‘Tis the season…”
For some reason the spring brings a flood of emails from children asking me questions about my books, how I write them, and how I became an author. They seem to come from specific cities, so I assume one of my stories is part of a curriculum unit. I never mind writing back. The children ask good questions. They may ask the same question over and over again as I hear from different classes. That’s okay. Standard questions (Where do you get your ideas?) have standard answers. (I get ideas from the same place you do. The world is full of ideas. It’s a matter of keeping your eyes and ears open and learning how to recognize a good story idea when it shows up. Another source for good ideas is to write about things that actually happened to you. If you like, you can use your imagination to make the story even more interesting.)
I save the common answers to the common questions on my computer. I can drop them in with a couple of keystrokes.
What drives me crazy is that many children, I suspect, have no idea how email works. I’m afraid some of their teachers have the same problem. You can have invented spelling when you write a story. You can’t have it when you’re sending email. If you’re off one number or letter, the answer I send you is going to come back to me with a notice: undeliverable. The same applies to upper and lower case. Get it wrong and I have no way to contact you.
I suppose I could figure it out. If Joe gives his address as email@example.com, he probably means firstname.lastname@example.org. I could probably find the correct address if I played around with it. But why should I? If it isn’t important enough to Joe to write his email address correctly, why should I take the time? There’s a life lesson here. Don’t count on other people fixing your mistakes.
A lot of teachers are the same, I’m afraid. They send the proper email address. However, what they often fail to realize is that the school district’s email system has a layer of filters that block outside email. There’s nothing wrong with that. It serves to protect children from the trolls trolling the internet. The problem is that I can’t write back if my answer is not going to be accepted by the server. I need an address that will allow my response to go through.
I always write back when children send me email. If you don’t hear from me within a week, it means something’s wrong with the address you’ve given me. Write to me again and send me an address that will work.