm

www.RobinYardi.com

robinyardi@mac.com

 

Susan Tan

Roaring Brook: Macmillan

Elementary

EST, and pretty much all day! (Let’s say 9-6, but I can be flexible).

www.susantanbooks.com

Susanshaumingtan@gmail.com

 

Mae Respicio

Wendy Lamb Books/Random House

Elementary

PST – fyi I marked “elementary” (3/4/5) but could also do middle school! Was not able to mark both… thank you for this opportunity and for organizing! 🙂

www.maerespicio.com

mae@maerespicio.com

 

Hayley Barrett

Candlewick Press, Beach Lane Books, Holiday House, Barefoot Books

Elementary

9-12 EST

hayleybarrett.com

hayleybarrettwrites@gmail.com

 

Jessica Rinker

Bloomsbury

Elementary

EST–anytime

www.jessicarinker.com

jessrinker3@gmail.com

 

Laura Shovan

Random House and Clarion Books

Elementary

EST 9-5

https://laurashovan.com

laurashovan@gmail.com

 

Jenn Bailey

Chronicle

Elementary

Central Time Zone 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

www.jennbailey.com

jenn.c.bailey@gmail.com

 

Amanda Rawson Hill

Boyds Mills and Kane, Magination Press, Charlesbridge

Elementary

PST available 8-12

Amandarawsonhill.com

Amanda.rawaon.hill@gmail.com

 

Supriya Kelkar

Sterling

Elementary

EST 9:10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

www.www.supriyakelkar.com

supriyakelkarbooks@gmail.com

 

Dee Romito

Aladdin/S&S, Little Bee Books

Elementary

Eastern

9-2

deeromito.com

dee@deeromito.com

 

Elaine Vickers

HarperCollins

Elementary

Mountain, 8-12:30 and 2:30-5

elainevickers.com

elainebvickers@hotmail.com

 

Stephanie Campisi

Familius, Sourcebooks

Elementary

9am-12pm PT

www.stephaniecampisi.com

stephanie.campisi@gmail.com

 

Chana Stiefel

Houghton Mifflin Harco

Elementary

9-11 am EST

https://chanastiefel.com/

stiefelchana@gmail.com

 

Lisa Schmid

Northstar Editions/ Jolly Fish Press

Elementary

Pacific Standard Time/ 10:00-1:00

www.lisalschmid.com

lisa.schmid@sbcglobal.net

 

Sheetal Sheth

Bharat Babies

Elementary

9:30am-1pm EST

www.sheetalsheth.com

sheetal@sheetalsheth.com

 

Lisa Rogers

Schwartz & Wade

Elementary

EST /between 12-12:30 or after 3 p EST

lisarogerswrites.com

lisarogerswrites@gmail.com

 

Saadia Faruqi

Capstone

Elementary

9 am to 2 pm Central time

www.saadiafaruqi.com

saadia@saadiafaruqi.com

 

Marcy Campbell

Penguin

Elementary

9:30 to 3:00 EST

Www.marcycampbell.com

marcycampbellbooks@gmail.com

 

Nancy Churnin

Albert Whitman & Company; Creston Books/Lerner Books

Elementary

CST, daytime

https://www.nancychurnin.com

nancychurnin@mac.com

 

Lindsay Leslie

Page Street Kids

Elementary

CST, available from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

https://lindsayleslie.com/

lindsaylleslie@hotmail.com

 

Tami Lewis Brown

Disney/Hyperion, Philomel and FSG

Elementary

Eastern Time Zone Hours flexible

www.TamiLewisBrown.com and www.BrownandDunn.com

tamilewisbrown@gmail.com

 

Jill Diamond

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Elementary

10:00 AM – 3:30 PM PST

www.jilldiamondbooks.com

jilldiamond78@gmail.com

 

Joy Keller

Henry Holt/The Innovation Press

Elementary

EST–10:00 am -2:00 pm

joykellerauthor.com

joykellerauthor@gmail.com

 

Tim McCanna

Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams

Elementary

Pacific (California) 9:30am – noon

www.timmccanna.com

tsmccanna@gmail.com

 

Larissa Theule

Abrams, Bloomsbury

Elementary

Pacific, mornings

larissatheule.com

ltheule@gmail.com

 

Holly M. McGhee

Macmillan

Elementary

Eastern 10 – 3

hollymcghee.com

hmcgheewriter@gmail.com

 

Lowey Bundy Sichol

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Elementary

CT, available 9am-3pm

www.LoweyBundySichol.com

Lowey@LoweyBundySichol.com

 

Jane Kohuth

Penguin Random House, Kar-Ben

Elementary

10:00 AM – 3:00 PM EST

Http://www.janekohuth.com

Jane@janekohuth.com

 

Sarah Jane Marsh

Disney-Hyperion

Elementary

8:00 AM – 2PM PST

sarahjanemarsh.com

sarah@sarahjanemarsh.com

 

Emma Wunsch

Abrams

Elementary

8am-3pm EST

Mirandaandmaude.com

emmalucy@gmail.com

 

Lisa Kahn Schnell

Charlesbridge

Elementary

EST, 7:30am until 6pm

lisakschnell.com

lisakschnell@yahoo.com

 

Laurie Wallmark

Sterling Children’s Books

Elementary

ET, all day

www.lauriewallmark.com

laurie@lauriewallmark.com

 

Sarah Grace Tuttle

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Creative Editions, Aladdin

Elementary

Eastern, 10 AM – 2 PM

www.sarahgracetuttle.com

tuttlesarahg@gmail.com

 

Buffy Silverman

Millbrook Press/Lerner

Elementary

Eastern; 10:00 am–2:00 pm

www.buffysilverman.com

buffy@buffysilverman.com

 

Laura Murray

GP Putnam’s Sons

Elementary

EST, 8:30 – 3:00

www.LauraMurrayBooks.com

LauraMurrayBooks@gmail.com

 

Nidhi Chanani

Macmillan

Elementary

Pacific, between 10am-3:30pm

Everydayloveart.com

Nidhinecco@gmail.com

 

Raakhee Mirchandani

Bharat Babies

Elementary

EST; flexible

Super Satya Saves the Day https://www.amazon.com/dp/1643071173/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_AU8PDb8DXREYN

raakhee.mirchandani@gmail.com

 

Leslie Bulion

Peachtree Publishers, Charlesbridge

Elementary

Eastern Time Zone – available 7am-5pm

www.LeslieBulion.com

lesliebulion@gmail.com

 

Jake Burt

Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan

Elementary

Eastern; 1:00-2:00 PM

www.jburtbooks.com

jake@jburtbooks.com

 

Anjali Joshi

Bharat Babies / Scholastic

Elementary

EST, afternoon hours

www.mrsjoshi.com

anjali.manaktola@gmail.com

 

ROBIN NEWMAN

Creston Books; Sky Pony Press

Elementary

EST; 10 am – 1 pm

www.robinnewmanbooks.com

rnewman504@nyc.rr.com

 

Mariana Llanos

Penny Candy Books

Elementary

Central 10am

www.marianallanos.com

mariana_llanos@hotmail.com

 

Ishta Mercurio

ABRAMS Books for Young Readers

Elementary

Eastern time; available 9am-5pm

www.ishtamercurio.com

ishtamercurio@icloud.com

 

Lija Fisher

Farrar Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Elementary

Mountain time, I’m available anytime!

LijaFisher.com

misslija@hotmail.com

 

Shawna J. C. Tenney

Sky Pony Press

Elementary

MDT, all school hours

www.shawnajctenney.com

shawna@shawnajctenney.com

 

Erin Soderberg Downing

Random House Children’s Books

Elementary

CST/9:30-3

Www.erinsoderberg.com

Erin@erinsoderberg.com

 

Karen Romano Young

Chronicle

Elementary

EST, 10-4

Karenromanoyoung.com

Wrenyoung@gmail.com

 

Dana Middleton

Chronicle

Elementary

Time zone PST; Available 8am -1:30pm PST

Danamiddletonbooks.com

Dana@danamiddletonbooks.com

 

Annette Bay Pimentel

Nancy Paulsen, Charlesbridge

Elementary

Pacific, 7 am-3pm

Annettebaypimentel.com

annettepimentel@gmail.com

 

Shauna Holyoak

Disney-Hyperion

Elementary

MST 10am – 2pm

www.shaunaholyoak.com

s.holyoak@yahoo.com

 

Sarah Sullivan

Candlewick

Elementary

EST 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

www.sarahsullivanbooks.com

sarahsull026@cox.net

 

Debbi Michiko Florence

Macmillan, Scholastic, Capstone

Elementary

EST, between noon and 3 PM

http://debbimichikoflorence.com/

author@debbimichikoflorence.com

 

Anna Raff

Candlewick

Elementary

EST, 9 AM to 4 PM

http://www.annaraff.com

anna@annaraff.com

 

Artemis Roehrig

Scholastic

Elementary

EST 9-noon

www.artemisroehrig.com

ArtemisRoehrigWriter@gmail.com

 

Melissa Stoller

Clear Fork Publishing

Elementary

Eastern (New York) 10-2

www.MelissaStoller.com

Mlstoller@aol.com

 

