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FAVORITE QUESTIONS - FROM STUDENTS
What is your favorite book that you've written?
All of my books are my favorite, but my true favorite is the one that is selling the most copies and being read most often! That has been, at various times, Sports Great Jim Abbott, Emmitt Smith: Star Athlete, Jeff Gordon: Racing Superstar, Julie Krone: Unstoppable Jockey, LeBron James: Amazing Athlete, and many more.
Do you choose who you write about?
Yes. When I started, publishers often told me what books they were looking for. Now that I have been in the business for awhile and visit 100 schools each year, I have a clear idea about what you want to read. Together editors and I come up with ideas. I've even created my own series!
Where do you work?
I work in my home office. It's downstairs at the end of the hall. For inspiration, I look out the window beyond our swimming pool and sport court to a sweeping vista in the Sierra foothills.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I write carefully at the rate of about 200 words an hour. So if a book is 10,000 words long, it will take me about 50 hours to write it. But the entire process takes much longer. Remember, I need to gather information by doing research and interviews, then I need to form an outline. And after I write, I need to edit my manuscript before sending it to the publisher. And then I need to rewrite! So making an entire book might takes hundreds of hours.
Do you get autographs?
I have interviewed thousands of athletes and celebrities and I don't have many autographs. Can you believe that? The reason is because I never ask. It is not forbidden, but there is an "unofficial" code among writers that we not request autographs. It would not be "professional." But I know that if I ever asked, athletes would be happy to give me as many signed bats and balls as I want.
Who is your favorite athlete?
My favorite athletes are not necessarily the greatest players. They are the athletes who worked the hardest to get where they are, the underdogs. Julie Foudy isn't the greatest women's soccer player, but she is a team player and a real leader. Drew Brees and Tony Romo were told they would never reach the NFL. Terrell Davis and Albert Pujols overcame tremendous childhood hardships to become great. They are some of my favorites.
FAVORITE QUESTIONS - FROM TEACHERS
How is your presentation unique?
First, I'm a male children's author, which is rare. Next, I write non-fiction books, which is uncommon for school presenters, yet which relates more to curriculum. Though I've written historical non-fiction, like my Trailblazers of the Wild West series, most of my non-fiction is current, so that kids see and know the biographees. My books are high interest since nearly all children like sports in some form. Finally, I have books that appeal to boys and others that appeal to girls, and books that appeal to older and younger students.
Will our school's younger students relate to you?
Yes. I modify my presentations to meet awareness levels and attention spans. All students will have a great time! For verification, please visit "What Educators Say."
How can we get copies of your books?
It's easy. You can order them directly from me. Or you can order from my publishers. Or your local independent bookstores. Or online. Or you can get them from me on the day of my visit. Of course, they are free, for awhile, at your local library.
Have your books been recognized by any organization?
Many organizations have honored my books, such as Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) and the International Reading Association and Children's Book Council (IRA-CBC). Also, the National Accelerated Reader Program is using more than 100 of my books.
How can I use your books to help meet state standards for language arts?
Many ways. My books are well-suited for such categories as word analysis and vocabulary, comprehension, writing strategies, and writing applications. For instance, for second-grade comprehension/analysis, students can use the extensive backmatter in my biographies to interpret information from charts and graphs. For third-grade writing applications, students can write narratives that show a sense of audience through descriptive details of setting, characters, and events, or write personal letters using proper form to their favorite athlete (or thank-you notes to me). Or, for fifth-grade writing strategies, students can examine expository composition for linking paragraphs and smooth transitions, and use the bibliographies and chapter notes in my books for reference work.
What materials will you need for your visit?
A microphone, a screen, and an audience.
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