This week's blog prompt asks participating authors to discuss "when your perfect day turns into a nightmare." This is particularly poignant for me, but I had just such a day last month on November 18.
I've endured many days that delivered a nightmarish quality to my life. I don't sleep well to begin with and my nightmares often feature the same villains who dumped misery upon misery upon me. Having an obsessive personality, it's difficult--if not downright impossible--to let go of those offenses, hurts, and insults.
But, for me, November 18 began like any other day. I had a particularly encouraging exchange with a potential client. The day started out really well. Then I received a phone call: Dad's in the hospital. It's bad. I called my husband and he contacted our nephew. Someone's got to take care of the animals when we're away. The nephew took off from work to get a crash course in animal care. The husband came home and started packing. I packed for an extended stay: Mom would need distraction if not actual help.
We left. The MINI Cooper delivered a pretty good ride for a long drive as well as good fuel mileage. We were in Statesville, NC when we got another call. We were too late to say goodbye.
Satin Boots: Six Short Western Romances
“Cordell, you got a minute?” Daniel Harper asked his foreman. Being the newest hire on the Lazy Five, he didn’t want to stir up trouble.
The foreman, a man around Daniel’s age who had his eye on the boss’ daughter, got to his feet and replied, “Sure, Dan.”
Dan followed the man who still carried a tin cup full of coffee. They walked to the picket line, a good distance from the campfire, for privacy.
“What is it?” Cordell asked without preamble. “It’s … well, it’s about Jesse.”
Cordell raised a blond eyebrow. “Yeah?”
“Well, I was washin’ up in the creek and … well … I saw her.” Dan looked around to assure himself that no one listened in. “Jesse’s female.”
“Yeah, we know,” came the laconic reply. “But … but—”
“But nothin’, Dan. The whole crew knows. She’s like a little sister to all of us, and iff’n you think to bother her, don’t.”
“But she’s a girl!” Dan protested, every particle of his being outraged and offended. He’d thought himself going loco because something about the boy attracted him.
“Yeah, we know.” The foreman took a sip of his now- tepid coffee. He sighed, because he went through this with every new hire, especially the handsome, cocky ones like Daniel who enjoyed a little too much popularity with the ladies in town. “She does her job and does it well. So, what’s the problem?”
I spent Saturday, December 14, at the Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, Ohio where the Writer's Block Author Fair was held. Thanks go to author Michael Timmons for organizing this event and accepting me as a late registrant. Timmons was one of the participating authors at the 2019 Summer Book Fair in Springfield, Ohio. We shared our disappointment in that event.
I have no complaints about the event. It had everything I look for in a good book fair:
Like many malls, the Franklin Park Mall is no longer as vibrant as it used to be, but it's by no means gasping its last breaths like the mall in my hometown. Indeed, the venue was bright and clean and kept that way by uniformed workers throughout the day, although there were mysterious and disgusting stains on the floor in the women's restroom. The mall's acoustics made hearing somewhat difficult for me, especially later in the day; however, that's my problem and no one else's.
Situated in the food court, author tables were not numbered. A quick conferral with Timmons pointed everyone to his or her correct table. As per usual, I made the circuit around the tables. "Checking out the competition?" one author quipped? "Not competition," I responded, "colleagues." Indeed, I did not consider any of the authors present to be my competitors, if only because their audiences differ from mine.
The event boasted about two dozen authors, not the thirty expected. No matter. There were no empty vendor tables and we had a solid mix of genres, from children's literature to mystery to poetry to fantasy and more.
Because I attended unaccompanied by a booth slave ... er ... helper, I did not bring the display rack. It was too cumbersome to deal with. No matter, I had small display stands for some titles and I lay other titles flat on the table. Mall policy forbids backdrops or banner stands more than six feet tall, so I did not bring that type of signage. I purchased a short, battery powered string of LED lights for the table and a couple of large golden bows to anchor the it. Table signs advertised my half-price sale (no one of those books sold), new releases, and Hen House Publishing's editing and ghostwriting services. I spoke to a couple of people interested in having their manuscripts edited: "The advice and sarcasm are free, but the editing is not."
This event, by far, was probably the most humbling for me. Another I met through the Springfield author events, Kristalen Barringer, was there, accompanied by an elderly woman who asked if she might pray for me. The request startled me, because that was, of all things, unexpected. I replied that I could use all the prayers I got. The poor attempt at wit fell flat, but she ignored the awkwardness and bowed her head and prayed aloud for my success as an author. I, too, bowed my head and murmured an amen when she finished. The simple, powerful faith this lady demonstrated truly stunned humbled me, and I was grateful for her kindness.
I hope I remembered my manners sufficiently to thank her.
In all, I sold six books, almost enough to cover what I spent on gasoline for the round trip. Sales would have covered the cost of fuel if my car didn't require premium grade gasoline. As it is, I've yet to actually cover all expenses from any such event. None of these is profitable for me from a purely financial standpoint. However, I'll keep doing them because it's a pleasure to meet new readers.
My next scheduled event is the Lexington Book Bash in Lexington, Kentucky in March 2020. I hope you'll come.