Right now, I’m working on book three in my THE LAST DRAGON CHARMER series. Actually, I’m procrastinating – for just a moment – to update this blog. Technically, I am writing, though.
I made the most complete outline I’ve been able to create for this particular book. Outlining is a skill I want, but one that doesn’t seem to come naturally to me. But I *believe* I’m getting better at it. My goal is to be able to generate detailed plans for all future books that I write. Hopefully. Maybe. Someday.
This book just hits every ice-skating dream I’ve ever had! Kaitlin is a great main character! She’s interesting and determined to become the best skater she can. (She also makes some great friends and develops a bit of a crush on a cute bad boy.) As a kid, I would have loved it. And I loved it as an adult, too!
BREAKING THE ICE by Gail Nall
Written in verse, this story is heart-wrenching and beautiful. It’s about New York City, the 1990s, and HIV. More so, though, it’s about finding out who you are, who your true family and friends are, and the struggles that make us turn to the stars.
SKYSCRAPING by Cordelia Jensen
I found the main character Stan endearing and funny. (FYI Stan is the man!) He entertainingly blurts out whatever he’s thinking. It’s interesting, too, to read a book set in an 1895 lumber camp. And there are 1895 real pics all though the pages!!! All and all, a great book. I also like a stories with tough old ladies in them, and this one delivers. Evil-ish grannies for-the-win.
MY NEAR DEATH ADVENTURES by Alison DeCamp
My first school visit was to the Crain’s Creek Middle School through The Country Bookshop. (The Country Bookshop is a wonderful sixty-plus-year-old independent bookstore. I wrote a little about them here at author Shannon Roat’s blog for her ‘Bookstore love’ series.) Of course, I was nervous. I’d never presented to students about my book before.
My first group was around a hundred – maybe more – sixth graders. When I saw the crowd, I felt a bit like this:
But it’s not that I’ve never spoken in front of students. I taught high school and college biology for ten years. I usually do pretty good in front of a crowd. Usually.
One thing I’ve learned teaching, however, is I can never predict how well a presentation, workshop, or lesson will go. Even when everything should go right, I can have a bad day, the class can be grumpy, the great techno gods can smite the computer game I worked for hours to make. All I can do is prepare, take a deep breath, and not take myself too seriously.
It can be a bit tricky. (This sentence is here just so I can add a cat in a box.)
Actually, I have three basic rules for presenting things:
1. Have a good detailed plan but not a script. It’s easier to tweak a plan halfway through than change a script if things go wonky. And wonky happens.
2. Entertain myself. That way, at least one person in the room is having a good time. Me. Besides, if I’m bored, I can’t expect everyone else to be interested.
3. And of course, I make sure they the students learn something. Hmm. Maybe this should be number one?
I always hope for this type of audience:
As opposed to this falling-over, can’t stay awake, need some excitement version:
I tried to apply those same teaching skills to my author visit. I guess once a teacher, always a teacher. Although, I also talked about my book. It’s an author visit so that seemed necessary. And I made a game with a horse and dragon, and a ‘can you spot the differences’ cover activity thing. I thought there was like a 60% chance it would work well.
Here I am, foam sword in hand, starting my visit:
The question, of course, is how did it go?
It went great! I was lucky enough to have a good day and a wonderful crowd of students. Seriously, I was so impressed with the students at Crain’s Creek. I spoke to sixth graders first, then seventh and eighth graders next.
Afterwards, I met with the Battle of the Books group.
They really made my day. (<–My type keeps turning blue here. This is not planned.)
It never hurts to wave your foam swords, either.
I just hope all my school visits are as great as the first.
This book starts with Jinx – Satan’s youngest son – hanging from a tree. You can’t go wrong with that type of beginning! I liked Jinx. I enjoyed his accidental ‘good’ disasters and the friendship that develops between him and Tommy – a girl who really shouldn’t be in Hell. There’s a mix of underworld/hell/Hades mythology that I really enjoyed, too. And who doesn’t love a son trying to save his home and father! It’s such a quick, fun, funny, interesting read!
