I want to thank all of the Wonderful People who came out to meet me at Barnes & Noble Sunday, May15th.Yesterday I basked in the glory of a generosity of spirit and freely offered friendship that was truly overwhelming. I was -- and remain -- amazed and exhilarated.
Our local Barnes & Noble in Bradley was swamped with wonderful people who came out on an unseasonably cold and wet May Sunday afternoon to support nine local authors, myself included in that number, and it was heartwarming. (I'm wondering if the weather was a boon for us since it wasn't a great day to garden or golf!)
The other authors were: J.L. Alkire, Margie Black, Yvonne Conner, Steve Goreham, Patti McKenna, Helen Macie Osterman, Gregory Thompson and Alan Webber. We seem to have had a mix of fiction writers in a range of genres, as well as a nearly equal measure of non-fiction writers who wrote about a variety of historical and current topics. From what I could tell, we were a very interesting group and there was a mix of debut authors as well as those who've written several books. To be honest, the layout was a problem; a few of these authors were placed at tables that were out of sight in other areas around the store. Half of us were luckier because we were right in front.
Location, location, location...
I was so busy meeting people at my own table that I had little time to meet all of the other authors. As it turned out I only met the authors who were in closest proximity to me. The wonderful truth is that we were all swamped by steady streams of people interested in our books and ourselves but we agreed that we'd like to get together in the future to learn more about each other, our writing, and lend one another the emotional support all writers need.
Sales were brisk and steady and I think we could have extended the event longer. In fact, although the event was technically over at 3:00 many of us were still talking to folks for almost an hour after that (I didn'd mind; we had a real party atmosphere going on there!).
My husband Al hovered around, in and out of the store. We took Shadow with us (that dog lives to travel; he adores it!) and although Al never brought him into the store he did walk him over to the front door where Shadow proved once again that he's a perfect gentleman and has the poise of a natural-born celebrity.
It never takes long for people to ask me about the dog on the cover of January Moon (and those who read the book eventually ALWAYS want to talk about "the dog") so at one point (when I saw Al and Shadow in front of the store, standing in front of the gigando picture window that serves as a wall for the store) it was great fun to say:
"Well, actually the dog that inspired me when I wrote about Wolf is my dog Shadow and, as a matter of fact, he's right outside the door now..."
Shadow is such a dead ringer for the dog on the cover of the book -- and so majestic in real life -- that sometimes people actually gasped when they turned around and saw him.
"Oh my God!" I heard someone say, "he's gorgeous!"
He looked at me and I knew he was asking, "What do you want me to do? Are you alright? I swear to God I'll come in and get you -- I'll go right through this damn window if you need me -- I swear..."
It's easy to get once you look into Shadow's intelligent face.
Another person asked if I thought Shadow might be more famous than me one day which made me laugh and reply, "Well, I know he expects to be on Oprah but I'm not sure he plans to bring me with..."
Some random thoughts & observations:
1. I live in a wonderful area with wonderful people and plan to make an effort to get them to know them better. My new found friends assure me that this is absolutely going to happen because they intend to make sure I become more involved in the community. Awesome.
2. I was amazed at how many people came just to meet me after they already read January Moon; I guess I never expected that people would show up with books just to get my autograph. Some people brought their Kindles and Nooks and showed me that January Moon was downloaded on their e-readers -- which made us all realize you can't "sign" an e-book & caused one man to ask that I sign something else instead (some promo material for the book).
3. I didn't keep track but I bet I might have signed almost as many pre-bought books as new and that's pretty amazing (and this doesn't include the folks who downloaded January Moon on an e-reader right there in front of me in the store -- it seemed important for some people to show me that and it was indeed fun).
4. So many people brought in pre-bought books and January Moon on e-readers that I made a note to self: "check sales reports again" because it almost made me think my numbers were off! Or, was this all just a fluke -- a local phenomenon?
5. At least four people drove to Bradley from pretty far away (let's put it this way: I wouldn't have made the drive). One woman and her two daughters came from Joliet and that's a damn good poke down the road. (It was wonderful meeting you and your daughters, Sheila! You were a surprise!)
6. Two women told me they wouldn't have believed "a woman wrote January Moon" if they didn't know better. Neither could explain this but one did say her husband read January Moon and "he said you write like a man." She added "we never like the same books but we both liked January Moon" and she brought me her copy to sign. She said her son was reading it on Kindle.
7. A man heard this conversation (above in #6) and said he didn't read "women writers." The ladies at my table jumped all over the poor guy and I had to save him from some feminist indignation. I told him what male cops and other guys have said about my book and showed him Denny Banahan's review in the front of the book. He decided to buy the book but didn't want me to sign it. He asked if I'd take it back if he got home and didn't like it! I said "Sure, what the hell..." (I don't think that's gonna' happen but it it does I'll let you know!)
8. I was obviously fairly clueless about what to write when signing a book. I sort of feel I should personalize each book but that's pretty hard to do when you've known someone for all of 15 seconds... also, I'm easily distracted and when I do write something I like to think about it... not easy to do when the line is forming and people are waiting to be next up... talk about deadline pressure!
9. One kind soul laughed softly and said "you're kind of new to this signing thing, aren't you?" She added good naturedly, "it sort of shows but you'll get the hang of it!" (Note to self: need to get some advice on this from more experienced authors.)
10. The big surprise of the day was that two people drove a fairly good distance to purchase the two books I haven't finished! One man wanted my "history" book ("Daylight & Deja vu") and a young man was there to buy "March Storm." They were very nice about it but I felt terrible. The man who wanted the history book (he follows my blogging at the PragPro) wants a book in print and was not impressed when I said I'd probably distribute it by e-book first; the guy who wanted "March Storm" prefers e-books. He said that both he and his girlfriend read January Moon on their Kindles and his parents each have a Kindle.
11. A few of the local authors seemed unfortunately out of the loop about e-books. I had the sense that I was the only one who really understood e-books and I was surprised that even the authors who were much younger than I weren't very knowledgeable about the e-book revolution. I have a feeling that changed yesterday as there were a few epiphanous moments.
12. As always happens to me when I mix it up in a crowd, I came away with a very special connection. As luck would have it, I met a man who was a real honest-to-God alpaca farmer just when I needed to find one.
"March Storm" finds Lt. Del Carter, the young homicide dick from Chicago, trying to recover his sanity and shelter his new family on that alpaca farm he always swore he was one day going to own...
Mark Pressler said he'd be my alpaca expert and that put the final perfect touch on a thoroughly wonderful day.