Sydney Dunlap’s author visit to Belmont Ridge Middle School was a hit! It Happened on Saturday was Loudoun County Public Library’s 2023 1book 1community selection and is an essential novel for middle school aged through adult readers.  Sydney easily fosters a connection with her audience, and her conversational style immediately puts them at ease. Sydney’s interactive questions got students thinking about social media in a way that related to the novel and to students’ own lives.  Sydney integrates plot details with an important segue into encouraging healthy outlets and an awareness of social media’s hidden dangers.  Along with students, many staff members, administrators, and the school resource officer were also eager to attend the assembly.  This author visit was so memorable for our community of readers!

-Linda Gwinn-Casey & Annette Kessler, Belmont Ridge Middle School (Leesburg, VA)

From the moment I read It Happened on Saturday, I knew it had to be in the hands of my students in grades 5-8 immediately!  Few books capture a topic that is so scary and real in a way that is so incredibly appropriate for students in middle school.  Sydney’s visit to our school was the icing on the cake.  She is an educator at heart and her presentation was engaging and relevant to our students in all grades.  Now I can’t keep her book on the shelf because so many students want to read it!

-Rebecca Jelen, Kent Middle School (Kentfield, CA)

Sydney Dunlap’s virtual visit with our students was wonderful! She included interactive portions that were both engaging and informative. The content was specifically tailored for our 6th-8th grade students. After her visit, students checked out all of our copies of It Happened on Saturday and we had to begin a lengthy holds list! Ms. Dunlap was also very responsive, professional, and a joy to work with. We are so grateful to have had Ms. Dunlap visit our school.

-Paige Classey Przybylski, Polson Middle School (Madison, CT)

This year we had the pleasure and privilege of hosting author, Sydney Dunlap. During her first visit, she spoke with a small group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders about It Happened on Saturday, the writing process, and about on-line safety.  We were all so impacted by the session that we knew we had to schedule an event involving the whole school.  

She returned to hold 6 mini-sessions with ALL of our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders focusing on on-line safety.  Ms. Dunlap addresses students from the perspective of a former teacher, a mother, and an author – shaping her techniques that completely engaged the audience.  

Ms. Dunlap was responsive to student questions, making students feel heard and aware of what they can do to keep themselves safe on-line.  I highly recommend her presentation and novel to middle schools…and would love to have her return a third time!

Jennifer Maulfair, J.L. Simpson Middle School (Leesburg, VA)

I’ve been teaching for 35 years, and I’ve never seen a book that has captivated students the way It Happened on Saturday has.

“Can I take it home for the weekend to read?” “Can I stay in at lunch and read?” “I wish I could skip my next class and read the rest of this chapter,” were just some of the comments I’ve heard over the past two weeks. 

Sydney Dunlap has produced a book for middle school kids that mainlines interest and importance in a masterful way. Dead reckoning silence and laser focus isn’t something you often see in a middle school classroom, especially when the focus is on extended reading. Not so when the kids had It Happened On Saturday in their hands. 

It’s created a buzz in our school that is unprecedented. 

-Matt Hamilton, Good Shepherd Lutheran School (Novato, CA)

Some Upcoming Events:

Meet the Author Night
Wednesday, June 5 from 6:30-8:30 PM: St. Laurence Parish Library, Sugar Land, TX (in-person)

PA nErD Camp 2023
Friday, July 12 from 10:15-11:15 AM: Breakout Session on The Gap in the Shelf: Creating Compelling Content Featuring Tough Topics for Upper MG Readers (virtual)

NCTE Annual Convention
Thursday, November 21-Sunday, November 24: Panel – Social Media: Pluses, Minuses, and Middle Grade Novels That Help Students Sort It All Out – Boston, MA (in-person)

Some Recent Events:

Anne M. Dorner Middle School Author Visit
Tuesday, May 7 at 1:00 pm: Ossining, NY (virtual)

All Alexandria Reads Author Event
Tuesday, April 23 at 5 pm: Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch Library at 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA (in-person)

Kensington Day of the Book Festival
Sunday, April 21 from 11-4 pm: Oldtown Kensington, MD (in-person)

