Today is my birthday. I’ve reached an age when birthdays aren’t quite as fun as they used to be. However, I’ve never been one to turn down an opportunity to celebrate.
And I have lots to celebrate.
Last night, I gave another presentation about my creative process, my book, and my experience in self-publishing. It was held at Samantha’s Cafe, where retro décor juxtaposed exposed brick walls, making it feel like a venue in TriBeCa rather than in Glens Falls. We had books there for sale, although many who attended not only had already read the book, but brought it for me to sign. And, although the room could have squeezed in more attendees, the tables were filled.
Adrenaline kicked in and my presentation took off. I was passionate as ever about the subject matter, and eagerly shared my story with the group. When speaking about how I thought of the story, I paused to ask, “How many of you are teachers?”
Almost every person raised a hand.
I shared my story about student teaching without missing a beat; little did they know my heart had missed a few. Because, you see…This was what I’d been waiting for.
During a recent online interview, I was asked: How do you hope this book affects its readers?
My response? I hope to evoke an emotional reaction in my readers. I’m also eager to hear from academics, specifically American literature experts who know The Catcher in the Rye as well as I do. I hope they would appreciate the many Catcher references, and I hope they would find my characters believable.
Most in the room were high school English teachers, who acknowledged my references to Salinger and The Catcher in the Rye with reaffirming nods and appreciative smiles. Immediately after my talk, one teacher wanted to know if I’d be willing to present to such-and-such group.
“How about sich-and-such group?”
“I would love to!”
“What about sach-and-such?”
“Are you booking into 2015 or would you be able to do something in September?”
“Um…I think I can squeeze something in in September!” *happy belly-flies*
Then I was asked (by more than one teacher) to inscribe books not to individuals, but to schools where they planned to donate my book.
My heart nearly sprouted wings.
One of the attendees happened to be my high school superintendent, Mr. Parker, who had reread The Catcher in the Rye in preparation for reading Catcher’s Keeper. During the Q&A, his nostalgia for Holden and his siblings was evident. I was particularly keen to hear what he thought of my book.
He approached me after my talk, my book opened to the very last page. I knew before looking what he was going to ask me about: the unfavorable review I’d received on an earlier version of the book, which is now part of the Discussion Questions at the end.
“What is this person saying here?” he asked.
“Well, this reviewer apparently hated The Catcher in the Rye and also hated Catcher’s Keeper.”
Mr. Parker looked at me as if I were still an impressionable teenager under his academic care.
“Well, I loved them both!” he said. He shared with me he’d be seeing my old guidance counselor and couldn’t wait to share it with him—and promptly made my night.
Here is my birthday wish: I want to share my book with schools. I want to visit schools, present to teachers and students who are studying American Literature. This is what I plan to offer exclusive to schools:
- Author visit and presentation, tailored for high-school students
- Author responses to discussion questions – including an unpublished (controversial) question
- Teacher lesson plan, assessment, and key – focusing on Catcher references and parallels
- Teacher lesson plan: banned book debate/activity
What do you say, teacher friends? Let’s work together now to put something on the calendar for the 2014-2015 academic year!
I’ll be waiting eagerly to hear from you. But for now, I have some candles to blow out.