A Few Tips about School Visits


 A Few Tips about School Visits

Natalie Bright

Like most parents, I have volunteered at the school to help with book fairs, teacher appreciations, band boosters, and fundraisers. I started writing when our sons were in elementary school. I had visions of volunteering at the book fair one day where my book would be sitting on the Scholastic cart. As you can guess, the publishing industry rarely coincides with an author’s big dreams.

The reality is I finally have several children’s books out, but both boys are too old to read them. Our youngest is a high school senior this year, and I continue to volunteer as a parent at the local schools, but work in a slightly different capacity. I’ve changed my focus to writing and reading. This year I’m offering a free power point workshop on writing to the schools in our district. Even more fun, is the added bonus of having the star of one of my books, a rescue horse named Flash and his trainer, participate in some of the events as well.

We’ve got six programs under our belt now. Here are a few things to consider about book promotion on a local level.

  • Reach out.

Clubs, organizations, and schools are desperate for programs by authors. With fees in the $1000 and up range for most nationally known bestselling authors, school budgets can only afford these type speakers every three to five years.

Reach out to everyone you know and find contact addresses online.  Does your local library have events that you can participate in? Send school and public librarians a postcard or flyer and make it easy for them to contact you. Be flexible and work with their schedule. Herding 700 kids in and out of the library takes some skills, but it is doable. I try to make myself available on a one-to-one basis as well. Be friendly and approachable for teachers and kids. At the end of the day, you’ll be exhausted and inspired.

  • Shine and Sparkle

Kick some booty on the very first gig. Wow them and give them more than they expected. Develop a powerful, informative presentation that enhances the school curriculum. Word will spread.

  • Be Open to Criticism.

I have tweaked my program several times based on feedback from librarians, teachers and principals. I always ask the librarians three main questions at every school visit, “What are your kids reading? Did I connect with your kids? How can this be better?”

I learn something from the students as well. In the first part of my program, we go through a series of slides about everything that writers write. According to a very attentive third grader, guess what I had left out; graphic novels. These are hugely popular with kids today. Based on questions, I also added pics of my workspace and of my co-worker, Kitty, our cat.

  • Kids Are Visual

Use lots of pictures of young people in your power point. Kids today are very visual. Everything is photos, movies, video games, YouTube, and pics of their friends on snapchat. Your presentation must have relatable pictures. There is not one image of any adults in my 30-minute presentation.

  • Kids love FREE things

Send a bookmark home which includes your book covers, website, Instagram tag and ordering information. Include the name of your local book store that carries your books. They may not purchase a book on the day of your author visit, but believe me, kids will remember you. They will point you out to a parent at the grocery store. Have books in your car.

What’s popular with the kids in our school district, you might be wondering? Interestingly, every elementary school has been different. Graphic novels, particularly ones about real historical events, wouldn’t stay on the shelf. The school last week loves horror and scary stories, so the GooseBumps series is always checked out. The school this week is reading mostly Big Foot and alien stories, even the girls. Who knew, right? Harry Potter holds  no interest for this upcoming group of elementary aged readers. And girls have turned their backs on typical “girlie” type stories like the Barbie series which used to be very popular.

The interesting point that I have learned is that kids talk about their favorite books, just like adults do, and you’ll see those patterns from the books they check out. Two friends will read a book, and they tell their friends, and they tell others, and so on. BUZZ and word of mouth still works.

Start locally. With a little effort, you can make your book the BUZZ of the schools in your area.

Natalie Bright is the author of the nonfiction Rescue Animal series, easy readers featuring two rescue horses, Flash and Taz. Her Trouble in Texas series is a wild west adventure for middle grades set in the Texas frontier. She also writes women’s fiction. To see pictures of author events, go to Instagram.com @natsgrams Nataliebright.com

 

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Writing Life Struggles Part 2


Writing Life Struggles Part 2

Natalie Bright

 

I adjusted my flight schedules.

