Last Author Visits of 2011

I was on the verge of posting about my first 2012 author visit when I realized I still needed to publish  about my final visits in 2011. Here is an overview of my last trip to Atlanta, Georgia.

My adventure began Monday, November 14, 2011 at…

Ocee Elementary
4375 Kimball Bridge Road
Alpharetta, GA  30022

I spoke to the children from the stage in the cafeteria. About 200 students attended each program.

8:00  Pre-K and Kindergarten

9:00  1st and 2nd grades

PTA member Jeannie Fisher (right) with Tammy (left) at Ocee Elementary, home of the otters!

Tuesday, November 15, I spent the day with Jennifer Rice in her library at…

Macedonia Elementary
10370 East Cherokee Drive
Canton, GA 30115

Each group had about 80 students.

8:15-8:55 Third Grade
9:00- 9:40 First Grade
9:45- 10:20 Kindergarten
10:25-11:05 Second Grade
11:10-11:40- Lunch
11:45-12:15 Fourth Grade
12:20-1:00 Fifth Grade
1:15-1:45 Book Signing

The librarian, Jennifer Rice (right), did a fabulous job preparing students for our visit.

My last author visit in 2011 was on Wednesday, November 16 at…

Greater Atlanta Christian School
1575 Indian Trail Rd
Norcross, GA  30093

My husband and co-author of KALEIDONOTES in the GACS library.

8:20-9:00           Third Grade
9:20-10:55          Kindergarden/First Grade
10:15-11:00         Fourth Grade
11:00-12:00        Lunch
12:00-12:45         Second Grade
1:00-1:45             Fifth Grade

We were right at home in their lovely library. The librarians, Allison Anderson and Renee Arnold, were very excited about our visit. Their enthusiasm for our books prior to our arrival prepared the students who were fully engaged and asked great questions.

From left to right: Allison Anderson, Tammy Bronson, Renee Arnold.

A 2nd grade teacher, Crystal Rush,  taught in Conway, Arkansas before moving to Norcross. She fondly recalled my author visit to Marguerite Vann Elementary on March 5, 2010. It’s a small world! I remember my visit to that school because a kindergarten student sent me a watercolor painting he did from my Polliwog book. It was such an amazing picture, I framed it. It still hangs in my office.

Although I often hear, “This is the best author visit we’ve ever had,” very few teachers find the time to put that in writing. My heartfelt thanks to Ms. Cherry at Greater Atlanta Christian School for taking time out of her busy schedule to post my favorite author visit review of 2011:

“Mrs. Bronson, Thank you for visiting Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, GA today. I just have to tell you, that after listening to 15 years of author visits, your presentation was by far the best I have ever heard! My 4th graders greatly enjoyed your talk, learned, and were inspired to try writing their own picture book. I appreciated all of the aspects of being an author that brought to life as well as the from start to finish of the book. Learning how the books are actually put together was something that I do not think any author has ever presented. Your use of technology and explaining how you use Photoshop was also very helpful since the children are comfortable with that program. You and your husband presented a lively and informative author talk and I am thankful for your visit!”

Responses like this encourage me to continue traveling and inspiring children to be readers, writers, and lifelong supporters of the library. I am grateful for any feedback, but this was a big boost that helped me get off on the right foot in the new year. A fond farewell to 2011. Hello, 2012!

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My Author Visit at Liberty Christian School

The students and staff at Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas gave me a warm welcome Tuesday morning, November 1st.  My program was in the Fine Arts Auditorium where they had a giant screen that lowered in front of the stage. The librarian, Yvonne Lacy, provided a document camera so I could project images of my books on the screen for 3rd through 6th grades.

3rd/4th Grades from 8:40 to 9:25 am
6th Grade from 9:45 to 10:30 am
5th Grade from 10:35 to 11:20 am

Mrs. Lacy did a fantastic job preparing the students for my visit. Many of them were serious writers in their own right and very interested in the publication process.

Librarian Yvonne Lacy & Tammy Bronson

Some popular questions from students included…

How many rewrites did you do for “Sea Horse, run!”? Answer: 19
How many copies of Tiny Snail are in print?

Mrs. Lytle’s 6th grade class wanted to know…

How many published titles do I have. Answer: Four. Tiny Snail (2000), Kaleidonotes (2001), Polliwog (2004), and Sea Horse, run!” (2011)

How many awards and honors have I received. Answer:  “Sea Horse, run!” has won two awards: 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Picture Book, and it is a Finalist in the USA Best Book Awards in the picture book category.

Three interesting facts about me.

Who or what has influenced my writing. Answer: My fellow Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison.

I was very impressed with the students, staff, and the amazing facilities at Liberty Christian. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit!

