A Whirlwind Month: Book Release, Blog Tour, Big Sur at Cape Cod

May has been a whirlwind of book events, a blog tour, and an amazing writing conference. Although I knew it was coming for a couple of years, nothing quite prepared me for the blur of events. A recap:


On April 30, I had a book launch at Prince Books, in Norfolk, VA, coinciding with Independent Book Store Day. So many of my friends came to help celebrate, and we had a tai chi demo:

I'm acting like a real author signing my books

The sign outside the store

Christina Forshay made coloring pages

Our tai chi demo
Some of my good friends at the signing


For a three weeks, I annoyed my Facebook friends by the seemingly nonstop coverage of A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, because we arranged a 14-stop blog tour.

We first started with the debut of our trailer for the book on Watch. Connect. Read., the blog of Mr. Schu, Scholastic's Ambassador for Libraries.  Christina Forshay and I made the trailer ourselves, and we're pretty proud of ourselves for learning new animation skills:

Then we found ourselves on these sites. I tried not to repeat myself so each post focused on slightly different things.

April 22 - Kidlit411 (about my career choices)

April 25 - Design of the Picture Book (Carter Higgins interviewed both Christina and me)

April 27 - Miss Marple's Musings (Joanna Marple and I chatted about diversity)

April 29 - Susanna Leonard Hill  (benefits of yoga/ tai chi/ mindfulness for kids)

May 1 - 12 x 12 Featured Author (writing advice for Julie Hedlund's challenge)

May 2 -  Inky Girl (Debbie Ohi and I talked about my dad's debut memoir)

May 3 - Tuesday Tours (Christina Forshay talks shop with Andrea Skyberg)

May 4 - NaPiBoWriWee (social media, alien invasions, diversity with Paula Yoo)

May 5 - Writing and Illustrating (with Kathy Temean)

May 9 - My First Picture Book Q & A (in depth about writing the story with Karlin Gray)

May 10 - ReFoReMo (how I use mentor texts with Carrie Charley Brown)

May 11 - Three Show Saturday (personal fun questions with Kizzy Roberts)

May 12 - All the Wonders (Christina and I interview each other, with Matthew Winner)

May 13 - No Water River (ReneĆ© LaTulippe reviews the book in her inimitable style) 


A week after the Prince Book event, I had a story time at my local Barnes & Noble, with another tai chi demo. Even though the book is not carried in all B& it was great to see it at this store.

The sign in the window
Set up at the entrance to the kids section

I added the book to this shelf for the photo op

Signing the book after story time

A tai chi demo with the children


Last weekend, I attended a workshop put on by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, one of the most highly respected agencies for children's literature. This was the first year they held it on the East Coast. About 50 writers and 9 faculty members (a mix of Andrea Brown agents, children's publishers, and published authors) attended.

We were each placed in two separate critique groups with one faculty member and 4 other writers. Each group met twice to critique each other's work, and time was provided to make changes between the groups. We also attended several panel discussions.

I was placed with agent Caryn Wiseman and editor Yolanda Scott (of Charlesbridge Publishing). They were both insightful, smart, and supportive.

Some of the faculty on a panel discussion
In addition to the great feedback on my manuscripts, the best part of the conference was connecting with other kid lit people, especially three other members of my online critique group, Teresa Robeson, Alayne Kay Christian, and Victoria Warneck. We spent a lovely time together at the beach:

Here we are contemplating our next picture book manuscripts

We also met other kid lit friends, both ones we had met at other conferences or online, or just new friends:

We had a memorable dinner where our table scarfed up lobster sliders as quickly as we could get them. 
I particularly enjoyed meeting one of the faculty, Anne Sibley O'Brien, picture book author & illustrator known for her multicultural books. She met with the illustrators during one of the lunches and we had an informal mentorship session.


While preparing for those events, I spent two weeks at the end of April organizing an annual used book sale at my daughters' school. We started off with about 3,500 donated books in boxes:

Which we sorted by topic:

And ended up with a pop up bookstore for five hours (on Field Day, which happened on the same day as my Barnes & Noble signing, so I ducked out of one to go to the other and back):

Then we dismantled it in a couple of hours and repacked all the unsold books to donate to charity. This year we made about $2,000, selling the books at $2 apiece (and doing a silent auction for baskets of books & items).

The best part of this job is just seeing all the wacky books that were donated, like this one:


So I'm enjoying a brief breather before the next round of activities, including a 25th college reunion (next weekend), family visits for a 6th grade graduation (mid-June), many weekends for travel softball (now thru mid-July), teaching a class on writing picture books at The Muse Writer's Center (over the summer) and two more A MORNING WITH GRANDPA events:

Monday, June 13: A book signing party in Washington, DC

Saturday, June 25: I'm signing my book at the American Library Association convention in Orlando, FL

Life is tiring, busy, but good.

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