Texas Library Association Annual Conference
Thursday, April 18 11:30-12: Book signing with North Star Editions

The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival
Sunday, April 14 at 3 pm: Town Green Park, The Woodlands, TX (in-person)

Fort Bend Bookapalooza 2024
Saturday, April 13 from 9AM – 2 PM at Dulles Middle School 500 Dulles Avenue, Sugar Land, TX (in-person)

Maryland/Delaware Library Association Annual Conference
Wednesday, April 10: Gap in the Shelf – Upper Middle Grade Panel (virtual)

Prospect Sierra Middle School Author Visit
Monday, April 8: 960 Avis Dr, El Cerrito, CA (in-person)

Awesome Con Author Panel
Sunday, March 10: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington DC (in-person)

Belmont Ridge Middle School Visit
Wednesday, March 6: 19045 Upper Belmont Pl, Leesburg, VA (in-person)

Loudoun Country Day School Visit
Tuesday, March 5 at 1:15 pm: 20600 Red Cedar Dr, Leesburg, VA (in-person)

J.L. Simpson Middle School Visit
Monday, March 4: 490 Evergreen Mills Rd, Leesburg, VA (in-person)

Birch Tree Bookstore Author Signing
Friday, March 1 at 6 pm: 11 W Market St, Leesburg, VA

Write This! Author Interview Show
Wednesday, January 24 at 2:00 pm CST on Instagram Live (virtual)

John Cooper School 19th Annual Signatures Author Series
Friday, December 1 at 10 am: Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center (in-person)

Barnes & Noble The Woodlands Signing
Saturday, November 18 at 1 pm: The Woodlands Mall, The Woodlands, TX

Robert Frost Middle School Author Visit
Tuesday, November 7 at 9:55 am: 9201 Scott Drive Rockville, MD (in-person)

Barnes & Noble Annapolis Harbor Center Signing
Sunday, November 5 at 12 pm: 2516 Solomons Island Rd, Annapolis, MD

Loudoun County 1book 1community Program
Saturday, November 4 at 1 pm: Rust Library, Leesburg, VA – Author Presentation and Book Signing (in-person)

J.L. Simpson Middle School Author Visit
Friday, November 3 at 1 pm: 490 Evergreen Mills Rd, Leesburg, VA (in-person)

Virginia Association of School Librarians Annual Fall Conference
Friday, November 3 at 8 am: Chantilly, VA – Tween/Teen Author Panel (in-person)

Loudoun County 1book 1community Program
Thursday, November 2 at 7 pm: Live Interview (online)

Virginia Association of School Librarians Annual Fall Conference
Thursday, November 2 from 7:15-10 am: signing (in-person)

American Association of School Librarians National Conference
Saturday, October 21 from 1-1:50 pm: Tampa, FL – Featured Panel – Tackling Serious Topics with Tweens (in-person)

Barnes & Noble One Loudoun Signing
Saturday, July 29 from 1-4 pm: 20427 Exchange St, Ashburn, VA

Hooray for Books! Author Panel with Heather Murphy Capps, Maria Jose Fitzgerald, and Meg Eden Kuyatt 
Thursday, July 20 at 5 pm: 1555 King St, Alexandria, VA (in-person)

Columbus Book Festival
Saturday – Sunday, July 15-16: Columbus, OH Main Library -Featured Panel Sunday at 3 pm – Kids vs. The World: Tough Topics in Kid Lit (in-person)

nErD Camp 2023
Friday, July 14  at 1:15 pm EST: Breakout Session Panel on Tough Topics in MG/YA (virtual)

Tomball Library Author Fest
Saturday, June 24 at 11 am: Lone Star College – Tomball Community Library (in-person)

Buy the Book Author Event
Saturday, June 10 at 2 pm: 25162 Grogans Park Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77380 (in-person)

Middle Grade Debut Panel
Saturday, May 27 at 1 pm: YouTube – Utopia State of Mind (virtual)

It’s All Write Teen Writing Program
Friday, May 26 at 9:45 am: Heritage High School, Leesburg, VA (in-person)

Conversation with Debut Authors
Sunday, May 21 at 2 pm: The Cellar Door Bookstore, Riverside, CA (virtual)

