Saturday, November 20, 2010

First book signing becomes history

The aroma of coffee and pastry goods greets visitors when they enter the Book Cellar in Burgaw, North Carolina.
Book Cellar co-owner Nancy Alguire handed me a free cup of Courthouse Coffee’s steaming-hot house blend when I walked through the front entrance on Friday afternoon for my first book signing.
Nancy and her sister Sandy Fraley share the building on West Courthouse Avenue with Courthouse Coffee. It’s a courtship made in ‘bouquet’ heaven.
She set me up at a table in the front room among shelves of old paperbacks. The smell of those books complimented the aroma of the coffee as I set the cup on the table.
Soon I had the box containing my ten books on the table. Out came four copies of The Emperor’s Mistress, which I arranged along the edge of the table so people would see them when they walked in from the sidewalk. Near my books were two posters showing the front and back covers.
Those posters were fine ways to let potential purchasers learn the basic plot of The Emperor’s Mistress. The front cover shows a ponytailed tomboy garbed in medieval male clothing battling a dragon. The back cover contains a teaser blurb.
The book signing lasted two hours. I sold and signed three books. And I left two paperbacks with Nancy and Sandy to display and hopefully sell.
All in all it was a nice, relaxing way to spend a Friday afternoon. I chatted with Nancy and Sandy, and learned that at one time they had lived in Riverside, California. They were familiar with Rialto and Corona, towns where my family lived when I was in elementary school and junior high.
Their father is 97 years old and as sharp as men half his age. He doesn’t need a bookmark, but remembers the page where he left off. He taught himself to fly, and as a young man went in with others to purchase a Piper Cub. Nancy and Sandy remember flying with him. He’d tip the plane to give the girls a thrill.
I had a second cup of coffee of the house blend as I listened to them. They compared notes of Grand Canyon hiking trips, and related how much more developed the natural wonder is nowadays than back in the ‘70s. The coffee house hostess shared baked goods with us from the coffee bar, and soon it was time to pack up my remaining books for the trip back to the house.
Nancy and Sandy invited me to participate in another book signing when the second book of the Larenia’s Shadow trilogy is published. Thief’s Coin is in final revision and hasn’t been submitted to the publisher yet, so that book signing will probably take place sometime in the second half of 2011.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On a quest to do a book signing...

I’ll soon be doing my first book signing.

The co-owner of The Book Cellar in Burgaw, N.C., contacted me over the weekend and said she’d like to schedule the book signing for Friday, Nov. 19 in the afternoon. She anticipates getting a variety of readers coming in to the bookstore, including students from the local branch of Cape Fear Community College in nearby Wilmington.

College-age kids are often fans of the fantasy genre. That’s about when I first started reading fantasy novels. I do believe my first one was a Conan novel by Robert E. Howard I was reading by flashlight in the summer of 1970 in a bedroom of a summerhouse at Lakeside, the Methodist-affiliated summer resort on Lake Erie in Ohio. I was telling my cousin Pat about the plot. Pat’s an interesting fellow. He lives in Israel where he helps organize barbershop quartets. You should hear his version of “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”

Back to my novel, The Emperor’s Mistress…I’m not sure how many books I’ll be able to sell. Unlike some other authors, I do have the ability to generate publicity for the event. I work for a chain of weekly newspapers as the sports editor. I can write my own news release and get it published in four newspapers with circulations in two counties. It’ll be a nice experiment to see how many people show up at The Book Cellar because they read about the book signing in one of the newspapers.

And with luck maybe another bookstore owner in another town in one of the counties will want to do a book signing. At least that’s my hope.

Since bad economic times forced me back into journalism, I’ve struggled to find the time to work on books 2 and 3 of my trilogy, Larenia’s Shadow. A sports editor without a staff has very little time to do anything but cover games and write the stories. It’s nice to see that journalism can also be helpful.

In the last few weeks I’ve tried to find a balance between my newspaper job and my writing career. It’s not been easy, though. When I set aside a couple of afternoons to work on book 2, Thief’s Coin, I found myself finishing up that edition’s football, soccer and volleyball stories at 4 a.m. on a Monday. “Q”, my paginator, was not happy with me.

Two years ago I was an instructional developer writing online training manuals for the pulp-and-paper industry. I spent weeks on end living in hotels, but at least my evenings were free to work on The Emperor’s Mistress. That is until the Great Recession slew the small training company I worked for.

Ten months of unemployment followed, and then an offer to be a sports reporter. Of course, I accepted the job offer. Stay tuned…I’ll do a follow-up on the book signing as well as how successfully or unsuccessfully I juggle the duties of sports editor and novelist.