Thursday, April 24, 2008

William Allen White Award!

I had a great time at the Young Writers’ Conference in Emporia last week, and I’ll post more about it soon. . .

. . . but speaking of Emporia, I found out that Airball: My Life in Briefs won this year’s William Allen White Award (which is named after famed Emporia newspaper editor William Allen White and is headquartered at Emporia State University). Hooray!

I’ll certainly post more about the award soon, too. This has been a crazy-busy week. Tomorrow I’m heading down to Andale Elementary (outside Wichita) to do a school visit for their William Allen White celebration.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Young Writers’ Conference

Saturday I’ll be talking to students in fifth through twelfth grades at the Young Writers Conference in Emporia, Kansas, and as the time draws nearer, I’m getting more and more excited (nervous, too, but mostly excited). This conference is a very big deal. In the last two days I’ve been interviewed by an Emporia newspaper and an Emporia radio station. Everyone down that way is really gearing up for a great time.

When I do presentations, I tell kids they can do whatever they set their minds to do. I’m usually referring to their pursuit of talents and dreams such as writing, dance, sports, music, acting, or other difficult and unconventional careers. But it applies to public speaking, too. Who among us is not terrified of speaking in front of an audience? Everyone. It’s universal. When I began writing, I never knew that a writer’s career would entail so much public speaking—school visits, conferences, workshops, book fairs, awards banquets, panel discussions. At first, I was terrified. And I still am to a certain extent. I don’t think the fear of public speaking ever completely goes away. But the more I do it, the more I enjoy it. And now I find speaking in public (dare I say it?). . . fun. Really.

So for kids out there whose knees knock together when they have to stand in front of their classmates and give an oral book report, or for writers whose knees knock together when they have to stand in front of other writers to speak at a conference, or for anyone whose knees knock together at the very thought of standing in front of an audience for any reason, I say: Do it anyway. It gets easier with practice, you’re probably a better speaker than you think you are, and if you do it enough, you might find you like it!

Go, Mize Elementary!

Wow. What a great visit I had at Mize Elementary last Friday. I talked with the third, fourth, and fifth grades, and the kids were great. They listened and asked terrific questions, and their teachers told me afterward that the presentation inspired them to come up with new writing projects of their own. I owe a big thank you to fifth grade teacher Suann Foster for inviting me.

Go, Mize!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mize Elementary

Tomorrow, Friday, April 11, I will be visiting Mize Elementary in Shawnee, Kansas. I love talking to kids about writing. Heck, I love talking to anybody who’ll listen about writing. But I especially like talking to kids because I hope that if a budding young writer—or musician or actor or athlete or any kid who would like to take an unconventional career path—is sitting in the audience, he or she will see that it can be done. It’s not easy, but if you work and study and learn and keep at it, writing can be your career.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Anyone who knows me—or has read Airball: My Life in Briefs—knows I am a hard-core Jayhawk basketball fan. I graduated from the University of Kansas in 1988, the year the Jayhawks last won the national championship, and they’ve been breaking my heart every basketball season since.

Until now. Last night, in San Antonio, Texas, my beloved Jayhawks did it again. In an incredible, heart-stopping nail-biter, they came from behind to win 75–68 in overtime against a fabulous Memphis team.

So indulge me just a little, because at the risk of offending everyone in Memphis, North Carolina, and Missouri, I have to say:

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! Go, KU!