February 7, 2019– Today, I’ll be visiting a school in my neighbourhood where I’ll be reading my book, Mount Fuji has Free Wi-Fi, to some grade three classes. School visits are so exciting and fun for not only the students but for me too! Here’s why author visits matter.
Kids can’t be what they can’t see. Children need to see the things that they can be. That’s why it’s essential as authors for us to go into schools to show them that we are just ordinary people behind all the stories that they see in the library and on bookshelves. And if we can be authors, so can they! As authors, we can use this opportunity to speak to them about the importance of education and what it takes to become authors from an academic perspective.
We hope to ignite their passion for reading. Interactive and fun presentations of your books help get the kids excited about reading and writing! Get them involved with storytelling games and activities that will make them want to read and participate in your visit. I leave activity sheets after every presentation and challenge the class to read five more books each than they read last year.
You learn something and get new ideas for new books. As much as we like to think that we teach the students something, we’re the ones who are being educated. Children are the best teachers, and the best stories come from school visits. I’ve never been asked more interesting questions than when I visit primary classrooms. Kids make us think and keep us on our toes. Some of the questions I’ve been asked range from what is my third favourite reptile (Komodo Dragon), to how much money I make (Buckets full), to how old am I (37) and what’s my mom’s name (Catherine). These visits have given me so many ideas for new books based on the characters I meet in classrooms.
Literacy matters. And the children are our future.
November 16, 2018– This year, November 18 falls on a Sunday where most libraries are closed, but that’s no reason not to celebrate this super cool day a couple of days early.
Let’s face it, librarians are akin to superheroes…in my book anyway, no pun intended. The amount of help that they have provided me over the years is staggering; from finding reference books for research purposes, or recommending the next best thriller, to having me as a guest speaker at an event that they’ve organized, I take my hat off to them for all of their excellent service and knowledge. Thank you for everything.
It saddens me that where we are, librarians are being phased out in schools and there’s no such thing as a library anymore, it’s been replaced with something called a learning commons. I remember as a student relishing in the days that we got to go to the library to pick our books and the magic that the choosing entailed. Our librarian would read us a story before we chose our books and that was the best part of the day. It’s terrible that kids won’t experience this anymore as cutbacks and the bottom line seem to be the topic of conversation in the school system these days.
My elementary school librarian fostered my love of reading and perhaps subconsciously, she added to my desire to be an author and to be surrounded by books at all times.
So, today, tomorrow, and on Monday, be sure to high-five your favourite librarian! They deserve to be appreciated each day of the year, but especially today.
September 17, 2018– Middle-grade scripts are what I’m always looking for! There seems to be an infinite black hole in my line-up of offerings for this age group. My middle-grade submissions never close, so if you’re an MG writer, please submit! You can submit your query and one-page synopsis to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, let’s get inside the minds of our middle-grades, shall we? What is an MG reader? It’s a child between the ages of 8-12, and they seem to live in a world of conflict.
Middle-graders love their families, and they are fiercely loyal to them, but at the same time, they crave independence.
They want to fit in with friends and social groups at school, but they also want to be defined as unique, individual, and special.
They want to grow up, make choices, flex their independence, but they also want to be a kid, be safe, and are emotionally not mature enough to make tough decisions when faced with them.
At this age, MG’s are finding their place in the world and getting their feet wet in different situations; they don’t want to completely abandon their childhood, but they don’t want to be treated as kids all the time either. It’s truly a tough spot to be in, not only for them but also, in relating to them as a writer!
Here’s what you need to know to be a successful MG writer:
Tweens are focused on themselves, but they’re also focused on how others see them. Peer opinions are super important to them.
Heroes and parents aren’t perfect anymore. MG’s are starting to see them as humans with flaws and all.
Things are complex at this time in their lives, and they may be experiencing things for the first time in their lives, e.g., first kiss, first time they’ve been grounded, first time they’ve been in trouble at school, first fight with parents, etc.
If there is romance, make it innocent. Crushes are fine but don’t go too far beyond this.
To echo the above point, keep it PG and don’t go all the way to Young Adult writing with edgy themes and romantic scenes. There is a very LARGE line in the sand on this one. Keep it clean because the edgier you make your novel, the less chance it has to enter school libraries and conservative households.
August 13, 2018- I do a lot of school visits as an author, and someone once asked me the question, “Do author visits make a difference in kids’ lives?” I took a second to think about that. “Yes, they do. And let me prove it to you.” More on this in a second.
I love, love, love going to schools as a visiting author with the opportunity to read my books to young people! It is such a unique and wonderful experience that no two schools are the same. I leave with a sense of gratitude for the young minds that allow me their attention for even a brief time and for the teachers and librarians that welcome me with open arms, into their schools and their spaces. The questions that the children ask are fun, funny, and sometimes very personal! But, enough about what we as authors get out of school visits, what do the children receive?
