Thanks to the PTA, especially Rachel Schiffenbauer, the fourth-grade teachers, staff, and students for another fun and productive writing residency at Rock Creek Valley Elementary School. We focused on creating character. Each student chose an animal and, through a writing exercise, developed that character’s personality and motivation. We wrote monologues and also worked on how to bring emotion and drama into our reading/performance voices. The students worked to bring voice into their monologues by choosing interesting and specific words and phrases that would fit their characters’ personalities. Here is a sample from each of the three fourth grade classrooms.
Dear Members of the Maryland Library Association,
I’m so thrilled to be the recipient of the MLA’s William G. Wilson Maryland Author Award for 2019. I’m already working on the talk I’ll be giving at this year’s conference in Cambridge, MD, and I look forward to connecting with you all there. I’ve been a fan of libraries ever since I got my first card, and librarians have had a huge impact on my life as a reader and writer. I couldn’t be more honored.
My thanks to the MLA, to William G. Wilson, to all the librarians who were involved in the decision process, and to everyone who helped to fund the award’s endowment.
About the Award
The Maryland Library Association established the Maryland Author Award in 1996 to honor Maryland authors. Each year a committee of MLA members grants the award in one of four rotating genres: adult fiction, youth literature, poetry and non-fiction. In recognition of the commitment and efforts of William G. Wilson, a librarian and 1995/96 President of MLA who was instrumental in starting the award and has worked tirelessly to promote its endowment, the award is now named in his honor.
April 25, 2019
Every year, I offer on free Skype day for teachers and students. During the year, I take reservations for time slots for free 15-minute Q-and A on a first-come, first-served basis.
To schedule your free Q&A session, please email me info (at) maryamato (dot) com from your school/library email address with all of the following info listed in one message:
- Preferred time (listing your time zone, please)
- Your name and your skype name.
- Name of school, snail mail address, and phone number of school or library
- Grade level(s), size of audience, and book(s) on which you’d like the Q/A to focus.
If your session is approved, you will receive guidelines via email and your school name will be added to this schedule.
Looking for a longer Skype workshop? See more info.
- “The skype visit with Mary Amato was great and inspiring!” –Mary Litwinczuk, Weaver Lake Elementary, MN
- “We had a very successful Skype experience with Mary Amato. We did the two-part character creation workshop. We would like to schedule for the same time next February!” –Hope Preston, Gill St. Bernard’s School, NJ
- “This afternoon was incredible! All 70 sixth graders were riveted to the screen while you were talking. I can’t thank you enough for all the wonderful things you shared with us about your writing process. What a truly inspiring discussion. One really neat coincidence was that I had just shared my writing notebook earlier in the morning and then you shared yours. The connections were flying like wild fire…You have made a wonderful lasting memory for so many students today.” –Franklin, WI 6th grade teacher
- “My students loved her and I loved the way she subtly got across the message of ‘grit.’ She told students how important it is to revise written work… and how mistakes can be a fabulous opportunity for learning.” Patricia London, Media Specialist Avon Middle-High School, MA
- “I don’t like writing, but when Mary said that she did not like writing as a kid and now she is a author it encouraged me to want to learn how to write now. She let me know that I could be a great author some day.” – R.J.
- “The thing that really was a life lesson and really inspiring was the quote she said – ‘The only way you fail is by not trying.’ – Laykin
- “The Skype with Mary Amato taught me that if you jot something down you are more likely to remember it.” – Ava
- “It was a great experience to meet Mary Amato, and talk to her about her writing process! Skyping is a very fun activity. I would love to do it again. It is fun to see different ways authors, like Mary Amato, create amazing books. So all in all I loved Skyping with Mary Amato.” – Bailey
Join authors Mary Amato and John Feffer for an energizing mix of writing workshops, one-on-one critiques, group discussion, and time to write. For writers working in any genre—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screen or stage play, etc. Use this inspiring day to take a work-in-progress further or to write something completely new. Limited to 25 participants.
Noon-2 pm Brown bag lunch (bring your own lunch) and short presentations/discussions with Amato and Feffer.
2-6 pm Individual writing time and one-on-one conferences with either Amato or Feffer (there will be a sign up for one-on-one conferences so you can know your time slot)
6-7 pm Communal dinner (food is provided)
7-9 pm Reading and Feedback 7-9 pm
The Writing Day-Retreat will be held at the at the College Park Arts Exchange at Old Parish House, 4711 Knox Rd, College Park, MD 20740. The house is located within walking distance of the college park metro. Street parking is available for free. Total cost is $55, which includes dinner.
Space is limited and registration has already begun. Contact Mary Amato to register ASAP: info (at) maryamato (dot) com
Mary Amato is a novelist, poet, essayist, songwriter, and playwright, who has a great day job writing fiction for young adults and children with 17 titles currently in print. Her creative non-fiction work has appeared in The Washington Post, Education Week, Mothering, and more. She is co-founder of Firefly Shadow Theater, and founder of the Silver Spring Town Center Arts Salon and the Hive, organizations that promote creative networking and artistic growth. www.maryamato.com.
John Feffer has written and produced ten plays, including four one-man shows, and is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous articles on foreign policy. He is also the author of several novels, including Frostlands, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Splinterlands. He serves as the director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. www.johnfeffer.com.
Have fun with this Reader’s Theater Script of The Chicken of the Family.
The Lucy McGee Book Series is a collection of books (best for ages 7-10) that feature a girl named Lucy and her friends and family. Lucy is a budding young songwriter and a ukulele player. Each book contains 3-4 songs along with lots of fun extras, such as mp3s, lyric/chord booklets, instructional videos, and more here.
