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J. Aday Kennedy Writing for Crumb Crunchers
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Jessica Anderson School Visits Interview
Topic: school visit





·  Reading level: Ages 9-12

·  Paperback: 192 pages

·  Publisher: Milkweed Editions (August 25, 2005)

·  Language: English

·  ISBN-10: 1571316590

·  ISBN-13: 978-1571316592


Winner of the Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature, this is the tale
of a girl's struggles with school and changing friendships, as well as her
heartfelt emotions that arise from helping her mother make tough
decisions after her father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.


Jessica Anderson School Visit Interview

J. Aday: How do you design your presentations?
I'm a former elementary school teacher, so I draw on my teaching background as I design presentations.  I keep the grade level of the students in mind, as well as their experiences and interests.  I also talk to the teacher(s) or librarian to customize the presentation to make my visit as meaningful as possible. 

J. Aday: Describe your best school visit experience. Why was it your
My best experience showed me just how empowering school visits can be.  I'd spent the day with 8th grade students at a school that is known to be "difficult."  Many of the kids leaned back and tightly folded their arms across their chests as I discussed the writing process.  The writing exercise went well, but I wasn't sure how deeply I was reaching my audience.  When I checked my email that evening, I was astounded by the positive emails/MySpace messages I'd received from several of those 8th graders.  One girl said she felt inspired to write for the first time in her life. 

J. Aday: How do you utilize your book Trudy in your early childhood
When I do a workshop on getting ideas with young students, I talk about how they can use their memories as story starters.  As an example, I share how my family memories influenced TRUDY.

J. Aday: What age range do you conduct school visits for and how do
your presentations differ?
I primarily conduct school visits for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students though I have visited and enjoy other grade levels.  My presentations differ according to age level, content, and the desires of that particular school I'm visiting. 

J. Aday: What constitutes a successful visit?  What steps should
authors take to succeed?
  A successful visit gets students passionate about reading and writing.  To do this, authors need to be passionate themselves and also prepared.  If you're just getting started, spend some time volunteering with children and rehearsing your presentations.  Find out as much about the school visit as you can before the visit actually happens.  Plan your talk: what does the school expect?  What do you expect?  What equipment will you need?  What is your schedule like?  How many children will be present and what are their ages?  Will you be signing books, and if so, how will the book sales be handled (by you, the school, or an independent bookseller)?  There are some great resources on school visits available: blogs similar to this great one, message boards like Verla Kay's, and classes like Anastasia

J. Aday: Do you have giveaways for children at your presentations? Give
some examples.
  I usually like to bring postcards or bookmarks--these are especially handy since kids usually beg for an autograph.  I will also donate a book to the school library. 

J. Aday: Can you share some tips on soliciting school visits?
  A website is one of the best ways to solicit school visits. Postcards and fliers with information about your book(s) and school visits can also generate interest.  Conferences are a great way to connect with teachers and/or librarians (like the ones sponsored by TLA or SCBWI). 

J. Aday: Are there any other pointers you can share?
  Expect the unexpected.  Create a Plan B in case AV equipment isn't working, a student asks you to marry them during your Q + A session (yes, this happened to me), or there is a fire drill.  Have a positive attitude fun!


Top of Form

Bottom of Form


Posted by j.adaykennedy at 7:12 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 18 November 2008 7:15 PM CST
Friday, 14 November 2008
Shirley Smith Duke School Visit Interview
Topic: school visit
  Shirley Smith Duke





Shirley Smith Duke is the author of No Bows!, a picture book, and eight other privately commissioned novels for children. She’s written teacher guides for Peachtree Publishers and for Latingirl magazine. She taught science, reading, and ESL in public schools for twenty-five years at the elementary and secondary levels. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in education from Austin College . Shirley also presents school programs for students about writing and reading. She’s spoken at schools, state reading conferences, book festivals, community groups, and universities. A Dallas native, she is a member of SCBWI and lives in the Dallas area.

: Shirley Smith Duke
Website Address:

J. Aday: When I visited your website, I noticed in your listing of Upcoming Events, that you conduct many library visits. How did you get started and secure a regular schedule of appearances at libraries in your area?
I began by sending a review copy of No Bows! to the Dallas Public Library Main Branch. I grew up in Dallas and the downtown library was a special place to me. My mother was a Dallas ISD librarian and has taken classes with Siddie Joe Johnson. So naturally that’s one place I wanted my book to go. I looked for places that might get my book noticed. I did every free event at the library, and they got to know me, knew what my presentations were like, and kept inviting me back. The Dallas library began participating in Born to Read, funded by a grant, and I was invited to do several presentations. I volunteered to fill in any last minute cancellations, and I kept getting called. There is no way of knowing how regular the visits will be; it’s a matter of getting yourself out there and being available with a good presentation.

