How to Have a Successful School Author Visit

Hey folks! I just want to share with you how one can have a successful school author visit. I've done a few of them; most have been great; while a couple have been okay, but all in all, I love presenting my books and character Loopiethotamus to a school full of budding little world leaders!! Here goes....

1. Prayer, prayer, prayer!! Yes, I am a Christian and I love my Lord Jesus Christ. In everything, I make sure I pray and allow Him to be in control of all things! We can't control other's actions or lack there of, but we can sure go to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to guide our mouths, minds, hearts and spirits! Love me some Holy Spirit!!!

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare!! There is nothing like being fully prepared to get up in front of how ever many children and teachers and give your all. Before the visit, make sure you have the school contact person's email and phone number. Ask as many questions as possible of that individual so you are prepared for the day. It's also nice to request that that contact person, usually the librarian, prepare the students of your arrival. My character has a value motto which has a lot of different core values that explain

 

A Loopiethotamus Christmas

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Hello everyone. My name is Loopiethotamus and I am a hippopotamus! It's Christmas time and I am sooooo excited!!! I love spending time with my family. We give thanks to our Lord up above. We have a big family dinner with so many baked grass burgers and mud pies that we have enough to give away!! Then we open up presents!!! My dad always surprises my mom with the best gifts. My mom knows the best gift to give to my dad every year- a tie! He loves ties and has a collection so huge that if you piled them up they'd reach 7 feet tall!!!! I just wanted to let you guys know that my holiday book, "A Loopiethotamus Christmas," is available at http://www.Loopiebooks.com and http://www.Amazon.com. It tells the story of how much I love Christmas! It's my favorite holiday and I'm quite sure most kids would say Christmas was their favorite time of year too! We don't get much snow where we are in Loopiethotamus Land, but when it does snow on Christmas, it's such a delight to see! We have sleigh rides and make snow angels. It's so much fun!!

Please be kind to one another. Share your toys and remember that Christmas is not just about receiving, but also about giving. Give a hug, share a smile, hold a hand and tell someone you love them. Love is the best gift and it's free!!

I pray you all have a wonderful Christmas!!! I'll be thinking of you always! And always remember to Dare to Be Hipp-O!!!

Where Blessings Flow...Where Your Actions Can Lead You

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You really never know where your blessings may come from or where your actions can lead you. That familiar saying, "Never judge a book by its cover," is one of the truest statements that exist. Never think that God cannot bless you in any package He chooses; whether the blessing be packaged in a young child, a teenager, or even a homeless man. These are just some of the packages God has delivered blessings to me in. When I really think about it, they all came in the midst of my doing something else.

My biggest business-related testimony this year came from a book reading I did at the Midlothian YMCA this past August. When I got to the parking lot, I saw all of the kids in the pool playing. I wondered to myself, "Will they all be ready and available for the reading?" When I walked into the building, things seemed very ordinary. Everyone was going about their day. The receptionist at the front desk had no clue why I was there. A parade didn't march out to escort me to the room where I'd be conducting the reading. I could have just walked out and no one would have been the wiser. It was just a normal, "status quo" kind of day at the Midlothian YMCA. When I informed the receptionist of my reason for being there, she called the director and they told me I was parked on the wrong side of the building! Here I am standing there with all of my stuff and had to haul it all back to my car and drive to other side. But, hey, that's the plight sometimes we visiting authors have to deal with. It has happened to me before.

When I entered the book reading room, I took a look around and liked what I saw. It was very inviting with vibrant colors and bright pictures on the walls. They even had a little rocking chair that I could sit in. About ten minutes later, in rushed all of the children and the two YMCA counselors~ one older woman and one teenage girl. I read the Loopiethotamus book series to the children, answered their questions and gave out some materials to them.  After the reading, I initially gave my brochures and a bracelet to the older female counselor. She explained to me that she is the "head" of the childcare facility there and would like to contact me in the future about conducting a book reading. She then inquired of my fee. As I getting ready to give brochures and a bracelet to the younger female counselor, my mind whispered, "She is so young and probably could care less about receiving your brochures." But, I went against that thought and gave her my brochures anyway. She politely smiled and took them from me.

