It’s tough times for writers of children’s books.
All of the things that hit education and libraries in the United States also hit children’s books. And families live busy, distracted lives–sometimes too busy to read; sometimes too busy to visit a bookstore. And publishing is centered in a city of devastatingly expensive real estate.
I took these pictures when I was in NYC signing copies of my Lanie books at the American Girl store. It was thrilldom seeing a character that I created taking up a whole window in that amazing city. But most books don’t get that kind of marketing pizzazz.
To say the least.
So I loved spending last weekend in Chicago for the American Library Association conference, getting to talk to friends (who are also powerful book ambassadors) about my new book, Anna Was Here. This is a time when the NEW and DEBUT is celebrated. Why not? I was once a new author and I loved the extra boost.
I also love the long life of growing in craft.
One of the people who dreamed up this retreat was Toni Buzzeo. She was Maine School Librarian of the year when I met her–loving books, loving her students, matching up the two. I did an author visit at her school, and she KNEW her teachers and her library and how to make an author (and her books) sparkle there. She was longing to publish a book and she was determined to learn how. I’m proud to say we were once mentor and mentee.
Now Toni and I have now been tight friends for years. We’ve shared lots of life moments. I got weepy at her son’s wedding…and I’ve also choked up sometimes in asking her advice for the hard work of Ethiopia Reads or in hearing “it’s not working” about things in my manuscripts.
So imagine the thrilldom of getting to see her this month as Caldecott Princess!
Off to the banquet. And signing with the talented illustrator who, okay, actually got the Caldecott Honor for One Cool Friend, a book I remember when it was words on a page and a giggle in the corner of retreat.
I wish for every writer the sweetness of retreat and the pinky holding in the weepy times and the swelling pride of the times when it all clicks