It's November 1st, the first day of National Novel Writing Month. As a NaNoWriMo participant, I really should be charging into my next novel today, but as a procrastinator I'm blogging about my trip first. Any other NaNo folks, by the way, can buddy me if you'd like to. I'd buddy you, but I haven't figured out how. Still, consider yourselves loved.
This trip was planned to kill two birds with one stone. I was invited to sign at the Poisoned Pen and thought a good time to do that would be when a nearby drop zone, Skydive Arizona, had their Halloween Carnivale, because lots of skydivers would be there and maybe I could interest them in Final Approach. The downer of this plan meant missing Halloween with my kids.
Mid-afternoon Friday I landed in Phoenix and, through the magic that is GPS, managed to find my hotel with only minor detours. The weather was incredible, so I went for a run. I actually ran from my hotel to the bookstore and back, mainly for fun but also so I'd know where I was going later. Saw a few bikes, but no other runners. I guess folks don't normally run through the cute little shopping districts. Not much of a shopper, so what do I know.
Not long afterward I met my publisher, Rob Rosenwald, and editor, Barbara Peters, for the first time, which was fantastic. Rob took me for a ride in his cute yellow Smart Car. I think those are the coolest little cars so getting to ride in one was a treat. Rob stayed and had a glass of wine with Barbara and I and then left us alone to enjoy dinner and talk about publishing and book projects. I liked hearing her thoughts about book selling, editing, and planning out a series. We spoke about future plans for my main character, Emily Locke, and talked about a timeline for the next book and long-term plans for how and when to finish the series.
From there we went to the Poisoned Pen, where Rob and Barbara had warned me we may not have a crowd. It was the Friday night before Halloween after all, and local bars were likely to pull in any foot traffic off the streets. Being a long-time soccer mom, who looks forward to quiet Friday evenings now, it hadn't occurred to me that planning a signing for the Friday before Halloween might not have been the wisest choice. So the rest of the world is still partying? Really?
Anyway, we had a few. Jessica Tribble, my associate publisher, joined us and that excited me to no end because I just adore her. Plus, I think she might be my long lost twin, only younger and much better read. Barbara treated the group to drinks and snacks at a restaurant next door. We sat outside, under the most entrancing heat lamps I have ever seen, and talked about Final Approach in the fresh night air. Since the group was small, we were able to talk in depth about many things. A few folks were also new writers, and it was nice to be able to talk with them about writing and publishing, in addition to talking to them about this particular book and series. The Internet came through once again as I was finally able to meet my friend Sian in person after months of Twittering and Facebooking. Very fun.
Saturday morning I drove down to Eloy and enjoyed the novel desert landscape and some loud country music. I found the drop zone, this time thanks to their good website directions because they're so far off the beaten path (as most drop zones are) that GPS couldn't save me. The friendly staff helped me set up a little table and I settled in to watch the skydivers and maybe sell a few books. Winds were high, over twenty knots, so for a while nobody could jump. The optimistic part of me thought that maybe the grounded skydivers would wander past my table and take an interest in the book.
Not so much.
Skydivers were there to skydive, not to buy books. Lots of people came by to ask about the book, some expressed interest, most ate the candy I had there, but only one bought the book. One showed more interest in the book I was reading than he did in mine. I've given a lot of thought to this since yesterday and have decided that, rather than view this as an ego crusher or big disappointment, I will consider it an exercise in humility enhancement.
So I missed Halloween with my kids to sell a single book. Maybe the biggest dose of Mom Guilt yet. I'm still so glad I made the trip, because it was completely worth it to finally meet Rob, Barbara, Jessica, and Sian in person. But if I could turn back time with the benefit of hindsight, I'd have flown back to Houston on Saturday morning and been home in time for trick-or-treating. Then I'd have had both the highlight of my trip as well as the time with my kiddos.
The experience also reinforced what I already knew. My main concern in the whole writing endeavor is coming through for my publisher and the indie stores. When the book launched in Houston, I didn't want to disappoint the store by not turning out a crowd. Same feeling in Scottsdale. A small crowd is always fine, but no crowd would have been hard--not so much for me--but because I'd have felt badly about the staff's efforts. Eloy was a mixed animal. The worst part of that experience was driving back to Scottsdale wondering how to break it to the book store staff that I sold one book. Patrick was a sport. Smiled and laughed with me and wished me a good weekend.