Book Signing Musings
For my very first book signing I chose the library in my hometown of Ticonderoga, New York. I had spoken to the delightful librarian, Beth Nadeau, by telephone and she immediately soothed my nerves about telling the world (well, Ticonderoga) that I’m a writer now. We set the date and time to coincide with a visit to my parents in the Adirondack Mountains and I blocked it out of my mind so I wouldn’t get too stressed. After arriving in town I met with Mrs. Nadeau in person and had a look at the reading room where I thought I would hold the event. On the day of the signing I arrived a little early and went into the reading room where two men were working on laptops, looking as though they would not be particularly interested in hearing middle grade fiction about a mermaid. Mrs. Nadeau was in the children’s section finishing up an activity with some of the little ones who I estimated at 4-7 years old, younger than my intended audience, but an audience nonetheless! They were snacking on Rice Krispy marshmallow treats and talking about the food pyramid.
Mrs. Nadeau introduced me early as the youngsters were getting restless. We stayed in the children’s section, probably much to the relief of the two men in the reading room. None of the people who I had expected to see had arrived yet but I didn’t want to lose the bird in hand of the children who were already there. So I sat down and told them a tiny bit about having gone to school in Ticonderoga and that I had written a book – would they like to hear a little bit of it? The children had already been sitting for some time so I invited them to get up and dance around to shake their sillies out. I was the only one who danced. I started to sweat, and noticed that one other adult had crept in and was sitting on the floor just inside the room.
I read the beginning of the first chapter and stopped at the line “And my feet are webbed too.” A couple of the children looked intrigued. I asked one of the little girls if her feet were webbed. She shook her head and went and hid under a table. Sensing success was just around the corner, I asked another question. What might the person in the water be who had webbed feet? “A duck” replied a young boy who had already been shushed several times.
Another child answered that she might be a mermaid, because she had long brown hair and green eyes. “Yes!” I answered. “She might be a mermaid.” I was getting a little desperate now. Using my previous skills as a preschool and kindergarten teacher I said “I heard Mrs. Nadeau reading a book about food with you earlier. What do you think a mermaid might eat?” No answers were forthcoming. Once again I was saved by Mrs. Nadeau who suggested that a mermaid might eat peanut butter, jelly and fish sandwiches. “Only maybe she wouldn’t like to eat fish because she’s half fish…”
Now the children were getting interested.
“Watermelon” replied the child who was still convinced that the mermaid was in fact a duck.
More adults wandered in. I saw Mr. Shapiro, my favorite teacher from high school. He smiled encouragingly and I lost my train of thought. Two more friends arrived and Mrs. Nadeau offered them cookies, and cushions on the floor. We were obviously not going to be transitioning to the reading room.
I offered to read a little more if anyone was interested and the woman who was sitting at the entrance said she’d love to hear more. I realized that she was one of my best friends from elementary school and I was mortified that I hadn’t recognized her sooner. Granted, she now had black hair instead of blond and we hadn’t seen one another for more than 15 years. By now several more adults had arrived and I carried on reading to the end of the second chapter. Then I asked if there were any questions about writing or the story or anything else, but no one said anything, so I talked a little about self-publishing and working with my co-author in England. Two of the children and several of the adults bought books, and I signed them and talked to everyone who stayed.
I thanked Mrs. Nadeau again for inviting me and left the library feeling flushed, exhausted, and mostly successful. I then headed off to the nursing home where my grandmother, daughter of my Nan, lives to give her a copy of the book. She said that Nan would have been very happy that I was an author as she had always wanted to be a writer. I was in a reflective mood as I drove home, thinking about bloodlines and how we are at least in part the product of our ancestry. Very much like Halley!
August 1, 2016 / Pat / 5