Monday, May 08, 2006

Adventures in Booksigning

I'm back home and recovering from a weekend of booksignings. I was going to say that I wouldn't put myself through that kind of back-to-back event stress again, but then I realized that my goal is to be the kind of popular, best-selling author who gets sent on real book tours, and this weekend would only be a fraction of a taste of a real book tour, so I won't make any promises.

The signing in Tyler was a little overwhelming because there were a lot of authors participating and the store was packed with customers. Crowds tend to stress me out a wee bit so I probably wasn't as friendly and outgoing as I can be at events like that. Then there was the problem of the store not being able to get copies of the new book. The CRM had managed to scrounge ten copies, and six of them had already sold, so I started the signing with a stack of copies of Enchanted, Inc. and four copies of Once Upon Stilettos, which went pretty quickly because a lot of my parents' friends showed up to get their copies. That ended up working out pretty well, though, because all those people milling around the bookstore had never heard of me, so they'd need to get the first book, anyway. Plus, that book is the book of the month for the local NBC station's book club, so it made sense to push it a little more. I can always go back and sign the new book later. The new CRM at that store is a real firecracker. Last year, the store was dead and quiet, but now it's buzzing, and that's great to see. And what a great idea to work with one of the local TV stations to have a book club. That's something more stores/stations should think about doing. Even better that they're willing to read fun books and not the usual book club fare.

Then the next morning I had to get up early and drive back to Dallas in time to sing in the choir for church, and then run over to the nearby bookstore for another signing. That's when the fun began. I'd decided to wear the Infamous Red Stilettos for this signing, but I drive a stick shift, which doesn't work well with stiletto heels (besides, I wouldn't want to scuff them). So, I wear a pair of flats to drive. I got to the parking garage behind the bookstore, then changed shoes, sitting with the car door open so I could put on my shoes and adjust my stockings so the snags (another long, sad story) wouldn't show (and yeah, I know true fashionistas go bare-legged, but my legs are so white they're purple, and those shoes don't work well on bare feet). I'd pulled my car keys from the ignition and had them in my lap, and I guess they must have slid to the floorboard without me noticing. I got my purse and my tote bag full of signing supplies, then got out of the car, shut the door and realized just then that I didn't have my car keys. That was a fun way to enter the store, to walk up, introduce myself as the author signing that day and ask if anyone on their staff was good at breaking into cars. I felt like a total idiot. I've never locked my keys in the car before. I don't get out of the car without having my keys in my hand. And wouldn't you know it, I do it right before a booksigning so that I'm stressed and scattered.

But I wasn't the only one having issues. The bookstore's computer system had gone wonky and wouldn't accept checks or credit cards for a while. The bookstore staff and I decided that the stars must have been misaligned for us that day. They were also nice enough to move the signing table they'd set up upstairs out of the way down to inside the front door, so I got the fun of watching men rearranging furniture for me.

Then I got to enjoy a truly wild coincidence. Not long after we got that table arranged near the front door, a couple walked in. The husband looked at the books on display and said to his wife, "Didn't you review that book?" It turned out she was Andrea Sisco, the reviewer from Armchair Interviews whose quote is on the front cover of Once Upon Stilettos. Her husband was in town for a conference, and they'd dropped by the bookstore on their way back from church. She had no idea I was going to be there. It was great to meet her and chat with her, and she was a wonderful salesperson, going around telling everyone in the store what a good book it was.

Her husband mentioned that he could call AAA for me to get my car unlocked, which reminded me that (duh!) I have roadside assistance on my cell phone. So, thanks to Cingular, I very quickly (like within 20 minutes) had my car unlocked. Of course, wouldn't you know it, I actually had people at my table to get books when they called that they were in the parking garage, so I had to tell everyone to wait a second while I ran back there in my high heels to get my car unlocked and retrieve my keys. I guess it added a little excitement to the proceedings. They had the coolest gizmo for getting into the car. I thought for a moment that it would be handy to have something like that, but then I realized it would have been locked in the trunk, anyway, so it wouldn't have done me much good.

Part of my excuse for being such a space cadet that day was that my head had gone into Book Brain mode. While I was driving back to Dallas that morning, I found myself suddenly mentally writing the first chapter of book four, which involved creating a new character, one I already adore. It was inconvenient timing to have my head go into the clouds, but I won't complain about inspiration striking.

Now I have part of a week at home before I leave for Austin on Friday. I'll get home late Saturday, then I'm leaving for the Romantic Times convention early Tuesday morning. My house is kind of a disaster area right now, and I'm trying to decide whether to try to clean it up a little before I go out of town or let it get just a bit worse so I can qualify for EPA Superfund clean-up money.


Angie said...

I locked my keys in my car for the first time the morning I was taking the SAT. It does start your day off in the wrong way!

Shanna Swendson said...

I'm hoping this is one of those mistakes I never make again! I know I'll be ultra paranoid about it in the future.

monica said...

Well, I am sorry you had such a rough go, but wish I could have been there to meet you. Maybe someday you will make it to California? I just finished Once Upon Stilettos (read it in a day) and loved it! You have such a fun writing style and sense of imagination. Where on earth did you come up with Prozac in the water?

Shanna Swendson said...

Shhh! Watch the spoilers!!! ;-)

That came from a line in the first book, during Katie's job interview, and I knew right away that it was something that had to happen in a future book.