Upcoming Events

Signing at Barnes and Noble, Ellicott City, MD

Saturday, December 7 from 10 AM-11:30 AM

Long Gate Shopping Center
4300 Montgomery Road
Ellicott City, MD 21043

Come on in to purchase signed copies of NITA’S FIRST SIGNS, SHE SPOKE: 14 WOMEN WHO RAISED THEIR VOICES AND CHANGED THE WORLD, SWORD AND VERSE, and DAGGER AND COIN! Signed books make great holiday gifts! Children’s book authors (including my pal Veronica Bartles) will be appearing at the store all day, so stop in and say hi!

FREE Webinar: Formatting Your Manuscript for Submission

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 7 PM Eastern/6 PM Central/5 PM Mountain/4 PM Pacific Where: Online via Zoom                       Cost: FREE!

Fonts and headers and page breaks, oh my! Join me for a visual guide to all the nitty-gritty details of how to format your manuscript for submission using Microsoft Word. We’ll go over best practices for submissions, as well as how-tos for creating headers and footers, inserting page numbers, setting font and line spacing, and more.

Note: Tickets to attend this event live are sold out, but you can sign up to receive a free link to the recording here: https://mddewv.scbwi.org/events/webinar-formatting-your-manuscript-for-submission-with-kathy-macmillan/

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It’s UK Release Day for the DAGGER AND COIN paperback!

Dagger and Coin publishes in the United Kingdom today in paperback! Get your copy now:



To celebrate, I am running a swag pack  giveaway on Twitter (open internationally) between now and December 5!

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Registration now open for Winter/Spring eCourses for Librarians and Educators!

Registration is now open for upcoming sessions of my popular eCourses through the American Library Association!

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff eCourse begins January 13, 2020.

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse begins March 2, 2020.

Purchase both courses as a bundle and save! See below for more information about each course.

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, May 20, 2019 (6 weeks of lessons; Participants will have a total of 12 weeks to complete course materials)
Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.
Cost: $250.00 (discounts available for American Library Association members and bulk registrations)


Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)
Click here to register.

American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world. Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.

Past attendees say:

“This course has been invaluable to me. I have spent countless hours reviewing all of the video, re-reading the lessons, and just generally trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could. The instructor was a gem in the way that she provided comprehensive answers to questions, feedback, tips and resources.”

“While I had taken ASL many years ago, this class has expanded my vocabulary and boosted my confidence in my abilities. I think it helped that this class specifically addressed situations I might encounter here at work.”

“This has been a great introduction to both the language and the culture!”

“This class was interesting, informative, and entertaining. It opened my eyes to a variety of ideas and concepts that can only make me a better librarian as well as a better person. I thought things were well organized and presented in an ordered and logical fashion, each lesson building on the one before.”

“Ms. MacMillan provided timely feedback to all responses, questions, and comments during the entire course.  Her answers show the mastery of content knowledge and her response time shows how much she cares about her students and the topic she is teaching. This was one of the best online courses I have taken, and I will highly recommend this course to others.”

Register now for Basic ASL for Library Staff

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle


Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, March 2, 2020 and continuing for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.)

$250.00 (discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this new 6-week eCourse, Sign Language expert Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

Feedback from past participants:

“One of the most well-organized and rewarding professional development courses I’ve taken.”

“Kathy is an amazing instructor. She made learning online very easy and comfortable. She replied quickly when students had questions and she responded with feedback with videos to help sign better.”

“I am amazed. It couldn’t have gone better. I came away learning many signs I can use and gained some helpful information for my storytimes.”

“The instructor was phenomenal, and I am already incorporating course work into everyday interactions in the library. Everything in the course is relevant and beneficial.”

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle

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Featured Programs for Summer Reading 2020

The Collaborative Summer Reading Theme for 2020 is: Imagine Your Story, featuring fairy tales, mythology, and fantasy

I’ve got you covered with programs for all ages that fit the theme!

