Authors Tour: Author Bios

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   ALL AGES


Sarah ConoverSarah Conover
began her career as a producer for public television and subsequently spent many years teaching both English and radio production at the secondary level. She is especially looking forward to bringing multicultural perspectives into classrooms through writing. She is the founder and editor of the This Little Light of Mine series, which seeks to introduce children and their parents to the world's great traditions of wisdom and spirituality. The newest volume in the series, Harmony, released in fall 2008 by Eastern Washington University Press, is a collection of Chinese folk stories. The inaugural volume, Kindness, a collection of Buddhist tales, was recommended by Booklist as one of the five best spiritual books published in 2001, while Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs, which draws on Muslim tradition, was cited by Newsweek as one of the top multicultural books of 2004. Conover holds a degree in education from Gonzaga University, a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Colorado, and an MFA in creative writing from Eastern. Her poetry has appeared in Rock and Sling, The Santa Clara Review, and Pontoon 10. For more information, visit  http://www.sarahconover.com/.

Mary Cronk FarrellSpokane author Mary Cronk Farrell has presented school workshops for the past five years. Her topics include helping reluctant writers get started, the development of character and plot, strategies for revision, and writing nonfiction or news stories. But no matter what she is teaching, her passion for writing is contagious. Mary enjoys working with teachers to complement the existing curriculum. She takes a practical, hands-on approach with a strongly interactive component, combining accounts of her own journey as a writer with short exercises designed to give students confidence in their abilities while at the same time teaching solid writing skills. She is the author of the award-winning historical novel Fire in the Hole! which is based on events in the Inland Northwest. She brings the experience of early-day mining communities in the west to life by weaving historical photos, artifacts, and stories into her presentation about the book. Her activities as a writer also extend to radio, TV, and print journalism. See www.marycronkfarrell.com for more information. Mary is unavailable spring 2012.

Claire Rudolph MurphyClaire Rudolf Murphy is the author of fifteen works of fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults, including Children of Alcatraz and I Am Sacajawea, I Am York. She is on the faculty of Hamline University's low-residency MFA program in creative writing for children and young adults. Before returning to her hometown of Spokane, Murphy lived for over two decades in Alaska. She is an expert on the Iditarod and other facets of Alaskan life, and her love of the north is visible in many of her books. Her historical interests include the 1910 suffrage battle in Washington State, a subject she enjoys presenting to students. Her presentation features a short play about the period, That Woman and Big Noise: May Arkwright Hutton and Emma Davoe Smith, as well as activities that concern the history of voting and show how this history is reflected in what we do today. Information about her books is available at www.clairerudolfmurphy.com.

Rebecca NappiRebecca Nappi, features writer for The Spokesman-Review, has been a journalist for nearly 30 years. A native of Spokane, she worked for newspapers in the East, including USA Today, before returning to her home, and The Spokesman-Review, in 1985. She is passionate about teaching children, especially at the elementary level, and her fun-filled presentations emphasize student participation. When she was thirteen, she began keeping diaries, and she has been known to share a page or two from these sometimes embarrassing personal accounts of her teen years. She is also the author of two books on Catholic marriage for Paulist Press, and she is storyteller-in-residence for a week each summer at Camp Fire's Camp Sweyolakan. Her work can be found at spokesman.com

Kenn NesbittKenn Nesbitt is the author of several collections of funny poetry for kids, including My Hippo Has the Hiccups, Revenge of the Lunch Ladies, and The Aliens Have Landed at Our School! His poetry has appeared in many bestselling anthologies, including every book in the popular Kids Pick the Funniest Poems series, and anthologies from Scholastic with nearly 2 million copies in print. His works have been in dozens of school textbooks around the world, as well as national television programs, and numerous children's magazines. Kenn travels the country, visiting over 60 schools each year, sharing his wacky brand of poetry with kids nationwide, and helping to create a new generation of poetry lovers. His website, poetry4kids.com, is the most visited children's poetry website on the Internet. 

 Deby FredericksDeby Fredericks has been a writer all her life, but viewed it as just a fun hobby until the late 1990s. Her first professional sale, a children's poem, was in 2000. Her short fiction has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Song of the Siren electronic magazine, and others. She has published three fantasy novels (The Magister's Mask, Too Many Princes, and The Necromancer's Bones) through Dragon Moon Press, an independent publisher in Calgary, Alberta. Deby also writes for children as Lucy Ford and has published short stories and poetry for children in magazines such as Boys' Life, Babybug, Ladybug, and Spider and in two anthologies from Blooming Tree Press. With her day job as an elementary school noon aide, Fredericks has an inside view of education and the unique needs of the younger grade levels. Her presentations for the youngest students focus on such essentials of early reading as character, setting and conflict and briefly touch on the collaborative nature of publishing. For older grades she discusses her own work methods, stressing the importance of drafts and revision, and describes the process of submitting for publication. In all cases, her presentations include hands-on activities that encourage kids to explore their own creativity and believe that they, too, can be writers. For more information visit http://www.debyfredericks.com.

