~World Read ALOUD DAY~ March 4th!

litworldWRAD15logo-web

Did you know WORLD READ ALOUD DAY is approaching fast?

Well, it is!
~ March 4, 2015 ~

And I’m participating!

I’m offering 15 minute *FREE* Skype visits that day.

What will I do?

  1. Smile and wave
  2. Read one of my stories
  3. Allow your students to ask questions

What do you need to do?

  1. Contact me! email me at authorvisits@traceymcox.com or leave a comment below
  2. Pick out which  BOOK  you would like me to read
  3. Prepare questions

Check out my EVENTS PAGE on my website to see what times are available. Book your spot N-O-W!!!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what you think of this idea.
Are YOU participating in World Read Aloud Day?
How? What are you doing?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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Feature Friday: ReFoReMo hosted by Carrie Charley Brown

ReFoReMo2ReFoReMo
Reading for Research Month

We know we love to write. We know we need to learn to write well to be published. So how do we go about to learning? There are classes we can take. Webinars we can watch. Speakers to listen to.

Another great way to learn?  R-E-A-D! Yes, read! By submersing yourself into your genre, you will see what works and what doesn’t. Read the classics to see what has carried them this far. Read the mid-list to see what can make you stay steady. Read the newly published to see what is on the pulse of publishing and how your writing can fit in.

By reading a combination of publishing years you can begin to see the patterns of publishing. Things that are considered ‘classics’ wouldn’t be published now. Stories that are coming out this year might not have been published 10 years ago. Use the current books as mentor text. You will see word count, topics, and trends that are similar and will help direct you to better writing.

Carrie Charley Brown came up with a genius of a plan to help writers collaborate together and learn from each other with mentoring texts. Her and I were talking the other day, and she graciously answered some of my questions:

 

Q1: Name of writing challenge?

Reading for Research Month, or ReFoReMo

Q2: Do you have a website?

Of course!  You can find more information at:

http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/reforemo

Q3: Date of sign-ups?

February 15-March 1

Q4: Date writing challenge runs?

March 1-31

Q5: Why did you come up with this challenge?

I’ve grown as a writer by participating in challenges such as PiBoIdMo, the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, and ReviMo. At the same time, I read a lot of picture books as research tools and I wanted to share that inspiration with others.  

Q6: What do you hope people will gain from this challenge?

Guest author-educators will allow us to step into their shoes as they use picture books as tools. My hope is that picture book writers will gain a deeper understanding of how to use mentor texts to grow as writers. I also hope the consistent practice of reading picture books will immerse them into the form they write.

Q7: What else would you like to include?

Sometimes people don’t realize that fiction takes research, too. I write mainly picture book fiction and could not imagine writing without first understanding what is constantly being released in our market. Writers need to stick together and share. ReFoReMo will allow us to be there for one another in both fiction and nonfiction.

 

About:

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Carrie Charley Brown

Carrie Charley Brown juggles ideas every day as a children’s writer, teacher, blogger, and mom. She is the founder of the 2015 ReFoReMo Challenge, or Reading for Research Month. You can learn more about Carrie’s writing journey, her KidLit Services, ReFoReMo, and many other amazing authors and resources, at her blogsite Carrie On… Together!

 

Thanks Carrie!
I am also honored to be one of the Author-Educators for the challenge.   🙂

Hope you all will join us. Click on the link, banner, or ~ HERE~ to take you over there.

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what you think about this post.
Have you read any great picture books lately?
Do you know of any writing challenges you would like to see featured here?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

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Newsletter sign-up page.
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CELEBRATE PICTURE BOOKS!!!!

Read!!!Celebrate Picture Books!!!

It’s November and that means it’s Picture Book Month

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And it’s Picture Book Ideas Month…

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Can you hear me cheering?????? */*  */*  */*

Take time to read a great picture book every day. If you are a writer or illustrator, click on the PiBoIdMo banner above and join Tara Lazar’s month long idea generating adventure. Today is the first day and sign-ups go through this week. So it’s not too late to join.

I’ll be journaling about PiBoIdMo this month and would love to see a few others join me in the adventure.

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::
Let me know what you are going to do to celebrate picture books.

Happy Writing!
~t

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8 Things to be SCHOOL VISIT Ready

authorvisit38 Tips to be School Visit Ready!

Today I’m continuing my posts on…

SCHOOL TIME + AUTHOR TIME = LEARNING STUDENTS

Before you contact a school, as a presenter you need to have several things in order.

Just as in trying to be published, you want to put your best foot forward. I have composed a list of several things I think you need to have to be SCHOOL VISIT ready…

  1. Presentation(s)
    Have several – Just as when you write, you will need presentations to meet the age groups you are speaking to. I have several: a reading level, which works great for the youngest, the writing mechanics, which works really well for the mid range, the business side, which works well with the older range. I also have a writing workshop. You can also develope presentations that will coinside with one particular book or series.Note Cards – Yes. Write down your key points. Keep them handy during your presentation. It helps to have this, even if you have done the presentation a million times.

