Saturday, March 8, 2008

Change the World Tour: Day 7

It must've been a sign. We woke up this morning to snow, a rarity in these here parts. Since The 13th Reality takes place in a very wintry setting, I'm just gonna go ahead and go with the sign thing.

Speaking of signing, last night was such an experience. I'm not even going to attempt to name names, because I would definitely leave someone out. Though most of the people there were kids and their parents, I had surprise after surprise from people I grew up with, former teachers, neighbors, etc. Seriously, my face hurt from smiling so much.

A big thanks to Alan Siler the Customer Relations Manager. He was obviously surprised that we sold out, and really cool about it - he sent a nice email to my publisher. We talked about doing a much bigger event this fall. So if you stood in line and missed out on a signed book, I'm really sorry and hope to see you again.

Not much happened today, except lots of R&R with the family. The highlight was lunch at a sushi place called Ru San's in Buckhead. All you can eat, people. Need I say more? Then to top it off, my mom made her famous homemade spaghetti sauce for dinner. I'm pretty sure I'll never eat again. Or at least until tomorrow.

Okay, as promised, I'll now give you a quick glimpse of my school presentation.

It begins with a quick introduction and then a 10-minute story building exercise. That sounds incredibly boring but it's probably the highlight of the presentation and gets everyone happy and excited to be there. I basically use 3 volunteers, and we go from the worst story in history to a fun (and usually silly) tale using the ideas of the students. I love this part.

Next we go into a section where I tell two stories, one about me and one about Atticus Higginbottom (the main character in The 13th Reality). My story is told with some very funny picures that exist because of the wonders of PhotoShop. I'll never reveal them to anyone except at a presentation because I don't want to ruin it. I'll just say this: you've never seen a kid laugh so hard as when I show the last picture. The main point: it's hard to get published, but I never gave up and my dream came true.

Then we talk about Atticus, who goes by Tick. I show some illustrations from the book, and talk about how Tick has to solve riddles and meet some very dangerous obstacles. In other words, he has to be SMART ENOUGH and BRAVE ENOUGH. We also talk about people who hit struggles and never gave up, like Albert Einstein and Michael Jordan. This is all done in a much more interesting way than I'm describing. I promise.

Finally, we play a riddle game with a couple of the students. Free t-shirts and posters are given to the kids who helped me - which always makes everyone else very angry with me. But in a good way!

After questions and answers, I end with my ONE MINUTE SPEECH. This is where I try my very hardest to pause and get out of presentation mode and speak from the heart. I tell the kids that I feel very strongly they have it in them to grow up and make the world a better place. That if they work hard to be smart enough and brave enough, and never give up, that each one of them can change the world someday. Hence the name of the tour.

I feel so good about this presentation. It sounds kinda lame just describing it, but I feel very strongly about the message. A huge thanks to my publisher for developing most of it, especially the powerpoint stuff, all the pictures and graphics that make it fun for the kids watching. It's just a tool - I wanna stress that. The vast majority of the time is spent interacting with the kids - just me and a microphone and them. And I really love doing it.

Here's my advice for any of you who may present to the schools. The absolute most important thing you have to do is make them laugh. Be funny if it kills you. Fake it if you have to. But be funny. And then every once in awhile, hit them with your message. That's the way to do it. And, of course, be sincere. Be yourself. Well, unless you're a weird creepy person.

I hope that's enough. Come see me at a school sometime. We have a lot of fun.

Tomorrow it's off to Phoenix, Arizona. Thanks, Georgia!


Stephanie Humphreys said...

Actually, your presentation sounds great. I've seen a school presentations lately where the presenter seems to be trying to hard to teach a lesson and appeal to the adults in the rooms. Usually it goes right over the kid's heads. Yours sounds like something the kids would really enjoy. Ever thought about bringing it to Canada?

Tamra Norton said...

I'm so glad you posted info about your school visits--great advice! I have 6 school visits scheduled this month and even though I've done dozens in the past, this gives me a fresh perspective for this round. I've seen you "do your stuff" in front of adults but would love to see you with an audience of kids. I can only imagine... Way to go, Dashner!

Irish said...

Finally saw copies of JCL in my local Borders today. They weren't in a very good spot though for attention grabbing for people wandering by. They were tucked in the back of a new release table filled with mostly adult books. So, when no one was looking I helped relocate them to a better location.

I hope that you have a good flight to Phoenix and that the snow doesn't follow you there.

tapestry100 said...

Hi JD! Sounds like you've had quite a full couple of days. I just got home from Chicago, and am happy to report that there was a nice, neat, healthy stack of JCL sitting on the front of the new release table in the kids section at the Borders on the Mile. And congrats on the B&N signing. Sounds like a great time!

Luisa Perkins said...

SO exciting; cheering you on from the sidelines!

R Alan Siler said...

Hi James. This is Alan in Georgia. So glad to know that you enjoyed yourself at the signing at our store. I can't wait for the next one! Your school presentation sounds really wonder we had such a terrific turnout for the signing! Best of luck to you!

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