OGDEN -- There was quiet chatter at Zucca Trattoria earlier this week as more than 20 T.H. Bell Junior High School English students were rewarded with a special evening alongside four published authors.
English teacher Monique Benard started the event this year. She got the idea from Cassie Cox, who teaches at Two Rivers High School and does the same kind of event with her high school students.
Benard got Zucca to sponsor her event. She was eating dinner there one night and spontaneously talked with the manager, who was glad to sponsor the event. Benard said many local businesses actually like to help support students, but they have to be approached.
Ironically, that's also how Benard recruited some of the participating authors.
She was at the dentist and noticed a book by local author Kimberly Krey, who is related to the dentist. She asked about it and the dentist connected her to Krey. Eventually, Krey wound up being a presenter at the event.
Also, Benard was at Costco when a couple of the authors were doing book signings. She asked if they would be interested in working with her students; both were happy to do so.
Many of the local authors know each other and are happy to support the students, she said.
"I love talking to you students, and I love talking about writing, so I am happy to be here," said author Cindy Hogan.
Hogan was a teacher before she became an author and said she loves writing about teens.
"Teenagers are the most fascinating people in the whole world," Hogan said as the students laughed.
Students were eager to ask questions of the authors -- some in front of their peers, while others waited to ask their questions privately.
Eighth-grader Linley Wright felt a little star-struck to sit with the author of one of her favorite books, "Not Your Average Fairy Tale."
Author Chantelle Sedgewick sat across the table from Wright and Wright was eager to talk with her one on one, but also enjoyed hearing what she had to say to all the students.
"It's so fun to hear the thought process that goes into writing a book," Wright said.
Most of the authors said they didn't know they wanted to be writers when they were the students' age, but they emphasized the importance of writing about everything.
"If you get stuck, just keep writing. Keep writing," said author Chad Morris.
Tyler Staten listened closely as the authors spoke. The 14-year-old said he loves to write and wanted to hear any tip he could on how to be a professional. He was glad for the chance to write responses to the books he had read in order to come, and said he worked extra hard in Benard's class so he could come to the event.
"It's pretty cool. Not every day do you get to meet an author," Staten said. "It was definitely worth it."