Posts Tagged ‘School Visits’




How Authors Get Paid

Filed under: Community, Fan Mail, School Visits, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

You’ve all heard some of the terminology about how author’s get paid. This is important stuff. Advances and royalties are two words that immediately come to mind and rightly so. It’s normal to want to be paid fairly for the work that you do. No one would ever expect a Hollywood movie star or a pro-athlete to donate their time for the sake of entertaining us. We also don’t expect doctors to show up for hugs and lollipops. Police get a salary and so do an army of teachers struggling under the weight of how to create learners instead of test takers. Everyone gets paid for the work that they do. Some more than others, but we all get paid.

But there are times in most professions when we realize that we do what we do, for bigger and better reasons than money. Those movie stars use their capitol to support very worth while charities. They have a reach and influence that most of us can’t ever imagine. In just one of many instances, a pro-athlete shows up for the survivors of the Newtown shooting, helping to remind us who our heroes really are. Doctors donate a percentage of their services to those in need. A police officer buys a homeless man shoes. Teachers use the very small amount of money they make to buy books for their classrooms.

Young Adult authors want to make the lives of children better. In a way, tweens and teens are our true employers and while those readers do buy books, we really get paid in fan mail–with humor, insights and honesty.

Just a sample of the thank you letters from two middle schools I recently visited…

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*   “You have inspired me to work on my basketball skills.”

*   “I hope you enjoyed us, but I know we enjoyed you.”

*   “Thank you for being a good friend to all of us…It made me think about going to the library after school to do homework.”

*   “I have something tragic that happened in my life. I think that if I let my feelings out on paper it will make my life a whole lot better.”

*   “You encouraged me to read more. And yes, I remembered to think about you when we proofread,”

*   “Thank you for answering my 17 questions…I’m reading your book and I love it. I’m a good reader but I’m slow. From your biggest fan…”

*   “Thank you for being nice to me…”

*   “What I learned from you is how to follow your dreams…One day I will make a book about dreams…I will buy your book and have a good joyful life. PS Buy my book later.”

*   “One thing I learned is if you ever want to become a writer don’t stop the first time they reject your book. Keep going on, change some stuff so it sounds better.”

*   “…I thought about it a little, and realized I should probably do the same thing because it isn’t good to keep things to yourself the way I do. So, I’m going to try to open up more to people and myself…I say this because I did what you said and wrote down some personal things that I kept away from people and it actually felt good to write it down…Thank you very much for teaching me something about myself.”

*   “…The fact that you took the whole day to come and meet every single class individually, really shows how cool of a person you truly are.”

*   “I was ecstatic when you told us about your writing style. That got me so excited because you said that not all authors planned out their stories to an extremity. I, like you, do not plan out my stories. I find writing can be much more exciting when you are writing a story and you just can’t wait to find out how the end plays out.”

*   “You also inspired me because of how you never found yourself good enough.”

*   “P.S.: Team Trevor forever!!! <3”

*   “Hi, your visit was very special…I also hope that I grow up with the same kind of encouragement and influence that you had in your life…If you have a chance, please come back and give our class the encouragement we need in life.”

*   “When you showed us the process of how to get a book published I was absolutely stunned! After I saw all the papers inside that single binder my jaw literally dropped….Rick Riordan may be one of my favorite authors but you will always be my favorite too.”

*   “Also, hearing about how much you wrote when you were younger was inspiring because I’m the same way now (Thanks for the “no tearing out” warning by the way.)”

*   “My sister just finished your book, so I got it. Like your editor, I. LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH.”

*   “I also realized that people don’t need to be published authors to be writers. People just need to write.”

*   “As you may be able to tell I’m not that good of a writer, but it’s always good to know what I might be getting into if I were to be an author.”

*   “Also it was unbelievable how great your handwriting was in elementary school.”

*   “I liked how your were really enthusiastic when you were speaking, so everyone would pay attention. I did not read your book, but I’m hoping I can get my hands on it to see how great it is after so much hard work.”

*   “Your book is going to be a big success because when I started reading I couldn’t stop or put it down.”

*   “Thank you so much for visiting our class and teaching us about the process and joy of becoming an author. You specifically connected with each of us which made it a lot more real. It’s funny because I find myself a lot like you were growing up…”

*   “Than when you came, it inspired me to write again and I LOVE IT!!!! Thank you so much for letting me do what I really love.”

*   “I too have ripped out the pages of my journal. I did this because writing things down was dangerous. Dangerous because it makes things more than thoughts in my head. Dangerous because it makes them real. Your visit lets me hope that one day I will be in front of a class showing them the pages of my ripped journal. I extend my most sincere gratitude for this, for allowing me to hope.”


As you can see, no matter how much or how little money I make as an author, it’s obvious that I’m very, very rich. This is why I love what I do. It also reminds me how carefully our children are watching and listening. I love it when I get the chance to be the change I want to see in the world. Any favorites? And yes, I laughed and cried as I was reading. How could I not?


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Addiction–Why School Visits are as Awesome as Chocolate Covered Potato Chips and a GIVEAWAY!

