My Monsters Continue to Travel the Globe

February and March have continued to be busy months for me with my Microsoft Educator Community Skype Classroom visits—over 75,000 virtual miles total now. Whew! Yesterday I traveled from north Texas to New Jersey and all the way down under to Australia! G’day, mates!


In the past two months, I’ve also squeezed in a couple of in-person school visits in St. Louis at Lone Dell Elementary and Bayless Elementary, meeting hundreds of eager 4th and 5th graders.


What I enjoy so much with school visits—whether in-person or via Skype—is sharing my love of words with the students. Seeing them become excited about reading and writing is the best! Today, out of the blue, I received a note from Mark Nechanicky, 4th grade teacher in Albert Lea, MN, expressing appreciation for my January Skype visit with his class.

Thanks again for the Skype. We purchased and received books from you. Our media specialist told me that they are checked out all the time. Thought you should know the students really like the books.

This totally made my day! As a former school librarian, I know how awesome it is to have students lining up for a good read. And it’s totally amazing when that read is one I’ve written!

Chandra Hale, school librarian from Celina, TX, where I visited 5th graders yesterday, said: I’m trying to get a copy of each of your monster books for our library… Several students are already asking about checking them out:) And 4th grade teacher, Maria Krudzlo from Marlton, NJ, had this to say after my recent Skype visit with her class: They learned a lot. Thanks again! I ordered your books and the kids are arguing over who gets them first.

Again, that’s so super cool!

My books FROM THE GRAVE and INTO THE SHADOWLANDS are published by Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions. This is a small indie press, so it is much tougher for my books to be noticed by schools and libraries and middle grade readers. But I’ve found through my visits that WHEN my books and students connect it is a winning combination. I hope you’ll pass the word on about my monsters through social media with an Amazon or Goodreads review or a Tweet.

The REAL critics (the student readers) from all of these states so far: Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Connecticut, New York, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Washington, New Jersey, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa—as well as Puerto Rico, Canada, Wales, and Australia—give a big “Scary on!” for my stories.

I hope you’ll have the opportunity to share my monsters with the special students in your life!

Marion Middle School Adventures

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with the fifth graders at Marion Middle School in St. Louis today. The girls were all eager to learn about my monsters and how to create some stories of their own. With only a week left of school, it was the perfect time to help them to connect with reading and writing. Summer awaits with so many awesome stories to read–and new stories of their own to write!

Click on the link for some suggestions for other Frightful Reads. And to see one of the writing activities I shared with the Marion School fifth graders today, check out this Monster Character Poem activity!

Thanks for inviting me to stop by today and best wishes for a truly FUN summer!!!

More on Helping Kids Become Readers and Writers

Sorry I don’t have photos yet to share of my school visit at Point Elementary last Friday, but the Mehlville School District has posted a press release of the event with a photo. Click on the link to read all about it.

I’m nearly finished reading all the great stories the Point students wrote and shared with me. They showed what great imaginations they have–so much creativity! And lots of the stories have great humor as well.

Today I read a second grade writer’s story. All the main writing points I’d shared with the students on Friday, she’d woven into her brief story.

She had a story arc: beginning, middle, and end.
Her dog character had a problem and found a way to solve it.
With dialog and some descriptive words, she quickly revealed her characters to the reader.
It was clever. It was fun. It was truly amazing!

Students usually need little encouragement to create their own stories. The earlier they begin to put their own ideas into words the better. They will become more accomplished in both their reading and writing. They’ll master spelling, grammar, and punctuation more easily. And they’ll have so much fun bringing their imagination to life to share with others.

Below is a list of websites with information/opportunities for encouraging children writers.

Guardian Angel Publishing Contest for School Children

Poetry for Kids

Giggle Poetry for Kids

Graphic Organizers

Publishing Students’ Work

Young Authors and Artists Group

Writing By Children (ALA)

List of Children’s Authors & Illustrators Websites (ALA)

Favorite Children’s Stories (ALA)

Children’s Authors Who Teach Children How to Write (Blog) Workout