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Monthly Archives: May 2008

Baby’s First Book Signing

My first book signing was a total blast. Two days ago in the Century City Mall in Los Angeles. Borders Books (& Music). At least 35 people showed. A couple old friends. Some new ones. Some LA peeps I met not long after I first moved here. Some whom I haven’t seen in a while. It was a real “this is the last three years of your life” moment for me. A few strangers in the crowd as well. The store had to add extra chairs. Very cool.

The Borders folk were friendly. Lita and Yossi were super nice to me and made me feel more comfortable than was probably necessary. It was as if they had no idea I was going to be misspelling their names on my blog mere days later. Go figure.

I wish I had more juicy details to reveal about this night, but the whole thing pretty much went off without a hitch. I think I managed to sound quasi-intelligent with my ramblings, and all the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. Drinks and lobster enchiladas afterwards were also overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to everyone who showed up and made it such a groovy night.

Here are a few pictures.

Me talking:

Bill Talking at Book Signing

Me signing:

Bill Signing Books

Me standing:

Bill and a tower of books

Good Press is Good Press

A couple nice new developments:

I was in Thursday’s USA Today as part of their New Voices feature. You can read it here. It was kind of funny because the New Voices pieces are real short, but the interview was quite long, so I had no idea which three sentences of mine were going to be used. I also probably wouldn’t have pegged the excerpt they used as one of my more “memorable” quotes, but I suppose it does tell a bit of the story, so I understand why it was chosen. The main thing is that it’s an article in one of the planet’s largest newspapers, and that makes me quite happy.

Also, the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks my book is a great idea for a summer read. Frankly, I agree. You can read that article here.

Publication Day

The day I officially became a published author started undramatically. For the first three quarters of it, I found myself (admittedly a recovering musical theater nerd) humming the words of Fred Ebb:
“When it all comes true, Just the way you planned,
It’s funny but the bells don’t ring. It’s a quiet thing.”

But this tune would prove too simplistic to last the whole day.

I arrived home from work to gift baskets and congratulatory phone calls. This was indeed a special moment. I had big evening plans with C that night: a romantic dinner and 2 bookstore visits. We got in the car and drove to Santa Monica.

Reality hit as we entered Barnes & Noble. We’d been told our book was going to be featured on the Father’s Day Fiction table. It was the first table we saw as we entered the store. Yes! But was my book there? Nope. What about Father’s Day Table #2? New Arrivals? Anywhere on the first floor? Nope, nope, nope. The Barnes & Noble computer led us to the third floor. The new fiction section. The front table? Nope. The back wall? Nope.

Finally, we found it: on the far end of the featured table, practically at floor level

Bill searching for his book in Santa Monica Barnes & Noble

It was kind of funny. If I was trying to hide a book, this is exactly where I would’ve hidden it. While I was, at first, disappointed, I quickly reasoned that this placement could be ideal. If a shopper were to trip and fall onto the floor, there’s a good chance he or she might end up face-to-face with the book. Then, in a delirious state, the shopper would undoubtedly respond to the suggestive cover and would immediately purchase three copies. This scenario is demonstrated in the picture below:

Bill trips and finds his book

C and I made sure to rearrange the stacks before we left so that THE SCANDAL PLAN was prominently displayed on both the new fiction table (switching it out with Nora Roberts, who really doesn’t need the money), on the back wall, and in the stacks next to Ken Follett.

Then a walk down 3rd Street to Borders.

Where we found one copy of the book upstairs in the stacks where no one was likely to stumble upon it by accident. C rationalized that perhaps all the local Borders copies had simply gone to the Century City store in anticipation of my reading next week. Perhaps. Also on the bright side, the Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica did carry 20 copies of the book, which would have been kind of impressive had they been displayed where anyone might have seen them.

I’m told from relatives that some have had more successful bookstore visits looking for my book (if you’re in my Facebook group, check out the pics with my soon-to-be nephews: adorable), but this was indeed a humbling experience. It reminded me that, rather than being an end to something, a quiet crowning achievement, my pub date was really just another beginning. It was the start of another journey, the beginning of another challenge. How do we get from the back table to the front table? To ape political-speak, this book has been an underdog from square one. I have the rejection letters to prove it. A political satire? From a first time author? Who’s never worked in Washington? But we’ve gotten this far. And at every turn, it just took one person and one opportunity to make the difference.

Please let me know what your bookstore experiences have been with this book, and if you go into a bookstore that has the book hidden, feel free to rearrange the tables accordingly to give us a fighting chance. If anyone questions you about it, say it is your friend’s book and act nice, and the employees will probably be forgiving. They probably could care less anyhow.

Onward!

______________________________

ADDENDUM: Just talked with my editor. He says rearranging books without permission might not be the best idea. Instead he encourages you to engage the bookseller in conversation. Talk up the book. “Hey, this is my friend’s book. It is so much fun. If you know anyone who is looking for a great summer read, this book is terrific. So hard to put down.” etc. ALSO, if you are in a Barnes & Noble and the book is not on the Father’s Day table, let me know the details asap! (What store? How many copies did they have? Where were they?) I want to collect this information so I can have my editor pass it along to their B&N person and hopefully rectify the situation.

Less than 24 hours to go…

I’ve been working as a kindergarten teacher this year to help pay the bills. It’s been a nice change of pace for me: fun, challenging, and far more rewarding than most of the crummy jobs that have kept me afloat in previous years. And every now and then, I get to take home some priceless quotes from the young ones. While it’s not really appropriate to share most of those in my blog, I thought I would mention today’s quote of the day.

I showed the children a copy of my book for Share (“show and tell”). I held the book up in front of them so they could see the cover and my picture, and I explained the title as best I could in a G-rated way (omitting the subtitle, of course). The children, who are learning to write themselves, seemed quite impressed and had a lot of questions for me.

“How long did it take you to write?”
“How many days did it take you to write?”
“How many hours did it take you?”
(there were a lot of time-related questions because they were most impressed by the sheer number of words I used to fill up so many pages)
“Why is the first letter of the chapter bigger?”
“Does it have any pictures?”
“Are those your shoes on the cover?”

and then, my favorite, referring to the sexy female legs on the cover:
“Is the woman in the red shoes your fiancée?”

Love it.

In other news, I was interviewed this morning by a charming woman from USA Today. Barring any celebrity suicides, I should be in the paper on Thursday as part of their New Voices feature.

One final note: Today I was inundated with wonderful congratulatory emails from friends in response to my mass emailing late last night. I’m too tired to even begin responding to them all, but please know (in case any of you are reading) that your good cheer found a happy recipient. And thank you.

2 days and counting…

My brain no longer has room for non-book-related thoughts. My dreams have become predictable and clichéd. I am turning into a self-promotional machine, my pockets bulging with book cards everywhere I go. Yesterday, I gave a card to the man standing behind me in line at the post office.

Speaking of clichés and post offices, the postal worker who helped me out yesterday was possibly the most miserable man ever to sit in front of a cash register.  His apathy was deafening.  I wanted to shake him and say: “Don’t you realize you’re just perpetuating the cliché of the disgruntled postal employee?”  But then, he was probably too busy dealing with his own crippling depression to care much about avoiding cliché.  In his defense, he was working on the last hour before the post office was scheduled to raise their rates.

In other news, there is only one more day to order THE SCANDAL PLAN at Amazon’s special pre-order price.  See?  Every thought is about the book.  I’ve become a self-promotional whore.  Please forgive me.