Twerking with Miley Cyrus
To be clear: I've never actually twerked with Miley Cyrus.
(One student asked if I had...and they were seriously curious.)
The Miley/twerking example is one I use in my presentation to teach students that I can put a character in their mind without telling them anything at all about said character. For example, I use this sentence:
"So today, I was like, watching TV...I totally saw Miley twerking it out! Like, I...about...died!"
I have a student read the above example, then remind students I didn't tell them anything at all about the character speaking, and ask for ideas of whether they think said character is a guy or a girl, how old they are, etc.
Almost every student says teenage girl.
I ask why they think so...and these were some of the responses I received.
Aaron: Why do you think that character is a girl?
Student 1: Because guys don't twerk.
From across the room, another student chimes in, completely deadpan.
Student 2: Some guys do...
Aaron: Why do you think that character is a girl?
Male student: Duh? Because guys don't like Miley Cyrus....
Another male student: NOBODY LIKES MILEY CYRUS!
My Favorite Note
One of the things I love most about visiting schools is taking a minute to peruse their libraries. I don't know/never met the student who posted the below featured quote, but, whoever you are, I like your style. ;)
The Married Life, Bro
Another point in my presentation is when I talk about how I came up with the idea behind Salem's Vengeance. I tell the students how my wife wanted to go on a trip to IKEA, so naturally, we went on a trip to IKEA because 'Happy wife. Happy life.'
To which I received the following responses and ALL from male, middle school students.
*Aaron snorts because this kid speaks with the utter certainty of a man who's been married long enough to know the claim is valid.*
At another school, a few male students decided to boo the mantra of 'Happy wife. Happy life.' To which Aaron replied: "Booing it doesn't make it less true, gentlemen."
Whatever It Takes
Every tour, festival or book club visit I do, I'm lucky to meet tons of new people. There are always a few that you click with right away. You feel like you've known each other for years.
The Universe "clicks," if you will.
Brilliant, Kind. Honest. Fill in ALL the superlatives you can imagine. That's what this woman is to me.
Who is she?
My friend, my editor, my family -- this is Annetta Ribken Graney.
Her guiding hand has touched every single one of my stories. For all the characters, all the plot twists, all the words -- she read them first, then shaped them, whipped their arcs into shape, and wrung every last bit of emotion out of me possible to make them worthy.
We've discussed meeting in person for the last four years and what that glorious moment would be like. I had zero clue she would drive six hours just to surprise me.
But this photo is proof that we finally made it happen.
She's made every one of my stories better than they were, and coined phrases that I wish I were smart enough to imagine. Then she did it again when describing this day we finally met in person:
"One of the best hugs of my life. Sometimes there's a moment in your life that is so special, so amazing, so...profound, there are no words."
Couldn't have said it better myself. Love you, Boss Lady!
We Got That Harry Potter Love
I mean...you know I'm a conflicted Gryffindor/Slytherin. Shout out to the Rossville and Carmel Middle Schools libraries for rocking these awesome Harry Potter signs.
The Man Behind The (Salted) Minecraft Videos
Meet Gabe everybody, the Minecraft wizard himself!
I met this genius of a young man on my author visit tour in 2014. We've stayed in touch ever since.
In fact, Gabe might just be the biggest Salted fan I know. He was one of the students who helped create the Salted series study guide for other students, and then, for the past year or so, he's been the one creating all the Salted Minecraft videos...and they rock!
If you haven't watched and subscribed to Gabe's Salted Minecraft videos on YouTube, you're missing out.
Check out his latest update featuring Crayfish Cavern. (Hint: I especially like seeing the introduction to the cavern from Garrett's POV around the 4:40 marker!)
The #1 Student Question On My Indiana Tour
After every session I have with students, we open it up for a little Q&A. I've done this so many times now that most of the questions are usually of the same variety:
'How do you start a story?"
"What do you do about writer's block?"
"Are you Iron Man?"
But there's always one...oh, there's always one that shows up early on in my tour and then is repeatedly asked at a few other schools as well. But never have I had the same question asked at every...single...school.
That singular question?
"Dude, do you play Fortnite?"
The answer: No...or at least not yet. But apparently I need to play it because ALL the students are doing so. Just to double-check, (as if getting this question at thirteen differnet schools didn't suffice), I decided to ask my ten-year-old nephew about it when I saw him.
He followed me around the house talking for at least an hour about legendary weapons, various strategies, etc.
All that to say...kudos to the marketing team behind Fortnite. You're literally killing it.
Rolling Out The Red Carpet
Gotta say, I've been fortunate to visit many amazing schools and had some fantastic welcomes...but the schools this tour really took it to a whole new level.
Getting your name on the ticker-tape sign of a couple schools? Check.
Front page stories? Hamilton Heights and Kankakee Valley made it happen.
Best food? Try Bub's Burgers in Carmel, Indiana and see if you can take down their Big Ugly Burger and get your picture on the wall. (I couldn't...but just you wait, Bub's. I'm gonna get that picture on the wall sooner or later!)
Getting signed copies to reward your student readers? Belzer did!
Honestly, I could go on and on. Whether creating bulletin boards, posters, AND even an alma mater backdrop for Ball State Cardinal photo ops -- thank you to all the librarians, teachers, and students who went above and beyond to make this guy feel like a genuine rockstar and welcome me into your schools! I had a blast and can't wait to see you all again on a future tour! Until next time!
Author. Actor. Rascal.