School Visits--A Novice's ExperienceWhen my phone rang this spring, and one of my daughter’s former teachers asked if I’d like to speak at a creative writing award celebration at her middle school, quite frankly I thought “Who me?” Sure I’ve had several short stories published, but I figured the middle school would rather have someone who wrote something marketed to young adults and tweens. I almost declined. These kids probably don’t read the Mossy Creek series. What would I find to say to them that would be inspiring?
Knowing that I needed to make the most of this opportunity, I tamped down the inner doubts and said, “I’d love to.” I also asked if I could bring my critique partners who are published in YA. The kids receiving awards would probably like to hear from them, too, and they might read their books. I wracked my brain for a way to use this event to promote my writing while celebrating the students’ accomplishments, and came up with a raffle of two books. Since the award event took place before mother’s day, I figured I could autograph the books for the children, and they could give them to their mothers. My idea went over well. The kids liked the idea of winning a book for their moms, and they laughed at most of my humorous asides during my talk. Best of all, I did not embarrass my daughter who was receiving one of the awards.
Since speaking at my daughter’s middle school, I’ve learned that some authors get paid for these sorts of events. These, of course, are famous or soon to be famous authors. For me, speaking at the school was worth the time away from my latest manuscript because I learned I could do it.
Other Things I Learned from Speaking at My Daughter’s Middle School:
1. Children who love to write and read love to meet published authors. It confirms that they can achieve their dreams.
2. Children who love to write ask for your autograph, whether or not you’re famous. They are convinced that one day you will be and their piece of paper will become valuable.
3. Critique partners who write YA, with a new books coming out two weeks after the event, are very grateful to be included in visits to middle schools.
Have you ever given a talk at a school? How did the event go for you? What did you learn from doing it?