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Journey: Volunteer to Author Roch Book Fest

Take a look at my journey: Volunteer to Author RCBF

As a volunteer at our local book festival for more than a decade, I watched as the sitting authors signed books and interacted with the crowd of children and parents. The whole day was so exciting to be part of as a helper and organizer. The smiles on the kids’ faces showed how much it meant to them to meet a real live author! As a volunteer and an aspiring writer, I hoped one day to be sitting on the other side of the table. That dream came true this year when I made it from volunteer to author at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival!

Aspiring Writer Meets Author Role Models

I spent decades with my role models, studying their author’s craft, taking classes and workshops, and meeting new writing friends. This is just a sampling of the inspiring people I met over the years. (I apologize ahead of time for those I accidentally left out…I tried to find all the photos I could, quickly)

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I was determined to make it to the other side of the table. And finally, when I received my contract for Sioux Code Talkers of World War II and heard about the release date, I sent the information to our festival directors, hoping for a spot at the next year’s festival. Little did I know, the release date would be pushed back a season (a situation that seems to be pretty common), and so I’d have to wait until the following year.

No worries, I didn’t know how much work the marketing side of publishing a book would be overall.  Trying to get the word out requires a plan for developing content, getting organized, preparing for news interviews in print, on the radio and on TV.  These were all new experiences for me. I’ve been learning as I go from others.

Lessons Learned at the Book Festival

I had the opportunity to meet two great people, my neighbors at the table, Dee Romito and Tui Sutherland. Once the doors opened, I observed what they and all the other authors did to engage with the audience of parents, teachers, and children.

Tui Sutherland had two tables filled with copies of her books, like the Menagerie Series. She brought lots of colorful markers to sign with, but after signing so many books, certain markers ran out of ink.  Lesson learned: bring more pens than you think you need. (what a great problem to have, right?)

Dee Romito and I shared our freebies with each other.  I gave her a coin and she gave me a luggage tag!  So clever, right?  One of her books fits perfectly- it’s titled No Place Like Home.  She also enticed her audience with a digital book trailer on her iPad (complete with a security cord), the luggage tags, book marks, and just being herself. She was at ease with her audience. (other authors set up their tables with toy soccer balls, bracelets and a basket of stones, symbolizing Reading Rocks!) Lesson Learned: be creative with freebies and be yourself.

London Ladd is always inspiring and a pleasure to be around.  Each time I am in awe of his artistic talent and thoughtful details.  He has a story for his illustration process and provides engaging presentations. He also takes his time to personalize each book he signs.  Lesson Learned: take your time while meeting your audience, it makes them feel special.

Vivian Vande Velde has so much wisdom: on writing, treating others fairly and with kindness, and about signing books. She has over 40+ books. Signing books while talking with people is something I did not know would be a challenge.  I try to be so careful and not mess up my signature. I can think of a couple times I felt like I needed to try again, but how can you do that? I shared my concern with Vivian and she offered some logical advice.  “Add a little “oops” to the page if needed. It makes it special.” I actually do this when I’m writing thank you cards or letters to family! My anxiety of making a mistake lowered, so I could enjoy the experience.  Lesson learned: authors are human, too.

Critique Partners Unite

The day was super special because I spent the day with my wonderful writing friends, my critique partners.  Two of us began sitting as authors at the book festival several years ago, and this year, Keely and I stepped over to the other side. The 21st Annual Rochester Children’s Book Festival was a fantastic celebration for the four of us- Elizabeth Sullivan Falk, Keely Hutton, Kathleen Blasi, and me.

Sibby, Keely, Kathy and Andrea at RCBF 2017 (photo courtesy Kathleen Blasi)

At the end of the day, Marsha Hayles asked Keely and me, “Was the day everything you hoped for?”  You know, at the time, I don’t even remember what I said exactly, other than I really enjoyed the day.  But Marsha, I’m still savoring the experience.  Sitting with you and all the others is something I dreamed of for a long time, and I want the memory of my first Rochester Children’s Book Festival to linger in my mind for a long time.

To Marsha and all of my role models- Thank you for inspiring me all these years! You made my journey from volunteer to author at the book festival extraordinary and unforgettable. It’s so nice to be included- your caring, creativity, and wisdom is greatly appreciated. Lesson learned: encourage the newbies and pay it forward.