    Rehearse – Get in front of a mirror and pretend you are talking to the crowd. Notice your facial features and how you move. Time it too. Most people will want to know how long your presentation takes. Take your time and go through all the motions until it feels natural.

    Flash Drive – Back your presentations up on a flash drive. I usually try to send my material a head of time, but sometimes things fail or won’t come up when you need it too. Have your flash drive handy to save the day.

    Have a Back-Up Plan – Even when you plan, things do always go as planned. Computers going down is only one senario. Always have a back up plan.

  2. Forms, Flyers, & Business Cards
    Information is the key. Try to lay everything out for your contacts. I have several flyers that are pdf files.

    • Author Is Coming – This flyer is for them to post on their walls. I have a spot where they can include the date of the visit, as well as a picture of me and my books available.
    • Bio – This flyer should be sent home to the parents. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like it when I didn’t receive information about the person who was visiting my children’s school.
    • Book Form – This form will be sent home to the parent too. Hopefully, increasing your sales.
    • Agreement / Contract – Yes, you should have one. This puts in words what both parties expect.

    Then I also bring these along:

    • Business Cards – I usually have a few (media specialist, principals, teachers, parents) who will ask if I have one on hand.
    • Mini-Flyer – This is something I added. It tells a story on how and why I became an author and how they can find out more about me (website). I use these to autograph for the children who forgot their money or were not able to purchase a book.
  3. Mic & Speaker
    I request the school to provide one for me, but I have one as a back up. Mics are relatively cheap (under $50). Speakers…. well I’m ‘barrowing’ my oldest son’s electric guitar amp. It works though and he doesn’t mind.
  4. Pens & Cash
    PENS – You need those for signing. And yes, they WILL walk off when you are not looking.Cash – I bring a change bag, because you will usually have someone who forgot the correct change or they may have the wrong amount on the check.
  5. BOOKS!
    Yes, bring extra books. Even when the school does order (which I ask them too, but not all schools will), you will have late orders or the wrong book(s) may have gotten shipped.
  6. Emergency Box
    This is another thing I’ve incorporated, an emergency box. You can your a recipe box or whatever. Some of the things I have inside are:Tissues – teary eyes or runny nose
    Cough drops – dry throat or stubborn cough
    Peppermint – same purpose as the cough drops, but smells better
    Eye drops – dry eyes or allergies.
    Band aids – I’m a clutz and have had to have one at the worse of times
    Eye glass wipes – the better to see you my dearsNote Card of Presentations
    Flash Drive
  7. Carrying-Tub or Bag
    So I will put all my items together, because being organized is hard and I have to do this a head of time.In my carrying-tub I have:

    • mic w/ cord
    • book stands
    • flyers
    • books
    • cash bag

    One day I want to incorporate an easier way to lug all my items. 🙂

    In my bag:

    • Pens
    • Emergency box

    Then I have my speaker too, if and when needed.

    Yes, I have to make more than one trip. Working on that.

  8. Tablet & Projector
    (this is on my want list)
    Tablet – there are so many wonderful tablet out there now that can take the place of your computer. My heart is set on one that have a usb post to hook my flash drive into.Projector – have you seen them lately!?! They are small and compact. By having one of these I’ll be able to showcase my presentation almost anywhere!

 

Here’s a printable list for your convenience too. 🙂

8 Things to be SCHOOL VISIT Ready

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::

Let me know what you include for your school visits!
Have a question? Ask in the comments and I will answer it as best as I can.

Hope you found this useful. Til next time…

Happy writing!
~t

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www.Wednesday… Website Ready for AUTHOR VISITS

Welcome to my:

SCHOOL TIME + AUTHOR TIME = LEARNING STUDENTS

block of blog posts. Today I’m covering the author side.

WHY should you have a website???

ComputerI know you’ve heard it time and again…

HAVE A WEBSITE!

Here is a very good reason to have one, even if it is just one page. A (principal, media specialist,  pta member, etc) will definitely search for you on the internet.

By having a website, you ensure the information out there on you is accurate. You can also control what they see and what you promote.

WHAT SHOULD YOU INCLUDE ON YOUR WEBSITE?

Honestly, any and all information you  need to encourage people to buy your books, invite you to their school, use your services, etc.

While you might not have all those categories, and might have others, be straight forward with your information. Be honest and up front. People like to have their information where they can processes it easily. They also like to feel as if they know you. Make it easy and simple.

