Frequently Asked Questions

Kid's Ask

Like everybody, there are times when our lives turn upside down. We feel sad, confused, angry. We ask ourselves, “Why did this happen?” “How?” “Will everything be okay?” Those are the times when you can go outside, find a quiet place, and just look around at the sky, the trees, the moon, the leaves, the flowers, water etc. ….

 

Nature gives us a vision of what perfect sense and tranquility look and feel like. In upside-down times, like this one in 2020, nothing seems to make sense. But you can find comfort under the blue sky, among the plants and trees, by the water – because in nature, there is a reason for everything and all of it makes sense. (By the way, why is the sky blue?)

If it were up to me, they would be! But disappointingly, it’s not up to me. Foreign publishers must request the rights, or “permission” to print our books in other languages.

 

As a former resident of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, my great wish is to see the series published in Spanish so children in Latin America and South America can read them. More than 200 million children and teenagers live in Latin America countries, more than 81 million of whom live in poverty. Reading is fundamental to climbing out of it.

Awestruck. Moonstruck. Star Struck. Dumbfounded. Baffled. Dazed. Honored.. Happy. Thankful. 

AN ORANGE IN JANUARY, illustrated by Julie Maren is an (unintentional) Social Studies book inspired by a homeless man. On a cold, wet January day in 2002, he stood to the side of a long line of post-holiday traffic holding a cardboard sign that read: HUNGRY, HOMELESS, Please help. I witnessed an act of kindness and tenderness so lovely, I knew I had to write about it. The story first appeared in an anthology of “ordinary heroes” published by Guideposts. Later, a fellow author read it and said, “You know this is a picture book.” I hadn’t. What I’d observed was one of those “small” moments that had a remarkable ripple effect. Angelic teachers appear in many forms, whether in classrooms or by the side of the road. This book follows the journey of an orange from orchard to playground. Why the orange ended up on a playground instead of in the hands of a hungry man is a story in itself of the publishing process.

A for-sure-to-be-a-book is A SHELL IS COZY. It will be the 7th and final book in our nature series, all illustrated by Sylvia Long, and all under the brilliant editorship of Victoria Rock at Chronicle Books. We’ve been a team for 15 years.

Because Victoria bought my manuscript, AN EGG IS QUIET, and because Sylvia’s watercolor illustrations are breath-taking, millions of children worldwide are learning the facts behind the awe and wonder of nature.

 

I recently finished a manuscript, NOT ALL DRAGONS BREATHE FIRE, a lively free verse book-to-be chockfull of figurative language, a non-fiction book with a treasure chest of facts that will surprise you!

Did you know that a Blue Dragon is “a boneless blob/ as small and gloopy/ as a glob of mucus/ a glob with strong jaws/ razor-sharp teeth/ and a bubble in its belly”?

Or that Komodo Dragon babies will roll in their own stinky poop to protect themselves from big Komodo Dragons that would eat them?

In the past: skydiving, hot air ballooning, seeing a world where there are no borders; traveling by motorcycling, driving around the country in my hippie-painted car and letting people sign their names on it in paint pen. All acts of exquisite fun and laughter.

 

Now: I have a job that allows me to go to work barefoot and in my pajamas. Writing, researching, and learning is fun.

 

The focus of my work now is on our oceans and coral reefs, so in addition to reading, I also get to watch a lot of documentaries. For mindless fun, I make miniature bookmobiles. For peaceful fun, I walk the shoreline of Corpus Christi Bay, hunting for shells, bones, messages in bottles (I found one!).

 

One of my dreams is to have a Chinese Water Dragon to cuddle with, but Hank the ferocious wiener dog would ….

DREAM SOMETHING BIG, the biography of an Italian immigrant who, with found objects and trash, spent his free time building “Nuestro Pueblo,” Our Town, an enchanting fantasy of towers, fountains, glass cactus gardens, birdbaths and even a ship!

 

By recycling, reusing and repurposing, Simon Rodia channeled his innate skills as an architect and engineer into a national landmark now known as The Watts Towers. Except for cement, wire mesh and steel rods, his materials were free.

 

Neither circumstance, lack of riches, a time clock nor ridicule kept him from making his dream a reality. It’s likely this unsung genius had dyslexia. He “wrote” his story with art.

 

The book is dedicated to my son, friends and heroes with dyslexia and I weave that into the presentation.

Adult's Ask

The standard session is 55 minutes. A full day includes up to 3 presentations (a half day, 2). Both can include “Lunch with the Author,” and/or a book-signing, and upon request, a brief one-to-one or small group mentoring conversation with students who need an extra bit attention and encouragement.

A full day is $1000, a half day, $700. Travel expenses, modest lodging, and a small per diem are additional expenses. Often, two or more schools in a district partner to reduce expenses.

My books should be on-hand at the presentation site, along with a table for their display. If available, a cordless microphone makes it easier for all to hear; a projector, clicker and the school’s computer to show my PowerPoint; preferably a document camera; water—and coffee please! A big hit and something I enjoy is “Lunch with the Author” with a small group of students and/or educators. Any food is fine, whether it’s take-out, potluck, the school or a nearby cafe. I have no dietary requirements.

Yes! We will arrange a meeting according to your time zone, national or international.

I hope so! But they’re optional. Children usually want at least one book after a presentation. Too, book-signings are a fun way to chat with them individually. The fee for a virtual visit of up to 45 minutes is $100.00.

It’s easy. The very best way is by working with a local bookstore—an independent one when possible! They can handle orders and offer discounts to your school.

These booksellers will return to the publisher any unsold books. Ordering directly from the publisher is also an option, but it requires time and effort, and any unsold books purchased through this venue cannot be returned.

 

You can also order on Amazon.com, of course. 

You should sell prior to the day of the presentation but do order extras so they’re available on the day of the visit. When you order through a bookstore, you only pay for what’s sold, so it’s ok to order more for people who haven’t prepaid. I recommend having on hand adhesive labels I can sign for students who will be purchasing/receiving books after the date of presentation.

My friend and webmaster, Kimberly Kubalek. We met 15 years ago in San Miguel de Allende and we’ve enjoyed working together ever since.