"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, September 21, 2009

What an adventure: Day One

I just got back from my trip and I barely know where to start. I was going to give you the Reader's Digest version of where I went and what I did, but the trip was so rich and filled with interesting things to see and people to meet, I'm going to take it a day at a time. It was a short trip, so it won't take long, I promise. And tomorrow, I'll have pictures.

My journey got off to a great start in Bakersfield on Thursday. First of all, I have this mental image of independent bookstores as hole-in-the-wall operations with tight rows of floor to ceiling bookshelves, crammed with Everything That's Ever Been Published. This picture was dashed when I pulled into the upscale shopping center and entered Russo's Books, next to Talbot's. It was clean and pretty and neatly arranged.

As always, I took a tour around the store, checking for their mystery section and seeing if they carry any of my friends' books. I then wandered to the back and saw a lady coming out of the office who looked like she might know something.

My spiel usually goes something like this: "Hi, I'm a debut novelist on my way to a book signing and I'm visiting independent bookstores (or libraries) along my route to see if you'd like to carry my book, or would like to have me come for an author event." This is said in a very perky voice, after which I whip out Freezer Burn and give them the 25-word commercial.

The lady in Russo's introduced me to Tony, as in Tony Russo, who went back to his office immediately and got his calendar to book me. Wow, as they say at Staples, that was easy! I'll be sharing a table at the Bakersfield Book Festival on November 7, which should be fun.

After my success, I headed up CA-99 to Fresno. The Fig Garden Bookstore was also in a rather ritzy section of town. While not exactly icy, they did not run to their calendar to see when I could come back for a visit. In hindsight, the lady who spoke with me is very old-school; she couldn't see beyond local authors and large publishers. But she graciously took my media kit and said she'd certainly order my book if anyone asked for it.

Naturally, I'm going to appeal to any of my Facebook/MySpace/Twitter friends in the Fresno area to go order Freezer Burn from The Fig Garden Bookstore. Pleeeeeeze. I want to turn this lady's head.
I had planned to see some stores in Sacramento, but I got into town too late for anything but dinner with my friends, Jim Barnes, his two daughters, Alyssa and Melinda, and their older sister, Sara. I met them in Roseville, at a place called Dos Coyotes. Getting there was fun…

Here's the thing: my 12-year old minivan does not have a GPS system, so I prepared for my trip with a bunch of Mapquest maps and the VZ Navigator system on my Verizon phone. As with most GPS systems, a gentle female voice told me where to go. I originally named her Wanda the Wonder Navigator, but after traveling 1200 miles with her, I've decided it's a pair of sisters. Wanda gives the very clear directions to "prepare to turn right in 500 yards" then lets her sister pronounce the names. Her sister (let's call her Justine) says things like, "Shee-Ay Wan ThurdEEN," for CA-113. I think she has a little problem, and Wanda may be enabling her.

I do hope she's not spending her entire paycheck at the corner bar.

The other problem with Wanda and Justine is that they are too polite. If I receive a phone call while they are in the midst of navigation, they won't interrupt to tell me I need to turn, like, NOW.

So as I was trying to get from CA-99 to the I-80, a girlfriend called, which silenced my navigating sisters and sent me to the wrong freeway. By the time we ended our conversation, I was in a very dark, very quiet, very industrial part of Sacramento. Was I worried? Pish, tosh, no. I had gas in the car, locks on the doors, and a potential story to tell.

"Recalculating," Wanda said.

After a few miles, I heard the reassuring direction to "prepare to turn right in point-five miles, onto-"

"Aye-etty eesht," Justine chimed.

After dinner, the gals directed me to my Motel 6, which seems like the kind of place you'd send someone who's just been released from the Institution for the Terminally Fragile. There are no sharp corners, no drawers on the desk, no lid on the toilet, nothing to hurt you. There are also no people who actually want to sleep or use their inside voices, and all the rooms have to be built underneath a busy freeway. But I was exhausted, so I slept anyway.

And that was Day One. Tomorrow, I'll talk about my signing in Quincy, but first, I'll show you pictures of some really big naked people in Auburn. Promise.


dino martin peters said...

Dear Miss Gayle Carline, so glad to know you got to and from safely and will enjoy hearin' all your adventures...

Enid Wilson said...

Oh, you are so brave to approach every book shop on the way for book signing. I have been thinking about doing this but rather hesitant...
Bargain with the Devil

Anonymous said...

I like to walk around at bok signings and talk to people. Go to them. They're happy to talk to you.

Stephen Tremp

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.