So I just got back last night from three days of school visits and bookstore signings to promote The Daughters Take the Stage, and I had an amazing time! Everyone I met – librarians, principals, booksellers – and of course, students and readers – were so gracious and sweet and friendly to me. Not to mention the three wonderful ladies – Karen, Carie, and Dolores – who drove me around each day.
I always feel so honored to speak at schools, especially because I’m sometimes taking kids away from precious classroom time to speak about myself, my books, and the mysterious craft of writing. But I try to make them educational in their own way. And even though I enjoy them now, I was terrified to start doing them. The first time I heard about the practice of “school visits,” I was in shock. Wait, I thought: I’m supposed to get up in front of a bunch of people and talk about myself? And my books? And whatever ELSE I think might be important? You’re kidding, right?
But then I would up having a great time the first day, and pretty much every time since. Which is strange, considering that I always seem to talk about the things you wouldn’t want a roomful of strangers to know: how I had clear braces put on on live television; how I wasn’t the most popular girl in my class; how I always wished I was cooler/prettier/more stylish, etc. You wouldn’t think that talking about those kinds of topics would be an enjoyable experience. Especially with people you’ve never seen before. But it is – every time!
And the best part is always after the official “talk,” when I wind up having one-on-one conversations with students. Like this week. I met one girl who told me that she related to the books because she wants to be a singer and everyone in her family is a doctor. I met a sixth grade girl who’s halfway through her first novel. I met a librarian who’s incredible, and who’s about to lose her job because all the school libraries are being shut down in her county. I met a middle school girl who’s writing a movie. Another girl showed me the awesome website her school has created. It lists every homework assignment for every class every day. She was so competent and so smart and so collected as she showed me this website, that I would have considered voting for her as president.
I also went to two wonderful children’s bookstores – Mrs. Nelson’s in LaVerne, and Hicklebee’s, in San Jose. The ladies who run these stores know their stuff. They read hundreds of books a year, all so that they can recommend the perfect read for any age child and/or teen. I’m in awe of them. And I sincerely hope I get to return to both places, because they gave me so many recommendations for good books to read.
And yes, Edie was just fine. She stayed with a very caring dogsitter who texted me photos of her every few hours with captions like “Playing in the sun!” and “She’s a good cuddle bear!” (Which she is.) When I went to pick her up last night, she was so sleepy and worn out from playing she barely acknowledged me before falling back asleep. Next time, maybe I won’t worry so much.
On Sunday I’ll be in Santa Barbara to sign books at Chaucer’s Books at 3 p.m.. If you’re in the SB/Ventura area, please come by! Otherwise, have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll be in touch soon. Edie says goodnight.