A podcast dedicated to demystifying the art and business of school author visits for authors, illustrators, educators, librarians, parents, and booksellers.
26. Timely Tips
Shanda and Bonnie have a list of tips (from mistakes they've made in the past)!
(Bonnie) Welcome to the Author Visit Podcast! I’m author Bonnie Clark.
(Shanda) And I’m author-illustrator, Shanda McCloskey.
(Bonnie) Today we are recording our “Timely Tips” episode!
(Shanda) We live in a different world now than most of us grew up in, so we thought we could compile some of our lessons learned about speaking to today’s groups of modern kids. We’ve made the mistakes for you, so you don’t have to!
(Shanda) Let’s get started on our tips…
Address students as non gender specific.
Say something like… hello friends, or young scientists, or my friend in the back row with a green shirt that has their hand up. (Do not assume a child is a boy or girl just because they appear so. Trust me on this one!
Acknowledge a serious student comment
If a child tells you something unfortunate directly to you or aloud in a presentation, just stay cool. Say something like… I’m really sorry that happened or that must’ve been hard. Then redirect the attention back to the intended subject. The student will felt heard and not embarrassed.
Off topic student answers/questions
Say … that would be fun to talk about later if we have time, but right now let’s keep going on this…
Responding to an incorrect student answer
Say something like… that’s a really good guess or I like the way you’re thinking, but actually…
Be careful not to embarrass a kid volunteer
Remind all the students that the task at hand is new to this person (such as drawing a robot) so we definitely don’t expect perfection, and we are just having some fun.
If a child argues your point in a presentation
Say something like… You are very smart, my friend! But can we agree on this part? And then leave it be. Or that’s an interesting idea. I’ll have to think about that.
What if a child throws up, loses a tooth, or starts their period during the presentation?
Most of the time teachers are keenly aware when their students are off and will jump to handle the situation before you even notice it, but if you do, never appear surprised or grossed out. Just motion to an adult in the room if needed. Appear unwavered and continue with your presentation as if nothing happened at all. The students will follow your lead.
When asking for a kid volunteer, wait a moment to allow for shyer kids
A few extra seconds might be all the time a shyer child needs to muster up the bravery to raise their hand.
As kids come into the space and get seated BEFORE I officially start, I like to pass the time and small talk with some of the students and ask them things like What’s for lunch today? or What were y’all doing before you came to the library? I think it helps all of us shake off nerves and just establish a comfortable environment and approachability.
Start with engagement
A sure fire way to grab kids’ attention is to start with a question they can respond to with a simple show of hands. Depending on your purpose for speaking you might ask, “How many artists do we have in the room?” Something as simple as this will immediately get students involved and thinking. Using enthusiasm in your voice and body language helps engagement too.
End with engagement
At the conclusion of your talk, maybe you could ask for another show of hands in response to the same question you asked at the beginning of your presentation? “Now, how many artists do we have in the room?” See if the number of hands that goes up changes because of the presentation. Or simply end with good ole Q&A!
At some point things WILL go wrong.
Don’t sweat it. Learn, adjust and move on!
I like to show a picture of myself at the age of the group I'm speaking to- it gets their attention & they seem surprised that I was ever a kid!
sometimes I ask the teachers what their specific protocol is (or tips and tricks) for g
25. Tech We Depend On
Shanda and Bonnie discuss the specific technology that each of them use for their school visits...
(Bonnie) Welcome to the Author Visit Podcast! I’m author Bonnie Clark.
(Shanda) And I’m author-illustrator, Shanda McCloskey.
(Bonnie) It’s August here in GA and our kiddos just started back to school, so the school visit season is upon us! Today we are talking with all about the tech we use and depend on for doing an author visit.
(Shanda) This was actually a request from a listener, and I’m so glad she wrote to us about this topic because it’s true, we haven’t gone into much detail about our tech requirements thus far! But before we get started, let’s catch our listeners up on what we’ve been up to for the past few months. What’ve you been up to, Bon?
(Bonnie) I’m really happy to be back in the saddle with you Shanda!! I know we didn’t intend to take a break for this long but honestly I needed it. I’ve had some life things going on and honestly I have been discouraged on the book front for a while now, but things are looking up! I’m excited to announce that I have signed with a new agent: Kristin Terrette of MLM. We’ve been social media friends for years and liked each other’s posts. She’s an author turned agent and turns out we have a similar connection to the way we first met Shanda…My husband Keenan cut her and her family’s hair years ago! She lives here in north GA so it’s kind of cool to be able to meet in person and have coffee and talk about books. I had a fantastic experience with my previous agent- I adore her personally and professionally, but I really felt like it was time for a change. Already I feel re-energized, hopeful about my projects and I feel like my creative spark is back. SO yay!
