Publishing a book in 2020, I’ve felt like the proverbial salmon. Not that I’ve ever been a salmon, but ugh. How do you travel around to support your book? (Spoiler alert: you don’t.) How do you visit classrooms to talk to kids? (You don’t do that either, and even if you did, they wouldn’t be there.) I’ve tried a few videos and virtual visits, but here’s another spoiler alert: it’s not the same.
My brain is where it should be: on the pandemic, on my family, on the election, on those who have it so much worse than me. I’ve been working at my full-time job in affordable housing, and every day, I talk to people who are struggling.
It’s hard to tweet “buy my book” at time like these. But my writing career feels like it’s fading. And those books that came out this year? They were important to me. Also? They were good. So I’m going to spit three times and brag about them here on my quiet little blog.
I’m going to tell you that I think Cyclops of Central Park, illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov, should be on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list. I have the art from that book all over my wall and I never get tired of looking at it. Victoria’s New York is where I want to be right now.
I’ll also tell you that a few parents have said they are using the book I wrote with Wendy, Not Your All-American Girl, to talk to their kids about racism. Those characters are so alive inside my head and I hope more people will find them.
I hope these books will have a shelf life. That authors who had books come out in 2020 will get some sort of a do-over. Because we all have more books to write. And simply put: it’s harder to sell those books if the books we’ve just published are sitting in bookstores where booksellers are working their butts off but nobody is browsing because of COVID. (Free them! Free all the books!)
I have a lot of wishes right now. Most of them have to do with our collective health, both as humans and as a nation. But one of them has to do with these books. My friend Sharlene says when you want something you should put it out to the universe. So that’s what I’m going. Hey there, universe. Please be kind to these books.