According to a recent study that was conducted in 2013, by California State University, children receive the following benefits from author school visits:
Author visits motivate children to read more. Kids passion for reading is ignited before, during, and after an author visit. They get excited about things that they can relate to such as an in-person visit from someone who is real! I often hear them say that they too want to be authors when they grow up.
Author visits inspire creativity and expression. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a school where the kids have created a comic book for me, complete with illustrations, or how many times they’ve created a poem or handmade card.
Author visits motivate children to write more. Children often hurry home after an author has visited their school because they’ve suddenly caught the writing bug. They want to write about anything, and everything, plus, author visits can also spark ideas to write about.
It is always beneficial to have an author visit your school! There are so many reasons why you should book a visit for the upcoming school year. Not only is it fun, but it’s also educational and entertaining.
I do in-person school visits, but I also offer live Skype visits and readings with schools that are abroad. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
December 8, 2017- Hi Friends, I’m really excited to share a little piece of a book that our very own Shamayal Hayat is working on as we speak! It will be released in the spring of 2018, and the title of this children’s book is Phillip Star. Phillip Star is larger than life and I can’t wait for you to meet him! Stay tuned for more updates and new releases from Pandamonium Publishing House. We have some really exciting things in our lineup for the next 2 years not only for kids but for adults too. Remember to follow us on Facebook!
December 1, 2017- I absolutely love coming across new writing prompts. Not only does it help writers sharpen their skills, but it also allows us to write about things that we may not normally write about. There are different types of writing prompts and here are a few examples below. Try a couple of these per day!
November 30, 2017-Well, it took me long enough! After visiting the London Book Fair, the largest book fair in the world, in March of this year, I’ve finally decided to share a few of my notes. The presenters were phenomenal, and I learned so much. I’m happy to say that at Pandamonium Publishing House, we are constantly trying to implement these ideas in our works. Here’s just a taste of a seminar I attended titled, Children’s Picture Books, Today and Tomorrow which was presented by Christine Baker…she’s the person who introduced Harry Potter to France!
Visual and aesthetic changes based on what is coming out of Europe
Core is sharing a story between kids and adults
Globalization of illustrative talent
Smaller publishers=different esthetics, different graphic styles, RETRO styling and online media influence of graphic styles
The changes currently are in regards to children’s books polarization in how to sell to people in the market. Books about food (donut on the front or about a shopping trolley sell insane amounts of books in supermarkets)
There is a large spectrum of illustrations, and a slightly alternative style is forthcoming
DIVERSITY IS HUGE. Be willing to take risks and be experimental, this will open a lot of doors. It’s good to see things from other countries because that itself lends to diversity. The Gruffalo is a great example of this.
Rhyming books can be hard to translate, and books for kids don’t always need to rhyme, but rhyming is fun if you do it right!
Non-Fiction Narrative is up and coming in this market
Unusual measurements-BIG HUGE books are popular
Push the boundaries of art
The scale is almost furniture size for up and coming picture books. A couple of kids gathered around a huge book as they read it in front of the fireplace on the floor.
Digital content-This is not so important to have books in an app because there isn’t really a demand for it.
Non-fiction books can have illustrations rather than photographs. Eg. Great White Shark
Screens and tablets can never replace books
Physical touching of a book is best, kids with their parents turning the pages, sitting on laps
Apps are only good if what you’re doing is interactive. It must be intelligent because apps are difficult to sell.
Heavily illustrated early reader novels (5-8 years) are here to stay!
Kids always read up!
Cross over books are books between picture books and middle-grade novels
Tons of writing is told in the imagery
Be untraditional, non-traditional, odd, with a different style. Don’t look like everything else in the market! Stand out!
Define and describe new categories illustratively
Your book is a work of art, be unique and interesting.
It’s all about fantastic stories, adventure, characters kids care about that they want to share with their parents, intriguing covers make you want to know what the book is about.
The US is the biggest market for books right now, but the UK is the biggest market for picture books.
October 30, 2017- I know that Halloween isn’t until tomorrow, but I thought that I’d share some fun news from Pandamonium Publishing House! Next year, just in time for Halloween, The Adventures of Milan and Friends (Trouble with Trolls) will be published. This book will be available for A LIMITED TIME in a LIMITED QUANTITY as a COLLECTOR’S EDITION to celebrate my favourite time of year! Be sure to get your copy and feel free to contact me if you’d like to go on a pre-release list.
This children’s picture book is geared towards children in the age range of 3-5+ and will be available in major bookstores as well as online through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
Stay tuned for sketches, later next summer, as well as sneak peeks behind the scenes of character development and illustration. I’ll also be releasing some information about each character and what the inspiration is behind it!
Thank you so much to each and every person who continues to support my work and who make it possible for me to do what I love. Without you all, there would be no point.
Pandamonium Publishing House, We make reading and writing exciting!
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