You can only imagine that I was super excited to make my first author school visit a few days ago at The Branch School in Houston, Texas. As a general rule, independently published books are not as in-demand for school events, so I don’t spend a lot of time trying to arrange this type of visit. And Houston is a long way from our home in Arkansas. But I was on vacation in Houston, and I have worked for The Branch School as a librarian and substitute teacher in the past, so we all knew each other well. The cards all fell into place at the same time to make this visit work out perfectly.
Besides the chance to visit with old friends, I was thrilled to find the students interested and attentive. The school runs from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade, so we broke up my talks into four age groups. With the older kids I could talk about writing as a career and even options they have right now for publishing and blogging. I loved sharing the This Kid Reviews Books blog of twelve year old Erik as a wonderful example of ways to share their love of reading and writing right now. With the younger groups, we talked more about finding the inspiration for writing and just letting the ideas flow. Some students were already enjoying writing stories and putting together book projects, just like I did at their age. “Keep all of it,” I told them. “You never know what it can turn into.”
Not every author school visit can be this great. There is certainly an added bonus to working with a private school where parents and students are super-vested in education and appreciate the benefits of books and reading. They were supportive in buying copies of both “Why Kimba Saved The World” and “Vacation Hiro,” but more than that everyone was just welcoming and polite and involved. It certainly makes me want to take the chance on doing more school visits when the match is right. The second graders even made me a special drawing inspired by Kimba, using their pinkies to make paint prints around the frame. Priceless!
Today has been a hard writing day. It can be tough to stay inspired when it is just you and the computer (and sometimes Kimba) day after day. No matter how many great reviews you get, one snarky critic can break your heart. In the end, it’s about those smiling faces who think Kimba is hilarious and enjoy reading about her imagined adventures. That is what keeps me going when I just want to chuck it all. Hitting the wall today I thought, “I should write that school visit blog and look through the pictures again. That will get me back on track.” And it has.
I loved watching new and old friends fall in love with Kimba and Hiro, and their stories, and I look forward to sharing Book 3 with all of them in the fall. Thank you, Branch School, for letting me share my books with your families…and for keeping me inspired to write more.