THE D’EVIL DIARIES by Tatum Flynne
I want to read the next book! While this story is nice and complete, there’s more I want to know about the characters and about the world of sprites and wisps. I want to know what happens to Lottie, Fife, Oliver, Ada, and Eliot next. This is a great book with a magical and dangerous world and with likable characters. I want to spend more time with them and their enchanted land. And I want to root shoot.
THE WATER AND THE WILD by K.E. Ormsbee
I’m going to go visit Crain’s Creek Elementary and then do a quick ‘Meet and Greet’ at The Country Bookshop in Southern PInes, NC. The bookshop even put up a window display 🙂 It’s great to visit the area where I grew up. Check out the window and the article in the local paper – The Pilot.
Currently, there are a group of 30+ middle-grade authors giving away a book a day on twitter. All you have to do is retweet the author of the book of the day’s tweet to enter. It’s a cool thing. Here is a list of books available each day. VILLAIN KEEPER is the last book of the giveaway on Friday, April 3rd.
Also, here is a dragon to share the excitement.
March Middle Grade Madness Giveaway Schedule
Sunday March 1st: Jess Keating: OUTRUN A CROC and OUTSWIM A SHARK
Monday March 2nd: Gayle Rosengren: WHAT THE MOON SAID
Tuesday March 3rd: Kerry Cerra: JUST A DROP OF WATER
Wednesday March 4th: Laura Fitzgerald: UNDER THE EGG
Thursday March 5th: MarcyKate Connolly: MONSTROUS
Friday March 6th: Rachel Searles: THE LOST PLANET and/or THE STOLEN MOON
Saturday March 7th: Edith Cohn: SPIRIT’S KEY
Sunday March 8th: Miriam Spitzer Franklin: EXTRAORDINARY
Monday March 9th: Alison DeCamp: MY NEAR DEATH ADVENTURES
Tuesday March 10th: Dana Alison Levy: FAMILY FLETCHER
Wednesday March 11th: Jen Malone and Gail Nall: YOU’RE INVITED
Thursday March 12th: Adriana Schanen: QUINNY & HOPPER
Friday March 13th: Lauren Magaziner: THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES
Saturday March 14th: Isaiah Campbell: TROUBLES OF JOHNNY CANON
Sunday March 15th: Jessica Lawson: ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER
Monday March 16th: Tara Dairman: ALL FOUR STARS and STARS OF SUMMER
Tuesday March 17th: Paul Durham: LUCK UGLIES
Wednesday March 18th: Louise Galveston: IN TODD WE TRUST
Thursday March 19th: Jen Downey: NINJA LIBRARIANS
Friday March 20th: Robin Herrera: HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL
Saturday March 21st: Jennifer Torres: THE BRINY DEEP MYSTERIES
Sunday March 22nd: Varsha Bajaj: ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD
Monday March 23rd: Holly Grant: THE LEAGUE OF BEASTLY DREADFULS
Tuesday March 24th: Matt London: THE 8TH CONTINENT
Wednesday March 25th: Rebecca Behrens: WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE
Thursday March 26th: Sheila Grau: DR. CRITCHLORE’S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS
Friday March 27th: Kate Hannigan: THE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT
Saturday March 28th: Andrew Harwell: THE SPIDER RING
Sunday March 29th: Lisa Scott: SCHOOL OF CHARM
Monday March 30th: Heidi Schulz: HOOK’S REVENGE
Tuesday March 31st: Erin Entrada Kelly: BLACKBIRD FLY
Wednesday April 1st: Wesley King: THE INCREDIBLE SPACE RAIDERS FROM SPACE!
Thursday April 2nd: Matt Myklusch: SEABORNE: THE LOST PRINCE
Friday April 3rd: Laurie Lyn: VILLAIN KEEPER