My grandson Sean
It's just around the corner, In fact, it's later on this month. My book, Lazarus Rising, will be released on Monday, October 27th. Of course you will be reminded of this on a real regular basis. Please, spread the word. That day happens to be my mom's birthday as well. I figured that day would bring me luck. Next week (unless you have signed up for my Newsletter, then, you have ALREADY received it) I will have a surprise for you. Make sure to tune in next where I will be blogging from Boston,. MA. Oh, and Click Here to sign up for that Newsletter - special treats, behinds the scenes stuff, contests, previews of cool information before I debut it on my Blog, and get special insights into my characters both in this book and future novels. And, whatever I haven't thought of yet to bring to my fans (in another words, much, much, MORE!).
I decided to write this blog to give other authors some insight into speaking with a younger audience. I was sitting at my desk one day contemplating what it would be like to live in Oceania and thinking of where I would tell Big Brother to stick it when it hit me! Most authors don't have to (I mean get to) speak with teens and pre-teens all day long. I remember my first day taking over the freshman class during my student teaching (don't laugh Rene) and how nervous I was. So I figured I would give some advice to those authors who may write for a younger crowd, but may not know what to expect when the opportunity to talk with them as a group comes along. Wait... before I go any further, I have to confess that the 1984 reference was not how I came up with this idea. Actually, my editor suggested it, but it sounded so cool being inspired by Winston. So anyway, here goes. I have just a couple of suggestions t start with; in the future I plan on adding to this because it is an area I can help in - and that's what we do as writers - help each other:
1. Don't Talk Down to Them - Here I would say it is important to treat them with respect. Instead of assuming they already know something or as if they know nothing ask a ton of questions. In my experience (for the most part) they are hungry to learn, but don't like to be treated as if they're stupid. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders still have a shade of sweetness to them. No, really, I mean it. If you can make whatever your talking about fun and relevant to their lives you won't have a problem.
2. Personal Experience - Use it. This is where I have learned to connect with them in my classes. Certainly you don't need to share with them about that time in Vegas (and, as we all know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas), but how you are just as human as they are really hits home. For example I have told my students about my last week in the 8th grade. We were all excited. I took a yellow marker and decided to make polka dots all over my teacher's shirt. Oops! He didn't take to kindly to it. In a moment of insanity I did something I normally wouldn't do; I didn't even think about it until it was too late. That teacher grabbed me by the collar and off to the principal I went. He yelled and screamed at my parents asking for the $12 for the cost of the shirt, the gas money it cost to go get the shirt (I'm not kidding), and world peace or something. Anyway, I felt terrible. I loved that teacher and in one moment he took all that away. I don't want to be that teacher. I tell my students that before I overreact about a behavior I don't like I think of that moment and how I felt. It keeps me grounded most of the time. I have been angry, but not enough to take away a students trust that I will either make amends if I am out of line or handle the situation appropriately. Our hopes, our dreams, our mistakes, our victories: these are our best lessons. at least that has been my experience.
3. Show No Fear - This is simple... be prepared! The better prepared you are for what you will be talking with them about - the less fear you will show. And by being prepared I mean have a back up plan to the back up plan. Bring more than you can possibly get to in the allotted time. If you think it is a 45 minute lesson, chances are it is 10 minutes.
I always promised myself I would not be the type of writer that does those articles on "7 Ways to Better Abs" or "Ten Techniques to Get Her Out of Your Life for Good." Oh well, life goes on. I hope this bit of information helps all of you for the next time you find yourself needing to entertain a large group of minions (that's a term of endearment). More to come - don't forget to sign up for my Newsletter! Only those signed up will have the opportunity to win the new Kindle I'm giving away!