Here is my website link:

Tracey M. Cox, author

When you click over you will go directly to my landing page. On my landing page I’ve included several things:

  1. Welcome Video – This allows people to see and hear you. Body language is wonderful. You don’t have to guess if I’m joking or being sarcastic. You can see it. It also lets your personality begin to shine through. That builds on people getting to know you.
  2. Latest Book Release – Let you newest baby have the spotlight for a while.
  3. What I’m Available for – Here I already begin marketing and promoting my author visits, books signings, and guest speaker invites.
  4. Social Media Links – Contact is key! I include links to my Social Media on EVERY PAGE. The more they see you, the more they get to know you, the more they trust you as an expert in the field.

Pages I included and why are:

  • about me – Here I let people get to know me a little more. I share a some background information, as well as how I began to write professionally.
  • books – I have the cover art for each book that has been authored and/or illustrated by me. When they click on the cover art, it will take them to a paged dedicated to that book.
  • for teachers/parents – I have pdf downloads here. Everyone loves freebies. I have included coloring pages and activities that coincide with my books. I’ll be adding Teacher Guides (ever so important with Common Core) and word searches too.
  • author visits – On this page I have a few pdfs and information about what author visits I offers. I also include my fees here. Not everyone does, but I don’t mind people knowing what I charge. I live in a rural community and charge accordingly. I also have links that include fund-raising opportunities (Title I Monies can go towards AUTHOR VISITS, did you know that?) and my CALENDAR OF EVENTS so they can see my schedule.
  • contact –  I include how to get in touch with me. Which is AWESOME when you get fan mail. 🙂  I also have links for my newsletter and book launch teams here too.
  • services – On this page I’m advertising for myself. I offer platform building consultant services as well as a pb critique service.
  • blog –  Well, you are here.   😉  I have a link on my website too.
  • reviews – I also have a pb review blog, which is under a major renovation right now. The link up there will take you to the older one, for now.

Your website may or may not have all those elements, but that is why you are unique and what you offer is a one-of-a-kind deal!

The key is getting your name out there where you can be found and have your information correct. Build that trust and help promote literacy.

 

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::

Let me know what you think about my website. What do you include in yours? What information do you think is most important to include on a website?

Til next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

 

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Marketing Monday: School Time + Author Time = LEARNING STUDENTS

School time + Author time = LEARNING STUDENTS

 

*RING, RING, RING*

Bellred-school-mdBell

It’s that time of the year again…

  • Freshly sharpen pencils
  • New notebooks
  • Books being cracked open for the first time

Yes, I get excited this time of the year. And no, it’s not because my child goes back to school. Although the whole “we have a schedule” is an added bonus. I get excited because this is my busy time. Time for me to…

  • open my planner
  • email TONS of media specialist in my state
  • make sure my website is up to date and has all my pdfs ready
  • go to school and talk about writing

Yep, AUTHOR VISITS!

My next block of blog posts will be covering this topic.

WHO to contact to schedule visits?

WHAT is an author visit?

WHEN should you hold an author visit?

WHERE can you hold an author visit in your school?

HOW to prepare for an author visit? (author and school)

WHY should you invite an author to visit your school?

PLUS any other nuggets I can throw into the mix!

I also plan on compiling a list of authors and illustrators who offer author visits (in person and online).

So keep coming back, sign up for updates on my blog —->

And encourage your local schools to book an author!

 

Drop me a comment!!!

*Leave me your information if you are an AUTHOR or ILLUSTRATOR that would like to be included on my list. I will need your NAME, WEBSITE, and STATE YOU LIVE IN.
*Got a question you would like to ask about AUTHOR VISITS? Ask below.
*Is there some part of  the author visit YOU would like me to include? Put AUTHOR VISIT TOPIC  in the comments with what you want to see covered.

Can’t wait to read what you have to offer and I hope to help some of you along the way.

Teacher Guides + Common Core = Common Ground guided by Marcie Colleen

TEACHER GUIDES + COMMON CORE = COMMON GROUND
GUIDED BY MARCIE COLLEEN

 

Hello everyone.

I have been wanting to address a subject that has been giving numerous writers, and parents, some trouble. I think it is in the understanding of the topic really. COMMON CORE has come to your local schools. While a lot of heated debates have happened, I have sat down and began to study it. Really dig deep, and try to understand it. While it can be overwhelming, I think it can be a good thing.

I asked one of my colleagues, Marcie Colleen, if she would answer a few questions about Common Core. I wanted to pass it along to my readers so they can benefit too. Marcie is so generous as you will see below. So, take a deep breath and lets look, really look, at Common Core and find out how it can be beneficial.

PLUS, for my writing friends, how adding a Teacher Guide (a/k/a Lesson Plan) can help your book become Common Core friendly, and hopefully get your book into more children’s hands.

 

 

I’m wanting to give my readers more information on the Common Core. It can be confusing when you first begin to look into it. How would you explain it to someone who has no knowledge?

