Monday, 1 March 2010

Skyping, blogging, and all that jazz...

Well, this is a very big day: my first ABBA post, and my very first Skype chat with a school. I was going to blog about something very thoughtful and interesting and meaningful, but am so excited at the thought of stepping boldly forth at the forefront of technology (oh yeah!), that I'm going to blog about that instead. So the meaningful stuff will have to wait till next time. I know, I know, you're dreadfully disappointed - well, you'll just have to live with it.

So - Dame Alice School in Bedford contacted me a while ago and asked if I'd be interested in trying out a Skype author chat with them. We exchanged a few thoughts, but then, not hearing anything more for a while, I thought it probably wasn't going to happen. But just before 12, the little green symbol started bleeping, and we were in business.

And it was lovely! Very relaxed: I didn't have to dress up, I didn't have to fret about finding my way to a school I'd never been to before, I didn't have to drive to the other side of the country. But I did have the chance to talk to some delightful students about writing and reading and to answer quite a few qustions - and to ask some.

It was a great opportunity to find out a bit about what they're reading and what they've enjoyed reading - that would be Twilight, obviously, and then more Twilight; but they also got a lot out of reading The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and The Book Thief, they would like to read more about issues, such as teenage pregnancy and bullying; they find there aren't many books about those sorts of issues. Hm, interesting... I recommended Ellen Renner's Castle of Secrets for the younger ones; I've just read it, so it was fresh in my mind. The characters are wonderful (especially the charismatically evil Prime Minister), the story grips and intrigues and the writing is enchanting. And of course I recommended my books. Well, I think I did.

I see a lot of potential for Skype chatting. It seems a very good way for children to talk to published writers, and for writers to connect directly with readers. And interacting with that particular variety of new technology makes me feel a bit better about still not quite having got the hang of Facebook. So thank you very much to the students at Dame Alice School, and to their lovely librairan, Suzanna: I really enjoyed talking to you!

I have, in fact, done so much talking in the last couple of days that my voice sounds like a rusty saw. This is because I was at the SAS conference in Coventry, when thirty six children's writers venture, pale and nervously blinking, out of their huts, attics and cafes, to gather together and talk... and talk... and talk. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones; it was particularly good to meet Sarwat Chadda and Paul Dowswell, whose books I've reviewed for Armadillo. And I've heard about new books I'm looking forward to reading, particularly Inbali Iserles' books, The Bloodstone Bird and The Tygrine Cat.

However - enough of all this skyping and blogging and Facebooking and whatnot. It really is time to retreat to the hut and do some writing.

13 comments:

Anne said...

I'm very jealous. I have never skyped. I have dressed up, driven, parked, talked, smiled, written my name on scraps of paper and then come home.
On the other hand if I didn't go out to do school visits then people might find me attached to my keyboards with cobwebs growing over me.
Anne

karen ball said...

I've just ordered a copy of Ellen's book. I can't wait to read it. How 21st-century - to Skype with a school.

Lucy Coats said...

I do love technology! What a great idea--a Skype chat with a whole class. Genius. I'm sure the pupils at Dame Alice had a great time with you, Sue. And I just wish I'd been at Covenry to share in some of that talk talk talking. Next time!

Lucy Coats @http://www.scribblecitycentral.blogspot.com

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

A brilliant idea Sue. What an innovative librarian. The thought of not having to catch a tube or train lugging a heavy case, arriving either way too early, or frantic because I might be late, appeals. With a video connection it might still requite a bit of hair brushing and getting out of pjamas! (perhaps even desk tidying unless I could manage to spread myself right across the screen... on second thoughts... maybe a bit too scary!)

Kate Collings said...

Oh how times have changed from when I was at school - even at university.

I remember really looking forward to having guest visitors in to talk to us. It always made my the hair on my neck stand on end. I wonder if this new technology would have the same effect?

Clearly it did for you, I'm so pleased you enjoyed your first skype experience. Now can you teach me???

Book Maven said...

I am looking forward to Skyping with schools - might have to get a videocamera though as the little inbuilt camera on my laptop makes movement a little restricted. Well done, Sue!

And for those who don't know, Ellen Renner's book is called Castle of Shadows ...

Linda Strachan said...

Welcome to ABBA Sue and a great first post.
Well done mastering the technology it sounds like great fun. I do think using skype or something similar will become much more common in the next few years but I hope it doesn't replace actual school visits completely!

Sue Purkiss said...

Bother! I got the title of Ellen's book wrong earlier on today, realised it and was determined to get it right - but didn't. Sorry!Mind you, I do think the secrets in it are more significant than the shadows.

I'm sure skyping won't replace school visits, but it could well turn out to be useful adjunct.

Sue

Ellen Renner said...

Great first post, Sue. Your Skype experience sounds useful and lots of fun. I wonder if it also might be useful as a lead up to or follow on from actual school visits? And thank you for recommending my book! I do hope you remembered to mention your own...

BucksWriter said...

I really recommend Skype as it's easy to get the hang of and free to use. I speak to my two year old nephew using it twice a week (he lives in America), and even when the picture is a little jumpy it's still wonderful to hear his voice and see his smile!

Leslie Wilson said...

Good blog, Sue!!

Leslie

Sue Barrow said...

I really enjoyed reading your first blog Sue - what a great experience! Bit cheeky to ask but do schools pay the same for a skype 'visit' as they do if you're there in person?

adele said...

Welcome to ABBA, Sue! Wonderful to see SKPE used so imaginatively.