USA Today gave an early shout-out to WINTERGIRLS and the 10th anniversary edition of SPEAK in the Book Buzz column yesterday!!! (There was dancing in the Forest.)
Once the excitement about that died down, it was time for the First Grand Experiment With an Online School Visit. Through the miracle that is Skype, I sat at my desk and talked to a class of 7th graders who live hundreds of miles away. Because both of our computers have cameras, we could see as well as hear each other.
This is what the visit looked like at my end.
Their teacher, Kate Messner, is a friend and a fellow author. This was all her idea in the first place, so thank you, Kate! She and I tested the connection over the weekend, and then first thing in the morning yesterday, before the actual event.
You can read a detailed explanation of how the visit went (complete with more photos) on Kate’s blog.
How did it go from my POV? Excellent. It took about an hour of my time. I didn’t have to travel and sleep in a hotel. I really enjoyed being able to see the faces of each reader. I was able to hear their questions and enjoy interacting with them. I also got to be a little bit of a ham, knowing that my face was about 10 feet tall on the projection screen.
There were a few glitches. We lost the connection several times and had to reboot (or reconnect or reskype – we need a new verb for this) which was a wee bit frustrating, but not that bad. The quality of the video was not what you’d imagine, going by the visual quality portrayed in the ads on TV. Both of those problems could be a result of my location way out in the boondocks. We frequently have pixelation issues and limited bandwidth. We’ve had the technicians from Time Warner out here countless times and they have a different explanation every time.
I have another test Skype visit next month, with a group of teachers from the American School in Warsaw, Poland. (Yes, it’s the one I visited a couple of years ago.)
I am thinking of offering Skype visits to book clubs after this Spring’s tour and to classrooms starting in the fall. If you are a bookstore or book club interested in something this spring or summer, email me at laurie AT writerlady DOT com. If you are interested in a classroom visit, watch this space in September. I’ll make an announcement when I have it all figured out.