So far in my book-promoting journey (something I am not strong in), I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a couple of different events that have helped me in marketing and book selling. For that, I'm truly grateful.
My first one was as part of the Thousand Islands Book Festival. I wrote a detailed post about that here.
My second event was a festival for the Revitalization for the Town of Antwerp, NY called Operation Restore Antwerp.
I actually ended up selling out of all the books that I had at this event, and my Dad had to run to his house and get one that they had there. The people and the community there are very supportive of authors and love to read.
And, now, this Saturday, I’ll be at the Thousand Islands Museum in Clayton, NY, selling and signing books along with about 20 other authors from around the area. If you are a local, please come out and support this event. Clayton, NY is a beautiful village on the St. Lawrence River, and so you could always do some sight-seeing at the same time.
Also, another cool thing is that my book is available for purchase in the local bookstore, The Reading Room in Watertown, NY. So you can always visit that store in the Salmon Run Mall!
Come out on Saturday!
Originally posted during my blog tour here.
When I was in 9th grade, one of my teachers told my mom that I would never be happy in a 9-to-5 job. As the years went on, I graduated college, decidedly ignored this “prophetic” statement, and applied for 9-to-5 jobs anyway. Eventually, I even went to law school under the belief that I wanted to be a lawyer. Unfortunately though, during the Orientation weekend (before classes even started), I knew it wasn't for me.
Being a lawyer is definitely not like any one of the three thousand lawyer TV shows. The professors said, if you don't like law school, you won't like being a lawyer. And, I'm not judging everyone who's gone to law school, but many of my classmates were quite zealous for the law and classes, which made it somewhat difficult to hang around them. If you had to cancel plans with any of them, they would annoyingly start telling you how you supposedly broke a “verbal contract.” This, along with the extreme lack of creativity in lawyering, is simply one of the main reasons I knew this profession wasn’t for me.
I tried for a semester to make it work. I thought maybe it was just my attitude, so I worked on that. I even started dressing up (tie, dress pants, etc.) thinking that would help. It didn't improve anything. Then, I just dove headfirst into it! I read, researched, and studied. I went to the Law Library and worked for hours there. Next, I tried to sort of "rebel" against it, like if I dressed how I wanted to and bleached my hair, I would feel like I was still myself and then be okay with not liking my career choice. I talked to my professors, the deans, my friends. I prayed about it, debated, fretted, and anything else I could.
During this time I came across some reading material from the Communication school. They offered an MA and MFA in Script and Screenwriting. I never even knew those were options. But when I saw the degree descriptions, suddenly my life made sense.
I thought back to my teenage self when I would write, not novels or stories, but thoughts, feelings, and music. Then, as an undergraduate I took a screenwriting class, and I remember feeling that I was just scratching the surface of something within me, something that wanted to break free.
I didn’t make the decision to switch from Law School to Scriptwriting on a whim, even though it may have seemed like that to some people around me. It was actually more like a seed had been under the surface and suddenly it broke forth… a surprise to everyone who had no idea that the seed had been there.
Well, getting that MFA took some time, and during that season of my life, I got married and started having kids. My wife (having finished her degree before me) managed to land a full-time job first, which put me as the stay-at-home one. Fast-forward many years (and many rejected job applications on my end), and she’s still the one working and I’m still the one at home. Changing diapers, fixing hair, homeschooling, and oh yeah, trying to write a novel and get it published – my life is definitely not 9-to-5, and though it may be mundane, it’s rarely boring.
Were those words from my teacher “prophetic”? Maybe she was just a good teacher and made an astute observation.
But meanwhile, here I am, over 20 years later, not working a 9-to-5 job. I have to say, I'm okay with that.
One of the many objections or “cons” to homeschooling that I’ve heard over the years is that children who learn at home are not socializing. They ask,
“How will the child learn to socialize if he or she doesn’t go to school?”
There are few assumptions made in that question with which I disagree. Hopefully, I will be able to put forth my ideas cogently.
The first assumption is this:
Children in an all-day, structured environment with twenty-five other children of the same age produces socialization.
If a man wanted to learn how to be a plumber, how would he do that? Twenty-five other would-be plumbers sitting in a room together would not teach the plumber how to become one. He would need a teacher, someone more experienced, with knowledge, to teach him (preferably one-on-one).
This is how I feel about socialization.
I want my children to learn how to socialize by seeing an adult do it. (preferably one-on-one). And who better to teach them than a parent? I sure don’t want another awkward 9-year-old to teach my child how to socialize. He or she is learning it as well. Both of them are “apprentices”.
Not only that, I want my children to know how to socialize with people older and younger than themselves. After all, as an adult, I rarely (if ever) come into contact with only 37 year olds. The workforce, and society at large, is amazingly diverse, age-wise. On a daily basis, I may have to “socialize” with a 22 year old, a 4 year old, a 50 year old, and a 75 year old. All of these interactions require different (and sometimes nuanced) social navigation skills.
