Yes, You May Take One Giant Author Step

Some of us authors and readers can’t wait to hit the road to conferences, bookstores, and libraries. Others are more hesitant, or unsure where to start. Recently, one semi-wary Chick had the perfect opportunity to dip a talon into the waters…

Remember the childhood game “Mother, May I?” It required great cunning and skill, not to mention nerves of steel. How many steps—baby or giant or umbrella or helicopter—might be one too many, and then you’d have to run for your life and probably be tagged and have to be Mother (ugh)? That’s the way I’d felt lately, even though I’m lucky enough to be fully vaccinated.

When I received an invitation from our local library to attend a multi-author book signing, I was delighted—but a little worried, too. Was I ready to rejoin the world again? Were readers?

There was another teensy issue, too. I haven’t published a book in a while, and my first short story won’t appear until fall. My current work-in-progress is taking me forever to finish. Would people think I wasn’t a “real” writer anymore—a fraud? Gulp.

Then there’s always the fear of that book signing where not a single person appears. Hey, it happens. Part of Real Author Life. Maybe you’ve seen the classic cartoon by The Surreal McCoy, where the signing table with a “Meet the Author” sign has no line, and the table next to it with the “Meet the Author’s Dog” sign has a line out the door. I considered bringing my dog Farley. He promised to be good (see photo below). Two seconds later, he trampled through the daffodils. Sorry, Farley.

There were other worries, too. Would people still want bookmarks? Candy? Pens? How could I offer them in a safe way? I decided on wrapped Starburst, no bowl, and a discreetly placed pump bottle of Purell (I have plenty of those on hand, trust me.)

Not to mention, what should I wear? I couldn’t remember how authors were supposed to dress. But anything black was a safe choice for a mystery writer, right? And, of course, a mask (thank you, Ellen, for gifting me one with a cute Murder She Wrote design). Luckily, it was cold and windy, so I could add my trusty yellow crime tape scarf.

kitchen.scarf

Turns out we authors enjoyed ourselves immensely. We barely got ourselves set up in time, since we were all so busy meeting each other and chatting with our library director (thank you, Sam!) and comparing notes on the Current State of Publishing/Bookselling. We ranged in age from 10 to 75 and represented a variety of genres: YA, picture book, romance/women’s fic, historical, cookbook, mystery/suspense, and memoir.

And readers DID show up, despite clouds and wind and 14 months worth of pandemic misery. It warmed my heart that many came specifically to support us and buy our books. I was especially touched when a reader arrived to return books she’d checked out by each of us in anticipation of the event—and she wanted to buy some of our other titles. The youngest author sold several copies of her fairy picture book she’d written with her grandmother. And many people wanted an autographed copy of the fabulous book detailing our town’s colorful history. (President Franklin Pierce’s boyhood home is just down the street.) Readers even signed up for our newsletters, bless them.

But as I sat at my tropically-themed table—luckily the combined weight of books and the little decorative typewriter my sister gave me kept everything from blowing away—I couldn’t help but reflect once again on how much we owe to our libraries and dedicated staff, many of whom are volunteers. And no matter which genres or formats we authors write, we share the special bond of creating stories we hope people will want to read. No need for envy or competition. All kinds of books are needed for all different kinds of readers, published all kinds of ways:  traditionally, indie, hybrid, or online.

I returned home both grateful and reinspired to work on my manuscript. Tomorrow I head back to the library to pick up my copy of Bluebird, Bluebird for the next mystery book club discussion. And I even feel confident enough to hit the road again.

But I might bring my dog along, just in case.

Readers and authors, do you have any special events on the horizon? Are you ready to go (and what will you wear)? Let us know in the comments below!

40 thoughts on “Yes, You May Take One Giant Author Step

  1. Lisa, this gives me hope. I’ve been pondering whether I’ve developed a hopeless case of agoraphobia or whether I’ll embrace rejoining the world of in-person author events. I’m so glad you went and enjoyed yourself.

    I also totally relate to not knowing what to wear.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Lisa, I know I’ll be okay with tops (Zoom) but I have a feeling most of my slacks aren’t going to fit anymore!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great picture. And how cute about the girl with the fairy book.

    We went out to dinner last night with The Girl to celebrate the end of her successful semester and Mother’s Day (we are all vaxxed). Judging by the nicely filled restaurant – not too crowded, not completely empty – people are ready to get out of their homes.

