March 12, 2014

My 3rd Annual Eastern Michigan University Author Visit

Greetings!  Thanks for stopping by.

I hope all is well with you.  Me?  I’m steady!

On 17 February 2014, I made what has become my annual Author Visit to several literature classes at Eastern Michigan University.  Each year, I get really excited about the opportunity to talk to undergraduate students about writing and teaching.  I typically share my journey through writing my first novel, finding publishing, and make connections to what they are learning in class.

While each year and class I visit provides new and unique experiences, this year really kept me smiling throughout the entire day.  See, when I visit a new group of people, I like to sit with them until it is my time to share.  As I sit in the crowd, I am able to take the pulse of the environment, overhear how students feel, and sometimes I can find out if they are looking forward to the speaker.

This year I had the opportunity to listen to numerous, impressive presentations on the benefits of multicultural literature in the classroom.  Watching students share their findings, and then dig deeper into the world of multicultural literature was very motivational.

In addition, while blending in and sitting in the back row of a lecture hall, I overheard a small group of students who wanted the unknown guest speaker (me) to be good and not take up too much of their class time.  I sat there smiling, with a refreshed understanding of the fact that tuition and time are very costly.  So, when I was introduced, I stood, flashed a sly smile at the group of learners who gave me the guidelines for success with them, and I marched down the stairs to give my all.  And, I like to think I gave them what they wanted, AND what they needed…

Enjoying a good laugh with the audience. 

Reading an excerpt from Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School.

 Making sure I was good and timely.

Thanks for reading!

PS  March is reading month! Stay tuned for more blogs on my appearance at the Michigan Reading Association’s annual conference and the numerous Author Visits I have planned for this month.  

February 16, 2014

Cornerstone School Keynote Speech


Welcome back!  I hope all is well with you. 

Me? I'm steady.

On 11 February 14, I had an opportunity to be the keynote speaker at a literacy event held at Cornerstone Schools. The theme for the event involved using books to build bridges to literacy.  For years, I have used books to build bridges to literacy.  Indeed, part of my responsibilities as a teacher are to find ways to promote and encourage literacy to youth.  When I started writing Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School, I allowed myself to begin building a different type of bridge that could go beyond my own classroom. 

After giving my speech, I traveled to the school library, where Books-a-Million had a huge box filled with books that were donated to the students.  It was exciting to see the faces of the well-dress students who were able to look at titles that would now be in their library.

As I continue on this journey as an author, I am constantly thankful for bridges to literacy that I encounter.

Cornerstone Schools

Delivering my keynote speech.

 Laughing with the awesome audience.

Watching as the books were donated to the school.

Thank you to the Alpha Alpha Beta Sigma Alumni Chapter for the invitation, and Dr. King for the incredible introduction.

Marquin Parks

July 14, 2013

Inkstains Author Visit 2013


Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well with you.   

Me?  I'm STEADY!

On 09 July 13, I had the privilege of doing an author visit with the middle school students of the Inkstains writing camp, held at Eastern Michigan University. The visit was my second opportunity to come and share my experience as a writer with the Inkstains writers.     

When I arrived in the circular room, it was instantly time to get things going. I was prepared to share the story of how Wrinkles Wallace came to life, and do a writing exercise on how to judge a book by its cover. That was until one of the writers attended last year's presentation, and I did not want her to have to hear a similar story again. So, I utilized Plan B, and went in depth with my process for noticing and negotiating to inspire my writing.  And, we had a great time.   

After a brief explanation and a few questions, the writers shared odd situations they had noticed in public.  Noticing a person purchasing fifty pounds of green beans, a tumbling act that included imaginary arrows, and a man browsing in the maternity section was enough to get our pens to negotiate what we saw in our minds and place it on paper.  I was quite impressed with what the young writiers were able to come up with in such a short amount of time.   

Once our writing activity was over, I shared a bonus chapter from Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School to make the connection between how we can notice small things in life or books and turn them into something larger.  Then, I answered some interesting questions before my time was up.   

Special thanks to the Inkstains campers and staff for having me.  Also, thank you for reading.   


Summer Author Visit wardrobe and accessory.

July 2, 2013

WWKNS Bonus Chapter Edible Abuse

Greetings!  Welcome back. I hope all is well. 

