Early Friday morning, September 27th, I pushed through the doors of Licking Valley High School in Newark, Ohio, the wide Ohio sky just shooting through with light behind me. I had flown in late the night before from California to engage in a school wide “author visit.” Licking Valley had selected my indie young adult novel, Songs for a Teenage Nomad, for their school-wide summer reading book and had invited me to spend the day with them.
I could never have imagined the amazing day that awaited me.
Songs was published in June 2007 by a California micro-press, Hip Pocket Press, and throughout the course of a year, won several awards, including the Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Children’s/Young Adult Fiction and a silver medal for the IPPY awards for Young Adult Fiction. As a veteran high school teacher of over ten years, I’ve written curriculum for the book available on my website and have toured schools along the west coast, Hawaii and, now, Ohio doing writing workshops and readings with the book.
The road has been exciting, challenging and a virtual roller coaster of a learning curve. Some days, I wondered if it was worth all the hard work, especially when going up against the publicity machines of larger houses. My day in Ohio reminded me why I wrote a book for teenagers in the first place. Not only was I treated like royalty – balloons, signs, that sweetheart with the candy bars! – but the students came prepared with in-depth questions about the book and we ended up in an incredible conversation about story, character, motivation. I was in author heaven: a whole school of students and teachers who had read my book and wanted to engage with it in such a meaningful way!