Here is a link to the lovely article about our visit on the Liberty Christian Website:

LCS Library Welcomes Visiting Authors

My Author Visits in Bryant, Arkansas

In April 2001 I visited Grace Hill Elementary in Rogers, Arkansas. It was one of my first author visits, and at that time I only had one book, Tiny Snail. Katie Thomas, a former teacher at Grace Hill, is now the principal at Collegeville Elementary in Bryant, Arkansas. I was amazed to learn that ten years later Katie remembered my 2001 author visit at Grace Hill, and when it came time for her to select an author for a program at Collegeville, she chose me!

My visit to Collegeville Elementary was Monday morning, October 24, 2011. Collegeville shared the day with Salem Elementary, and both school programs were in the gym. Since there were about 200 kids in each presentation, the schools provided a document camera so smaller visuals could be projected on the wall. Despite the size of the groups, students were very attentive and asked great questions.

K-1st Grades 8:30 AM – 9:05 AM

2nd – 3rd Grades 9:15 AM – 10:00 AM

10:00 AM-10:20 AM Autograph Books

4th – 5th Grades 10:20 AM – 11:05 AM

11:05 AM – Noon Finish Autographing Books and Lunch

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Drive to Salem Elementary and set up in the gym

4th-5th Grades 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM

K- 1st Grades 1:50 PM – – 2:35 PM

2nd-3rd Grades 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

3:15- 3:45 Autograph Books

I am very grateful to both Katie Thomas and Salem’s principal, Mark Scarlett, for taking time out of their busy schedules to organize the author visit and to meet with me personally on the day of the event. It was a lively and very rewarding day.

Students are welcome to keep in touch and send questions via e-mail at books@bookaroos.com.

 

Visiting Dwight Elementary

Lori Kirtley (left) is the librarian at Dwight Elementary.

As a native of Arkansas, visiting an Arkansas school is a special treat. Yesterday I spoke to students at Dwight Elementary in Russellville, a beautiful Arkansas town nestled between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. With only 270 students (K-4), Dwight was a small school with a big heart! The students and staff were very enthusiastic, and the librarian, Lori Kirtley, did a fabulous job preparing all the students for my visit. Every child was familiar with my stories, and in the hall outside the library a monitor flashed pictures and highlights from my books.

12:00 – 12:40 Kindergarten and First Grade

12:45 – 1:30  Second and Third Grades

1:35 – 2:25 Fourth Grade

Dwight Elementary Cafeteria

The program took place in the cafeteria, and at the end of the day Lori gave me a lovely card and flowers. Hopefully I motivated more Arkansas students to pursue a career in writing and/or art.

Thank you, Dwight Elementary, for inviting me to your school!

My Author Visit at Trip Elementary

On Tuesday (September 27th) I visitied Trip Elementary in the historic town of Grayson, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Grayson has six elementary schools, all a part of the Gwinnett County Public School system. Trip Elementary has almost 850 students (K-5th), but even with an average of 140 students in each grade, the library was large enough to accommodate every group.

Trip Elementary Library

4th Grade:  8:55 – 9:45
5th Grade:  9:55 – 10:40
2nd Grade:   10:45 – 11:20
Lunch
3rd Grade:  12:20 – 12:55
Kinder:  1:05 – 1:40
1st Grade:  1:45 – 2:20

The Whimsical Entrance to Trip Elementary's Library

Technology can be unreliable, so generally I use hand-held visuals (books, sample art, posters, etc.) when I talk to students. I rarely use multi-media in my programs, but the librarian, Nicole Dineen, set up a document camera so students in the back of the room could see the details of some of my smaller visuals. The document camera worked perfectly, and it allowed me, for first time at a school, to use my iPad with the 4th and 5th grade students. The document camera projected a few minutes of footage from my ribboned sea dragon video.

Tammy (Left) and Nicole Dineen, Librarian at Trip Elementary.

Nicole did a great job organizing the visit. Many thanks to the students and staff for our warm welcome!

After the visit I drove as far as Memphis where I spent the night in Marion, Arkansas. The next morning I drove the remaining distance home, and somewhere between Memphis and Little Rock my little Honda Fit reached a milestone: 100,000 miles!

Summer 2011 in Review

I had a very long “to do” list for Summer 2011, and unfortunately I barely scratched off a few lines. The list carries on into Fall, but where did all the time go this year? Why didn’t I get more accomplished? In retrospect, Summer was dedicated to launching and promoting “Sea Horse, run!”. Come to think of it, so was the Spring…

Sea Horse, run! with Award Sticker

“SEA HORSE, RUN!” 

My first new book in 7 years, “Sea Horse, run!” (SHR), launched on June 1, 2011.

As a children’s picture book, SHR was entered into 16 different awards.

SHR won the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award.

Seven fabulous reviews for SHR, the most reviews I’ve ever received for a single book! Several of the reviews were by major, national publications such as Kirkus and PW (Publisher’s Weekly).

