Author Visits


There are two models for the author visits, one is the low-cost promotional visits for authors with a new book coming out. These presentations are about 30-45 minutes and also include Q&A and book signing time.  The second option is authors who will come to our schools for a full day- doing a more involved presentation, eating lunch with the kids, doing workshops, participating in other activities, etc. If your school might be interested in this kind of visit but would like to keep the costs low, some of the authors will be willing to have different BELS sites share them so they could do two (somewhat) nearby sites in a day. In both scenarios, the authors would like us to distribute and manage pre and post visit order forms for their books. We work with Books and Greetings of Northvale and Watchung Booksellers of Montclair.


Here are some of the authors that have responded to our initial contact and are eager to come to our schools. When you email me back, please let me know which of these authors you are interested in hosting, what your budget is for visits, and when you would like them to come. If all this sounds great to you but you need more time to start figuring out how it would work, just let me know your general intent. I will be sending more author options as they come in, so keep looking for the “Author Visits!” subject line.






Jen Calonita
A veteran of the entertainment industry, Jen is available for free promotional visits this December and in March/April. She is available for fee-based visits at other times as well. Her books range from Middle school though YA. Her brief presentation description follows below.


I do assemblies on how I became an author with a power point showing the kids my childhood writing, my entertainment magazine days and pics with celebrities and then my writing today.




Melanie Conklin
Melanie’s debut book for a Middle School audience deals with friendship and family, relocating in a time of distress. She offers two presentation types- one that is more of a traditional author visit, showing and telling about the process of becoming an author and sharing her own personal journey. Melanie’s other presentation is an interactive workshop about writing a story and the revision process. She can work with 3-8th graders and even high schoolers if you’d like more of writing workshop. Email me for pricing info and to see if we can coordinate multiple visits on the same day.


Alan Katz
A picture book and chapter book author, Alan is available for shorter free sessions as well as longer fee-based ones. Below is his description of his full day visit.

My sessions vary based on the goals/interests of the school, but in general I put a strong emphasis on my lifetime dedication to reading and writing. During the course of each 45-60 minute session (plus time for Q&A), I discuss my love of words, review development and execution of creative ideas, share the steps of a book from concept to completion, stress the importance of writing every day, and so on. Of course, I share my work–ranging from silly songs and poetry to picture books, chapter books (my first one, THE DAY THE MUSTACHE TOOK OVER, will be released next week!), trivia sets and more. I try to generate laughter, of course, but more importantly, I try to generate a feeling of “hey, I can do that!” among the students (and often, faculty members).

I have presentations geared to various grades; generally K-1, 2-3, and 4-6.  The presentations include videos of my books, examples of my television/advertising/print writing, and more. I have a Macbook Pro and an adapter that’ll connect to any VGA projector.

I will be glad to have lunch with students or participate in any other special activities the school might want during the school day. And I will gladly sign my books…including those that the students and faculty might already own.

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Alfred C Martino
Alfred’s presentation would include an author-introduction, how and why he wrote his three novels, and a discussion on how to incorporate a sports theme and sports elements into writing, including how to navigate the passage of a sport’s season, how to make the physical action exciting, as well as how to make the story understandable and enjoyable for non-sports fans. The cost is $200 per visit and would include his donation of 8 books to the library (no minimum book purchase).


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Henry Neff
Henry’s presentation is called “From Thought to Page” and covers a variety of topics, including why he became a writer, his inspirations, how to write a book, his approach to illustration, etc. It’s very visual and interactive (he’s a former teacher) and he can tweak it to run anywhere from 40 – 60 minutes (with some Q&A). His sweeping fantasy series is suitable for middle school readers and he is scheduling visits for December and January with only a book purchase minimum since he is currently out promoting his newest book.




Geoff Rodkey
Geoff is a hysterically funny author (read his blog- don’t take my word for it) who is happy to visit any and all of our schools. See his description below.


My prepared presentation is about 30 minutes and employs a PowerPoint. The presentation covers my background as a book/film/TV writer, how I got started writing as a kid, how kids can use their own lives for storytelling material, and some basic principles of storytelling. There’s a longer description of the presentation at .
After the prepared presentation, I’ll take questions for as long as there’s time in the schedule to ask them (usually, it’s 15 minutes).
I’ll happily sign and personalize any book of mine that the kids have, whether they’ve gotten it via the order form or not. For post-orders, I can sign and personalize book plates and mail them back to the school for inclusion in the books.




Adriana Schanen
Adriana’s Quinny and Hopper series will appeal to kids of both genders with its insights into friendship and its laugh-out-loud adventures. Adriana will be thrilled to come and talk to our students- Her presentation description is below.


My interactive presentation targets grades 2 and 3, and covers the process of imagining, creating and publishing a book. With a PowerPoint slide show, Q&A and a lively  read aloud, it adds up to about 40-45 minutes. I’m also happy to sign books and send along a pre-order flyer.
While I typically visit with grades 2/3 (the target readers for my contemporary realistic early MG novel), my presentation is adjustable for grades 1-4 as well.
I am doing free visits this fall surrounding the paperback launch of the book, and will be doing them again when the sequel to the book comes out in late 2016/early 2017.
The Kindness Club by Courtney Sheinmel


Courtney Sheinmel
As a published author of both kids and teen books, Courtney has several programs, designed for students from elementary to high school age, which cover (among other things) where ideas come from, the writing & revising process, and themes that are important to me in her books – like siblings, friendships, and of course kindness.
 Top ProspectPaul Volponi

This school year I am doing two types of wonderful Skype conferences with classes around the country. The first is my traditional type of conference in which I tell about the background of my ALA award-winning novels (Black and White, Rikers High, The Final Four, etc.), discuss the writing process, answer questions about my work (I was a non-reader in high school), ask the students questions about themselves, and encourage students in their own writing. The second type of conference is a creative writing one in which I actually read a single page of work by each student beforehand (be it a novel, short story, poem, play or song lyrics) and give them positive feedback during the actual conference, as well as realistic game-plan on how to one day get their work published. This type of conference can be held with either creative writing classes or students with an interest in writing that teachers or an LMS pulls together. Both types of conferences can last anywhere between 45-60 minutes depending on a school’s schedule. I keep the honorarium for either at a very low $300.


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Jerry White
Jerry’s 3rd book in the Thickity series is coming out this April. He is available for school visits the week of Feb 21st and the first two weeks in April. 
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WorldBuilding Workshop
For more about the Worldbuilding Workshop read this post and see the pictures. Worldbuilding is so crucial to a believable story, whether it’s an epic fantasy or a contemporary novel.  During this interactive hour, the authors will introduce some of the strategies they use when building settings for their bestselling novels, including brainstorming prompts, maps, & research tips, and offer examples from their own books as well as other recent young adult titles. The student audience will then “build a world” by employing these tips and techniques. This presentation is for high school students, though Lori Goldstein (Becoming Jinn) can be booked separately for middle school visits.