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.
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/
Successful School Visits with Author Catherine Stier
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.
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)
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:
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 email@example.com.
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?
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.
This week, on Inauguration Day, Lackland Air Force Base’s Lackland School in San Antonio invited me for a visit as Guest Author. What an honor to celebrate such an exciting, historic, eventful day with a group of bright and enthusiastic students!
I have also learned that several schools, home school programs and libraries have featured If I Were President and If I Ran for President as part of their lesson plans, Election Day or Inauguration Day observances and recommended reading lists. It is quite wonderful to know that parents, teachers and librarians are sharing these books with kids all over our country! I hope these books help young people to better understand the electoral process and the challenging and important job of President of the United States.
If you have introduced these books to kids, I’d love to hear about it! Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
To check out one cool lesson plan idea from Social Studies and the Young Learner visit:
I am in the process of updating my website to include news of my new location. This summer, I relocated from the Chicago area to South Texas, on the edge of the beautiful Hill Country.