Meeting my readers
I scheduled a series of talks this Fall at public libraries and independent book stores. I’ve given six talks so far. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet my readers, tell them about my work, and answer their questions. I’m always impressed by the questions from kids. It’s obvious that they have read, and thought about, my books.
There have been some exciting and fun moments at these events. When I was at Third Place Books, the woman who adopted my first foster cat, Edgar, was there, bringing photos to show me how well Edgar is doing. Donna, the woman I volunteered with at many shopping mall adoptathons, came and it was great to see her again. At some, I’ve met for the first time people with whom I’ve e-mailed, and I have had coffee afterwards with old friends.
Last Saturday I was at the Enumclaw, WA public library. The woman who adopted Gus came and had the audience laughing as she told about his diet. The friend who rescued Rosie when she saw her tossed from a car was there. I was excited to sign a copy of Animals Welcome for Roland and Marie Smith’s grandsons. (Roland is a terrific author.)
The most exciting moment for me was when I met the Milotz family who had driven SIX HOURS from Idaho to meet me. What an honor! That’s Ciera in the photo with me.
Next Sat., Oct. 6, I’ll be at the Buckley WA library at 11:00 a.m. This is my home branch. A glass display case just inside the entrance has changing displays, and this week it contains many of my book awards. I thought it would be fun for readers to see what they look like.
Thank You, Teachers
On Tuesday night I spoke to a group of teachers in Lake Oswego, Oregon, as part of a series of classes called The Innovative Northwest Teacher. Teachers make great audiences. They arrive on time, they pay attention, and they ask good questions.
I have always felt I’m in a partnership with teachers and school librarians because they are the ones who put my books in the hands of their students. They read aloud to their classes; they book-talk favorite titles to get the kids excited about reading on their own, and they believe, as I do, that even in today’s world of electronic gadgets, a book has great value. Thank you to the wonderful group who came to hear me talk at TINT, and to teachers everywhere for encouraging your students to read.
The American Library Association meets this week in New Orleans, a fact which floods me with memories. I have attended several ALA conferences – two in New Orleans – and they were always wonderful. The keynote speakers, the amazing exhibit hall, the autographing sessions, the Newbery banquet, the local food, and the ambiance of a great city kept me in a constant state of excitement which was heightened by meeting favorite editors and other authors, dining with publishers, and feeling solidly connected to the whole book industry. I remember watching thousands of eager librarians as they hurried to the convention center and thinking, We are all here because we love books. I have never felt more proud to be an author.
I miss conventions. I miss the opportunity to chat with librarians from all across the country, and to get to know the publisher’s new (for they change frequently) marketing staff, and to talk shop with my fellow writers. This is the hardest part of dealing with post-polio syndrome. It is no longer possible, even when I use a wheelchair, for me to enjoy that kind of travel.
Attending an ALA conference always infused me with creative energy. I would return home eager to pursue my next project, filled with dreams of the book that I’d sign at a future convention.
Those were magical years for me, and the magic of being an author continues. I read voraciously. My new book (Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing and Rescue) will be out next Summer. Secluded here in the forest, clear across the continent from the New Orleans Convention Center, I am still part of the community of book lovers.