(Shanda) Summer was busy with family stuff - both daughter’s birthdays, a family reunion, a family vacation, and some bigger house projects like cleaning out a big attic/closet space. I was in waiting mode as far as work stuff went, which was actually a good thing. I was waiting on the 2nd round of sketches feedback from Chronicle for the Rube Goldberg nonfiction book by Catherine Thimesh I’m illustrating, and also waiting on a contract from Disney Hyperion for an illustration project about an autistic child, called Lilibet makes a Friend by Kersten Hamilton. My agent also sent out my young graphic novel book proposal to a handful of editors, so I'm waiting on those responses too. Lots and lot’s of waiting.
(Bonnie) Let’s dive in…
Bring a computer? Use the school’s?
How do you read your book?
Shanda: I read the book on slides (spread by spread) so it’s easy to see. (I try to memorize the book so I don’t crink my neck or face away from the audience while reading too much) I’ve never been handed a PDF of my books with the text and all from my publishers so … To get the book into slide form I’ve done two things - 1. I took pics of the actual book pages, but the color always looks a bit off, so 2. I’ve recently discovered that if I borrow the e-book from Libby, I can flip through the book and take screenshots of each spread. The colors are perfection! And I figure it’s not stealing since it’s my book :) But I wouldn't do that with a book that isn’t mine.
What’s in your tech kit that you bring to each school? Extra Cords/adapters? Backups?
Shanda: I bring my own my laptop computer and it’s charging block/cord, USBC adapter, HDMI cord, a 10 ft extension cord, a remote clicker with extra AAA batteries, and a jump drive just in case. PDF version of slides on jump drive, emailed slides to myself.
What’s gone wrong before? What did you do?
Shanda: Even with all my cords and dongles (I hate that word) I still ended up not being able to use my own computer at a school once. So they brought in a school computer and I used my jump drive to access the presentations, but there was not enough processing power/memory/whatever on t
24. Cultivating an Artist in Residence Program to Instruct (Students), Ignite (Teachers), and Inspire (Everyone) with Trey Veazey!
This episode is geared toward educators, but helpful for authors and booksellers as well!
Today we are talking with Trey Veazey, who is the Assistant Head of the Lower School at an independent school called The Walker School near Atlanta, GA. This past fall, Trey invited Bonnie (Clark) to be an author-in-residence as part of the school’s annual book festival. "It was an incredible experience", says Bonnie.
Some of the questions and conversation with Trey…
Can you tell us a little more about yourself, your background, and the annual book festival at The Walker School?
Describe the Book festival for our listeners (if you haven’t already).
How many years have you been doing the book festival? How did that start in the first place? Was the festival your brain child?
USM FBK CBF
Kimberly Willis Holt
You added the artist-in-residence to this year’s festival, correct? What led you to try this?
An old idea spurred to action by your episode with Joyce Hesselberth
How’d it go? And what led you to Bonnie as your first Artist-in-Residence?
I’d love to hear from Bonnie on how it went
What was your favorite part of the most recent festival? And the worst part?
Favorite: Curious George (Costume Specialists)
Worst: I never see anything 🤣
Is the book festival something you could only viably do within a private school setting with more freedom and funds or do you think public schools could make it happen as well?
Central Primary & Glen Oaks Park
Reference the flood
How do you fund an event like this? Book fair/book sales? Grant? In the school budget? Other?
However you can
Office of Development
How do you handle book sales at the festival?
Talk about pop-up shop and pre-orders
What’s one thing you’ve learned over the course of doing the annual book festival? Or what’s your main advice you have for schools wanting to try something similar?
Ideas are like plants. They take time. You have to plant the seed and tend to those ideas. Sometimes, you have to reseed the idea, and sometimes, you have to prune it completely and start fresh. The thing is that the ideas will never grow if you first don’t plant them. Give yourself ample time to sprout, but one thing you will not here me say is to start small. If you dream big, lean into that. Of course, check your boxes and make sure things are handled, but don’t minimize the impact you can have on your school community because there are too many details. Every tapestry is made of individual threads.
Support system on-campus and off
Independent booksellers (cost-benefit analysis)
What’s something you learned from adding the artist in residence to the book festival this year?
Opportunity for students (independent selling point)
Increased network and professional opportunities
This very podcast
Capacity for unique experiences each year
Anything you wish I had asked?
Thanks for joining us, Trey! That wraps up our 24th episode about Cultivating an Artist in Residence Program to Instruct (Students), Ignite (Teachers), and Inspire (Everyone) with Trey Veazey!
