SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Students of Terrill Middle School were given an opportunity to increase their writing skills on Thursday morning, as best-selling author Todd Strasser paid a visit and shared his experiences first hand.

"Think about what you want to write before you write it and don't worry if the first draft isn't perfect. Try and you will succeed," Strasser said. "I never start a book without knowing how it is going to end."

Strasser, who has written books such as Y2K-9: the Dog Who Saved the World, Help! I'm Trapped, Fallout, and The Beast of Cretacea, told the students that frustrations are inevitable. He shared his experiences with writer's block and reminded kids that Dr. Seuss was rejected 33 times before rising to fame.

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As a children's author, Strasser said he must get into the minds of his target audience and asks kids questions. 

"I'm an old guy, but I need to get a kid's point of view," Strasser explained. "This only seems to work with fourth and fifth graders. Older kids don't talk to grown ups; I have to spy on the seventh and eighth graders!"

The 65-year-old said he prefers to write alternative histories -- not what did happen but what didn't happen. 

"Research has be factual, even if writing fiction. I had to learn about space travel and whale hunting to write The Beast of Cretacea," he said.

Strasser's novels range in setting, style, and characterization. In Fallout, the family has built a four-person bomb shelter, but neighbors want to enter and ultimately cram ten people inside.

The length of Strasser's catalog has eclipsed 140 individual published books, which continues to rise. Among these books are the best-selling, 17-book Help! I'm Trapped in ... series. To learn more about the author and his work, visit www.toddstrasser.com.