Betsy Devany

Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books

Elementary

Anytime between 9 EST and 5 EST

www.betsydevany.com

betsydevany@comcast.net

 

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Simon & Schuster Children’s

Elementary

(EST) 10-11:15 am EST

http://DebbieOhi.com

 

Corey Ann Haydu

Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins, Simon Pulse/S&S

Elementary

10am-5pm EST

www.coreyannhaydu.com

coreyann@gmail.com

 

Shawn K. Stout

Philomel

Elementary

ET; 9am to 3:30

www.shawnkstout.com

shawn@shawnkstout.com

 

Victoria Piontek

Scholastic

Elementary

PST 9-2

https://www.victoriapiontek.com/

victoriapiontekbooks@gmail.com

 

Daphne Kalmar

Macmillan

Elementary

EST 9-12

www.daphnekalmar.com

daphnekalmar@gmail.com

 

Laura Renauld

Atheneum

Elementary

Eastern; 9:00-2:00

www.laurarenauld.com

laura@laurarenauld.com

 

Heather L. Montgomery

Bloomsbury, Charlesbridge, Millbrook, Capstone

Elementary

Central Time, After 1 PM (have a school visit in the AM)

www.HeatherLMontgomery.com

sipsey21@hotmail.com

 

Erin Dealey

Sleeping Bear, Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ S&S, Harper Collins, Kane Miller

Elementary

Pacific–very flexible

www.erindealey.com

erin@erindealey.com

 

Margie Markarian

Sleeping Bear Press

Elementary

Eastern Standard; 9:00-12:00

www.margiemarkarian.com

margiemarkarian27@gmail.com

 

Claire Lordon

Little bee, sterling, Albert Whitman

Elementary

Pacific 9-12am

www.clairelordon.com

claire.lordon@gmail.com

 

Erin Teagan

Clarion and Scholastic

Elementary

EST, available 8am-4pm

www.erinteagan.com

teaganek@hotmail.com

 

Dusti Bowling

Sterling Children’s Books, Little, Brown

Elementary

11:00-4:15 EST

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0944aea828a3fc1-skype

dustibowlingbooks@gmail.com

 

Jennifer Hansen Rolli

Penguin Random House

Elementary

EST 9-3

https://www.jenniferhansenrolli.com/b-o-o-k-s

jhansenrolli@gmail.com

 

Any Fauzianie

Scholastic, Random House

Elementary

1 PM

www.beaconacademy.net

any.fauzianie@beaconacademy.net

 

E.D. Baker

Bloomsbury

Elementary

10-4pm EST

www.talesofedbaker.com

edbakerbooks@gmail.com

 

Susan Richmond

Peachtree Publishing Company

Elementary

EST 2 to 5 pm

www.susanedwardsrichmond.com

susanrichmond@verizon.net

 

Monica Carnesi

Nancy Paulsen Books

Elementary

EST 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

www.monicacarnesi.com

monicacarnesi@mac.com

 

Amanda Shepherd

Chronicle / Harper collins

Elementary

Pacific coast 930 am – 11:00

AmandaShepherdillustration.com

Shepherdamanda@yahoo.com

 

Christine Evans

Innovation Press

Elementary

9am-12pm PST

http://pinwheelsandstories.com

christinenancyevans@gmail.com

 

Jenna Grodzicki

Lerner/Millbrook Press

Elementary

EST 9:30am-3:00pm

www.jennagrodzicki.com

jennagrodz@live.com

 

Kirsten Larson

Calkins Creek

Elementary

Pacific Standard 8-9:15 am, 11:45 am-1:30 pm

Www.kirsten-w-Larson.com

Creatingcuriouskids@gmail.com

 

Elaine Kiely Kearns

Albert Whitman

Elementary

EST b/w 9:30am-12:30pm

www.kidlit411.com

ekearns44@gmail.com

 

Carole Estby Dagg

Penguin

Elementary

Pacific/west coast time zone 8 – 3 my time

www.CaroleEstbyDagg.com

carole_dagg@yahoo.com

 

Cynthia Reeg

Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions

Elementary

CST 10:00-12:30

www.cynthiareeg.com

Cynthiareegauthor@gmail.com

 

Darby Karchut

Owl Hollow Press

Elementary

MST; any time is fine with me

www.darbykarchut.com

darbykarchut@gmail.com

 

Mara Rockliff

Penguin/Putnam

Elementary

10 am – 4 pm EST

mararockliff.com

mararockliff@gmail.com

 

Aimee Reid

Random House; Abrams Books

Elementary

EST 10-12 and 2-3

www.aimeereidbooks.com

A.reid@bell.net

 

Anjali Amit

Hemkunt

Elementary

PST prefer 9am to 11am

www.bookreviewsgalore.com and thefabletable.com

anjali.amit@gmail.com

 

Sara Levine

Millbrook/Lerner

Elementary

EST, 9AM to 7 PM

www.saralevinebooks.com

saraclevine@aol.com

 

Dawn Prochovnic

West Margin Press and ABDO

Elementary

Pacific 9am-1pm

https://www.dawnprochovnic.com/

dawnp@smalltalklearning.com

 

Patricia Newman

Millbrook Press/Lerner

Elementary

Pacific – 7:00 am – noon Pacific

https://www.patriciamnewman.com/

newmanbooks@live.com

 

Carrie Pearson

Charlesbridge

Elementary

EST all day

Www.carriepearsonbooks.com

Carrieapear@aol.com

 

David A. Kelly

Random House Books for Young Readers

Elementary

Mountain 9am – 6pm

www.davidakellybooks.com

davidakelly@gmail.com

 

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Scholastic, Clarion, Boyds Mills & Kane

Elementary

8:15am – 10:15am EST

www.amyludwigvanderwater.com

amy@amylv.com

 

Christina Soontornvat

Scholastic

Elementary

Central 9am-1pm

www.soontornvat.com

csoontornvat@gmail.com

 

Mia Wenjen

Lee and Low Books

Elementary

EST 8am to 2pm

https://www.pragmaticmom.com/

pragmaticmomblog@gmail.com

 

Margaret Chiu Greanias

Running Press Kids

Elementary

PST, 9:30-11:30, 1-2

margaretgreanias.com

margaret.c.greanias@gmail.com

 

Mark hoffmann

Knopf (Randomhouse)

Elementary

EST. 9am-2pm

www.studiohoffmann.com

Mh@studiohoffmann.com

 

Marianne Malone

Penguin/Random House

Elementary

I’m in eastern but available for all zones during school hours

mariannemalone.com

mariannemalonebooks@gmail.com

 

Megan Dowd Lambert

Charlesbridge

Elementary

EST any weekday 9-1

www.megandowdlambert.com

Megan@megandowdlambert.com

 

Stephanie Lucianovic

Sterling Children’s

Elementary

Pacific 9-1:30 M-F

stephanielucianovic.com

SVWL22@gmail.com

Diane Magras

Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin Young Readers

Elementary

EST: 8:00 – 8:20 AM, 8:30 – 8:50 AM, 9:00 – 9:20 AM, 9:30 – 9:50 AM

https://www.dianemagras.com

diane@dianemagras.com

 

Shauna LaVoy Reynolds

Dial / Penguin

Elementary

Central time, 8-11 central.

shaunalavoyreynolds.com

shaunalreynolds@gmail.com

 

Sarah Scheerger

Penguin Random House, Kar-Ben, Two Lions, Blue Apple, Albert Whitman, Carolrhoda

Elementary

I’m in California, but I’d like to skype with the east coast before work. It would be best for me to skype at 6am- 7am (Pacific Standard time) which would be 9-10am (EST)

www.sarahlynnbooks.com

sscheerger@yahoo.com

 

Laura Dershewitz & Susan Romberg

The Innovation Press

Elementary

8am-8pm Central

@LDersh_SRom (Twitter)

lauradershewitz@gmail.com; sromberg.work@gmail.com

 

Anica Mrose Rissi

Disney-Hyperion / S&S / HarperCollins

Elementary

Eastern time zone; available from 10am onward

anicarissi.com

anicamroserissi@gmail.com

 

Ariel Bernstein

Simon & Schuster

Elementary

EST, 8:30am-10:00am

Arielbernsteinbooks.com

A3bernstein@gmail.com

 

Kelly Carey

Charlesbridge

Elementary

EST – 9am – 4pm

www.kcareywrites.com

kellycarey508@gmail.com

 

Kate Berube

Abrams

Elementary

Pacific – 9am to 1pm

www.kateberube.com

kate.a.berube@gmail.com

 

Lindsay H. Metcalf

Albert Whitman, Calkins Creek, Charlesbridge

Elementary

CST – 8:30 am-3 pm CST

lindsayhmetcalf.com

lindsay@lindsayhmetcalf.com

 

Julie Segal Walters

Simon and Schuster

Elementary

10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Eastern time

www.juliesegalwalters.com

julie.segal.walters@gmail.com

 

Laura James

Bloomsbury

Elementary

GMT

www.laurajamesauthor.com

laurajames_@me.com

 

Rebecca Flansburg

Audrey Press

Elementary

Central (Between 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.)

https://audreypress.com/portfolio/sissy-goes-tiny-by-rebecca-flansburg-and-ba-norrgard/

rebeccaflansburg@gmail.com

 

Valarie Budayr

Audrey Press

Elementary

Eastern 9-3

www.audreypress.com or www.valariebudayr.com

budayr@gmail.com

 

Sandy Stark-McGinnis

Bloomsbury

Elementary

Pacific Time: 12:05-12:40

sandystarkmcginnis.com

starksandy@hotmail.com

 

Ella Schwartz

Bloomsbury, National Geographic Kids

Elementary

9am-3pm (Eastern)

www.ellasbooks.com

ella@ellasbooks.com

 

Megan Maynor

HarperCollins, Knopf

Elementary

CST 10am-3pm

meganmaynor.com

mmaynor@jamaynor.com

 

Tracy Subisak

Roaring Brook, Sasquatch, Boyds Mills

Elementary

9:30 am – 11:30am, 2pm – 4 pm PST

tracysubisak.com

tracysubisak@gmail.com

 

Jessica Burkhart

Simon & Schuster

Elementary

Central time and available any time

www.jessicaburkhart.com

jessica.ashley87@gmail.com

 

Hallee Adelman

Albert Whitman

Elementary

EST 10-2

Halleeadelman.com

Hallee@adelmans.net

 

Suzanne Morris

Charlesbridge

Elementary

Eastern 10:00AM – 2:00PM

www.suzannemorrisart.com

suzannemorrisart@gmail.com

 

Lauren Magaziner

HarperCollins

Elementary

EST (9 am to 5 pm)

laurenmagaziner.com

laurenmagazinerbooks@gmail.com

 

Karina Yan Glaser

HMH Books for Young Readers

Elementary

9am – 2pm Eastern Time

www.karinaglaser.com

karina.yan.glaser@gmail.com

 

Meredith Davis

Scholastic Focus

Elementary

Central Time Zone, available after 1PM Central time

https://meredithldavis.com/

meredithd@me.com

 

Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum

Apples & Honey Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Scholastic Press, Sleeping Bear Press

Elementary

EST, 9:00am -12:00 am

www.andriawarmflashrosenbaum.com

andria.rosenbaum@gmail.com

 

Constance Lombardo

HarperCollins

Elementary

EST 11 – 3:00

www.constancelombardo.com

conlombardo@hotmail.com

 

Monica Tesler

Simon & Schuster

Elementary

8-2 EST

monicatesler.com

monicatesler@gmail.com

 

Wendy McLeod MacKnight

Greenwillow Books

Elementary

AST – all day

Wendymcleodmacknight.com

Wendymcleodmacknight@gmail.com

 

Jo Watson Hackl

Random House Children’s Books

Elementary

Eastern standard time, 10-1 pm

Www.johackl.com

Jo@johackl.com

 

Lori Richmond

Scholastic, S&S, Harper Collins

Elementary

EST 10 am – 2 pm

LoriDraws.com

lori@loridraws.com

 

Karen Romano Young

Chronicle

Elementary

EST 9 – 3

karenromanoyoung.com

wrenyoung@gmail.com

 

Jane Kelley

Feiwel and Friends, Random House Children’s Books, Grosset and Dunlap

Elementary

Central Time Zone. I’m available from 9CST until 4CST

http://janekelleybooks.com

 

Laura Sassi

Zonderkidz (Part of HarperCollins) and Sterling Children’s Books

Elementary

Eastern Time Zone 9 – 2

www.laurasassitales.wordpress.com

laura.sassi@verizon.net

janekelleybooks@gmail.com

 

Angela Burke Kunkel

Random House/Schwartz & Wade

Elementary

EST, hours flexible

https://www.angelakunkel.com

ang.kunkel@gmail.com

 

Bea Birdsong

Macmillan

Elementary

EST 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM

www.beabirdsong.com

beabirdsong@gmail.com

 

Carol Gordon Ekster

Boulder, Mazo, Pauline Books and Media, Clavis, Beaming Books

Elementary

EST 12:00-3:00

Https://carolgordonekster.com

Cekster@aol.com

 

Saira Mir

Simon and Schuster

Elementary

Eastern 10 am – 2 pm

Sairamir.com

Contact@sairamir.com

 

Vicky Fang

Scholastic, Sterling

Elementary

9:30am-2:00pm PST

Vickyfang.com

vicky.fang@gmail.com

 

Mark Holtzen

Sasquatch Publishing/Little Bigfoot

Elementary

Pacific/9am-12pm

www.markholtzen.com

holtzy@markholtzen.com

 

Varsha Bajaj

Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Group

Elementary

Central time. Live in Houston. Between 10 am and noon

Www.Varshabajaj.com

Author@varshabajaj.com

 

Sharon Langley

Abrams

Elementary

Pacific (West Coast) 11:30 – 12:30, 12:00-1:00, 3:00-4:30

www.sharonlangley.com

sharonelangley@gmail.com

 

 

Kathleen Blasi

Sterling Children’s Books

Elementary

EST 9AM-2PM

www.kmblasi.com

Kathy@kmblasi.com

 

Shelley Johannes

Disney Hyperion

Elementary

EST 9:30-2:00

www.shelleyjohannes.com

Shelley_Johannes@yahoo.com

 

Jen Calonita

Sourcebooks, Disney

Elementary

EST between 9AM and 3PM

www.jencalonitaonline.com

jenLsmith1971@gmail.com

 

Patricia Bailey

Albert Whitman and Company

Elementary

Pacific 9:30 – 3:00

www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

patriciabaileyauthor@gmail.com

 

Nancy Tupper Ling

Penguin

Elementary

EST 9-2

Www.nancytupperling.com

nancytupperling@gmail.com

 

Dianne White

Beach Lane/S&S; HMH

Elementary

6:30 am – 2:00 pm MST

https://diannewrites.com

diannewrites@gmail.com

 

Veronica Bartles

Balzer + Bray / Harper Collins

Elementary

Eastern – 8am-3:30pm

http://vbartles.com

vbartleswrites@vbartles.com

 

Lori Degman

Sterling Publishing, Sleeping Bear Press, Creston Books, Simon & Schuster

Elementary

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM CST

www.Loridegman.com

Lori@Loridegman.com

 

DuEwa Frazier

Lit Noire Publishing Children

Elementary

CST 9am – 4pm

www.duewaworld.com

duewa@duewaworld.com

 

Naomi Milliner

Running Press

Elementary

Eastern Standard 9-5

WordPress.com Naomi milliner

Naomiwm@verizon.net

 

Elizabeth Bluemle

Candlewick Press

Elementary

EST 8-3

www.elizabethbluemle.com

ehbluemle@gmail.com

 

Karlin Gray

Sleeping Bear Press

Elementary

East Coast; mornings 9-11

karlingray.com

Karlingray@me.com

 

Shannon Anderson

Free Spirit Publishing

Elementary

Central Standard Time, Available 11:00, 1:10, 3:10

www.shannonisteaching.com

shannonisteaching@gmail.com

 

Jonathan Rosen

Skyhorse Publishing

Elementary

8-4 EST

www.Houseofrosen.com

Houseofrosen@aol.com

 

Yvonne Pearson

Minnesota Historical Press

Elementary

Central, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

www.yvonnepearson.com

yepearson@gmail.com

 

Gita Varadarajan

Scholastic

Elementary

EST- 10:50- 11:40a.m. and 11:50a.m. – 12:20p.m.

gitavarad@gmail.com

 

Karen Leggett Abouraya

Lee & Low

Elementary

Eastern – 7am – 7 pm

Handsaroundthelibrary.com

Karen@handsaroundthelibrary.com

 

Courtney Pippin-Mathur

Flashlight Press, Simon & Schuster (Little Simon)

Elementary

EST Between 9am-1pm

www.pippinmathur.com

courtney@pippinmathur.com

 

Beth Anderson

S&S, Calkins Creek

Elementary

8am-4pm MST

bethandersonwriter.com

beth@bethandersonwriter.com

 

Megan Wagner Lloyd

Knopf/Random House and Simon and Schuster

Elementary

EST 9 am to 2 pm

meganwagnerlloyd.com

meg@meganwagnerlloyd.com

 

Helen Perelman

Simon and Schuster

Elementary

EST 8:30-2:30

www.Helenperelman.com

Helen@helenperelman.com

 

Oge Mora

Little, Brown

Elementary

10am to 2pm ET

http://www.ogemora.com/

ogemora@gmail.com

 

Margo Sorenson

Pelican Publishing, Marimba/Just Us Books, Perfection Learning, Fitzroy Books

Elementary

Pacific Time, available from 6:30 AM to 4:30 PM

www.margosorenson.com

ms@margosorenson.com

 

Laura Roettiger

Eifrig Publishing

Elementary

MT 9am – 1pm

https://lauraroettigerbooks.com/

Ljrwritenow@gmail.com

 

Brenda Maier

Scholastic, Simon & Schuster

Elementary

9-9:45 am central time

BrendaMaier.com

Bmaierauthor@gmail.com

 

Corinne Demas

Scholastic, Hyperion/Disney etc.

