Where I’ll Be


In addition to writing books, I’m the director of development for the urban reforestation organization Tree Fredericksburg, which has planted nearly 6,000 new trees in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area over the past several years, with a goal of 10,000 to increase the tree canopy by at least 5 percent in the city. Check out the Tree Fred web site for information on the myriad–and crucial–benefits of more trees in urban areas.

I’m also one of the founders of the nonprofit Yoga Foundation of Fredericksburg, which brings free yoga classes to juvenile offenders, young people struggling with emotional and developmental issues, teachers, preschoolers, military families, families, and others who may benefit from yoga but might not have the means or access to yoga classes or a yoga studio. YOFO provides 40-50 free and donation classes every month in the Fredericksburg area, and we’ve recently opened a new studio in the city at 1403 Franklin Street. Here’s a link to our web site, yogafredericksburgva.com. All classes are donation-based, pay-what-you-can-afford, with revenue going to those outreach classes in the community.


If you’re interested in having me speak at your school or organization, or conduct writing workshops–for adults and/or YA readers and writers–you can email me at swatkins000@gmail.com, or call at 540-842-2066.

Recent talks: “Why (and How) Librarians Should Write Their Own Books,” “Dead in India: The Failures of Memoir,” “Writing a Unitarian Universalist Novel,” “Turning Life Into Fiction, or How Goat Girl Became What Comes After,” “Population Control: How To Populate Your Stories, and Give Life to All Your Characters,” “Ten Things To Remember About Killing Characters in YA Fiction,” and “How the Library Saved My Life.”


Thursday, October 20, 2016, Virginia Association of School Librarians conference, Norfolk, VA.

Thursday and Friday, July 12 and 22, 2016, Longwood University Summer Literacy Institute, Longwood, VA.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 1:30 p.m., Colin Powell Elementary School, Centreville, VA.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 9:30 a.m., Springfield Estates Elementary School, Springfield, VA.

Sunday, June 12, 2016, 1:30 p.m., Judge for Griffin World Thieves Poetry Slam, Market Square, Fredericksburg, VA.

Saturday, June 11, 2016, Reading and book talk and signing, Barnes & Noble, Fredericksburg, VA., 12:30.

Friday, June 10, 2016, Graduation speaker, Gladys Oberle School, Fredericksburg, VA.

Friday, June 3, 2016, Gayle Middle School, Stafford, VA.

Saturday, April 30, 2016, Noon-2 p.m., Costco Book Signing, Fredericksburg, VA.

April 19-22, 2016, Texas Library Association, Houston, TX, Annual Conference. Panel: “Trends in Mental Illness in YA Literature.”

Friday, April 8, 2016, South County High School, Lorton, VA.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 5:45-6:45 p.m. Book Signing at Hooray for Books!, 1115 King Street, Alexandria, VA

Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Cora Kelly School, Alexandria, VA

Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Bush Hill Elementary School, Alexandria, VA

Saturday, March 12, 2016, Keynote workshop panel, Northern Virginia Writing Project Language and Learning Conference.

Thursday, Feb. 11-Monday, Feb. 15, Renaissance Weekend in Santa Monica, CA, invited attendee.

Thursday and Friday, Nov. 19 an 20, Authors event and workshop, Virginia Association of School Librarians, Williamsburg, VA.

December 9, 2015, Skype visit with Dual Enrollment English students at Rock Ridge High School, Loudon County, VA.

November 18, 2015, Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School, Stafford, VA.

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 6-8 p.m. YAVA! at Richmond Public Library. Book talks and signings.

Saturday, Oct. 10, 2 p.m., Rappahannock Reading Council, Conway Elementary School, Stafford, VA. Featured speaker.

Saturday, Oct. 3, 10 a.m., Fall for the Book, George Mason University. Reading and book signing.

Sunday, May 3, 6 p.m., Featured speaker, Richmond (VA) Area Reading Council Banquet

Wednesday, April 29, Dixon-Smith Middle School, Stafford, VA

Monday, April 20 and Tuesday, April 21, Lafayette Upper Elementary School, Fredericksburg, VA

Wednesday, April 15, Battlefield Middle School, Spotsylvania, VA

Saturday, April 11, 11-2, Book signing at Jabberwocky Books, 810 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, VA

Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, England Run Library, YA novel-writing workshop, 10-11:45, Stafford, Virginia.

Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, Riverbend High School, Spotsylvania, Virginia

Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, Virginia Children’s Book Festival, Longwood University, Farmville, Virginia.

Sunday, Sept. 14 10:30 a.m., Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg. “Lessons from Juvie: The Neverending Search for Meaning”

July 20, 2014, Mount Vernon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 10 a.m.

May 12, 2014, Smoot Library, King George, VA, 7 p.m.

April 30, 2014, Dixon-Smith Middle School, Stafford County, Virginia

April 1, 2014, Mountain View High School, Stafford, Va.

March 5, 2014, University of Mary Washington ElderStudy

February 6 and 11, 2014, Brooke Point High School, Stafford, Va.

Some time in the fall, 2013, Water Street Studio, Fredericksburg, Va.

Thursday, Oct. 17, Teen ’13, Richmond Public Library, , 6-8:30, 101 E. Franklin St., Richmond, VA.

Thursday, Sept. 26, University of Hawaii-Manoa, Veterans and PTSD workshops with faculty, staff, and student-veterans.

March 19, 2013. “This Life: A Work in Progress,” ElderStudy, University of Mary Washington, 1-3 p.m. Location TBD.

Feb. 22-23, 2013, Christopher Newport University Writer’s Conference. I’ll be leading a couple of writing workshops on Saturday, Feb. 23, on nonfiction writing and writing YA fiction. (And hope to squeeze in a quick drive by the Virginia Baptist Home where my grandmother, who we called Viva, lived to be 107. Still miss her).


10 Responses to Where I’ll Be

  1. Jimbo says:

    I love ghosts of war. soooo cool. Anderson is a great character. I hope you will make more books in the series maybe a civil war ghost or Afghanistan war ghost

  2. swatkins says:

    Thanks so much, Jimbo. I actually just finished writing Book #4 of the Ghosts of War, and it is a Civil War ghost book. That will be out probably in March of next year. Book #3, which is also finished, will probably be out in December, and it’s another World War II book–about the war in North Africa. Meanwhile I’m looking into subjects for Books #5 and #6, and was actually thinking one of them might be about the war in Afghanistan or Iraq. We’ll see. Thanks for the suggestions. Have a great summer.

  3. no name says:

    your first two books are fantastic

  4. Cifka T. says:

    My 8 year old son and I love your Ghosts of War series and have read all four of them. It’s a great introduction to history and the fact that “real” people lived those stories that are often very flat, and impersonal in a text book, and that those real people weren’t always generals or presidents; they were often young men, their wives, siblings, parents, etc. We live in Virginia and would like to take a trip to Fredericksburg this summer to see some of the places mentioned in your book, “Fallen in Fredericksburg.” Do you have suggestions for “must-sees” for a day trip?

  5. Brendan says:

    Love your Ghosts Of War series!!! You rock!

  6. swatkins says:

    Thanks a lot, Brendan. Hope your school year is rocking, too!

  7. Alexis Drumm says:

    Sink or swim is a really good story

  8. Alexis Drumm says:

    I love sink or swim the book ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  9. swatkins says:

    Thanks, Alexis. That’s a lot of question marks!

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