Author, Actor, Playwright, Excellent Parallel Parker

Rules of the Lake and Ashes to Water are now available for Kindle and Nook!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Which I Learn What Not to Do on a Book Tour

I've completed the first leg of my book tour. How'd it go? Mixed. The good news is, I learned what NOT to do on a book tour. The bad news is, there's no do-overs.

My first stop was in Ann Arbor, MI and Aunt Agatha's Bookstore. That was fun! This is me and my friend/editor, Laurie Walker, who helped shape both Rules of the Lake and Ashes to Water. My hosts, Robin and Jamie Agnew were very gracious, and I owe them a lot for taking a chance on a first time novelist. Thank you.

I shared the venue with Julie Kramer, author of Stalking Susan, who deserves special thanks for putting up with me and my made-to-order crowd. Ann Arbor is up the road from Ypsilanti, where I went to graduate school, so some dear friends got on the phone and asked EMU alumni to stop by and say hello. The house was packed (SRO!), and it was wonderful to look out and see people I hadn't seen in a long time, some in over thirty years. Some friends traveled for hours to get there. Afterward, we went to the Corner Brewery where I ran into even more old friends and had a wonderful reunion. What a great evening. I'll never forget it. Thank you, Dennis, Laurie, Ray, Wendy, Chris, Pat, and to all who came and wished me well.
Then, it was off to Milwaukee and Boswell Books. Daniel Golden and my good friend, Tracy Aszkotsky gathered an impressive house of readers and writers for the Saturday afternoon event. I'm grateful and indebted to both of them.

Riding on the adrenal coattails of the Ann Arbor event, here's where I made a strategic mistake. I extemporized my presentation. Terrible idea. What's so annoying is I knew better. I don't know what I was thinking. After ten minutes of rambling, I finally picked up the book and read the prologue, and that part went well, as did the Q&A, but I'm disappointed I didn't anticipate the need for a sharper message and a more formal presentation. Daniel, who has hosted tons of these author events, advised me well. "Get in touch with the reasons why you wrote this book in the first place. Find the thing you're passionate about, and let us share it with you." Excellent advice. On the flight home, I thought about my journey as a writer, the dark moment that would become my creative wellspring, and how Ashes to Water fits into the larger story I want to tell. When I got home, I wrote it all down, then shared it with my friends at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA.
Thank you, Kelly Justice, for hosting this event. Like you, I was touched to see other writers in the audience. Peer support is so important to a writer. That's why I'm a fan of James River Writers, a group that nurtures Virginia's published and unpublished writers through a number of wonder programs and events, including a writers' conference which takes place every October. Many of my fellow actors stopped by as well, which made me feel great. I delivered the presentation I'd just finished, and I was proud of my message, my books, and my myself. Thanks to all who bought a book and made it a profitable evening for Kelly and Fountain Books.
 That's Kelly on the right, and Rebecca Schinsky on the left. Rebecca is a co-founder of SocialMediU, and taught me how to use social media as a promotional tool. She's also a great shoulder to cry on, as I did recently when I was ready to throw in the keyboard. Thanks, you guys, for helping me out.
There was one more event, hosted by my longtime friend, Lynda Calderon.  Lynda is on a new journey of her own, having just converted her home into a wonderful B&B in New Glarus, WI. It's called the Helvetica Inn, and it is perfect.  Get this: Lynda bought 30 books from my publisher, threw a party to show off her B&B, and gave signed copies of Ashes to Water to her friends and clients as a gift. Some left a donation, which was kind but not required, and everybody benefited from her unbelievable generosity, especially me. So when next you're in New Glarus, WI, (a sweet little Swiss town) stay at the Helvetica Inn, which is on a quiet side street right in town. People who support writers deserve our patronage. And friends like Lynda (you know who you are) deserve my undying gratitude.


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