Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WHOOPS!

I had to get to a "Career Day" fair at a local high school and was so busy making last-minute preparations and then getting out in the morning that I forgot to create and post a blog. I apologize.

These career day events can be terrific as well as an awful nuisance. Today we were faced with teens determined to show no interest whatsoever and it was like digging for diamonds in the mud during a monsoon while deaf to get even a slight indication of interest. At the same time, now and again a slight flicker of interest would show on a face despite all efforts, and when I offered a two-page handout on How to Write a Mystery Story, several drifted by after the class to unobtrusively pick up a copy. I was fortunate to share my presentation with a young man who, with a cousin, has set off on the small-press route to publishing children's stories. He was personable, funny, intelligent, engaging and between the two of us (anyone who writes about murder simply must stir a teen's heart to some small degree) we did all right the three times we did our thing. I only wish we had known we'd be working together, as I know we could have done better in collaboration. Maybe next year. We both handed out bookmarks, and perhaps some of the teens will bother to try our books.

This past weekend Ellen and I drove in horrible weather to Chicago (well, Rosemont, a suburb) to attend the International Quilt Festival. I was at a table with two authors and a stitcher who had done a quilt so amazing it made me want to go home and throw my fabric away. Her name is Sieglinda (seriously!) Schoen-Smith and she did the quilt as an illustration for a children's fairy tale about tiny children-fairies who live underground and who come out in the spring to paint the flowers. Gorgeous, gorgeous work, applique and embroidery. (See http://www.quilts.com/webcast0325/JudgedShow/Best%20of%20Show_Master%20Awards/Mother%20Earth%20and%20Her%20Children.jpg.html) Tiny, tiny stitches on the faces of the children. Advanced quilters would stand and stare at her work then shake their heads and walk off. We did the show Thursday evening and all day Friday, then Saturday drove to Palos Heights where I spoke to a stitchers group and sold books after a delicious luncheon.

Tuesday I am going to interview a brewmeister about microbreweries for Blackwork -- one of the main characters shares ownership in one. (I need a reason for her to rub up against the murder victim and quarrel with him, and since he's a drunk this seemed a good way. It also gives me an excuse to learn about microbreweries.)

5 comments:

Camille Minichino said...

I'm going to a career day tomorrow ... will probably have a similar report. I make it my goal to reach ONE student, then am thrilled if it's two ...

I think they call it diminished expectations ...

Clair Dickson said...

You may never know if you reach them or not. Many teens are very adept at hiding what they care about or are interested in. I teach alternative high school and sometimes it takes months to get a kid to talk to the teacher beyond asking to use the restroom.

Be EXCITED about what you do. Laugh at yourself (and they'll be happy to laugh at you too.) And try to make a connection to their world.

They're too 'cool' to show you they care, but they might be listening anyway.

Camille Minichino said...

Very encouraging; thanks Clair.

Monica Ferris said...

I did get very emotional over vocabulary, let myself really roar by saying, "English has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world. Use it! Are you mad at someone? How mad are you? Are you annoyed? Peeved? Angry? Furious? Murderously angry? (I shouted that last one.) Or, has someone done something nice for you? How do you feel about that? Are you pleased? Happy? Joyous? Ecstatic?" That seemed to stir some of them into at least smiling. One kid was awake and aware and showing it. When I used the word "vituperative" he said, "That's the first word you've said I don't understand. I'm gonna look it up." I almost kissed him.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

The other day we went to dinner with some old friends we met in the UK, and our 18-year-old son came along. During the meal, he asked each of us what we'd do differently in our lives. He also said that most of what his father had told him turned out to be right, even if he didn't like what he heard at the time.

I'm still waiting to hear about when I was right, but here's the point...you NEVER know when something you say will reach fertile ground and lie dormant only to grow and bloom later.

And I LOVED the quilt. I'm inspired.