Timm Holmes and his Start A Story Workshop Journey-Part One

Timm Holmes and his Start A Story Workshop Journey-Part One

Timm Holmes is the author of three children’s books, “Peanut Butter & Dragon” (May 2017), “Splash, Fin, Toothy Grin!” (Oct 2017), and “The Rainobuzz” (Nov 2019). He is also the creator of Start A Story Young Writers Workshop and hosts Start A Story on the children’s television show and you can watch the pilot here.

He is active on social media at @TimmWrites. Follow him on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Youtube!

I have been graciously granted an interview with Timm covering his Start a Story Workshop. Here is our interview!

Alexis: Before we dive in to the Start a Story Workshop interview, let’s get to know you a little better.

Timm:

  1. I died at age 20 (for 2min 36sec). Heart issue. SPOILER ALERT! There was an out of body experience.
  2. I’m an adoptive father of two young brothers.
  3. I’m afraid of large bridges.

A: Wow! Those are some interesting facts! Thank you for sharing. Now, let’s move on to the Start A Story Workshop part of our interview. Let’s start with a description of the workshop.

What is a Start a Story Workshop?

T: It is a 75-90 minute group story building adventure for children from kindergarten to grade six! We share ideas, combine ideas, vote for our favourites and even do some colorful drawing to add more detail to our story! The workshop culminates in a theatrical storytelling of the tale they’ve just created to celebrate that the children have all become authors of something amazing and that they did it together!

Start A Story has also been produced into a pilot for a children’s 30 minute television show, has an app in development, and a family card game coming as well!

A: How did you become a part of this workshop?

T: I created Start A Story Young Writers Workshop when it was suggested by an enthusiastic kindergarten teacher who loved the way I spoke to her class about how my own books were created after originally being bedtime stories created for my two young sons.

A: Can you give us some specifics on when and where this workshop is?

T: Most often Start A Story comes to you by request. It visits schools, community groups, libraries, and even birthday parties.

I’m based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and keep busy throughout the school year at Ottawa area schools. The last two summers I’ve been a part of the TD Summer Reading Program at the Ottawa Public Library visiting five or six locations through July and August. These are an amazing opportunity for the public to access the workshop for free!

Coming up shortly, I’ll be going international with the program for the first time as I’ve been invited for a week-long stay to present Start A Story to ten classes at Lincoln School for Early Learning in Coquille, Oregon!

A: Who is the audience?

T: Children from kindergarten to grade six are my focus. That being said, I’m experimenting with extending the program to older grades and even adults.

A: How often do you travel for writing-related activities? 

T: I visit schools and attend events in Ottawa and the surrounding areas two to three times a week during the school year and about once a week during the summer. Part of the reason I’m excited to share my story with you is to get the message out to a wider audience that I’m willing to travel more regularly to excite and inspire young authors all over North America! When travel isn’t an option Skype or Google Hangouts is a great way to connect. Although I currently do not perform Start A Story Workshop over video calls.

A: How have you planned for this workshop? What pre-planning have you done and what worries do you have about what you have planned?

T: Coquille, Oregon is a small community and arranging the flights there proved difficult without arriving incredibly jet lagged or sleeping in airports waiting for connections. So I’m honestly worried about making my connections as missing them would be a larger than normal issue.

The trip itself was a catalyst to create a truly travel-ready Story Cube – my colorful spinning white board cube that helps us track our story points as we build it. It is a box of PVC pipe though. Nervous how customs will view it, so I’ve attached pictures of the constructed device inside the case to show what it forms into.

Some major thought and redesign went into this more compact contraption that collapses into a carry-on sized container!

I’m also hoping to have ARCs of my third picture book “The Rainobuzz” (Nov 2019) to share with the students during a planned Thursday evening family storytelling night.

Here is a timeline of Timm’s emotions through this journey:

  • September 2018 I was invited to visit Coquille after donating close to 80 books to Lincoln School for Early Learning and at the time there were thoughts of having me visit in February or April 2019.
  • I was beyond excited! My Imposter Syndrome kicked in though. Why me? Isn’t there an author that lives closer they should invite? But it was the program they wanted. They had to give their students Start A Story!
  • Then disappointment. February fell through because an already challenging trip would be made more difficult with winter weather. I’m impatient by nature but our backup plan was April. That wasn’t too much longer.
  • Then I felt sick to my stomach when April fell through due to state-wide testing and other factors contributing to what we thought might be a distracted student population.
  • It was a surreal feeling part elation, part numb from disbelief in late June 2019 when the September visit was 100% solidified.
  • Not directly related to the trip, I’m dealing with a small amount of anxiety and guilt.
  • This is going to be the longest time I’ve been away from my wife since we were married and I’m leaving her to be a single parent for nine days with two strong willed boys. This will also be the longest I’ve been away from my two sons since we adopted them six years ago.
  • That will be very challenging to handle emotionally. Family is incredibly important to me.

A: Thank you Timm for sharing more about yourself, your books, and the Start A Story Workshop. I know you are nervous, but I have a feeling that this will be an amazing experience for you as well as your audience! There will be a Part Two post coming soon where Timm will tell us how it all went! Check back soon.

I am a middle school English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher.

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