As I was driving to my next destination, I was so excited about possibly receiving an email from the older female counselor inviting me back for a paid visit. That email never came. Yet, an email did come about a month later from someone....THE YOUNGER FEMALE COUNSELOR'S MOTHER!!! In the email, her mother explained that she is a troop leader with a Girl Scouts Troop in Powhatan, Virginia and her daughter told her about my visit at the Midlothian YMCA. She requested that I come out and conduct a speaking engagement with her girls and inquired about my fee. I was literally floored!!!! I couldn't believe it! I was so thankful to God that I didn't listen to the voice of the enemy trying to convince not to give that young lady my brochures because what God brings forth He will multiply!

I had a very awesome visit with Girl Scouts Troop 3029! We dialogued about what it truly means to have self-worth, believing in oneself, accomplishing your dreams as a woman and fostering proper social circles. Positive connections were made and I think about them every day!

And...Nope, there was no parade that marched out to escort me to the room where I held the workshop. But, they made me feel so welcomed and like I was one of the Girls!  To God be the Glory for all things!! There is purpose in everything!!!  Live on purpose!!!

How To Have a Successful Author Visit

my author visit at smart cookie II 073113

my author visit at smart cookie II 073113Hey folks! I just want to share with you how one can have a successful author visit. I've done a few of them; most have been great; while a couple have been okay, but all in all, I love presenting my books and character Loopiethotamus to a school full of budding little world innovators!! Here goes....

1. Prayer, prayer, prayer!! Yes, I am a Christian and I love my Lord Jesus Christ. In everything, I make sure I pray and allow Him to be in control of all things! We can't control other's actions, or lack thereof, but we can sure go to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to guide our mouths, minds, hearts and spirits! Love me some Holy Spirit!!!

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare!! There is nothing like being fully prepared to get up in front of how ever many children and teachers and give your all. Before the visit, make sure you have the school contact person's email and phone number. Ask as many questions as possible of that individual so you are prepared for the day. It's also nice to request that that contact person, usually the librarian, prepare the students of your arrival. My character has a value motto which has a lot of different core values that explain who is he is. I make sure to share that with the librarian so that when I come in and discuss it with the kids, they’re not looking at me with that “deer in headlights look;” you know the one!

3. Don’t procrastinate until the last minute!! This kind of goes along with preparation, but you want to make sure you are really thinking about all that you want to do in the day so that you are ready to go! If you’re going to do a PowerPoint presentation, make sure you have looked at it more than once to verify everything in its proper order. If you are going to have activities, make sure you know exactly what you are going to be doing and that you have everything you need.

4. Rehearse the day with someone you know! It’s really cool if you have kids of your own because you can just sit them on the sofa and go over your entire presentation with them. They make for good listeners- sometimes! LOL! But, it’s nice to rehearse so you can determine any issues early on and fix them before the big day!

5. Make it fun!! There’s nothing like a boring author visit. I don’t want to see kids yawning and looking up at the ceiling counting all of the ceiling tiles. Of course, depending on the age level, there will be kids that have short attention spans. Yet, I want them to be engaged and enthusiastic. I want them eager to ask me questions and show that they are having a good experience. Wow! Those are a lot of “E” words I just used! But, seriously, I want to provide excellence to the kids and have them leaving excited for me to revisit. Wow! There I go again with those “E” words. My son’s name is Elijah, so go figure! LOL!

6. And lastly, once the day is all said and done- Look for God’s purpose in all that the day presented itself with. If you messed up, because truly, no one is perfect and we can mess up sometimes, don’t beat yourself up about it. God will bring another opportunity for you to do a better job. Look for ways to improve yourself. Try something new. But most importantly, be YOU!! Well…at least the high-spirited, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed YOU!!

Author, Ayana Sala Baugh of the children’s book series, “Loopiethotamus, the Chihuahua Who Thinks He is a Hippopotamus.”

