Career Expo

Once again, this past Wednesday, I was a “storyteller” at Mankato’s Career Expo at the Civic Center for area high school freshmen and sophomores.

The event includes rooms of “Storytellers” who sit at tables. The students “speed date” around the tables, finding out about the various storytellers’ journeys to their current careers.

I talked about becoming a writer. Of course, I had spent over three hours preparing a 9-minute spiel about what it takes to be a writer. That went out the window with the first two groups, NONE of whom had the slightest interest in becoming a writer. So I just told my story about learning to follow my own passion instead of doing everything I was told to do to be “good” and to succeed.

As far as I could tell, out of the dozens of students I saw, perhaps three were interested in writing. When I expanded the concept to music and visual art, I’m sure there were at least a dozen.

An amazing number of sophomores want to do construction or childcare as careers. I had a couple determined to be surgeons or family physicians, and quite a few future computer programmers or engineers. One future video game developer. (I was surprised that it was only one, but more power to that one girl who said it). I wonder how many studies have been done about how much perception of career changes between age fourteen and twenty-one.

In the long run, it was lots of fun, and I had some good laughs with most of the groups. The poor first group of two didn’t get much out of it, I’m sure, because they were self-conscious and not willing to pretend to be interested. After I warmed up, however, it was a good experience, and I think–at least I hope–that everybody got at least some tiny spark of info from our ten minutes together.

Lies about being a writer:

Being an author makes you famous.

Being an author makes you rich.

Truth:

You have to do it because you love it so much, you can’t imagine doing anything else.

Therefore:

Follow your passion, even if it’s only for your own satisfaction in life.

 

Slider’s Son! And is anyone else sick of paranormal…?

Slider’s Son will be published September 2017.is

I wish my agent George Nicholson were alive to see this happen. He “loved” this manuscript when he read it, and that meant the world to me since he never used that term with my other novels, although he certainly championed them.

I’m getting my ducks in a row–wait, no, I’m not getting them in a row yet, but I’m herding them toward rows–for publication in ten months. That means setting up some book events and making myself available for young writers’ conferences and book fairs, libraries, schools, and, and, and…and it means lots of work, which is exciting work and fun work. I love doing book events.

However, it also means lots of social media time and online promotion. THAT I’m not such a big fan of. But I’ll do it. I’m delighted that North Star Press promotes its own authors’ events. That gives me great hope. I’m excited to publish this book with them.

The BEST news right now is that I found out last week that I will be receiving a Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Grant (PLRAG) Mid-Career Artist Grant to help promote this book!  I’m excited. And GRATEFUL!

Okay, besides the excitement,  I sat down to write here because I just followed a thread of a YA book promotional publicity group, thinking ahead to that social media aspect of publication. EVERY, and I mean EVERY book in the top thread was paranormal romance, time travel, or dystopian. A few dozen books down, I found one realistic-fiction romance book. Is anybody else sick of paranormal romance and dystopia? I really do love historical fiction. That’s what I love to read, and that’s why I wanted to write Slider’s Son, based on true stories, but set in the 1930s. I’m following my own passion, and it’s not the trend right now, but that’s okay!

Okay, that’s my vent for the night. In spite of the vent, I really am EXCITED to have Slider’s Son out in the world!

South Central Service Cooperative Young Writers’ Conference

Yesterday (March 13), I presented at the SCSC Young Writers’ Conference for 7-9th graders. I did the keynote opening program about “From Here to There by Way of the Zoo,” subtitled, “Prairie-Dogging Your Way to a Story,” using animal metaphors to talk about patterns of writing to completion, and how we can use odd things we find in everyday life to weave together a coherent whole story. I think it went well–at least the auditorium full of junior high students was attentive the whole time.

Somebody threw up, but otherwise it went smoothly. 🙂  At leas I had fun. That should count for something, right?

Then I did three sessions on creating a character out of thin air, using an exercise I do in Creative Writing class. Each student makes up a story element (character, setting, problem, twist), puts it in the appropriate bucket, and then draws an element from each bucket. Weaving these different elements together is always the challenge, but can make for some delightful storylines.  It was fun, and nearly every single student in each session had a great start on a story by the time they left the class.

I did meet a lot of wonderful young teens, many of whom are excellent writers!