This podcast is sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com and produced by Ben McCloskey. And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate-and-review us on Apple Podcasts!
What did you think about this episode with Trey? Or maybe you have an idea for a future episode? Let us know through the contact form on AuthorVisitPodcast.com.
Thanks for listening!
23. Level Up Your Author Visit Game (with STEM/STEAM Author Jennifer Swanson)
Our topic today is all about leveling up your author visit game with our special guest, children's STEM/STEAM author Jennifer Swanson!
Today we get to dive into the world of Jennifer Swanson! If you don’t already know of her, she is an award-winning author of over 40 nonfiction books for children, mostly about science and technology. Jennifer’s love of STEM began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 7. And not only that, but we consider her a school visit champion!
During the talk, we asked Jennifer these questions…
Jennifer, in your opinion what’s the difference between a good school visit and a really GREAT one?
How do you go about engaging kids and keeping their attention? And further, how do you get them excited?
A lot of authors write and present about STEM subjects, but what makes YOURS extra special?
We recently had a request to talk about the tech we use during school visits. And we hope to dedicate a whole episode to this soon, but while we have you here what tech do you use for presenting, Jennifer?
Tell us about the non-fiction writing workshops that you offer!
I see that 3 sessions is your full day. How did you come to that number? (I recently raised my prices, but I added a fourth session to my full day, and it’s intense! But I also feel like a wimp compared to what teachers are doing each day with students. I think I’ll go back to 3 sessions a day next school year.)
Have you ever had a school visit disaster? Do tell!
How do you go about getting school visit gigs? Do you handle everything on your own or do you use a booking agency?
What’s one thing you’ve learned over the course of doing school visits? Or what’s your main advice you have for other authors to up their school visit game?
Thanks for joining us, Jennifer! That wraps up our 23rd episode about leveling up your author visit game with Jennifer Swanson!
To know more about Jennifer Swanson's author visits, books, etc: https://jenniferswansonbooks.com/
Jennifer's podcast: https://solveitforkids.com/
Kid book review by: Harvey M.
This podcast is sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com and produced by Ben McCloskey. And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate-and-review us on Apple Podcasts! And don’t forget your kid can record a book review (for us to play on a future episode) from the link on AuthorVisitPodcast.com.
What did you think about this episode with Jennifer? Let us know in the episode comments on AuthorVisitPodcast.com or tweet us @authorvisitcen.
Thanks for listening!
Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with affiliate links that help support this podcast): Save the Crash-test Dummies by Jennifer Swanson (author), TeMika Grooms (illustrator) Beastly Bionics by Jennifer Swanson Astronaut Aquanaut by Jennifer Swanson Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson (author), Kevin O'Malley (illustrator) Little Red and the Big Bad Editor by Rebecca Kraft Editor (author), Shanda McCloskey (illustrator) Catching Thoughts by Bonnie Clark (author), Summer Macon (illustrator) Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
22. Crafting Presentations Around Your Books (with Author Shelli R. Johannes)
Our topic today is all about crafting presentations and programs for school visits inspired by your books, with our special guest, author Shelli R. Johannes!
During the talk, Shanda asks Shelli these questions…
Shelli, on your website you have a thorough menu of different author visit presentations that correlate with various books you’ve written. Such as: Shine Like a Unicorn - Great for anti-bully week! includes reading and discussion on standing out and not being afraid to be yourself. And Theo TheSaurus - Logophiles love reading and writing! Includes reading Theo and discussing how to fall in love with reading. Do you craft a presentation for every new book you write?
How do you go about crafting presentations? Do you use a formula that works for you?
How have educators responded to your various presentations? Are there any that are more popular than others?
I see that you also offer several professional development sessions. (This is a fairly new concept to me. We talked about it in our last episode with Lola Schaefer quite a bit.) Are you booking those sessions often?
Do you offer writing workshops? Any that would require more than one session with the same students?
How do you handle book sales at your visits?
On social media, I noticed once that you posted honestly about your introvertness and sitting in your car right before a school visit and dreading that moment when you have to suddenly turn it “on”, walk in, and go perform. Does this happen to you every time? Do you relax once you start? This is an issue for so many of us creatives, so I’d love to go on a little tangent and talk about this.
What’s one thing you’ve learned over the course of doing school visits? Or what’s your main advice to other authors who are starting out.
Anything you wish I had asked?
Thanks for joining us , Shelli! That wraps up our 22nd episode all about crafting programs around your books with Shelli R. Johannes!
You can find me at www.shandamc.com, on Twitter: @ShandaMcCloskey, and on Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws.
Shelli, where can folks find you? https://www.srjohannes.com/
I’m so excited because for the very first time we had a kid (that I didn’t know) send in a book review! So here’s a special shout out to Ava! You made my day, kid!
