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Friday, May 8, 2009

An Influenza B-list Celebrity

The three weeks since the launch of FAIREST OF THEM ALL have been amazing. I've felt like an A-list celebrity rushing from book signings to writing workshops to events held in my honor. What an incredible thrill!

The ride began on Saturday, April 18, with a book launch hosted by CRM extraordinaire, Cindy Sharp, at Barnes and Noble. The first best thing was a huge banner hanging from the store's second floor railing. And when I sat at my designated table, students, friends, and strangers stopped by to offer their congratulations and buy my book. By the end of the evening, 246 copies of FOTA had gone out the door.

The following Monday morning I arrived at the Iowa Public Television building for my first ICN broadcast. Talking to students, teachers, and librarians I could only see in a TV screen on the far side of the room was surreal. But I managed to get through two broadcasts without any major mistakes--I think.

I spent the next weekend absorbing inspiration and information at an SCBWI-Iowa conference in Davenport. For the first time, I had a book to offer for sale, and I was looking forward to my debut out-of-town book signing at the Northpark Mall B&N Sunday afternoon. But FOTA sold out at the conference, and a second shipment of books didn't arrive in time. So I signed bookplates on Sunday instead of books.

Fast forward through the next week's writing classes to Friday night. My writing group threw me a book launch party complete with food, wine, friends--many wearing tiaras--and a FAIREST OF THEM ALL sash the exact color of my book cover. I had a marvelous time chatting, hugging, eating and drinking, and signing books. What a night!

Saturday morning I was off to Adel for the annual Iowa Book Festival. My throat was feeling scratchy, but I made it through my two morning presentations. Then I drove to Jordan Creek Mall for another B&N book signing. I capped the day by returning to Adel for an authors' panel discussion in the afternoon.

But Sunday morning was a whole different story, and not a good one. My head swam, my body ached, and I coughed like a TB patient. The celebrity lifestyle had taken its toll and left me with Influenza B--not the headline-making flu, but more flu than I could handle.

With three school visits scheduled this week, I had to get better. Merrill Middle School, where I'd taught for most of my career, had scheduled all day Thursday with writing workshops and class visits plus a reception after school. I was going to be there if I had to drag an IV pole!

Thursday morning I heaved my achy body out of bed and headed for Merrill. The school library was adorned with a huge banner celebrating my book and me, and the staff and students gave me the red carpet treatment. Somehow my voice and legs held out (Thank you, adrenaline!) as I visited classes, answered questions, and presented four writing workshops. The reception after school made every bit of it worthwhile.

That's the story of my first three weeks as an MTV author. I can't wait to see what's going to happen during the next three. Just no more flu--PLEASE!

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