Thursday, May 24, 2012

Career Day, Part Deux

Tuesday, I manned a Career Day table at one of our local public high schools, Canyon Crest Academy. What a difference between high school and middle school students!!! While I love the insane amount of energy middle-schoolers possess, it was kind of refreshing to have kids come to my table for reasons other than chocolate! That said, here are some other major differences I encountered:

1. High school kids interested in writing are serious about it. I had a great time chatting with several of the students who came by my table, but a few of them came back multiple times to ask more in-depth questions (thanks, Amy K.!). Made me think I should definitely take up the Creative Writing teacher who asked me to speak to her class on her offer.

2. A lot of high school kids are too cool for Career Day. Even if interested in a certain profession, they'll casually glance at your display, taking stealth notes, then practically run if asked if they have any questions.

3. Instead of having to pace giveaways, holding back so no one kid grabs the whole container's worth of swag, high school students need to be informed that it's all right to take a pen (or a chocolate, a water bottle, etc.).

4. Just like at the middle school, everyone had fun looking at the novels I had brought with me, but no one cared about all the writing books I'd read. Next time, I'll print a list of the writing books rather than physically drag them with me.

5. Last but not least, high school students aren't afraid to ask amazingly candid and/or bizarre questions. My favorite: one joker asked me, "So is the book you're writing anything like Fifty Shades of Grey?" When I told him no, explaining how those books are shelved in a different section, he goes, "Too bad. If it was, I'd read it."

All in all, a fun day.  ; )

Monday, May 21, 2012

My First Career Day Gig

I don't know if there are any other writers out there wondering what to do for Career Day at their kids' schools, but I looked, and maybe I didn't look closely enough, but I didn't find much online. Since I wasn't able to pull a cheat-sheet together (did I mention I'm still on deadline?), I went ahead and wrote some lists for my display board. Maybe they're not the greatest, but I think they're honest. With that in mind, here are a few samples (sorry about the all caps--I wanted the signs to be visible from a distance):

TIPS FOR DEVELOPING A FICTION-WRITING CAREER:
1. HAVE AN ALTERNATE MEANS OF INCOME.
2. READ THE TYPES OF BOOKS YOU WANT TO WRITE.
3. KEEP A JOURNAL. WRITE AT LEAST 3 PAGES/DAY.
4. PAY SERIOUS ATTENTION IN ENGLISH CLASS.
5. BEYOND ENGLISH, STUDY STORY STRUCTURE.
6. OUTLINE STORIES BEFORE WRITING THEM.
7. WRITE A STORY, THEN ANOTHER, AND ANOTHER…
8. FORM OR JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP.
9. LEARN ABOUT PUBLISHING & FIND AN AGENT.
10. DON’T GIVE UP! ON AVERAGE, IT TAKES WRITERS 10 YEARS TO ACHIEVE TRADITIONAL PUBLICATION.

WRITING DOs:
*DO WORK WITH A MENTOR (SOMEONE WHO HAS MORE WRITING EXPERIENCE THAN YOU, LIKE A TEACHER OR PUBLISHED WRITER).
*DO JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP OF LIKE-MINDED WRITERS.
*DO ATTEND WRITING CLASSES AND CONFERENCES.
*DO SIGN UP FOR AN EVALUATION BY AN INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL AT A WRITER’S CONFERENCE.
*DO ENTER WRITING CONTESTS.

WRITING DON’Ts:
*DON’T ASK SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T USUALLY READ THE TYPE OF BOOK YOU’VE WRITTEN TO READ YOURS AND TELL YOU WHAT HE OR SHE THINKS.
*DON’T ASK YOUR FRIENDS, PARENTS, OR RELATIVES TO READ YOUR WORK—THEY LOVE YOU; THEY’RE NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU AN UNBIASED OPINION.
*DON’T FORGET THE WORD FOR SOMEONE WHO NEVER GIVES UP: PUBLISHED!


As far as props went, I brought chocolate and Kleenex to represent how much receiving rejections is part of the writer's journey, as well as a huge bin of writing books. Since I'm writing for Alloy, I also brought all the Alloy-produced books I own, along with a handful of giveaway books my editor sent me for the occasion.

Here's how that went:

1. If they even glanced at them, the kids seemed to think I had written the writing books, not read them. 

2. Almost every girl who came by my station was familiar with the Alloy books I brought with me. How to Rock Braces and Glasses was particularly noted by the kids (over long-time bookstore favorites like The Clique, Gossip Girl, and The Vampire Diaries!?!), since I guess there's a new TV show on Nick based on it.

3. Even girls who were too cool for Career Day and not at all interested in writing (girls I had a more than sneaking suspicion were "popular") had read multiple Alloy series.

4. Approximately 4 of the 350 boys who came by my station wanted to talk about writing. The other 346 grabbed a handful of chocolate and took off for the security-camera/spyware software guy's station next door to mine.

That said, I really enjoyed meeting the students at Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach. Overall, the students interested in my station were a quiet bunch. They came by and just stared at me at first, so I stared back at them, but then I finally realized I needed to be the grown-up in the shyness standoff, so I started asking them, "So, do you have any questions about writing?" which finally got our conversation rolling.

My one regret for the day is that I didn't ask anyone to take a photo of me with the boy who came up to introduce himself NAMED ARA!!! He even pronounces it the same way I do! Apparently, his parents are Slovenian, so perhaps the name isn't so unusual in Slovenia.

I saved most of my giveaway books for tomorrow's Career Day appearance at Canyon Crest Academy (one of our local public high schools), but I did give a very friendly aspiring writer named Maia Z. at EWMS a book of her choice (she chose something from The Secret Circle series).

All right--guess I should get back to those chapters I need to finish writing tonight. Hopefully more soon!

Friday, May 4, 2012

They Know the F Word Isn't Fart

Okay. This month has been nutty, to say the least. May will probably be just as crazy, but for different reasons. For example, I'm heading off to San Francisco this afternoon with 19 people from my Girl Scout troop. When I return, I'll have a new set of revisions to work on and a water polo team/family trip to Hawaii to coordinate.

Anyway, as I was checking my email this morning, I received a message from our local city library informing me that a book my eleven-year-old daughter put on hold has arrived at our local branch. The book? Go the F*** to Sleep!

Maybe I'm guilty of this, as we did have a discussion about said title while perusing a bestseller list a few months back. Still, I'm shocked she had the balls to even search for it in the library catalog, let alone put it on hold for herself!!! Kind of reminds me of the time my oldest son played the F word against me in Scrabble, scoring something like 38 points. I don't think his voice had even changed yet, and that happened back when he was twelve.

All right--I've got to get out of here. I'll try to be better about blogging in the future. Have a great weekend, everyone!