The woods across the street from my house backs up to the high school field where the marching band rehearses. Every August for almost 20 years, I’ve watched kids trudge in the heat to practice that strange footwork and music skills. And every year, about this time, I get to hear them improve every week. I get to hear the crowds cheer for the home team.
It’s quiet now without those squeaky saxophones and thundering bass drums.
And last week, I watched the nightly news reports about the pandemic with that familiar ache that’s come to define 2020 for me. I tried not to focus on the trick-or-treaters that I’ll miss seeing on Halloween, or on the Thanksgiving Day meal for just the immediate family, not to mention the winter holidays, when I won’t be able to gather the same way with the people I love.
In the midst of all of this, too, my picture book Evelyn del Rey is Moving Away (illustrated by Sonia Sánchez) hit shelves. This year is clearly a hard year to connect with readers, but I believe that, in some ways, this book might just be the right story for us all now. Daniela and Evelyn, after all, are two mejor amigas who have to accept a separation and figure out how to make what truly matters endure.
So, here’s how I’d like to launch this picture book and help us cope with missing our friends and family. Patience, resilience, and memories of happy days are going to have to sustain us as we wait for a time when we can safely be with the people we love in this world.
I invite you to join me for the next three weeks for the #letsstayconnected campaign – a celebration of friendship, reading, and writing – all through the photographs in your camera roll.
How to participate? Feel free to post pictures of you and a friend from childhood or from your life right now, along with a message to them and the hashtag #letsstayconnected. (In the coming weeks, I’ll have lots of things other things you can share with your friends, including a specially-designed digital, “Evelyn-themed”, postcard. Stay tuned for that.)
My wonderful assistant, Kerri Poore, will pick a winner from one of the posts in the stream each week. You’ll be eligible for these giveaways.
Week 2: A FREE conference pass to the James River Writers Conference to be held virtually Oct 9 – 11, 2020. The JRW Writers Conference is one of our region’s best conferences for writers of both adult work and works for young people. It draws nationally-recognized authors, agents, and editors for a wonderful day of learning.
Week 3: A FREE one-day guest pass to the SCBWI MidAtlantic Conference on October 24, 2020, where I’ll be keynoting this year. Be my guest as you enjoy the full range of Saturday workshops by editors, agents, and authors – all specializing in works for kids and teens.
See you (and your friends) soon!