Collect the Wright Info!


Celebrating December 17, 1903!

What happened 110 years ago?

Cartoon image of little red airplane flying by

The first successful, powered, piloted airplane flight!

Orville Wright

Orville Wright

As you might know, my new book stars a very important, well-known historical figure. Orville Wright, half of the Wright Brothers’ team, ran a flying school outside Montgomery, Alabama in 1910. In order to make my story seem as real as possible, I’ve been doing some research on Orville.

Think you know everything there is to know about Orville? Take my quiz. Click on the link to get the Wright facts!

1. What musical instrument did Orville play?

2. Milton Wright, the boys’ father, brought home a very popular toy in 1878 that inspired Orville and Wilbur. What was the toy?

3. You probably already know that the Wright Brothers owned a bicycle shop, but in middle school they were interested in pursuing different careers. This one was a surprise to me, too. What career interested Orville?

4. Who made the first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC? Was it Wilbur or Orville? And how did they decide who got to go first?

5. How often did Wilbur and Orville fly together? How many times did their father fly?

Make sure you take the time to watch the video on the link above!

Can you name these Wrights? Go to

Here’s a link just for fun. You can print out the puzzle!

Animated fighter plane fly by

What a Character!


Creating characters can be lots of fun, but it can be challenging, too. For my new book, The Wright Brothers Flying School, 1910, I’m trying to invent characters who act like your best friend, but who fit in the time period I’m writing about.

My first character is Mabel Cecelia Grant, “Macie” for short. To get started, I looked for pictures online of girls who would have been around fourteen years old in 1910. This picture jumped out at me, and I knew I’d found Macie.

Next, I made a list of everything I already knew about Macie and wrote them down on a chart. A more fun way to do this might be to make your own facebook page for your character. Click on the link below. You’ll go to a page that says ‘facebook profile.’ Click on the words again and you’ll arrive at a profile you can print out and use for your character.

Facebook profile

I really like the names J.K. Rowling picks for her characters.  “Rubeus Hagrid” is a terrific name, and you have a picture in your mind of what he looks like even before you see him. Doesn’t Draco Malfoy sound mean and sinister? And Neville Longbottom calls to mind a rather dull boy with no athletic skills at all. How does J.K. Rowling do it?

I found the link below to help me find popular names for the time period I’m writing about. Remember, my new book is set in 1910, so this list is from that era. Is your name on the list?

Scroll through the page and find three first and last names you think would make good characters. I need a name for a bully (girl or boy), a name for a hero (girl or boy), and a name for a villain (man or woman). Fill in the Facebook profile for your character, and send it to me! I’d love to see what you come up with! Maybe YOUR character will appear in my book!

For students and teachers who want additional information about developing story characters, try the link I included below. You’ll find some great ideas and worksheets to help you create the perfect character for your story!

A final thought for this week!

What are YOU reading?

Flying with the Wright Brothers!


Great News for “Crystal City Lights”!


A gold medal in historical fiction was awarded to “Crystal City Lights” by the Mom’s Choice Awards! This award “is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 18 countries.” Click on the link below to find out more about this terrific award!

My new book is called “The Wright Brothers Flying School”. Since I come from a family of pilots and hot air balloonists, it’s only natural for me to be fascinated by airplanes and how they were invented. I researched the Wright Brothers lives–their inventions and accomplishments–and I discovered that during the spring of 1910, they opened a flying school in Montgomery, Alabama.

From March through May of that year, the Wright Brothers ran a the school to teach men (no girls allowed!) how to fly the Wright Brothers Model B aircraft. Here are some pictures that were taken at the school.


The catapult pictured above was used to launch the airplane. Watch a video by clicking here:

Once I found out about the flying school, I knew I wanted to use it as the setting for my new book. But I don’t know anything about what life was like way back then. Since I write historical fiction, I have to do lots of research even before I begin the first chapter! Here are some questions I want to answer:

  • What did adults wear in 1910? What kind of clothes did children wear?
  • What did the houses look like in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1910?
  • What ‘modern conveniences’ did they have? Did they have telephones? electricity? washing machines? radios?
  • Did everyone own cars or did they still travel by horse and buggy?
  • How did they talk? Did they use ‘slang’, like we do today?

