Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog! Today I’m going to be talking about my experiences with author visits and my advice if you happen to be doing one! So if your curious about what an author visit entails or what it feels like, then read on!
My first young adult novel, The Crystal Chronicles was published in February of 2016. Since I am a junior in high school, I found myself in a very unique situation. I was the perfect person to visit local schools and talk to kids around my age about writing books. So that’s initially what I started off doing. I contacted local schools in my area and arranged to come in and talk to the kids about what I love most! The first school I visited was Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School in Vaughan. It was the most incredible thing ever. I talked to so many great kids that day and the support and love I received was mind blowing. I went to Our Lady of Fatima to do book signings during the book fair and things just went uphill from there. If any of you Fatima kids are reading this, I love each and every one of you!
After my first school I slowly got more comfortable talking in front of people. I am naturally a shy person and I’ve always had stage fright for as long as I can remember. But talking about writing and books shattered my stage fright into pieces. Talking to so many different people on the fly coached me into answering unexpected questions and taught me to always be ready. I changed from the person I was, into the person I always wanted to be. And that change alone was amazing for me, but things didn’t stop there.
The next school I visited was Saint Joan of Arc Catholic high school in Vaughan. This was a big day for me, and I remember feeling excited, but also nervous for weeks beforehand. I had to give four presentations back to back, to four grades of high school kids. It was a bit nerve-wracking because some of the kids were older than me! But I found everyone no matter what grade, to be extremely receptive! Every time I give presentations I split it into four parts and talk about myself, my writing, publishing, and The Crystal Chronicles. I always end with reading an excerpt from my book. This is extremely important if you are an author and doing anything similar to this! It’s really crucial, as a writer to identify parts of your book that you know will capture people’s attention.
Always think about your audience’s demographics, and how to best cater to them. For example, I read elementary school kids a different excerpt than the high school kids. Understanding your audience and connecting with them, has made me very comfortable in front of any crowd. But even so, standing up in front of a room full of kids and teachers can be daunting at times. And every presentation I give is slightly different. But standing up there kind of puts everything in perspective. I impacted people’s opinions about reading and writing. I remember one boy in particular, told me I taught him how to write. The way that feels is completely indescribable. Here I am, helping real people my age, just by talking about something I love. It’s the best job in the world because it doesn’t feel like working. And if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life. And inspiring kids is the best thing I would ever want to be doing.
The third school I visited was Holy Spirit Catholic School in Brampton. By the time that day rolled around, I felt very comfortable with everything. The kids were so excited and as a presenter you have to carry that excitement. You have to project good energy and your audience will give it back. If you are a new author my advice is prepare yourself before going into any presentation. Know yourself, and know what to talk about. Know how to engage the audience and bring lots of books! I also always make sure to bring my stand up poster of my book cover, and a really good pen! It all helps to make a good impression! And take opportunities no matter what shape or form they come in! There’s so much opportunity for authors out there, if you’re willing to look for it.
When I am called in as a student author I always enjoy myself. I get the funniest questions and the best responses from the kids and the teachers. Some of my readers really like the Aqurian Haven Reeves. Others love Alyssa Brooks, and some kids love how scary Kurt Bell is, and others want to see him dead. I always find it so funny to hear all different opinions from people! It makes the long process of writing a book so worth it. I’ve had nothing but good memories at all the schools I visited! Due to my age I mostly tour local schools in my area but I have many more author visits in other places lined up! I’ll be sure to upload some pictures under my news page so you guys can see what I’m up to and where you can find me next! I love talking to my readers, writers, dreamers, or anyone else who might have questions! I’m always around guys! Just send me an email!
Thanks for reading! My life has been a rollercoaster since February and I thought it would be nice to share all my experiences with my author visits and how wonderful all of these schools are! Thank you so much everyone and a special thanks to these three schools!
Until next time,
Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog! Today I’m going to be talking about one of my most frequently asked questions – my writing tips! Hopefully you will find these tips helpful!
