Great Fun at St. Gregory the Great School

Thank you to the students and staff at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in San Antonio, Texas! I was welcomed as a Guest Author not once but twice — for an April 27th school visit and again at their amazing May 5th Family Literacy Night.

During April’s morning school visit, the students showed such enthusiasm and warmth! Two students at each presentation played the role of presidential candidates and offered their ideas about the issues they would address to the American people. And two more students presented amazing performances as the President of the United States. I wonder if there was a future mayor, senator, governor or even president in the audience that day…

And what a treat to be invited to a Family Literacy Night on May 5th, along with two notable and accomplished San Antonio authors, Diane Gonzales Bertrand and Lupe Ruiz-Flores. I also met San Antonio’s own Book Fairy, who enchanted the crowd and encouraged an appreciation of stories and books. Two book store staff members and a San Antonio librarian shared information on their summer reading programs, too.

Finally, some students drew pictures on activity sheets, illustrating their imaginative ideas of what they would do if they were president.

It was truly an honor to be invited to such fun and inspiring events!

2010 TLA in San Antonio!

What an amazing experience! The 2010 Texas Library Association Conference held in San Antonio April 14 – 17 brought publishers, authors, illustrators and Texas librarians together at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center — and afforded me two very exciting opportunities.

First, I was honored to conduct a book signing at the Albert Whitman & Company booth.

Librarians and parents graciously shared with me the ways they made use of my books in their classrooms and with their own families. It’s so gratifying to learn that my book Bugs in My Hair?! had helped some children feel better while dealing with a case of lice, or that The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club was read aloud to an attentive and enthusiastic classroom.

I also had the chance to meet other Albert Whitman & Company authors, including Dori Hillestad Butler. In the photo above, we each hold up one our latest titles at the Albert Whitman & Company booth (that’s Dori on the left).

And how wonderful to visit at TLA with my gracious editor, Abby Levine, and to meet for the first time in person our dedicated promotions coordinator, Michelle Bayuk.As special events co-coordinator of the San Antonio chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), I also had the chance to be part of the team that organized this year’s SCBWI Texas Chapters booth at TLA.

During the compilation of our new “Book an Author! Book an Illustrator!” SCBWI speakers sourcebook of Texas and regional members who conduct school visits, I corresponded with many esteemed and award-winning SCBWI authors and illustrators. I learned much about their books and their background.The “Book an Author! Book an Illustrator!” booklet, designed by our chapter’s talented Jennifer Zinsmeyer Murillo, featured elements many of us remember from the libraries of our childhood: Each author’s and illustrator’s bio appeared on a card catalog-type card, and the cover sported a stamped, check-out card. Many librarians brought home a copy, enthusiastic to learn about the exciting programs of our local members.

Our chapter’s creative Regional Advisor Heather Powers carried on the elegant library theme, adorning this year’s SCBWI booth with richly textured and colored fabrics draped on tables displaying our members’ published titles.

And a highlight of our booth — our raffle bestowed a collection of ribbon-wrapped books signed by Texas authors and illustrators to many lucky winners!

Throughout our days, we met librarians from all over the state and enjoyed visits from SCBWI members from across Texas and across the country. We were also assisted by SCBWI members from not only our own San Antonio based chapter, but from the Austin, Brazos Valley and Houston chapters as well.

A big thank you to all who volunteered or visited our booth and made the event a success!
(SCBWI booth photo credit Heather Powers)

Bugs in My Hair?! Now Available in Paperback

 

Catherine Stier announces the March 2010 paperback release of her book, Bugs In My Hair?! illustrated by Tammie Lyon and published by Albert Whitman & Company.

 

Originally released in hardcover in 2008, the book was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year. School Library Journal called the title “a charming story that demystifies the fears and false information surrounding lice infestation.”

Storytelling festival offers teachable moments for children’s authors

I can offer one BIG reason why children’s authors should consider attending a storytelling festival, such as the one held this month on March 6 at the University of Texas at San Antonio: Much in the art of storytelling can be applied to creating an engaging author school visit.

But that’s not the only reason to attend. More on that later.

Sponsored by the University’s Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, the Sixth Annual UTSA Storytelling Festival was both free and open to the public — and offered invaluable insights to those who wish to share stories with children.

A dynamic keynote speaker, teacher and storyteller Mary Ann Blue, spoke on connecting cultures through storytelling. Through a lively tale told in both English and Spanish, she showed just how that was done.

The festival also offered attendees a choice of exciting break out sessions that explored subjects such as “Storytelling Basics: A Brief How-To,” “Unique Ways to Get the Kids Storytelling” and “Bringing History Alive Through Storytelling: Connecting Through Emotions” to name a few.
During the half day program, I watched carefully how each speaker engaged the audience, and how the facial movements, gestures and the variances in vocals kept us all attentive and entertained.

Props, rhythmic instruments, pictures and puppets also enhanced some of the tales the storytellers weaved for us. Again, from my seat in the audience, I considered carefully how these elements might add some spunkiness and sparkle to my own author presentations.

Further, I learned about fables, folk stories, fairy tales and myths and how each offered something vital to a particular age group. I will keep these important insights in mind as I craft my own stories for varying audiences.

But finally, it was fun — fun to hear several good, poignant or rib tickling stories, and fun to be drawn by a skilled presenter into another time, another place, another adventure.