I have four daughters ranging between the ages of 2-10, and they socialize everyday with each other. The younger children learn how to look up to the older ones, and the older ones learn how to look after the younger ones. There’s a natural order to this, after all.
You don’t need a big group of people to learn how to interact with others. You just need a good teacher. Crying, fighting, jockeying for a better social position, and bullying is not the type of “socializing” I want my children to partake in or be a part of.
Another assumption made in that original question is this:
If my child doesn’t go to a school to learn then they are never around anyone else… ever.
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, my children are not kept in a cage at home during school hours.
One of my daughters has five other people they see every day, and that is just in her immediate family. We go to church, have friends, participate in homeschooling activities, have extended families, go to community events, community festivals, etc… Socialization can occur outside of school, and frankly that is where it occurs the most. To be honest, we got into trouble if we socialized too much in school.
“Don’t talk!” or “Stop talking!” were common refrains while growing up. So, if they’re not to socialize during class, when does the socializing take place? Lunch? Three minutes between classes? Frankly, we weren’t allowed to “socialize” in study halls or free periods all that often anyway.
The whole point of socializing, at least in my opinion, is to learn how to become an adult and to interact confidently and competently with others of all ages. My children will not learn that by observing other children their age. They won’t even learn it by interacting with other children their age.
I went to public high school; I am not ignorant to what kind of “socialization” that took place there. So, if you have an argument against homeschooling, that’s fine, but please stop using “the lack of socialization" as one.
Homeschooling kids socialize, just not in a public school setting.
Children will only learn how to interact appropriately with others by watching “experienced” people do it. In this case, it would be their parents.
I could go on and on, and even write a book about it (though I would be probably be bored by it before I got to chapter two). However, I won't write it, and I must be satisfied with this blog post.
In the end, if my children can learn to get along with each other, they can learn to get along with anyone.
(Originally posted on Margo Dill's blog.)
Believe it or not, I didn’t actually read a whole lot as a child. My older brother and I mostly played as we were growing up in our rural small town in Northern New York. Our cousins would visit quite a bit as well, and so we did a lot of action-packed pretending and sports-playing every time they visited. I didn’t actually realize how much I loved reading until later in life.
Sometime in graduate school, I started actually reading a lot of young adult fantasy, mostly because those were the types of stories I wanted to read. Adult fantasy novels don’t always interest me because a lot of them have intrigue or mystery-solving as their focus, or can be really cynical. J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, George McDonald’s fantasy stories and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series were some of the ones that I liked best, and I know that I would have liked them as a kid if I had been aware of them.
But there were a few that stood out to me above the others as a parent/author. While it is hard to encapsulate into words how or a why one book speaks to you more than another, I will try my best.
The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr.
While it isn’t exactly categorized as a children’s book, I could not leave it off my list. This book made me believe that I could write a novel. It actually inspired me to finally start and finish my first one. How or why, I don’t truly know. Was it the depth and meaning of the story? Was it the lack of cynicism I found in it? Perhaps. Either way, I loved the story and the strength of Chauntecleer. It just reinforced why I like books so much.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
I first read this seven years ago. I was struck by the innocence I found in that novel that seemed to stretch beyond the pages. I loved the simplicity of the book. It reminded me not everything has to be so complicated. While I’m typically not a fan of talking animal stories all that much, there was something endearing about Mole, Mr. Toad, Badger, and the other characters. There wasn’t condescension in the story or the writing. It didn’t talk down to kids.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Adventure. Battles. Bravery. These things describe The Hobbit, and it is why I love it so. The stories that draw a clear delineation between what is right and what is wrong are the kinds to which I’m drawn. I find enough murkiness in life I don’t need it when I read. I want more. I want to find loyalty, trust, bravery, and strength. I want to read about things worth fighting and dying for. Some may say, cynically, the story doesn’t have enough gray in it. It’s too simple. But when I read it, it tugs at those things inside of me that yearn to be pulled out – those qualities that separate us from all other species on earth. A book should make a man strive to be more. That’s what I want in it. For me and my children.
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Since I could not pick out one book that was my favorite, I decided to include the Harry Potter series as a whole. I thought it was well-imagined and quite fun. I liked this series for some of the same reasons I liked The Hobbit. We have a character (Harry) who is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But he is good. He strives to be brave. He strives to do what is right.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
This book was intense and touched on some difficult and serious issues in a way suitable for young adults. People will read into the story what they bring to it. But Lowry delves into difficult questions about pain, love, and memories. Can we have one without the others? How far would/should we go to exclude and rid pain in our lives?
Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
What I liked most about this book was the closeness of the relationship between Danny and his father. Perhaps it is because I am a father myself, but I like stories that further that bond, strengthen it, and don’t always present the father as a deadbeat.
Like other young adult/children books, Dahl presents his villains as bad… disgustingly so! And his heroes are loyal and good. There is a clarity there that will not confuse children. It shows them a path to take, but in a well-written, humorous, and subtle way.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.