"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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What an adventure: Day Two

My original plan for Friday was to stop in Auburn at The Book Haven to ask if they liked my book, then drive to the Gray Eagle Lodge and say hello to all the folks, poke my head in at High Sierra Books and Gifts in Portola to share a laugh with Kelly, and be in Quincy by 4:30 p.m.

Around five o'clock Thursday night, I began to re-think that. When I reviewed my Mapquest notes, it dawned on me that I would not have nearly enough time for all of these little visits, so I went to Plan B.

I called an old friend who lives in Auburn to see if she'd meet me for an early lunch. Meri and I shared an office when we were both software engineers at Hughes Aircraft Company. We became friends, hung out together, and have kept in touch by Christmas cards since she moved to the Sacramento area, about 18 years ago. It's possible I hadn't seen her since Marcus was born and she visited me in the hospital, but I won't swear to that.

While I waited to meet her, I stopped in at the Book Haven and asked about my book. In August, I'd given a copy of Freezer Burn to the very enthusiastic store manager, who said she'd read it immediately and pass it on to the owner. As it turns out, the manager might have been more enthusiastic about returning to college; she left without completing the task. The owner did not recall seeing my book. She took all my information, swore it had to be in the store somewhere, and said she'd get back to me. Yes, I've already sent her the follow-up email.

Oh, well. I still had some time to kill, so I drove to the Placer County Library and got the buyer's name for mystery books. On my way there, I passed some peculiar statues.

Not only is she nearly naked, she is larger than most planets. Just ask her sister:

The tableau indicates that they are gunning for this guy. I have no idea what his crime is, unless his chain-rattling is keeping them up at night. God knows it'd make me cranky.

According to Meri, they have to hire extra chaperones to ride the school bus, just to put their hands over the children's eyes when they drive past.

I arrived at Epilog Books in Quincy about an hour early, which was fine. Christine Crawford, the owner, was happy to see me. I met her husband, and the young woman who works in the store. Everyone was friendly and loved chatting, which meant I had come to the right place. Unfortunately, Quincy on a Friday night is not exactly a hotbed of activity. There were eight people on the street, four of which came into the store, and I sold two books. But I'm not complaining - here were the highlights:

1. I met a firefighter who had just returned from battling the Station Fire in north L.A., and I was able to thank him profusely.
2. I met a darling boy of about 12, who is also an author and we exchanged ideas on how to improve our writing.
3. I had a great time with Chris and her hubby and would go back there in a New York minute.
4. She placed my book next to the new Dan Brown - what great advertising!
5. I sold two books.

One story about the young boy, James: we were trying to explain Dean Martin to him, describing his singing and acting and style. James looked very thoughtful for a moment, then remarked, "So, Dean Martin is the prehistoric Elvis."

This made me feel old enough, until he added, "Of course, Elvis is the prehistoric Michael Jackson."

If I could, I'd insert the sound of a woman weeping here. A really old woman. Crone-ish.

At the end of it all, I drove 76 miles of narrow, twisting road in ink-darkness from Quincy to Oroville, keeping a sharp lookout for deer while my contacts glued themselves to my eyes. I pulled into Oroville, wanting dinner and a bed. Both the desk clerk at the Motel 6 and the manager at the Cornucopia restaurant wanted to know what brought me to town. They didn't have the cash for a book, but I ended up giving them bookmarks and cards.

It was a great way to end the day.


dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, thanks for sharin'....especially the young James story...gotta feature that at the ol' ilovedinomartin Dinoblog....keep liftin' up the name of our Dino...and betcha in a few James will come to know, love, and honor our Dino....

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

We never know what to expect from the mouths of babes...and, just when I thought I couldn't feel any older...

But, it is really great to have your book in the same vicinity as Dan Brown's. Hopefully some people will be inclined to pick up both of them.

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