 I also contacted the offices of the Texas library regions and got on their presenters’ lists. I went to several of those workshops and handed out flyers, and eventually some of the libraries asked me to visit. I also have a friend that keeps telling people about my book!

J. Aday: How do you design your presentations?
At first, I thought I’d have no problem dreaming up a presentation. I’d taught school twenty-five years. But when the reality of actually putting a presentation on paper hit me, I reached for a resource—my friend, Anastasia Suen . Her online course, “School Visits”, gave me the security and structure to plan a precise program and helped me learn about how to get the word out to the schools. An added bonus was that it triggered more program ideas and I wrote three others, too. It’s very much like planning a lesson as a teacher. Look at what you want them to learn, tell them,  have them participate, and review what you’ve learned.

 As opportunities came along and I looked for places I might be able to make a presentation, I expanded on what I knew and began talking to teacher groups. I offered something they could use and didn’t just talk about my book—it’s so short it’s hard to do!—and I drew upon my experience in science and ESL to give them something I hoped they might use

J. Aday: Describe an interesting/humorous reaction from the audience to a presentation, experienced during a school visit?
The first time I spoke to very young children, I opened the book to the title page. The illustration is a little girl in polka-dotted underwear and she is running. The kids all laughed. That took me by surprise completely. Now I have them practice laughing before hand. I ask them to follow my hands as I lift them up, like a conductor before a symphony orchestra, and we all laugh together. Then my hands come down and cut off the sound. They seem to like it.  Sometimes they still laugh at the underwear picture and sometimes the practice laugh takes care of it, but now they are in on the joke.

 I went to the Plano Books and Barks festival one year. My book competed with DOGS! I only sold one book, but I did get some great pictures with really cute dogs.

J. Aday: How do you utilize your book No Bows in your early childhood presentation?
: Before reading the book, I pass out laminated bows with Velcro attached to the back and ask them to place their bow under their choice on a flannel board. The talented author/illustrator Janee Trasler designed the bows for me in exchange for an apple pie. They look a bit like bowties. I hold up a pair of the items from the story and ask the children which one they prefer. I usually begin with bunny and bear. Then I ask them to vote on their favorite by placing their bow under their choice. Their movement keeps them interested and they cheer on their choice as each child takes a turn voting. At the end, we’ve made a pictograph. We figure out the winner, and then I read the book to see which one the little girl chose. I’ve found this helps get them interested in the book.

J. Aday: What are the challenges you face with the children when you conduct an early childhood presentation on No Bows?
: The worst problem is excitement over getting to vote. I have to remind them to keep hands in the air so fingers aren’t crushed and to line up if there is a crowd, because they get excited about rushing to the flannel board to place their vote on it. The preschool crowd is a tough sell, but they seem to love the book. Now I’m careful to explain the process carefully and maintain order in a fun-filled way. I’ve had the most fun doing this particular program.

J. Aday: What is your uppermost goal for a presentation? How do you attempt to achieve it?
My purpose it to teach something about books, writing, and reading when I make a visit. I can talk about how the book came into being, but as a long time teacher, it is important to make a connection to them. I like to show them something they didn’t know. It becomes more meaningful to the kids that way.

J. Aday: Do you have giveaways for children at your presentations? Give some examples.
: I started off giving away bookmarks with my signature, so everybody could have my autograph. I put this page on my website later on, so the librarians can get the copy and I don’t have to cut and carry huge amounts of paper. My presentation “pets” are mine, but I let the children play with them until the program begins. It helps keep them interested. I also have the colored bows on my site, so librarians can copy those and use them. I have two coloring pages of bows, too.

J. Aday: Can you share some tips on soliciting school visits?
: At first, I did quite a bit of postcard mailing. However, attending book festivals and face to face contact has generated many more visits than mailings for me. I went to every event I could—for free most of the time—and eventually got noticed. I also reminded Peachtree, my publisher, that I’d love to do events, and they had me sign at TLA and got me a spot at the Texas Book Festival. I’ll never forget that event. I signed next to Barry Lyga and John Green, and then visited at the cocktail party with Brian Lies and Laura Seeger. I couldn’t believe it! But at every event, I talked to the librarians and handed out my flyer with my program information. I do think being a former teacher has been an advantage. Patience is helpful. Some of the library visits I’ve done recently had the seeds sown two years ago.

J. Aday: What are the most important elements to pulling off a successful visit?
: Planning is most important, but you must have something of interest for the audience. You have to give them something they don’t know or don’t completely understand. You need to make them see your book in a way they haven’t seen it before. You must keep their attention and make it fun, somehow. You know when you’re losing the kids. Adults are harder, because their faces stay the same. Kids let you know when their attention is wandering.

