For my final stop in Florida, I went to Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda.
At the very beginning, things felt a little strange. The last time I was called to the principal's office, I was a junior in high school and my mom had to come pick me up. But this time, I was being served breakfast!
Sometimes life is so weird.
And is there anything cooler than riding shotgun in a golfcart, swerving around buses, while trying not to knock over students? Of course there is...but not much! (Thank you, Ms. Garcia, for keeping both me and the students safe.)
The day included three presentations in a huge auditorium. With my largest audiences at a school yet, I wore my first clip-on microphone (which felt kind of cool!), and had so much fun interacting with the students. The speech itself is always fun to deliver, but I really enjoy the spontaneity of the Q&A.
But my absolute favorite part of any author visit is when I get to talk with students one-on-one during the autographing. Today's visit included many people opening up and sharing their experiences with the issues in my book. While those conversations can be both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it is always an amazing honor to feel trusted with their stories.
Today's group also had a lot of fun with my markers. Not only did I autograph books, bookmarks, and discussion guides, I also signed about a dozen shoes, a hat, a backpack, a binder, someone's favorite ribbon, a student ID card, a cast, several hands (two of which belonged to friends who had to put their hands together to see my full signature)...
...and one forehead.
For lunch, I ate pasta and cookies with officers from the book club and winners of the read-a-thon. The lunch was short, but it's amazing how much conversing can take place when everyone chews really fast!
After school, I hung out with the book club. More cookies! Lemonbars! Weird looking (but very yummy) things combining a pretzel, white chocolate, and a single M&M! And pictures galore!!! Everyone was having such a fun time, no one wanted to leave...least of all, me.
Tomorrow I fly back home to California. Even though I'm feeling a tad homesick, I will never forget the past week. It has truly been one of the highlights of my life as an author.