I’m writing this from my hotel room in Saint John New Brunswick, on tour with the Hackmatack award. The ceremony is on Friday the 13th (in three days or two–too tired to count) and WANTING MOR is up for the award but I doubt it will win.

The old adage of it’s an honour to be nominated really applies.

I know it sounds hokey when people say that, but it’s actually true.

I can’t imagine a place more far removed from Afghanistan, and for kids here to be exposed to my story really is an honour!

But that said this week has been a real test of stamina. A trial or ‘fitna’ (the term in Arabic).

I left home on Sunday at 7:30 am, got into my hotel in Orlando about 2 pm, had a book signing at 1:30 the next day, but unfortunately the books didn’t arrive.

How do you have a book signing without books? You don’t. Instead, ever prepared moi, signed bookplates for anyone who walked close enough by who made eye contact and was within earshot.


They don’t tell you about this when you first start writing.

That you’ll be called upon to do book signings. I mean you get visions of you, the author, at a desk with a long line of eager readers running out the door of the venue, clutching your book to their chest, just waiting for you to sign it for them.

Hasn’t happened yet.

The longest line I ever had was probably for Roses in My Carpets and back then it was at an event that would later be called Book Expo and they were giving the books away for free. (They don’t do that any more.)

At the International Reading Assocation convention in Orlando, I was tucked away in a little booth, and nobody planned to come and see me. If they had, there was another mixup and the booth number had been recorded wrong.

But having been in that situation before, I just called out as people walked by, asking them if they’d heard of my book WANTING MOR and as a result of that, I got at least a couple of dozen people to notice my work.

Some of them even came to my session, and one of them in particular, a lady named Kara, was so eager to buy a copy of WANTING MOR I told her I’d sell her my only copy after my presentation if she showed up.

She did indeed show up!

But all was not hunky dorey. There was one lady I called out to, an older platinum blonde lady, rather on the large size. I asked her if she’d heard of my book, she stopped in her tracks and said, “Muslim?”

I said, “Yes.”

And she got this look of disgust on her face and said, “No!”

She was clearly not interested.

One of the ladies who worked for the distributor was sitting beside me when this happened. She was such a nice lady. we’d gone out to dinner the night before.  She looked at me apalled.

For some reason I just laughed.

She couldn’t believe the woman’s reaction. She said, “I just hope she’s not a teacher.”

I told her that honestly I was surprised I didn’t get more of that type of reaction.

My Wanting Mor presentation went over very well, I must say.

My biggest fear was no one would show up to see little ole me, but I had a good crowd. I’d say close to fifty people. And considering the competing sessions that were going on, it was a good turnout.

They all stayed for the whole time. But what I find is the best way to guage whether it went well is if you get mobbed afterwards with them telling you how much they loved it.


Sure took the sting out of that other lady’s reaction.

Right afterwards I had to rush out and catch a taxi for the airport.

Met some wonderful people at the convention! Including Jacqueline Woodson (and her little three year old son Jackson who’d loved BIG RED LOLLIPOP so much his birthday wish was having it read to him a number of times), and I met a lovely author named Kathryn Toshi who’s written and illustrated a book called Zero that looks fascinating. We swapped copies. Can’t wait to read it!

Had to come back with American Airlines. They charged $25 for my checked bag. They wouldn’t let me carry it on! Grr.

 Didn’t get home till 1:30 am after a taxi ride from hell.

The guy was an Egyptian Christan Copt with an axe to grind about Muslims.

He started by saying, “Oh I hope you don’t mind. You look like such a nice respectable lady.” Then he went on to say,  “You guys love to kill people! What is it with Islam?”

I told him, “I don’t like to kill anyone. Not all Muslims do stuff like that.”

But honestly I didn’t bother arguing with him too much.

I thought it was wise not to rile him up. He was driving.

But it put a bit of a downer on the end of the trip.

Got home and couldn’t sleep because of it.

Then woke up by 9 am this morning and now it’s 7:40 pm and I’m in my hotel room in New Brunswick ready for another tour.

It’ll be nice to get home insha Allah.