J. Aday: Are there any other pointers you can share?
You have to be willing to appear, often for free, especially at first. I offered to go to schools two or three times in order to try out my programs. I learned what worked and didn’t work. I went to every book festival in the area and handed out flyers. You have to get over your fears and worry at embarrassing yourself and be willing to promote. It’s easy to feel shameless, but promoting a good book in rewarding. I kept after my publisher to let me appear at events. Apply to present at large conferences. You should take courses, network, and maintain a website. It costs a bit at first, but the promotion is what gets you paying appearances. Royalties are nice, but that’s not a great deal of money. Presentations and school visits allow you to keep writing!


Posted by j.adaykennedy at 5:31 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 14 November 2008 7:26 PM CST
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Pt II Lila Guzman's School Visits & Writing Credits
Mood:  not sure
Topic: school visit



J. Aday: Describe what a successful school visit would be?

Lila:  For me, a successful school visit entertains the students and holds their attention while teaching them.  It shows them how a book becomes a book, from original concept to finished product.


J. Aday: How do you promote your school visits?

Lila:  Part of my website is devoted to author visits.  Sometimes a librarian emails me and asks if I’m available.  Sometimes I call librarians and arrange author visits.

Before a new book comes out, I prepare postcards with the book cover on one side and information about school visits on the other side.


J. Aday: When you design a school visit how do you design your activities to make sure they will each fit the grade level? Do you research the goals of each grade, rely on the teacher’s desires, a combination or other? Explain.

Lila:  From raising three children, I have a basic understanding of the curriculum for each grade level.  Still, I ask librarians and teachers to tell me if they would like special areas highlighted during an author visit.

Teachers in the 4th and 5th grades often want me to emphasize how many times I edit each book and how my editor edits the book.

Middle school teachers often want me to talk about the historical aspects of my books because children begin to get a strong dose of the American Revolution in the 5th and 8th grades.

I often visit a school’s website before a visit to see if students have done something special or unique that will help me with the author visit.  (Example:  Going on a field trip to a battlefield.)


J. Aday: What have you prepared as handouts, giveaways and/or programs for your school visits?

Lila:  Most children want my autograph, so I prepare post cards that I can sign or I give away pens with promotional information.

I don’t give out handouts because I can never be sure how many children will show up.  Librarians can give me a ball park figure, but I’d rather not run out.

I do a mock inoculation for small pox, but that requires no extra equipment or preparation.

At the end of the presentation, I leave a signed book that I have personalized for the school.  I usually ask the audience to select the book.   (Sometimes the librarian tells me ahead of time which book to leave.)


J. Aday: How do you engage the students during a school visit?

Lila:  That depends on the age group and what the librarian wants.

For elementary students (3rd through 5th), I ask the students to bring three writing-related questions on file cards.  Then, during a question-and-answer session, I select children to ask questions.  I show students how a book becomes a book, from original concept to final product.  I show manuscript pages that my editor has marked up.  We talk about cover art and drawings inside the book.  They see galleys and compare them to the published book.

I like to ask them questions, instead of lecturing to them.  For example:  “What do you need to be a writer?”  (Answers can vary from “a pencil and a piece of paper” to “a good imagination.”)

If the librarian wants a writing exercise, I bring large file cards and ask the teachers to supply crayons and pencils.  We do an “art inspires writing” exercise.  Each student draws something on the back of a card.  Then we exchange cards and each student writes a story based on the drawing.  At the end of the exercise, we read the cards aloud and compare the story to what the artist was thinking about when drawing the picture.

For middle school students, I emphasize history, especially the American Revolution.  About halfway through the presentation, we talk about bioterrorism in the Revolutionary War.  I do a mock inoculation where I play the doctor and two students are the patients.

Sometimes the school buys a classroom set and the children read the book ahead of time.  They base their questions on it.


J. Aday: What’s the most difficult age group to capture their attention? In what way?

Lila:  Kindergarten through second graders are the most difficult for me.  I don’t write for that age group, but once in a while I am asked to include them in an author visit.  Because of the “wiggle factor,” I ask the librarians or the teachers for 25 minutes instead of the usual 45.  For the younger group, I change the way I present the material and usually don’t do a question-and-answer session because this age group is without guile and will reveal embarrassing personal information.  I usually have 3 different activities to keep their attention.  One of those usually involves drawing or coloring to enhance a writing activity.



“I Killed Santa’s Reindeer,” San Diego Writers Monthly.

“Star Apples,” Arizona Literary Magazine.

“She’s Got Spurs and She Ain’t Afraid to Use Them,” Millennium Science Fiction and Fantasy.

“In Perpetuity,” PIF Magazine.

“Maneuvering Board,” Lines in the Sand Magazine

“Johnny Reb's Drum,” Sallivan Publications

“The Chocolate Bar,” Roswell Literary Review

“Lost Cause,” NETWO Newsletter

And others.



