One of the very best parts of being an author is getting to visit schools and talk about books and writing with enthusiastic students! This past Friday, I had the opportunity to visit St. Therese – a wonderful school in Southgate, Kentucky. I thought it would be fun to share my day, from beginning to end.
5:45 AM – I set my alarm the night before for 6:00 AM but I’m up early. This often happens on school visit days. I think it’s a mixture of excitement, nerves, and my body making sure I don’t oversleep. I’m always so worried about that!
6:15 AM – I’m up and so is Hank, our youngest English bulldog! He’s ready to eat. I prepare his breakfast and pull out a bag of mini-muffins from the pantry for me. I packed my author visit bag the night before but I take a moment to make sure everything is there: personal copies of my books, early writing pieces, my presentation clicker (and extra batteries), flash drive loaded with my presentations, and fun bookish goodies like puzzle postcards, buttons and bookmarks. I also pack up my signing pens. For THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU, I’m using aqua, pink and purple Sharpies.
7:00 AM – I’ve printed off e-mails I received from Ellen, the librarian of St. Therese, with the schedule and other things to know. I can tell she’s really prepared the students which is so exciting. She coordinated getting early copies of my newest book, THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU, for her book club so they could read it by my visit. I know we’re going to have a great discussion.
7:15 AM – I have my Diet Coke and my author bag. I’m ready to go. The drive down to Kentucky takes
two hours, so I’m off!
9:15 AM – I arrive at St. Therese and am greeted by three enthusiastic sixth graders who are waiting for me and a sparkly parking sign! I’ve never had a parking space reserved for me before, so this is a very fun treat! Dave Richardson, from Blue Marble Books, arrives at the same time.
9:25 AM – The sixth graders bring me to the library where I meet the librarian, Ellen, for the first time even though we’ve been communicating via e-mail since May to coordinate the visit. I get my technology set up. The school doesn’t have PowerPoint, so the school’s technology expert helps me transfer my presentation to Google Slides. I also get the chance to take a closer look at the beautiful poster some students made to celebrate THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU. I love all of the themes they picked out from the story to showcase.
9:45 AM – The first group arrives! I’m doing a half-day visit today which includes two presentations and an author lunch. St. Therese has chosen my Mystery Story Sacks presentation which is one of my favorites. This group of sixth graders and I talk about the essential ingredients for a story – plot, character, conflict, and setting. Then, I give them a challenge! They have to use all of the essential ingredients, plus some mystery ones, to build a story. After the students write, students share one or two of their WOW! sentences. I’m super impressed with their creativity and encourage them to keep going with these stories.
10:30 AM – I start signing books. I get the opportunity to talk with each student individually which I love! Talking with young readers is one of my very favorite parts of being an author. Kids are awesome!
10:50 AM – It’s time for my next presentation. I get to write with fifth grade now! I’m presenting Mystery Story Sacks again and these kids came ready to write. Before I begin, I ask what books they’ve been reading lately. I make a mental note to jot down a few titles they mention. This group is also a huge fan of Chopped! because when our writing time is up, they all raise their hands into the air.
11:30 AM – After signing a few more books (and posing for pictures with each of the students at a very cool table the librarian has set-up), I have the opportunity to meet with two young writers and read their writing. I know you’re going to read their published work some day.
12:10 PM – Lunch time! Today I’m eating lunch with an awesome group of seventh and eighth grade girls. They are members of a book club, formed by the librarian, who have all read THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOU. The questions start almost immediately, and they’re so great! These girls are smart, sharp, and insightful. We talk and eat (including some delicious Rice Krispie treats) and share. The forty minutes go by way too quickly.
12:50 PM – It’s time to sign a few more books. Some of the students tell me their favorite characters. There are a lot of Hector fans! Other readers tell me they hope for a sequel. They want to know what happens with Mina, Emily, Hector and Hazel next.
1:30 PM – I’m in the car again and headed back to Columbus with memories of awesome kids, fantastic discussion and the great stories students wrote (and another Diet Coke, of course). I had the best time at St. Therese and am so lucky that I get to do this.
A few more pictures from the day…
Thank you for a wonderful day, St. Therese readers!
Is YOUR school interested in an author visit? I offer affordable half-day and full-day options! Just reach out – either through my website contact form or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.