Friday, August 3, 2018

Am I Really a March is Reading Month Author? by Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw

You’ve only been on this writing journey for a little over a year.
You’re still tweaking your middle grade fiction book that has morphed into a nonfiction picture book.
You’re unpublished.
And speaking in front of a crowd is way out of your comfort zone.

But the principal at the school you’ve just been transferred to tells you there’s no money in the budget to hire an author to speak during March is Reading Month and asks, “Will you be the author for our assembly?”

You surreptitiously gulp.

You scream “no” in your head knowing this will be a ton of work and your teacher plate is filled beyond capacity.

You start your yoga breathing.
You smile and say,
“Of course.”

And then you panic!

You call the reading consultant at the school you got transferred from for advice.
She suggests you do the assembly there first.
Everyone knows you.
It’ll be good practice.

Then she says,
“Don’t tell anyone. We’ll say a surprise famous author is coming!’

“Famous author— the kids will be so disappointed when they see it’s me!”

“They’ll love it; trust me.”

You reluctantly say yes and agree to be introduced as the “Surprise, Well Known Author”.
Like that’s any better.

That night while you’re supposed to be sleeping, inspiration strikes.
You hobble downstairs to your laptop.
And title your presentation “Am I Really an Author?”

You work feverishly on your PowerPoint and gather all your props.
You take the most recent revision of your WIP and illustrate it with photos and add it to your presentation.

You don’t care anymore that your teacher plate is overflowing.
Somewhere along the way this has become fun!

You arrive at your old school hands trembling.
As a special ed teacher, you’re used to working with small groups of kids.
250 kids and all those adult teacher faces—ACK!

You walk into the multipurpose room where you participated in so many assemblies—as an audience member.
You set up.

Three of your former students are going to introduce you.
They’re in on the “big secret.”

Before the classes file in, you hide.
Remember, you’re the “Surprise, Well Known Author”.

You hear your name introduced.
Then massive cheering.
Your fears diminish.

You enter the room, arms pumping in the air like Rocky!

You stumble here and there.
But overall, your presentation goes smoothly.

Students are raising their hands to share.
They laugh at all the right spots.
You’ve avoided looking at any adults in the room the entire time.

You read your manuscript.
The students are mesmerized by your story.
And then, the applause.

You had a blast and you can’t wait to do it again at your current school!

A few days later, you get emails from two other schools.
They heard about your presentation.
They want to PAY you to speak at their March is Reading Month assemblies.

YES, you really are a March is Reading Month Author!

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw is a nonfiction picture book author and elementary special education teacher who is passionate about growing young minds through her teaching and writing. The proud momma of two grown boys, Suzanne lives in Waterford, MI with her husband and furry writing companion. When she’s not dreaming up new teaching or writing projects, you can find her kayaking on the lake, hiking a trail, practicing at the yoga studio, or comparing paint swatches at the local Sherwin Williams. Learn more about Suzanne at

Note: A brief version of this post was first published on the TeachWrite blog.

Are you an author looking for resources about school visits? Follow the results of this 2018 survey, Transparency in Pay for Author and Illustrator School Visits, in a four-part series here and here on author Michele Cusolito's blog.

Happening right now: the SCBWI Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles. Follow along on the SCBWI Blog.

Looking for a conference closer to home? Registration is now open for the SCBWI-MI Fall Retreat. This year, we're partnering with the SCBWI-Indiana chapter for a creative weekend at Pokagon State Park, October 5th-7th. Go here to learn more and register online.
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