LILA GUZMAN'S Books Published

Title:  George Lopez:  Latino King of Comedy

ISBN-10: 0766029689

ISBN-13: 978-0766029682

Price: $31.93

Format: Hardback (library edition)

Locations to purchase:, Enslow Publishers (1-800-398-2504)

Genre/age group/type of publication:  Biography/Young Adult

Brief synopsis: Growing up in East Los Angeles with his grandparents, George Lopez had a difficult childhood.  He overcame hardship to become one of America's most popular comedians.  Lopez has had a blossoming career in television (The George Lopez Show), movies, and stand-up comedy.  George Lopez: Latino King of Comedy looks at the life of this charitable comedian.


George Lopez:  Latino King of Comedy.  (2008, Enslow), Biography

Ultimate Dog Lover (2008, HCI), Short Story Anthology

Lorenzo and the Pirate.  (2009, Blooming Tree Press).  Young Adult Novel

Lorenzo’s Secret Mission.  (2001, Arte Público Press).  Young Adult Novel

Lorenzo’s Revolutionary Quest.  (2003, Arte Público Press).  Young Adult Novel

Lorenzo and the Turncoat.  (2006, Arte Público Press).  Young Adult Novel

Kichi in Jungle Jeopardy.  (2006, Blooming Tree Press).  Middle Grade Novel

Green Slime and Jam.  (2001, Eakin Press).  Middle Grade Novel.

Famous Latinos:  (2006, Enslow).

Cesar Chavez:  Fighting for Fairness

Frida Kahlo:  Painting Her Life

Diego Rivera:  Artist of Mexico

Ellen Ochoa:  First Latina Astronaut

Roberto Clemente:  Baseball Hero

    George Lopez:  Comedian and TV Star


Thank you for your time and the thought you’ve given to answer my questions. I hope that you have much success.

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 8:06 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2008 8:55 PM CDT
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Cynthia Reeg
Mood:  not sure
Topic: school visit


Verb and Adverb Adventures

AUTHOR: Cynthia Reeg


ISBN-10: 1935137220

ISBN-13: 978-1935137221


PRICE: paperback $10.95, ebook ($5.00), CD ($5.95)


COPYRIGHT: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (June 25, 2008)

LOCATIONS TO PURCHASE: online at; Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Fictionwise

When timid Bubba, joins in the adventures at doggie day camp, he soon discovers new friends, new talents, and verb and adverb fun as well. Activities and study guide included. (The Pet Grammar Parade series)

Name: Cynthia Reeg

Blog Address:

Website Address:

Contact:. People can reach her through the CONTACT at her website:

Cynthia Reeg pursued her love of reading and writing with an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Northwestern Oklahoma University followed by a Masters of Library Science from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in school and public libraries in various Midwest locales. Currently she is a volunteer OASIS reading tutor for elementary students at Wild Horse Elementary School in Chesterfield, Missouri.

Her website blog, “What’s New,” has been cited by two of the top children’s authors’ online magazines, ICL’s Children’s Writers’ Enews and Children’s Writing Update from CBI, as “an excellent example of an author’s blog.”

Her educational children's picture book, KITTY KERPLUNKING, was published in 2006 by Guardian Angel Publishing. ( It is now used by the OASIS reading program in the St. Louis area. Her second picture book with Guardian Angel Publishing, GIFTS FROM GOD—celebrating children and nature as signs of God’s love—was published in the summer of 2007 and has earned glowing reviews. DOGGIE DAY CAMP, the second book in The Pet Grammar Parade series, was published in June 2008. Her short story, “The Emily Explosion,” in the Blooming Tree Press anthology, THE GIRLS, was released in mid-August, 2008. She is also working on two middle grade novels, Monster Misfits and Promises Kept.


Jessica: What was the first book accepted for publication? How many markets did you submit to and what did you include in your submission package?

Cynthia: The first book I had accepted was KITTY KERPLUNKING: PREPOSITION FUN. I submitted it to Guardian Angel Publishing with a cover letter, the manuscript, and a study guide. I submitted it to four other publishers before GAP.

Jessica: How long does it take on average from writing your first draft to final manuscript ready for submission? Describe the process.

Cynthia: For writing a picture book, I generally come up with a basic idea and write the first draft. Then I spend time polishing it, sending it out for critique, reworking it again. All of that usually takes about a year or so.

Jessica: Does the publisher request you make changes? Have you ever submitted a book and had it published without any changes by you or the editor/publisher

Cynthia: I’ve never submitted a book or a story to a magazine that was published as is. Different publishers handle things differently, but generally a publisher will send a marked copy of the story back—indicating deletions or areas to revise or where additional material is needed.

Jessica: How long between acceptance and publication have your picture books taken to be released?

Cynthia: The picture books have taken a year or less with Guardian Angel Publishing. And it was about a year for my story in Blooming Tree Press’ anthology to be published as well. But I’m still waiting on a story to be published in LADYBUG magazine. It’s been over 4 years.

Jessica: What was your highest selling book? What did you do to market it?

