Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I just learned that one of my favorite bookstores is closing. Maple Street Children's Book Shop in New Orleans has meant a lot to me over the years. Many people think that when a writer sells a book, the publisher sends them on a world-wide tour, but usually there is no tour for the first time author. Thank goodness I knew this and I created my own tour.

There are so many people who were wonderful to me on that 16 day journey from Shreveport to New Orleans. One of them was Cindy Dike, owner of Maple Street Children's Book Shop. My old friend Laurie was living in New Orleans at the time and she suggested I contact their store when my book came out. In March of 1998 I called Cindy to ask if I could do a book signing in her store. Wise Cindy knew people don't usually show up for an unknown writer's signing, but she said, "I'll order some of your books and if you want to do a stock signing you can drop by my store."

She also gave me the name of a school she thought might be interested in an author visit. They were. And as a result of that contact, the local SCBWI group asked me to dinner. A year or so later I returned to Maple Street Book Shop and did a signing. Cindy always welcomed me back. This was a bookstore owner that offered more than books. Cindy opened a door for me in New Orleans. And that's the kind of thing an independent book store does well. They go the extra-mile. They thrive on that old-fashioned way of doing business, creating friendships and playing a huge part in building a writer's career.

If you want to read more about this special bookstore and their future plans, Susan Larson wrote a lovely article about them in the Times Picayune. You can read it here.

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