For all ages: Once Upon a Sign

Come away to a land of kings and dragons, queens and castles, and learn signs through stories and songs of magic. Learn about Deaf Culture as we visit the land of Eyeth, where we use our hands and eyes to communicate. Bring the whole family – and your fairy godmother too! – for the hands-on fun with Kathy MacMillan, author of Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together.


This program can be presented as an all-ages program, or adapted to a baby, toddler, preschooler, or school-age audience. (Program runs 40-60 minutes depending on audience.)

Cost: $350 per program plus mileage; discounts available for multiple bookings. Click here for complete rates and booking information.


For teens and/or adults: Storybuilding Workshop

No matter what your genre, a rich palette of details brings the world of your story to life.  In this hands-on workshop, Kathy MacMillan, author of Sword and Verse and Dagger and Coin (HarperTeen), shows how to focus on the specifics you need at each stage of the writing process to build your characters’ world without ever losing sight of the story at its heart.

2 hour workshop: $400 plus travel expenses. Click here for complete rates and booking information.


And a FREE bonus!

Book either program and ask about a FREE same-day Meet the Author program for Kathy’s children’s nonfiction book, She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World (Familius Press) and/or her young adult fantasy novels, Sword and Verse and Dagger and Coin (HarperTeen)! (Subject to scheduling availability.)




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Coming Up in November: The Great American Sign Language Mystery




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Take the Read Local Challenge!

I’m thrilled to be participating in the 2019/2020 Read Local Challenge, sponsored by the MD/DE/WV Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators!

Discover books by people who live in your own state – maybe even your own neighborhood! Our Read Local Challenge features traditionally-published authors and illustrators from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.


How to Join the Read Local Challenge:

Choose a challenge level, and start reading!

Read one book or two … or five … or every book in your selected challenge level (picture book, middle grade, or young adult). You can even take the ultimate challenge and read all 38 books!

Join in the state-by-state Reading Race!

Tell us which books you have read, individually or with a team. Our interactive map will update within 5-10 minutes to tell us which state has the most frequent readers. (If your whole team / family / class reads a book together, you get to count it once for each member of your team!) Then nominate a school or library near you to win a selection of signed books from us. One school / library in the winning state will win the grand prize!

Fill your Read Local Challenge Passport and redeem it for an amazing reward!

Pick up a Read Local Challenge Passport bookmark from your participating school, library, or bookstore. Fill the required number of passport spaces by reading books from our Read Local Challenge list, attending events to meet local authors and illustrators, visiting your library, and more.

Meet a local author or illustrator at one of our events!

Check out the Read Local Challenge events calendar to find us at our already-scheduled events. Or host one of our Read Local Parties and invite one of our authors or illustrators for a FREE, informal Q&A event either in-person or via Skype call.

Make it a competition!

Gather a group of friends together, or challenge your class (or even your whole school)! Teachers, Librarians, & Group Leaders: Request your FREE Read Local Challenge Starter Kit. You will receive Read Local Challenge posters, passport bookmarks, stickers, and small prizes such as postcards, buttons, etc. While supplies last, you will receive a FREE signed copy of a Read Local Challenge book. Who will win the grand prize in your challenge? It’s your challenge! You get to decide the rules!






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Comings and Goings

What a wild October it’s been so far! My house has been on the market for nearly a year, and it finally sold – with less than 2 weeks to pack everything up and move out! I am so grateful to the friends and family members who have rallied behind me to help pack everything up, move it out, and offered soft places to land while we wait to get into our new place.

Suffice it to say, last weekend looked a lot like this:

Gif of Ross Geller from Friends moving a couch up the steps and shouting, "Pivot!"



I just finished up the fourth and last book in the Chronicles of Cavallon series (publishing in German as Clans von Cavallon under the pen name Kim Forester). Working on this series has been a wonderful experience, and I will miss my centaur, unicorn, pegasus, and kelpie friends. The first two books are out now.



Critique Services Now Available

“You use too many exclamation points, human.”

I’ve also decided to hang up my shingle to offer query letter, synopsis, and manuscript critiques. Check out my critiques page for more information and rates.


