Tag Archives: Young Adult

All About Author Visits

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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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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #55

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #55

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday 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 links to see the full lists.

This will be my last snippet from The Unicornologist. I’m nearly done with the next-to-last edit. I have no idea what I’ll excerpt next week.

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.

The day after the conversation in my last snippet, Hillary (who’s been camping in the forest to protect Bob, the unicorn) hears a commotion and finds Dave struggling with the unicorn. She screams for him to stop.

Turning back toward the unicorn, the man thrust out one hand; Bob shifted away from a metallic flash.

He has a knife! “No!” Hillary squeezed between the man and Bob, throwing out her arms to protect the unicorn.

“Get out of my way,” growled the man, brandishing the knife.

Hillary felt her underpants dampen. He’s going to kill me–I should run. Then cold resolve took over, and she stood her ground.

The man pulled his knife hand back, ready to attack. In the next instant, Bob suddenly pushed in front of Hillary, and an explosion went off.

Yeah, I know–I’m a horrible person to cut off there. It’s that pesky 10-sentence maximum. What do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 25? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #54

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #54

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday 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 links to see the full lists.

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.

In last week’s snippet, Dave suggested he and Beth kill the unicorn, to make it easier to saw off the desired horn. We pick up with the next sentence:wewriwa2

“How? You don’t have a gun, do you?” asked Beth.

“No, but last week I bought this.” Dave crawled over to his duffle bag and took out a sheath. After hesitating for dramatic effect, he slid a hunting knife from the case and admired its edge.

“You’re going to stab it to death? Do you realize how much force it will take against an animal that size, one with magical powers, no less? You’re not strong enough.”

“No, I can do it–this knife is as sharp as a scalpel.”

Putting her face in her hands, Beth muttered, “You’re insane.”

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 25? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #53

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #53

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.

In last week’s snippet, Hillary was able to thwart Dave and Beth’s plan to saw off the unicorn’s horn.

Back at their tent, Beth reevaluated their plan. “This is impossible. We’ll never get the horn,” said Beth.

“That’s because we’ve been going about it all wrong. We’ve been trying to cut a horn off a live unicorn,” countered Dave.wewriwa2

“You don’t mean—”

“Yes. We kill the unicorn, then cut off the horn. Easy as pie.”

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #52

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #52

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.

Some of you Warriors might not be familiar with the Unicorn Tapestries, which were the inspiration for this book. Click here to see a short video about them.

Today’s snippet is the conclusion of last week’s scene. Hillary, who was tied to a tree, freed herself just in time to find Dave and Beth attempting to cut off the unicorn’s horn. Through her intervention, Bob (the unicorn) has escaped.

Eyes full of hatred, the man strained to get up. “You let it escape!” he yelled at the girl.wewriwa2

“You were hurting him!”

“All we want is the horn.”

“You can’t have it,” retorted Hillary.

“Come on, Dave, let’s get out of here,” said the woman.

“I warned you to stay out of our way. Next time you won’t get off so easy,” he threatened Hillary as he limped away.

What, or you’ll kill me? She trembled at the implication of his words.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #51

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #51

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.

We’re moving forward several hours from the last snippet. Dave and Beth caught Hillary and tied her to a tree so they could capture Bob (the unicorn) without having to fight her off. When Hillary finally extricates herself from her bonds, she hears a commotion and finds them preparing to saw off Bob’s horn (the alicorn).

The man caught Bob in a neck hold and reached for his horn. He let go as soon as he touched it, apparently startled by its pulsation. Then he resolutely grasped it again and nodded to his companion. The woman had a hacksaw and moved it toward the alicorn. She practiced a sawing motion and moved closer still.

“Stop!” shouted Hillary.

“Go ahead! Do it now! Saw it off!” yelled the man.

The woman tried, but with a mighty lurch of his head, Bob deflected her and threw the man into the air.wewriwa2

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

 

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #50

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #50

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.

In last week’s snippet, Beth comes up with an idea to get Hillary out of the way so they can get the unicorn’s horn. Here, Dave reacts to her suggestion.

“I’m so proud of you,” said Dave. “You evaluated the problem and came up with a solution. I knew we’d make a great team.”

“Save your congratulations till we see how this plays out. Up to now, most of our plans haven’t worked so well.”

“You’re always so negative.”

So, are you proud of me or not? Your opinion of me changes from moment to moment. Beth clenched her jaw to keep herself from making a sarcastic remark. Every time she let down her guard, every time her heart reached out to Dave, he’d do or say something stupid, convincing her she was better off without him.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.