Cynthia: At this point, both of my first two picture books from Guardian Angel Publishing have sold equally well. I market them through book signings, my website, press releases, and school visits.

Jessica: Your website has a wealth of information on conducting school visits. I learned a lot and will be back often. In what stage of your writing career did you begin conducting school visits?

Cynthia: I am a school librarian by trade, so in a way I’ve been doing school visits for years now—only “selling” other authors’ books. Now I get to share my books with the students, as well as writing tips for them. I officially started doing author visits at schools with my books about a year and a half ago. Two 6th grade girls found my website and asked their teacher to invite me to their class. Another 6th grade reading class joined in with them for my visit in which I shared insights into being a writer and secrets for the students could use for achieving writing success.

Jessica: Do you design your school visits based on each grade level and subject? How do you target the content to the different curriculum of each grade?

Cynthia: Yes, I always tailor the presentations to the age level or the interests of the students. Again, this is something I did on a regular basis as a K-8 school librarian. But for authors who don’t have this experience to draw from, I’d suggest visiting a school. Ask to observe classes or even be a volunteer. Attend some story times at your local library. Learn how to interact with students at the various age groups; learn what interests them; learn how to motivate them. But most important, show them how excited you are about words, stories, books, reading and writing. They’ll become excited too.

Jessica: What’s a successful school visit to you?

Cynthia: Every school visit is a successful one if I’ve given all I can of myself and my knowledge to the students. Any time I’ve been able to connect with even one student—to help excite him about reading and writing—then I’ve had a successful school visit.

Jessica: Have you conducted library visits, too? If yes, how does you presentation change? What differences should an author take into account?

Cynthia: I’ve conducted school visits to multiple classes (same grade) in a single classroom, and I’ve had school visits with multiple classes (same grade) in the school library. I’ve not gone to a public library and done a presentation yet as an author or to an entire school assembly.

But I have had a story time at a Barnes & Noble bookstore with the audience ages ranged from18-month-old toddlers to adult parents. That’s the toughest crowd to do a presentation for. Target a middle level for this type of assorted crowd. Add in some activities to keep the younger ones tuned in. Break up the session into smaller segments—for example: read, activity, read, activity, discussion. Then at the end while the kids are coloring the handouts you’ve provided, you can address the adults with extra information or allow time for them to ask questions.

Jessica: What advice can you give an author about an author visit?

Cynthia: Discuss well ahead of time with the teacher or librarian sponsoring your visit what they are expecting from your visit.

i‚? Do they want a quick lesson on story elements for older students to help motivate them? Or do they want a fun story time for younger students?

i‚? Find out specifically which grades/classes you will be with. How large are the groups?

i‚? Will there be the necessary equipment you need for your presentation (perhaps a screen, a white board, computer, microphone, overhead projector, etc.)

i‚? Directions to the school, your contact person at the school, the room you’ll be conducting the presentation in

i‚? The time schedule for your day (if you are doing more than one presentation.) Make sure you get some free time for bathroom breaks and lunch.

i‚? If possible, send home book order forms prior to your visit. Then you can collect (or have the orders mailed to you) ahead of time and sign the books and bring them with you. (if you are selling your books directly)

i‚? Provide coloring sheets or bookmarks to leave with all the students, so everyone will have a memento from your visit.

Thanks for your advice on school visits and information about your road to publication. I’m looking forward to reading your answers.

Magazine Publications

FACES, My Friend, Clubhouse, Dragonfly Spirit, Stories for Children and My Light magazines

Magazines Pending Publications

Highlights (Nov. 2008—poem “Reaching for the Stars”); Ladybug (no date yet—story “Picnic Guests”)

Book Publications


COPYRIGHT: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (June 1, 2007)

ISBN-13: 978-1933090337

Gifts from God celebrates God’s loving gifts to each child. Glorious color photographs highlighting children and nature accompany each gift. Each double-page spread has an easy reader sentence on the right and a scripture quotation on the left, making this an enjoyable and uplifting book for both children and adults.

TITLE: THE GIRLS (a middle grade anthology)

by Sundee T. Frazier, Natalie Rompella, Caroline Downs, Cynthia Reeg, Tracy Holczer

COPYRIGHT: Blooming Tree Press (August 12, 2008)

ISBN-10: 1933831162

ISBN-13: 978-1933831169

A collection of five short stories highlighting the unique lives of some special girls and one lucky boy.


