Friday, July 25, 2008

Keep on Going -- Sun Up to Sun Down

Yesterday was a long day -- I was up early to drive to Brevard where I had an 'event' at Highland Books - a very friendly and enticing (aren't they all?) bookstore. There was a nice turnout -- one of the best they'd had, Peggy (co-owner with her husband Tim) told me. And there was coffee and cookies (Thanks, Katie, for the brownies!)

Though a previously shy person, I find it amazingly easy to talk to folks about my books. And it's so gratifying when people say nice things and ask interesting questions -- most of which I even know the answers to! (Of course, I have had to do a bit of apologizing for the cliffhanger ending of In a Dark Season. )

Then, after lunch with friends and an hour or so of feet-up-relaxing at a friend's house in Cedar Mountain, it was off to Greenville, SC. where I was talking to the Upstate Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

I had two (different) sets of directions from the Internet, plus a map and more (different) directions from my friend. So I set off, more or less secure in the knowledge that I'd probably find the bookstore where the meeting was being held. It was a beautiful drive, the road winding through tall trees down a mountainside -- and I really got to enjoy the scenery because I was behind a HUGE moving van going (this is not an exaggeration) 18 miles an hour, its brakes sending out distress signals with the smell of burning rubber.

An hour later I was in Greenville, SC, in the middle of a commercial area comprised of every fast food franchise in existence. It was the right street, (in spite of not having followed the directions, any of them, exactly) -- but it was North Pleasantburg and the bookstore was on South Pleasantburg.

I stopped at an auto parts store to ask if I was heading the right way (Being female, I don't mind asking directions) "Sure thing," the wizened old guy said, enveloping me in an exhalation of cigarette smoke, "you just got to keep on going!"

I kept on going for what seemed an awfully long time and the street signs still said North Pleasantburg. What's more, it was now past the time (6:15) I was supposed to be there so I stopped and called the bookstore. "Oh yes, you're going the right way; just keep on going."

Two minutes later and North turned to South. Five minutes later I was there -- and the Upstate Chapter of Sisters in Crime was waiting.

I had been tasked (love that military jargon) with speaking to the problem of getting beyond the first few chapters of a novel. I made several suggestions, such as introducing a subplot that will tie into the main plot, introducing a new character, switching point of view, switching time (flash back or jump forward) or place -- all things I've resorted to when my writing has become so linear and one dimensional that I'm boring myself.

We talked a bit about getting an agent and the realities of publishing: having a book published -- even by a big New York house -- doesn't mean you should go start pricing sports cars. (As if.)

They were an interesting group with lots of good questions and we talked till nine -- when the bookstore owners were ready to toss us out.

One of the members (thanks, Polly) led me to the exit that would take me to Asheville. And after only two serious slowdowns -- traffic crawling long at 15 mph due to an accident and then construction, I pulled up to our barn a few minutes before midnight, tired and bleary-eyed, but happy with good memories.

Ah, the glamorous life of an author 'on tour!"

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Susan M. Bell said...

None of those limo-driving, high-priced-hotel staying book tours for you, huh? Well, maybe one day... :-)

Vicki Lane said...

From your lips to God's ears . . .

Tammy said...

Interesting post! I enjoyed hearing about your talk with the writers and ways to keep the momentum going. I hate giving directions...I'm lousy at it! One time my boss called and wanted me to look at a map of St. Louis to tell him where he was. He knows I'm not good in this area, and I'm sure from my panicked silence he knew I was not going to be much help. Finally he says, okay, make sure the map is right side look on the top section and... ;-) I love how everyone told you to 'just keep on going'. Tammy

Vicki Lane said...

Finding places is always an adventure -- I really enjoying following maps and directions and remind myself, "No matter where you go, there you are."

For some reason this keeps me from panicking even if I'm well and truly lost.

Susan M. Bell said...

I'll never forget my Uncle Buck's directions to his house when I was a kid. Something about going a bit past the white Baptist church and turning left at the large Oak tree. Driving directions Southern style.

Vicki Lane said...

"Now you go on down to where the Shelton barn used to be and take a left. You go on past that field that always floods in Spring and turn right just before you come to the Johnson place."

Oh, yeah, I've heard those directions too.