Looks like a good week coming up. Monday is lunch with an old friend, Laurie Edmondson, a Drury University professor in the school of Education and Child Development, with whom I wrote a book about writing a few years ago.
Thursday evening is the annual Missouri Writers Hall of Fame Student Awards Banquet. I had the pleasure to help start the organization with three others in 1993. At this event four of us will read the winning works of area students who were selected from entries in the LAD Fair (sponsored by the Language Arts Department at Missouri State University in Springfield), itself an annual event that attracts around 7,000 student entries each year.
Friday evening is the annual banquet sponsored by The Breech School of Business at Drury. The school is named for Drury graduate Ernie Breech who, during his brilliant career, served as head of Ford Motor Company and Trans World Airlines. I was inducted into the Breech School of Business Hall of Fame in 2004. This year an old fraternity brother is being inducted so I look forward to seeing him again after all these years.
Saturday from 10:00 – 12:00 I’ll sign my newest book, CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS, at Barnes & Noble in Springfield.
Otherwise it looks like a good week for writing and I know exactly what I’ll be working on. Unless, of course, something else comes up. Which, of course, is likely to happen.
Sometimes people who are not in the business ask how it’s possible to be at work on so many books at once. Here’s part of the answer. As of now:
1) Last Friday I completed the third draft of the long story I’ve been mentioning. I promptly sent it out. I’ll continue to fact check a bit but basically I’m in a waiting period on that one for now.
2) A story in verse that I co-wrote with Sandy Asher is with an editor who says she likes it but wants to make some suggestions. The play that grew from it (JESSE AND GRACE) was published some time ago and has been produced. The current interest in publishing the story as a book might or might not lead to a contract but of course we’re eager to see what she has to say. We expect to receive her notes later this week. For now, I wait.
3) I’m working on a 200+ page professional book with Mary Jo Fresch. We wrote a 9,000 word prospectus, waited for readers to respond, and now need to get back together to plan how to finish the book. But for unrelated reasons, my writing partner is involved in something else for a while so for now, I wait.
4) Early last week I completed a new book of poems, a work that began years ago. I don’t want to know how many times I rewrote that manuscript or how many of the original poems I eventually replaced. Now it’s done and that feels good. It has no artist yet and no pub date. Next step will be when I hear from the copyeditor with a list of questions. For now, of course, I wait.
5) I’ve proposed to write an expanded version of a professional book co-authored with Laurie Edmondson. Tentative interest has been expressed by a publisher but further discussion probably won’t happen until July or perhaps September. For now? Wait.
6) I wrote poems for three books for the classroom: grades 4, 5, and 6, all supporting specific core curriculum subjects. My co-author for content is Tim Rasinski. After completing my work, the publisher elected to roll all three books into one. Some work remains to be done but the combined title is on track for publication this fall. For now I have nothing to do but wait.
There are several other manuscripts out for review, a typical situation for a writer. At the moment I have nine, including a couple I wrote with Jane Yolen and a collaboration with Cheryl Harness.
So as of today I am officially out of work on all fifteen projects. Something new could drop in my lap any time, and usually does, but for now I can do one of two things. Write or wait. I’m not good at waiting.
My responsibilities as poet laureate for Drury University include hosting events meant to stimulate interest in writing among students in elementary, middle, and high schools. One of our most successful ones was in 2008. It was billed as “A Celebration of Writing.” Partnering with Drury, MOREnet, and Springfield Public Libraries, we used videoconferencing and web streaming, plus live audiences of Springfield students from Boyd, Pipkin, and Central, to reach elementary, middle, and high school students in roughly 40 classes in four states.
I stood on stage in Lay Hall on the Drury campus and talked to live audiences for each of the three groups. On each occasion there were classes of students on the screen above my head so I could look up at them; and other kids, who were attending via steaming, were could watch and send questions during the session. Dr. Lauren Edmondson, interim director of the School of Education and Child Development, assisted and handed me questions that were e-mailed or texted in. I hasten to point out that the picture shows us on a different occasion and that is NOT an alcoholic beverage in our glasses!
Laurie and I have decided the time has come to reprise “A Celebration of Writing” and are planning it for late April. If you or someone you know might be interested in learning more as we go, please let me know to add you to the list. At this point I don’t know how far we can reach with the streaming. On a previous occasion I think we had kids in eleven states tuned in, but I’m still in the stage of exploring what’s possible for this event.
My new DVD series, LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON is being officially introduced this weekend at International Reading Association’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. I don’t know how many will attend this year’s event but it will be well over 10,000 from the U.S. and numerous other countries.
I’ve posted about this kit before but I’d like to emphasize that a college graduate course is now available based on the DVDs, teachers’ guide book, and concept.
Dr. Lauren Edmondson, my co-author for the guide book and student writing journal, will teach the online course and can be reached for further information at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org . Laurie is also the Interim Director of the School of Education and Child Development at Drury University.
She and I worked together to create this class to appeal to teachers who want to enhance their skills for teaching writing to students in grades approximately 3-5. In districts where the kits are provided to elementary teachers, the class is a special opportunity to put LET’S WRITE to work. Laurie is ready and eager to hear from anyone who wants to know more about this unique course. Please pass this information along to others who might like to take a graduate course based on my forty years of work with students combined with Laurie’s many years of experience teaching in the classroom and teaching teachers to prepare for the classroom.
Writing partner Laurie Edmondson and I enjoyed the launch party on Thursday of our new kit, LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. Here are a few pics from the party. Lots of people came so we had plenty of opportunities to show off the new DVDs, teacher guide, student writing journal, and three trade books used as examples for some of the lessons. We go national on the 19th at IRA in San Antonio but I bet it won’t be any more fun than we had at Drury on Thursday.
I’m grateful to Drury University, especially President Todd Parnell and former Director of the School of Education and Child Development Chris Craig for their encouragement and support throughout the project. The university provided the studio and financed the production of the DVDs and Brian Shipman used his considerable talents to produce and direct them.
This is a project I began as Drury’s Poet Laureate and I’m pleased to say that it reflects a true collaboration involving the university, co-author and interim Director of the School of Education and Child Development Laurie Edmondson, and me. There’s even an online graduate course offered to those who wish to take LET’S WRITE for credit. One teacher has already written about LET’S WRITE as part of her master’s program.
Many others gave valuable assistance along the way, particularly technology expert Damon Hargraves who developed the prototype for the DVD format we eventually selected.
Now comes the hard part: getting out the word to elementary schools across the country that we have a unique teaching tool to help students develop their writing skills. We’re ready when everyone else is! Here’s the contact information for anyone who wants to learn more and/or place an order.