Whether the audience is familiar with my books or not, it’s always a blast to talk to middle-graders. School and library visits are a great way to meet the audience I write for and hear about their reading experiences.

My books are mysteries centered around lighthouses in Michigan and North Carolina. Each place has it’s own trilogy of books (and puzzle books), but the four main characters (Becky, Sam, Mom, and Dad) are the same. The books are geared toward third graders to read on their own, but have been very successful as read aloud for all middle grades.

My next trilogy will be set in Northern California, so I am now in the process of selecting and researching lighthouses while looking for information to weave into the stories.

Most of my visits are a combination of various activities. I am happy to work with you to schedule the best visit for your students at your school. Take a look at some of the ways I’ve spent my visits at other schools.

The length of assemblies is flexible, but each one usually includes 20 minutes of presentation (lots of it interactive with the students) and then 10 minutes for Q&A. I can do up to two assemblies in one day—a good choice if you have a big group that can be divided, for example, into upper and lower grades. Smaller groups let me tailor the presentation to each age group. I also get to interact more with the students!

All of my assembly presentations begin with information about me, my books, and how I started writing, and then segue into a 20-minute presentation about the topic you’ve chosen. I’ve listed a few possible topics here:

  • How an idea becomes a book (the process of taking your idea and the work involved in making it into a book).
  • Why <good> writing is important (the problems that can arise when writing isn’t available or isn’t good)
  • Painting pictures with your words (why finding and using just the right words is so important)
  • Picking the right lighthouse (pre-research and problems you can encounter if you don’t make the right choice)

The estimated cost for one assembly is $500; two smaller assemblies start at $750.* This includes a set of all 6 books for your library.

Book Signings

Any of my books ordered as a result of my visit will be signed and personalized in advance. An onsite signing (where I sign books as they are brought to the table) is also an option. It can happen during library time or during lunch or recess. Students who have purchased books come to a table to pick up their books and I sign them there. I love this because it gives me a chance to chat with students individually–one of my favorite things.

Books are made available to students at a discounted price. The cost for an onsite signing is $250.* This includes a set of all 6 books for your library.

Fundraising opportunities.

Media centers, PTAs, and other groups can take orders for books that I will personalize and sign. Your cost will be at a 30% fundraising discount. You can take half of that discount for your organization and pass the other half onto the students, or use a split that works better for you.

For example, most of my books retail for $9.95. The cost to you would be $7.00, and you can make them available to students for $8.00 (or 8.50 if you want to split the discount 50-50). Because I am selling the books to you and you are re-selling them, I don’t have to charge sales tax. There is no additional charge for this, however, your school will be responsible for collecting money and coordinating book deliveries. (I have a form for you to use to make it easier.)

* Please note that prices are negotiable based on individual circumstances and numbers of students. Funding for author visits is often available through the PTA or other reading associations. For more information, please contact Celeste Tillson at

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