Part of being an author is working at blatant self-promotion. From the first time a writer submits a piece to a publisher to selling individual copies at a book fair, one has to be a seller, not my strong suit. Part of marketing Secondhand Summer has been appearing in libraries for readings, selling books at fairs and bazaars, as well as making visits to schools. This was a good match with Alaska Book Week 2016.
This week I did a bit of each, including visits to three libraries and three schools from Anchorage to Homer. Fall is a great time to be driving the Peninsula with less traffic, dramatic leaf colors, and a good chance to have a bull moose cross your path — literally. The chance of slick roads is low and the fall sunsets and sunrises on the Kenai are a dramatic light show. Couple that with great meals in the Ninilchik with sister Amy and you have the makings of a pretty good road trip.
Of all my different events last week, I found the time at the schools the most satisfying. Thanks to teacher, Mike Gustkey, my visit to Kenai Middle School was well organized and comprehensive. Up to three classes at time crowded into the library, and wrote energetically to a prepared prompt. A teacher of writing, I know the challenge of getting students to engage in writing tasks. Yet, these students hopped right to it and wrote energetically. Many were eager to share their writings with the group. It this is not an accident. This is result of teachers working with student regularly to improve their writing and boost their writing confidence. Thanks Kenai Middle School!
During my trips Homer Middle and Soldotna High, I found similar groups of teens who where friendly and polite as I shared my book with them and told my story of life in the last century on the Kenai. It’s easy to forget how different the world of today’s children from the Alaska I grew up in. Sure, we have the obvious impact of cell phone and computer technology in our lives, but more significant to me was change from a remote homestead lifestyle here to a rural or suburban life with lots of paved road, public utilities, and economic networks. These kids don’t see themselves as backwoods sourdoughs, who have to hunt, fish and farm for a living. Their world is little different from their counterparts in Anchorage, Seattle, or California. That being said, there is an obvious appreciation by many for the rich environment where they live.
Teachers Bonnie Jason (Homer Middle) and Nicole Hewitt (SoHi) are educators who work hard each day to make students safe and help them learn. There classes make me proud to be an educator, and I am honored that they think I have something to add to their teaching.
It’s great to be home this week looking over Bear Lake as I write, but we all know that being away is what makes home so special. That is true even when I’ve been visiting new friends and old the beautiful Kenai Peninsula.