Today I was part of an author signing line-up at the Flint Barnes & Noble. The appearance marked my last book-related event of the year. If I'm counting correctly on my fingers and toes, since spring I've done story times or signings at seventeen bookstores, along with three school visits, three library visits, two radio interviews, two newspaper interviews, and four speaking panels. That may not sound like a lot, but it comes to at least one event a week nearly every week (mostly on weekends) since The Pout-Pout Fish came out in March. Add to that several hundred notes mailed to bookstores and individuals, and double that in terms of email, and it's been a rather busy pout-pout year.
Looking back, I can honestly say it's been a good experience. Having a book in print is an honor and a stroke of luck both, and so every event has been privilege. What a joy to share the story of Mr. Fish with children and their parents and caregivers. I am humbled and profoundly grateful. Every appearance, every note, every moment of it all has been a gift that I am beyond thankful for.
But, being a shy person, it's also been at times a real challenge. Even events I looked forward to, I found myself with anxiety stomachaches for hours, if not days, before hand. And my busy schedule had a definite impact on my kids and husband. For their patience and understanding during it all, I thank them profusely.
The events had their ups and downs. I learned a lot, and made a few mistakes along the way. Fortunately, only one event approached "disastrous" (an out-of-town story time that I dragged my kids along to, where a friendly child tried to befriend my younger son; but my younger son thought the boy was chasing him, so he took off running up and down the aisles of the bookstore, screaming, for a full ten minutes, before I could calm him down -- I doubt we'll be invited back there....); but every event had at least one moment that brought a smile to my heart, and reminded me why I got involved in writing for children in the first place. I met some remarkable people -- kids and grown-ups alike -- and I gained confidence and humility both.
In 2009, I will slow my pace of appearances, but I will still have some here and there. In the meantime, I thank all of you who have come to a story time or signing, or emailed me, or read my blog, or even just thought about my book in any way at all. It's meant a great deal to me. Thank you for letting me share my words with you, and for encouraging me to continue on with this strange, wonderful, unpredictable journey that I'm on. We'll see what comes in 2009, but looking back, 2008 was pretty remarkable, and for that I thank you all.