November has been an exciting month! I spoke at my first book club and met a group of women that I hope to get to know better. DiVoran Lites and I had the chance to participate in the first annual Florida Bookstore Day on November 15 along with four other authors at our local bookstore. I found out that Jessie is a top five finalist in the Patrick D. Smith Literary contest, and I was invited as a co-author in a book signing with award-winning journalist and bestselling author Jay Barbree. Just one of these opportunities would have been enough to fill my heart with thanks, but all three in the span of 12 days has left me feeling incredibly blessed.
During my talk with the book club, one of the ladies told me she’d mentioned my book to the head of the U.S. Space Walk of Fame and he was interested in having me come down for a book signing. I had hoped to have a launch party for Jessie at this museum, but had never been able to connect with the right people, so I was thrilled to have this door opened for me. I gave this nice lady my card and within days received a call inviting me to be a part of a book signing they already had planned with Jay Barbree. Barbree’s book, Live from Cape Canaveral, was one of the first that I read when I started research for Jessie, so I can’t express what an honor I considered this invitation.
I spent four hours at the museum this past Saturday with veterans of the space program stopping in to see Mr. Barbree, chatting about old times and picking up copies of his latest book, Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight. Many of them took the time to talk with me and purchased my book as well, but even if I hadn’t sold a single copy I would have enjoyed every minute. In many ways I felt like I was watching the nameless, behind-the-scenes characters of Jessie, coming together for a reunion, telling the stories that simply can’t fit into a single novel or biography.
The U.S. Walk of Fame Foundation has been through some difficult times, moving from location to location over the past 16 years. Their current home still won’t hold all of the memorobilia and artifacts they have acquired, but it provides an impressive account of man’s journey into space. In addition to the musuem, the Foundation has created monuments for all those who have worked on the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs. These momunents are located at Space View park in Titusville, FL and anyone who has been a part of these programs can purchase an engraving to be added to the monuments.
The Foundation isn’t just about remember our past though, it’s also about encouraging young minds. Students ages 8-13 are invtied to partipcte in STEM Sessions (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) several times a year to learn more about living and working in space, robot technology, and launch safety. Many thanks to Charlie Mars, Karan Conklan, and all of the volunteers who give their time to this labor of love, education, and preservation. If you would like to support the Foundation, you can learn more about memberships here.
As we go into the Thanksgiving holiday I know that I have more than just these exciting events to be thankful for. I have a wonderful family, supportive fans, a job that allows me the flexibilty to pursue my writing, and most of all a God that holds me in the palm of His hand, guiding my steps, even when I feel like I am walking in the dark. I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.