Tag Archives: YA

All About Author Visits

All About Author Visits

Today’s article is for teachers and librarians and media specialists as well as for authors of books for children and teens.

When my children were in school, occasionally a form came home explaining that an author was visiting the school and my child could purchase a book which would be signed by the author.

We never bought the books. We were on a budget. Most of my childrens’ books came from the library or the Scholastic book club flyers. I didn’t really get what author visits were all about.

author visit; Jeff Kinney

Author Jeff Kinney visits Malcolm X School; photo by Mark Coplan; used under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

The next time I heard about author visits was in 2004 when I attended the Maui Writers’ Conference. I heard a talk by Christopher Paolini, who wrote Eragon when he was a home-schooled 15-year-old. His family originally self-published the book, and they traveled around to Renaissance festivals to market it, often standing in the rain all day to sell two books. Somehow he stumbled on the idea of offering to do a presentation at a school. His appearance was a success, and word spread among school librarians, who were happy to have him come to talk to kids about writing fantasy in exchange for book sales. The audience for his book multiplied, buzz got out, and Alfred A. Knopf snatched up Eragon and gave Paolini a contract for three more books.

After I returned to teaching, I got to attend some fabulous author visits at my elementary school. Now I understand what a win-win-win enterprise author visits are for students, teachers, and writers.

The best author visits are the ones where a large portion of the students have already read at least one of the author’s books (which are especially beloved by children of all ages and their teachers and the media specialists because they are so well-written and relevant), and the teachers have read at least portions of a book to or with their classes, and the author is prepared with an engaging educational presentation and activities that tie in to the state standards.

Author visits can be arranged through several different avenues:

  1. Through publishers. Most large publishers maintain lists of their authors who are willing to visit schools and libraries. There is a cost for this service: an honorarium for the author (somewhere between $200-$5000), plus travel expenses, including mileage or transportation, lodging, and meals, depending on the distance the author travels and the length of the visit.
  2. Through bookstores. When publishers send well-known authors on book tours, each bookstore they come to for a signing has the option of arranging school visits. Since the publisher is paying the author’s expenses, no honorarium or expenses are paid by the school, but they must order a certain number of books. These can be bought by the students to be signed by the author, or purchased for the library, or for classroom sets, or any combination therof.
  3. Directly through the author. Many authors are published through small houses which do not have the resources to set up visits, or are self-published. These authors may seek out schools and libraries that they are willing to visit, or list their availability on their author website or other websites and publications. They determine their own requirements and rates for honorariums and expenses.

Author visits can take a variety of forms:

  1. The author reads and/or talks about his book.
  2. The author talks about his process of writing, where he gets his ideas, his pathway to getting the book published.
  3. The author conducts a workshop to help the students write stories or poetry.
  4. A large scale presentation in an auditorium for several grade levels.
  5. A small scale presentation for a single class.

One of the best author visits I’ve ever seen was a presentation by Jack Gantos, who wrote the Rotten Ralph and Joey Pigza books. He’s kind of nerdy-looking in his narrow tie and eyeglasses. He had a slide show with illustrations on his computer that was projected on a screen while he told stories like this one. He had our students rolling on the floor laughing.

Author visits are excellent avenues for authors who write for children and teens to promote their books. They’re great for students, especially those who have already read the books, to see that ordinary people can write meaningful stories that touch people deeply. And they’re worthwhile for teachers, because they support and enhance the teachers’ writing and literature instruction.

Author visit resources:

Do you know of an author who does wonderful presentations at schools? Do you do school visits? Have any tips? Please share in the comments below.

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First Page Blog Hop

First Page Blog Hop

This month-long blog hop is meant to answer one simple question for each participant. After reading your first 1,000 words, would a person continue reading it?

If you are so inclined, you can comment about why you would or wouldn’t continue reading–in fact, that would be wonderful.

Here are the first 997 words of my work-in-progress, The Unicornologist.7. The Unicorn in Captivity

After her father dropped her off at school on the morning of the day that would change her life forever, Hillary scanned the students assembled next to the charter bus. Her eyes zeroed in on her best friend’s newly shorn blond hair.

“Allie, your hair looks so cute. You look just like a model.”

“Just like Twiggy, to be precise.” Allie struck a pose as if on a photo shoot, showing off her apple green A-line dress with a white stripe down the front, and white go-go boots. Then she gave her friend the once over, nodding her approval of Hillary’s new floral print dress, but frowning at her sneakers. “What the heck, Hill? Keds?”

“Hey, we’re going to be doing a lot of walking at the museum—”

Allie shook her head. “It’s just like you to wear sensible shoes on a field trip. We’re going to New York City, for goodness’ sake. You could’ve upped your style for one day.”

“I think Hillary looks great,” interrupted Robin, the new boy in their class.

