Cynthia Lord is a former elementary and middle school teacher whose debut novel, Rules, won a 2007 Newbery Honor.
Cindy begins her school presentation by showing a story she wrote at the age of six. "No one would read this and say, ‘Now there's a future Newbery Honor author, would they?'" she asks students. "That's because writers are made, not born."
She goes on to explain the four things that helped her become a writer, and she takes students through the writing process—from idea to published book—using Rules as an example:
- Her own rules for a first draft
- How to use "write what you know" (even when you don't know!)
- The importance of revision (including showing a few draft pages from Rules with her editor's comments on them). "When you take a book off the shelf, you are only seeing the end of a long process," she explains.
- How to add sensory detail and the importance of stepping beyond your imagination
- And she tells funny or surprising "behind the scenes" stories from Rules and shows photographs of some of the places and inspiration behind her book.
- Finally, she ends with a description or a skit using one of the children (depending on the size and age of the group) to show what happened on a seemingly-ordinary January morning at her house in Maine when the phone rang, and she suddenly found herself talking to the Newbery Committee.
She also brings her Newbery Honor plaque to school and library visits and allows children to put their hand on the seal to make a wish for their own dreams. "When I look at this plaque," she tells students, "I see what a powerful combination ‘wishing' and ‘work' can be."
Cindy is also willing to create a specific program to fit the needs of a conference, group, or school.
Visit Cynthia Lord's website for more information about the author and her books.