Website: http://www.loopiebooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Loopiethotamus

Twitter: @Loopiebooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ayanasala

My Journey with Loopiethotamus- Pursuing Your Dreams

Loopiethotamus at Book Signing at Salem Church Library 32412

Loopiethotamus at Book Signing at Salem Church Library 32412God created Loopiethotamus for me back in July 2006 when my life was turned upside down. I was blinded by unspeakable fear and filled with so much anxiety and inner turmoil. At the time, I didn’t know God had given this gift to me because, for one, I didn’t have a relationship with God; and second, I didn’t understand who I was to God. I didn’t believe in any of it at all. I didn’t know how to believe in it. However, as my relationship with God developed more and more, I began to appreciate the greatness that was placed onto my lap. In July 2006, the idea of Loopiethotamus was just a mere notion, a fleeting thought. He was created based off of my purebred blue Chihuahua Loopie that I had at the time. I purchased my Chihuahua in February 2006, in all honesty, because I needed something to cling to. With my mental capacity being challenged, and just feeling so desperate to move forward, I felt I needed something to take the pressure off. My Loopie at the time gave me a sense of normalcy. Now, I realize that nothing can heal the inward wounds of our lives, but Jesus. However, as Loopiethotamus began to come together, I believe, I was able to grow within myself. God allowed me to tap into the creativity He placed on the inside of me in the midst of utter confusion.

There have been some bumps in the road with Loopiethotamus and I. I wrote the first story in August 2006 and it took me two years to write the second story. I had the first story thrown all over the place- in my kitchen drawer, in my dresser, in my night table drawer. My husband would push me to write more, but my heart wasn’t in it then. I couldn’t see the blessing before my eyes.

When I think about the roads I’ve had to take in this journey, there have been a lot of them. From developing the story, to developing the character, to developing his suit, to developing his family, to developing his motto, to understanding what he means to me, to understanding how he would be portrayed to the public. Everything came in stages. The stages have been great because now I get to look back and think, “Wow, look how far I’ve come!” And not just with Loopiethotamus, but also within myself. If things would’ve come easy, there would be no true gratitude and no true growth.

There have been so many people God has brought my way that see my vision and want to help it come into fruition. I thank God for these people because I’ve learned over the past few years that we cannot make a dream come true on our own. It takes a lot of heartfelt collaboration. There are so many people I will have to thank when I accept an award for Loopiethotamus at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards one day. They’re going to begin playing that silly music for me to get off the stage!

Loopiethotamus has now become a reality and I am no longer afraid to dream. The first dream was writing more than one book; now there are a total of 22 books written!  The second dream was to see my character illustrated. God granted me that dream come true in September 2010 when He found my illustrator that brought Loopiethotamus to life on paper from my innermost vision.  The third dream was to have one book published; now there have been three books published since March 2011! In the midst of everything that was happening in my life, the ups and the downs, the twists and the turns; God also allowed for His perfect timing. He allowed for my son to be born so I could dedicate him in my first book. I couldn’t imagine any element of my dreams coming true without my son being an intricate part of it.

I thank God that I am actually able to see the pursuit of my dreams coming true. I believe they will all come true, but I also realize that God is orchestrating everything and I’m okay with that because when we allow Him to orchestrate, we are able to witness the most perfect symphony ever created! Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans for your good and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

I will tell anyone that has a dream to keep at it. Never give up! It is so easy to sit on your dreams and not believe they will come true, but that is a lie. Dreams, awesome dreams, do take time, but when you work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible! When you keep God first and include Him in all facets, your dreams will soar to places you’ve never imagined. It all starts with just one thought, one concept, one idea and then…BOOM…BANG…ZOOM!! You never know how the wind may blow… God bless you and all of your dreams, big and small.

~To support local author, Ayana Sala Baugh of the children’s book series, “Loopiethotamus, the Chihuahua Who Thinks He is a Hippopotamus,” you can purchase books and/or send her a comment on her website: Loopiebooks.com.  You can email her at Ayana@Loopiethotamus.com and/or LIKE Loopiethotamus on Facebook.com/Loopiethotamus.  She is also available for speaking engagements, school and public author visits, book readings, book fairs, and/or self-publishing advice.

Imagination=Dreams=Creativity

cloudsThe imagination is a terrible thing to waste!! When you tap into the colors of your imagination, you'll find so many wonderful dreams and endeavors. I have come to understand that my imagination is precious. At one point, I believe I lost a part of my imagination. As a child, I was forced to see and experience things that no child should have to experience. Innocence was taken away from me. Unfortunately, this happens far too often with children. They're stripped of their child-like innocence. Reality sets in and they forget how to dream. Thank God, He created Loopiethotamus for me in 2006. Who ever thought a Chihuahua and a Hippopotamus would ever cross paths??? Then in 2009, God created my son Elijah. Elijah's imagination intertwines with mine. With these two wonderful entities, I am able to feed my imagination each day.