In a previous blog, link below, I talked about me needing to be at one place, but I’d decided to choose my writing instead. I mentioned that the whole universe seemingly joins forces to prevent writers from writing. This only happens once you’ve acknowledged the stories in your head and more than once, told someone “I am a writer”. The cosmos goes nuts at this point and so does your family.

This time I took a stand. I chose a writer’s conference over needing to be somewhere else, but then I gave in  and compromised. I changed my flight schedules and will only be missing one day of meetings. If the weather holds and the good Lord willing, I will make the other event too. Unfortunately, three different airlines are needed to get me where I need to be, but I’m giving it my best shot during that week.

Everybody’s happy, right?

I’ve been busy writing blogs, but have done nothing on the work in progress.  Actually, more than one project has been put on hold and it’s waking me up nights. So why don’t I just get up and work?

What do you do when life gets in the way and you are itching to get back to your fictional world.

Do you get up an hour early?

Should I stay up past midnight to get those words in and drag through the day job?

Let us know how you push back at life and make time for your writing.  Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

https://wordsmithsix.com/2018/05/28/writing-life-struggles/

 

Writing Life Struggles


Writing Life Struggles

Natalie Bright

 

Is there any other profession that you can think of in which, once you’ve achieved the knowledge of actually doing that work, the entire universe conspires to prevent you from doing the work? I might be whining, but good grief. A new week is upon us and I did not write one word on the current WIP in the previous week. It’s very frustrating.

I’m reading an excellent self-help right now, OVERWHELMED WRITER RESCUE by Colleen Story (review forthcoming). As a writer, I think most of us struggle to fit writing in between life, because life can’t be shoved out of the way. Our writing is the thing that becomes flexible. Our obsession becomes the thing we can’t achieve.

At the beginning of this week, I’m at the cross roads again between family and my writing. Do I adjust my scheduled air flights to leave a writers conference early to attend another function? That’s two days spent at a five day conference, and two days spent in an airport instead to attend one event. The writing conference is very important to me because of the knowledge gained and the connections I might make. I’ve had this on my calendar since last year. The other event is a last minute invite, has nothing to do with my writing, but is important to someone else that I be there. The people in my life are important too, but I can’t be in two places at once. Why should we have to choose?

That is how my writing journey has been; guilt wins out over the characters in my head every time. The struggle is real. But this time I’m choosing me. I’m acknowledging the deep, very selfish desire to become a more successful author. I choose words and story and hanging out with people who understand the struggle. Have I chosen well? I’ll let you know in a few weeks.

WRITING LIFE


WRITING LIFE
Natalie Bright

The writing life is a solitary endeavor, and routinely interrupted by
everybody! Life happens.

Seriously, at times writers have to put aside the world within their heads
and face reality. Somebody’s always hungry (at least at my house), something
needs cleaning, bills past due, and laundry piles grow as I write this. I’ve
been hit with reality for several weeks now and I can’t seem to dig out from
under it. Sometimes I really miss my fictional world.

Many experts suggest that you have to live a real life in order to find
material for your stories. New York Times Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas,
says that writers live two lives with one foot in reality and the other in
the fictional realm. Overheard conversations, experiences, and research can
add richness to your writing. That may be true. During the break my creative
mind may be taking a pause, but my self-editor and self-doubt is partying
hard.

Thank goodness part of the real world includes a writer’s meeting this past
weekend.  Kim Hunt Harris talked about adding humor to your writing and K.
J. Waters enlightened us on the business side of becoming an Indie Author.
Once again I am reminded how sitting in a room full of creative people can
motivate you to keep going and inspire you to fill pages with words.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other odd month on the third Saturday
at the Chase Tower in downtown Amarillo.

Our next event is co-sponsored with Canadian Arts Alliance, to be held in
beautiful Canadian, Texas April 13-15. Follow us on Facebook to keep updated
on all the details: Texas High Plains Writers based in Amarillo, Texas.

