Michael's Musings

Busy Weekend

What a wonderful weekend I’ve had! On Friday, I had a meeting with Evette Gabriel, who illustrated Latasha and is the founder/leader of The Ink Circle, the artist group that handles all the artwork for the Tales of Midlandia series that I write. She will have a hand in crafting a lot of the promotional materials for Midlandia Press, so we discussed a bunch of potential items.

My favorite element of the discussion involved creating a book trailer for Latasha and the Little Red Tornado. For those who might be wondering, a book trailer is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a promotional video for a book, much like a film trailer.

Below is a great example of a book trailer. It’s for a book coming out next month, Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder. Enjoy!

Just a simple, lovely bit of storytelling there. Anyway, book trailers are somewhat de rigeur these days, it seems, so Evette and I (plus a musician, video editor, and one or two other folks) will be making one for Latasha. Given my past working both as a student volunteer and a paid professional in filmmaking, I’m tempted to be very hands-on. However, I’m going to resist and delegate, because I’m just too darn busy, I think, to shoulder it all. Either way, Evette and I will get started when the leaves begin to turn. I’m pretty psyched.

So that was Friday. On Saturday, I had excitement of a totally different kind. As those of you who follow me on Twitter probably already know, I held an outdoor storytime on the North Side of Pittsburgh, in Allegheny Commons Park. I did this in partnership with a great non-profit called Venture Outdoors, who had me as a guest at their Family Festival.

The turnout was pretty darn good, so I was kept quite busy by visitors and never got to leave my station for a tour. However, here are a couple of shots from my perspective at the storytelling area:

This is one view from my storytelling area. Check out the nifty climbing wall on the right!

View from my storytelling area.

Here is another view from my storytelling seat.

This was a game booth hosted by Allegheny General Hospital Pediatrics

As you can see, most of the vendors had tents. I opted for something a little different; seizing on the “outdoors” aspect of the day, I simply tied my “author” sign up to a nice, shady tree, and set up shop.

My storytelling perch.

(Thanks to my sister, who dropped by before the event fully started, for taking this picture!) Unfortunately, since I was at the event on my own, I didn’t get any action shots of me reading. But, between 12pm and 4pm, I read the 5 stories I’d brought a total of about 3 dozen times. Usually, the kids were there in groups of 3 or 4 for these readings, but I had a couple different story groups of over 10. I had to keep the groups small because also at this event, there was a particularly loud DJ playing various pop and rap tunes, and though I project well, it’s pretty tough to do that much reading to people more than a few yards away. Also, the small groups allow me to engage the kids with discussion after a story, which I (and parents) enjoy.

Most kids came for one story and then moved on to the beanbag toss across from me, or the hula-hooping area near the DJ, or the climbing wall in my first picture. Some, though, stayed for more. One girl requested one story after another — “Read the winter one!” — “Read the bicycles one!” — “Read the forest one!” — until her mother suggested she not monopolize her seat, since there were only a half-dozen of them.

At the end of the day, Venture Outdoors held a raffle for prizes that were donated by each vendor. I gave four ARCs of Latasha, with the offer of a quick Hi-how-are-you and personalized autograph. They generally seemed amenable to my suggestion of, “If you love this book, share it with a friend” — but one girl said to me, “Uh-uh. I’ll tell all my friends, but they’re gonna have to buy their own!” My kind of kid!

Anyway, my voice still hasn’t fully recovered from basically shouting stories for four hours — I sound like I ought to be instructing people to Snap into a Slim Jim! — but I don’t think I could have lost it for a better cause. Thanks again to Venture Outdoors for having me!

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