I’d actually beg to differ. It’s not the Common Core that is confusing, it’s the emotionally charged opinions that are plaguing our media that are hard to decipher. When so many people are speaking out about their feelings, it can be difficult to make sense of it for ourselves.

Therefore, here are 3 helpful resources to help YOU make sense of the CCSS for YOU!

  • School Library Journal 6-part webcast series about the Common Core. This series is FREE and very helpful, especially Part One: Getting Real with Marc Aronson and Sue Bartle. Although they are geared toward professionals in the education world, they will give you a good overview on what the CCSS entail and how educators are “unpacking” the standards for themselves. You can find the entire series here. http://www.slj.com/webcasts/commoncore/#_
  • The Common Core State Standards. It’s always best to go right to the source. These standards are not rocket science, but they can be overwhelming. Look at the tables which include each standard by grade level. Limit your focus by standard and grade level so that it is easiest to digest. They can be found, in detail, at http://www.corestandards.org/

Unfortunately, there are really no shortcuts. If you want to be a part of the conversation, these resources will help you.

To better understand, let’s look closely at a few of the standards.

Excerpt from Grade 3 Reading: Literature Standards

Key Ideas and Details

1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

2. Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

3. Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

Craft and Structure

4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

5. Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.

6. Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

7. Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).

In isolation it becomes clearer that:

  • The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of benchmarks which focus on the development of essential skills at the most appropriate age and development stage for students.
  • They are skill-based, not test-driven, and in theory will prepare students better for life post-school.
  • They also allow teachers to be unique in their approaches to instruction, not dictating what is to be taught or how. The focus is on results, not means.
  • They are not rocket science or really that confusing.
  • Every book can be Common Core compliant.

 

I wanted to ask you also to explain why is good to offer Teacher Guides.

A Teacher’s Guide is

  • A tool for teachers to use to gain immediate access into your book and adapt it quickly and easily for classroom use.
  • Aligns your book to the current curriculum and curriculum standards (state standards, as well as the Common Core)
  • A marketing tool which promotes you within the educational environment and helps you garner more school and library visits.

But to answer your question, I want to tell a story. I was recently hired by Adriana Brad Schanen to create a Teacher’s Guide for her debut middle grade novel Quinny & Hopper (Disney Hyperion, 2014). Fast forward to Adriana’s first school visit to a bunch of 4th grade classes. In addition to presenting to the classes, Adriana gave each teacher a copy of the Teacher’s Guide. By the end of the day, the teachers were raving about how comprehensive the guide was. They loved how many options and avenues into the book it provided. In fact, the teachers decided that perhaps next year they would forgo the usual Superfudge unit and instead teach Quinny & Hopper!!!

Teachers are busy. They are overworked. They are spread thin. The easier you can make it for them to use your book in the classroom the better your chances. Of course they have been teaching Superfudge. There are a zillion lesson plans and activities for free on the web on how to bring Superfudge into the classroom. A Teacher’s Guide can help you “compete”.

 

When should you think about teacher guides?

Truthfully? Once your book is finished. Just like I wouldn’t want a teacher to “teach to the test”, a writer shouldn’t write to a Teacher’s Guide. Once your book is finished you can start to think about its life outside.

Six months prior to the date of publication is usually sufficient start the process of creating a Teacher’s Guide.

 

What if your story is fiction, can you still incorporate teacher’s guides?

Absolutely! In fact, out of the 33 Teacher’s Guides I have created for clients, only 3 of them have been for non-fiction titles. To check them out, all of my guides are available for free download on my website at http://www.thisismarciecolleen.com.

You’d be surprised what academic goodies can be pulled out of a fiction story. After all, isn’t The Very Hungry Caterpillar a great springboard for learning about food choices, the life cycle of a butterfly and metamorphosis?

 

Thank you so much, Marcie. You really have gone above and beyond.

 

 

MARCIE COLLEEN

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Education Consultant, Marcie Colleen, is a former classroom teacher and curriculum creator turned Picture Book writer. Her Teacher’s Guides, which align picture books and middle grade novels with the Common Core and other state mandated standards, have been praised by both teachers and librarians. Her Teacher’s Guide for Picture Book Month, Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms, validates the use of picture books across EVERY curriculum and provides teachers with a hands on approach to adapt any picture book for educational use. Her work with Picture Book Month has been recognized by School Library Journal and the Children’s Book Council. Marcie is also an Education Strategist, providing one-on-one consultation guiding authors and illustrators to best position their books for school visits and classroom use. Visit her at www.thisismarciecolleen.com to discover how Marcie can help you navigate the world of children’s literature and education.

 

 

I hope that give you all some stepping stones to begin the journey of understanding Common Core and how books, with Teacher Guides, can play a vital role in children’s education.

Happy writing/reading everyone!
~t

 

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