Before I ever sold one book I dreamt of how it “would be” once I’d published. I’d make the NYT bestseller list within a few months, be on Oprah (dating myself, I know), be interviewed by Charlie Rose as I’d seen him interview Robert McKee about his book STORY. And the book signings…I’d walk into independent bookstore after independent bookstore, booksellers so pleased to see me and my avid readers lined up around all of the quirky bookshelves. I’d be dressed like Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” a tweed skirt with cute tights.
Enter reality–it took far longer to sell and publish than I ever thought it would. The Information Age bloomed into the Digital Revolution. Print runs are down, there are too few books and too short a time for bookseller to order my novels. That’s if said bookseller will even consider hosting a genre author. You don’t want to know the mental revenge one-liners I’ve practiced after being told “we don’t carry your kind of book.” My kind? Oops, that’s another post, or better, an op-ed like Eloisa James did.
Then enter Michelle Mioff-Haring, owner of Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, PA. A dedicated professional who is passionate about books and the romance genre, she garnered the Romantic Times (RT) bookseller of the year award in Kansas City this past May. This is where Michelle and I met. I know, I had to travel far away to find the treasure right in my own backyard. Kind of cool, though, that I met her in the Land of Oz…
Ronda, Michelle’s assistant, contacted me and we set up a date for me to sign my latest, NAVY ORDERS. Could I please bring copies of NAVY RULES with me, as they were only able to get NAVY ORDERS? I tingled with glee–they had done their homework and knew what I wrote. Then, when I arrived, Michelle told me she’d read my book and enjoyed it. If you’re a writer you know how rare this is. In our age of information and entertainment inundation, it’s totally understood that a bookseller doesn’t have time to read all of the authors she hosts for signings. But Michelle makes the time, as does Ronda.
But wait–the best part of all of this is the bookstore! As soon as you open the door, the serenity-infused aroma of paperback and hardback books assaults you and leaves you in a warm state of reader bliss. Row upon row of neatly arranged books, by genre and author, await. Clean, neat, organized, welcoming. The shelving goes up to the ceiling…well, almost. The shelves actually go up to where there are wooden plank walk-ways for the rescue cats that reside at Cupboard Maker Books. Safe, sterile cages house the newly rescued, who graduate to wandering the tomes at will, serving sentry over centuries of story.
Back to the signing–I confess, I brought me knitting with me. But it never left the car–I was talking and selling books for the entire two hours, all to new readers who loved romance and many who had an affinity or bona fide connection to the U.S. Military. I spoke with a US Marine Corp vet who’d taken photos of the USS Pueblo (no link–if you don’t know, it’s worth looking up, like when your teacher told you to look up the word in the dictionary yourself). I spoke at length with an Army spouse whose husband was now retired from the military, like mine. I talked with a high school senior who is a writer and had the best questions of all–when did I know I was a writer? What keeps me going?
Back home I have rolled my writing sleeves back up so that I’ll have two Whidbey Island books for you in 2014. True confession: hoping to sign at Cupboard Maker Books again is a big incentive.