At last! The day arrived! Yesterday, 16 February 2012, was the official release date of my Juliette Gordon Low:  The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts. It is unimaginably exciting to hold in your hands the culmination of  years of hard work. You faithful blog readers have been with me for around one hundred posts since I began this blog in 2010, on 22 June (the date of my parents’ anniversary) and it is impossible to overstate how important your support has been to me as a writer. So, while I did write this in the book’s Acknowledgements, I’d like to restate it here: thank you to all of you who have been reading, commenting, emailing, and cheering me on. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The process of researching and writing a book in this age of technology is very different from the days of notecards, yellow pads, and typewriters. Blogging while writing has been useful in at least five ways:

1.  Blogging has helped me to think through the book’s argument, to see the contours of the story, and to organize my thoughts–all in all making a better book.

2. Blogging allowed me to share with you all the fun details that would never get in the book. Since I did the research anyway, and since all authors hate to throw out what they’ve learned or written, it has been lovely to put the  bunny trails (as I called them in an earlier post) here on the blog. In many cases, I did follow the research further than I would have for just the book–so I learned more, too. And those details provide more interesting context about Daisy Low and her world.

3. Blogging brought me into contact with fascinating experts I did not know–including Tim Trager, the Grand Orchestrion expert; Judith Potter at Meggernie Outdoor Centre; Pine Hill Plantation’s Head Huntmaster, Todd Howard; Richard Sidell of  St. James Episcopal Church in Chicago; and especially Clive Hanley at Wellesbourne, with whose help I toured Daisy and Willy’s home in England, explored related sites, and met marvelous people like Peter and Rosalind Bolton, Ann Eccles, and Lady Elizabeth Hamilton. I never cease to be amazed at how generous people are with their knowledge and time. Lucky, lucky me.

3.5. Blogging kept me joyfully in touch with the incredible Katherine Keena, the Program Manager at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace (a title that does not in any way hint at the enormity of her knowledge of all things Daisy Low). I would have to devote an entire month of blogs to the ways that she helped me, but at this point I will confine myself to a public thank you to her for the use of photographs from the Birthplace.

4. Blogging kept me on track. I was on a tight deadline for this book, and knowing that I had to produce something for every Friday was a spur to the writing of the book, too. In a related point, blogging taught me I never want to be a journalist with a regular column. My  hat is off to all of you who do such work!

5. Blogging mitigated the inherent loneliness of writing. This is the point with which I began, but it bears restating: knowing I had readers for the blog–that is, you–made the whole process of writing the book much more enjoyable.

So, blogging–will I do it again with the next book?  I don’t know. I’m not 100% certain what the next book will be about. Will I continue this blog forever? No! I would like to see the sorts of questions I get during the book tour and other book events. Perhaps there are consistent questions from readers that I can answer here. I already have one question from a Girl Scout archivist about Mary Clarke’s will, and I promised to answer that here. So, if you have questions as you read the book, please send them to me.

The next few weeks will be great fun but ridiculously busy with travel and book talks (you can see where I’ll be if you check my website, Go to the Appearances tab). I will still have my classes to teach and committee work to do at Monmouth College, still have my family and friends to keep up with, and so forth. I expect the blog posts for the immediate future will either be more Short Bits about Daisy and her world or else me sharing the excitement of the book tour.

Either way, please know how grateful I am, dear blog readers, for your presence and your support. I hope you enjoy the book, the fruit of our shared endeavor.