Filed under: Community, Contests, School Visits, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I have a new addiction and it is so much healthier than the chocolate covered potato chips from the alps.

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And yes, I sampled them when I went down to take the picture. Wouldn’t you? LOL! But hey–back on task–let’s talk about my other addiction. Squee! It’s school visits. Seriously people, they make me very, very happy. I’ve mentioned before that I was a teacher and that I was ok leaving the profession because it wasn’t a perfect fit for me. But author visits–It’s like taking a salty potato chip and dipping it in your favorite chocolate. It just works. It feels really good. I get to take the best parts of me (that I brought to the table as a teacher) and combine them with the heart and soul work I’m doing as a writer. Seriously, I could go on and on ad nauseam, but vomit isn’t pretty, so I’ll stop right after I tell you about the middle school boy who asked me to sign his arm yesterday. He mumbled something about not realizing he should have gotten the book. *heart squish* The thing is, there is more than one amazing thing going on when you’re an author for young adults. You have the potential to connect thorough your book, but you also have the weird ability to connect outside of your book. When you talk to a classroom of students, there may be kids who don’t pick up the book you’ve written, but they still hear what you say. And those words might be the right words at the right time. The possibilities and the potential are endless. But I promised to stop babbling. *covers mouth with hands*

Did you really think I’d shut up? Silly you. If you are located in the Hudson Valley area, I would love to arrange a visit to your local school. If you’re interested, let a teacher or librarian know that I’m available and how to contact me.


And because not everyone is close enough for me to stop over while my kids are in school, I’m doing a TOUCHING THE SURFACE giveaway for your favorite middle school or high school. Anyone can enter and the contest details are below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

And in case you still want to chat, I was wondering if any of you have stories of influential guest speakers visiting you in school. Did they make an impact on you? Didn’t have any guest speakers or they were duds? What author would you have loved to come and speak to you?

Thanks so much for spreading the word!

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My First Author Event?

Filed under: Community, Dancing, Touching the Surface, Wolf Pack

Just a few days after I sold TOUCHING THE SURFACE to Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse, I got a letter home in the 7 year old’s book bag.  The second graders were studying communities and were asking parents to come in to do a mini job fair with the kids.  I looked at the sign up sheet, bit my lip and took the plunge.

(I can’t lie-I giggled and did a little happy dance when I saw this.  Didn’t even care about the name typo.)

Then I put the date on my calendar and forgot about it, until I realized that I should bring stuff with me that was authory.  But what should I bring?  I don’t actually have a book at this point.  I took my best guess and stuffed a bag with authory stuff and headed out.  Of course, as I made my way to the school, it was raining like I was in the middle of a biblical plague.  There weren’t even any close parking spots. Can you picture me hauling a giant dance bag, a rather large bag of book stuff and a pocket book while balancing an umbrella and herding the 5 year old?  Kind of hilarious, but so worth it when I got to do this…

You know I was grinning like a little fool.  And of course two of my favorite mom librarians were there and there was extra jumping up and down and looking silly.  

So what did I bring and why did I bring it?

I started with a variety of dance shoes, my teacher’s notebook and some pics of me dancing over the years… What was that?  Oh, you wanted to know about the author stuff? Just kidding. 

I arrived with the tools of the trade!  I started with a hard copy of my manuscript that I’d used with a beta reader.  The guesses of how long it took me to write that thing ranged from 7 days to 200 years.  My response?  "That would make me like 227 years old."  *grin*  My humor totally went over their heads.

I also brought books and magazines that I like to read.  Some I read for pleasure and some are about craft and some straddled both.  I explained that if you want to be a writer, the single most important thing you could do was be a reader.  And own a dictionary.  And be proficient at marketing and networking…(Notice I was doing subliminal sales for my fellow wolf-pack member Kiersten White and her YA novel Paranormalcy.)

Lastly, I brought chocolate.  I shouldn’t have to explain my love of it by this point in our relationship, but this was no ordinary chocolate.  This was editor love chocolate.  I sniff it often while admiring the amazing note from my editor AND THEN I wander off to find similar looking chocolate to eat while I’m writing.  I can’t part with this one.  *I reserve the right to revise that statement in a chocolate emergency.

So was it fun?  Being an author/dance instructor, role-model, thing-a-ma-jiggy?  

Ummmm…YES! YES! YES!

I even got some love from my own second grader.  He picked me first. *phew* with his gaggle of guy friends.  They all sat down and with my most serious looking face I said…"I’m pretty sure I know which hat you guys want me to wear for this interview.  Today I’m going to teach you all about ballet."  *gasp*  I never said I was a nice author.

But paybacks can be tough…

(My favorite second grader.)

After I told the boys all about being a WRITER, they tumbled off like a pack of puppies and an adorable little blonde girl wandered over… 

Girl: "Are you Ty’s mom?"

Me: "Yes, I am."

Girl: "He’s been telling me a lot about you."

Me: (Beaming) "I hope he’s saying all good things." (Beams some more)

Girl: "Eh, about half and half."

Me: *Head thunk* followed by a *grin.*  We all know the truth-any publicity is good publicity, right?

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