Why Skype an Author?
Welcome to Library Lions Roar! We’re back in school, so let’s raise a Roar for school libraries! I usually host librarian posts here, but since you’re all wildly busy in September, I thought I’d pop in to post about another topic that’s close to my heart – Virtual Author Visits. That’s right, meeting authors via Skype or other favorite media hosts. It’s something authors, kids and librarians love. Virtual visits are easier than ever through Online Author Visits. Check out all the children’s authors who are ready to visit you and your classes at your school library.
At age eight I started hauling books high up in the branches of my reading tree. I read constantly up there and already knew I wanted to be a writer. The trouble was, I wasn’t the least bit good at writing. So how did I become an author of novels for children and young adults? I had encouraging teachers. I had savvy librarians who continually offered books that inspired me. And I had a passion for writing that drove me to keep working at it year after year.
The Power of Story
We talk about the power of stories on my school visits and Skype visits. We discuss how important it is for each of us to tell our own stories, and share our stories with others.
Our stories bring us together, expand our world, and sometimes they give us one of the greatest gifts of all—a feeling of courage, and a belief that each one of us, no matter who we are, matters. I know this is true when I open letters and emails from readers like the one I got last week that began, “Your book changed my life,” and went on to share how reading Wenny Has Wings when she was ten helped her deal with her brother’s death. She coped by writing letters to her brother in a journal, (like Will does in Wenny Has Wings). She told him about her life and how much she missed him. Writing helped her survive that hard time. I was honored to receive her letter. Hers and others like it have been priceless gifts that prove the power of human stories.
School visits are invaluable! But many schools can’t afford to pay an author to visit for a day let alone pay airfare and lodging for out of town authors. So why not do a virtual visit through Skype or some other media format?
A virtual visit offers something special you can’t get on a school visit. It’s a bit of a magic window effect. First of all, the students get a peek into the author’s private writing world. In my case they can see my colorful wall charts where I plot my novels, stacks of revision pages (yes writers get marked-up pages just like you do in school!).
And they can meet the dragon who flies over my desk to make sure I’m writing. (She’s got a fiery temper and is not pleased if I’m fiddling around and not working on my novel.)
We share stories, do mini writing workshops, and talk about specific books the students are reading. Students can ask about scenes or characters they are curious about. Even better they can ask why the author made the choices they did, why the story went one direction and not another, or why it didn’t end differently. These kinds of questions only happen when readers and authors meet and take the time to converse.
Students interests and questions sometimes seed ideas for my new stories. Meeting and talking with students and librarians leaves me inspired. Always.
I look forward to talking with your students on a virtual visit. Email [email protected] to set it up.
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet via the Contact page on this website to set up an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.
Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your world, Janet! And I so agree, online visits are a great way to connect with young readers and writers. It’s just another great tool in the toolbox! That dragon of yours looks like quite the taskmaster! Happy Skyping!
She is quite the taskmaster! But I’m grateful she’s gliding overhead. Enjoy your future virtual visits, Trudi.
Thanks for this, Janet. I always thought skype visits were nice, but they could never be a substitute for an in-person visit. But you’re right! Skype visits can offer something that in-person visits don’t offer. I show pictures of my marked up manuscripts and my charts and graphs when I’m there in person. I also show pictures of my office. But it’s not the same as when they come into my office virtually and watch me pull something from a shelf as it comes up in conversation. They see me in my office as it really is…they see what I’m doing TODAY…they see today’s To-Do list on the white board behind me…they interact with my dog. Skype visits can be just as personal as in-person visits. It’s just a different kind of personal.
I agree, Dori B. And as to interact with your dog, everyone should have the chance to meet Mouse. 🙂
Great post, Janet!
I love the idea of the magic window effect. Great insights into the advantages of Skype visits! Wish I had a dragon watching over me…
You can have one Dori 🙂 They do fly about.
I agree there are advantages to being there in person as well as virtually. I love doing online visits, because I don’t have to waste any time in traffic! Besides that, though, I find that schools will have just one or two classrooms in a virtual visit, because it’s so much cheaper. For the in-person visits, the schools are paying a lot of money to cover outside-of-the-classroom expenses, so they have to try to get as many students to benefit from that expense as possible. I enjoy doing assemblies, but Skype visits usually allow for more interaction and individual sharing, which can be priceless for both students and author.
I love the interaction and individual sharing, too, Laurie Ann.