I love thinking outside of the box and coming up with ideas for my books. I love to see the smiles on children's faces when they hear a Loopiethotamus story. They laugh at some of the "out of this world" stuff I've come up with and it just makes my heart swell up with love. The questions they ask are something else too! Creativity is an awesome thing! It allows you to explore the innermost parts of your being!!

We need to teach our children that it's okay to dream. It's okay to imagine beyond the stars! And it's okay to create something from nothing!!! When our stamp is on something that no one else has thought about, it shows uniqueness. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made of God. He has given to each of us a level of creativity and imagination.

Imagination=Dreams=Creativity!! Dare to Be Hipp-O!!!

The Miracle in Finding My Illustrator

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When I finished writing the first book and felt it was time to have it illustrated, my husband told me he would do it. This was back in 2007. My husband tried to draw the character, but I had it in my head how I wanted the character to look. I always knew he would have to be cute and adorable. I always knew Loopiethotamus would be wearing a hippo suit with a zipper and his initial “L” would be hanging from his zipper. My husband decided it was time for us to search for an illustrator.I prayed about it and heard the Holy Spirit tell me to continue writing and an illustrator would come. So I did just that. I continued writing and a few weeks later my husband suggested I go onto a website called Elance.com where freelance artists request work. My friend Nicole and I went onto the website and posted the job of illustrating my book. About thirty illustrators applied for the job. I checked out all of their work and was blown away by the illustrations done by artist Mike Swaim. There was this one drawing he had done with a duck in a pond at night with twinkling stars in the sky. I always remembered picturing Loopiethotamus under the stars. I chose Mike and our connection started from there.

Mike and I talked a lot about what I wanted out of the illustrations. I found that he was easy going and always available to answer any questions or concerns I may have had. He drew the rough sketches of Loopiethotamus and my heart almost leaped as I saw my beloved character that I had inside of me for five years coming to life. Everything that I ever hoped for in Loopiethotamus was being formed.

I always write out all of my illustrations for my books before giving it all to my illustrator to illustrate for me. He draws them in the way that I request, but always manages to add little touches to them and I really love that. My illustrator Mike and I are in sync with one another and I think in all aspects of your life it’s really important to make sure things flow well.

I am so blessed to have found such a wonderful illustrator in Mike Swaim and I look forward to working on many more projects with him. It is so critical to never give up on what you want and to strive hard to make your dreams come true. In believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, I know He will help me to attain the dreams and goals I have for myself and He will do more in seeing them come to life right before my eyes.

Sometimes I Can’t Believe I Published My Book

Dare to Dream 5I remember when I used to write poetry all of the time. I was about 14 years old and I would write and write and write. It would go from writing letters to God and writing poetry. Back in 2004, I had gotten some material in the mail about writing children’s books. I sent a story to that organization and was accepted into the program for writing children’s books, but I couldn’t afford the tuition. I don’t even remember at this time how much the tuition was. When I began writing my first Loopiethotamus book, I didn’t believe in my writing. I didn’t have any knowledge of how I would go about publishing a book. Publishing a book I don’t think was even in my mind at that time, for that matter. My husband would always tell me to keep writing. He believed in me more than I believed in myself. Finally, I wrote another book and another, and found I was actually writing a series.

I thank God that I had my husband and my friend Nicole by my side to help to believe in myself and my dreams. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but sometimes you can find yourself stuck when you don’t know how to go about it.

My first book, “Loopiethotamus, The Chihuahua Who Thinks He is a Hippopotamus- His Life,” was published March 2011. The second book, “His Journey” was published in September 2011. And the third book, “A Loopiethotamus Christmas” was published in August 2012.

Sometimes I still can’t believe I published my books, but I am grateful that I was able to take a leap of faith and work to have my dream come true. There are many more things to come. This is so far a 22-book series, so more books will be coming out.

I will tell anyone that has a dream to keep at it. Never give up. It is so easy to sit on your dreams and not believe they will come true, but that is a lie. When you work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible. I could not do this all by myself. I thank God for a wonderful platform of friends and family that have helped me along this journey. God bless you and all of your dreams, big and small.