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A podcast dedicated to demystifying the art and business of school author visits for authors, illustrators, educators, librarians, parents, and booksellers.

Hosts: Author, Bonnie Clark and Author-illustrator, Shanda McCloskey

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Produced by Ben McCloskey • Sponsored by

Sep 4, 2020

Joining us today for an interview is not one, but two incredible authors, Chris Barton and Jennifer Ziegler, who have made a lovely life together of Texas living, family, and author/speaking careers! 


Chris Barton is an avid school speaker and a New York Times Best Selling Author! His work includes an extensive list of starred and award-winning children’s non-fiction books such as: Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, illus. by Don Tate and What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, illus. by Ekua Holmes. And fiction books too like: Shark vs. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld and Fire Truck vs. Dragon, illustrated by Shanda McCloskey (which is how I met Chris!).

Jennifer Ziegler writes for tweens and teens. Her books include YA novels such as How Not To Be Popular, and MG novels like The Brewster Triplet Series: Revenge of the Flower Girls, Revenge of the Angels, Revenge of the Happy Campers, and Revenge of the Teacher’s Pets! And she, too, is very comfortable in front of students delivering curriculum-enhancing presentations and writers workshops to students and adults. 


Listen to the episode to hear each of their answers to the following questions...

  • First of all, Chris, I know that you (for several years) created a steady stream of income visiting like 100 schools or more each year, correct? Did you do that also, Jennifer?  How did the pandemic hit/affect/change you both as creative professionals?

  • What are each of you offering in the realm of school visits, currently?

  • I recently attended a webinar with Kate Messner about reinventing school visits for our current situation, and attendees were offered the chance to suggest one of our books for Kate to use as an example. So, I submitted our new book, Fire Truck vs. Dragon which as you know came out in March. And she used it! She put the cover up on her screen under the words: “TEAM UP”. And she went on to suggest how easy it would be (now) to do a virtual school visit together! And what a rare/wonderful opportunity a school could have hearing from both the author AND the illustrator of a book at the same visit? Or even if scheduling was an issue, she brought up the idea of exchanging short videos with each other showing our processes (writing or illustrating) that we could share on our own separate visits. Does any of that sound fun to you, Chris??

  • Do you guys have any (psychic) insight to the near and distant future of author visits?

  • Fun question: What’s the craziest question a kid has ever asked you or what’s the craziest thing that has ever happened during one of your school visits? (One time a kid threw up in the middle of my talk :)

  • Here's a question from a fellow Austin based book creator (Rivkah LaFille). Do you know her? She’s a writer, illustrator, and graphic novelist that I recently met and admire SO much. She recently caught up on all the Author Visit Podcast episodes, but still had a burning question … How do authors prepare for that moment when they stand up and actually start speaking? Do you sit down and visualize how it's all going to go and write down exactly what you plan on saying like a script? Do you do an outline with bullets but leave it loose within that outline to let the discussion go wherever? Or do you fly entirely by the seat of your pants? Or something else

  • Fun question: What is it like to be married to an author? Do you work in a shared space? Do you critique each other?

  • Jennifer,  I hear you’re teaching a writer’s workshop THIS Saturday (September 5th), correct? Can you tell us a little about that and how we can sign up?

  • Questions from GA school librarian (Beth Mitchell): 

    • Did you guys ever meet an author or illustrator as a child?

    • How do we keep a love of reading alive right now in our technology drenched, socially-distanced society? We offer online reading through outlets like SORA, and there is EPIC, thankfully. How do we encourage parents to embrace their role as students’ first readers? Does that make sense

  • Do you have any final advice for us authors and/or educators regarding school visits or anything else?


You can find us at ...

  • CHRIS:
    Twitter: @Bartography
    Instagram: @bartographyatx
    Facebook: link can be found on website :)

    Facebook: @jennferziegler
    Twitter: @zieglerjennifer
    Instagram: @jzstories

    Facebook and instagram: @bonnieclarkbooks
    Twitter: @bonclark

    Facebook & Twitter: @ShandaMcCloskey
    Instagram: @shandamccloskeydraws


This podcast is sponsored by and produced by Ben McCloskey of And if you enjoyed this episode, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and share it with others who might enjoy it too! Thanks for listening to this episode of the Author Visit Podcast! 

Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with some affiliate links that help support this podcast):


Flow chart by Chris Barton, 2020