I’m on a list with some other authors and the subject of school visits came up. First off, I want to say that 99% of all the school visits I’ve done have been great. The teachers have been wonderful and accommodating and the kids have excited but respectful.
However, I have to say I always get a kick out of hearing other author’s bad school visit stories. Alane Ferguson shared a couple with me that are worth passing on to all of you aspiring writers out there. In speaking about why free school visits aren’t always the best thing for authors to do, she wrote:
I had a personal revelation when I went to my old elementary school and spoke for free. First, they forgot I was coming. Next, they made me pay for my *&^%$#@ school lunch. And then last but not least, teachers stood up in the middle of my assembly (sorry, but we've got early recess) and ushered a third of the little darlings out of my assembly while I had the mike in my hand. They actually turned out the lights on me while I was packing up my things.
First I called for help, and then I had to go and find the switch in the complete dark - I must have fumbled around for a full five minutes. I'm SUCH a celebrity!
That also reminds me of another horror speaking trip I had, this time in Texas. I was placed in an auditorium with middle-school kids from an inner inner INNER city. First, when I met the small group in the library, the kids would ask me questions, but their accent/street talk was so thick I kept turning to the library lady, pleading, "What did he/she say?" (At times it was hard to tell who/what was asking the question.) And she'd have to TRANSLATE for me! I felt like I was in that old 'Airplane' movie where I had to turn to the Beaver's mom who says, "Pardon me, I speak jive." It was so embarrassing!
So then all of the teachers left me with these kids who looked like were posing for mug shots. I really mean that ALL the teachers left, as in they were gone to their own teacher party. When the bell rang the kids filed out and then the same kids came back and sat down, which I figured out when they started repeating my lines back to me during my second presentation. So I'm looking around for help, and there was none - the kids were just dumped with me for two more hours until the last bell. I was doing sock-puppet tricks by the end. Oh, and the principal, when he showed up, was armed, if that gives you a hint.
And I swear to you on all that is Holy, the librarian, who drove me home, told me she was into all kind of kinky things with the principal, who apparently had no principles. I found out w-a-a-a-y too much about whips and chains and all kind of unmentionable things. Talk about overshare! I did not want to KNOW! I kept staring out the window muttering "I'm from Utah, please stop.”
I could not get out of that car fast enough.
Janette popping in again. Okay, Alane's story made me laugh until I cried. (Which just goes to show you the kind of supportive friend I am.) If any of you authors out there can top this school visit story, I want to hear it!