Since I had my first School Author Visit this week, and this is a Friday First post, I will tell you how it went.
It was also a first time Literacy Night for Montague School, so the Principal had no idea what would happen or how many would show up. She was a little nervous, but very warm and welcoming, so I was set at ease. We chatted as I set up my station and watched the kids and parents arrive and settle in.
When Dr. Wernick welcomed the group, and then introduced me, she emphasized how important it is to read to your children every day and how much fun it is to share stories with them. She held up some of the books she'd brought to share.
Her teachers set up their Literacy Stations: some stations with plastic letters to make words and sentences; some with phrases to make sentences. There were books to read -- one teacher read to a group of kids. I had my own table set up displaying my award winning books with their stickers, my bronze medal, bookmarks, coloring pages, flyers, and my business cards. Dr. Wernick had sent a letter home, but since this was a first, it was all new. About 40 people came, parents with kids, even both parents in some cases. It was a varied, multi-cultural mix typical of the Bay Area: White, Asian, Hispanic, and Indian.
Halfway through the evening the Principal called everyone over to my station to meet me. I talked briefly about my three books, Magical Matthew, Mágico Mateo (the Spanish Version), and Magical Mea, then read a few pages. I asked if they had questions and there were a few:
How did I get my ideas?
I told them about my neighbor's autistic son Matthew turning ten -- "double digits" -- being the inspiration for the first book, and how I gave him magical powers. Then the second book idea about Mea came because I wanted to showcase a "challenging child" -- one who liked to play tricks on people.
How did I find my artist and my publisher?
I related how I found Kevin Scott Collier, my artist, on the internet, and then persuaded him to do my books. I wanted a likeness of Matthew, but when he said he does more of a cartoon style, I said a blond blue-eyed kid would work just fine -- and it really looks like Matthew did at that age. Then I told them how Kevin introduced me to his publisher, Lynda Burch, of Guardian Angel Publishing, who became my publisher, too! (She thought Magical Matthew was a cute story that needed more work, and so I edited it some more!)
How long did it take you to write and publish your books?
I told them that the books wrote themselves very quickly, but required a lot of editing before publishing then waited in the various publisher's "piles"-- waiting for an artist, waiting for artwork, waiting for editing, waiting for proofing, then waiting to be published. It took about 18 months for the first book and the second book was published seven months after the first.
Then I gave every child 3 coloring pages from Magical Matthew, 2 bookmarks, and my business card. All the kids loved my business card -- I wonder if they'll all call me? Some parents also took the flyers (media releases). And I sold a few books! What was great about this event was how attentive they all were, smiling and supportive -- laughing at my witty jokes, -- very appreciative. It was all over in a few minutes, but a good experience so I'm looking forward to many more author school visits! I will even do Skype visits!