First a reminder that this blog hop is co-sponsored by Lexa Cain @ Lexa Cain , L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog, who co-host this "Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. You can go to any of these sites to get all the links and add your name to the links.
It wasn't my first author visit to Elder Creek. A few years ago I was invited to address a large assembly of intermediate grades after my first book, a fantasy called The Fourth Wish, was published. But that visit was rather formal. I gave a little speech, then students brought up their prepared questions, and I answered them--all of this over a microphone to a sea of attentive faces.
Wednesday's visit was cozier: I went to six different classrooms (a couple of which had doubled up, with one class joining another, so I talked to 8 classes through the day.) Each visit was broken into three parts: 1. Sketching in aspects of the Victorian Era and the conditions in which the story unfolds. 2. Reading a chapter from the book. 3. Answering questions about the book and about writing.
I particularly enjoyed telling them about the Victorian Era, focusing on the differences in education then and now: differences between educating rich children and poor children; differences between education for boys and education for girls. I touched on mudlarks, and hackney cabs, and the fact that Sherlock Holmes relied on telegrams instead of the telephone. (My book involves Sherlock Holmes.)
Quite a few of the students like to write, and they had interesting questions for me: Where do I get my story ideas? How do I figure out what a character is like? Have any authors inspired me? Do I ever get "stuck"? Do I identify with any of my characters? How long does it take me to write a book? How many revisions do I make? We talked about the value of writing groups, too, and I encouraged them strongly to get together with friends who like writing. Some of them wanted to know if I would read their work if they sent it to me through a teacher. (I said, "Sure!" It's easy to arrange, too; some of my teaching friends are still there.)
All in all, it was a wonderful day. I sold some books after school, but the real thrill was seeing so many eager writers-in-the-making. Here are some pictures taken in one of the fifth-grade classrooms.
Even though I'm no longer teaching full time (I teach an art class at a community center one day a week), I love working with young people. They give me great faith in the future.
What are you celebrating today? If you are an author, do you make school visits? If you like young people, what do you like most to share with them?