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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« Librarian's Quest review of WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? | Main | WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 7, New Jersey): Learning Community Charter School, WORD Bookstore, and board gaming »
Monday
May252015

WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour (Part 8): Final wrap-up, what I learned, what I'd do differently, things I learned to have with me at all times

For an index of all my WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? Book Tour recap posts, see http://debbieohi.com/2015booktour

I'm NOT bored at Carol Stream Elementary! Photo: Gabriela Auld.

First off, thank you SO MUCH to Simon & Schuster Children's for giving me the opportunity to go on this book tour! I know author book tours are a rare animal these days, so I'm well aware of how lucky I am. Thanks to my S&S publicist Kelsey Dickson for organizing my Where Are My Books? book tour, and for supporting me throughout the week. And thank you to the bookstores, libraries and schools who let me visit them as well as those of you who came out to support me. 

In the space of five days, I did 14 presentations at 10 schools and two libraries in three states. I also visited four bookstores during the week-long trip

Sketching at Irving Park Elementary. Photo: Kira Larson.

Now that I'm back home and have (nearly) finished unpacking, I've had a chance to go through my notes and photos and have been thinking about what I've learned, and what I'd do differently next time.

WHAT I LEARNED:

- Even though I've always considered myself a nervous public speaker, I discovered that I forgot about being nervous once I was out talking with students about things that excited me.

- Upon arriving at a school, I learned to always confirm what was expected of me. What I found: sometimes communication lines had gotten crossed and that what was in my written itinerary had changed by the time I arrived at a school. One session got turned into two back-to-back sessions. A 45 minute session got turned into an hour. Finding out I was also expected to sign books meant I needed to shorten my presentation if I had a firm "must leave school by xxxx time in order to get to next event."

At Learning Community Charter School. Photo: Charlotte Kreutz.

- Before a presentation, ask if there are any special needs students in the audience. This gave teachers/librarians a chance to let me know of potential unexpected interruptions like yelling or other noises, so I wouldn't be surprised. Thanks to my media escort, Genene Murphy, for this tip.

- Having a good media escort makes a huge difference.

- I learned that YES, it was possible to hand-wash my presentation outfit and dry it using the hotel room blowdryer in 40 minutes. My outfit was still a tad damp by the time I had to leave for my first school presentation, but it dried quickly:

- Until the Apple Watch makes it possible to force the display to stay on, it does not make a good watch for a public speaker. Why? Because it's impossible to casually glance down and check the time; I would have to raise my wrist to get the display to turn on, and I didn't want to do that in the middle of my talk. Early in the week, there was one school where I could NOT see a clock on the wall, and I lost track of where my media escort was in the crowded room (she was going to give me hand signals when I got to certain time marks). I ended up switching to my old-fashioned analog watch after that.

- I discovered how much I love talking with young readers.

Students told me how much they loved to draw or to write. Some told me they couldn't draw very well, but I could tell from the way they said it that they wanted me to contradict them. They shyly handed me their drawings of the little girl in I'M BORED or the talking potato or the flamingo. They told me what books they loved and what books they were reading. Some hugged me fiercely, even they were only tall enough to hug my knees. Some wouldn't let go. :-)

- Many of the school tech staff people thanked me for sending such detailed info about my laptop and tech needs, so I'm definitely going to do the same next time. What I did: take a photo of the connector/adaptor ends, my laptop and the connector outlet hole thingies in my laptop. This seemed to be much more effective than just sending the text info, though I also included that as well. And as a backup, I also took a USB stick with my slideshow presentation in many different formats (static images, Keynote, Powerpoint, PDF) AND I brought some tabloid-size printouts of key slides just in case all tech failed.

Click to see larger version- I learned that you can do advance check-in even if you have no printer handy! At least you can for certain airlines, and especially if they have their own app. 

- I learned that no matter how tight my schedule is or how many people are talking to me while I'm packing up, I alwaysALWAYS need to do a thorough scan of my presentation area, before leaving the school. I very nearly forgot my iPhone in one school and an important adaptor cord in another.

WHAT I'D DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME:

- To ask for more of a time cushion between events, if at all possible. This not only makes me more relaxed for the presentation but also gives me a chance to chat informally with the kids and adults, even for just a few minutes. This also gives me a bit more leeway in case there is heavy traffic between two venues.

- Bring copies of some of my other books. I regretted my last-minute decision not to take I'm Bored or Naked! with me, to save on carry-on space/weight. There were several times when the I was asked about either or both of them, and it would have been great to read an excerpt. If I was still opting for just carry-on, however, I'd need to sacrifice something else in my luggage.

- Not sure if I'd bring my portable projector for trips when I fly with carry-on only. I never ended up using it, because my tech always worked with the school projector. A big help: Jeff made sure I had every possible type of connector/adaptor, so I never needed to rely on the projector. The projector itself took a big chunk of space in my carry-on, so I might save it for local visits.

- Even if there is no time to go to a convenience store, buy some granola bars or other on-the-go snacks as early in the trip as possible. Because cross-border food is frowned upon (especially since I use a Nexus card), I didn't have anything with me when I arrived in the U.S. and didn't have time to shop for snacks once things got started the first full day. On days when there was no time for lunch or I didn't have dinner until 9 or 10 pm, it would have been good to have SOMETHING to nosh on in the car between visits. I smartened up after the first couple days and got into the habit of ordering extra fruit with room service and buying granola bars at the hotel shop before heading off to schools.

- I won't bother printing out multiple copies of my itinerary in case I lose one, because the itinerary is likely going to be revised several times while I'm on the road. Despite my electronic gadgets, I ended up relying solely on one paper copy that got progressively more wrinkled and scribbled upon over the week. I took photos every so often in case I lost the paper copy.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED TO HAVE WITH ME AT ALL TIMES (and within easy reach):

- A copy of my book.

- Sharpies, for signing books. I find I prefer Fine Point but like to keep an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie handy as well, in case I need to sign in a smaller space, or if I want to add details.

- My iPhone, for taking photos.

- My itinerary.

- Small bottle of hand sanitizer. Tissues. The combo came in handy when my hands got sticky/dirty for whatever reason.

At the last minute, I took a small, lightweight cloth bag with a shoulder strap...and this turned out to be invaluable. Yes, I sometimes had several bags hanging off me BUT it meant that I had easy access to my passport, iPhone and itinerary in airports when I was lugging stuff around in a hurry, plus it made taking a quick photo easy.

In case anyone's curious, my carry-on consisted of:

- A Land's End Lighthouse 27" Hybrid Upright Bag: I love the wheels that can spin 360 degrees so I can roll the bag without tipping it. I only had to check it once, when I was flying in a very small plane and it was a full flight. On the plane, I tucked it under the seat in front of me and put my backpack in the overhead bin.

- Backpack. Inside the backpack, I kept a small purse backpack (I put it in the larger backpack in airports so the latter wouldn't count as an extra item), electronics like my laptop and projector.

Before I went into schools, I put my presentation stuff into my rolling bag and left my larger backpack in the hotel room, just took my small purse backpack.

I did not check any luggage.

========================

And thus ends my Where Are My Books? Book Tour recap. Going through the photos has brought back some truly wonderful memories. THANK YOU, SIMON & SCHUSTER CHILDREN'S!

As I mentioned up top, you can find links to all my book tour recap posts at http://debbieohi.com/2015booktour

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