The first book, News from Me, Lucy McGee will be out October 9, 2018. The second book, Sing with Me, Lucy McGee will hit the shelves in April. You can find order the books at your favorite local independent bookstore, or on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
Learn with me
For more info about any of these events, please email info (at) maryamato (dot) com.
Mary Amato’s Singing and Songwriting with/for Baby
Three Wednesday nights 6:15-7:15 pm September 5, 12, 19 at College Park Arts Exchange in College Park, MD. Note: This class will be offered again at the same time on November 28, Dec 5, Dec 12.
Explore the power and poignancy of your own voice in this special class for new parents and parents-to-be. We’ll learn chants and lullabies–some designed to soothe baby, others designed to soothe you! We’ll also learn songwriting techniques and each create our own signature songs. No musical experience necessary. For expecting and/or new moms and/or dads. You may bring the baby, but no older siblings or walking toddlers, please.
Mary Amato’s Songwriting Breakthrough
Three Wednesday nights 7:30-8:45 pm September 5, 12, 19 at College Park Arts Exchange in College Park, MD. Note: This class will be offered again at the same time on November 28, Dec 5, Dec 12.
Have you always wanted to write a song but have never given yourself permission? Or are you an experienced songwriter stuck with a stubborn case of writer’s block? Or are you a well-seasoned songwriter who wants a challenge? During this class, we will work with highly specific prompts to write one or more songs (either lyrics only or lyrics with music)–not from our own life experiences, but rather by adopting another point of view. Class will be tailored to meet the needs of participants with and without musical experience. Adults and teens welcome.
Creative Writing Skype Classes
Each three-session seminar will include focus on a different theme, such as character, dialogue, conflict, etc. Each session will include discussion, facilitated real-time writing, tips, strategies, and feedback. All of the seminar themes can be applied to the work of novelists, poets, essayists, playwrights, and songwriters. Since Skype sessions are one-on-one, any skill level from professional to beginner is welcome. Email info (at) maryamato (dot) com.
Songwriting Skype Classes
Each three-session seminar will include focus on a different type of song structure. No musical experience necessary and you don’t have to be able to play an instrument. Since Skype sessions are one-on-one, any skill level from professional to beginner is welcome. Email info (at) maryamato (dot) com.
One-time Workshops and Events
Page to Stage Workshop and Performance with College Park Arts Exchange
Join leaders Mary Amato and John Feffer and fellow writers and theater-lovers for a day-long mini playwriting workshops. During the day we’ll write short scenes exploring character, voice, and conflict. In the evening, we’ll perform the work we create in front of a live audience. This event is for writers, poets, storytellers, songwriters, comedians, and actors who want to learn more about the process of creating and giving voice to characters and who want an opportunity to hear/see work come alive in front of an audience. More info to come.
Uke-making Camp with Gadgetlab
Make your own cool (and quality) ukulele and learn how to play it. Gadgetlab’s Karen Giacopuzzi and Mary Amato team up to teach this camp. This camp is full.
Songwriting 101 Workshop with Carpe Diem Arts
Learn songwriting techniques in this 2-hour workshop taught by Mary Amato. No musical experience necessary and you don’t have to play an instrument. This class has passed.
Student Open Mic
This is your chance to sing your song, read your poem, or perform stand-up in front of a warm, friendly crowd. Potluck. Please bring a dish and whatever you’d like to drink. This will be an outdoor stage. No rain date. No payment required, but you must register to attend. This event has passed.
I’ll be at Book Expo on Thursday, May 31, launching my new chapter book series with @HolidayHouseBks and signing ARCS from 2-3 pm! See all you book lovers there!
Even Ghosts Need the Chance to Speak the Truth, Don’t They?
“Sam finally allows himself to look up. He and Lacy lock eyes, and a joyous warmth rushes through him.”
Meet Lacy and Sam. She is a sixteen-year-old wannabe slam poet who wakes up in an historic cemetery–confused. He is a 17-year-old Civil War soldier whose job it is to teach new ghosts the strict rules of there after and to warn her about Suppression, a punishment even worse than death. Lacy desperately wants to leave the stifling cemetery and find out how she died, but every soul is obligated to perform a job. Given the task of providing entertainment, Lacy organizes an open mic. With the help of Sam and other new allies, will the open mic become a chance for the sad, frightened residents of the cemetery to finally express themselves? WARNING: This novel contains profanity as well as sensitive and complex themes related to death, dying, alcohol abuse, and physical abuse, and is for mature teens and adults.
What Makes the Book Unique?
- Hybrid play-novel form. I started this as a play and decided to incorporate various play writing elements into the process, but did not follow the rules of either form.
- Narrator voice and direct address.
- Mix of humor and seriousness.
- Historical setting. The play-novel takes place in Westminster Cemetery, the actual cemetery where Edgar Allan Poe is buried.
- Edgar Allan Poe, his Raven, and his family. Fans of Poe’s twisted tales will meet a newly imagined Poe and a trio of his relations.
Pre-Publication Praise for the Book
“Amato (Guitar Notes, 2012) is no stranger to playing with form and genre…a unique read that fans of Poe, poetry, or stage plays will find something to grab onto.” –Booklist
“The resulting alchemy capitalizes on the strengths of both media to create a unique, fully-realized world… Quoth the Raven, “Encore.”–Kirkus
Author Notes about the Writing Process
Find out more about my writing process and watch a video about one of my revision exercises in this link.
Author Notes about the Research Process
Find out more about my research process in this link to come.
Essays/Interviews/Blogposts related to the book
Listening to Old Ghosts: The Haunting Influence of Our Town and Spoon River Anthology published in Teen Librarian Toolbox.
See my gallery of images used in writing and researching.
Can you figure out the language of this new translation?