COPYRIGHT: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. (March 30, 2007)

ISBN-10: 1933090294

ISBN-13: 978-1933090290

Prepositions kerplunk all around Preppy the kitty in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Preppy's amusing antics provide young readers a fun introduction to everyday prepositions. Activities and study guide included. (The Pet Grammar Parade series)

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 9:38 PM CDT
Friday, 8 August 2008
Barbara Techel Interview: Frankie the Walkj and Roll Dog
Topic: school visit
Frankie the Walk and Roll Dog
ISBN: 0-9800052-0-5
Copyright: 2008
Author: Barbara Gail Techel
Artist: Victoria Kay Lieffring
Available for Purchase at
Contact Information: email:

The book chronicles the life of a dog that overcomes a mobility problem by using a cart to hold up her back end. It’s not a book only for dog lovers or children. It can be enjoyed by all.
Frankie looks a little different, but she’s the same dog she was before her accident. She was not able to do things like she used to, she has to have her cart to get around, but she still craves fun and love.
Barbara Techel”s book sales have been great. Check out her marketing and promotion ideas. Her intended audience were 8-12 year olds, but it has appeal for younger children and adults.
The kids will enjoy the illustrations by the artist, Victoria Kay Lieffring. They capture Frankie's cart and her warm brown eyes. She captured Frankie. The fcombination of her artwork and the sto9ry told in Frankie's voice compliment each other and make the reader fall in love with the pup that faced tragedy and overcame it.

Frankie the Walk and Roll Dog Book Interview

Q: How is your lovable pup?
A: Frankie is amazing and an absolute joy! As I write this interview she is sunning herself out on our deck while I work in my writing studio. I can see her through my periwinkle, white and green Victorian screen door. Her eyes are half-closed and her nose is twitching with all the smells of summer floating by. She brings a balance and calm to my life just by observing her.

Q: Is this common for this breed of dog?
A: Yes, sadly this is common in this breed. It is called Intevertebral Disk Disease. There are many theories to why this occurs and one strong belief is that it is a disease that comes from over breeding.

You self published your book. I know many authors are choosing to do so. Let’s talk about your experience.

Q: What company did you use?
I did not use a specific self-publishing company if that is what you mean. Initially I was going to go with a POD (print-on-demand) company. As I researched them I began to find information that some were not suitable and quite frankly, were out to get your money and really not help the author. I do believe there are reputable Pod’s out there now, but it is not the route I chose to take. Another reason I did not go with a POD was due to cost per book it would have cost me to have a full-color children’s book printed. In the end I would have had to charge over $25.00 per book to sell them. I wanted my book to be affordable for as many children as possible because of the message I am sharing.
I ended up creating my own publishing company and naming it Joyful Paw Prints. That means I have handled everything an independent publishing company would handle for you. My illustrator did the illustrations and laid the book out for me. I then hired a graphic designer to take my book to print since my illustrator was unfamiliar with how that process worked. Taking a book to print is a lot of checks and balances and you want someone with experience who knows how to do this. I also had my book edited by two different editors. Being that I was going the self-publishing route I wanted to surpass the stigma that SP can sometimes have. I was very conscious of my name being on my book and wanted it to be the best it could be. So to answer your question in a short sentence: I hired myself and created my own company to publish my book.

Q: What were the pros and cons of self publishing?

A: I think you have to be very aware of what you are getting into when you self-publish as I did because you will have many hats to wear and many things to learn. It can seem very daunting some days with all the details, but I believe if you are really passionate about your book and your message it will carry you through the days you want to maybe throw in the towel. It is a full time commitment. I have read many, many books on SP, plus listen to many teleseminars on SP, attend writing conferences, subscribe to newsletters about writing and SP, etc. I am continually educating myself. My overall feeling about SP is that it is very exciting. With the internet and technology these days I personally feel it is a very amazing time to be part of the SP world. There are some major changes happening in the publishing world and I think you will see SP becoming a very viable, positive option for authors. I absolutely believe there is this positive shift happening with SP. I personally love the aspect of being able to control what happens with my book and you may not always get that with a big publishing house. Also from what I have learned, publishing houses now look for authors who have SP and have built a platform for themselves and sell books. Then they (publishing house) may just take you on.

Q: Was there something that surprised you?
A: Though I knew from everything I studied that SP was a big task, one never knows how big until you get into it. My most difficult thing to do is planning my days out. When you SP you have so many tasks (especially marketing) to attend to that I sometimes don’t even know where to begin or how to schedule things. I tend to be a person who wants to go with the flow and work on what suits me that day, but you can’t always do that.
If you could tell someone 3 things to help them when they self publish what would they be?
-Read, read, read and study all you can about SP.
-Talk with others who have SP.
-Attend writing conferences where you can network and meet others to learn what they have done.
-And although I know you only asked for 3 I just have to say, BELIEVE in yourself and your story. I think there are so many out there that have incredible stories to tell and they get frightened because of potential rejection by a publishing house or feel they can’t SP. But, I would encourage you to believe in you and your story and know that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Q: How did you find your artist?
A: It was meant to be. She actually happens to live in the same small town that I do (our population is about 1,200). Three years ago I hired Diane Krause-Stetson ( who is a life coach and through my coaching sessions with her it led me to writing and doing my first book. She actually knew of Victoria (illustrator) because she had done a leadership class at the highschool where Victoria had attended and Victoria was in Diane’s leadership class. Diane knew she went to school for design and gave me her name.

