I met Fran Cannon Slayton, author of the children’s middle grade novel, When The Whistle Blows, published in 2009 by Philomel Books, at the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Alliance (SIBA) trade show in Greenville, South Carolina in September 2009. My children’s middle grade novel, Gone From These Woods, had just been published by Random House’s Delacorte Press. Fran’s When The Whistle Blows had recently been published, too, and our publishing companies had agreed to donate 60 of our books for us to autograph and hand out to SIBA booksellers.
Still giddy from meeting one of my author idols, Patricia Reilly Giff, author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods, both Newbery Honor books, at the luncheon earlier that day, I watched as SIBA volunteers brought cartons of my freshly printed novel to the signing table where my traveling companion and assistant, daughter Jenny, and I unpacked them. Inhaling the new book aroma, I admired the cover art that featured Daniel Sartain, the protagonist of my story, standing in a deep, dark, woods scene. In just a few minutes, I would autograph 60 copies and send them out into the literary world where I hoped the recipients , independent booksellers, would promote my book to their bookstore visitors. One of those booksellers was Janet Geddis, who opened her Athens, Georgia Avid Bookshop in October 2011.
Next to me, Fran Cannon Slayton sat empty-handed, watching nervously as more cartons of books were delivered to other authors in the room. When news that her publisher’s book delivery had been delayed and her books would not arrive in time, tears filled her eyes. I felt guilty as I signed and gave away copies of my book while Fran signed bookmarks and promised to send each bookseller at SIBA a copy of When The Whistle Blows. Such bad luck for a newly-published author.
Flash forward to the present, 2016. Author Fran Cannon Slayton is having more bad luck. This mom of 12-year-old Hannah, wife of Marshall for 26 years, and daughter of salt-of-the-earth Jim and Betty, was suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer on Sunday, January 17th, 2016. Fran and her family all live together in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her dad also has cancer.
So how can we help this unlucky author and her family? Fran, who actually blogged live from her own brain surgery February 11, 2016, has a website and blog: francannonslayton.com where you can follow her brain cancer journey and read about several ways you can help. One of the best ways to help is to buy Fran’s book, When The Whistle Blows, a gentle, set-back-in-time series of stories about a small town in West Virginia, a boy named Jimmy Cannon and a train. Each purchase helps this gifted author support her family.
Life is not fair. But when bad things happen to great authors, like Fran Cannon Slayton, we can help.