Elementary

EST 9a.m.–3p.m.

www.corinnedemas.com

writer@corinnedemas.com

 

Sherry Howard

Clear Fork, Rourke, Teacher Created Materials

Elementary

Eastern, Eastern Time 10AM through 7PM

www.sherryhowardwritesforkids.com

sherryhoward0@icloud.com

 

Deborah Kalb

Schiffer

Elementary

Eastern. 9-11am, 1:30-3pm

deborahkalb.com

deborahkalb@yahoo.com

 

Gabrielle Balkan

Phaidon

Elementary

Eastern Standard Time between 10 am – 3pm

www.gabriellebalkan.com

gabrielle.s.balkan@gmail.com

 

Michelle Schaub

Charlesbridge

Elementary

Central. 9am-3pm

http://www.michelleschaub.com/

shellschaub@hotmail.com

 

Andrew Katz

CrackBoom! Books / Chouette

Elementary

EST (Montreal) / anytime except Tues or Thur after 4 pm

andrewkatzbooks.ca

akatz@dawsoncollege.qc.ca

 

Elizabeth Steinglass

Boyds Mills & Kane

Elementary

EST 8:30-10:30am

www.ElizabethSteinglass.com

Liz.Steinglass@gmail.com

 

Gretchen McLellan

Peachtree, Holiday House, Knopf, Little Bee, Beach Lane

Elementary

PST 9 am -3 pm

gretchenmclellan.com

gretchenmclellan@comcast.net

 

Susannah Buhrman-Deever

Candlewick Press

Elementary

EST 9:30 am—1 pm

buhrmandeever.com

susannahbdeever@gmail.com

 

Jennifer Gennari

HMH and Simon & Schuster (2020)

Elementary

PST (CA) available 8 am to noon

https://www.jengennari.com/

jengennari@gmail.com

 

Wendy Greenley

Creative Editions

Elementary

9-12 EST

www.wendygreenley.com

wgreenley@comcast.net

 

Arianne Costner

Random House Children’s Books

Elementary

Pacific time, Any day from 8-2

https://ariannecostner.wordpress.com/

ariannecostner@gmail.com

 

April Jones Prince

Holiday House, Macmillan, Scholastic, Penguin Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Elementary

9am – 3 pm EST

www.apriljonesprince.com

april@apriljonesprince.co

 

 

 

FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL READERS

Jenn Bishop

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster and Knopf/Penguin Random House

Middle School

10-4 PM Eastern

http://www.jennbishop.com

jenn@jennbishop.com

 

Dee Garretson

Macmillan

Middle School

Eastern 8:00 AM to 5: PM

deegarretson.com

deegarretson@gmail.com

 

Jennifer Swanson

Peachtree Publishers

Middle School

EST, from 10am to 3pm

www.jenniferSwansonbooks.com

jennifer@jenniferswansonbooks.com

 

Gail D. Villanueva

Scholastic

Middle School

I’m in Manila Standard Time but I can do 9AM to 1PM Eastern Time

https://gaildvillanueva.com

gaildvillanueva@gmail.com

 

Amalie Jahn

Light Messages

Middle School

EST – flexible hours

www.amaliejahn.com

amaliejahn@gmail.com

 

Melissa Sarno

Knopf Books for Young Readers

Middle School

9am-2pm EST

melissasarno.com

melissa.sarno@gmail.com

 

Beth McMullen

Simon & Schuster/Aladdin

Middle School

PST 9:00-3:00

BethMcMullenBooks.com

bethvamcmullen@gmail.com

 

Chris Tebbetts

Jimmy Patterson; Penguin-Puffin; Delacorte

Middle School

EST; anytime 8AM-8PM

www.christebbetts.com

tebbetts.chris@gmail.com

 

  1. Anderson Coats

Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Middle School

PST – available 10:00-3:00

https://www.jandersoncoats.com/

jandersoncoats at gmail dot com

 

Melanie Sumrow

Yellow Jacket/S&S

Middle School

CST (9:00am-2:00pm)

www.melaniesumrow.com

melanie@melaniesumrow.com

 

Kip Wilson

HMH Versify

Middle School

EST between 8am and 1pm

http://www.kipwilsonwrites.com/

kiperoo@gmail.com

 

Emma Otheguy

Knopf Books for Young Readers, Lee & Low Books, and others

Middle School

EST 8am-3pm

www.emmaotheguy.com

emma.otheguy@gmail.com

 

Cindy Baldwin

HarperCollins

Middle School

Pacific time zone; 9am-1:30pm PST

www.cindybaldwinbooks.com

cindybaldwinbooks@gmail.com

 

Nancy Castaldo

HMH, Quarto, DK, Nat Geo

Middle School

EST, 9 am – 12 pm

www.nancycastaldo.com

nancycastaldo@nancycastaldo.com

 

Paula Chase

HarperCollins/Greenwillow

Middle School

Eastern Standard 10 am – 12 noon

paulachasebooks.com

paulachy@gmail.com

 

Nicole Melleby

Algonquin Young Readers

Middle School

EST – All day

www.nicolemelleby.com

nicole@nicolemelleby.com

 

Sarah McGuire

Lerner

Middle School

EST, after 1:30 PM

sarahmcguirebooks.com

smguire.author@gmail.com

 

Nicole Valentine

Lerner/Carolrhoda

Middle School

Eastern – 9-4pm

www.nicolevalentinebooks.com

nicole@valentines.net

 

Fran Wilde

Abrams / Amulet

Middle School

EST 10am-3pm

Franwilde.net

online.wilde@gmail.com

 

Lee Gjertsen Malone

Aladdin/S&S

Middle School

EST 8am to 4pm

Leegjertsenmalone.com

Leegjertsenmalone@gmail.com

 

Janae Marks

HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books)

Middle School

Eastern time. Between 9 am – 5 pm.

www.janaemarks.com

janaemarksbooks@gmail.com

 

Lindsay Currie

Simon & Schuster, Sourcebooks

Middle School

I’m on central time. Available to Skype between 9-2.

www.lindsaycurrie.com

lindsayncurrie@gmail.com

 

Rajani LaRocca

Yellow Jacket/Little Bee Books

Middle School

Eastern, 8 am – 8 pm

www.rajanilarocca.com

rajani.larocca@gmail.com

 

Ann Braden

Skyhorse Publishing

Middle School

EST 10:30am – 12:00 and 12:30pm- 2:30pm

annbradenbooks.com

annbbraden@gmail.com

 

Rebecca Rupp

Candlewick

Middle School

8 AM – 4 PM EST

www.rebeccaruppresources.com

rebeccarupp@gmail.com

 

Malayna Evans

Month9Booka

Middle School

cst, 9a-4p

Malaynaevans.com

Malaynaevans22@gmail.com

 

Jessie Janowitz

Sourcebooks

Middle School

EST 9:30-2:30

Jessiejanowitz@gmail.com

Jejanowitz@gmail.com

 

Irene Latham

Lerner Publishing

Middle School

9-2 cst

www. irenelatham.con

irene@irenelatham.com

 

Deborah Heiligman

Macmillan

Middle School

EST from 11:00am-6:00pm most days

www.DeborahHeiligman.com

Deborah@DeborahHeiligman.com

 

Brooks Benjamin

Random House

Middle School

EST 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

www.brooksbenjamin.com

cbrooksbenjamin@gmail.com

 

Amy Cherrix

Houghton Mifflin Books for Young Readers

Middle School

EST from 9a-11a

www.amycherrix.com

acherrix@me.com

 

Jennifer Camiccia

Aladdin/Simon&Schuster

Middle School

Anytime between 8:15 to 1:00 PST

Jencamiccia.com

jencamiccia@gmail.com

 

Alyson Gerber

Scholastic

Middle School

10am-12pm

AlysonGerber.com

Alyson@alysongerber.com

 

Dan Haring

Sourcebooks

Middle School

Mountain – 8AM-5PM

https://danharingart.com/

danharing@gmail.com

 

Mike Hays

Writer’s Digest Books, Month9Books

Middle School

Central 8:30-11:30

www.mikehaysbooks.com

coachhays@gmail.com

 

Kathleen Burkinshaw

Simon and Schuster and Scholastic

Middle School

EST and from 9:30amEST – 3pm EST

www.kathleenburkinshaw.com

klburkinshaw@gmail.com

 

Laurie Morrison

Abrams

Middle School

9:00-11:00 am EST, 2:00-4:00 pm EST

lauriemorrisonwrites.com

lauriemorrisonwrites@gmail.com

 

Alison Pearce Stevens

National Geographic Kids Books

Middle School

Central Time, available 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

http://apstevens.com/

alison@apstevens.com

 

Sylv Chiang

Annick Press

Middle School

Eastern Standard (9:30-11:30 am)

sylvchiang.com

info@sylvchiang.com

 

S.A. Larsen

Ellysian Press

Middle School

EST – 9AM – 1:30PM

https://www.salarsenbooks.com/

sheri@salarsenbooks.com

 

Jackie Yeager

Amberjack Publishing

Middle School

EST 9:00am- 3:00pm

www.swirlandspark.com

jacquelineyeager5@gmail.com

 

Nanci Turner Steveson

HarperCollins

Middle School

Mountain time. 7:30am to 2:30pm

www.nanciturnersteveson.com

ponywriter7@gmail.com

 

Amy Makechnie

Simon and Schuster

Middle School

Eastern, anytime after 10:30am!

https://amymakechnie.com

amym@proctoracademy.org

 

Ginger Johnson

Bloomsbury

Middle School

Central European time zone 9:00 am EST—2:00 EST

Gingerjohnsonbooks.com

Ginger@gingerjohnsonbooks.com

 

Jen Petro-Roy

Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends

Middle School

EST, 9am-3pm

http://www.jenpetroroy.com

jpetroroy@gmail.com

 

Laura tucker

Viking Children’s

Middle School

EST. Available from 8am on!

