Good times in Nashville

I’m in Nashville at the SCBW-Midsouth conference and am having a great time! Genetta Adair, Sharon Cameron, Susan Eaddy, and Courtney Potter did a simply amazing job of organizing this conference, and it’s been a great combination of work and fun (sometimes both at the same time, which is best of all!).

On top of all that, Friday before the conference began was a very special day. At my request, Sharon took on the extra work of getting in touch with an under-resourced school in the area so I could do a pro bono presentation to the students there. Sharon linked up with librarian Allison Barney at Wright Middle School, and I got to visit with more than 200 eighth graders.

It gets better: Even though the lead time was relatively short, the language-arts teachers at the school had all gotten behind the idea of the visit and prepared the students by reading the first chapter of A LONG WALK TO WATER with them and talking about setting. So these kids were READY, and they asked great questions at the end of the presentation.

And we *still* haven’t gotten to the best part.

Sharon and the other organizers arranged for the conference online registration form to include a ‘donate’ button for participants to contribute toward a fund to buy books for the school. The books were purchased through, which makes books available to underprivileged schools free or at heavily discounted prices. And . . .

The SCBWI Midsouth folks gave so generously that EVERY eighth grader at Wright Middle received a free copy of the book!

photos by Sharon Cameron

(In fact, there was money left over, which was given to the library to purchase still more books.)

It’s hard to describe what a thrill this was for me. All the pieces came together–enthusiastic librarian and teachers, supportive administration, well-prepared and attentive students, and an organization of children’s book enthusiasts who did much more than just talk the talk.

Thank you, Wright Middle School and SCBWI-Midsouth. Truly, my heart is full.