Chad and I had an amazing opportunity yesterday to go and give not one, but eight separate author/illustrator talks at the library of the Elementary school to several different classes ranging from 3rd to 6th grade. Over 300 students!
The week leading up to to this day had been a struggle to say the least. Chad threw his back out and all of my kids were hit with a particularly nasty stomach bug. The first night I hauled their beds out to the living room and parked myself on the couch. Then all night long, I listened for signs of a potential eruption and shoved a bucket under their little faces. I got good too. I got fast. I could go from dozing to holding back hair in 2 seconds flat. Not to brag, but I’m kinda a puke sensing ninja.
It’s interesting to see how your kids personalities come out in times like this. My 6 year old became very sad just wishing it would be over and she’d feel better. My 4 year old became angry and screamed and gritted her teeth when her stomach hurt. My 16 month old… well she just seemed cuddly and confused.
Anyway, I kept hoping they would be better before the big day, but it really hung on. After about 4-5 days of virtually no sleep, it was time for Chad and I to go do our author/illustrator talks at the school.
We prepared as much as we could the day before. Luckily I already had a pretty solid talk planned from when I spoke for Chad’s classroom. We just added a power point presentation to accompany it, and Chad planned his own little talk about his illustration work that he would give directly after mine. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or the fact that I had given the book talk once before, but I was a little less nervous this time. At least I thought I was until we arrived.
The first talk was for a room full of fifth graders, but I could swear they looked older than that. I was looking around the room and suddenly wishing I’d had Chad give his talk first, when I was given the cue to start. I started out a little shaky. I could hear the quiver in my voice, but I cleared my throat and went on. I’m thankful for the the power point because it helped me stay on track. About midway through, I was feeling pretty good. The kids were attentive and had some great questions at the end.
There wasn’t much time to celebrate and take a breath though, because as soon as we got done talking to them, the next class was lined up at the door. My voice started giving out a little during the 3rd and 4th talks, but a lunch break and throat lozenges helped me get through the second half of the day.
Overall it was a great experience. The kids were so excited to hear from a real author and illustrator. I felt like a celebrity. For all they knew I was like J.K. Rowling and Chad was Picasso. Several of the kids had even read my book already. The librarian said that since they got my book in they haven’t been able to keep it on the shelves. They managed to track down two copies for the event and had the kids put their names on slips of paper for the chance to check them out. Pretty flattering! Who knows if it will result in any sales, but it’s so cool to know that my book is being read and enjoyed.
It’s funny, if you would have told me just a year ago that I would be speaking to over 300 kids I would have laughed and then felt sick to my stomach at the mere thought of it. But I did it. I actually did it! When we walked out that door at the end of the day, I felt relieved but I also felt so amazed. God had given me the strength to get through something that absolutely terrified me like nothing else. How great is that?
Now I have another great opportunity on April 8th from 1-3 to do a book signing with Chad at the Tukwila Barnes & Noble. Some of the kids from the elementary school might even show up to say hi. Even though this past week has been rough with sicknesses and injuries, I am so thankful that I keep getting great opportunities like this to get out and meet potential readers and to grow as a person. If you look, you’ll always find blessings in the chaos.