Even though I've actually been on the Air Keep tour for two weeks now, this will be the first week of doing a full five days on the road. Previous to this, I did three days and a conference, then four days and a day off due to a school break. So I thought it might be fun to give you an idea what the tour schedule will be like from here on out.
This afternoon, I flew to Idaho Falls. In a kind of funny twist, I was sitting in the terminal when a hand dropped on my shoulder and a deep voice said, "Hey you're in my seat!" I was sort of freaked out until I turned around and saw Brandon Mull, author of Fablehaven, Beyonders, and Candy Shop Wars grinning down at me. Turns out we were on the same flight.
Once in Idaho Falls, I got my rental car and drove to my hotel. Tomorrow morning, I will get picked up by the community relations manager from the local B&N at 8:00. She will take me to four different elementary schools where I will do my assembly (about 45 minutes including set up and tear down.) The last assembly usually ends at about 3:00.
School visits are a blast. I've had people say, "I'd hate to do that many school assemblies." But to me it's such a rush to get kids excited about reading, teach them about how to make up stories, and inspire them to find their own inner magic. Kids are just so amazing and they almost always treat you like a rock star. At 3:00 on Monday, I'm done for the day.
You would think that doing school visits from 8:30 to 3:00 wouldn't be that tiring. But you have to remember that it's very much a performance. You are working so hard to entertain and teach anywhere from 200 to 500 kids at each school. By the time I get back from doing the school visits, I just want to go back to my hotel and fall into bed for a couple of hours.
Tuesday, we do the same thing. Then Tuesday night, we do a book signing at the store. that starts at 6:30 and goes anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours, depending on the turnout. People ask all the time if my hand cramps up with all that signing. The truth is, that I am having so much fun, that it doesn't bother me at all.
If the school visits are a chance to feel the excitement of the kids, signings are a chance to hear from parents about how thrilled they are that their kids are that psyched about buying a book. It's really a joy to have a mom or dad tell me, "My son never asks for books. But he came home jumping out of his skin, saying "Mom, we have to go to the bookstore tonight.'" I'm always afraid that parents will be ticked about having to wait an hour or more to get a signed book or poster. But that is never the case.
One thing I try to make sure of is that I spend a little quality time with each person that waits in line. I know I have to keep the line moving, and I don't spend five or ten minutes with one person. But while I'm signing a book(s) or a poster, I absolutely want each person who came to feel special. This may be the only time a kid gets to talk to a "real author," and I want it to be memorable.
Usually after the signing, I go back to my hotel and get ready for an early morning flight to the next city. In this case, the next city is Boise, and there is no early direct flight. So after Tuesday night's signing, I drive to Twin Falls and spend the night there. Early Wednesday, I'll get up, drive to Meridian, just outside Boise, and do four more schools Wednesday and Thursday. I'll do another signing in Meridian Thursday night, four Boise schools on Friday, and a signing Friday night.
Saturday, I fly back home, spend a day with the family, and do it all over again on Sunday.
Busy? Oh, yeah. Tiring? Definitely! But it's also a total blast. Over the next couple of weeks I'll share some of the emails I get while I'm on tour. A lot of authors think touring is all about selling your books. While it's true that I will sell a lot of books (At least hopefully; that's what pays the bills), these visits are so much more than that. There really is something magical about inspiring a love for a reading in a boy or girl who has always looked at books at just more homework.
Check back in a couple of days, and I'll post some pics of the different events that I do, the messages I share, and responses from the people I meet.