GloMo #2 School Visits

January 10, 2011

 The third princess book is due next month. I thought I knew what was happening, and then some unexpected things (and characters. And settings) happened, and now I am whispering curses at my computer. And it’s not really computer’s fault, it’s my brain’s. Stupid prefrontal cortex.
So! It’s time for some optimism! If you recall, I previously shared a publishing GLOMO (TM) (meaning Glorious Moment) and figure it’s time for another cup of sunshine. Which brings us to one of my most favorite parts of the published author experience so far.
School Visits.
NOT to be confused with book signings. Book signings can be great, and I’ve had a few that are def. on the GloMo list. But I’ve also had empty seats and apologetic book sellers, and those feel more like naked-in-front-of-school nightmares. You walk into a book signing, and never know if someone is going to show up. School visits, well, the students HAVE to show up. It’s the law–ha ha!
So school visits are fabulous, even when there are technical glitches or scheduling mistakes or rowdy students or… ugh, the time I get lost driving there and have to rush into an auditorium filled with expectant kids. Bring it. Because the pros… oh the pros! I get to be in the classroom again, teaching. I interact with readers. And the teachers and librarians are fantastic.
 If I were to think back to all the schools I’ve visited since release, I could probably share a special memory from each. But I have Book 3 to get back to. So you’re going to get a couple of pictures instead…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it forever–writing a princess book is golden because the teachers and librarians go a little crazy with The Pink. And you’d think that would alienate about half to students, but I give one boy a tiara and they are puddy–PUDDY!–in my hands. It’s been an unexpected bonus, because I didn’t know if a commercial girly book like mine would have any interest. But, really, kids want to know how a book is made, where an author gets ideas, how stories develop, and a million other universal questions I’m happy to answer again and again.

A Cupcake Bar. I don’t think there’s more to say than that.

Yep. Those are PRINCESS FOR HIRE cards. Yep. I sleep with them under my pillow.

These girls had to write essays about real princesses in order to come to a special lunch with me involving tiaras and balloons and yummy treats. Plus, this librarian was so enthusiastic. They all are. I heart librarians.
You can see why I named my next book THE ROYAL TREATMENT

SKYPE: Connecting with kids all over

(Yes, that’s me on the screen. And look. That girl is smiling)
Because I have little kids and because I have another book to write and because I still have a garage full of boxes to unpack, I’m limited in how many visits I can do outside of my area. And of course I want to do more, I want to talk with kids everywhere, I’m very excited about the opportunities skype offers me. I’m still new at it, as I’ve just started promoting SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, but so far these visits have been really fun. Takes very little time out of my schedule and I still can get into the classroom. These one is with Kate Messner–writer and educator and marvel. The students had their questions prepared on note cards, and then once the conversation started going we had some great back and forth.
(And huge PS–I still have about 10 Sean Griswold’s Head ARCS available. If you are a teacher or librarian (grades 6+), email me and you can have one. Along with a free skype visit. And bookmarks. And all you have to do is pay me in smiles).


(This one had Princess for Hire bingo with m&ms. Three things of beauty combined)
Fifth grade was my favorite years of elementary school. There are tons of reasons why–the kids in my class, the GATE activities, the honor choir–but really it was Miss Dean. She was a wonderful teacher who exposed us to fantastic literature in an exciting way. In Miss Dean’s class, I got to design my own Bridge to Teribithia (the first book that made me sob), role play the part of Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, listen in breathless suspense as she read aloud from Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, and agonize over each book report. Not because it was agony, but because I couldn’t decide on one project.
Fifth grade was also the year I started to write. Journals, stories, poems. We had a publishing center at our school where we could make our stories into a real book! And there were writing contests and book fairs and exposure to the arts. I became a writer because of my start at MJ Christensen Elementary.
Now Miss Dean is a librarian. A wonderful, fun, informed librarian. And it was a total treat for me to go and speak with students at her new school. Big bonus? My old principa, Ms. Grey,l came for the lunch as well, and we later met up so I could sign books for her adorable granddaughters. Remember how special you felt if the principal even remembered your name? I mean, for good reasons?