My Fears Were Not Realized

When I agreed to speak to 200 eighth graders, I thought, “How hard can it be? Adults talk to kids all the time.” But THIS adult has very little interaction with anyone under the age of 25 so needless to say, the fear set in very quickly.

While working on my presentation, I asked author friends with more experience with 13- and 14-year olds for advice, which only made me MORE nervous:

  • Get them involved
  • Be sure to inspire kids who love to write AND those who hate it
  • Throw candy at them
  • Try to incorporate what they’re currently learning
  • And never, ever let them see that you’re scared

I’m happy to report that my fears were not realized. Despite NUMEROUS suggestions, I did not bring candy as a reward for asking questions – but I did threaten to dance if no one spoke up. (They thought that was a great idea. I did not dance.) Before I even started, one student asked if we could do a handshake, and by the time his teacher arrived we’d mastered it. While at lunch, a student stopped me in the hall to tell me that she really enjoyed my talk and that I’m very inspiring. Awwwww! Quite a few students chatted with me after the talk ended, one said she liked my shoes, another said I’m pretty, and there were lots of questions about how to get published.

I didn’t know quite what to expect going into the day, but I was floored by how sweet and smart and inquisitive the students were. I’ve already told the school I’d be happy to do this again next year, and I’m actually looking forward to speaking at more schools!

I meant to take pictures with all four groups but didn’t remember until the end of the day. To ALL the 8th graders and their teachers at Cedar Springs Middle School: THANK YOU for such a fun day. I hope you took as much away from the day as I did.


About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. Judy Hooyenga

    I think being short helps. You’re not intimidating to these kids, so they listened to you. But I’m not biased

  2. Sarah

    I was going to say that one of the tips should be to dress cool and you nailed it! Compliments on your shoes proves that. 😉

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