Friday, May 30, 2008

The School Year Is Over!

For me, anyway.

Today I did my first A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat presentation for first through fourth graders, with another little presentation for two groups of pre-school and kindergarten students. I have spoken to these age groups before, but not for a long time. Plus the Monster Cat presentation was all new. Not only did I have to come up with material, organize it, and rough out slides for my computer guy to turn into PowerPoint slides, I had to become performance ready. Meaning I had to come close to memorizing the presentation.

I was not at all comfortable about this, but the day went very, very well.

This was the third presentation I'd given this month. Each one was different and to different age groups. That's an unusual amount of public speaking for me.

My first event was an Authors@The Library Programming Showcase. While I was there I noticed another author's really neat slides. When I told Computer Guy about how cool these slides were because they--as I put it--had "parts that moved," he said, "You want animation? I can give you animation."

So today I had slides with animation. I was so happy.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Yikes! I Have To Work This Weekend!

Next Friday I have my first presentation developed around A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat. I have a whole new program on a new subject with new slides. The program is written and the slides are made, but I am nowhere near performance ready. I have a lot of memorizing to do, which means rehearsing every day. Tuesday through Thursday next week just won't be enough.

So I'll be working this weekend.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Nonfiction Speakers

Last Tuesday I heard a few nonfiction writers speak at an author showcase. I didn't see any of their books, but these authors were certainly interesting to listen to.

Jeanine Behr Getz formed the company Kids Think Big to "Educate, Entertain, Empower" kids about the environment. She publishes environmental books, beginning with her own, Think Green.

Brendan Hanrahan also formed a company to publish books for children. His books deal specifically with Connecticut natural history. He's done a lot of speaking in Connecticut and has some great slides.

Karen Romano Young also spoke about her science writing, specifically the presentation she does around her newest book, Across the Wide Ocean. She talked about the rock and roll lifestyle of scientists.

These people were all very interesting, but in looking back on that afternoon I'm missing other kinds of nonfiction. As I said a couple of days ago, I've been thinking about essays again, specifically essays for kids.

Perhaps some day I could do presentations on the rock and roll lifestyle of essayists. Yeah. And historians. Or the rock and roll lifestyle of historians who write essays.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Middle School Kids Aren't Bad At All

I'm back from my first presentation to 7th and 8th graders. Though it was a little odd speaking to people who sat in chairs instead of on the rug at my feet, things went very well. I heard one great class trip story, and I got into a discussion of essay writing with a small group of guys, which has given me food for thought. Though, honestly, I've thought about essays before.

I also ate lunch in the cafeteria at the class officers' table. These kids were in leadership groups, student council, and drama club. Also sports, I think.

This was not the crowd I ate lunch with when I was in 7th and 8th grade. Or in high school. Or college. Yes, we are talking a truly unique experience here.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seeking My Inner Warrior

I will be leaving sometime this afternoon for the Great North where tomorrow I will be spending the day speaking to 7th and 8th graders. This is the first time I've been invited to a middle school, though I have led some workshops at a writers' conference for students in 6th through 12th grades. I've been assured that the secret to dealing with young people of this age is to never show fear.

I'm afraid I won't be able to do that.

I will try to apply what I've learned in my martial arts classes to this situation. I will keep my chin down so that I won't appear to challenge anyone and so that I won't be exposing my neck. I will guard my core. I will remember to breath.

Oh, yeah. That's going to work.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Last Speaker Standing

I've been spending a lot of time this past month preparing for a couple of speaking engagements that involve new material. Today I had a speaking engagement at which I speaking engagements.

I was a guest of the Connecticut Library Consortium at its Children's Librarians' Roundtable (Southeast)'s Authors@The Library Programming Showcase. Whew. Six children's authors did presentations about their work and their programs for children.

You know how you go to a social event and you feel that you were either over or underdressed? Well, for once I was dressed just fine. However, all the others kids had great (sometimes really great) PowerPoint-type presentations describing their presentations or they had lovely visuals of other kinds. Like a giant whale, in one case.

I had to try to hold these people with the power of my personality. I began with my Suze Orman impression and later went into my little riff about how I can't understand why other people don't find the Puritans fascinating or enjoy original sin humor.

Yeah, I had them eating out of my hand.

Katie Davis, who I sort of know through the ABC listerv, was there, though I arrived too late to see her presentation. We did get to speak and shake hands, so that we sort of know each other beyond the listserv now.

I did hear Dana Meachen Rau's presentation, though. (We're both on the New England SCBWI listserv.) She gave a very good talk on her school and library visits. What I found particularly notable is that she has a number of presentations for kids in pre-k through grade 2, a group I'm preparing to speak to at the end of this month. (Dana speaks to older kids, too.)

There were three other speakers today, but they were all nonfiction writers. I'm going to save talking about them until next Monday and do a Nonfiction Monday post.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Read Across America

I'm going to be taking part in Read Across America programs at two different schools this year. I'm going to be a Mystery Reader in a fourth grade classroom on Feb. 29. Then on March 3, which is actually Read Across America Day, I'll be doing the Gail thing with the third and fourth graders in another school as part of their Read Across America observance.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An Hour Is A Lo-o-ong Time

I've been working away on preparing for my humor talk for New England Roundtable of Children and Young Adult Librarians. It's supposed to be an hour, but I can't seem to get past 37 minutes more or less.

It takes me a long time to prepare for speaking engagements because I suffer a bit from performance anxiety. I like to have the speech written out well in advance so I can rehearse like mad. Back when I still offered traditional slides as an option, I would rehearse with my own projector in the dining room every day leading up to the event.

I like to be performance ready. My fantasy is to be able to have a wide array of writerly things I can talk about on the drop of a dime.

Of course, there's a reason why I call that a fantasy.

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