I wanted to share some background on the writing of A GALAXY OF SEA STARS with you.
The original inspiration for the story began through my volunteer work at IRIS-Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven, Connecticut. Through IRIS I’ve had the privilege to know some amazing young men and women.
When I began looking for middle grade books with refugee characters. I quickly found there were not many. So, with the help of IRIS, we formed a group of young women from the countries of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, who wanted to share their experiences coming to the United States as refugees to help create such a book.
We began by simply getting together at the IRIS office where I listened as these amazing ladies talked about what it was like for them to come to the United States as refugees. Then, over the course of a year, these young women read three versions of A GALAXY OF SEA STARS—each time, offering their critical insight and advice. In our meetings, I listened as they recounted stories of discrimination, as well as their wishes, dreams and fears. Their stories spun together to shape the character of Sitara Haidary.
The goal of this project was always an opportunity for these ladies to reach out to world to say: This is what I want you to know about me, This is how it has been for us, and This is how we’d like it to be.
As we met, an odd thing happened along the way. The ladies told me that Sitara’s strength inspired them. But the reality is that each one of these ladies IS Sitara. What they saw on the pages of GALAXY was a mirror image of their own strength and bravery.
Discovering the courage you already possess has been and will always be the heart of A GALAXY OF SEA STARS. As Izzy’s grandmother Starenka says, “Let your courage be bigger than your fear.” This is what I learned from these brave young women.
I hope you enjoy Izzy’s and Sitara’s story and I hope you feel braver for knowing them.
Let’s Talk about Writing!
Through interactive presentations, Jeanne will discuss the writing process, including research, revision, and overcoming challenges. Teachers and librarians have called her talks, “inspiring, engaging, and thought provoking.”
Her middle grade novel, RUBY IN THE SKY received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist and was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her second book, A GALAXY OF SEA STARS comes out in February 2020.
RUBY IN THE SKY – from childhood memory to published book.
In this engaging talk, Jeanne discusses how she turned her memory of handfeeding chickadees as a child into a middle grade novel through free-writing, plotting, seeking out and following constructive criticism, and loads and loads of revision. In her talk, Jeanne brings hard copies of the story in its various phases, as well as plotting charts she developed, photographs and other images, and her personal journals so students can see firsthand how an idea is shaped and molded and ultimately brought to life in story.
A GALAXY OF SEA STARS – a journey inside the story and how it was made.
Jeanne will go in-depth into how she came up with the idea for A GALAXY OF SEA STARS (spoiler alert – it had to do with her own middle school drama) and how she brought the story to life through her childhood journals, beta readers, and working for over a year with a group of young refugee ladies who gave voice to the character, Sitara. In this presentation, Jeanne brings in copies of the story in its various stages, as well as props that give the audience hands-on examples of how a story is made.
THE TRUTH ABOUT TELLING A LIE – conducting the careful research that authentic fiction requires.
“Write what you know,” is a common adage for authors – but what if you are inspired to write outside your wheelhouse? The answer is RESEARCH and loads of it! As a former criminal defense attorney, Jeanne has had a great deal of experience researching, but writing for children took this process to a whole new level. From working with beta and sensitivity readers, to hand-measuring the depths of Ninigret Pond with a weight, to driving through the remnants of a Vermont snowstorm to sit in criminal court – Jeanne discusses the hands-on (and sometimes unconventional) ways she conducts research for her stories, and helps remind writers that you can write about almost anything, as long you’re willing to do the hard work to get the story right.
IT’S ALL ABOUT REVISION!!!
Writing, in fact, IS revision. In this hands-on workshop, Jeanne will use real examples to demonstrate revision and editing techniques she uses to ensure her stories are told in the best possible way. Jeanne will work with students as a group to understand how a piece of writing is improved through revision. Students will then have an opportunity to use these techniques to revise their own work.
PLOTTING A STORY…EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE.
Everyone knows that each story has a beginning, a middle, and an end – but what everyone doesn’t immediately recognize is that in a good story, certain things need to happen in each part. Once you do, it is easy to outline a story ready to be developed. In this workshop, writers will use “surprise prompts” to help ignite story ideas, and will then develop their 3-part outline to share with the group (only those comfortable need share— but the fun becomes contagious!) You will be surprised and delighted to hear the stories that emerge from this workshop!
WRITING ABOUT SCIENCE AND NATURE with hands-on activities (for younger audiences).
Jeanne’s books incorporate STEM concepts – the moon, nature, stars & constellations, ocean & tides, to name a few. In this hands on workshop, kids will do a science related craft while discussing its relevance to either RUBY IN THE SKY or A GALAXY OF SEA STARS. It is a seriously fun way to introduce science concepts through literature.
♦ One-hour engagement, including book signing: $150
♦ Half-day engagement including two presentations and a book signing: $300
♦ Full-day engagement including three presentations and a book signing: $500
♦ 20-minute Skype visits are free for groups who have read RUBY IN THE SKY or A GALAXY OF SEA STARS.
To order Jeanne’s books, you can buy at a reduced rate (fifty or more) directly through Macmillan, or purchase through your local independent bookstore. If you need help ordering books, please contact Jeanne.
“Jeanne held the students’ attention as she talked about her book and the process of writing and publishing…The students were completely engaged in the activities and were glad they were able to participate.”
▪ Kim Musket, School Librarian, James H. Moran, Sr. Middle School, Wallingford, Connecticut
“The writing workshop was a collection of well-crafted and unique exercises…that I really enjoyed as an aspiring author.”
▪ Chelsea, 8th grader
“Jeanne was an engaging and delightful speaker for our 7th graders! She captured our students’ attention with her insightful, thoughtful, and impactful presentation of her story making process.”
▪ Pamela Johnson-Spurlock, MLIS, School Librarian, Green Mountain Union School, Chester, Vermont
Arts Center East
709 Hartford Turnpike
Vernon, Connecticut 06066
RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-202-2995
There will be books for sale, crafts, fun and cake! Kids can make a small birdfeeder so they can feed the chickadees along with Ruby and Abigail. Rumor has it that Bob Van Doodle might stop by ….
We hope you can join us for this special event.
Everyone is invited!
Directions: From I-84 East: Take Exit 66, Turn left of the exit, Turn left on to Bolton Road, Continue straight through the intersection to Center Road, Arts Center East is located on your right.
From I-84 West: Take Exit 66, Turn right off the exit onto State Route 542, Turn left on to Bolton Road, Continue straight through the intersection to Center Road, Arts Center East is located on your right.
Parking is located behind the building. Additional parking is available at the Congregational Church across the street and at Center Road School.
Last month I had the privilege of visiting with Mrs. Kathryn Fitzgerald’s Sixth Grade class at Windermere Intermediate School to discuss my novel, Ruby in the Sky. Mrs. Fitzgerald had just finished reading the novel to the class as the spring read-aloud so it was a fantastic opportunity to hear their thoughts and recommendations. The students asked excellent questions. We discussed the writing and revising process and I showed them some of the hands-on tools I used to revise. They also provided me with excellent suggestions on those small details that make for an authentic sixth-grade voice — after all, they are the experts!
It was such an incredible experience for me to have my target audience provide such insightful feedback!
I even got a chance to read some of their work!
Thank you, again to Mrs. Fitzgerald and the entire class. I am so lucky to have had this amazing opportunity!
Hello and welcome! Thank you for stopping by. I write Middle Grade books. Please check back for blogs about things I love including: writing, running, authors, books and attending conferences and workshops.