I'm pleased to be headed south on Highway 99 next week, and to be visiting schools in Fresno, Alhambra, San Gabriel, and Santa Barbara. I always love talking with teen readers about books, mine and others, and leaning what's currently popular. This time, in addition to book talks, I'll be gathering information and background to help me get started on Book #11 in the Hamilton High Series. After writing two books for adult readers, I'm very eager to get back to Hamilton High.
New Wind Publishing set an ambitious goal for the 2016-17 school year: to reach 1,000 readers by giving 100 sets of each of the ten titles to schools, youth programs, libraries and juvenile detention centers. Details are available at http://newwindpublishing.com/?page_id=607, but here's the progress to date.:
I'm so happy to learn that 916 Ink, a Sacramento non-profit dedicated to increasing youth literacy through creative writing, just won $33000 in grants to work with over 260 incarcerated youth and low-income kids in Sacramento in fall 2016!
Over the past three years, I've been fortunate to be involved with 916 Ink programs at the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility. It's important and, sometimes, life-changing, for Incarcerated youth to become published authors. It's also important that their stories reach a range of readers. Below are books from detention facility writers. The $33,000 grant money means soon there will be many more such books, many more such published writers.
This past Wednesday I and my New Wind Publishing friend, Anara Guard, visited a group of Hamilton High series readers at a nearby Teen Age Pregnancy/Parenting program. There, childcare is provided for the teens' babies and toddlers while young mothers and fathers continue work toward high school graduation and also learn important parenting and life skills. Few districts in California provide such important services. Shame on California, but kudos to Folsom Cordova Unified School District for helping young parents gain the strengths and insights needed to make good decisions as they move forward with their lives.
What fun it is to talk with such engaged young readers, and to soak up their ideas and insights.
During a school visit few months back, I mentioned that Erica, in If You Loved Me was a mix of white, African-American, and Chinese.
A strong voice off to my right said “Lauren.”
I turned to the speaker. “Lauren?”
“Yes. Lauren. It was Lauren, not Erica. Erica’s the girl in But What About Me.”
It took only a moment for me to realize my error. I thanked her for setting me straight. This same girl later caught me in another error of detail. It would have been embarrassing had I not been too old to be embarrassed.
I spoke with my fact-checker, Miss G. R., during a break. A bright young woman (obviously brighter than that day’s guest speaker), a teen mom living in a difficult situation, working diligently to finish high school, G. R. told me that she’d been so caught up in reading Baby Help, and in worrying about Cheyenne, the baby in that story, that she nearly forgot to feed her own baby. “Nearly” is the key word here.
When I returned home, before I even unpacked, I reread If You Loved Me. Then I slipped a note and a copy of my most recent book into a padded envelope and sent it off to
Miss G. R., promising to reread the other nine books in the series before my next school visit.
If you'll be in San Diego for the CATE Convention next weekend, stop by Booth 300 and say hello. I'll be sharing the table with 916 Ink, an exciting program that turns student writers into published authors. Hamilton High books will be on sale for $5.00 each. But wait! There's more! If you're interested in transitioning from mostly teaching/a little writing to mostly writing/a little teaching, check out my Session C presentation.