Lauratuckerbooks.com

ltucker@gmail.com

 

Kristin Thorsness

Month9Books

Middle School

PST free from 9:30-1:00

kristinthorsness.com

kristin.thorsness@gmail.com

 

Joshua S. Levy

Lerner/Carolrhoda

Middle School

Eastern US time zone & any time.

www.joshuasimonlevy.com

joshlevywrites@gmail.com

 

Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

Farrar Straus Giroux Book/Macmillan

Middle School

Eastern — any time

JZULFERR.COM

JZULFERR@GMAIL.COM

 

 

Samantha M Clark

Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster

Middle School

CST 8am to 3pm

http://www.samanthamclark.com/

samantha@samanthamclark.com

 

Adrianna Cuevas

Macmillan

Middle School

CST, any time

adriannacuevas.com

adriannatcuevas@gmail.com

 

DONNA GEPHART

Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers; Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House); Holiday House

Middle School

EST/8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

www.donnagephart.com

dgephartwrites@gmail.com

 

Henry Lien

Holt/Macmillan

Middle School

Pacific (California), 8 am – 8 pm

Www.henrylien.com

Info@henrylien.com

 

Melanie Conklin

Disney-Hyperion

Middle School

9:00am-3:00pm EST

www.melanieconklin.com

melanie@melanieconklin.com

 

Dianne K. Salerni

Harper, Clarion, Holiday House, Sourcebooks

Middle School

EST 11 am – 5 pm

http://diannesalerni.com/

dksalerni@gmail.com

 

Shannon Hitchcock

Scholastic

Middle School

EST 9:00–2:00

www.shannonhitchcock.com

shannonhitchcock.com/contact

 

Lisa Williams Kline

Blue Crow Publishing

Middle School

Eastern Time Zone — any hours

www.lisawilliamskline.com

lisa.williams.kline@gmail.com

 

Sandra Warren

Arlie Enterprises

Middle School

Eastern Time Zone – anytime

www.arliebooks.com

sandra@arliebooks.com

 

Jennie Englund

MacMillan

Middle School

Pacific, ANY TIME

Facebook.com/jennieenglund71

Englundmeads@hotmail,com

 

S.A. Larsen

Ellysian Press

Middle School

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM EST

www.salarsenbooks.com

sheri@salarsenbooks.com

 

Susan Diamond Riley

The University of South Carolina Press

Middle School

Available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST

susandiamondriley.com

sdiamondriley@gmail.com

 

elly swartz

FSG/Macmillan and Scholastic

Middle School

11am – 2pm EST

https://ellyswartz.com/

ellyswartz@outlook.com

 

Lissa Price

Random House Children’s Books

Middle School

PT 10am-10pm

lissaprice.com

lissapriceauthor@gmail.com

 

Rebecca Petruck

Abrams Amulet

Middle School

https://www.rebeccapetruck.com/

rebecca_petruck@yahoo.com

 

Mike Grosso

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Middle School

8AM-3PM CST

https://mikegrossoauthor.com

me@mikegrossoauthor.com

 

 

 

 

Nicole Valentine

Lerner/Carolrhoda

Middle School

EST 9am – 2pm

Nicolevalentinebooks.com

Nicole@valentines.net

 

Shari Simpson

Disney Hyperion

Middle School

10am to 2pm EST

www.sharisimpson.com

sharisimpsonwrites@gmail.com

 

Sheila M. Averbuch

Scholastic

Middle School

GMT available 5-6 pm and 9-11 am

http://www.sheilamaverbuch.com

mailme@sheilamaverbuch.com

 

 

Barbara Dee

Aladdin/S&S

Middle School

9-2 ET

Barbaradeebooks.com

Barbara@Barbaradeebooks.con

 

Bev Katz Rosenbaum

Orca Book Publishers

Middle School

EST, flexible availability

http://bevkatzrosenbaum.com/

bevrosenbaum@yahoo.ca

 

Kim Ventrella

Scholastic/HarperCollins

Middle School

CST, all day

http://kimventrella.com/

 

Dana Alison Levy

Delacorte/Penguin Random House

Middle School

EST 10-4

www.danaalisonlevy.com

dana@danaalisonlevy.com

 

e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Candlewick Press

Middle School

Pacific. 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

www.bigdreamswrite.com

Atrisksummer@gmail.com

 

Cathleen Barnhart

HarperCollins

Middle School

Eastern. I’m available from 11 am- 3 pm

Cathleenbarnhart.com

Cath.barnhart25@gmail.com

 

Sarah Darer Littman

Scholastic Aladdin/S & S

Middle School

EST. 8-9am. 12-5pm

sarahdarerlittman.com

sarahdarerlittman@gmail.com

 

Bridget Hodder

MacMillan FSG

Middle School

EST 10:00 -4:00

www.BridgetHodder.com

BridgetHodder@yahoo.com

 

Jonathan Rosen

Skyhorse Publishing

Middle School

8-4 EST

www.Houseofrosen.com

Houseofrosen@aol.com

 

Heather Gale

Tundra Books

Middle School

9-11 AM EST and 2-4 PM EST

www.heathergale.net

writergale@gmail.com

 

Tamara Ellis Smith

Schwartz and Wade/Random House and Barefoot Books

Middle School

EST and pretty flexible

tamaraellissmith.com

tsesmith@gmavt.net

 

Gayle C Krause

Clear Fork Publishing

Middle School

Eastern 10:00 – 12:00 AM

www.gayleckrause.com

krausehousebooks@yahoo.com

 

Marie Miranda Cruz

Starscape, Tom Doherty & Associates, Macmillan

Middle School

Pacific/7-10 am

Cruzwrites.com

mariveecruz@yahoo.com

 

Rebecca Hirsch

Lerner

Middle School

Eastern Time Zone, 11 am to 2 pm

www.rebeccahirsch.com

rebeccahirsch@mac.com

 

Ryan Dalton

Lerner; North Star Editions

Middle School

Central time zone. I am very flexible with hours and should be available most of the day.

Www.ryandaltonwrites.com

ryandaltonwrites@gmail.com

 

Sarah R. Baughman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Middle School

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. EST

https://www.sarahrbaughman.com

serbaughman@gmail.com

 

Jordan Jacobs

Sourcebooks

Middle School

Pacific Time: 9-3:30

www.j-jacobs.com

jnjacobs@j-jacobs.com

 

Sarah Cannon

Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan

Middle School

EST, 9-3

sarahcannonbooks.com

saillenotsallie@gmail.com

 

Cynthia Levinson

Peachtree, Simon & Schuster

Middle School

CST, 9-12, 1-3

www.cynthialevinson.com

clevinson@austin.rr.com

 

Aimee Lucido

Versify

Middle School

PST 8-5

www.aimeelucido.com

Aimeellucido@gmail.com

 

Lindsay Lackey

Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press

Middle School

PST, any time after 10 am PST

Www.lindsaylackey.com

lindsay@lindsaylackey.com

 

FOR HIGH SCHOOL READERS

Dee Garretson

Macmillan

High School

Eastern 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

deegarretson.com

deegarretson@gmail.com

 

Caroline T Patti

Month9Books

High School

8-5 PST

carolinetpatti.com

carolinepattibooks@yahoo.com

 

Olivia Hinebaugh

Macmillan/swoon reads

High School

Eastern, before 12:30

Oliviahinebaugh.com

Oliviahinebaugh@gmail.com

 

Keely Hutton

FSG/Macmillan

High School

EST – 8AM – 3PM

www.keelyhutton.com

khutton1@rochester.rr.com

 

Kristy Acevedo

North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press

High School

EST; time is flexible

kristyacevedo.com

Kristyacebooks@gmail.com

 

Martha Brockenbrough

Macmillan

High School

Pacific, 9-3

marthabrockenbrough.com

martha@marthabee.com

 

Rebecca Sky

Hodder Children’s Book, Hachette UK

High School

GMT and I’m flexible

www.rebeccasky.com

authorrebeccasky@gmail.com

 

Carolyn O’Doherty

Boyds Mills & Kane

High School

Pacific 8:00 – 4:00

www.carolynodoherty.com

carolyn.odoherty.author@gmail.com

 

Vesper Stamper

Knopf

High School

EST, 9-11 am

vesperillustration.com

studio@vesperillustration.com

 

Kathryn Berla

Chicago Review Press /North Star Editions

High School

PST (11 AM to 5PM)

https://www.KathrynBerlaBooks.com

BerlaBooks@gmail.com

 

 

Christina June

Blink/HarperCollins

High School

EST 8 am – 5 pm

www.christinajune.com

Christinajuneya@gmail.com

 

Olivia Hinebaugh

Swoon Reads/Macmillan

High School

Eastern 9-12

Oliviahinebaugh.com

Oliviahinebaugh@gmail.com

 

I’ll be updating this list every few weeks until WRAD, so if you check back, you may find that the options will change. Schedules will fill, so some folks will no longer be available, but there will also be new people added.

