I frequently volunteer at my girls' school and know most of the teachers. In fact, the principal was my fifth grade English teacher, way back in the 70's. So when one of the teachers who I also consider a friend asked me to come speak to her enrichment cluster, I immediately agreed.
Enrichment clusters in the Jefferson Parish Public magnet school system are the equivalent of electives. This particular elective was for the purpose of writing the school newsletter, and included students in third through fifth grades.
I spoke briefly about the things involved in getting published- writing the book, finding an agent or publisher, and then trying to promote it. I explained that writers do not generally get rich, and unless they end up being one of the few who make it big, they would probably need to keep a day job. I told them the three most important things they could do are (1)read as much as possible; (2) try to write every day; and (3) continue to educate themselves, even after they graduate college. I told them I take online courses and buy reference books all the time to hone my craft.
One fifth grader, who happens to be best friends with my daughter, asked the winning question- how do you get your books into book stores to sell and who gets to make that decision. I gave her the best explanation I could offer to a 10-year-old, and she seemed satisfied.
At the end of the class, I received a treat from the teacher. Ms. Bourgeois put the Jefferson Parish Public Library website up on her high-tech Promethean Board and showed me all of the local libraries that carried my book, Gumbo Justice, including the regional library where it is in the Popular Section and can not be put on hold or renewed. The website also showed me all the libraries the book was checked out of, the ones that the book was in transit to another local library, and the libraries where my book was on the shelf. I had no idea my book was even in our libraries, so I think I learned as much as the students that day.
Next year, I am trying to assistant teach an enrichment cluster where the kids can work on a book, do some fundraising, and then self publish it through one of the self-publishing companies. I think if I had seen my name in print when I was 8 instead of when I was 40ish, (enough information here), my whole life might have been different.
Causes Holli Castillo Supports
American Diabetes Association, American Breast Cancer Association, Lazarus House New Orleans