My biggest advice to aspiring novelists is to plan your novel out. I really can't stress this enough, because I certainly didn’t do this in the beginning. When I first started writing The Crystal Chronicles I used to just write and write, hoping it would all come together in the end. I found when I didn’t plan properly, I constantly had to revise and add chapters to tie the whole book together. It was very time consuming and not necessary when I look back on it. But it’s up to you to decide how in depth you want to plan. Personally, I sit down and plan my books chapter by chapter. Usually, I ask myself two questions, what I need the reader to know, and what I want the characters to know. Answering these two questions forms the chapter in my mind and suddenly, I know exactly where to go. Now, I’m not going to say planning works for everyone. George R. R. Martin said there are 2 types of writers; engineers and gardeners. Engineers like to plan everything, and gardeners plant a seed and follow where it leads. Clearly, I am the engineer type of writer. But ultimately it’s up to you on how you want to let your creative juices flow. But hey, from my experience, I wholeheartedly believe at least some form of planning will make your life as a writer infinitely easier.
The next thing I always suggest to aspiring writers is to make your characters memorable. I read an amazing article when I first started writing that stressed the idea of how characters are remembered for what they do, not how they say or act. And when I thought about it some more, I realized it was true. Take any YA hero for example. Percy Jackson is remembered for being a kick ass demigod that defeats Kronos. Clary from The Shadowhunter Chronicles is remembered for being Nephilim with unique powers. And I strongly believe in order to have a memorable protagonist, you need an equally memorable antagonist. The protagonist and antagonist are meant to compliment one other and are meant to play off each other’s personalities and viewpoints. Having an equally strong protagonist and antagonist is what keeps a novel going, and keeps readers interested. If you look at The Crystal Chronicles, Alyssa Brooks is an unlikely hero who is fond of the mortal world and is the only one capable of defeating the antagonist – Kurt Bell. Kurt Bell on the other hand, has a burning hatred for the mortal world, and is really the only person who has the strength and the resources to defeat Alyssa Brooks. These two characters are opposite in personality and viewpoints. They serve totally different purposes, but one cannot exist without the other. And these two characters will essentially carry my whole series. Creating memorable characters is an absolute must and is especially important when writing YA fiction.
My third piece of advice when writing novels is to always leave unanswered questions. Now this advice is especially helpful to novelists who are writing series. And yes, that includes me; The Crystal Chronicles is a five book series. Leaving unanswered questions throughout your novel keeps a reader interested. If all conflicts and questions are resolved by the middle of a book, then there’s a problem. If you are writing a stand-alone novel, resolve questions and conflicts at the end of the book. If you’re writing a series, it gets tricky. Writing a series means you have to pace yourself and you have to figure out how much you want to reveal and at what point in the series. For example, the conflict in the end of my book leaves many unanswered questions that intrigues readers. Why is Jason Reeves working for the Society? How are the four main characters going to embark into the Amazon rainforest alone? What is Kurt Bell going to do next? These are all big questions that lead to even bigger conflicts. If I revealed too much at the end of book one, I would have a hard time prompting readers to pick up book two. Pacing yourself and pacing the plot of your novel is extremely important! Trust me on this one.
Like anything, writing novels isn’t a skill perfected overnight. The nice thing about writing is it isn’t set in stone. You have the freedom to go back and revise as many times as you want. Which leads me to my final piece of advice, revise, revise, and revise some more. Don’t be afraid to cut whole chunks of your book. It might break your heart a little, but with writing, it’s always better to have a foundation then nothing at all. You can cut a section and rebuild later. If you are not revising your book, then there is a major problem. No one in the history of writing has ever written a first draft and stopped right there. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and dig. Dig through your manuscript and cut and add, and I swear, eventually you will stop and realize you’ve built a castle. But first, you got to mold the sand. So my friends, edit and rewrite until you want to throw your computer at the wall. In the end, it will be more than worth it.
So I leave you with four pieces of advice for now. I have loads more of advice on the way, but here are my main tips for aspiring novelists. Thank you to everyone reading my blog. My readers mean the world to me! Leave me a comment or a review; I love talking to you guys!
Again if you’d like to check out my novel, The Crystal Chronicles, visit the bookstore page for loads of purchase options.
Until next time,
About the Author
Alessia Dickson is the author of The Crystal Chronicles series. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she is hard at work on her next book.