What makes for a really great author visit in the school?
Excitement–from the moment you approach the school you see a welcome poster on the door. The announcements declare your presence. The library displays your books.
The kids in the front row of the auditorium ask you if you’re the author. Maybe they point to one of the books in your stack and say they’ve read it or ask something about the plot or character.
What should a terrific author visit do? Entertain and enlighten–I think it’s important that the kids and I have fun but I’m there to deliver some writing process tips perhaps as much for the teachers as for the students.
“Where do ideas come from?”is the question foremost in my mind when I create my presentation. I try to address this question in as visual a way as possible. I carry around a rubber brain, for example, to show them. I use Power Point to show the brain with a piece of toast in–the brain is a toaster, what you get in,you get out.
But I also know the question really means how does a book get created from start to finish so I include images of my office, some research. I address what I
need to pre plan before my fingers hit the keyboard and call up kids to hold the key plot points. I sometimes feel the teachers want me to say I have an idea file, or that I plan and plot the whole story out but I always make sure to say that different processes work for different authors.
Also rewriting is a topic that educators want addressed but it’s so much different for a professional writer than it is for a student and there’s a fine balance between inspiring and encouraging readers and writers, and telling them how hard the professional job of writing and rewriting is.
Aw, and then the personal thank you from the kids. To the left you see my cheerleading squad thanking me with attributes that spell my name. Y was for YA if you’re wondering.
Below is a thank you card that gives a flow chart of all the attributes the readers and teachers have found in my story–some I didn’t really know it had.