This June, I had the honor of traveling the state of Kansas to offer a mystery writing workshop. I spent a good deal of time back in September and October setting this up, but I think it was well worth it.
We visited TEN libraries across the state of Kansas! While I failed to take a picture of the tenth (Salina), I think this photo of Margot inside their children’s section accurately summarizes how we all felt by library #10.
We set out in Leviathan (our minivan) and visited some family along the way. My kids hadn’t seen Aunt Lena and Uncle Tom for far too long–and that goes double for Nana. One huge accomplishment was appearing on the front page of my “hometown” newspaper. Newton, Kansas, is where I attended elementary school and also where I first came across the term “hometown.” As a nine-year-old, I always wondered what my baseball card would say for “hometown.” Even at that age, I’d already lived in three states and six towns, so it could’ve said anything. Luckily, I never made it to the Majors. Or the Minors. Or my high school team. Maybe “luckily” isn’t the right word…
“Science” was probably the key term for our travels. Between Dodge City and Newton, we visited the Cosmosphere in Hutch. For our Eureka/Chanute leg of the trip, we stayed at a working farm near Severy, Kansas, giving the kids great exposure to ducks, chickens, pigs, sheep, and even cattle. Throughout, we did several “light experiments” involving Margot’s new telescope and my SLR camera. And in Manhattan, we bought a volcano experiment, which we used with cousins upon our return to Garden.
Okay, so not all of the workshops were well attended. The lowest number was one attendee. Thankfully, the librarian sat in, otherwise I would’ve been presenting to one person. (Awkward…) Even then, however, I got to meet a young, aspiring author, and he walked away with several new ideas for fiction and, hopefully, a better understanding of the novel as an art form.
One thing writers and educators have in common is an obsession with effect rate. How effective is this teaching method? How many sales did this ad service produce? Who took my pen? (At least, these are things I say all the time.)
I visited ten libraries across my home state and they all paid my mileage to make the trip. Win-win. Each library bought a copy of my book and put it into circulation for their patrons. Win-win. I sold a total of 26 books in twelve days, which was less than I brought but more than I would’ve sold otherwise. Also, a number of libraries and individuals purchased the book ahead of time. The biggest win of all, however, was that I met numerous independent and aspiring authors and left them with some helpful tools. Who knows what fruits that will bear? I’m excited to find out!