Hillary shot Robin a smile and then looked down, her cheeks glowing like a neon sign. She knew Allie had a crush on Robin, and out of loyalty, she tried to remain in her pretty friend’s shadow.

“And what about me?” asked Allie, batting her eyelashes.

“Spectacular, as always,” said Robin.

Their western civilizations teacher, Mr. Petersen, strode up to the door of the bus with his clipboard and began to explain the procedure for getting on board.

“He’s going alphabetically,” Allie whispered to her friends. “Since Fletcher comes before Graziano and Noone, I’ll save seats for you guys.”

By the time Hillary climbed into the bus, Robin had already taken the seat next to Allie. Hillary had to sit across the aisle from her. Just as well, thought Hillary. I’ll be able to read my book.

The bus driver turned on the radio. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me… Teenage voices joined in.

“I love that song,” Allie said to Robin.

Hillary pulled her copy of The Outsiders out of her fringed suede shoulder bag and immersed herself in Ponyboy’s world.


Much later, Hillary sensed the bus climbing up an incline. Curious, she looked up from her book. The tree-lined road seemed rural, yet she knew their destination lay near the northern tip of Manhattan, in Fort Tryon Park.

Winding ever upward, the bus rounded the final curve and pulled into a parking lot. Hillary caught her breath at her first glimpse of The Cloisters, its stone and block walls and tower rising above terraced gardens like a fairy tale castle.

“Where the heck are we?” Allie asked from across the aisle.

“I’d say medieval Europe,” Hillary replied.

The bus’s doors screeched open and Allie squeezed her way down the aisle.

“Allie, wait up,” called Robin. Hillary chuckled and shook her head. Allie loves to be first.

Once outside, Hillary savored the sweet, moist air on her skin, the first freshness she’d felt in nearly two hours. The drive from New Jersey had been a cacophony of teenage voices and snatches of rock and roll from transistor radios. Now the voices were muffled, their sound absorbed by the trees, an insignificant harmony to the symphony of birdsong. The towering trees screened the museum and blocked out the city. Except for the distant purr of New York City traffic, the students could almost be lost in virgin forest. Indeed, except for the cars and busses parked in the asphalt lot, it could be a time long past.

Worksheet and pen clutched in her hand, Hillary straggled after her classmates as they entered The Cloisters. “A treasure,” Mr. Petersen proclaimed. “You couldn’t build something like this today. It would be outrageously expensive, and this level of craftsmanship is rare anymore.”

Hillary read the introduction on her purple-printed worksheet:

The Cloisters is a collection of rooms and gardens that suggest, rather than duplicate, actual European medieval structures. The building was assembled from twelfth through fifteenth century architectural elements collected by American sculptor George Gray Barnard before 1914, when he lived in France. In western European monasteries the most important buildings were grouped around a central cloister, an open courtyard with a covered and arcaded passageway along the sides. . .*

Hillary traveled from room to room, taking her time along the route mapped out on her worksheet. Each was more beautiful than the last, with wonderful surprises to discover: paintings, carvings, stained glass windows, enclosed gardens with fountains. She wished she could have devoted the entire day just to studying the columns, each topped with its uniquely carved capital. She answered the questions on her sheet as completely as she could, sketching what she saw so she wouldn’t forget.

Apparently, her classmates didn’t find this assignment nearly as compelling as she did. Even artistic Allie had already wandered on after making fun of headless statues and frayed wall hangings.

Alone in the Hall of the Nine Heroes, Hillary glimpsed a flash of color through a doorway. She stepped closer, and spotted a tapestry of a unicorn goring a dog with its horn. Wanting to examine it, she entered the room filled with tapestries of unicorn scenes. She turned slowly in a circle, perusing the four walls. The tapestries apparently told a story, and she struggled to make sense of it.

Unicorn 1

1. The Start of the Hunt

In the first tapestry, a group of men assembled, carrying spears and restraining dogs on leashes. They appeared to be a hunting party.

The second tapestry showed a stream flowing from a fountain. Wild animals waited to drink from it. A unicorn lowered its horn into the water. Why? The hunters approached. One pointed at the unicorn. Another blew his horn.

In the next tapestry, the unicorn attempted to leap out of the spring, hunters waiting on the shore with their spears drawn.

Next, the unicorn managed to get on land. Yapping dogs surrounded it.

Sorry to end so abruptly.

*The description of The Cloisters from Hillary’s worksheet is from A Walk through the Cloisters by Bonnie Young, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978, 1988.

So, what do you think? Would you read further? Why or why not? Please comment below. And if you liked it, please click the Like button. Thanks!

Guest Post: Christina Farley on Writing YA, Gilded and Silvern, Plus Advice for Aspiring YA Authors by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Guest Post: Christina Farley on Writing YA, Gilded and Silvern, Plus Advice for Aspiring YA Authors by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Note from Andrea: Many thanks to author and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi for this wonderful article about Christina Farley. I especially love Christina’s videos. We writers can learn a lot about marketing from her. Also, I am adding the book trailer for her newest book, The Princess and the Page, to the end of this article. Enjoy!

