Tuesday’s quote:

Susan: You’ve just had a bad day, that’s all.
David: That’s a masterpiece of understatement.
Bringing Up Baby

So I got to visit my mom’s fourth grade class yesterday and talk to the kids about writing and editing before their state testing started today.  It’s always fun talking to my mom’s class.  First of all, the other teachers always seem to gush about how pretty I am, which less face it, never gets old.  And the kids always treat you like a rock star – “I got to sit next to her at lunch!”   Although I’ve never joined her class to help talk to the kids before, so this time was a little more nerve-wracking.

My mom wanted me to read from the beginning and the end of my book to give the kids a taste of opening and closing, and then to talk to them about editing and how important it is.  So I talked to them about how many times I’ve edited this book so far, and the fact that I’m going through it yet again, this time with the goal of cutting out at least 30,000 words.  I know, it sounds like a lot, but if you could see how long my book is, you’d know it’s necessary.

I also got to show them how, even just sitting with the printed pages I had in my hand, I was still editing and making changes.  Always making changes.  The cool part is: I think they really liked what I wrote.  They laughed at the right parts, and seemed to connect with it.  My mom seemed to as well, which is cool since she’s never read my book.  Though honestly that may be partly just because the first page could easily be taken from one from the Abbot Family Diaries.  The end part didn’t evoke quite the same reactions, but that’s understandable.  They haven’t read the rest of the story so hearing the ending doesn’t have the same effect.  Either way it was cool.  I really hope I get the chance to do that more often, because I love working with kids and getting to share my stuff with them.  Soooo… as a treat for all of you (meaning like the 5 or so readers I might actually have right now 😛 ) I decided to give you the first page that I gave them.  Now, assuming I get this published, things in here will probably change, but here’s just a sampling of the book…

JOURNEY TO CHIMERA: The Kidnapping of Oliver Diallo

“You freaking little punk!”  Casey threw her pillow into the back seat, hitting her brother in the head.
“Ow!”  Oliver took the pillow and threw it back at her, just missing their mother.
“Hey!  No throwing things while I’m driving!”
“She started it!” said Oliver.
“It was his fault!”
“Hey, I was just sitting back here, playing my game,” he said, waving his handheld system in the air, “when she goes all Emo McCrazy and starts throwing stuff.”
Casey turned to her mother.  “He ate my candy bar!”
“What?” said her mother in a tone that already told her that she wouldn’t win.
“My candy bar,” she continued anyway, trying to sound as tragic as possible.  “He knows I hate nuts so he ate the one without them so that he could have both.”
“Oh, was that your candy bar?” Oliver exclaimed.  “I guess I didn’t see your name written on it.”
“I hate you!”  Casey reached back and tried to pinch her brother’s leg, but he dodged out of the way and kicked the back of her seat.
“All right, stop it!  The both of you!” Mrs. Diallo shouted.  “Oliver, did you eat her candy bar on purpose?”
“Of course not, Mom.  It was a complete accident.  I swear.”
Mom sighed.  “Casey, can’t you just eat the one with nuts?”
“You know I can’t stand nuts in my candy bar.”
“Maybe because you are one,” giggled Oliver in the back seat.
“Whatever, Ollie.”
“Don’t call me that!”
Oliver kicked her seat.  Casey reached back for him again.  Mom tapped the breaks, hard, throwing both kids into their seatbelts.  “Enough.  Casey, you will be fifteen years old in less than a month.  Do you think, just for once, that you could at least pretend you’re two years older than he is?”
“He always gets everything he wants.”
“Casey, that is not true.”
“It is true.  He got my candy bar; he got the front seat¾”
“Aren’t you sitting in the front seat right now?”
“Yeah, but only for like the last hour of the trip.  He got to sit up here the whole way before that.”  Oliver snickered in the back seat, his eyes never leaving his game.
Mrs. Diallo glanced over at her daughter.  “Casey, I’m counting on you this summer.  Despite what she thinks, your grandmother is not as young as she used to be.  I may not be able to stop her from working, but I’m not going to send her two teenagers for the whole summer who are still acting like they’re five.”
Casey rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.  Her mother had a point and she knew it, but she wouldn’t admit it.  She tried, she really did, but the little twit made it so dang impossible!  Younger siblings must carry something in their DNA that makes you want to smack them upside their head five or six times a day.  She put her head in her hand and watched the scenery fly by her window.  Trees raced past them, like tall, skinny children who’d hit an awkward growth spurt, and waited in vain for the rest of their bodies to catch up.  They reminded Casey like the ones across the street from her grandmother’s house.  Not that either Casey or her brother had ever had the nerve to enter them.  Both Mrs. Diallo and Grandma Zara had threatened them with death and torture if they ever set foot across that tree line.  So every visit they played a recurring game of Chicken, each daring each other to cross until Zara called for dinner and they had an excuse to run away.

Short, yes, but so is class time.  Hope you enjoy!

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