Q: Did you hire someone to edit the book?
A: Yes, I worked with two separate editors. One editor was a woman who led women’s writing circle that I attended once a week. The writing circle was also instrumental in providing me with constructive feedback about my book. Because everyone in that circle, including the editor, knew me quite well I wanted someone who did not know my background or story, so I hired another editor to get a different point of view. For me it worked, and I was glad I went the route of two different editors. I wanted to be sure it was as good as it could be before going out into the world.

Let’s talk about Book Promotion.

Q: What type of book promotion(s) did you do?

A: I was fortunate enough to have the wonderful support of my local friends of the library. Each year they like to sponsor an author and do an event for them. They approached me and offered to sponsor my book launch. I was so touched and honored. They did all the promotion and most of the work and Frankie and I had to just show up and do our thing that day. It was a huge success with over 200 people attending and 160 books sold. Three local papers did a feature story on our book launch also which the Friends of the Library arranged.
I also promote myself to the area schools offering visits with Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog. I sent out about 200 postcards last winter to area schools, though honestly, most of the bookings I got were by word of mouth. So just getting yourself out there I believe will lead you to more presentations to do.
I also am always on the lookout for blogs, like Jessica’s who are looking to do book interviews.
I have also done radio interviews which I think are very fun! I get a big kick out of being on my phone in my writing studio and talking to who knows who out there.
This summer Frankie and I have done presentations for nursing homes to get our name out there. Every Saturday (if not at another event) I also set up a table at our local Farmer’s market in our little town. Frankie comes with me and I let people ask questions about her. I sell 10-25 books each time, plus I have had many people taking my business card that are teachers who said they will be contacting me.
I also speak with local charity groups and women’s groups and share my story of my journey which led me to writing.
I want to do more internet marketing and am just beginning to explore that avenue and am considering a Virtual Book Tour.
Also, I continually work on getting reviews for my books.
One very fun promotional thing I recently did with Frankie was take her to a festival called German Fest which was held in a big city near us. They sponsored a costume contest for dachshunds. We dressed Frankie as a train. Her cart served well as the engine so she could be the train conductor. My husband made a coal car and a caboose and hooked that up to the back of her cart and she became a train. It was a huge success and drew so much attention the announcer gave out my name and website and mentioned my book. And Frankie won 1st place in the contest and our local paper wrote up a feature story on it.
Overall, I think you just have to be creative and look for different ways to promote your book and just have fun with it!

Q:What did you find to be the most difficult part of selling the book?
I have not had too much difficulty to this point. I do what I can to promote it and I also have a strong faith that whoever Frankie’s story is to touch God will lead us in that direction.

Writing -The Process

Q: Do you have a critique group?
A: I did while I was writing my book, which was the women’s writing circle I belonged to. When I write my second book, I will join a critique group which will be specific to critique and children’s books. I feel it is crucial to do this in order to produce the best book possible.

Q: Tell us about your previous writing experience.
A: I didn’t really begin writing until over three years ago. Before that I always enjoyed writing letters and poems to family and friends and was always told I could write from the heart. When I came to a cross roads in my life when my chocolate lab Cassie Jo was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, I really wanted to do something with my life that mattered. It led me to writing about animals. For two years I wrote a monthly column for our local paper called, “For the Love of Animals.” I also submitted a story for a contest sponsored by Linda and Allen Anderson, best selling authors. I won honorable mention for a story I wrote, “Cassie and Frankie Inspire a Writer.” My plans were to continue writing for my local paper and venture into writing an adult non-fiction book based on my spiritual journey from the life lessons I learned from my dogs. But, when Frankie became paralyzed and I realized the blessing of sharing her message, I decided to write her story instead.

Q: Are there picture books you enjoyed growing up)?
A: Charlotte’s Web is my all time favorite book. I also enjoyed Curious George, Pippi Longstocking, and Three Little Horses at the King’s Palace.

Q: What is key to appeal to children through your writing?

A: For my book it is the character. Kids fall in love with Frankie and the fact she is in a dog cart teaches them so many valuable lessons. I’ve also been complimented on the fact I told the story in Frankie’s voice. Kids can relate and connect with dogs on a level that is hard to explain. By having Frankie tell her story “in her own words,” I feel it really reaches kids on a heart level. There also are not many non-fiction children’s books out there and I think that has great appeal and potential.

Writing Frankie the Walk and Roll Dog

Q: What did you do in preparation for writing the book?
A: I read and studied tons and tons of children’s books. I also read many books about writing in general. Also belonging to the women’s writing circle also helped me with my writing.
Q: How long did it take you to finish writing it from initial concept to final manuscript?
B: I began in mid March 2007 and my book went to print late December 2007.