  Wendy Snodgrass is the author of Barrett's Bears: The Construction Story, the first in a planned series geared toward students ages 5-8. Using tongue-twisters, vocabulary words, and age-appropriate props to go with her story, she loves to engage her audience and allow the students to delight in the idea of a town named Waggleville, while at the same time giving students the opportunity to learn lessons about community, use their vocabulary, and stretch their imaginations. Students in kindergarten through second grade enjoy the story, seeing the huge stuffed Barrett the Bear, and frolicking in her bubble display. In her kindergarten through sixth grade workshops, students will learn as they contribute their ideas for new stories in the Barrett's Bears series. She'll modify the workshops per the grade level. Younger students will benefit by offering their creative voices and story line ideas, and older students can learn foresight, planning, and problem solving as they work through the technicalities involved in crafting a children's series. Wendy also offers writing workshops for middle school and high school students, which cover any or all of the following topics: brainstorming techniques; character development; plot; secret writing tips; self-publishing; query letters for traditional publishing; business writing; and tips and warnings about choosing writing as a career. She lives in Idaho with her family, and spends her "other" professional time writing and building a new youth program, which can be seen here. View her Mother Daughter book here; the Barrett's Bears website here; and her freelance business writing here.

  ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


Denise AdamsDenise H. Adams enjoys working with aspiring writers all ages. She is the author and illustrator of Annabelle's Angels, a story about the surprises in store for a little girl when she moves to a different climate, as well as Itchy the Witch, both published in 2007 by Lifevest Publishers. Itchy the Witch is an interactive Halloween story about a small witch who must save her town from the destructive influence of the "warm pink breeze." The book includes directions for making stick puppets, and younger children love to act out the story by holding up the puppets and making the sounds that go with them. Denise conducts a workshop on descriptive writing that can be adapted to any grade level and has proved very successful in inspiring reluctant writers. As part of the workshop, she often explains how she came to illustrate her own books and encourages her audience to try their hand at illustrating as well. She is also happy to discuss the publishing process, with a view to presenting publication as a realistic goal for young writers, rather than only a dream. Denise, who writes for adults as well as children, can be contacted at denisethewriter@gmail.com.

Raising Lucy author and illustrator Carol Muzik has taught hundreds of students in elementary schools across Eastern Washington and North and Central Idaho. In one day to two-weeklong residences, Carol helps children bring their own stories to life by mixing the fundamentals of writing with fun written and verbal exercises that help build the strength of each story's characters. Additionally, Carol is a teaching author/artist through the Idaho Commission on the Arts and loves helping children find inspiration for stories in nature and everyday life. She works primarily in non-fiction and is currently employed as a ghostwriter and a self-publishing consultant. Find out more about Carol at www.raisinglucy.com.


Renee Riva has been writing humorous and inspirational stories ever since she won her first writing contest in second grade. As an animal lover and kid at heart, her stories revolve around high spirited characters and endearing animals. Her picture books include: Izzy the Lizzy, and Guido's Gondola. Chapter books: Rudy the Runt, and Farley's Five and Dime. A Trilogy: Saving Sailor, Taking Tuscany, and Heading Home. And her latest YA comedy: Happy Camper, for middle school and up. Renee is a young author instructor for elementary grades, teaching adventure story writing. She teaches workshops on turning real life into fiction for middle grades. And she uses a screenplay format for developing characters and storylines for high school. Renee loves encouraging and inspiring kids to work hard for their goals and dreams. Renee lives in Richland, Washington with her husband, three daughters, a dog, a cat, and a box turtle named Buster.


ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL


Kelly Milner HallsKelly Milner Halls has a fascination with science and nature, particularly the offbeat. Are elementary school students curious? Do they gravitate to the bizarre like moths to a beam of light? Of course they do. And children's author Kelly Milner Halls shamelessly panders to that curiosity in her engaging nonfiction books for young readers and in the school presentations based on them-presentations she calls "Wonders of the Weird." From Dinosaur Mummies and Albino Animals to Tales of the Cryptids and Mysteries of the Mummy Kids, Halls's books draw kids in by engaging their senses. Her presentations for grades 2 through 6 are always inventive, and her expertise, the hands-on materials she brings with her and her sense of whimsy make learning about science, history, geography and writing more than simply educational. Two of her other books, I Bought a Baby Chicken and Dinosaur Parade, walk kindergarteners and first graders through the writing process-from that first moment of inspiration to the birth of a brand-new book, with lots of giggles along the way. Find out more about Kelly Milner Halls and her newest book, Saving the Baghdad Zoo, by visiting her Web site at www.kellymilnerhalls.com

Susan Marlow Susan K. Marlow holds a BA degree in elementary education from Washington State University and has twenty years teaching experience in private and homeschooling fields. She is the author of the Circle C Adventures historical fiction series for "tweens" and the Circle C Beginnings series of chapter books for beginnings readers. In addition, she has put together a writing workbook for budding young authors, Reach for the Stars. Susan speaks at young author conferences and teaches writing workshops online, at schools, and for homeschool co-ops. She loves to engage children in the writing process and see reluctant writers get excited about creating stories. Susan makes her home near Tonasket, in the Okanogan Highlands. For more information visit www.susankmarlow.com Susan is unavailable spring 2012.