Authors, educators share insights on school visits

Thank you to all who attended the “Successful School Visits with Author Catherine Stier” presentation and book signing October 17, 2009 at the Barnes & Noble, 321 Northwest Loop 410, San Antonio, Texas. Following the program, authors, librarians and educators shared their questions, insights and experiences during a lively and informative discussion.

During the book signing, I had the opportunity to meet with educators from all over San Antonio to discuss author school visits and my newly released novel, The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club. One teacher told me she was looking forward to introducing her real live fifth-graders to the fifth-grade characters in the book.

A special thank you to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators-Southwest Texas (SCBWI-Southwest Texas) and Barnes & Noble for arranging and hosting the event.

For more information on upcoming SCBWI-Southwest Texas events, visit their website at http://www.scbwi-swtx.org/

New Program! Successful School Visits with Author Catherine Stier

Successful School Visits with Author Catherine Stier

SCBWI-Southwest Texas
October 17, 2009 – 1 – 3pm
Barnes & Noble
321 Northwest Loop 410
San Antonio, TX

Join published author Catherine Stier for an informative program on how to create a school visit that captures your audience and how to work with the school to ensure a productive event. This talk will also include information for librarians and educators on ways to find local speakers and create excitement for an author visit.

Join us at Barnes & Noble on San Pedro, across from North Star Mall. Our event will be in conjunction with Educator Appreciation Week at the store. Catherine will also sign her new book.

Catherine Stier is the author of If I Ran for President, If I Were President and Bugs In My Hair?! Her latest book is The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club, a tween novel. Visit her website for more details on the author.

Newly Released: The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club

The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club
By Catherine Stier

 

A fresh, funny novel about friendship and being who you want to be.

From Kirkus Review: Picture-book author Stier transitions to tween novels with this savvy exposé of the perils of clandestine groups…the author’s inclusion of male and female protagonists makes this tale accessible to audiences of both genders…The author deftly addresses the high-interest topics for fledgling teens as her characters struggle to cope with such universal issues as peer pressure, handling bullies and the true nature of friendship. (Fiction. 9-13)

Appearance at SCBWI-New Mexico Retreat

I’ve been invited to serve as a Guest Critique Leader at an upcoming SCBWI-New Mexico event in October 2009. It sounds like a beautiful location for a writer’s and illustrator’s retreat. Here are the details:

SCBWI-New Mexico Writer’s and Illustrator’s Retreat
in Jemez Mountains, New Mexico

Children’s book writers and illustrators of all experience levels are invited to a working Writers’ Retreat at Hummingbird Music Camp near Jemez Springs this autumn. This annual retreat is sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

October 23-25, experienced authors will lead small groups in a weekend of intensive critiquing, revising and writing. As an extra bonus, author Suzanne Morgan Williams will lead a Saturday afternoon discussion and workshop focused on Fabulous First Chapters. Williams is the author of the middle grade novel Bull Rider and the nonfiction books China’s Daughter’s, Piñatas and Smiling Skeletons, The Inuit, and Made in China. The other critique group leaders are Lucia Zimmitti, a freelance editor and writing coach at www.ManuscriptRx.com, and author Catherine Stier.

A member of SCBWI-Southwest Texas, Stier’s picture book, If I Ran for President sold more than 130,000 copies since its Fall 2007 release and led to a book signing at Mount Rushmore. Her other books include If I Were President, named an IRA Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books, the award-winning Bugs in My Hair?! and a new middle grade novel, The Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club.

In addition to the intimate group critiques, participants can get a written critique from Kate Fletcher, an associate editor at Candlewick Press, one of the largest independent children’s book publishers in the world—a great chance to get feedback from a professional editor, and make a contact at a respected publishing house.

The weekend also includes networking, a fireside reading, book sales, a silent auction, and personal time for reflection and working on your writing and illustrations.

The retreat is October 23-25, Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, with an optional extra day on Friday. The enrollment deadline is September 20.

The cost is $200 for members of SCBWI and $220 for non-members. This includes a private room and six meals. Writers and illustrators who don’t want to participate in critique groups can work on their own for the discounted price of $175. The Optional Early Working Day Retreat and professional manuscript critique from Kate Fletcher are each an additional $45. To register or for more information, go to www.scbwi-nm.org or email fallretreat@scbwi-nm.org.
www.scbwi-nm.org
www.suzannemorganwilliams.com
www.ManuscriptRx.com
www.catherinestier.com

Coming Fall 2009

Terrible Secrets of the Tell-All Club
By Catherine Stier
Albert Whitman & Company Publishers

No one at school had ever thought up a club like this. All you had to do to be in it was answer some questions and share them with the rest of the club. Questions like: What is your favorite salad dressing? Who is your BFF? What was your most embarrassing moment?

There were plenty of reasons to be in the Tell-All Club. Kiley, T.J., Josh, and Anne each had a different motivation: One of them wanted to fit in, one wanted revenge, one had something to hide, and one of them was dying to find out another’s secret.
Told in four different viewpoints, this funny, touching novel explores friendship, social pressures, bullying, and other anxieties of ‘tween girls and boys alike.

My Book in Braille


Recently the National Braille Press selected If I Ran For President to offer in a Braille format for their children’s book club. The book is also available to purchase in this format at their website at http://www.braille.com/
These books have both the original text and illustrations, as well as the identical text in Braille on transparent plastic sheets.

And a National Braille Press Book Signing, Too

A big thank you to the National Braille Press for the invitation to appear at a book signing at their booth at the Texas Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference held at the Sheraton Gunter in San Antonio on March 27, 2009. I enjoyed myself, met some wonderful people, and learned quite a bit about available resources.