Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bolingbrook Author Fair – April 13, 2013

This was my second year of participation at the fair, held at the Fountaindale library in Bolingbrook, Il.  Many patrons were not aware of the fair until they heard library staff on the microphones telling them to come over and to meet and greet local authors.  The library handed out small autograph books for patrons to use to get author names. Ten autographs earned a prize. That tactic had people stopping by author tables all day.
The authors were arranged in groups – Children’s books, Young Adult (yeah me!!), Adult Fiction and Non-fiction. Some authors brought large displays for their areas. One even brought a video to play to highlight their exercise books. There were two other SCBWI author members exhibiting at the fair as well.
I was visited by more tweens than teens, by several grade school teachers, and a member of SCBWI. (A woman who gave up a long drive to a meeting in Des Plaines for the short drive to the library just to see me. I drove past Des Plaines for the long drive down to Bolingbrook.) She was thrilled to purchase a copy of one of my books. Another copy went to a woman who was having a birthday. She also had a picture taken with me – I felt famous!
I had signed on to give patrons a presentation on attracting teen readers. The fair was experimenting with supplying programming for the first time. There were two tracks, one children’s stories, the other programming for adults and teens. I was in that second track.  Because the decision to offer programming came only a few weeks before the fair, there was little publicity, but I went out and gathered kids and adults. My presentation began at 2:30, my audience (thanks to generous bribes of candy) included four tweens (I think two were a brother and sister), a teacher and parent. I gave them a booktalk and recommended some books that are “different” for readers who want something more than just the same old thing. Information about the books from the booktalk can be found at

I have done teen presentations before. This group showed me again that many younger readers still like holding physical books in their hands. They also value recommendations, more than they do Amazon reviews or blogs or the electronic “if you liked book A you will like book B.” They want real people with real recommendations. In the end, not only did they fight for copies of Die Trying and Other Stories, they also took out two books I recommended. Acceleration, by Graham MacNamee, a fast paced suspense story involving a teen boy trying to stop a serial killer (the reader told me she really liked mysteries). And Pinned by Sharon Flake, the story of an African American teen girl wrestler (the only female wrestler on her high school team) and a wheelchair-bound boy.  The racial difference did not bother this reader who had walked in holding a copy of Hunger Games. She bypassed other distopians and went for Pinned because she liked wrestling and found the idea of a girl wrestler and a wheelchair hero interesting. 

I also gave a copy of Die Trying to the teacher who attended the talk. She teaches fifth graders, and was interested in the short stories and for books for boys.

I continue hoping to inspire young readers. You can find out more about me and my books at .

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