Monday, July 29, 2013

My School Visit

Is it just me, or are the opportunities that scare us the most rewarding?

A few months ago, I was asked to speak at an elementary school. My first reaction, post-flattery, was panic. I’m not an MG author. I’m not even a YA author (yet). I write NA novels, and we all know the ridiculous misconceptions floating around that category. How could I possibly talk to eighty fourth-graders?

Granted, I wasn’t there to promote my books. I was there to talk about writing and the publishing process. It was just that I felt so out of place—until I got there.

I came armed with my entourage (my sister and brother-in-law), a PowerPoint presentation, and a box of bribes. I’d learned how to make little six-page books from one piece of paper, so I did enough for all of the kids to have one. My sister and I put them in little baggies with a pen and some sticky notes. That way, they’d have something to jot their ideas down in.

Plus, I’d purchased a display pack of the coolest bookmarks on earth...

Anyway, the school hooked me up with a visitor’s badge, and I made my way to the cafeteria. Thankfully, despite my introversion, I have no problem with public speaking. Once I got started, I fed off of their energy.


Okay, so they don’t look particularly energetic in that shot, but it was early. Once the presentation was over, they had plenty of questions. Awesome ones, too. Some kid asked me if I’d buy him a big screen TV when I became a millionaire. *grins*

Afterward, we talked about book covers. The teachers passed out folded sheets of paper, and they all created covers for their book ideas. Holy creativity, Batman! Kids aren’t afraid to use their imaginations. I love it.

We took a few photos together, and then I had the moment. You know, the moment when everything suddenly becomes worth it. This little girl ran up to me, all wide-eyed, and said, “I’m so excited I got to meet a real author today, because that’s what I want to be when I grow up!”

I melted.

Normally, if someone said that to me, I’d be like, “Are you prepared to take a vow of poverty?” But this was different. She had so much hope, so much ambition, in her eyes—I swear, it was contagious. I said, “Well, I’m so excited I got to meet you, too. Now I can tell everyone I knew you before you were famous!”

Later that week, one of the classes made a giant card and sent it to me. It made my day week life. :)



Question of the Week: Have you ever spoken at a school?

P.S. The bookmarks were a huge success! I snatched one for myself. ;)

61 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never spoken at a school, although I've done a Q&A session through the Internet. Glad your visit was a huge success. Nice of those kids to make you a card.

JeffO said...

I did it for a living for 20+ years. It's tremendous fun. Kids are a blast; I love working with them. Glad it went so well!

Eric Muss-Barnes said...

Congratulations, Carrie. That's a great opportunity! Yes, I spoke at a high school to talk about The Gothic Rainbow. Twice. All juniors and seniors. It was a wonderful experience. I don't recall any great questions, but afterwards, I did have a few hot 18 year old senior chicks slipping me their phone numbers. I melted too! ;) No, no, seriously, it was cool to talk to kids and encourage them to pursue their dreams and blah, blah, blah, blah. Did I mention the senior girls phone numbers?... I'm a bad person.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I haven't done a school visit, but I would love to some day. Where did you get the awesome bookmarks? lol

Angela Brown said...

Like Donna, I haven't done one yet but I'd love to one day, thought I'd be as nervous as a rat at a cobra convention. Those do look like the best little bookmarks :-)

Glad you had a wonderful experience. Here's to many more to come!

Emma Adams said...

I've not done a school visit yet, but I know that someday I'll have to tackle my fear of public speaking! Glad you had a great time!

Juliana Haygert said...

Hm, I think I would have a nerve attack before speaking to a school lol
I'm glad it went so well and you had fun!

Patrick Stahl said...

I'm still in high school, so...I've had some English class rants. Does that count?

Melissa said...

Oh. wow. I knew you did this, but reading about it and seeing the pictures really warmed my heart. What an awesome experience for them and you!

(PS - I know you weren't there to promote your book but I wonder how many teachers went out an bought a copy of Strength after that. LOL)

Gail said...

During my career (USPS) I spoke publicly to groups. I continued that At The Farm and always had loads of fun.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've spoken at my kids' schools a few times. Back then I was writing YA. I was asked if I wrote New Moon (the movie had just been released) and Twilight. I was also asked by a guy in my son's grade 4 class if I wrote swear words in my books. The teacher tried to quickly redirect that discussion. lol

Samantha May said...

That looks like so much fun!

"Are you prepared to take a vow of poverty?" Ha hilarious!

I'm sure I would've been thrilled to meet an author when I was that young too. Lucky them!

Tammy Theriault said...

How cool!!!! I'm sure you made quite the impression!

ilima said...

Looks like you were a star! And those bookmarks are so cool.

Jessie Humphries said...

Great ideas on how to present with style! I had a school visit last year that I loved. I'm so glad it was so positive :)

cleemckenziebooks said...

I've done a few and they're very rewarding. The teens were amazing with their questions and their interest. I hadn't expected so much interaction. So glad you had such a great experience.

E.J. Wesley said...

Smelly things FTW! Wait a second... ;)

Carrie Butler said...

Gotta love technology! I'd like to try that someday, too. :)

It really was!

Carrie Butler said...