June 5, 2017 Update: Christina Farley now has a wonderful middle grade novel out from Scholastic! See her website for more info about THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE as well as her GILDED trilogy.

I met Christina Farley through my critique group, the MiG Writers. Christy’s one of the most productive writers I know, and she recently left her teaching job so she could write fulltime.

Christina’s contemporary fantasy novel for young adults, GILDED, launched from Skyscape earlier this year. Its sequel, SILVERN, launches on September 23rd, 2014. You can read the first chapter of SILVERN here.

Other places to find Christy:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookYouTube – TumblrPinterest

Synopsis of GILDED:

Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting into a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.

Q. What was your writing process for GILDED? 

Coming up with ideas for books can be a challenge, but the idea for GILDED stemmed from the Korean myth of Haemosu and Princess Yuhwa. It left me wondering what happened after Princess Yuhwa escaped Haemosu’s clutches.

The what ifs inspired me to write the story of GILDED. But to writing a full length novel isn’t easy.

1. First I plotted out the story.

See my plot grid for GILDED here:

I also did a blog post on more specifics on how to plot out books here and you can use my templates to get you started here.


2. Next, I prepare to write the book.

I often use aromatherapy (a scented candle) to write as well as create a soundtrack for each book. I love keeping a journal for each book as well. This will have all the names of my characters in it, nuisances, research I’ve done on the book, notes, and illustrations. The journal became extremely useful when I went to write the sequel and had to remember all the small details for characters or the rules of my world. For more ideas, you can check this video I made here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3chpYaMLYxg

3. Once everything is prepped, then I write my first draft. It’s sloppy and a complete wreck, but the structure of the book is in place.

For GILDED I had to do a lot of research of Korean mythology. I also found that since Jae Hwa was a martial arts expert, I had to learn Korean archery and taekwondo because I wanted the book to be as authentic as possible.

4. Revision is where the book comes to life. I revised GILDED so many times I’ve lost track. But each time, I strengthened the book’s structure, working on characterization, description, subplots and the arc of the book.

5. After I think the book is in good shape, I have my critique partners take a look. Debbie Ohi and I are part of the MiG Writers ( www.migwriters.com). I’m indebted to her and the rest of the group for their hard work in helping GILDED shine.

Q. How did GILDED get published?

Finding an Agent:

Once I finished GILDED, I realized I needed an agent for this book. So I did my research mainly on querytracker. I’d look up agents in my field and then research everything I could on them before I queried them. My agented friend’s warned me that a bad agent is worse than no agent, so I when I received offers of representation from agents, I made sure I had a phone conversation with them to see if they were the right fit. I talk more about that here: http://youtu.be/5Kebg57lUJs

Finding a Publisher:

I like to say it was tough work, but my agent, Jeff Ourvan of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency, LLC, is completely responsible for selling GILDED. He found the perfect editor for me and I’m thrilled to be working with Miriam Juskowicz.

Christina with her editor, Miriam Juskowicz

The biggest difficulty I had was decision making. Before signing with Amazon Children’s, there was another unexpected option with a different project. Jeff provided invaluable guidance of what to do for my career long term rather than just signing with the first book offer I was given. I think this all goes back in finding the right agent because the right agent looks out for you not just for the one book, but for your career.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring YA writers? 

My advice for writers is to focus on your craft. Become not only a master of weaving words, but tap into your creative self. If others are writing it, you shouldn’t. Trend chasing will only leave you frustrated. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Challenge yourself to write outside of your comfort zone because in doing this, you are pushing yourself to become everything you can be as a writer.

Don’t base your success on others. You have your own path to follow. It won’t be all grassy fields and stunning mountain peaks. The writer’s journey is a lot like the path through Mirkwood in the HOBBIT. You may feel lost, confused, trapped in the feelings of depression; and if you, don’t be afraid to take a break. Follow Bilbo’s example and climb a tree, leave the forest behind, and breathe in the fresh air.

As Gandalf says, “DON’T LEAVE THE PATH!”

Q. How did the launch for GILDED go?

My launch was amazing. I actually had two launches, a virtual and a physical launch. The reason I did this is I have so many friends from all around the world, including my critique partners! This allowed me to celebrate this special day with them because they have been there with me every step of this incredibly hard journey. It meant so much to me to have them ‘there’ after all we’ve been through together. Link for the virtual launch: http://christinafarley.com/the-dream-team/

For my physical launch, I had it at the Windermere Library since it was the perfect location for all of my friends and family to come together. We had 120 people show up and it was overwhelming how kind everyone was to show their support of the book.

