Day 29 – Meet the BBS – Crystal Allen

The New Journey When my debut novel, How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won A Bubba-Sized Trophy came out in February of 2011, I thought that was the biggest moment of my life in the world of publishing.  I now had a book that would hit the shelves of many bookstores and libraries around the world.

But that wasn’t my biggest moment.

It happened during my very first author’s visit.  I was so scared but I wanted to share the news to all children that they, too, could grow up to be a writer.  As I looked into the bright eyes of those children, some being introduced to a library for the first time (their library had been closed for five years because they didn’t have a librarian) it changed my motive from “Publish as many books as I can” to “Reach them,” especially when two African American fourth grade girls approached me and said, “We’ve decided we want to be writers.  We didn’t know Black people could write books.  We love to make up stories.”

The New Inspiration

My new inspiration is anchored in reaching reluctant readers.  I was one, but I didn’t know it.  Maybe back in the day it was called something else.  But a book was the last thing I was interested in picking up.  Now, as I do school visits and presentations, I get so fired up when a child approaches me and says, “After listening to you, I’m excited about writing.”

So I’ve created a spot on my website for them to write stories, show their talent and represent their school.  It’s called STRIKEWRITERS.  I’m inspired because they’re inspired.

The New Back Story

Even though I had the concept, I didn’t know how to get the word out.  But then I got an email, asking me to speak at a librarian’s conference in my area.  (I’ve just got to say ‘Thank You, Lord’)

I explained my idea to the librarians and how I wanted to reach reluctant readers and give students an opportunity to display their work on an actual author’s website.

I began to get emails like crazy.  Requests for full days, half days, career days, it was amazing.  But the most fulfilling piece came through the children.  During my visits, when I announced the opportunity to have a story displayed on my website, the response was phenomenal.

Now I know, beyond any doubt, that this is what I’m supposed to do.  As long as I can, I’ll write, just so that I can remind those children who had never thought of writing as a career, that they, too, can do what I do.


5 Responses to Day 29 – Meet the BBS – Crystal Allen

  1. tadmack says:

    “I’m inspired because they’re inspired.”
    Probably there is no more a succinct expression for describing the whole experience of teaching and working with young readers. And I’m grateful, too, that Ms. Allen (with no baby picture, but I won’t complain, since her adult picture is pretty darned cute) gets to get the word out among librarians and teachers and other folk — and that young men and women are thinking, “Hey. I could do this, too.” That’s the bottom line that often gets forgotten, as we strive to talk up writers of color and books of color – we have to talk to the kids, too, and know that they’re not just readers/consumers, but the dreamers, the artists, and have a piece of the Creator’s genius.

    Yes, yes, yes.

  2. Annie says:

    “two African American fourth grade girls approached me and said, “We’ve decided we want to be writers. We didn’t know Black people could write books. We love to make up stories.””

    This makes my day (as I know it made yours to hear it). Thank you for dedicating yourself to reaching and inspiring the kids who are discovering your books and becoming readers. I love that you’re giving kids a chance to share their writing on your website – very cool. :)

  3. rcpjallen says:

    tadmack, thanks so much for your kind words. And FYI, that IS my baby picture. I’ve always had a big head! :)


  4. 567890 says:

    crystal do you half a facebook you wen to my school nansy mosley elm

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