I have been teaching for about 20 years. (I told that to one of my classes this week and they immediately tried to figure out my age. It didn't help that my nephew was in the class and kept telling them their guesses were wrong. Of course I had to remind him that I held the power of his grades in my hands.) In those years, I've taught nearly every subject to every grade from kindergarten to college level. I've stood in front of Sunday School classes, Backyard Bible Clubs, ladies' groups, and teens. I've taught on various topics to a wide range of age groups. But Thursday, I had a first. I spoke to grades 1-5 during their Reading Celebration week on the topic of being an author.

     As I prepared what to say and how to present it, I found myself with nervous butterflies. Why should I be nervous? I spoken in front of hundreds of people at one time. Why should a group of fifty elementary students cause such consternation? It was the first time I spoke as someone who writes for publication.

     They were an attentive group. I began by sharing my love for words. Big words. Small words. Funny sounding words. All kinds of words. They enjoyed some of the really long, complicated examples like "pharmacological." I left out "phagocytosis" and "flagellum" since they require a longer explanation. I shared that I have always enjoyed stories and started writing my own when I was their ages. I gave a brief background of why I started writing my first novel and how long it took. The tricky part was trying to explain what a literary agent is and what a publisher does. I had a few volunteers come stand with me to be literary agents and had them each refuse my book. They really enjoyed that! Then I brought two more volunteers up to be a literary agent and a publisher. They each said "yes" to my book and they seemed to understand the basic process.

     I gave them a few minutes for questions and there were several good ones. One fifth grader said she was trying to write a kid's book and wanted some tips. I told her to keep reading everything she could and to learn grammar and spelling. Another student asked who made the books hard. I explained that was the publisher's job. Several more questions showed they had been listening and thinking about what I shared.

     It was a great experience and one I will always treasure. I pray this is just the beginning of speaking as an author.


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