This month I signed (and added a sketch or two to) more than 1000 books. Final count is about 1345. In one month. Wow!
By tomorrow, my last school event in March,
I will have visited 23 schools: St. Clare of Montefalco in Grosse Pointe Park; Cedar Street Elementary, Steele St. Elementary, and North Aurelius Elementary in Mason; Flanders, Beechview, William Grace, Lanigan, Highmeadow, Forest, Kenbrook, Wood Creek, Gill, Hillside, Wooddale, Longacre and Eagle in Farmington; Bath Elementary in Bath; Madison Elementary in Dearborn Heights; Wexford, Forest View and Willow in Lansing; and, tomorrow, Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell.
Plus 1 conference (MRA in Grand Rapids), 1 library (Farmington Public Library), and 1 bookstore (Barnes & Noble in East Lansing).
I made connections with many wonderful librarians and teachers and a few booksellers.
I am especially grateful to Sue Kalisky of Highmeadow and Lisa Salowich of Wooddale for sharing their room at the Amway Grand Plaza with me. We met in Farmington and they offered to hang out at the MRA. We enjoyed a delightful dinner at a Tapas Restaurant (my first -- can't wait to return!) and an enlightening visit to the new Grand Rapids Art Museum. It would have been difficult to present at the MRA without staying overnight. How kind of them to invite me in.
Nancy Morris of William Grace also extended a kind invitation to tour a little in Portland, Oregon, when I am there for a writer retreat in July-August. I can't wait.
Many thanks to the schools who hosted me. What a fabulous month this has been. Thank you to the students and staff who were so kind to me in my visits, and to the tireless organizers of all the events. I know it's tough bringing in an author for a visit; there's a lot to manage.
I am still smiling about all the fantastic student work in the various schools, the art on the walls, the writing exercises, the creativity shown by both teachers and students. I'm astounded at the brilliance I saw in so many schools.
Special thanks to Denise Gundle-White at Wood Creek for organizing all of my Farmington events as part of their Book Parade.
(Want to host me at your school or library? Details here on my website: http://ruthexpress.com/art/ellie/schoolvisits.html )
On a more personal front, this month I also juggled 2 bridal showers for my beautiful and fun future daughter-in-law, 1 dress fitting for our junior bridesmaid, thankfully no funerals in March (3 in Jan-Feb), helped paint the dining room, hallway and living room, helped my husband through the loss of his job and hopefully gaining of a new one (crossing fingers) and also through the loss of our car, rental of a new one, and -- maybe today -- purchase of a replacement, read my writing buddy Amy Huntley's fantastic new book, The Everafter (I laughed, I cried; I was greatly impressed with the emotion, the voice and the structure), and I wrote and drew a few "Extras" for the Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School paperback edition which comes out this summer. (And, if you saw any of my presentations this month, you know I also had to do revisions for those "Extras")
Soon to come, more revisions! Yippee! This time for the third Ellie book, Ellie McDoodle: Best Friends Fur-Ever, the first draft of which I finished in record time, right before March began.
My editor's sending me the revisions letter (and if you saw any of my presentations you know that's a thick dark line listing more than 100 items to change) sometime in the next few days.
And if you saw my presentation you know there will be another revisions letter, too, hopefully smaller, arriving in the coming weeks, after I make all the requested changes and redraw every single page for this set of revisions.
And if I am lucky, then the book will be done and it will go to prepress sometime this summer for publication next summer.
It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to create a book.
And to live life which, no matter how tightly I plan it, is always bringing something unforeseen.
So why do I do this?
Because I am in love with my job. And with my life.
(from my 2006 NYC sketchbook just after meeting my editor and many of the brilliant people associated with creating the Ellie McDoodle books)