As much as she’d like to have a pity party for one, there’s no time for that now because wedding bells are ringing in Gainesboro! In between dress fittings and rehearsal dinners Celeste will have to fend off attacking demons and leering pirates. As if the Dark Army wasn’t scary enough our heroine is faced with the horrifying trauma of attending a bachelorette party with her mom and watching Grams do Jello shots. Is a walk down the aisle even possible for a member of the Garrett family when the Dark Army is out to destroy them? More importantly, will the Dark Army Glee Club sing at the reception?
Raise your glass to the happy couple, and get ready for a wedding…Conduit-style.
A couple of months ago, I received a message from Bucyrus Public Library in Ohio asking me to be the keynote speaker at Write On 5, as well as to lead two seminars in their annual writing seminar for teens. I squealed, hopped, danced, and shimmied out of excitement and—of course—said yes. It took a couple of weeks for the excitement to morph into abject terror at speaking in front of three schools worth of students interested in writing! I was a teenager once, I know how cruel and scary kids can be! Now I wasn’t envisioning a Carrie-type scenario playing out, but I couldn’t think of what I could possibly say to hold these kids’ attention.
My trepidation prompted me to turn to my friends. Their advice—and I’m not making this up—was to show my underwear, talk about One Direction, and do the Snoopy dance. In retrospect, I realize my friends did not understand the magnitude of my freak out. Or maybe they did and thought it was funny to make me whimper. But one of them, my dear friend Alicia Michaels, author of Daughter of the Red Dawn, said something that really resonated with me. “By the age they are now I’d already written my first book, and knew I wanted to be an author. Be yourself and be honest with them about what it means to be an author.” That was her suggestion, and that was exactly what I decided to do.
So, armed with my newfound plan, I packed a bag and headed to Bucyrus. Normally on excursions like this I have someone with me that I can vent my nervous ramblings on. This time I was solo. I channeled my nervous energy and went through my entire speech from beginning to end six times. No kidding. I was nothing if not prepared.
I had to kick off the event in typical Stacey fashion—by proving I am completely nuts and taking up the dare of my friends. I pulled on a pair of granny panties, talked about One Direction, and did the Snoopy dance. Nothing breaks the ice like that, let me tell you. From there I told the teens the realities of the literary world and how important it is to be fearless and take chances with their writing. Then I pulled out my iPod and explained to them that by venturing outside our comfort zone with our normal tastes in music we can inspire our “muse” so to speak. Different styles of music and lyrics can put us in a mental frame of mind that can take our writing to new levels, or even help develop our imagery and detail by engrossing us, the author, more in the moment. As an example of how this works, I played different types of music for them and encouraged them to write whatever came to mind based on the songs. Then they shared their favorites with the group. I can’t speak for them, but I thought it went great!
That’s enough about what I did there, now let’s talk about the kids. They were amazing. There was some true talent in that group. Quite a few of them brought up examples of their writing that they wanted me to read and critique. My only regret for the day was not having enough time to offer some in-depth feedback. If I ever do an event like this again I would like to try and make that possible. Often, as I writer, I get caught up in the sales and marketing aspects and tend to lose sight of what brought me to this career choice—a genuine love of writing. Seeing the exuberance of those kids toward reading and writing remind me of that. At the end of the day there were hugs, pictures, autographs (the rock star moments of my life came from one guy that asked me to autograph is Superman backpack and another lovely lady that asked me to sign her cheek!) and a few little notes for me to take on my way. One slip of paper was a simple message from a student of her wanting to personally thank me for coming and talking to them. That note is now hanging in my office.
I don’t know if I will ever get another opportunity like this again, but if I never do I will treasure the memories of that day forever. On March 22nd I looked into the faces of the writers of tomorrow, and want to know what I saw? That world better look out because those kids have a passion that’s unstoppable.