Radio interview on Ozarks At Large which is a daily news program on KUAF, an NPR affiliate. Click on the link to access the podcast. My interview for SHR starts 24 minutes into the show. http://www.kuaf.com/content/tuesday-july-5-2011

I finally joined TWITTER in July where I customized my page with a SHR theme. Follow me: @T_CarterBronson.

SHR was featured in the July 2011 issue of Northwest Arkansas’ Citiscapes magazine, page 35.

Three book signings in bookstores: Barnes & Noble Store#2662, Omaha, NE (Tues, May 17th); Barnes & Noble Store #2721, Fayetteville, AR (Sat July 9th); and Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR (Sat, August 6th).

I learned that my original SHR website would soon disappear, so I started a Word Press Blog in July to replace it.

SHR featured July 28th at DallasKidsRead!, a Dallas Children’s Literary Festival at the Dallas Public Library.

Waterman Entertainment in Los Angeles requested a copy of SHR in August.

Created a fun video on drawing the art for SHR entitled, “The Ribboned Sea Dragon.”

SHR shipped to IBPA for display at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The softcover of SHR was released September 1, 2011.

So far, five aquariums have ordered SHR for their gift shops.

BACKLIST, ALIVE & WELL!

With all the attention for SHR, I almost forgot my backlist, but out of the blue, a Barnes & Noble store in Lone Tree, Colorado ordered 25 hardcover copies of Polliwog (2004). Go, Polliwog, go!

Mariposa Press agreed to represent all of my books for distribution in France!

A distributor of English language books in Taiwan, Chang Yi Cultural Company, ordered SHRTiny Snail, & Polliwog.

In addition to carrying SHR in their gift shop, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium ordered copies of Tiny Snail.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art ordered Tiny Snail, Polliwog and Kaleidonotes for their gift shop.

PUBLIC APPEARANCES

Three book signings in bookstores: Barnes & Noble Store#2662, Omaha, NE (Tues, May 17th); Barnes & Noble Store #2721, Fayetteville, AR (Sat July 9th); and Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, AR (Sat, August 6th).

Five conferences: SCBWI Midwinter Conference & Art Showcase (New York City, NY; January 28), Illinois Reading Council (IRC in Springfield, IL; March 17-18), Texas Library Association (TLA in Austin, TX; April 12-15), Arkansas SCBWI Spring Conference (North Little Rock, AR; April 29-30), Tulsa OK Play conference (Tulsa, OK; June 18-19).

2011 Texas Library Association Booth

Two library talks: Dallas Public Library event (July 28th) and Fayetteville Public Library event (September 24th).

Thirty-two author visits (January-September 8, 2011 at Good Shepherd Episcopal School).

For a total of 42 public appearances so far this year.

In the last ten years, the average number of public appearances I make in a year is around 55. Yes, over fifty appearances each year! I have 21 more school visits booked for the fall which brings my 2011 total to sixty-three appearances.

Visit my EVENTS calendar. (Remember to scroll down for the lists of author visits.)

IN SUMMARY

Where did all the time go? Traveling, filling book orders, building 2 new websites/blogs, not to mention mailing packets of books for schools, reviewers, and book awards. It’s no wonder I never found time to revise and submit my novel for possible publication or turn my picture books into e-books. Those “little” projects are now scheduled for completion in the coming months in between the 21 author visits that will take place in 7 different states. I have a feeling there will be more book adventures, announcements, and news in Fall 2011!

Good Shepherd Episcopal School

My first author visit of the 2011-2012 school year was yesterday at Good Shepherd Episcopal School in Dallas, Texas. We spoke to kindergarden through 2nd grade, and the presentations were in the new library which houses almost 29,000 books, an aquarium filled with corals and tropical fish, two parakeets, and a yellow rat snake! Their amazing library is located in the school’s new Center for Creative Learning which is the first elementary school in Texas to be awarded LEED Gold certification established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

From left to right: Author Matthew Shane Bronson, Author/Illustrator Tammy Carter Bronson, and Librarian Liz Fleskes.

Both the librarian, Liz Fleskes, and her assistant, Claudia Hinton, made us feel very welcome. They treated us to lunch from the Corner Bakery along with coffee, snacks and a beautiful display featuring our books.

Good Shepherd's Book Display

The students were well prepared for the visit. They were familiar with every story, and several students sent us fan mail after the program. My favorite is from the youngest student to ever send me an email:

“Hello–My name is Jordan. I am a pre-Kindergarten student at Good Shepherd Episcopal School. Thanks for coming to visit with us today. I wish that I had brought you some flowers. I hope you can come and visit us again.

Jordan

P. S. My daughter was insistent on sending you this thank you email. You obviously made quite an impression today. Thank you.”

