The D.C. Portion of the Shoestring Tour

TO: Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt
FR: Deborah Wiles

Dear Karen, et al,

I've been largely computer-less since arriving on Wednesday. I'm staying (in true Shoestring fashion) with good friends Sue and Larry, in my old stomping grounds of Frederick, MD, and they have no wireless, although they do have a computer, which I've used to check email. So. No blog post until today, when I've got a few hours of down time and have used it to drive into Frederick with my computer, to a lovely coffee shop and wireless access.

My camera is broken and the new one hasn't arrived yet, so I took photos with my daughter's camera, but most of them are too dark. I'll remedy this for the Pilgrimage portion of the tour.

So I have few photos to share, but lots of stories, lots of tidbits. I'll make this quick, however, on a Sunday afternoon, as I've got a speaking engagement in a few hours, in Washington, D.C., at the Maret School. It's a community event that brings families together from Maret, Sidwell Friends, and John Eaton School, to hear an author speak about telling our stories. The Maret students have read ALL-STARS, and Politics & Prose will be there to offer books to all who want them.

The event at P&P on Thursday was fabulous. Students from Sheridan School and Murch Elementary -- all fourth graders -- were fabulous. Gussie, Dara, and Jewell are fabulous. EVERYONE at Politics & Prose is fabulous -- it's a sun-filled place for books that's hopping with a vibrant community, and I am lucky to be part of it. Thank you for setting this up, and please send my thanks (again!) to Politics & Prose.

I will see Gussie tonight at Maret. Tomorrow, as you know, I'm stopping by National Public Radio to do an interview with Michele Norris for All Things Considered before I fly home to Atlanta. I'm very excited about this! I worked in radio for years before I began writing, and I love the oral tradition of telling stories. And I love All Things Considered. I don't know when this interview will air, but I will let you know.

I've managed to keep my voice. I survived the first couple of days on Throat Coat tea, Jolly Ranchers (cherry), and water water water. At one school we had a muddy microphone with a (short) tethered cord that wouldn't allow me close enough to all those kindergarteners, but we punted and did fine.

In the after-school PAL program, I got my picture taken with Frederick's Chief of Police (ha!) and got to spend a gratifying hour with the kids who are reading ALL-STARS -- this was precious.

The Dancing Bear signing was Old Home Week, as it always is, and I got to catch up with friends. I've spent time catching up with family (that's some of them, in the photo above), too -- went to my niece and nephews' school in Baltimore and was surrounded by kids who had read LITTLE BIRD, and had questions. But the best part was Anna and Leo saying "Aunt Debbie! Aunt Debbie! Look at this!" and "My Aunt Debbie wrote that book!" and being a part of a large, loving family. I am still a newlywed, and still getting used to this generous and unconditional family love. I love it.

I also got to work registration at yesterday's Children's Book Guild of D.C. annual celebration and non-fiction award ceremony at the National Geographic Museum on 17th Street. My friend Sue Bartoletti was the award winner this year, and it was great to reconnect with her -- her 2010 book on the KKK is going to knock your socks off.

After hugging all my book-writing and illustrating friends, I went to tea at the Mayflower Hotel with friends and then scooted home for dinner in downtown Frederick with Sue and Larry, and then did a walk-around of my former home town. It was nostalgic, but you know... I am digging roots deeper into the Atlanta soil, and nowadays I miss my husband, my kids, and my friends in Atlanta, when I come here.

It has been a great week, I have done good work, and I am ready to go home.

Thank you for all you've done to make this portion of the Shoestring Tour possible. I appreciate all you do.