Well, the time has come for me to release the final bonus chapter (that I know of) for Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School.  I have enjoyed creating and providing a little background information for my debut novel.  Thanks you for reading and sharing in this experience.  


Edible Abuse
I felt used. To be honest, I felt used and abused. It’s almost like she could not follow my directions, or she messed up on purpose. I mean, I tried to tell her how to do things just right, so people would be happy with her. I wanted them to be impressed by her ability, but she wouldn’t follow my directions. And then she had the nerve to get upset or not understand why people treated her the way they treated her. To top it all off, she made me look bad. Really bad. Her not following my directions made some people believe something was wrong with me. Nothing was wrong with me. It was all her.

In the beginning, I arrived at her doorstep and introduced myself to her. I told her everything she would learn from me. I wanted to be open and honest with her about everything. In the end, I gave her some key words to remember that would help her to understand how things were. In the middle of it all, I tried to direct her through things and help her to improve. Instead, she did whatever she wanted to do while I was around, and I ended up feeling used and abused.

My name is Cullen Ary-Book, and I met Spork many years ago. It all started with a knock on the door and I was greeted with a big hug and a kiss. Of course I wasn’t expecting it, but the enthusiasm she used when she met me was great. At the time, I thought it was a little odd, but I got over it when I assumed it would be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Was I wrong…

Once inside of Spork’s house, I took a seat on the kitchen counter. I know, in most places the counter would be the last place to sit, but sitting at the table wasn’t really an option. See, the table was kind of dirty and there just wasn’t any room there for me. So I sat on the counter and looked around. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t the only one there in the kitchen. Apparently, Spork had invited many others into her kitchen, and she must have gotten distracted, because they were all just lying around doing nothing. Me, I had other ideas of how I could stay active because I had important information I could share.

A few minutes after I sat down, I could see Spork showing me around the kitchen. She let me know where she kept her cooking supplies and plates. For a minute, I was happy to see them because I recognized many of them. Yet, when it came time for me to share my expertise on those ingredients, she ignored me. Yeah, she ignored me. And I am not to be ignored.

I mean, I tried to be open to what her plans were. I tried to give suggestions or at least allow her to use me to her benefit. But nope. She would act like she could understand exactly what I meant, but then she would do the exact opposite of what I instructed her to do. Or, she’d go overboard and do way too much. And, when you’re working with me and you do things like that, things turn out bad. That’s probably why the others were lying around with nothing to do. They had probably just given up, closed themselves off to the world, and stopped trying after they realized she wasn’t going to listen. But that’s not me. It never has been and it never will be. I won’t quit. I won’t change. I won’t deviate from the plan because I know it is absolutely right.

        See, when your name is Cullen Ary-Book, it almost goes without saying that being a cookbook makes me the ideal thing for Spork to use to help her with her cooking.


Nah, she’d rather skip over my words and do whatever she thought was right. And things like that made me look bad, when she smiles and says that she uses me to make the food she prepares.

For example: One of my recipes called for 2 cups of sugar. Well, Spork was out of sugar, so she substituted 2 cups of salt for the sugar. She said they look a lot alike, so what would it matter. Tell that to the person who took a bite out of one of those cookies!

         On another occasion she was making a cake and ran out of flour. So, she used pancake mix because they looked alike and because pancake has the word cake in it.

         I don’t even want to get into her refusal to preheat the oven so her brownies are always undercooked mounds of chocolate and fudge foolishness.

         I don’t even want to talk about the times she made a caramel apple out of a tennis ball and ear wax because the ingredients looked the same. And then she has the nerve to tell people she gets the ideas for what she cooks from me. As if I told her to cook it just like that.

Now you can see what I’ve been dealing with. Well, that was what I was dealing with until this morning. This morning, Spork walked into the kitchen, took one long look at me and made an omelet. Not one of her usual Shark Knuckle Omelets, but an omelet with spinach and sharp cheddar cheese. When I saw it and smelled it I was delighted. She had followed directions for once, and it seemed to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. And not just with me. Pretty soon, the other books that were lying around were being open and honest with her as well. She would talk with all of us and get our thoughts on what to cook. Together, we had turned a page in the book of food progress.