What a perfect visit to begin the new school year! Thank you, Good Shepherd Episcopal, for inviting us to your school. We enjoyed meeting your students, and we are grateful for the wonderful memories!

Corals in the Good Shepherd Aquarium

Good Shepherd Episcopal School Author Visit

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9:10-9:40 – Kindergarden/Pre-K (~50 students)

9:55-10:40 – 2nd Grade (53 students)

10:40-11:35 Book Signing

11:35-12:15 First Grade (55 students)

12:15-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:00 Kindergarden/Pre-K (~50 students)

2011 Fall Retreat

If you want to write for children, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a great organization to join. Although it is an international organization with annual meetings in New York City (January) and Los Angeles (August), your membership entitles you to participate in conferences and/or retreats happening in any state or region around the world. Attending a conference or retreat will give you the opportunity to fine tune your manuscript by getting feedback from an editor or literary agent. You will also learn what types of manuscripts editors or literary agents want to publish.

St. Scholastica Monastery

The Arkansas SCBWI writer’s retreat occurs every fall, and in recent years writers from across the state have converged on the Saint Scholastica Retreat Center in Fort Smith for three days of intensive work on their writing. The retreat center, sponsored by the Benedictine Sisters, shares a 66 acre wooded area with Saint Scholastica Monastery, and the secluded setting is the perfect spot for contemplation and inspiration. I attended in 2009 and 2010, and during both retreats I made great progress with the revisions for my novel.

Sadly, I will be out of the state during the conference this year, but you may be able to attend! If you submit pages from your manuscript by October 1st, you will receive feedback from the editor at the retreat. The 15th annual Arkansas SCBWI Fall Retreat for Writers of Children’s Literature (November 4th-6th, 2011) will feature hands-on workshops led by Stacy Cantor Abrams, editor at Walker Books for Young Readers, and guidance on craft issues by Anna Myers, an Oklahoma author of nineteen novels for middle-grade and young adults.

You must be an SCBWI member to attend. Registration is usually by invitation only, and reservations are on a first come, first served basis. Email the Retreat Director (retreat @ arkansasscbwi.org) if you are interested in joining SCBWI and attending the retreat.

Cost:

SCBWI Membership: First year is $85. Annual renewal fee is $70. Join SCBWI

Arkansas Fall Retreat: $280 (Includes meals, snacks, all sessions, and private rooms with a shared bath.)

For more information, visit these websites:

Arkansas SCBWI

Arkansas SCBWI Retreat Page

Join SCBWI

Anna Myers Main Website

Books Published by Bloomsbury Kids

Charlotte’s Web

Cover of "Charlotte's Web (paper-over-boa...

Cover of Charlotte's Web

“Salutations!”

And so begins the first meeting between two of the most famous characters in 20th century children’s literature, Wilbur and Charlotte.

I am a great admirer of E. B. White’s work, and Charlotte’s Web is one of my favorite children’s books. Today I caught part of a wonderful interview with Michael Sims’ about his new book, The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E. B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic. The interview is on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. The book was released June 7, 2011 and is already in its third printing. There are links to more interviews on the author’s website, michaelsimsbooks.com, and I enjoyed reading the insightful article about the book at Smithsonian.com.

I often use Charlotte’s Web in writing workshops with older students (2nd-5th grades) because the plot of the book is a perfect example of a “Hero’s Journey.” I use three questions to begin the discussion. The answers to these questions help define the beginning, middle, and end of the book.

THE BEGINNING

Who is the hero? Wilbur

Many students will name Charlotte as the hero, but she is a supporting character I like to call, “the Teacher Character,” because she helps the hero the most on his journey. Wilbur is the hero because he wants something, but he won’t achieve his goal until the end.

THE END

What does the hero want? Wilbur wants to live.

This is the hero’s goal, and it determines the end of the book. In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur wants to live, and several supporting characters help make his dream a reality as the story unfolds.

THE MIDDLE

What is the problem, or why is Wilbur’s life in danger? Fern’s uncle, Mr. Zuckerman, wants to eat him!

Several supporting characters, including Charlotte and Templeton the rat, help Wilbur convince Mr. Zuckerman that he is “SOME PIG” and way too “TERRIFIC” to eat.

Below is an outline I created of the plot in Charlotte’s Web. Teachers, feel free to use this outline in the classroom. It’s a great tool for readers and writers. Seeing how the story unfolds, step-by-step, might help you outline the plot in your own story.

Charlottes Web Plot

Double-click to view and print the full page.

For more information about E. B. White and Charlotte’s Web, try these websites:

E. B. White Official Website

Charlotte’s Web Study Guide

Activities at ABCTeach.com

Charlotte’s Web at Scholastic.com

More Links at eThemes (Missouri.edu)