Upcoming Programs

The Great ASL Mystery

  • Cascades Library (Potomac Falls, VA): Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 4 PMphoto photo of Kathy MacMillan in an overcoat and fedora, holding a magnifying glass
  • Rust Library (Leesburg, VA): Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 4 PM
  • Purcellville Library (Purcellville, VA): Saturday, November 9 at 3 PM
  • Gum Spring Library (Stone Ridge, VA): Wednesday, November 13 at 4 PM
  • Ashburn Library (Ashburn, VA): Tuesday, November 26 at 4 PM

Where did American Sign Language come from? Flex your fingers and join in the hunt for clues as sign language detective Kathy MacMillan leads silly stories, songs, and more. Kathy is the author of Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together. More info at https://library.loudoun.gov


The SIGN-a-Long Sing-a-long

  • George Mason Regional Library (Annandale, VA): Saturday, November 2 at 10:30 AMPhoto of Kathy MacMillan with musical notes coming out of ehr hands

Teach your fingers how to sing as we explore American Sign Language through music and stories! Bring the whole family for the hands-on fun as signing (and singing) storyteller Kathy MacMillan, author of Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together teaches you to sign some of your favorite songs.



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Read This!: OUR YEAR IN LOVE AND PARTIES by Karen Hattrup

Our Year in Love and PartiesOur Year in Love and Parties by Karen Hattrup
Summary: Tucker knows that some relationships take work. With his best friend, Bobby, and his mom, everything is simple, steady. His dad, on the other hand, seems to only show up when he wants to bring Tucker down. Then there’s Erika Green, who comes back into his life, stirring up old feelings. A small part of him knows he shouldn’t get too attached during senior year. But a bigger part doesn’t want her to disappear again. Erika from before the video loved to shock people. Now, she just wants to hole up in her quiet college life and leave the past where it belongs—in a dumpster fire. But then she reconnects with Tucker Campanelli. Erika can’t explain what it is about him. There’s just this undeniable connection between them, and she really doesn’t want to lose that feeling. Not yet.

To be honest, I am not a party person. Whenever I see one of those rom-coms where people are dancing on tables or playing beer pong, I cringe – because the idea of being around a big group of people, most of them drunk, is not now and never has been my idea of fun. But Karen Hattrup’s new novel, Our Year in Love and Parties, goes far beyond the “party night” tropes of teen books and movies to explore the evolving relationship of its two main characters – the sensitive Tucker and the jaded Erika. It’s a clever device, to set the story up in parties on four nights throughout the year (end of summer, Christmas, spring, and the end of the school year), but by drawing on the ebb and flow of teenage lives, Hattrup’s sensitive portrayal goes much deeper than the calendar. Though Erika and Tucker’s relationship is the throughline of the story, we see it in context of the myriad other relationships swirling around the two of them – complicated family dynamics, friendships made and lost and repaired, romances and hookups and everything in between. (And Hattrup excels at creating lovable, memorable side characters who make me wish they each had a starring role in their own novels.) Like Hattrup’s debut, the excellent, lyrical Frannie and Tru, Our Year in Love and Parties captures the sense of fleeting magic in adolescence, when everything is changing but the possibilities are endless.


View all my reviews

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See you this Sunday at the MD Renaissance Festival!

I’ll be signing at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, MD this Sunday!  Hope to see you there!

FB_IMG_1472502550592Sunday, October 6,  11 AM-5 PM: Maryland Renaissance Festival: Visiting Author at Page After Page Bookstore

Come learn to write your name in the language of the gods and get your signed copy of Sword and Verse and Dagger and Coin! October 9 is also Deaf Awareness Day at the festival, so I will also be signing Nita’s First Signs. Find me at the author tent across from Page After Page Bookstore (inside the festival village). More about the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

    Nita's First Signs final cover

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Coming soon in paperback: DAGGER AND COIN!

Dagger and Coin releases in paperback on October 15! To celebrate, my cat Mary helped me out with this introspective photoshoot:

And I’m also celebrating with a giveaway over on Twitter!


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