The Time I Met With Eighth Graders at Thomas Jefferson Middle School

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to eighth graders at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Port Washington, WI.  I was ecstatic when Ms. Dekker invited me to come talk about my passion of writing after one of her students who had read A Life Unexpected (Book One of the Holly Nather Series) asked her to invite me.

I discussed the following topics:

– how I went about doing it professionally

– what inspired me to start writing

– what was/is the most challenging part about writing

–  my writing process

– what helps me the most as a writer

– what strategies/techniques I use

– was writing something I went to school for or did I follow my passion another way

– the process I used to get published

I was so nervous, because I’m not that great at speaking to large groups of people, but to my surprise, I felt confident when talking to the students!  They made me feel so welcome and were truly interested in what I had to say.  I can’t describe how it felt to speak to the audience I write for about my passion for writing except that it was indescribable joy. I would love the opportunity to do this again and again and again!

I met with a group of about 50 – 75 students during three sessions. During each session, the students got to ask their own questions. And they all asked really awesome questions. My favorite question, and the one asked the most, was what inspired my stories.

My answer was easy.  Music!  It can be one verse, the sound of the instruments, or the way the song makes me feel.  I always create playlists for each book I write on Spotify, which really helps.  Music is the lifeline of my stories and without it, I’d struggle to get a story going from beginning to end.

I also held a raffle during each session for the students to win their choice of one of my books. Each student put their name in a bowl for me to pick. It was so exciting for me to do this, and I loved their enthusiasm when they won. Plus signing the copy for them made it extra special. I brought bookmarks and trading cards to hand out to every student who attended as well.

With the help of my publishing partners at Blue Harvest Creative, we came up with a fun idea to spark creativity to provide the students an opportunity to share their epic writing skills!  Students who want to take part in the activity get to write a Flash Fiction story that is 300-1000 words about anything that has to do with the theme of Autumn (Halloween, spooky stories, hayrides, Thanksgiving, etc.).  The classes get to vote on five winners who will then have their stories featured on my blog and website every Friday for five weeks!   I can’t wait to read them. Be sure to watch my blog and website for the winning stories!

I will never forget the time I spent with the eighth graders at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. I was humbled by the experience and will be forever grateful for their enthusiasm, excitement, and for making me feel so welcomed. Thank you for allowing me to share my passion for writing with you. I hope I inspired you to always strive to be your best and to never give up.  You inspired me, and it’s an experience I will never forget.

Thank you a million times, eighth graders and teachers at Thomas Jefferson!  You all rock!

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