SATURDAY: A PERFECT MORNING TO WRITE


SATURDAY:

A PERFECT MORNING TO WRITE

Natalie Bright

The sun is peaking over the pasture turning the sky a bright orange and purple. As I open the dining room curtains, a clump of bunny rabbits scatter. I start the coffee pot and drop some cat food into the dish to quiet the meows. While the gurgling sounds and rich smells swirl around the peaceful house, I put clothes into the washing machine.

Settling in at the computer, I gather my supplies around me. Submission guidelines, spiral to jot an outline of the first draft, pen, interview notes, and sample magazines to determine style and slant. This feature article is going to be brilliant! Thank goodness for productive Saturday mornings.

And Then…

My purple pen runs out of ink. I ALWAYS write the first draft in purple. I search for fifteen minutes, but there’s not another purple pen anywhere in the house. Fine. I’ll use blue.

Several cups of coffee later, it’s going well but I’m hungry and I hear my husband rattling around in the kitchen. Time to cook breakfast.

Back to the story, until an awful smell assaults my nose. The new to our house, stray kitten has just taken a poop in the potted plant next to my desk. I clean that out, and while I’m at it, decide to empty the kitty litter box too and take it all to the trash. The brisk walk and morning air rejuvenates me.

Back inside, the oldest is awake and drinks the last of the coffee. I brew more and then the washing machine buzzer goes off, so I transfer everything into the dryer.

Finally, back to the story.

With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, my head is buzzing (possibly from creativity, mostly from caffeine).

Our youngest is awake and turns on the television. He and his dad discuss a movie they watched the night previous over the blaring noise of the TV.

I can drown out the voices. That’s nothing new, but then I hear the dogs whining. They want their morning chewie. Delivered, with a pat on the head.

Deep breath, and I settle into my chair at the computer.

Oldest pokes his head around the corner, “Have you seen my car keys?” I join the search. Finally, success. He’s on his way with instructions, “Drive safe. See you later.” My husband leaves too.

I can feel the productivity oozing from my veins. This is going to be an unbelievable article. I settle into my chair, flitter through my notes to get back on track, reread what I have so far, and type a few words.

Youngest son pokes his head around the corner, “What’s for lunch?”

Done.

There’s always tomorrow.

Writer’s Truth: When your purple pen runs out of ink, it’s only going downhill from there.

WRITING LIFE


WRITING LIFE

By Natalie Bright

The writing life is a solitary endeavor, and routinely interrupted by everybody!

Seriously, at times writers have to put aside the world within their heads and face reality. Somebody’s always hungry (at least at my house), something needs cleaning, bills waiting to be paid, and laundry is piling up. I’ve been hit with reality for several weeks now and I can’t seem to dig out from under it. I really miss my fictional world.

Many experts suggest that you have to live a real life in order to find material for your stories. Overheard conversations, experiences, and research can add richness to your writing. That may be true. During this break my creative mind may be taking a pause, but my self-editor and self-doubt is partying hard. I’m a loser. I’ve been working on a 500 word piece for a month now and it’s just not coming together. At this point, I’m totally convinced that I will never write anything again that anyone will want to read. I can’t see that I’m making any progress towards building a writing career. I’m done.

Thank goodness part of the real world this past weekend included a writer’s meeting. Author and song-writer, Jan Sikes, talked to the Texas High Plains Writers group in Amarillo about her series of books based on her life with a musician. Using the facts of her own experiences, she changed the names of the people involved to create what she explains is 90% true and 10% fiction. She even gave herself a fictional name so that she can step back from the very personal connection and bring this fascinating love-story to life. Her talk was excellent. I’ll share some of her writing advice with you next week.

Thank goodness I am reminded how sitting in a room full of creative people can give you inspiration to keep going.

Texas High Plains Writers meets every other month on the third Saturday at the Amarillo Senior Citizens Center in downtown Amarillo.