Related Post: Last year’s book festival-20th Annual RCBF

Related Post: Louisiana Book Festival 2017

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by Andrea M. Page (Pelican Publishing Company 2017)
Order your copy now!
Pelican’s website click here.
Barnes & Noble
Liftbridge Bookstore
Books A Million

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Read the Kirkus Review here

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26th, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2017

The role of Navajo Code Talkers in World War II is fairly well-known, but this informative book reveals the equally important contributions of Sioux Code Talkers who served in the Pacific theater.

Page, the great-niece of John Bear King, who served in the 1st Cavalry Division in the Pacific, chronicles the service of her great-uncle and six other members of Sioux nations who used their Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota dialects for a secure, reliable means of communicating important information on the battlefield. “By placing the Lakota Code Talkers in the battlefield and at headquarters,” Page explains, “the seven Sioux Indians could converse freely in their native language in the radios without worrying about the Japanese decoding and intercepting the messages.” Even if the Japanese tapped into lines, they would never understand the messages, as Lakota was virtually unknown to the outside world—thanks, ironically, to American attempts at cultural genocide. Page notes that the language was recorded in books, but the books were banned from schools in the early 1900s, so it was known only by a small number of scholars and people born and raised on the reservations. Page explores not only the importance of these soldiers to the war, but also their history, culture, and values.

An engagingly written, deeply researched account of a little-known part of World War II. (maps, photos, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up—This well-documented title vividly brings to life the story of John Bear King and other Sioux code talkers during World War II. What makes this nonfiction text unique is the painstaking detail the author, the great-niece of King, took to research actual coded messages in military archives and transcribe them into the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota languages….The book is engaging from start to finish, with a well-written text that is enhanced by period photographs and reproductions of significant documents. VERDICT A valuable work for teens studying code talkers and American Indian contributions to the U.S. victory in the Pacific theater.—Naomi Caldwell, Alabama State University, Montgomery

“Good morning #RapidCity the #BlackHills and the rest of the world! In honor of Veterans Day (Nov. 11), we would like to commemorate it with a book review that shares in the triumphs of the brave people who fought for our country.

Sioux Code Talkers of World War II
by Andrea M. Page

Sioux Code Talkers of World War II is a book perfect for Veterans as well as anyone who is interested in our nation’s history and its fight for freedom. The book emphasized the important part that Native American men played in not just World War I but World War II as well in that their language helped change the course of history as we know it. They were Code Talkers. The book shared some interesting information on the brave men of the 302nd Reconnaissance Troop known as “MacArthur’s Boys”. Their Native language was special based on the fact that the Lakota language was so complex that enemy forces could not translate or understand the covert messages sent back and forth from their headquarters to the front lines of the battlefield. The significance of the Code Talkers and their messages were paramount because the information within those particular messages could mean life or death and a turning point for the war. Moreover, the book also imparted to its readers that serving in the military was an opportunity to bring honor to their families and was their chance to become warriors after a time where the traditional warrior no longer existed. But, what was really amazing was that these Native American soldiers put their pasts aside and chose to fight side by side with their white, Asian, Latino, and African American brothers in order to protect their country. It was essentially a brotherhood. They sacrificed together to conquer adversity to gain victory from an enemy who would have snuffed the very essence of our Mother Earth out.”…/sioux-code-talkers-of-world-war-…/

Shelf Awareness

November 17, 2017

“The creation of Andrea Page’s Sioux Code Talkers of World War II (Pelican, $14.95) began with her family receiving a newspaper article accompanied by a “World War II-era photo” depicting her “mother’s uncle John Bear King and five other men who, according to the article, served in the First Cavalry Division.” Reporter Avis Little Eagle had interviewed the last surviving man in the picture, Philip “Stoney” LeBlanc, and “the veteran revealed a secret he had been holding on to for fifty years: those six men and one other who was missing from the photo were Indian Code Talkers.” Page and her mother didn’t know at the time what code talking was, so Page delved into the history of both the code and her family.

Using facts, firsthand accounts and the National Archive’s Incoming and Outgoing Messages file, Page re-creates (with some liberties) the experiences of the Sioux Code Talkers of World War II. It is a vivid history with black-and-white photographs and coded messages sprinkled throughout that teaches about and pays homage to the incredible bravery and intellect of the Indigenous people who helped fight for the United States.” —Siân Gaetano, children’s and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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Children's Author and Educator

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4 thoughts on “Journey: Volunteer to Author Roch Book Fest”

  1. Nicole | The Professional Mom Project

    Sounds like an amazing experience and you received lots of great advice. One day I hope to publish a book too

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