Over the weekend, I was looking over my last few posts, and had to laugh at how many of them were about being distracted and things not going as planned. Mice, computer crashes, big trips – our lives have certainly not been orderly lately. But today’s post is not about all that. Today I am happy to report on Eva’s increasing success as an author, and how she’s been moving forward despite the various unexpected life events that have made our schedule, well, not normal as of late.
I would also like to take this moment to unsubtly reiterate that this blog is not just about my kids – their accomplishments and successes. It is instead intended to serve as an example of one way we can educate our children. If my kids have success, I hope to use those happy events to show the positive outcomes that are possible with intentional, project-based, out of the box learning. Public education is so stuck in the world of grades; I hope to continue to show the benefits of seeking real-world accolades outside the grade book.
So, with all that said, here are the fabulous things that Eva has been up to in the last couple of weeks.
1. First and foremost, Eva finished her rough draft of her next book, The Kinzy Chronicles, during the month of November for National Novel Writing Month. This was her third year participating, and she’s doubled her word count goal each year. This time she surpassed her goal of 8,000 words.
The Kinzy Chronicles is a series of short stories exploring the life of her stuffed koala by the same name. Over the years, Kinzy has become quite a fixture in our family, with his own interesting and complex personality, and a rather involved back story. Kinzy is a bit egotistical, a bit dull (though he thinks himself very smart), and bit impulsive. He stars in his own cooking show, and recently married another koala named Mary Jane. He’s quite hilarious.
Writing The Kinzy Chronicles was a wonderful exercise in character development. Because his character is so established in our family vernacular, Eva had to constantly remind herself that the reader didn’t have the same context that we do. The editing process on this piece will be much more extensive than it has in the past, partly because we expect more from Eva with each book experience, and partly because relating the subtleties of Kinzy’s character is a difficult challenge. We’re taking a break this month, but will jump back into it once January rolls around. We are looking towards May as the release date for the completed book.
2. A couple of weeks ago, Eva received her first official request to give a classroom presentation about being an author. Though we’re still working out the details, we know that she’ll be speaking to three different sixth grade classrooms at our local Dorothy Moses Elementary School. The kids will watch Eva’s lecture videos first, and then be prepared with questions. I know Eva will be nervous when the day comes, but we’re both super excited about the opportunity!
3. Speaking of presentations, last week I received an email from Tabitha Lang, who works for EduTech, and whom we met at the the North Dakota Educator’s Association conference last month. EduTech works to promote and support technology in public schools across the state. Tabitha asked if Eva and I could come to their staff retreat and talk about how we’ve used technology in Eva’s authorship project. We of course said yes, and Eva and I met with a dozen delightful educators. We talked about Eva’s writing process and highlighted our use of WordPress, Lulu, NaNoWriMo, and basic video editing software.
They were very excited about our work and Eva’s presentation skills; we’re now discussing the possibilities of Eva using Skype to connect with students in classrooms across the state and with teachers in various educator conferences.
4. While we were with the EduTech folks, Tabitha asked if we had ever heard of Skype an Author, which is a national project that connects authors of children’s books with classrooms across the country. Authors Skype into K-12 classrooms and provide 15-30 minutes of conversation, Q&A, advice, etc. Skype an Author maintains a database of approved authors that schools can contact. I had never heard of the project, but I looked it up right away when we got home. Impressed by their mission, I sent off a quick email to the director, and by the end of the day, Eva had her own official profile as a Skype an Author author. The project has already featured her on her homepage as their organization’s newest and youngest author.
5. Another exciting event last week had to do with Eva’s financial profits from book sales. Over the last two years, Eva has made over $300 in sales, and put aside some paid-for stock that she can take with her to shows. For both Eva and Ian, we have always required that all money earned through their passions (writing income for Eva, gig money for Ian, various award money for both), had to be either saved or reinvested into that passion. Ian has purchased recording equipment, cymbals, bells, drums, sticks, and other music-related items with his earned gig money over the years. Until now, Eva’s projects haven’t generated income, but that’s all changed with her book sales. Last week, Eva took her book earnings and purchased her very own laptop notebook. It’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. She likes it because it’s so small – sized just for her. Now she’ll be able to write whenever she likes, wherever she likes. She is so insanely proud that she bought this with her own earned money. I’m pretty proud of her too.
6. And last but not least, Eva is in a current competition to be included in a child-authored version of a book called Beautiful Women of North Dakota. Last spring, children were invited to interview a “beautiful woman” and tell her story in an article. They had to photograph the interviewee as well, and submit their journalistic story to Beautiful Women. Eva interviewed Ali LaRock, a local artist and friend of the family. Ali did the artwork for Ian’s Animal Attack cards, and has collaborated with my dear husband Jamie on two short films (Cornerboys and House of the Yaga) and provided the artwork for his recent novel Barking Mad. The Beautiful Women entries will be judged this week.
Before I close, I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that though Eva is our official family child-author, Ian has also had some recent publication success. This semester while studying the Canterbury Tales, we had the kids each write a modern tale of their own, in the Canterbury Tales style. Ian’s was so good that we sent it off to Creative Kids Magazine. We just received notice that his story was in fact, accepted to the magazine, and will be published sometime in the next year. I’ll let you know when it comes out.
So it’s all pretty exciting! I can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring for Eva and Ian both. If we go at the pace that 2011 established, I’m gonna need a manager!
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