Archive for April, 2014

Now booking school visits for fall 2014/spring 2015!!!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

It’s that time of year, when an author’s thoughts turn to…


ANd while I’ve tried to keep my travel down the last few years, this fall I don’t have a new book out, that I have to do promotional events for, which frees me up to visit more schools.

If you’ve never seen an author visit in action, I’m here to say that (whether or not the author is me) it’s something kids never forget.

My author visits fall into three basic types:

1. TRADITIONAL AUTHOR TALK(which to be honest, remains my favorite):  DUring which I tell kids about how I started writing when I was 8 years old.  I focus on how THOSE books were my true first books, even if they were made of wallpaper scraps. I show them artifacts from my writing life, and explain how I made my own childhood dreams come true. I stress things like THE IMPORTANCE OF BOREDOM AND FAILURE.  I give them explicit instructions on HOW TO GET BORED.  Seriously!  And I promise, they love it!

2.  WRITING WORKSHOP: usually for older kids, and smaller groups, I offer a workshop in how character and plot are interwoven. We create our own character, set them loose in a story, and see what paths they choose.  We talk about precision of language, narrative structure, “going deep,”  and all sorts of other awesome things.  This is a ton of fun, and I always suggest that the class pick up where we leave off, and turn the story into a longer illustrated class project.

3. HISTORY ISN’T BORING: my most recent book, Seven Stories Up, is set in 1937 Baltimore, and it’s a lot of fun to walk the kids through the process of learning how to do historical research.  I show them slides of images (from gross old fashioned candy to vintage underpants), and snippets of songs and films.  I explain how we need to submerge ourselves not just in the facts, but in the feelings.  We discuss the things THEY might like to research (ninjas, princesses, video games) if they were writing a book.

I’m also always willing to put together special events to meet the needs of any given school, and have developed programs about everything from Jewish picture books  to poetry, both in-class and via skype.  Let me know what you need!

SCHOOL VISITS ARE GREAT!  But  you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here are a few of the teachers I’ve worked with!

Ask your kids about Laurel Snyder!! This children’s book author visited SSA this week to speak to our grades 2-6 students about growing up with an imagination and a strong love for writing.  Her unexpected tales and exceptional story telling skills captivated her audience and captured their hearts.  The grade 6 students even broke out into a spontaneous standing ovation!”  (Solomon Schechter Academy, Montreal)

“Today was an incredible day, and the energy that the kids had about Laurel’s books and writing was electric.  They had so many ideas stirring in their minds.  I can’t wait to see the stories that students create after this inspiring day.  Thank you, Laurel!” (David C Barrow Elementary, Athens, GA)

“Intimacy, humor, tenderness and inspiration: you can’t do better than that with a visiting author.” (Paideia Elementary, Atlanta, GA)

If you’re interested in booking a school visit, drop me a line, and we can discuss the arrangements!



Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Almost exactly a year ago, after finishing four books I’d sold on proposal, I decided I needed to go back to writing alone. I needed to work at my own pace, however slow that was. I needed to write weird, if that was what came. I needed to get back to feeling like I felt as a kid, and a poet– just a girl playing with words. Flying blind.

I promised myself I wouldn’t even show my agent.

And then I spent 6 months outlining, and staring at the ceiling. I watercolored characters and setting. I wrote the first few chapters with a mechanical pencil, on a yellow legal pad. I played. And eventually, I hit my stride.

Well… last week I typed the words THE END, and took a week away. Then, today I read my rough draft of The Orphan Island, and I LIKE IT. A LOT!

Weird it is!   It’s too short, and it straddles the MG/YA line in a funny way. It’s got a kind of slight magic that people may be bored by. It’s full of fish guts and fig-drying and bee hives and sand. It ends with a kind of cliffhanger, to an equally weird sequel, a book that may or may not be called The Wordless World.

But I’m proud of the work I’ve done. And I’m proud that I did it without a net. It’s good to know I can still write just for me, alone.

So there’s that.


PS: I feel the need to add that I’ve loved every bit of the collaborative experiences I’ve had with my last books, and wouldn’t change a thing! I just… needed to work all by myself for a little while. Figure out what I’d write if I were alone on a (figurative) desert island.

The punchline? I wrote about a desert island.

On Libraries…

Friday, April 4th, 2014

When I was a kid, I lived at the library. Both our school library at Roland Park Public Elementary/Middle School and also the Enoch Pratt Library– Govans, Hampden, and especially Roland Park branches.

I really can’t imagine who I’d be without those places– calm and happy and full of ideas and readers, when my life was not always so calm.

My own kids have an amazing school library, for which I’m beyond grateful. But I see budget cuts happening in the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Systemand my heart sinks.

What can you say about a culture that doesn’t value its libraries? Some things MUST be valued in non-monetary terms. There HAVE to be entities that survive beyond the ruthless nature of the “free market.”

Libraries are islands of culture and intellect, in a world that often moves too fast to ponder, investigate, or dream. I wish some billionaire would step up and endow the libraries.

They may not generate their own revenue in the short-term, but I truly believe our country will suffer greatly for the loss of them.