The evolution of and experimentation in my online author visits has continued this past month, as I’ve done a combination of both live presentations via Zoom and pre-recorded sessions suited for audiences that need to be able to participate on varied schedules (or perhaps no schedule at all).

In order to have a little more control over what shows up in the background when I’m on camera, I bought myself a green screen. It worked great until I held up a certain book of mine with a mostly green cover.

(If you’ve had a similar green-screen surprise, I’d love to see! You can even tag me on Twitter when you share it.)

One nice thing about the pre-recorded visits is that when I edit those videos, I can drop in all sorts of images pertaining to the questions that a particular audience has asked me, instead of being limited to whatever pictures happened to already be in my PowerPoint deck.

So, last month when fourth graders at a Dallas-area school asked me if (as had apparently been claimed, perhaps repeatedly) it was really true that I’m the cousin of one of their classmates, I was able to show them the grave of the great-great-great-grandfather that their classmate and I do, in fact, have in common.

This, by the way, was the ancestor who brought the family to Texas from Indiana back in the the 1800s. (Hello to all my long-lost Hoosier cousins!)

As a Texan going back a fair piece, I’m especially excited about an honor that has just come my way: The Texas Institute of Letters has named me (along with 13 others, including my friend and fellow author for young people Crystal Allen) as a new inductee to this honor society founded 85 years ago.

Kathi Appelt, David Bowles, Xavier Garza, Pat Mora, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Rick Riordan are just a few of the children’s literature creators inducted into the TIL before Crystal and me, and I feel so fortunate to be among them.

Oh, and I should mention one more TIL member who is an author of books for young people — Carmen Tafolla. In addition to her own writing, Carmen is a gifted translator, and I hope you’ll look forward as much as I do to the arrival this coming June of a translation by her that’s near and dear to me. Have a look at ¿Qué haces con una voz así? La historia de la extraordinaria congresista Barbara Jordan: