This post is long long looooong over due, so please forgive me for too many pictures and lots of random things all jammed into one post. That’s just how I roll these days.
I’ve been all over the place recently promoting Edge of Extinction and loving every minute of it. There have been school visits, book fairs, conferences, and author signings. It’s been a whirlwind. Recently one of my contacts at Barnes and Noble who has been facilitating some of my school pre-orders said they now just referred to me as “The Hardest Working Author.” I took a screen shot of the email and sent it to my parents. Because, no matter how old you are, you still need to show your good grades to mom and dad. Apparently.
I don’t know if I’m the hardest working author, but I do know that I am willing to do everything in my power to make my book a success. Plus, I find all of this author stuff to be incredibly fun and exciting (and only a little terrifying.)
I’ve been to several school’s recently, and I decided that author visits are a lot like grandparent visits. I get to come in, get everyone pumped and excited about reading and writing, and then I get to leave and not do any of the heavy lifting.
And while this has been fun, it has also been a little sad because I miss teaching in a heart-aching, think about it all the time, kind of way.
An especially bittersweet author visit happened when I visited the middle school where I taught for six years. I got so many hugs from my old friends, and the halls were so familiar, but I was no longer an integral part of the school. That was hard. But it was also wonderful to be back, even if it was only for a day.
I’ve learned a lot already about what goes into a successful visit, and a lot of it depends on the prep work that happens before I even step in the building. If the media specialist and staff has worked to pump the kids up about the author visit, pushed book preorders, discussed Edge of Extinction, or better yet, used it as a read aloud the visit ROCKS. If they haven’t done any of those things, the visit is still good, but it doesn’t make the same impact on the kids. It’s like seeing an Elvis concert without knowing anything about Elvis. The concert is still fun, but the impact isn’t there. (I’m not just using that analogy because in that scenario I get to be Elvis…although, if you have a choice, always be Elvis.)
Case in Point. Sunnyside Intermediate School in Lafayette Indiana hosted me recently, and the media specialists there went ABOVE and BEYOND.
They made me a tree from The Oaks.
MADE IT. Tree house and everything.
They had dinosaur pumpkins.
Dinosaur Bookmarks for sale. (I bought two!)
And a whole shelf dedicated to JUST dinosaur books.
They even hosted a lunch for a few of the students which included homemade dinosaur cookies, Edge of Extinction trail mix, and Jurassic Park coloring books.
Like I said. Above and beyond.
But one of the coolest things I saw there wasn’t even dinosaur related. The school principal, get this, MOVED his office into the middle of the hallway. When you walk into his school, the first thing you see is the principal’s desk. Right out in the open. EVERY principal should do this. It is brilliant. So brilliant I asked to take his picture. And he let me.
I also broke up those school visits by attending my first ever Books By the Banks. The author’s reception was on Friday night and the actual event was on Saturday in Cincinnati. I decided to make the drive from Indianapolis both days rather than get a hotel for a few reasons, the primary one being that those hours in the car sounded like a mini vacation. Just me. My coffee. And a handful of good audiobooks. Heaven I tell you.
The entire event was great. Friday nights author’s reception was held in this BEAUTIFUL old library in downtown Cincinnati.
It was nearly impossible to find, and even though I gave myself an HOUR of wiggle room time, I was still a half hour late. AND I only made it because some very kind parking garage owners allowed me to play my Damsel in Distress card and park in a closed lot. Bless them. In my defense. The distressed part was very very real. Ugh. It was all worth it though because I got to meet the one and only Chris Grabenstein. He is a fabulous author, and he graciously allowed me to pick his brain on all things middle grade.
I also got to chat with Greg Leitich Smith, and if you are looking for another great dinosaur book to read after you finish Edge of Extinction, you should check out his books!
The next day, I walked into the conference center for the actual event and saw all the tables set up for authors.
I’d never seen so many authors in one place before. I tried to play it cool. I’m positive I didn’t succeed.
