Monday, May 9, 2011

My First-Ever Author Visit!

On Saturday, I was invited to do my first-ever author visit thanks to Sarah Gowrie, who co-leads a program called the Young Authors Club run through the volunteer organization New York Cares.

If you read my Dear Teen Me letter, you know that public speaking is not my thing. So let's just say I was nervous. Sarah and I spoke beforehand about some of the things she thought I should talk about. And then I practiced. I ran through it about four times. My main concern was that I would bore the kids; I just really hoped that they would find any of my ramblings interesting.

Eventually, Saturday morning rolled around and I found myself at the Lena Horne Library at P.S. 76. In front of about 15 fifth-graders and 15 volunteers I talked about:
- what my book is about
- creating characters that are different from you
- putting historical figures in your work
- why I love editing
Apparently, I talk with my hands.
Then I read the first page of my book and I read them the first page of the very first draft of my book. I told them there were 24 drafts in between those two versions (which got quite the reaction).

Afterward, they got to ask me questions and, let me just say, they had some amazing and abundant ones for me. Some of my favorites were how old I was when I started writing (7); how long it took me to write the book (4 years on and off); whether my boyfriend helped me write my book (no); and whether I was a good writer (that's for them to decide!).

To correlate with my visit, Sarah and her co-leaders had designed a writing exercise where the kids had to write the opening page of their own novel. In their work, they had to create a character that was different than themselves and have them interact with a historical or famous figure. I got to work with one of the kids, Aby, and it was awesome helping her to craft and edit her opening paragraphs. We even got started on a second draft!

Before I knew it, the hour was up and it was time to say goodbye. And then, the most extraordinary thing happened. The kids started asking for my autograph. They wanted to take their picture with me. They gave me hugs and they told me they couldn't wait to read my story.

It was unreal and wonderful.

I really want to thank New York Cares, Sarah and her co-leaders Claudia Hindo and Vanecie Delva for having me and for making me feel so welcome. I also want to thank the kids and the rest of the New York Cares volunteers for such a lovely hour. I truly hope they enjoyed it at least half as much as I did.

Oh, and on another note, one of the biggest reactions I got was when I showed my cover to the kids (I told them it was super top secret and I had to get special permission from my editor). They all oohed and aahed and I thought about how much I can't wait to be able to share it with the world. And by world, I mean you.


  1. Though I didn't help write the book, I am most certainly the shaky hands behind the lovely photos from that afternoon!

  2. Great post! Graig's pictures are masterpieces compared to my poorly lit and unsaved pictures.

  3. As one of the 15 volunteers present that day I thought you did an amazing job. It's hard keeping the attention of 5th graders as we all struggle each week but the kids loved you and your work... "oohs and ahhs" are crucial. Good luck with the rest of your book editing and trying to keep it at "rough draft #26" :)

  4. Kendra, thanks SO much and thank you for the feedback. It was such a great group and it was obvious that you guys were responsible for getting them excited to be there and excited to write.

  5. That's great! Presenting to kids must be fun. Congrats!

  6. Congratulations on surviving. lol Really, an author who can get young people interested and excited about writing is a treasure. Suzanne Lucero

  7. what an awesome first event. it sounds like it was very special. :)

  8. Sounds like the perfect first author talk for you. That age group is so awesome (love the boyfriend question). And I can't believe you almost have a cover--I can't wait to see it!

  9. That is awesome... congrats.

  10. That's wonderful - congrats on making it through and enjoying it!