Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Learn about Importance of Good Writing ... from a Writer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Learn about Importance of Good Writing ... from a Writer

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Brad Herzog agreed he's an author, because he'd written the 20-plus tomes behind him, from those about famous people in sports to children's books.

And there's "a bunch more," he told more than 500 Mandarin Oaks Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders recently.

But the Californian usually calls himself a writer.

"That's because I not only write books; I do all sorts of writing," he said. "What I thought I would do today is tell you a little bit about how I became a writer, and a lot of the fun stuff I get to do because I am a writer."

So students heard that writing is an important skill, plus the process of birthing and promoting a book can he fun and hard to do. They appreciated the advice.

"I learned about his inspirations and how he got his ideas," said fifth-grader Naomi Levin.

Classmate Jensen Alex said he was "really inspired," while fifth-grader Jackson Vaith said the session made him want to keep writing.

"It helps to have a skill when you have to write essays," he said. "That really inspired me to keep going, and eventually I might go professional."

Mandarin Oaks invited Herzog as part of an annual effort to get students interested in meeting the Duval County School District's annual 25-book-a-year reading goal. Twin Lakes Academy and Beauclerc elementary schools shared the cost, and he spoke to students and conducted writing workshops at each.

Herzog said he blames J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit for his initial desire to be a writer in the sixth grade, wanting to "start with a blank piece of paper and create a whole world by using my imagination."

He kept reading and writing, and his first published piece was after he was a 14-year-old bat boy in 1983 for the Chicago White Sox.

That high school newspaper story started a technique he still uses - "tell the story in a way that surprises the reader," Herzog said.

"What I said in the article was that I was clearly the most valuable player of the 1983 Chicago White Sox," he said. …

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