The room buzzed with awesome people. Judy Maggio, an anchor for a local TV station, dropped her bag on a chair and said, “I have to move my car! Just wanted you to know I was here.”
Author Pamela Ellen Ferguson (Sunshine Picklelime) had just finished recording a session. “Louis Sachar is going to be here later! You’re in good company!”
I wondered if I could skip picking up my children from school to meet Sachar (Holes, Wayside School) as he would arrive the same time as the dismissal bell. No, my kids would kill me if they found out. We’d watched the movie of Holes together and later read the book at bedtime.
Mainly I worried I would have a coughing fit in the middle of recording Baby Dust, or more likely, burst into tears. At least I didn’t have to worry about how I looked. We would be hidden in little booths the whole time even though I was having a rare good hair day.
I was introduced to volunteers of Learning Ally, a local branch of a national organization that records books for use by people with dyslexia or visual impairments. They are currently in the middle of their Record-a-Thon, where local celebrities, authors, politicians, and others record one-hour sessions to raise awareness and help them fund the coming year.
“What is your book about?” one asked. “Is it a lovely little children’s book like Pam’s?”
I couldn’t bear to tell her that mine was about death.
I should have practiced saying the hard stuff then, though, as when Project Director Carter York led me to a booth to teach me how the recording would go, he said, “The first thing we’ll record is the dedication.”
Whew, boy. My little babies, all dead. Suddenly I wasn’t sure I could read a single page.
But Carter made the transition to reading the book super easy. I made mistakes, and laughing about them made reading the difficult material more bearable.
Afterward, I met some of the members of Learning Ally who actually use the services, listening to books that range from essential textbooks to beach reading. I wondered who might choose to listen to Baby Dust, and what circumstances they might be in. While my novel has been chosen as required reading for a college social work program in another state, I know it’s tough material.
I’ll be a regular at Learning Ally, which, I’m sure, is what they hope for from their Record-a-Thon. I am thrilled at the opportunity to read my book aloud.
Before I left, staff took a million pictures. Me, in headphones. Holding my book. With volunteers. With another author. Someone whispered, “I should have done my hair!”
Yep, I was glad for the good hair day. And waterproof mascara.