This week’s blog is by Kate Jaimet, author of Endangered, a YA mystery to be published by the Poisoned Pencil this coming August.  Kate continues to work outside the lines to get the word out about her book, which features adventure on the high seas trying to find out who it is that is trafficking in endangered species.

Author visits are a great way to make books come alive for schoolkids. Instead of speculating about the interpretation of a certain character or event – the perpetual ‘What did the author mean by this?’ question that comes up in English class – students have a chance to ask the author themselves. They can learn about the writing life, and even direct pointed criticism toward the writer. I was once told by a Chinese-Canadian student that a problem with one of my books lay in the fact that the only Chinese-Canadian character was named “Wang” – couldn’t I come up with something more original? It was like naming an Aussie character ‘Sheila,’ or an Irish character ‘Finn.’

"Hawksbill turtle off the coast of Saba" by magicOlf - http://www.flickr.com/photos/magicolf/3248274430/

“Hawksbill turtle off the coast of Saba” by magicOlf – http://www.flickr.com/photos/magicolf/3248274430/

 In my experience, author visits are great learning opportunities for both students and teachers. Sometimes, I ask kids to act out a scene from my book — this hilarious video shows one of our dramatic efforts! Other times, I’ve been fortunate enough to teach a series of writing workshops, as this video demonstrates. Unfortunately, in these times of budgetary restraint, lots of schools don’t have the resources to pay for an author to come in.

 But what if you could Skype an author directly into your classroom for just $5 — less than the cost of a fancy coffee at Starbucks?

 From now until July 15, I’m offering teachers, parents and librarians a chance to win a Skype visit to their class or library by pledging as little as $5 to my crowdsourcing campaign. The goal of the campaign is to help me and my colleague, Melanie Willis, to create a short film about endangered sea turtles, which can be used as a classroom enrichment tool to accompany my Poisoned Pencil novel, Endangered.

 A teen mystery with an environmental twist, Endangered stars Hayley Makk, a wisecracking 17-year-old high school dropout who works as a cub reporter for her dad’s independent tabloid newspaper in Halifax. While covering a murder case for the paper, Hayley discovers a link between the killer and a ring of smugglers dealing in rare sea turtles.

 Set to be released in August, Endangered is already winning rave reviews! Booklist says:Endangered cover

“Readers will find Hayley an intriguing heroine as she works to identify the enemy, avoid unexpected dangers, and capture the story. Plotlines intersect and twist in unexpected ways, making this fast-paced ecological mystery a great choice for nature-lovers and those, like Hayley, who are ready to learn more about the great outdoors.”

Our video will help students to learn more about beautiful endangered sea turtles, by filming the work of volunteers with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project , who respond to calls from all over the island to rescue baby sea turtles and release them safely into the ocean. We have been invited to travel to Barbados and film the volunteers in action, and we’re working to raise funds to get us there.

 Our crowdsourcing campaign also includes rewards such as autographed copies of Endangered and downloads of the completed video. If you make a pledge in any amount before July 15, you’ll be entered in the draw to win!

 So support a Poisoned Pencil author, read a great book, and win a Skype visit to your school, library, or book club.

 It’s worth the price of a latte!