"So Steve, how's the book doing?"

It’s a question I keep getting asked. Until yesterday, I wasn’t sure how to respond.

I’ve sold a couple of hundred copies, some via Amazon and some I’ve sold directly, and the book launch is still a month away, so I guess that’s pretty good. I suppose if sales are the measure of how the book is doing, I won’t know until after the main publicity burst around the launch on 26 March.

Screenshot 2019-02-18 13.48.06.png

If visits to my Squarespace website where the novel is featured are any guide, interest is growing.

There are now three bookshops - Readings in Carlton, the National Library Bookshop and Book Face in Gungahlin - who have agreed to stock it, and a number of other Canberra and Melbourne bookshops are looking at it as I type. So that’s good.

We have 122 people who have sent RSVPs to say they’re coming to the Book Launch. That’s exciting.

But I was reminded again yesterday, when I friend told me she was about to read the book for the second time, that none of the above are the metrics that matter. It’s what people have been saying about the experience of reading the book.

Screenshot 2019-02-20 12.11.53.png

An American teacher wrote to me via Twitter last week, and it’s comments like these which make me feel that the book is doing just what I hoped it would do.

The Harriet page on my website has most of these comments, and the short film here has snippets from many of them.

Three insights gained from wise others

Screenshot 2019-02-11 12.43.22.png

In my last blog, I asked for advice about writing a study guide for The Worlds of Harriet Henderson. Twelve members of ‘my community of knowledgeable peers’ replied, and their advice has given me three clarifying insights.

 1.     I don’t like the idea of readers studying my novel. I want people to read it, and I want to do everything possible to encourage as many readers as I can. Perhaps the study guide idea was, for me, a way of enticing teacher educators to get their pre-service teachers reading my book; naturally I want pre-service teachers to read my book. But I don’t want them to study it. Mary talked in the comments about the experience of entering into the world of the novel, and how a premature exposure to a study guide might interfere with that.

2.     If there’s guiding to be done, I want the novel to do the guiding, not me. When I’m teaching students in schools or at university, or when I’m leading teacher groups, what works best almost every time is when I introduce some material and then ask two questions: What did you notice? What did you wonder? The ensuing discussion is then determined by the material and the readers’ experience of it, not by my own preconceptions or agenda. I think an approach based on these two questions would lead to the kinds of discussions and explorations listed by Misty and Brenton in their comments on my last post.

3.     I’d rather spend my time doing other things rather than writing a study guide. I want to start writing the next novel. I’ve also got some ideas about creating some kind of online space for an emerging and potential community of knowledgeable peers. And I’d love the opportunity to discuss the novel face-to-face with groups (students, teachers, readers). I’d find all of that kind of thing much more appealing than writing a study or reading guide.

 Thank you all who commented. Whether you were encouraging or discouraging of the idea, your thoughts helped bring me some clarity. I do feel blessed by these collaborations.

A Study Guide for 'The Worlds of Harriet Henderson'?

A former colleague has encouraged me to have a go at creating a study guide for my novel, The Worlds of Harriet Henderson, for use with pre-service teachers in universities or with English teachers as part of PD courses. Some of the reviews from teachers and teacher-educators have hinted at something similar.

I’m not sure. It’s the kind of project I’d enjoy working on, but would it be useful?

I thought I’d flag the possibility here, have a go at the beginning of a study guide, and see what others think.

So here’s a draft beginning:

Screenshot 2019-01-31 14.42.51.png

Is this worth pursuing?

I’d love some thoughts from those ‘in the field’: teacher educators, pre-service teachers, English-teachers-thinking-back-on-their-pre-service-experience.

If encouraged, I’ll spend hours happily working on this, but I don’t want to do it if it wouldn’t be useful.