This podcast is sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com and produced by Ben McCloskey. And if you enjoyed this episode, pleeeease rate-and-review us! We may even read your written review (on Apple Podcasts) on the next episode!
We love to hear from our listeners. Feel free to leave comments, ideas, and even have your kid record a kid book review on AuthorVisitPodcast.com. We might use it as the kid book review on the next episode!
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Author Visit Podcast!
Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with affiliate links that help support this podcast): Shine Like a Unicorn by Shelli R. Johannes (author), Maddie Frost (illustrator) Theo the Thesaurus: The Dinosaur that Loved Big Words by Shelli R. Johannes (author), Mike Moran (illustrator) Theo the Thesaurus and the Perfect Pet by Shelli R. Johannes (author), Mike Moran (illustrator) Little Red and the Big Bag Editor by Rebecca Kraft Rector (author), Shanda McCloskey (illustrator) The Star Festival by Moni Ritchie Hadley (Author), Mizuho Fujisawa (Illustrator)
21. Writer's Workshops with Lola Schaefer
Shanda picks the brain of author and teacher, Lola Schaefer, about how to put on writer's workshops for kids. (Bonnie Clark is on vacation).
(Shanda) Welcome to the Author Visit Podcast! I’m author-illustrator, Shanda McCloskey. And our topic today is all about putting on writer’s workshops with kids, with our special guest, author, and writing teacher - Lola Schaefer! Welcome, Lola!
(Shanda) We always start by telling how we’ve been doing for the past few weeks, so I'll start.
(Shanda) Finished a reeeeally rough sketch dummy for the Rube Goldberg book, Visited my sister in Greensboro, NC, and now I’m working on my first keynote for the Arkansas Literary Association’s Annual Literacy Conference (Doll-E 1.0 won 2nd place in the Arkansas Diamond Children's book award)... How’ve you been, Lola?
(Lola) Lola tells about how busy she’s been incredibly busy with gardening and books lately.
(Shanda) Lola, I’m excited to pick your brain about putting on writing workshops for students! First, can you tell us a little about yourself, the books you make, and your experience with writing workshops?
(Lola) Lola tells how she began as a classroom teacher and learned on the job how to get students writing!
During this talk, Shanda and Lola discuss the following…
What exactly is a writing workshop? How does a regular classroom writing workshop differ from an author visit writing workshop? How long do they last? One session? Multiple? What ages do best in writing workshops? How does a writer-in-residence differ from a writing workshop? What do you write in a writing workshop? How many students per session? What are some nuances that authors/educators might need to know or think about if they’ve never done a workshop before? How can authors tailor their writing with students' experiences so they complement what the teacher is currently doing in the writing workshop? What should authors charge for this sort of thing? Who is the contact you deal with most of the time at schools (or other) to set these events up? What about virtual workshops? Any special memories or funny stories from a workshop you’ve done in the past? What do you wish we had asked? Can schools book YOU for writing workshops now? (Shanda) That wraps up our 21st episode all about writing workshops for kids with Lola Shcaefer! This was a truly awesome talk! You can find me at www.shandamc.com, on Twitter: @ShandaMcCloskey, and on Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws. Lola, where can you be found?
(Lola) www.lolaschaefer.com and on Twitter and Facebook.
(Shanda) And here’s a kid book review… by Beni M.
(Shanda) This podcast is sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com and produced by Ben McCloskey of EngineIndustries.com. And if you enjoyed this episode, pleeeease rate-and-review us! We may even read your written review (on Apple Podcasts) on the next episode!
(Shanda) We love to hear from our listeners. Feel free to leave comments, ideas, and even have your kid record a kid book review on AuthorVisitPodcast.com. We might use it as the kid book review on the next episode!
(Shanda) Thanks for listening to this episode of the Author Visit Podcast. Bye!!!
Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with affiliate links that help support this podcast): Lift, Mix, Fling!: Machines Can Do Anything by Lola Schaefer (author), James Yang (illustrator)
A Fun Day at the Park: Ready-To-Read Graphics Level 1 (Sprinkles and Swirls Series) by Lola Shaefer (author), Savannah Allen (illustrator)
A Cool Day at the Pool: Ready-To-Read Graphics Level 1 (Sprinkles and Swirls Series) by Lola Shaefer (author), Savannah Allen (illustrator)
Karen's Roller Skates: A Graphic Novel (Baby-sitters Little Sister #2) by Ann M. Martin (Author), Katy Farina (Illustrator)
This podcast is sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com and produced by Ben McCloskey of EngineIndustries.com. And if you enjoyed this episode, we would surely appreciate it if you would rate an