Alma Mater

The University of California Santa Cruz (“The original authority on questioning authority”) is my alma mater, and has continued to nourish me long after she handed me my degree.  Five years ago, I was tremendously honored to be named one of this relatively new university’s “45+5″ alumni.  And coming up on the 25th, I will be participating in the 50th anniversary celebration weekend.

ALC Author's panel_final

This is open to the public, as is the evening event downtown at Bookshop Santa Cruz.  Come out, explore this flabbergastingly beautiful campus through one of the many walks, join in on one of the lectures offered, bring the kids to explore one of the events for them, and just come to celebrate a True Original of a university.

Details of my panel on writing and publishing are here, with a list of all the other events here.

Go, slugs!th

Library Love, from Laurie

I’ve written a love letter, for National Library Week, here.

Libraries are my home and my joy. Libraries were where I lived, when I was a kid. (We moved. A lot.) Now, libraries make my work possible, since I write historical novels and do a ton of research.

It’s Library Week!

Happy National Library Week!

Here at LRK Central, every year we celebrate Library Week, often asking you, gentle Reader, to write something about your relationship with libraries: “A Love Letter to My Library” was in 2009, then “My Fantasy Library”, followed by a dose of Piratical Booty. 2012 was “Thrills in the Stacks”, after which Twenty Years of LRK posed the question: “If a Martian asked you what a ‘library’ was, what would you tell him?” Last year came, “How the Beekeeper’s Apprentice Changed my Life.”

Or, as it says in The Moor:

To the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

The Santa Cruz Carnegie library, with thanks to Wikipedia.

For 2015, we’re doing things a little differently—because the hard work is already done.

It started last fall when an 8th grade teacher from Tennessee asked if I would mind (mind?!) if he and a partner built a Common Core program around The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Now, I’d always thought that Beekeeper could be a useful introduction to the Twentieth Century: World War One, the women’s movement, roots of conflict in Europe and the Middle East, the huge social and technological changes—all that plus Sherlock Holmes & villains & hansom cabs &—220px-HansomCab

well, let’s just say this is a book that I would have loved to study in school.

Now, thanks to Mr. Wilson and Ms. Russell (yes!), a generation of young Laurie R. Kings can study it—and, their teachers won’t have to reinvent this particular wheel, because these two fabulous individuals have built a unit with guided comprehension & discussion questions, vocabulary lists & worksheets, supplemental research materials, even chapter quizzes & tests, all in a ready-to-print format. (Yes, with a separate teachers’ answer packet, as well!)


What’s more, they’ve generously donated their hard labor to the world, lodging this superb study unit on my web site (where it joins the Beekeeper book discussion guide and my suggested background reading.)

I just can’t tell you how grateful and excited this makes me. Not only will it bring a lot of vulnerable young minds into contact with the Russell & Holmes gateway drug—er, book (to be fair, Beekeeper is both an ALA Notable Young Adult Book and an ALA Outstanding Book for the College Bound), it also creates another community around Mary Russell and her world: teachers eager for an excuse to teach a rousing good tale in the classroom.

So this year, to celebrate Library Week and the launch of our Common Core Beekeeper unit, we’ll focus on middle schools. I invite you and your friends to nominate any US middle school library to win a carton (28) of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Beginning Tuesday, I’ll draw the names of four of these libraries. The winners are free to hand the books out to their students, put them on the shelves, or turn them over to their teachers to accompany the Common Core guide. They can even sell them on eBay, if they’d rather have the cash.

I am truly thrilled about this whole Common Core project, and I hope you will be too, especially if you have anything to do with middle schools. Go to my web site before Friday to nominate your favorite library, and while you’re there, take a look at the Common Core unit. And as I said, please tell all your friends, especially those with middle school kids.

The nomination form is here.

The Common Core unit is here.


We Love Libraries!

The Meeting, a hundred years on


One hundred years ago, something happened. Something vastly important. An event that reverberated down the ages. If you’ve been following the Monday posts on this blog, you’ll know that two days and a hundred years ago, Miss Russell planned on taking a walk from her inherited home across the Sussex Downs to the Channel.PIC_0030

And we all know what happened next, on April 8, 1915, one hundred years ago today.

As Miss Mary Russell put it:

I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him….

It was a cool, sunny day in early April, and the book was by Virgil. I had set out at dawn from the silent farmhouse, chosen a different direction from my usual—in this case southeasterly, towards the sea—and had spent the intervening hours wrestling with Latin verbs, climbing unconsciously over stone walls, and unthinkingly circling hedgerows, and would probably not have noticed the sea until I stepped off one of the chalk cliffs into it.PIC_0051

As it was, my first awareness that there was another soul in the universe was when a male throat cleared itself loudly not four feet from me…

Or from HIS point of view:

After twelve years in Sussex, I was well accustomed to busybodies. Everyone in the county knew who I was, and although they took care to protect me from the intrusion of outsiders, they felt no compunction to offer the same protection from their own attentions. Stepping into the village shop for Mrs Hudson would bring a knowing wink and a heavy-handed jest about investigating the choices of soap powder. If I paused to examine an unfamiliar variety of shoe-print on the ground, a short time later I would look back to find a knot of villagers gazing down to see what had drawn my attention. One time, a casual remark to a passing farmer about the sky—that a storm would arrive by midnight—led to a near-panic throughout the Downland community, until the farmer’s wife had the sense to ring Mrs Hudson and ask if I’d actually intended to warn him that the Kaiser’s troops were lying offshore, waiting for dark.

Only the pub had proved safe ground: When an Englishman orders a pint, his privacy is sacrosanct.

Every so often, perhaps once a year, I would become aware of what is known as a “fan.” These were generally village lads with too much time on their hands and too many penny-dreadful novels on their shelves. Trial and error had shown that a terse lecture on personal rights coupled with a threat to speak to their fathers would send them on their way.

Now, it seemed, I had another one.

PIC_0027And thus, it begins

The BUZZZZZ about Library Week!


Next week is National Library Week here in the USofA—with a theme of, “Unlimited possibilities @ your library®”—and this year, wishing to explore those possibilities, we’re doing something a little different. Yes, there will be giveaways, but—we’ll focus on middle schools.

Do you have a middle school student in your family? Do you teach middle school? Know a middle school library, teacher, student…? Nominate your favorite middle school here.

This is in preparation for:

A Very Exciting Project!

…that we’ll introduce next week.

In the meantime, go nominate your favorite (US) library, one that’s either located in a middle school, or that provides a lot of middle school programs, here.  And please please let everyone know about this.  They might win a carton of Beekeepers!