The End

May 26, 2013

Addison Middle School Author Visit

I hope all is well with you. Me? I'm steady!

On 24 May 2013, I had the opportunity to do an Author Visit at Addison Middle School. The mission for this visit was to just talk about being a writer.  I can do that!

As I pulled up to the home of the Panthers, I could feel the positive energy flowing from within the building.  
After signing in and meeting some of the staff and students, I went to the new auditorium to see where I would be speaking to the sixth graders.  They had the perfect place for me to sit and read.
Yet, if you know me, then you know that I cannot sit/stand near the microphone and just talk. 
I like to move around, sit in the audience, interact with the kids, and work the room.  
After sharing the story of how my book came to life, the audience was okay with me reading a few chapters and answering questions.

I'd like to thank the staff and students at Addison for allowing me to share my story with a great audience. Good times!

Thanks for stopping by!


April 16, 2013

My Visit to Fulton Middle School


Thanks for stopping by to read and check out a few pictures.

I hope all is well with you. Me? I’m STEADY!

On 15 April 2013, I drove to Middleton, Michigan to conduct an Author Visit for students, and provide professional development for staff members at Fulton Middle School.  My plan entailed talking to 3 seventh grade classes and 3 eighth grade classes about my writing experience and motivating “reluctant readers” by giving students strategies to help them find books that could be interesting.  Then, I was to sit with staff members and share strategies to motivate students to read and write.

One might think that sharing the same story with six classes would get redundant.


Each class had their own form of energy that allowed me interact with them in the current moment, while sharing events that happened in my past.  So, each session was unique to the group of people in the classroom, and we all left feeling like something magical had happened during our interaction.  Good times!

The professional development portion allowed me to share some elements of reading and writing that I have learned while in the classroom and through writing books. More importantly, the staff was able to identify students who could take on a leadership role to aid in implementing the elements in a classroom.

Here are some pictures:

I’d like to take the time to thank all of the students and staff members who made my visit to Fulton Middle School so fantastic. 

Lastly, I want to take the time to acknowledge a particular student who was very honest about his reluctance to read. (Students like him are the main reason why I wrote Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School.)  I realize it takes great courage to be willing to share that information with others. In addition, it takes tremendous courage (and interesting books) to overcome reluctance.  So, if you have a moment, please utilize the comments section below to encourage “Z” to read and finish his signed copy of Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School.

Thanks again for stopping by and reading this blog!


PS Bonus Chapter coming soon...

April 7, 2013

My Eastern Michigan Univ. Magazine Alumni Feature

Greetings! Thanks for stopping by.  

I hope all is well. Me? I'm steady.

When Wrinkles Wallace: Knights of Night School was released, my life changed. The book began trending on and we were second in the children's genre (to the latest Wimpy Kid book). I was beyond excited and taking naps instead of sleeping at night.  During the time we were trending so high, Dr. Sue Martin, President of Eastern Michigan University was notified.  Later, I was contacted to by the Media Relations department to do a Press Release.

On a hot summer day, I recall walking on campus and sitting down to share my story with Debra Johnson. Debra, an excellent writer and question-asking expert, made me feel very comfortable. A few days later, I was back on campus and doing a photo shoot. Needless to say, I was so excited when the Press Release was made public. 

A few months ago I was contacted by Debra. She informed me that they were considering running my story in the Spring 2013 edition of Eastern.  The Eastern is the magazine of Eastern Michigan University.  Yes, I was amazed at the thought of being selected to for the magazine.

On 05 April 2013, I received an email from Debra. She told me that she had some copies of the Eastern for me, and I could come to campus and pick them up when I had an opportunity.  Immediately, I made the trip to pick up the magazine.

Upon having the Eastern in my hand, I almost did not want to open it. No, I was not afraid. Honestly, I could not help but think about my previous history as a student at EMU. I thought about my struggles and accomplishments on that campus.  I had regrets and redemption on my brain.  As I opened the magazine and found my article in the Alumni News section, I could not help but smile.  A moment later, I was looking at a picture from the photo shoot I did and reflecting on how much following my writing dreams has done for my life and others. 

Here are pictures of the magazine:

 Cover of The Eastern Spring 2013

Table of Contents


Thanks for stopping by and sharing this moment with me. I truly appreciate it.