Authors & Illustrators: If your schedule is full & you need to be crossed off the list, please leave a comment to let me know.  Please note that this particular list is limited to traditionally published authors/illustrators (such as those listed here), only to limit its size and scope. I’m one person with limited time. However, if someone else would like to compile and share a list of self-published, specialty, magazine, and ebook author/illustrator volunteers, I think that would be absolutely great, and I’ll happily link to it here. Just let me know!

Happy reading, everyone!

~Kate

“World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.”              ~from the LitWorld website

November News and a Writing Challenge

November always feels like an in-between month, doesn’t it? But this is a great season to cozy up with a cup of a tea and a notebook to try some writing prompts. Here’s one for you…

Recently, an author-illustrator friend shared a painting she’d created, along with an invitation: Write a story to go with this art!

I happened to see it in one of my online groups, and even though I was on deadline for a writing project, the playfulness of that post pulled me away from my other work for a while. It was so much fun, imagining a story that was so different from the history-based nonfiction I’d been working on that day. And it reminded me of a project I loved to do with my 7th graders when I was teaching. We’d each choose a piece from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online collection and use it as inspiration for a piece of writing. A story…a poem…whatever it sparked. Today, I visited the Met’s Twitter feed and found this photo.

It’s from the Met’s “The Last Knight” exhibit. What do these ghostly knight hands spark for you? Take fifteen minutes to write whatever comes to mind. (And feel free to share this prompt with your students, too!)

Art-inspired writing aside, I’ve been wrapping up a number of projects this fall and also celebrating some new & upcoming books.

INSECT SUPERPOWERS is about real-world insects with real-world superpowers. It’s graphic nonfiction, illustrated by Jillian Nickell in the style of a super-hero comic book. Out now from Chronicle books, it’s a perfect book for graphic novel fans as well as budding entomologists. You can read more about it and order a signed copy here.


My next novel, CHIRP, doesn’t come out until February but has already earned two starred reviews. This one, from Kirkus, captures the spirit of the book perfectly:

“Sometimes courage is quiet.”

Mia’s life turned upside down a year ago when she broke her arm during a gymnastics routine, so a family move back to Vermont, where Mia’s paternal grandmother lives, seems like the perfect fresh start. Gram farms crickets as an alternative food source, and Mia is eager to help out during the summer. Things start going wrong at the farm, however, and Gram is certain that sabotage is the cause. With the help of new friends made and new skills acquired at the day camps her parents force her to attend, Mia is determined to keep Gram’s beloved business from failing. But to grow past obstacles internal and external, she must first find the courage to speak out. This story defies categorization: It’s at once a friendship yarn, a summer idyll, a mystery, and a push for female empowerment. Messner deftly weaves together myriad complex plot threads to form a captivating whole. Characters are well drawn and multifaceted; all are imbued with a rich individuality, from earnest, increasingly confident Mia to the never seen farmhand James who attends all his husband’s baseball games. The women, tellingly, remain at the helm throughout. They are entrepreneurs, activists, engineers, mayors; they are mothers, daughters, friends, lovers. Each woman’s rise is its own story, giving Mia a supportive space in which she can come to terms with her own conflicts. Mia and her family are white; the supporting cast is vigorously diverse.

Rich, timely, and beautifully written. (Fiction. 10-14)

Bloomsbury is offering a fun pre-order offer for CHIRP – if you order your copy now and send them the receipt, they’ll mail you a poster and a class set of bookmarks! Details are here. 

If you’d like your copy of CHIRP personalized and signed to you, your favorite reader, or your classroom or school, you can pre-order through my local independent bookstore, The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, and they’ll send your book out on release day.  Just leave a note in the comments about how you’d like it signed.

I hope that you and your family have a wonderful rest of November! Read some great books and try out that writing prompt, okay?

The Season of Styx Malone: Q&A with Kekla Magoon

This week, we’ve been learning from Kekla Magoon’s award-winning novel, THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE, and to wrap up Teachers Write today, Kekla herself joins us for some Q&A.

What craft questions would you like to ask her?  Are you wondering if she uses any special kind of outline or planning tool for her novels? Want to know how she revised this one? Now’s the time to ask! 
 
Kekla will be stopping by the blog periodically today to respond, so feel free to post your questions in the comments.
 
This is our last Teachers Write post for now, but if you signed up to get the newsletters, you’ll still hear from me once in a while throughout the school year with some mentor texts, mini-lessons, and prompts to keep the writing going. Thanks so much for writing with us this summer!

Learning from a Mentor Text: Figurative Language in The Season of Styx Malone

 It’s hard to believe that we’re already coming to the end of Teachers Write for this summer! Today, we’re looking at figurative language, and tomorrow, Kekla will join us for Q&A, but first, I want to share some fun news about what happens next. Thanks to our new newsletter format, if you signed up for Teachers Write this summer, you’ll also get occasional updates from me throughout the school year, with bonus mini-lessons, mentor text suggestions, writing prompts, book news, and giveaways. You’re welcome to use any of this material in your classrooms and with study groups at your school, and you’ll be automatically signed up for next summer’s program, too.
 
Looking ahead to the new school year, I hope you’ll keep an eye out for my upcoming books and pre-order any that might be a good fit for your readers! These are all available for pre-order today: 

INSECT SUPERPOWERS, illustrated by Jillian Nickell, comes out in November from Chronicle Books and is a comic-book style nonfiction picture book about insects with real-world superpowers.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 42ea1127-b7bd-4b39-b993-b52cbc70125a.jpg

RANGER IN TIME: ESCAPE FROM THE TWIN TOWERS, illustrated by Kelley McMorris, is the latest in my Scholastic chapter book series about a time-traveling search and rescue dog. Kids at school visits have been asking me for this topic ever since the series launched four years ago, so I’m excited that this book will be out in January.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bf27b438-e075-4b88-a9f6-44992f76c496.jpg

CHIRP, my February 2020 middle grade novel with Bloomsbury, is a mystery set on a cricket farm as well as a coming-of-age story with a #metoo element, about a rising 7th grader struggling to find her voice during a summer of sleuthing, entrepreneurship, and warrior camp.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7a895a7a-3a68-4fbf-bd78-777810598c0b.jpg

And TRACKING PYTHONS comes out from Millbrook/Lerner in March. It’s MG nonfiction about the team of scientists working to control Florida’s Burmese python invasion by using snakes to track other snakes. (I got to spend time in the field tracking pythons with this team, and it was SO interesting!)

 Now…on to our last mini-lesson for Teachers Write this summer!
 
You probably spend time teaching your students about figurative language – the similes and metaphors that can spice up descriptive writing to paint a picture in readers’ minds. But how do writers craft metaphors that are descriptive and vivid while staying true to a character’s personality and voice? Not surprisingly, THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE is a perfect book for finding examples of this element of craft.

The narrator, Caleb, is a kid who’s grown up in a small town in Indiana. He spends a lot of time outside in the woods with his older brother but hasn’t been out of that small town much at all. So the figurative language he uses needs to reflect that lived experience – what he’s seen firsthand or read in comic books or seen on the news his dad watches at night. Take a look at how Caleb describes the appearance of Styx on the very first page…
 
Maybe we summoned him, like a superhero responding to a beacon in the night.
 
He was summoned like a comic-book superhero – not like an Uber. This is a perfect and kid-friendly comparison. We see these character-perfect comparisons throughout the book:
 
Being the center of attention felt something like it might feel to be in a pinball machine – as the ball.
 
Mom’s eyes became like two chocolate-brown lasers, slicing through us from our bedroom doorway.

 
This is from the scene where Mom’s mad that they traded their baby sister for fireworks. And soon after, we have this great moment:
 
“GET in the car,” Mom said in a small, tight voice. A voice that meant massive trouble. Her voice had escalated right through shouting mode into a high, quiet dogs-only range.
 
Just to be perfectly clear: Bobby Gene and I were the dogs in this scenario. We scurried out to Mom’s station wagon with our tails between our legs.
 

In this passage, Kekla takes that image of Mom speaking in a high, dogs-only pitch and extends the metaphor with the kids as dogs, who “scurry” out to the car “with our tails between our legs.”
 
Caleb spends a lot of time outside, so it also makes sense that his comparisons make connections to the natural world.
 
(Styx) was scrawny, with long, knobby limbs like a praying mantis.
 
(The moped) looked like a giant grasshopper. Green head, thorax, abdomen. Crisp candy shell, handlebars feeling outward like antennae. Red, gold, and violet flames shot out from the sides of the engine, slicked back in paint along the thorax. A giant grasshopper with fire powers.

