Dressed in a black trench coat, children's author Jenny Cote seemed weary as she entered the classroom.
She sighed. She avoided eye contact. She began to tell a story, but she seemed bored and distracted. A few minutes later, she left the room.
Suddenly Cote reappeared, this time energetic and without the heavy coat. She interacted with her audience as she told the story of a boy named Randy whose curiosity often got him into trouble. She used descriptive language and humor.
She ended by asking the group which version they preferred.
Cote's demonstration began an hour-long presentation to first-year education students at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Tuesday. Cote, who lives in Roswell, Ga., visited PBA for the first time last spring.
Speaking to more than 50 students and faculty, Cote discussed creative writing and ways in which the aspiring teachers not only can improve their own writing but also can use basic storytelling techniques to engage children in the classroom.
Cote has written several Christian-themed children's books, including the fantasy fiction series The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz. Book one of the series, The Ark, the Reed and the Fire Cloud, is being made into a motion picture.
The first book in her newest series, The Epic Order of the Seven, was released this month.
To Cote, creative writing begins with an image. "I get a picture in my mind, and I write what I see," she said.
She said that her background in marketing and strategic planning has taught her the importance of first impressions. She said the same could apply to teachers on their first day of school.
"Show them that you're passionate about being there," she said.