I bet that was a rewarding experience. Kids are so fun! :)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

What an awesome event. I would have melted when the fan came up, too. I hope to have the same experience one day. When you become a millionaire, I'd love to have a big screen TV, too.

Wonderfully encouraging blog post. Glad I stopped by.

Carrie Butler said...

Amazon! I highly recommend them. :D

Raymond Geddes' Scent-sibles

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Eric! You creepy old man, you. :P

Carrie Butler said...

LOL I love that analogy, Angela. Too funny.

Thank you! I hope you get to visit a school, too. You can practice your presentation on Chipmunk. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thankfully, it's easier to talk to kids. You can get super conversational and crack a few jokes. :)

Thanks, Emma!

Carrie Butler said...

I'm sure you'd rock a speaking engagement, Juliana! :D

Carrie Butler said...

Absolutely! Though, some post-rant bookmarks might not be a bad idea... ;)

Carrie Butler said...

It was pretty awesome. I'm going to keep this card forever!

And to answer your other question, I'd say at least a few. I gave them "special" bookmarks with Wallace on them. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, I bet that was fun! I'm glad you've been able to keep it up at The Farm. :D

Carrie Butler said...

LOL If they thought you wrote those books, they should've been asking you for big screen TVs! ;) That's too funny about the swear words.

Carrie Butler said...

LOL You know if I ever become a millionaire from writing, I'm going to go total Oprah mode here. "You get a big screen TV! And you! And you!" :D

I'm glad you stopped by, too. Thanks, Jenn!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Great that you spoke at a school and that girl who wanted to be an author.

Leigh Covington said...

Coolest thing EVER, Carrie! I have no doubts you were wonderful! Sounds like so much fun - but yes, a little scary too!

Carrie Butler said...

*Grins* Yeah, let's let them dream a little longer...

Thank you so much, Samantha! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Hopefully a good one! :) Thanks, Tammy!

Carrie Butler said...

I wouldn't go that far, but I think we all had a good time! ;) Thanks, Ilima!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've done it three times. Twice to English classes and once on career day, and I'm with you...it's awesome!!

Southpaw said...

Oh how adorable that little girl must have been that ran up to you! So darn sweet.

Peggy Eddleman said...

It sounds like it went so great! You are made of awesome.

Lisa Regan said...

You are hilarious. A vow of poverty. Hah! Indeed. I'm so glad this went well for you. See, you never know when you'll inspire people! (And you inspire me pretty much all the time so I'm so not surprised!)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Jessie! :) I'm glad yours went well, too!

Carrie Butler said...

I would love to speak to teens sometime! I bet it's a whole other arena. :) Thanks, Lee!

Carrie Butler said...

Stop talking about yourself, EJ. :P

Eric Muss-Barnes said...

You say that like it's a bad thing. ;-) I was not REQUESTING these numbers, they were forcibly shoved into my hands on scraps of paper. Can I help it if my dark charm accidentally woos unsuspecting young women? I'm an innocent bystander in all this.

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Sheena-kay! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Leigh. :D It was fun, but as you said, scary!

Carrie Butler said...

Woohoo! You're a pro, Elizabeth. :D

Carrie Butler said...

Absolutely! I wish you guys could've seen her. :)

Carrie Butler said...

Why thank you, Pegasus! I tried to plug your upcoming book while I was there. It's more age appropriate than mine. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

D'aww... thanks, Lisa! You're pretty darn inspirational yourself. :D

Emily R. King said...

What a wonderful experience for you and the kids! And those bookmarks are full of awesome.

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Empress King! I think I got more out of it than they did. *grins*

Crystal Collier said...

Super amazing. I love it! I work with kids all day, and teach a group of them once a week, plus organize and coordinate activities for ages 8 to 12, so I would be right at home in that situation. It sound like you slammed it home. I've done presentations in schools before, but mostly for drama or theater. Gee, I miss it. Kids are awesome.

Carrie Butler said...

With your experience and personality, I bet you could ROCK a school visit! You should definitely arrange one. :D

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm sweating bullets just thinking about it. But it looks as if you were very organized. I wouldn't have been. I'd have spent the previous 2 days throwing up, gone in unprepared with no idea what I would talk about. Kids are just too honest for this ole girl.

Seriously, kudos to you for upholding the family name!

Carrie Butler said...

I know what you mean about the honesty. Some kid told my nephew his aunt was cool.

I was like, "I'm cool!" :D

My nephew deadpanned. "You're not that cool."

LOL Thanks for stopping by, Joylene!

prerna pickett said...

that is so freaking cool!I'm glad it went so well and that the kids learned so much from you. I wish I had had the opportunity to listen to an author at that age, it might have encouraged me to take writing more seriously at an earlier age.

Milo James Fowler said...

So glad it went well! Looks like you were prepared to keep the kids engaged; that's half the battle. I teach jr. high English/creative writing, and getting them over their hatred of writing (thanks to years of lower-grade teachers' less than enthusiastic pedagogy) is my biggest challenge.

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Prerna! :)

I feel that way, too. It took me so long to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life!

Carrie Butler said...

Oh, I bet! They're lucky to have you, though. I bet you're a fantastic teacher. :D

Rachel Morgan said...

This is so cool! I've done two school presentations now and I was scared for both - and they were both great!

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Rachel! I'm glad to hear yours went well, too. :D