The list of things I want to know goes on and on. It’s important for me to add lots of details because I want my readers to feel as if they’ve stepped back in time to the early 1900’s and that they’re actually going to meet the Wright Brothers!

For example, here are some popular words and phrases people would have used in 1910. Can you imagine Wilbur Wright saying, “Aw shucks…” when reporters praised his newest invention? Or maybe Orville yelled, “Never say die!” when the Wright Flyer lifted off the ground! When you read my book, you’ll notice the characters saying some of these things just like real people would have in 1910:

  • Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!
  • This is the life!
  • It seems like I have two left feet!
  • Ain’t it the truth?
  • Another day, another dollar!

Follow the link below to one of my favorite sites. It’s called Writers Dreamtools. See what interesting facts you can find about the year 1910.

Now, talk like it’s 1910!       

Scroll down on the ‘Dreamtools’ webpage until you see ‘New Slang Words’. Choose a few of the phrases you think are especially interesting or funny, and write sentences with them. Post your best one in the comment box below!

This year, you can follow my blog as I discover more about my setting, my characters, my plot, and all the important parts of this brand new story. I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas as “The Wright  Brothers Flying School” comes to life!

As Wilbur and Orville might have said, “Let’s get this show on the road!”

Welcome to Gallimaufry, a new blog for a new school year!

A gallimaufry is a confused jumble or medley of things–a perfect name for this year’s blog! On these pages you’ll find a hodgepodge of information on all sorts of topics. Click on the ear to hear a pronunciation of this very strange word!
Welcome back, everyone! I hope this will be your best school year ever!

Welcome back, everyone! I hope this will be your best school year ever!

Did you have a great summer? It was an eventful few months for me! First, in April, Crystal City Lights was released by Blue Marlin Publications. Click on the picture  of the book to find out more about it!


In late May, a book party was held at White Oak Elementary School to celebrate the release of Crystal City Lights AND the publication of Great American Heroes, a collection of essays by Coweta County’s third, fourth, and fifth graders. What an exciting afternoon!


Click here to order your copy!


Newly published authors!


Shortly after its publication date, Crystal City Lights was featured at Book Expo America in NYC! In the photo, I am about to sign copies for crowds of readers–well, maybe not crowds, but definitely dozens of readers–with Francine nearby for support. (Would this be the best place to drop the names of authors who were also in attendance like Mary Higgins Clark, RL Stine, Stephanie Evanovitch,….just to name a few!)


Waiting to sign books at Book Expo America!

The day after BEA, I was honored to visit a school on Long Island located in a community that had been hard hit by hurricane Sandy. Here are some pictures from that wonderful visit!


And then, another very exciting thing happened! I visited a local Barnes and Noble Bookstore, and there on the YA shelf was a copy of Crystal City Lights! I couldn’t have been more delighted–or surprised! There I was on the shelf with Judy Blume, Gary Paulsen, and Mary Downing Hahn!


So, as you can see, it’s been a busy summer, and autumn will be even busier! I will be speaking at the Decatur Book Festival on Saturday, August 31, at 4:00. If you’re in Atlanta, you won’t want to miss this event! It’s described as “the largest independent book festival in the country!” I hope to see you there!

Also, I’ll be visiting Austin, TX on October 12 to do a presentation for the Texas Association for Literacy Education at Texas State University. Very excited to share Crystal City Lights with the teachers in Texas!

Several schools have contacted me about doing presentations for their fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. To find out more about the programs I’m offering this year, please click on the picture below.

Crystal City Lights Flyer

I hope you (and your students) will visit my blog often. If you have suggestions for blog topics or activities, please leave a comment below. A new Gallimaufry blog will be posted on Friday!

Here’s a hint of what’s to come:


Have a great week!