That time I went back to middle school

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On Tuesday, December 4th, I had the privilege of speaking to the 7th and 8th graders at a Wisconsin middle school about writing, publishing, and other ways they could join in the publishing industry. It was so much fun. The kids were amazing. While I know most likely want nothing to do with writing a book (and some were likely bored), they were so respectful and paid attention to what I had to say. Others are interested in writing and I was glad to be able to give them a little bit of knowledge to help direct them.

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Not only did I talk to them about these three aspects of the author industry, I tried to make as much of it as possible applicable to all of them. First, I presented to 3 classes of 7th graders before having a few hours for a break and then finished the day out with 3 classes of 8th graders. Needless to say that they were glad to have someone in the classroom to listen to who wasn’t a teacher.

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In the afternoon, the 8th graders would all come into the classroom and were like, “We don’t have to write today.” I heard that before every single class. Sorry folks, but you do. 😉  I gave each class a chance to ask whatever questions that they wanted, and whatever time was left, I gave them an assignment (which they handled with grace, of course). They were given three scenarios to write up to practice “Show, Don’t Tell”, and some read their work out loud, and it was really good.

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So, why does this impact me so much? I was their age when I wrote my first book. When I was in 8th grade, we were assigned to write a scary short story (I think it was around Halloween) so I wrote the scariest one I could think of, or most intense. At the time that was difficult for me. However, I loved the story and wanted to build on it, so that short story became the first chapter in my novel. I wish I would’ve known then more about publishing (although at the time publishing a novel wasn’t nearly as easy as it is today with ebooks).

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Back then I knew very little about the craft of writing a good story, but I wrote everyday (by hand) and worked on my craft. Since then, I’ve learned so much more, and I hope that I can inspire others to follow their dream and give them a bit more knowledge than what I had at their age.

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I hope I was able to impact the group, but one thing was certain, they sure reminded me what it was like to be back in school again. It reminded me a lot of the few years I substituted a while back. Good luck to all of you! You’re amazing!

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