Book Signing in Montclair

This past Saturday I was at the Barnes and Noble in Montclair, California for another book signing. I had a fun time talking to friends, family, and some new friends I made during my time there. One young girl named Angelica originally thought the author of the Junie B. Jones books was coming in. Although a bit disappointed, she really liked my book and ended up buying one. She was so excited to have me sign her new book, that she even had my young daughter sign it, too!

Another young lady by the name of Sophia enjoyed looking at the pictures while her father read a few pages.

Plans are in the works for me to return to this store in September, but I will update when I have a confirmed time and date.

Fan Mail

I just received a packet of fan mail from some of the students at Lankershim Elementary, where I spoke last week. Most were a few sentences, thanking me for coming to speak about being an author. They even drew pictures of me at the bottom of their pages. One little girl added a cute note: “I liked your shoes.” I had to laugh at that one.  

These were my very first fan letters. I will cherish them always because they will remind me of the fun I had speaking to the kids and answering their multitude of questions. Such minds! Such imaginations! I just hope that I was and will always be an inspiration to others.

Speed Writing

I don’t know about you, but if I find a good series book, I tend to devour it. My reading speed increases rapidly, and when I’m done with one book, I want to dive into the next one right away.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could write as fast as we can read?

It would be wonderful to sit down and just pound those keys with no hesitation, having complete control over characterization, plot, theme, and setting. But unfortunately, our work takes a bit more finesse. We need to plan out our stories, making sure that there is flow in both dialogue and story lines so confusion does not take seed.

Yes, it  would be nice if we could generate stories that fast; but I’m not willing to sacrifice quality for quantity.

Fun at Lankershim Elementary

This morning I had a wonderful time at Lankershim Elementary in Highland, California. I was participating in their Career Awareness Week Program, and I was a guest author. I spoke for about 35 minutes or so to a group of 1st and 2nd graders, telling them about my writing journey and encouraging them to do well in school no matter what career path they choose.

Afterward I answered their many questions, which included, “Do you write the Scooby Doo books?” (Answer: Unfortunately, no.) And, “Do you write with famous people?” (Answer: Not that I know of, but you never know).

I was even presented a certificate of appreciation for coming.

Thanks to the wonderful Career Awareness coordinator Gail Shaw and to the terrific students at Lankershim Elementary!

Freebies

This week is career week at a school district some distance from my home, and today is my day to speak about writing. I will share with the young students about my writing career and what needs to be done to become a writer, but I’ll also be handing out some freebies such as one of my bookmarks and some past issues of magazines I’ve written for.

Freebies are great for both the kids and for me. With issues of magazines, not only am I sharing my stories, but I’m advertising the magazine. If the magazine keeps publishing, I may keep being one of the writers. With my bookmark, the kids have a fun and colorful reminder to read my new book. I also have my website and email address listed on the bookmark so kids can download my color pages or write me a note.

On other occasions I have passed out little Betsy Ross flag pins, and I hope to pass out a copy or two of the Declaration of Independence at another speaking engagement.

It’s important to draw interest to you and your book. Sometimes freebies are a fun way to go.

Mobility

One of the great things I love about being a writer is that I can write from anywhere. As long as I have a pen or pencil (and even a crayon), paper, and/or laptop, I can write from any location I want. If it’s too noisy in the living room where my main computer is, I can grab my laptop and head to my bedroom or sit out on a folding chair on my back porch.

If I happen to have an idea while I’m out and about, I can grab my notebook, or a piece of paper, or even a napkin (which I have been known to do!) and jot down some notes. I don’t have to lug a desk with me. I am my own portable work station.

I don’t meet in an office. I don’t have to worry about traffic or bad weather. I don’t have to worry about wardrobe details (unless I’m off to a school visit or book signing), and if I get restless where I’m writing at, I can always move to another location where the ambiance and view are better.

Yes, writing is a wonderful occupation, especially if you like being mobile.

Reassess and Reschedule

Summer vacation is around the corner for many of us. Soon the quiet writing hours will turn to noisy chaos when the kids are home from school for the next few months. It’s time to reassess and reschedule.

By reassess, I mean we need to determine our writing priorities. There are some things (deadlines) we absolutely need to do, and others (specific hours of writing time) that we need to do with less intensity if we want to give our families top priority. My writing is important, but my husband and children are more important, so they need to know that although mom is a writer who has responsibilities, those responsibilities can be put on hold every once in awhile when needed.

By reschedule, I mean we need to alter our daily writing time to fit the needs of the day. Instead of writing Monday through Friday, perhaps we can write every other day. Taking the kids to swimming lessons? Try writing that article while sitting in the bleachers or in your folding chair under a tree while you wait. Just make sure to give the kids a wave now and again. Need to do research? Look up the books you need from your computer at home, then take a family outing to the library so the kids can pick up some great reading materials while you pick up your research books.

There are ways to work out summer writing and summer vacation. Be creative and be willing to reassess and reschedule.

Unexpected Inspiration

I never would have thought I’d be inspired to write a story while visiting a thrift store. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday as I was walking through one store I visit every so often looking for used books and other interesting items. As I was walking down an aisle, I saw a particular mantle piece item on a shelf that immediately sparked the idea for a whole new mystery story.

I will not disclose the item as to give away my storyline, but let’s just say that I could envision a young boy protagonist wanting to buy this particular item from a store, and when he finally gets enough money to purchase it, the item ends up revealing an amazing clue.

Oooh! I can’t wait to start writing. This is going to be fun! Stay tuned.

Interesting Developments

I just found out that my book, The Declaration of Independence from A to Z, is now included in the Accelerated Reader (AR) program. This program helps kids find books based on their reading level, and then they take a short computer quiz after reading that book. Teachers use this program to determine if their students are understanding what they’ve read.

It’s fun to see all the opportunities and developments my book is going through as it becomes known. At the writing of this post, there are 18 libraries throughout the United States (including, of course, the Library of Congress which keeps a copy of all books printed) that have at least one copy of my book in their collections.

There are even more possibilities in the works, but I won’t disclose them until they become realities. So, stay tuned!

Allowing for Questions

I had the privilege of giving a short talk before my book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Redlands, California this past Sunday. There was a nice group of about 30 children and parents who listened attentively as I talked a bit about early American history and about my book, The Declaration of Independence from A to Z.

Afterward, one young girl asked me a question no one had ever asked me before, “What was your favorite letter in the book?” I had to think about this a moment. I finally decided on “M is for Majority” because it corresponded with Layne Johnson’s wonderful rendition of John Trumbull’s famous picture of the Declaration of Independence.

It’s important to let kids ask questions. Their interpretations are a bit different from ours, and it helps me understand my audience a lot better.

I’ll be speaking to a group of Kindergarten to Second grade students next month for Career Awareness Week. I can’t wait for all the questions they’ll ask about being a writer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll learn something new about myself by the unique things they’ll ask.

Book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Redlands on May 2, 2010