After I did a power point presentation about the history of how GILDED came to be, I read a portion of GILDED and then we ate cake and celebrated! While I was signing books, my husband gave away books and swag. It was definitely a day I will never forget. More photos from the physical launch: http://christinafarley.com/gildeds-launch-party-recap/

Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you’d like to share?

I’m thrilled to say the sequel to GILDED is coming out this fall! SILVERN delves deeper into Jae Hwa’s world. You’ll find out more about the workings of the Guardians of Shinshi and new twists on the Spirit World.

Currently, I have three projects I’m playing with. I’m revising the third book in the GILDED series, drafting a new YA unrelated to the GILDED series, and researching for an historical adventure MG set in the early 1900’s.

View of Seoul from Christina’s desk where she wrote Gilded.

Note from Andrea: As promised, here is the trailer for The Princess and the Page:

And here is Christina reading an excerpt from the third book in the Gilded series, Brazen (spoiler alert):


Weekend Writing Warriors: Andrea’s Snippet #43

Weekend Writing Warriors: Andrea’s Snippet #43

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

Hillary is camping in the woods by herself so she can keep an eye on the unicorn. She’s settled into a morning routine of going to the stream with her pot to gather water, so she can boil it for drinking. This morning, she also catches her breakfast.

Once there, she took a good look at her pot. The outside had blackened from the flames. Inside, dried noodles clung to the sides. She plunged the pot in the stream and scrubbed it with her washcloth. Little bits of noodle floated downstream.

Hillary’s conscience panged. Was it bad to put noodles in the stream?

wewriwa2She noticed a small fish gobbling up the noodles. Reflexively, her hand darted into the water and closed around the fish, who struggled, so she cupped her other hand around it as well. She walked over to a tree, gripped the fish securely by its tail and, squeezing her eyes shut tight, swung it against the tree trunk.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 22? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Andrea’s Snippet #37

Weekend Writing Warriors: Andrea’s Snippet #37

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

7. The Unicorn in CaptivityThe Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

In last week’s snippet, Dave and Beth tracked the unicorn.

Finally, when it was just feet ahead, Dave silently handed the hacksaw to Beth and motioned to her to stay back.

Then he lunged forward and caught the unicorn in a headlock. “Go ahead–cut the horn!”

“Me–I can’t do it!”

With a powerful flick of his head, the unicorn flung Dave off. “Get it!” he screamed at Beth.

Beth dropped the hacksaw and tried to restrain the unicorn, but instead of surrendering, the unicorn evaded her, backing out of her grasp. Turning around, he lowered his head, gored Dave in the side with his horn, and galloped away.

“No!” Beth ran to Dave, whose face drained of color.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 20? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Snippet #32 of The Unicornologist

Snippet #32 of The Unicornologist

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

Today is the day Hillary’s dad and stepmom embarked on their belated honeymoon. It’s also the day she planned to start a week-long camping trip in the woods all by herself. She hurried her folks out the door by making them a send-off breakfast and volunteering to do the kitchen cleanup before supposedly going to stay with the neighbors. Unfortunately, just as she was about to leave, it started to storm. Many hours later…

Tired of stitching, she put aside her needlepoint, retrieved her unicornology notebook and a pen from her suitcase, and took them upstairs to her bedroom. She plopped on the bed and opened the book to a clean page. Operation Save the Unicorn, she wrote on the top line.

Saturday, July 1, 1967. Today was supposed to be the first day of the mission, but it’s raining cats, dogs, zebras, and giraffes, so it looks like I’ll have to wait for tomorrow. I’m disap—

Bright light flashed through the window, followed by a heart-stopping boom and near-total darkness as Hillary’s lamp went out. Except for the pounding of rain on the roof, the house was eerily silent. It was too dark to continue writing in her notebook, too dark to go back to her needlepoint. With no electricity, she couldn’t watch TV, she couldn’t listen to music, there was literally nothing she could do.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 19? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Snippet #30 of The Unicornologist

Snippet #30 of The Unicornologist

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

Hillary’s dad, packing for his honeymoon with his new wife, just asked Hillary if she knows where the flashlight is. (She’s stashed it in the woods, where she plans to camp while her parents are away, because she ‘s entrusted with protecting a unicorn against hunters. Of course, her dad knows nothing about this.)

“Isn’t it in the tool drawer in the kitchen?”

“No, can you find it for me?”

Hillary knew exactly where it was—safely tied up in her pillowcase in the maple tree by the clearing in the woods. “Do you really need a flashlight for your trip?”

“I’d like to have it in the car, just in case.”

“I’ll see if I can find it.” She went downstairs and fumbled loudly in the tool drawer for show. “I’ll go look in the garage,” she called. The screen door slammed behind her. She had no intention of confessing that she’d taken the flashlight, because then she’d have to explain why.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 17? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.