    And so am I! (But I’m with you on the “what do I wear?” conundrum.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. So glad your family had such a fun celebration, Liz! Big congrats to The Girl. And yes, it seems like the perfect balance out there right now–plus, a bit more forgiving on the fashion end, I think. Works for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad your event turned out well and you decided to go! My favorite local event is also an author signing the local library hosts every year. At least they did until last year. It hasn’t returned yet, but I’m hopeful for 2022.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Here’s to 2022, Marla! And whatever is left of 2021, lol. I’m sure your library event, whenever it happens, will have a huge turnout.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your post made me feel so hopeful, Lisa! I’m glad your first program was such a success. Cool that you have your first short story coming out – what’s the title and where can we get it? xo Shari

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aw, thank you, Shari. Hope to be sharing the road with you soon–the band is getting back together! My story is “Fly Me to the Morgue,” appearing in the next Malice Domestic anthology, Mystery Most Diabolical. I’m excited to read everyone’s stories, including one from fellow Chick, Cynthia Kuhn!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I can’t tell you how happy seeing that photo of you all made me, Lisa! So exciting to see some semblance of our old lives returning!

    I don’t get my second vaccine for two weeks, but then Robin and I will be taking a trip to LA (to deliver Robin’s mom’s cat to her new home and to pick up the last of the boxes from my parents’ home, before it closes escrow). A road trip–wow!! That will be so exciting!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Thanks, Leslie! I love that photo, too. (Also, I think our library director has a far better camera on her phone than I do.) And here’s to road trips! With cats. Make sure that travel crate gate is firmly fastened, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lisa … I LOVE that picture of you! You look gorgeous and very writerly and mysterious. I’m so happy your event went well! And here I was so excited to sit down last week in a restaurant for the first time since last summer! (The time before that was in San Diego at LCC!) Absolutely cannot WAIT for an in-person event, but mine are all still virtual for now. And for the record, I only know what to wear when I’m flogging one of the crossword books …. my lovely chiffon crossword scarf! (I wish all events were that easy.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ooo, I’ll take “mysterious”! And I am still bummed I missed that sit-down at LCC. (My last day of freedom, spent on a bus traveling from NYC to NH, instead of a plane to San Diego–in a plastic poncho to “protect” myself from evil germs–like that helped.) You should get that crime scarf for winter events. Or the grocery store. I get stopped a lot in the aisles with…questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lisa, what a great-looking group! Sounds like guys had a lot of fun! Last year, I had an in-person bookstore event scheduled in Ann Arbor that had to be changed to an online event. It was still fun, but I was so looking forward to hanging out with and having dinner with fab author pals Debra Goldstein and Mollie MacRae! I think we’re all ready, if a little nervous yet, about getting out into libraries, bookstores and conferences again! Yay, Lisa for leading the literary conga line!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Lisa, love the photos, the gathering and all the hopeful feelings they give me! (And that scarf? To die for.)

    I’m sooooooooooooooo looking forward to author-y events. I don’t have any lined up right now (either as an attendee or a presenter), but I’m rarin’ to go when the time comes!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Lisa, you look so professional and beautiful and happy!

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m cautiously looking forward to author events! A little nervous, not going to lie. Last time in a restaurant was at LCC in March 2020.

    I do NOT know how to dress anymore, though. Anything beyond yoga pants seems so complicated!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I enjoyed this so much, Lisa. Your weather note struck a chord, too. When my daughter owned an independent book store, she always said cloudy, rainy or cold days rendered the best attended book signings. Readers who come out in such conditions are heroes. I love them–and I loved this piece. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for the kind words, Patricia. How nice that your daughter owned an independent book store! And I guess the crazy, less-than-predictable weather here in New England gives us plenty of opportunities for well-attended signings, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for sharing! What a great bunch, wish I could have been there. I would have been in every line, especially for a paw print and a belly rub. I hope we get more in-person events soon, but not too soon…please let’s get the numbers to zero! I know, but I can wish. I was finally going to some big author events, just in time for them to close down. As Dory would say, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming….” We’ll get there. Hope to see you all soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thanks, Marci–we’ll keep swimming along here in NH! Things are definitely improving. Hope to see you at an author-pet event very soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. This was such a delight to scroll through and see everyone’s comments about getting out and about again. I’m a new guppy trying out my fins in the pond. It can be be majorly overwhelming , time consuming…and just a bit intimidating. All of you do an excellent job of writing enjoyable cozies and keeping up with social media posts. I admire how everyone supports each other. Cozy writers are very nice people…even though they do “murder” someone or several someones (on the page, of course) in every book! I’m thrilled to be joining in your chats. Thanks!!
    jane

    Liked by 2 people

  16. We’re so glad you’ve joined us, Jane! (At Gups AND Chicks!) We Chicks really enjoy our author/reader chats, so please chime in whenever you’d like. Thanks for the kind words about our books–and you’re right, the sheer volume of social media posts and platforms out there can be a little overwhelming. But when you do what you enjoy, and find your “tribe”–well time passes even more quickly, and extra-enjoyably! (And yes, we plot dastardly on-page deeds, but really, we’re very, very nice in person. Really.)

    Liked by 1 person

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