Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bad Beginnings. Happy Endings.

Those of us who read and write romance love a happy ending. Monday night, I got to experience a personal happy ending when the Warren County Public Library hosted me as part of their ePublish or Bust series. Many libraries in Kentucky are adapting to the new eBook landscape with innovative programs, and my friends in Bowling Green are leading the charge. The event was a lot of fun. I got to meet some new people, talk about books, and I even sold a few. It was a happy ending to a great night.

Those of us who read and write romance know that happy endings often come from bad beginnings.

I began my evening on the side of I-64 with a shredded tire. A flat tire on any day is an aggravation. A flat tire 48 hours after you paid for it to be installed, brand new, on your car is maddening. A flat tire when you’re on your way to your first appearance as an author is a nightmare. I’m usually pretty cool in an emergency, but I’m not gonna lie. I freaked out. I shook my fist at the gods, Tire Discounters, litterers, truckers, and the designer of the spare tire well for the Toyota Highlander.

Thank god for my husband, Bruce. He talked me off the ledge, called roadside assistance, and brought me his car. While I waited, one very nice gentleman, a veteran according to his license plate, stopped to help, along with a state trooper whose flashing blue lights made me feel a little better about my chances of being mowed down by a semi. (Seriously, those trucks do NOT stay on their side of the white line. I was as far over as I could get without dropping into a ravine, and I saw my life flash before my eyes when one came within a hair’s breadth of clipping me.)

When Bruce pulled up in his car, I abandoned all concern for my safety, dragging my poster and flyers out on the driver’s side. I had been sitting there for almost an hour, and while I had given myself plenty of time to account for minor mishaps like getting lost, I hadn’t factored in a whole hour’s delay. I dropped and wrinkled the poster, getting close enough to the highway that the trooper was right there ushering me back to the other side of my car. I threw my stuff into Bruce’s car and left him on the side of the road with the trooper, the shredded tire, and the roadside assistance bill. He’s a good man.

A fair wind and a V8 engine got me to Bowling Green on time. I arrived on fumes and I had to pee so bad my teeth hurt, but I made it. The upside to my adventure was that all my energy was focused on getting there. I had none left to worry or get nervous, and so I didn’t.

Lisa Rice, my awesome friend and director of the Warren County Public Library, was there to meet me, along with Tina Brewster, who arranged the details of the visit and promoted it. Tina was such a great resource. In addition to working for the library, she is a self-published author with an established fan base. What I learned from her about networking and promotion alone was worth the trip down. She writes under the name M.E. Tudor. Click here to check out her work.

They placed me at the main entrance in front of a cozy reading area. The set-up was warm and inviting and made for comfortable chatting. The table, with its prominent signage, made me feel very official, but I couldn’t stay behind it. I spent most of the evening in front of the table talking to people.

What I learned in talking to people about my book was something I already knew, but this experience reinforced it. The conversation is easy with people who already read romance, especially paranormal romance, but I become strangely inarticulate with people who don’t know the genre. I had a fun, easy conversation with a young lady who loves to read all the same stuff I do. She was intrigued by the fact that most of my story is set in Lexington. We talked about what we love in the genre, what writers float our boats. We had a great chat, and when she left, she took a flyer for herself and one for a friend who devours the genre.

Fast forward to another conversation with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen since college. They live in Bowling Green and came to support me which was very cool. Our conversation was fun because we were catching up. Neither of them reads my genre though, and when I started talking about my book, I felt myself get awkward and weird. I’ll save an examination of the reasons why for another blog. At the end of the day, they came to buy the book. Who knows? Maybe I’ll bring more fans into the fold.

It really was a great night. I’m incredibly lucky to count Lisa as a friend. Giving me the opportunity to promote my book in her library is just the most recent way she has supported me. She read Sapphire Sins well before I published it, even though paranormal romance isn’t her genre. Her honest assessment helped me improve the book and gave me the courage to finally jump off the cliff and publish. Thank you, Lisa!

My drive home was a leisurely stroll in the park, relatively speaking. The snow that had begun to fall didn’t stick until I crossed the Scott County line, and then it was just enough to cause a much needed hour’s delay Tuesday morning. Tire Discounters has already replaced my tire (Road hazard insurance, people! It’s worth it!), and I have good ideas about what to do next to promote my book. That, my friends, is a happy ending!

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