Iggy’s First Outing

(Originally posted 11/2016 on Inkapus.com)

As I am getting ready to introduce Iggy to the world, I thought it might be a good idea to take him out and see how people would respond to him. In my mind, it was part stress test, part test marketing and part curiosity.

Since the holiday season is about to get underway, I thought I’d take him to the people via a small arts and crafts show about an hour away from where I live. I couldn’t think of a more real, down to earth way to meet everyday people who weren’t necessarily looking for a book, just something unique to offer their loved ones — and without any pre-conceived expectations. It was the perfect way to get an authentic first impression.

For the first hour, no one came by. I got a little anxious. “Perhaps this wasn’t the right market after all.” I told my daughter who was there helping me. I worried that perhaps it was all a big mistake.

Then, a cute mom and her two young ones came by. They thought Iggy was the cutest. They needed a gift for a friend. And before I knew it, I had my first sale! Then a grandmother with her daughters and grandchildren came by. They bought a set and two of my inkapus toys. I was excited to share Iggy with three generations. After them, many others came. And, with each guest, I got better at telling Iggy’s story.

What quickly became apparent to me, however, was Iggy wasn’t the only one who had a story. One woman came by and bought a book for her 40-year old son who was deeply introverted but now had an extroverted son he didn’t understand. Next, a large family came by. Their son was autistic, but loved to read more than anything. They bought a few books for him. They spotted my other book, “What if…” and asked about it too. I explained it was about helping kids imagine a better world, and then being the ones to change it. Her other son piped up enthusiastically and said: “We are trying to change the world too!” as he thumped his autistic brother on the arm. She told me her son had recently been on TV — that he was terminally ill, but was trying to make a difference in their community. That knocked the wind out of me a little bit. I choked up, and tried not to cry. I handed the boys the book and told them maybe this could help. The mother looked at me and said I didn’t have to do that. I told her I wanted to. Of course I wanted to. Plus, I couldn’t imagine a better family for my book.

Then, my first buyer came back by. Her kids wanted to spend their own money on Iggy. I spoke with her a little bit and found out she and her husband was in the army. I come from a military family, so I immediately felt a connection with her, and, respected her and her husband for their duty. And, I felt proud that her family was going to have Iggy in their home. And, I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to see those darling kids ride off in their stroller, reading my books. So, so cute.

I met so many wonderful people — a sweet mother whose husband had been deployed and was trying to bring in extra cash while he was away. I met a speech pathologist that was looking for good books for her young patients to read. I met two librarians, a teacher, a fellow writer and so many more. They each had their challenges, their joys.

This last year, I’ve been pouring my heart and soul, and money, into Iggy. I work long hours, and find my time is very much divided and I don’t always get much sleep. And, while it’s been exciting, it’s also been hard on my family at times, and really hard on me mentally and physically. However, on Iggy’s first outing, I was reminded that I am not alone in this world, we all have our challenges, and most importantly, that we all have so much to be grateful for. And that is what I’m focusing on now.

Me and my oldest daughter