I include this photo of me from my first dance recital in my author presentations. I do this for several reasons. One very important reason is that dance, like writing, is a passion of mine. I explain to students that I include my passion for dance in many of my fiction stories. Sometimes it is the
theme of my story or sometimes it's just the use of a dance term or the mention of a tutu or a pair tap shoes.
Dance is a part of who I am. I encourage students to think about what they have a passion for and how they can include their passion in their writing. Another reason I like to show this photo is that there are usually students who are dancers themselves in the audience. Sometimes they have a brother, sister, or a friend who dances. I like to make them feel like we have something in common. I think it helps them feel connected to me. It's important to remind them that I was a child once, just like them and that they too can become authors just like me.
After a recent school visit a student approached me and asked if I always dreamed of being an author when I grew up. No one had ever asked me that question before. After a brief pause, I was honest. I explained to her although I loved to read and write when I was growing up, I never dreamed of being an author. I wanted to be a dance teacher. That dream came true. I told her that your dreams (because I believe you should have more than one) might change throughout your life and that I didn't dream of becoming an author until I had children of my own.
My dream now? It is that both my dancing and writing will teach, inspire, and touch children in some way just as each child teaches, inspires, and touches me.