Four Days in the Life of a Children’s Book Author

Last Thursday: I went to visit my dad in the nursing home, which means I left here at 7:30 a.m., drove 4 1/2 hours to get there, spent 4 hours there, then drove another 4 1/2 hours home. I had a copy of Jenny Han’s Shug on CD to keep me company for six of those nine hours on the road…which also helped me forget the nasty forecast — I was afraid I was going to have to drive through heavy thunderstorms, hail, maybe even tornadoes (which I didn’t…in fact, I hardly drove through any rain at all. I did, however, get to see a pretty impressive lightning display the last 30 miles home…and the display was especially impressive because it was dark). My dad was okay…I’ve been going through our thousands of digital photos in the last couple of weeks, though, and was really struck by how good he looked a few years ago. He can’t even hold his head up anymore. So in comparison to those photos, he looked terrible. But I think he’s hanging in there.

Last Friday: I went downstairs to put our dog outside about the same time my husband was getting ready to take Junior High Kid to school. I was barefoot, and when I stepped off the bottom step onto the carpet, I stepped in something really, really wet. I won’t tell you what I THOUGHT I stepped in…but after three more steps I realized no animal in this house could have created a puddle (or anything else) THAT big. No, I was standing on a SOPPING WET carpet! Where was the water coming from? I opened the door to the furnace room…the room that also would have had a sump pump had our builder not looked me in the eye seven years ago and told me, “you will NEVER need a sump pump in this house.” Guess what? “Never” equals about seven years! I yelled up the stairs to my husband, “WAIT! You can’t go to work today!!!” I ended up taking Junior High Kid to school while my husband ran out to Lowe’s to get a sump pump. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be married to a man who, though he’s never installed a sump pump before, can actually do it (because I would have no clue)! I am also grateful we caught the water when we did. Our entire furnace room and the unfinished storage room behind it were under about an inch of water (and most of the stuff in there was on shelves rather than on the floor). The bathroom across the hall was under about half an inch of water. And about half the carpet in our TV room was damp. But the water did NOT extend into the main basement room where I have my floor to ceiling bookshelves against the one wall…and my collection of picture books that run along the floor. So that was our Friday…and part of my husband’s Saturday as well.

Last Saturday: A group of Iowa children’s authors got together for an informal day to talk about school visits and promotion ideas, which was not only informative, but fun! I got to see my friend lskeers‘s author packet. I’ve never sent author packets out to schools when I’ve been invited for school visits before. I’ve always figured the publishers probably each send something. I know one does — I’ve seen what they send. But because I DO have multiple publishers, it probably would be a good idea to send author packets myself…and one of the things I can include is information on who to contact at each of my publishing houses. I’ll also include my teacher’s guides, my letter of agreement, a short bio, info on all my books…maybe I’ll even make up a sheet on how to ensure a successful school visit (borrowed from both lskeers‘s sheet and information in Toni Buzzeo and Jane Kurtz’s Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators and Storytellers, which even though it’s aimed at teachers/librarians, is a great resource for authors, too! I bought a bunch of folders when I took Junior High Kid shopping for school supplies last week…so my goal this week is to fill the folders with actual “author packet” stuff. I’ve had a couple of invitations in the last week, so I can try them out right away.

Yesterday…was my birthday! I knew my husband was sore after working so hard on the sump pump, so I didn’t have the heart to make him go hiking or geocaching…even though it was a BEAUTIFUL day (not too hot, not too cold, not too windy and FINALLY, not too rainy!). So we went out for sushi at noon, played games all afternoon, then ordered Thai food for dinner, which was just as nice of a way to spend a day. Junior High Kid says I am now “the answer to life, the universe and everything.” This is the same kid who just about popped an artery a couple months ago when he found out how OLD I was (apparently I do not “act THAT old!”). I don’t know why he didn’t know how old I was before that…I’ve never been one to keep it a secret, unlike a certain teacher Junior High Kid has this year who has to be about thirty years old, but she’s telling the kids she’s nineteen. Give me a break! What’s the big deal about age anyway? I will answer that question honestly (without freaking out) when a kid asks me that during a school visit. I rather like the fact that for the next year, anyway, I will be the answer to life, the universe and everything. (Though, as a mom, am I not the answer to life, the universe and everything anyway??? Not just when I’m 42?)

So, I didn’t do any writing at all these last four days…but I didn’t miss a day of mandolin practice. (Are my priorities screwed up???)


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