Q: How many edits?

B:I lost count… but lots and lots and lots!! I thought I would hate the editing process, but I liked it. It was fascinating to watch it evolve into a better and better story each time an edit was done. By the last edit, the words and the heart of the story literally popped off the page for me. It felt completely right. That and when my books arrived were the two moments I will never forget!

Q: Did you let it sit between edits?

B: Yes, I would usually let it sit a day or two.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share with us?
B:I would just like to say to all those out there wanting to get their story out there, to go for it!! Don’t be afraid. Believe in who you are, persevere, and know you can do it. Never give up hope that there are others who want and need to hear your story. I absolutely believe that we must share our stories and our hearts in order for our world to become a more peaceful place. I really also believe there are so many good stories out there, but writers become afraid of rejection. Be brave and face the constructive criticism and leave the rest of what you don’t want, behind. I knew if my book was to be the best it could be I had to open myself to critique, but I also knew if I felt strongly about something I wanted in my book that that was okay too. Just get those words onto paper, promote yourself and share your story and it will have a positive impact not only on your life, but many others.

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 7:22 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 26 October 2008 8:04 PM CDT
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Carol Parenzan Smalley Children's Nonfiction Author Interview Part II
Mood:  not sure
Topic: school visit
Carol Parenzan Smalley Interview Part II
Children’s Presenter at Schools & Libraries

I'll reintroduce Carol Parenzan Smalley. Today we're examining her presentations to children.
Carol has published 16 books and is working on 17-19. She has written books for preschool age children through college. Her specialty is creative nonfiction. To see her books visit

She was recognized and honored by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) for her work-in-progress on a nonfiction book about mathematical concepts at an amusement park.

Carol is a regular contributor to Children's Book Insider, where she authors articles on the business of children's book publishing. Carol Parenzan Smalley is a consultant to the Mohawk Valley Library System and Southern Adirondack Library System (New York), she has a wealth of information on the subject of presentations to children to share. To familiarize yourself with her children’s presentations go to

Writing is only a small piece of what she does. She is an entrepreneur, college instructor, business consultant and start-up specialist. She’s a jack of all trades and master of many. Let’s see what she has to share about her presentations for children.

Q: Where was your first presentation/speaking engagement and how did it come about?
About six years ago, I volunteered to coordinate the family summer storytime program at my local library. It ran for six weeks, and each week had a different theme and guest. This experience gave me good insight into the patrons that the library served and possible other programs for them to attend. I did this on a volunteer basis, and the experience was priceless. About 100 people attended the program each week. It was incredible. (The town's population is less than 8,000.)

Q: How did you market these services in the beginning?
I started with my local library first, offering a free program to gain experience and collect recommendations for future marketing. Our library service quickly asked me to present to a consortium of libraries, which I did. It resulted in about 15 paid presentation bookings that summer.

Q: New authors and illustrators struggle with the question: what should I charge? What would you recommend in the beginning? How should a person decide?

The answer to this is two-fold. Charge what you think you are worth; charge what libraries can afford. Not every library can afford my programs, and they quickly are removed from my possible customer set. I'd love to present at every library for free, but that's not practical. As an author, one must remind oneself that this is your business. You are not in it for free. Your time is quite valuable. Sites like Performers and Programs are wonderful market research for writers. Everyone's prices are right there for all to see!

Q: Do you perform at schools as well as libraries? What other places?
Yes, public and private schools, community organizations, museums, and even amusement parks!

Q: Do you supply the librarians, teachers or coordinator with a kit, books or anything to prime your audience?

I supply them with a one-page information sheet for their promotional purposes. The rest is up to me when I arrive.

Q: How did you get involved with Performers and Programs?
This is the official program site for the public library system. For the school system, it is Arts in Education. The libraries asked me to submit information for the first. I have yet to do the second, as I am maxed at the moment with commitments (teaching, writing, presenting, consulting).

Q: How do you gauge the success of a presentation?
My programs are very interactive. If the children and I have a good time sharing and growing through the experience, it was a good program. I don't really present as much as I guide. Of course, sometimes, they guide me! That's always the best. I get invited back often. That's a good sign my programs are well received.

Q: How do you keep your audiences attention?
I empower them to make the time with me the best it can be. I allow them to get what they are ready and able to get from the program. I may go into the program with one idea and switch directions midstream. That's OK! The program is for them, not for me. Each group is different. I need to be flexible.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Carol Parenzan Smalley’s creative nonfiction writing and her presentation s for children.

If you have comments or questions for Carol email her at or call 518-568-3450.

She is an online writing instructor through ed2go. I became acquainted with Carol through her course Writing for Children .It was essential in teaching me how to write for children. You can register fort he course here^for^Children&departmentnum=PW

Her books can be purchased at here

Posted by j.adaykennedy at 5:19 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 26 October 2008 6:06 PM CDT

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