 
And in a scene where Styx says he just wants to stop and “feel the moment” after something’s gone right, Caleb says:
 
The moment felt like Saturday, like summer heat, like adventure. It felt as big as the sky above us and as firm as the ground beneath. It felt like the soft swish of corn tassels and being one step closer to an impossible dream.
 
If those corn-tassels aren’t a perfect comparison for a farmland kid in Indiana, I don’t know what is.
 
So you get the idea, right? We want to use similes and metaphors to enrich our descriptions, but they have to be the right ones. Writers like Kekla make sure their figurative language fits the character and the setting. And that’s what we’re going to play with in today’s assignment.
 
For this one, I’m going to ask you to go outside and find a place to sit where there’s something to see. It can be at a park, by a river, near the subway station…whatever works. First, I want you to pretend you’re a kid like Caleb, who’s grown up in a small farm town like Sutton, Indiana. (Or a small town in Vermont. Or the British countryside. Or India. Whatever works for you. Just not a city.) In that character’s point of view, write a description of what you see/hear/feel that makes use of figurative language that’s appropriate for your background. And then take on a different role. Imagine you’re a kid from South Boston or the Upper West Side of Manhattan or Cairo or Paris or Mumbai. Describe the same scene, but this time, use comparisons and metaphors that would work for your second character.
 
Maybe you’re thinking right now that there’s even more to think about than where your character is from. Making  you’re considering how things like cultural background and socioeconomic status might affect the kinds of metaphors that might work, too. Good! So think about all of that as well. If you’d like to share a bit of your writing, feel free to visit the post on my blog (www.katemessner.com/blog). Just remember that you’ll need to click on the title of the post and scroll down to comment.
 
And don’t forget to join us tomorrow with your questions for Kekla! We’ll wrap up the week with a Q&A session so you can ask all of your craft questions that relate to THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE.
 

Learning from a Mentor Text: Dialogue in The Season of Styx Malone

Writing believable dialogue can be one of the trickiest things about crafting a middle grade novel. A lot can go wrong with dialogue. Here are some of the common pitfalls.

So-authentic-it’s-boring dialogue:

“Hi, Jesse,” said Tom.
“Hey,” said Jesse.
“What’s up?” asked Tom.
“Not much,” said Jesse. “How are you?”
“Decent,” said Tom. “Kinda bored.”
“Yeah,” said Jesse. “Me too.”

At this point, who isn’t bored? While we want dialogue to sound like real people talking, the key is to leave out all the boring bits that don’t move the plot forward. We want dialogue to sound like real people talking – but we want real-people talk at its most dramatic, its wittiest, its funniest, and its most interesting. Skip over the small talk.

Info dump dialogue:

“Hi, Tom,” said Jesse. “I’m on my way to meet Kayla for ice cream. She’s my friend from camp, which I attend every summer for six weeks. We used to be best friends with Mia, too, but Mia didn’t go last year, and the three of us grew apart. Kayla’s hair looks just like mine, so at camp, they called us the ponytail twins.”

At this point, Tom is thinking “Why are you telling me all this?” So are readers. Sometimes writers try to use dialogue to deliver information that the reader will need later. But that only works if it’s limited in scope and feels natural. Is there a reason for this character to be telling the other character all this stuff? If not – if it’s really just there for the reader – the dialogue falls flat.

Whose-voice-is-this-really? dialogue:

“When I woke up for the first day of second grade, the fog was hanging over the lake like a dream that hadn’t fully disappeared into my subconscious upon waking…”

When we’re writing in the voice of a kid character, that voice has to be believable. So unless your character happens to be a ridiculously precocious/pretentious seven-year-old, this doesn’t work. (That said, see Lisa Yee’s book MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS for an example of a book where mature language patterns & vocabulary work beautifully as part of the characterization.)

Talking-and-nothing-else dialogue:

Take another look at that so-authentic-it’s-boring example with Tom & Jesse above. The words being spoken aren’t the only problem. Nothing else is happening while that boring conversation takes place. Even with spicier dialogue, it can help a lot if characters are doing something while they’re talking – especially if the conversation goes on a while.

Complete-sentence-or-bust dialogue:

“Hey, can you come over later on?” asked Jesse.
“I can’t come over because I have to clean my room,” said Tom.
“Do you really have to clean it today?” Jesse asked.
“My mom said I have to or I’m grounded for the weekend,” Tom said.
“That is a real bummer,” said Jesse.

Real people don’t talk like this. We use incomplete sentences and language that’s more casual. Consider this rewrite:

“Hey, can you come over later?” asked Jesse.
“Nope. Gotta clean my room,” said Tom.
“Today?”
Tom nodded. “Or I’m grounded for the weekend.”
“Bummer.”

Can’t-tell-who’s-who dialogue:

“Dude! We need to go to the skate park today!” said Joe.
“Dude! We totally do,” said Tom.
Pete nodded. “Dude! That’s going to be awesome!”
“Totally,” said Joe.

These guys all sound alike. If their undistinguishable voices and speech patterns keep up, readers won’t be able to tell them apart. Want to know if your characters’ voices are different enough?  Copy and paste all of one character’s lines into a blank document. Copy and paste another character’s lines into another document. Then cut them apart and mix them up. Can you sort the lines by character just by the way they talk? Can a friend who doesn’t already know all the dialogue guess who said what?

Take a look at how Kekla handled the voices of different characters in THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE. These lines of dialogue are from Caleb:

“I said, I don’t want to be ordinary. I want to be…the other thing.”
“I know that song. We played it in band. It’s ‘Tarantelle.’”
“I think we got off on the wrong foot. I’m Caleb Franklin and this is my brother, Bobby Gene.”


And these are from Styx, who’s older and more worldly

“Actually, I’d like to make you a more attractive offer.”
“But I’m bringing all the expertise. Would you rather have two-thirds of nothing and a big problem on your hands, or would you rather have fifty percent of a whole lot, problem-free?”
“No relation. Neighbor, friend, mediator. I’ve come to discuss the matter of the gunnysack.”


There’s no way a reader is going to confuse the two, even if there are no dialogue tags to show who’s talking. And speaking of dialogue tags… sometimes, less is more. Back in school, some of us heard the questionable advice “said is dead” from teachers who wanted us to use more vivid dialogue tags. However well-intended this was, it can lead to passages like this:

“He’s here!” Kim shouted.
“I’ve been waiting all day,” Tim exclaimed.
“Not as long as I’ve been waiting,” Dad chuckled.
“I hope he likes the surprise party,” Tim worried.
“He’ll love it,” Kim asserted.

When you’re using dialogue tags, said is often your best bet because it doesn’t call attention to itself, interrupting the flow of the dialogue. It’s common enough to be mostly invisible, so the focus is on the story – not your impressively varied dialogue tags. But sometime you don’t need dialogue tags at all. Take a look at how Kekla handled this conversation when Bobby and Caleb were at the pond with Styx and his foster sibling, Pixie. Pay special attention to the mix of dialogue, action, and Caleb’s internal thoughts…

“Are there even fish in here?” Pixie asked.
Bobby Gene’s voice floated from above. “We’ve never seen any.” He splashed around in the shallows.
“Why did you get the nickname Pixie?” I figured it was okay to ask since we’d been talking about names earlier.
“I picked it out.”
“Why?”
“I have a brother now. I thought we should match.”
It took me a while to work it out. Pixie and Styx. Pixie Styx?
“You’re a freak,” I informed her.
“I’m original.” She enunciated each syllable.
“Freak.”
She grinned, as if she knew that secretly I was thinking: No one would ever call Pixie “ordinary.”
“What?”
She grinned wider. “Shut up,” she said. “You know you like me.”
“Shut up,” I said. Because I did.


This dialogue hums right along. You can hear the characters’ voices and imagine them interacting, which is a result of that balanced mix of dialogue and action. Studying dialogue in a mentor text like this is one of the best ways to get an ear for how it works.

So here’s your assignment for today. Choose a few dialogue-heavy pages of THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE to mark up. Photocopy those pages, just for this exercise, if you don’t want to mark up your book. Get five different colored highlighters or colored pencils, and use them to highlight the following elements in those dialogue sections:

Color 1 – Characters’ dialogue in quotes
Color 2 – Dialogue tags like he said, she asked, etc.
Color 3 – Action that’s happening while the characters talk.
Color 4 – Internal thoughts from the narrator.
Color 5 – Other description mixed in with the dialogue.

When you finish, take a look at the balance. Then, take a passage from your own writing, or imagine a new conversation between some characters you make up (Kids at a soccer game? Moms with toddler at an ice cream stand? Astronaut pals making plans for the day?)  and try to create that same sort of balance in a written conversation. If you’d like to share what you wrote for today, feel free to visit this post on my blog (www.katemessner.com/blog). To leave a comment, you’ll have to click on the title of the blog post and then scroll down to the bottom. Happy writing!

The Season of Styx Malone: Looking at Characterization in a Mentor Text

Welcome to week 3 of Teachers Write! Hopefully, you’ve already had a chance to read our mentor text for this week, Kekla Magoon’s THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE. But even if you haven’t, don’t worry – our posts will be spoiler free as we take a look at some of the writing craft lessons found in these pages.
 
