advanced reader copy for Marching for Freedom

You know that feeling you get when you are in a little cabin in the woods and its been windy and maybe rainy and suddenly you realize that the wind has stopped blowing. It is calm. Beautifully, quietly calm. And you know how you pick your head up and wonder, "when did the wind stop blowing? Just now? Or minutes ago and I didn't notice?"

The wind stopped blowing for me... minutes ago. For the last few weeks I have been hard at work on the final fixes on my upcoming book, Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children, and Don't You Grow Weary. But I haven't been alone. My editor, Catherine Frank, has been reading, shooting me questions, rereading. Strategizing. Asking more questions. Jim Hoover, the designer...well, he's put together the most incredibly beautiful book. I was able to pull together 50 black and white photos of the march from Selma to Montgomery, 1965. Here's a snapshot of some proofs that Jim recently sent me that I put up on the wall of my writing room. He was working on getting the grays just right. Not too warm, not too cool. And the manuscript has also been circulating through the incredible, encylcopedic mind and capable hands of Janet Pascal, catching my most dim-witted errors, and querying jumps or oversights I've made.

While we were doing this, I was also finalizing all the permissions: for the photos, for quotes and music lyrics. Not for the faint hearted, I promise you. But all the worry and work and second-guessing is worth it: today my Advanced Reader Copies came in the mail. I held the book -- well, the pre- book really. (These are what the reviewers will get this spring. It's like a paperback copy of the book. Still missing the index and a few high-res photos.) I ran my hand over the silky-smooth cover. Sniffed it. Thumbed through it. Slowly, very slowly. Greeted each photo like an old friend.

There a few tasks left for each of us, but the book goes off to the printer very soon, and reappears as a real book this fall. Now... in the quiet... the rest of my life is waiting for me.

Here is what happens to my desk when I work this flat-out. Kind of scary, eh? You can see that I have a little clean-up to do now that the winds have stopped blowing!