 

MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL


Sherry Jones Historical fiction author and journalist Sherry Jones is perhaps best known for her controversial debut novels, The Jewel of Medina and The Sword of Medina, international best sellers about the life of A’isha bint Abi Bakr, who married the Muslim prophet Muhammad at age nine – one of his twelve wives and concubines - and went on to become the most famous and influential woman in Islam. Her new book, Four Sisters, All Queens, a tale of four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy, debuts with Simon & Schuster in May 2012. She is also publishing a novella, White Heart, about the famous French “White Queen” Blanche of Castille, as an S&S e-book in April. When she’s not working on her next books, Sherry is traveling the world, speaking and writing about free speech, censorship, Islam, the middle ages, and women’s rights. In particular, Sherry aims to empower girls and women with her tales of extraordinary women in history. Learn more about her and her books at http://authorsherryjones.com.

Maureen McQuerry Maureen McQuerryis a YA novelist, poet and teacher. She’s taught middle school through college students for twenty years. The Peculiars, her YA Steampunk novel, debuts in May with Abrams/Amulet followed by Beyond the Door and Time Out of Time. She likes stories with quirky protagonists and intriguing ideas, where myth and magic intersect with the everyday world. She works with teachers to help meet their writing goals through interactive workshops that engage students in the writing process. One of her most popular workshops (4th grade and up) is “Map Your Way into Story.” As students create their own fantasy maps, Maureen shows them how the worlds that they create can help them develop ideas for character, plot and conflict. She lives in Richland, Washington, with her husband, a dog and a grandparrot, while her two children have exciting adventures traveling the world.

Meghan Nuttal SayersMeghan Nuttall Sayres, a tapestry weaver, is author of Anahita's Woven Riddle, a novel set in nineteenth-century Iran that was among the American Library Association's Top Ten Best Books of 2007, as well as a Book Sense Pick that same year. She is also the author of Weaving Tapestry in Rural Ireland and the co-author (with Sarah Conover) of Daughters of the Desert: Tales of Remarkable Women from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Traditions. Meghan has visited schools and taught creative writing workshops in schools in the United States, Ireland, Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Uzbekistan. She is currently at work on novels set in these countries, as well as an anthology about Iran. In the course of her travels, she has met with scholars, carpet weavers, dye masters and merchants to study the age-old symbolism and the Sufi poetic traditions that infuse many of the rugs woven throughout the Middle East. Meghan brings a wealth of materials to her presentations, including a slide show of her trip to Iran. She lives in Eastern Washington in the company of her husband, her children, her sheep and a cat. For information about her other books, please visit her at www.MeghanNuttallSayres.com or see her StoryForce.net and MySpace pages.

Terry TruemanTerry Trueman is widely known for his young adult novels, eight of them to date. His first, Stuck in Neutral, which won a Prinz Honor Award, centers on Shawn, an adolescent boy afflicted with severe cerebral palsy, who cannot communicate verbally but has a rich inner life. Cruise Control, a companion volume written from the point of view of Shawn's brother, Paul, tells the powerful story of a family torn apart by disability and divorce. Most recently, Hurricane, a novel based on Hurricane Mitch's devastation of Honduras in 1998, chronicles a young boy's fear and courage in the face of forces of nature so cataclysmic as to defy imagination. Terry is a charismatic, high-energy speaker who can hold any audience's interest. He does half-day presentations only, and his availability is limited. See www.terrytrueman.com for more information.

HIGH SCHOOL


 Dennis HeldPoet and teaching writer Dennis Held boasts a remarkable breadth of experience, having published more than a hundred articles, essays, and book reviews in addition to his poems. Dennis's poetry collections--for a recent example, look for Betting on the Night--reflect his philosophy that the most accessible and exciting poems are written in a heightened, but familiar, language and talk about how people live and feel and think in America today. "When I was growing up," he says, "poetry was something written by dead British white guys, in a kind of language that seemed totally removed from my experience." Dennis aims to broaden students' understanding of poetry and empower them to tell their own stories, and he leaves them with this message: writing is a tool through which you can make sense of life's chaos. With his sense of humor and his straightforward manner, he finds it easy to connect with students, overachievers and reluctant writers alike. He is also able to adjust his focus, as requested, to cover WASL-oriented material such as personal essays.



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