Thursday, April 21, 2016

An author visit--behind the scenes

I  was ecstatic to be invited to present to students at the Kehewin Community Education Centre earlier this week.

I was greeted with a welcome banner

The children were all very responsive, with many excellent questions and comments about me, my career and my books. The staff were very interested in my career as well, and several expressed interest in publishing their own books. 

I left a few bookmark/business cards so I hope those with questions about publishing will contact me. 

A young girl, about seven came to me as I was eating lunch and showed me the book she had written. The teacher had stapled it together for her.It was written as a graphic novel and was about a girl who thought she was being bullied, when really her friends were planning a surprise birthday party for her!  I was impressed.

I gave four separate presentations, speaking first to the Grades 1-3 classes, followed by Grades 4-6. In the afternoon I presented to the high school students and then the junior high kids.

I think the highlight of presentations (aside from the question period...and the playing of my book trailer, and my exuberant reading to the younger set of B.J. Novak's The Book with no Pictures ) was my reading from THE TRAZ School Edition read the chapter where thirteen-year old Katrina decides to quit school, run away and join the gang. It’s a unique chapter in that Katrina shares with us her reasons for her decision, as well as her perception of the problems she is facing. Hers are problems that many youngsters face—depression, a feeling of not belonging, grief, and friction with her guardians. Although Katrina feels her options are extremely limited, this chapter gives readers a chance to consider how she might have more successfully dealt with these issues.

Also, the chapter gives vivid scenery descriptions that match the beautiful geography of the Kehewin First Nations and mentions Fort McMurray. The students liked the local flavour. (A partial excerpt of the chapter I read is featured here on Chris Redding’s blog.)

All that aside, the intent of my visit was not so much to discuss the social issues youngsters face, but more to be a role model for literacy. I wanted to inspire these children to fall in love with books and to consider writing a great hobby as well as a career option. I wanted to share with them my successful fifty-year journey from being a disadvantaged child to fulfilling my life-long dream of becoming a published novelist.

My gifts.
In keeping with tradition, I gifted the school some autographed copies of THETRAZ School Edition while the Kehewin Community Education Center gave me a mug, carrying bag, and keychain necklace, all with the school logo.

I was so happy when the librarian decided to buy one of each of my seven published books for the school library.

My 7 published books on display. The school bought one of each.

It was a marvelous experience. The staff and students made me feel very welcome and comfortable. Although, by the end of the day, I was quite hoarse. Four hours of presentations in a day will do that to you! I was also exhausted because although I had a table and chair, I was up and on my feet most of the time as the movement and my proximity to the audience, seemed to capture the students' attention.

My mileage (the Kehewin school is a forty-five minute drive from home) and a two-hour speaker fee was sponsored by WISP (Writers in Schools Program), a program administered by the Canadian Authors Association Alberta Branch. Thank you!

Addiionally, the Kehewin Community Education Center matched the WISP speaker fee to ensure I could present to all four grade groups at the school.
My novels are available from Amazon and all fine online book retailers. If they are not on the shelves of your local library or bookstore, ask to have them ordered in for you.

Eileen Schuh, Author

Schrödinger's Cat

THE TRAZ School Edition

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