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Favorite School Visit Moments & On The Edge Of Fear

March 13, 2009

I was really pleased with the article the St. Petersburg Times did on me and my hubby Jeff Strand today, “Carrollwood Couple Keep Readers On The Edge Of Fear.”  I do have to loudly disclaim the lowballing of the number of songs on my ipod, though.  I have 15,290, currently, not 13,000. Of course, there’s always that gap between the interview and publication…could I really have added 2,000 songs in the last couple of week?  Well, knowing me…lol

But that’s not what I intended to blog about.  Reading the article made me think of some of my favorite school visit moments.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Alex at Hillsborough High School who insisted that the best way to get rid of the zombie arm from The Return was to chop it into little bits and feed it to the pigeons.  (Of course we all know what happens next–yes, zombie pigeons.)
  2. At Wilson Middle, my co-author for Sally Bosco was doing her portion of our joint presentation while a boy in the back kept trying to get my attention.  He looked like he might explode if I didn’t come over, so I did. When I bent down to see what was wrong, he whispered urgently, “Are you going to autograph postcards in SILVER?  My friend saw you before and he snuck the postcard you signed for him into church to show me, and it was signed in SILVER, so are you going to sign postcards TODAY, in SILVER?”  I assured him that I would, but that he’d have to wait until AFTER the worshop.
  3. This favorite momemnt doesn’t have a particular school attached to it because it happens at just about every school visit I do.  I always have at least one student who lingers afterwards to ask if he or she can have their postcard autographed for their mother or father, who is also writing a novel. What kind, sweet kids, and what super parents to share their dreams with their kids.
  4. When I spend the day at a school, I’m usually headquartered in the library.  (It can take me up to a half hour to set up because I have so many visual aids, so I do better when I don’t have to pack up and move every 45 minutes.) At one school, the media specialist asked me if I might do my last session of the day in a classroom instead.  The substitute teacher for a remedial reading class was having a bit of a difficult time of it.  “Just bring them on into the library,” I said. The media specialist went pale. “Oh, no, I can’t…they don’t let them out of their classroom.”  Hearing that, I just had to go visit them.  When I entered the classroom, they were literally climbing the walls.  One boy had pushed a rocking chair against the wall and was trying to reach something on the wall.  Another was on his desk, trying to hang something from the ceiling with a chain of paper clips.  The substitute looked like she might heave.  Sure, the kids were high-energy, but once they figured out that I was going to listen to them and talk WITH them instead of AT them, a change came over the room.  They were some of the most attentive, interesting and insightful kids I’d ever worked with, asking tough, practical questions about writing, and life.  After that, I made certain that whenever I booked a school visit that I reassured the teachers that they didn’t have to just send me “the good kids.”  Classrooms aren’t cages.
  5. In one of my sessions at Burns Middle, I’d read the first chapter of my werewolf novel The Change, which ends with a cliffhanger, and asked if they wanted me to read on.  Although all the kids were very vocal about wanting me to read on (which I did), one girl was VERY upset at the thought of not getting to read more.  Her friend said, quite loudly and in a voice filled with shock and surprise, “But Crystal, you don’t like ANY book!”  It just made my day.  Now that’s why I write.
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