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Skaneateles: Telling tales in school

It came to her in a dream.

A disembodied arm floating through the night, armed with a pen and a message -- "You are going to die ... tomorrow night ... at ten o'clock," children's author Cynthia DeFelice of Geneva told the fourth-graders at State Street School last Thursday.

From that dream, DeFelice created her first book, "The Strange Night Writing of Jessamine Colter," and also a long career as an accomplished author and storyteller.

Bringing life to her stories, DeFelice was in Skaneateles for the annual State Street School Visiting Author Day sponsored by the PTC and greeted children in all grade levels during presentations throughout the day. Along with telling the children why she decided to become an author, and how hard it can be to write stories, she also told them one of the stories she wrote, "Three Perfect Peaches," verbatim from memory.

"I love days like this because most days I'm at home by myself," DeFelice told the fourth-graders. "It's kind of nice because I don't have to get dressed up to go to work."

She's also her own boss, one of the perks of being an author, and "I have a really nice boss," she told the kids, who promptly laughed and understood exactly what DeFelice meant.

Being home all day by herself sounds lonely, but she isn't alone. DeFelice has the characters from her books -- more than 30 in all and ranging in reader levels -- to keep her company because they feel real. And if they feel real to the author, they are bound to feel real to the reader, who she always looks forward to meeting.

"I'm always thinking about you when I'm writing," DeFelice said. "I love to tell stories as much as I like to write them."

Being an author, DeFelice often gets asked questions about her writing. Most often she is asked, "How'd you end up being a writer anyway?" she told the children, along with "How do you know what to write about?" and "Of all those books, which one's your favorite?"

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