1. #kidsneedmentors 2018-2019 recap

    One of the most meaningful parts of the last school year for me was being part of #kidsneedmentors. The program was started by two teachers and two authors: Kristin Couch and Kristen Picone and Ann Braden and Jarrett Lerner. It pairs authors with one classroom to mentor for one year.

    I had the pleasure of being a mentor to a fifth grade classroom a couple of hours away from LA. To start things off, we had an introductory Skype and I sent them some copies of Zinnia and the Bees with goodies. After the teacher and I brainstormed via email and google doc, we figured out some neat ways to collaborate.

    I wrote the class letters, which the teacher photocopied for every student. I sent the class two boxes of books. And my favorite thing was using Flipgrid! Students posted videos and I could post video responses—for example, in one they introduced themselves, in another they “booktalked” a book they liked, and in another they asked me a question about writing and I answered it. It was a lot like being in person and such a special way to communicate one-on-one from afar.

    The other super neat thing was that I got to visit them twice. The first time was a surprise! The students had been reading and giving feedback on a work in progress of mine, so when I arrived, I read them another chapter. Then I did a writing workshop and as a goodbye, handed out pencils with inspirational sayings about writing. The second time I visited, they knew I was coming and I held one-on-one conferences about a piece of their writing—my absolute favorite thing!

    Overall, the experience gave me insight into students and their writing, into what writing curriculums are like, and into the meaningful ways authors can engage with students to promote literacy, reading, writing, and to offer positive encouragement. I highly recommend being part of it. Plus, anything to support teachers is ace!

  2. nErDCamp SOCAL, July 19

    I’m super excited to be part of the very first NerDCamp in Southern California this summer! If you’re a teacher, librarian, or administrator in the area (or not in the area!), registration is open now for this very special July 19th “unconference” in Torrance.

    It’s a free event where educators (and some lucky kidlit creators) come together to “learn and lead” about literacy in all subjects for all students.

    Here’s a sampling of some of the authors and illustrators who will be there!

    In addition to networking, sessions, and book signings, there are special events at Barnes & Noble Torrance as well for readers young and grown. You’ll find me there on Saturday, July 20th at 1pm for a talk, signing, and pom-pom yarnbombing craft. Andrea J. Loney and Tara Gilboy will be there presenting their books too!

    Here’s the registration link if you’d like to join!

  3. SCBWI LA LitMingle

    This Saturday, the talented and inspiring Roda Ahmed and I will be presenting on our debut publishing experience followed by a Q&A at the SCBWI LA West San Gabriel Valley LitMingle. Perfect for those curious about what happens after the book deal—all are welcome!

    More info and RSVP here.

  4. Many Voices of Middle Grade Panel

    So looking forward to this panel at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on September 8th with middle grade writer friends, moderated by bookseller Kalie Barnes-Young!

    More info and RSVP on facebook here

  5. zinnia and the bees cover as food art!


    My sweet friend Bonnie at Thirsty for Tea asked Harley of Harley’s Food Art to create a cover of Zinnia and the Bees out of FOOD! How cool is that?




  6. One Year of Zinnia and the Bees!

    Zinnia and the Bees was published one year ago today! To celebrate, I finally made a bookface!


    And here are some favorite snaps to recap the past year.



    Plus, I’m giving away one signed copy of the book over on twitter—come see!


  7. SCIBA 2018 Finalists!

    I’m absolutely thrilled that Zinnia and the Bees is a finalist for the 2018 Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Awards in the Middle Grade category! Mostly, I’m thrilled to be among such stellar kids’ books and their creators! The Children’s Awards Luncheon will be on October 20th at the SCIBA Trade Show.


  8. bee chocolate pops

    Meaghan at The Decorated Cookie made some chocolate bee pops in honor of Zinnia and the Bees a while back! And since spring is in the air and the bees are buzzing, I wanted to share them with you now.

    She and I have collaborated before for This Picture Book Life (here and here) when she made adorable treats to pair with kids’ books. So it’s especially fun that she did the same for my book! A big, big thanks to her!

    Check out Meaghan’s post at The Decorated Cookie to get the full instructions to make your own.





  9. spring events in and around la

    I hope you’ll come see me at some spring events in and around Los Angeles.

    I’ll be part of LA’s Yarn Crawl, the LA Times Festival of Books, and LitFest Pasadena!

  10. nashville’s her bookshop w/ emily arrow!

    I was lucky enough to visit Nashville over the weekend and have an event at Her Bookshop while I was there. Plus my friend, the one and only Emily Arrow, joined me to sing the Zinnia and the Bees song!

    Our pom poms and yarn bombed hair (see the last photo) were perfect for a chilly Saturday morning storytime.

    And if you want to make your own simple pom pom, the instructions are right here.







    Until next time, Nashville!