Today, I had the tremendous pleasure of selling books for YA author Jeff Zentner (The Serpent King and Goodbye Days) at Heritage High School in Ringgold, Georgia. First off, that's a beautiful school! Very impressed. And secondly, Rhonda, one of their media specialists aka librarians, is one of the most charming people I've ever met! Her passion for her creative writing club and book club was so inspiring! I always wished I'd had a creative writing community in high school, which is partially what led me to starting Chattanooga Writer's Society in college. But Rhonda is just so encouraging of her students' passions and did a fantastic job of organizing Jeff's event.
In the morning, the creative writing and book clubs met in Media Center (library) for a dialogue workshop with Jeff, who mesmerized all the students in a matter of maybe two minutes flat. He gave some great tips on writing dialogue, which I took thorough notes on.
I once thought I was a good dialogue writer. My lovely editor, in the kindest way possible, told me that was not the case :)
- Keep your dialogue lines short
- Don't get fancy with dialogue tags (none of this "he said languorously")
- Keep your author mind out of their conversation
- Don't try to exactly copy human conversations. They're too messy.
After 15 minutes to write, Jeff read some of the students' dialogue with them! Such fun! Then the selling and signing frenzy began! I was surprised how many students bought books to get signed, but of course, that's not the only thing they asked Jeff to sign. Because, in case you didn't know, authors are rockstars to readers, nowadays. T-shirts were signed, a cast, backpacks, pieces of paper, but what really topped the cake was the signing of a forehead. That's right. I guess the boy just wanted to soak up Jeff's creative genius with his signature. And I thought my crowning moment was signing a shirt!
Before the larger presentation in front of more classes in the auditorium, the club students presented Jeff with a "staff" and a club t-shirt signed by all of them! I mean, how freaking cool! Of course, his talk was great. The students asked some wonderful questions than they just got into the silliness of "what's your favorite color, dogs or cats, hogwartz house (which is an important question)." And all that jazz. I'm so very honored that I got to be apart of that event today. I've never been to a school author event that was so absolutely wonderful! Super duper high five to Ms. Rhonda and Heritage High!