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Posts Tagged ‘chalk talk’

An Author’s Week

Written on Sunday, August 3rd, 2008 [permanent link]

There’s no off-season for an author: In the last week of July — between taking Cub Scouts to a baseball game, shuttling my kids to work at Colonial Williamsburg and doing a Chester Comix contract extension with the Daily Press — I got three chances to re-energize with readers. Nothing brings me awake again like talking to parents and drawing with students.

My week started with a Sunday night book signing at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center. I rushed there from the Richmond Braves game that I had led the Cubbies to — I was still wearing my olive green Scout leader pants behind the table full o’ comix. It may seem a weird time to go to work, but Sunday afternoons at the Visitor Center I can visit with many families coming out of the Historic Area excited about history after a full weekend in the 18th Century. A two-hour signing there usually flies by.

On Tuesday I went to Fort Belvoir in Northern Virginia for an appearance at a library summer reading program. We met in a neighborhood clubhouse because the crowd was too big for the tiny 1950s library building on base. I’ve been at this long enough that now some of the kids in the audience have read my books before I get there – which must happen to other authors all the time but has been a rare situation for me in the past decade. I gave my standard one-hour chalk talk (which is still fun for me because there’s a lot of interaction with the kids as I draw on an overhead projector) and then spent an hour signing books and chatting with kids one-on-one. Thanks to the librarian, Richard Freeman, everyone at the Ft. Belvoir chalk talk got their own comic to take home.

And sometimes art is hard work!!! The photo above is from a mini-residency I did Thursday at Charles City County for a summer school program. In my longer appearances I give the students several templates to work with: some panels to make a story or a pencilled male or female figure to design their own character. Here we’re trying to get the hair just right on a female superhero.

This is the best part — seeing what bold ideas come out of the students. I volunteered for 10 years in the art classes at Matthew Whaley Elementary while my sons went there, and this creative time in Charles City felt a lot like that. I love teaching!!!! (One important point I always make: you CAN talk and draw at the same time. I encourage it. I never understood why the teachers kept saying the kids had to be quiet as they created – how do they think brainstorming works, anyway??)

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Chester crab comics