Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Have Books, Will Travel

I was visiting an elementary school in St. Michael, Minnesota, last week, and thought to myself, "I have the best job in the world." I was teaching a fun lesson on a subject that I love, students were stopping me in the hall to give me hugs and hand me notes saying I was "cool", teachers were thanking me for getting their classes excited about writing, and everyone was telling me how much they liked my books. On top of all that, I was getting paid.

Visiting schools is one of my favorite parts of being an author. Unlike my friend Laurie whose job sent her on the road 157 days last year (for expert advise and entertaining stories, check out her blog site, The Accidental Business Traveler), I only have a handful of out-of-town travels each year, which makes my overnight school visits feel almost like a vacation. And because I feel like I'm on vacation, here are a few of the perks I indulge in when my school visits take me out of town:

* I strive to eat at only non-chain restaurants. I'll take a diner's hamburger steak dinner with American fries and Texas toast over the Perkin's special any day of the week. And always ask the locals for their favorite places to get a good meal; plenty of times the best cafe is hidden around a corner that I would have otherwise overlooked.

* I ALWAYS check out the local bakery. I can remember the small town's mint brownies, moon pies, and apple fritters, long after I've forgotten the name of the school I visited.

*The local library is another great spot to hang out, as are the antique shops, where I can spend several pleasant hours scouring the shelves for vintage Cracker Jack prizes to add to my collection.

*Time in my hotel room allows me the luxury of reading without a hundred household chores staring me in the face. Heck, I don't even have to make my own bed! I also get to indulge in television watching which I don't do at home. Ten minutes of tube time can sometimes be enough to remind me why I don't have a working television...and then I can go back to reading again.

*A swimming suit is a staple in my suitcase in case the hotel has a whirlpool where I can soak in the evening.

*And before any school visit that will involve a long drive, I stop by the library and check out a bagful of CDs. Showtunes, music from the 40's and 50's, and middle grade audio books are my favorites. They really do make the miles fly by. And I've been known to stay sitting in my garage after a five-hour car trip so I can listen to the end of an especially engaging audio book.

*Finally one last item I've learned to pack to make sure that my time away from home is pleasant: earplugs. Noisy hotel air conditioners and close-at-hand interstate traffic no longer keep me awake at night, and I get up in the morning well rested and happy to spend time with a new school of students.


A Big Day for this Spud...

I'm thrilled to share this, which was in Publisher's Marketplace today:

COMPOUND author S.A. Bodeen's first four volumes of a middle grade series,
pitched as "Swiss Family Robinson" meets "Lost," about a recently-blended family
on a sailing trip in the South Pacific as a bonding adventure for the new
step-siblings and step-parents, when things go terribly wrong, to Jean Feiwel
and Liz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends, in a six-figure deal, by Scott Mendel at
the Mendel Media Group (world).

Happy dancing, for sure.


New sights for a new view...

Traveling is part of my job, which I love. Although this year I've done more Skype visits than ever before, I still get to do a lot of "real" school visits. Last February I went to Brazil, where I spoke at four international schools in four different cities, so my travel buddy Karen and I got to see four very distinct areas. Brasilia was a fascinating city, one that was actually planned and built after the automobile was invented, so it has a seriously efficient road system.
We arrived on a Sunday, and our host was the elementary school principal. She drove us around to look at the sites of the capital city, including the inside of the national cathedral,which had these huge angels hanging down from the ceiling.

Then she took us to a massive park where there was a lovely fountain.

At the same park, there was a Sunday festival, which meant people selling their art and wares.

There were snacks and drinks to purchase as well, and Karen and I shared a chilled Agua de Coco...

And of course, I did have some work to do the next day...