I decided right then and there that someday, I wanted to do this event again, but I wanted to be one of the authors with a gigantic banner.
Aren’t they neat! #authorgoals.
I was seated next to Janet S. Johnson.
Her book The Last Great Adventure of the PB& J Society just came out a little before mine did, and I really enjoyed chatting with her all day. I bought a copyto put on the shelf for my kiddos some day. They will have so many signed books as a by product of this author adventure. Lucky kids.
Besides Books By The Banks, I also talked to the Indiana State Reading Association.
And spoke to a group of teachers a the CEA convention. (Christian Educators Association)
(This simultaneously wonderful and terrifying. Wonderful because I saw a lot of my old teachers at the event, and terrifying because it was my first time talking to other teachers.) It went well though, and I got great feedback.
1. Laura is a great presenter. She gives good ideas to teachers with her hand out. If she had more time we’d have more ideas for writing.
2. Being a third grade teacher, I wasn’t sure how useful this session would be, but I learned a lot. Great resources and ideas.
3. This session gave me the motivation to spend more time getting the kids to think and write outside the box.
4. I learned that great writing comes from students who listen, not just read.
5. She offered great ideas, very usable tips.
7. Laura has so many great ideas about writing! I love that our speaker was a teacher and is now an author. I will use the “point of view” activity in my classroom and add more listening to stories with my current read aloud.
8. I enjoyed learning how to think about both reading in a new way, and how it can be more beneficial to students.
9. This session made me think about teaching writing in a new way. She had many great ideas and insights.
I also got to go to a store completely dedicated to chocolate. Winning!
And I signed books and talked at the Indiana Library Federation’s Conference where I got to meet Mike Mullin. This was a big hairy deal since I LOVE his books, and I’ve been spending lots of time recently combing through his blog archive which is FULL of awesome author advice.
I also had to put Halloween costumes together for my little tribe of people. In past years, I copped out and just bought costumes. But I decided that this year was the year that I MADE costumes. Don’t ask me why. Maybe I feel like it is some kind of Mom right of passage thing because my mom used to make my costumes, but whatever it is. I was doing it. Darn it.
Picture me in my basement with the sewing machine I kind of know how to use, attempting to cobble together outfits. There may haven been some tears and unsavory language involved. Also. Netflix. But everything turned out all right, even if things were a bit dodgy there in the middle.
Pictured you will see Wendy, Tinkerbelle, and Peter Pan. Oh, and Peter Pan’s shadow. That’s my darling husband, and the only picture that will probably ever surface of him here on the blog. He prefers to be mysterious like that. He’s really cute though. Scouts honor.
On top of all that that, November is also DINOVEMBER. Have you heard of it? It’s like Elf on the Shelf meets dinosaurs. The people who started it all now have a children’s book out called What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night.
So naturally, my favorite author props decided to get in on the action.
Didn’t you know that lunch tastes better when dinosaurs packs it? Fact.
Also- on a side note. I don’t recommend your dinosaurs get into the dog toys. There may have been some dinosaur casualties during this dinovember. I may or may not have run after my bulldogs yelling things like GIVE BACK MY T.REX. Because that’s normal.
My kids are going to have this interesting childhood peppered with dinosaurs thanks to this book.
Nothing to see here.
Just a girl. Holding her T. Rex. Asking him to love her. (Quick-name that movie reference!)
In the middle of all the dinovember, halloween costume, author visits, conference craziness…I also received the galley pages for Edge of Extinction- Code Name Flood. It’s now available for pre-order!!!!!
I quickly got these edited and sent back to HarperCollins, and the advanced reading copies landed on my doorstep a few days ago. I’m working on a post with the cover reveal. Hopefully later this week! Whoop Whoop!
To cap off this whirlwind of visits, I’m also talking at the Zionsville Public Library tonight to celebrate dinovember! So if you are local, come check it out! Free pizza!
I know this post is random and jumbled, but that’s how life has been recently so it’s fitting. Here’s hoping you all have a lovely November. Or Dinovember if you happen to being taking part in the fun.