I was invited to speak at the Young Writer’s Conference at Northwest Rankin High School in Brandon, MS, last week. So was John Floyd, and a writer from The Clarion Ledger. Since I was told I would be speaking to a group of about a dozen rising 7th graders, I thought they’d enjoy hearing from my son, John, whose e-book (The Legend of Roger) was published about a year ago. He isn’t much older than those kids, and I hoped they would think it was pretty cool that he was an author.

Didn’t take long to determine that nearly all those kids enjoy series! Harry Potter? Yep, a whole bunch of those kids had read most (or all) of the books and seen the movies. Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Oh, yes. The kids all laughed when I told them that when my wife and I drove our son to school to start the new year, we were going to roll down the window after he was out of the car and yell, “BYE, SWEETIE!” to him. Several of the kids have read The Hunger Games and the two novels from Suzanne Collins that followed, and others have enjoyed the Percy Jackson series.

John and I had a blast with these kids and their teacher, Cindy Christian! Back row: Cindy, John, and me.

We talked about suspense in writing, too. John talked about how much he enjoyed ending chapters of his novel with cliffhangers, and the kids and I made up a tense situation on the fly: a kid has something in a jar or box that’s going to blow up (i.e. a firecracker), and that kid plans to have the firecracker go off and scare someone as a joke. But then a friend of the person who put the box there walks by and is about to open the box…just as the firecracker is about to go off…and could get hurt!!! Then, I told the kids, not only does the scene end–creating the cliffhanger–but we go to another scene with different people. That way we’re reading the next chapter while wondering what’s going to happen to the person about to open the box with the firecracker. Will that person get hurt? Or is the firecracker a dud and doesn’t go off?

What’s on the menu in the cafeteria? Corn dogs? Tater tots?

I spoke to the Friends of the Library in Tupelo, MS, on June 26 and really enjoyed meeting Friends president Margaret Gratz and the nice folks that keep that group running. I stopped at The Book Mart in Starkville on my way home and ran into Starkville children’s author Laurie Parker, someone I’ve admired for years. Store manager Carolyn Abadie was kind enough to get a picture of us:

Laurie looks great. The picture of me is slightly better than my new driver’s license photo.

And here’s a picture of me at Cajun Fest, my church’s annual fundraiser, from late May. One thing I’ve learned over the years about selling books: not everyone comes to the initial launch of a book. There are lots of folks who enjoy buying a book and meeting or visiting with an author at a place that’s comfortable for them…and that’s absolutely fine with me!

Do you want me to sign my name, or forge the name of another author?

Upcoming author appearances:

John Floyd: the Pearl public library on July 26 at noon
John Floyd: the Mississippi Writer’s Guild conference in Meridian on August 3-4
Valerie Winn has several Coast-area signings in August and September
Joe Lee will speak at the Starkville public library on September 12 at noon
Valerie, Joe, and John will be at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs on October 12
John will be at Main Street Books in Hattiesburg on December 2 at 4pm
Joe and John will speak and sign books at the Belzoni public library on December 5 at 6:30pm

It’s summertime…looking for something to read on your Kindle while poolside or at the beach? Here are some great ideas!!!

VALERIE WINN – Forsaking Mimosa
JOHN FLOYD – Deception
JOHN FLOYD – Clockwork
JOE LEE – The Magnolia Triangle
JOE LEE – The Long Road Home
JOE LEE – Last Chance Texaco
JOHN LEE – The Legend of Roger

If you’re interested in having any of the Dogwood Press authors speak to your group, answer an email, or sign an autographed book, give us a shout by visiting See you soon!!!

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