Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Feature: Fourth Graders Rock and other Mermaid Tales

Next week, I'm headed into one of our local Cape Cod middle schools to chat with a series of fourth grade English classes about writing and publishing. My visit is scheduled for Tuesday, so yeah, I'm hoping that next Nor'easter doesn't ruin my plans or leave me without power and hot showers again next week (this week was a bit like camping out, as 120,000 Cape residents were without electricity, including me.)

Fourth grade is an awesome year. At least, it was for me and it was for all three of my kids. My first book was published when I was in fourth grade. No really.
The Mystery of the Haunted House was 22 pages of text, not including the table of contents, dedication pages, etc. My aunt worked at a printing company, and when she saw me scribbling in a notebook over summer vacation, she told me if I finished writing a book, she would publish it for me.

And she did. Real typeface, illustrations, the whole nine yards.

Honestly, it's not a good story. Yes, I wrote in complete sentences, and it has a bit of a Nancy Drew or Dana Girls feel to it, but the plot is very thin. What does a fourth grader know about counterfeiting rings anyway? The fact that my aunt stayed true to her promise and surprised me at Christmas with a box of 50 copies made me feel like the most brilliant author in the universe. At age ten. I had a book signing at school, on the playground, and some of my old friends still have their signed copies. Yes, I signed my last name, even to my friends and family. What a dork, right? It made me feel official.

I still have several copies, actually, my mom had them in a box that I found after she died and we were clearing out the basement. I thought it would be fun to bring them along to show the students - - dreams do come true, if you believe in them. And work at it. And don't give up.

The books I'm really going to talk with them about are my Young Adult mermaid books - the Son of a Mermaid series. One of the teachers has been a fan since the first book came out with my old publisher. And since the series starts on Cape Cod, there's a strong tie for the local kids. This weekend, I need to sit down and map out what I'm going to talk about to the three classes, but I'm hoping it will be mostly Q&A. Conversations are easier for me than lectures.

Wish me luck, and any advice from you seasoned veterans is welcome!

Happy Writing - and Reading!

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