All Nations Community School Author Event
Friday, May 5 at 9 am: Oak Ridge North, TX (in-person)

Book Passage Author Event
Saturday, April 29 at 4 pm: 51 Tamal Vista Blvd. Corte Madera, CA (in-person)

Good Shepherd Lutheran School Author Visit
Friday, April 28: Novato, CA (in-person)

Davidson Middle School Author Visit
Thursday, April 27: San Rafael, CA (in-person)

Kent Middle School Author Visit
Wednesday, April 26: Kentfield, CA (in-person)

Texas Library Association 2023 Annual Conference
Thursday, April 20 at 1 pm: Book signing with SCBWI
Friday, April 21 at 12:30 pm: Book signing with North Star Editions

Polson Middle School Author Event
Wednesday, April 19 at 8:50 am: Madison, CT (virtual)

Scrawl Books Author Event
Friday, March 31 at 6 pm: 11911 Freedom Dr, Reston, VA 20190 (in-person)

Broad Run High School Information Session
Thursday, March 30: Ashburn, VA (in-person)

Rocky Run Middle School Author Visit
Tuesday, March 28 and Wednesday, March 29: Chantilly, VA (in-person)

Buy the Book Local Author Book Fair
Saturday, March 11 from 1-5 pm: 25162 Grogans Park Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77380 (in-person)

SCBWI Houston: What Happens Next with Agent Ann Rose of The Tobias Literary Agency
Monday, March 6 at 7 pm: Tracy Gee Community Center  3599 Westcenter Dr, Houston, TX 77042-5213 (hybrid)

In-person Launch for It Happened on Saturday
Saturday, February 25 at 4 pm: Buy the Book Independent Bookstore 25162 Grogans Park Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77380

Virtual Launch for It Happened on Saturday
Tuesday, February 21 at 7 pm CST: Buy the Book Independent Bookstore

Presentations and Workshops:

As a former elementary school teacher and current tutor, I love connecting with students! I offer a variety of presentations and workshops for different ages. 

If you’re a teacher and there’s a specific area you’d like as a focus, just let me know, and I can find a way to work it in! For details about rates, please contact me on my form. 

Online Safety Awareness

This interactive program provides age-appropriate information about online safety in our increasingly digital world. 

Grades: 5 and up
Group size: Any
Format: In-person or virtual

Ask the Author

How does a book go from an idea in your head to a finished product you can hold in your hand? We’ll talk about that, as well as the importance of finding and following your dreams, and the persistence and hard work that go into making them come true. Please come prepared with questions, because I am excited to answer them!

Grades: Any
Group Size: Any
Format: In-person or virtual

Writing Workshops

Tackling the Writing Process

Tips from a longtime teacher-turned-author on how to do your very best at every stage of the writing process.

Writing with Style

Ideas from an author on how to make your writing the very best it can be! We’ll talk about how characterization, voice, imagery, and word choice can take your writing to the next level.

These workshops incorporate a variety of curriculum standards, and I can tailor them even more specifically to individual group/classroom needs!

Grades: 5 and up
Group size: Class or smaller
Format: In-person or virtual

Community Internet Safety/Human Trafficking Awareness

An interactive, multi-media presentation for high school students, parents, teachers, and anyone else who’d like to learn more about the risks of human trafficking, signs to look out for, and how we can all be aware and proactive as we strive to keep our young people safe.

Webinars and Conference Presentations for Writers

Creating Compelling Characters

We will discuss strategies and tips to make your characters come to life so they will (practically) jump off the page!

Finding Your Voice

We will talk about different points of view (and the pros and cons of each), as well as how other choices (such as use of past or present tense) can shape your story. We will discuss using all five senses to ground your reader in the scene, as well as the importance of balance between description and narrative. We will also delve into the revision process and how it can make your voice sparkle.

Writing about Tough Topics for Young Readers

We will discuss how to explore tough topics in an honest, compassionate, kid-friendly way for middle grade readers, along with bridging the gap between middle grade and YA.

Group size: Any
Format: In-person or virtual

Kent Middle School, Kentfield, CA

Rocky Run Middle School, Chantilly, VA