If you’re just finding us and aren’t familiar with this MG novel, here’s the jacket copy…
 
Caleb Franklin and his big brother, Bobby Gene, have the whole summer to explore the woods in Sutton, Indiana. Caleb longs to venture beyond their small town, but his dad likes the family to stay close to home.
 
Then Caleb and Bobby Gene meet new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx is sixteen, and he oozes cool. He’s been lots of different places. Styx promises the boys that together, they can pull off the Great Escalator Trade – a way to turn one small thing into more, and more, until they achieve their wildest dream. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers find themselves in over their heads. Styx has secrets – and Caleb fears their whole plan might fall apart.
 
In this madcap, heartwarming, one-thing-leads-to-another adventure, friendships are forged, loyalties are tested…and miracles just might be possible.
 
This novel is interesting right off the bat because it breaks one of the usual conventions by having someone who’s not the protagonist or narrator named in the title. Styx Malone isn’t the main character here – he’s the catalyst, the guy who makes the action happen for the narrator-protagonist, Caleb. Styx Malone isn’t the only character in kidlit who grabs a starring role in the title without being the protagonist. Maniac Magee, Yaqui Delgado, Ms. Bixby, Tyler Johnson, Zachary Beaver, and Fudge all made the titles of their books without being the main characters. In all of these novels, the title character is someone who has a profound effect on the protagonist’s life. In that way, the title of THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE sets up from the very beginning what’s to come.
 
The opening paragraphs reinforce that.
 
Styx Malone didn’t believe in miracles, but he was one. Until he came along, there was nothing very special about life in Sutton, Indiana.
 
Styx came to us like magic – the really, really powerful kind. There was no grand puff of smoke or anything, but he appeared as if from nowhere, right in our very own woods.
 
Maybe we summoned him, like a superhero responding to a beacon in the night.
 
Maybe we just plain wanted everything he offered. Adventure. Excitement. The biggest trouble we’ve ever gotten into in our lives, we got into with Styx Malone.

As leads go, this is one to hold up as an example. In just shy of a hundred words, Kekla a) establishes the voice of Caleb, our main character, b) sets up the idea that Styx will change his life, and c) makes a promise to readers about what this novel is all about – adventure, excitement, and trouble.
 
From the title and the very first page, we know that this Styx Malone character is going to transform Caleb’s life in some way. But if we’re going to fully appreciate that change, we need to know who Caleb is before Styx shows up. In answering that question, Kekla offers a master class in characterization. We learn that Caleb longs for a world beyond his small town. And we learn it in a dozen, subtle ways.
 
I woke up with the sunrise, like usual. Stretched my hands and feet from my top bunk to the ceiling, like usual. I touched each of the familiar pictures taped there: the Grand Canyon, the Milky Way, Victoria Falls, Table Mountain.
 

We learn so much from these 41 words. The repetition of “like usual” tells us that Caleb’s life has a predictable pattern to it. But wait! This is also a kid who’s taped pictures of faraway places to the ceiling above his bunk, so that they’re the first thing he sees every morning. He literally starts each day by reaching for them. This is a kid who is dreaming of places beyond Sutton. He dreams when he watches the news with his dad, too…
 
But every once in a while I would see something that made me want to reach through the screen and touch it, you know? Like to get closer to it, or to make it a little bit real. There was a story about dolphins one time. And a feature about a group of kids who sailed a boat around the world. Special things. Things you’d never find in Sutton.
 
Can’t you just hear the longing? Caleb’s voice is so strong here. You know? Special things. Things you’d never find in Sutton. And it lets readers feel that longing, too.
 
In this same, watching-the-news scene, we get an amazing sense for Caleb’s dad, too. They’re watching the same program, but they watch it so differently. Kekla used that contrast to create tension between the two that becomes a driving force in this novel.
 
The problem was, Dad was always talking about us being ordinary folks – about how ordinary folks like this and ordinary folks need that. He usually said all this to the TV, but our house isn’t that big and his voice is pretty loud so you can always hear him.
 
Ordinary folks just need to be able to fill the gas tank without it breaking them.
Ordinary folks go to church on Sundays.
Ordinary folks don’t care who you’ve been stepping out with; just pass the dang laws.

 
Don’t you just feel like you know Dad from the way he talks to the news?
 
These are brilliant opening pages, and Kekla returns to these themes and threads throughout the novel. That’s part of what makes it feel so real and cohesive.
 
Your assignment for today is to skim through your copy of THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE and look for the places that call back to those opening pages. How does the author use those images and ideas like the photos on the ceiling and the idea of being ordinary to build character, create tension, and move the story forward? Feel free to make notes on your own, or if you’d like, you can chat with other Teachers Write participants in the comments. To comment, you may need to click on the title of this blog post and scroll down to the bottom.
 

Rhyming Picture Books: Q&A with Hena Khan and Martha Brockenbrough

This week, we’ve been learning from two incredible rhyming picture books as mentor texts, and now we get to learn from the authors of those books!
 
What craft questions would you like to ask Hena Khan, author of GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS and Martha Brockenbrough, author of CHEERFUL CHICK?  Are you wondering how they revised their early drafts? Whether they use rhyming dictionaries? How they check to make sure the meter works in each line? Now’s the time to ask! 
 
Hena and Martha will be stopping by my blog today to chat and answer questions, so feel free to post your questions in the comments!

Cheerful Chick: Learning from a Mentor Text

Martha Brockenbrough’s CHEERFUL CHICK, illustrated by Brian Won, is a celebration of both cheerleading and determination. It’s a great mentor text for us to study as we take a look at the way the topic and theme of a book guide decisions about rhyme and meter.
 
Remember the cheers you heard at basketball and football games? There’s probably one catchy cheer that comes to mind right away. For me, it’s this one:
 
We got spirit, yes we do!
We got spirit, how ‘bout you?
 
It has a peppy meter to go along with the rhyme.
 
DAH da DAH da DAH da DAH!
DAH da DAH da. DAH da DAH?
 
Martha kept that element of cheerleading in mind when she chose her rhyme scheme and meter for CHEERFUL CHICK. It’s written in iambic tetrameter, so each line is made up of four iambs. In other words, it goes like this:
 
da DAH da DAH da DAH da DAH….
 
Interestingly enough, Martha’s first draft of this book wasn’t written in rhyme. As an experienced writer, she knew about all the pitfalls of writing in rhyme and opted to try it in prose instead. But when she sent the manuscript to her editor, Arthur Levine, he suggested that this is a story that might actually work better with the added challenge of rhyme.
 
“Since I already had the character and story, though, the challenge was to come up with a rhythm and rhyme scheme that echoed the cheerleading protagonist’s nature,” Martha wrote in an April tweet thread.
 
She came up with a plan to give iambic tetrameter a try. When I look at how this book turned out, I can only imagine how much fine-tuning and revision went into making this work. But the end result is a book that captures the main character’s nature and rhymes without feeling forced or clunky. It reads like a cheer, which is perfect.
 
Cheerful chick worked day and night
Until at last her moves felt right.
 
And then she hatched her lifelong dream
To build a barnyard cheering team.
 
She got her muscles good and warm
And did her moves with perfect form:
 
Side splits, wing stands, super punches –
Chicken shook her feathers bunches!
 
That last line was fun, wasn’t it? When we were looking at Hena’s GOLDEN DOMES AND SILVER LANTERNS yesterday, we talked about the care she took to make sure the rhymes felt natural and didn’t call attention to themselves, because that’s a gentle, lyrical story about colors. CHEERFUL CHICK has a more playful, humorous tone, so it’s fine (and fun!) if some of the rhymes stand out a bit more:
 
Ms. Cow knows all the wildest moves.
Just watch her stand on two front hooves!
 
Ms. Cow just stood and blinked and chewed.
And said, “I’m so not in the moooood.”
 
Even when the rhymes are more playful, the rhythm stays consistent, and that’s important for a read-aloud. Martha’s keen ear for meter comes from her college study of ancient Greek poems and dramas.
 
“It helped me see much better what Shakespeare is doing. Which leads me to my second point. Rhythmic writing does not have to rhyme. It will be lyrical and delightful because of the rhythm. See Shakespeare’s plays for this,” Martha wrote. “And there are lots of ways you can play with rhythm. With a forthcoming picture book, THIS OLD DOG, also edited by Arthur & illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo, I decided that every word the dog narrator thinks has one syllable. For me, this captures the voice of a dog. A good dog who likes long walks in the grass. Are you stuck with a picture book? Think about the rhythm of the language, and choose one in harmony with your character.”
 
On that note…here’s your assignment. We’re going to play around with some different voices today. Choose a character — a young person, a big old tortoise, a rowdy squirrel…whatever you want — and try writing a few lines in that character’s voice. It can be about anything – what the character loves, their plans for the day, their dreams for the future. But give some real thought to how the rhythm and word choice will reflect the character. When you’ve written a few lines, switch gears and write about the same topic but in a different character’s voice. How does that change how you think about meter and rhyme?