Wow. I knew it had been a long time since I posted, but...two months? Holy cow. What can I say? Grand Theft Auto IV. (anyone who knows me is shaking his or her head right now)
The Utah tour was nice. I say, we ought to be able to take 3 weeks off our day jobs every two months. Five weeks on, three weeks off. It will do wonders for American workforce productivity.
So I did several events while in Utah: the Barnes & Noble signing, a signing at Wisebird Bookery in Ogden, a book club, an in-home reading, and two events at Weber State University--one a reading and one a visit with the creative writing majors. I spent a whole lot of time baking in preparation for my events, so it all was okay. The Barnes & Noble reading went well; they had set up about 20 chairs, and we had to get more, and that's a nicer feeling, certainly, than having four occupied chairs and sixteen empties. Almost everyone there knew me, and therefore already had the book, but that's okay; I can now say I have had a reading and signing at Barnes and Noble. That's not a small thing. They had a table for me to sit and sign copies, and a big sign announcing my name with the logo of my book. (I stole it and took it home.) I sat at the signing table, and mostly watched people eye me and the book and walk away, which was okay. One couple picked up the book and spoke to each other and then noticed the picture, and turned to me and said, "You look like her!" I said, "Well, the picture was taken less than a year ago." They realized what I meant and just lit up, and had me sign the copy and bought it on the spot. That was lovely.
Wisebird was more lovely. I had gotten smarter with this one, and sent invitations that said, "Signing between 12:00 - 3:00; reading at 2:00." With the B&N I hadn't been that specific, so a lot of people showed up after the reading was over. But I sent invites to everyone I could think of, and Wisebird is a lot closer to my parents' home and where I grew up, so a lot more people came. My fourth-grade teacher came with his wife; I instantly reverted to a 9-year-old and actually was excited to realize I am now as tall as he is. My junior-high-school principal came with his wife, too. I spoke with both him and my fourth-grade teacher and kept thanking them for coming. They kept thanking me for inviting them. I said I was thrilled to see them; they said they were thrilled to hear about it. Back and forth we went, with a little contest as to who was more grateful. It was wonderful. My first voice teacher came, and came to the dessert fest we had at home after. I hadn't seen her in at least ten years, and we caught up. (and she looks fabulous!) A lovely woman who has been a widow for 4 years now also came, and started telling stories about how awful it can be. My dad had given her my book a few months earlier (and when he told me that I said, "Really? Is that wise?" -- just because I thought it might be too raw for her), and she told me how much she related to the book. That was one of the best moments, right there, feeling like I had gotten it right.
My mother's book club came to a big gathering, too. They had all read it. I was told that their peak attendance is usually 5, but there were 21 women in our living room, all clutching the book and looking at me with wonder usually reserved for .... something exotic. It's just a lovely thing to sit there and listen to people talk about your book. So rewarding! They took my picture and had me sign their books and generally fawned. I did not complain. And they gave me chocolates! (Mrs Cavanaugh's milk chocolate nuts 'n' chews...nothing better! They had asked my mom what I liked, and Mom got it right.)
My friend Andrea also had a reading at her place, and that was wonderful. A few women I hadn't seen since high school were there, and another woman I hadn't ever met. I read a couple of passages (too fast, I was told; I am a fast reader, I know, and I need to slow down) and we talked about the whole process, beginning to end. One woman, Rhonda, wrote me later to tell me that the evening had made a difference for her in her writing of her own book. Andrea has been particularly supportive through this whole process, and I just can't tell her how much I have appreciated it. The best outcome of the evening, though, was that Andrea and Rhonda and I decided to form a new writing group. I am more than excited for this. I've been doing well with my screenwriting projects, but not so well with the fiction. Time to get back to the fiction.
Weber State was quite kind about the whole thing, too. I gave a reading in the special collections section of the library (attended by the President of the University AND the guy I took to the Sadie Hawkins dance my junior year of high school) and they did a whole article on the front page of their newspaper, the Signpost. The next morning I visited the creative writing majors and their very cool teacher, Vicki Ramirez, who will be publishing her own first novel soon. She took me for coffee/hot chocolate after and it was all very nice.
So that was my Utah publicity tour. Really not enough to justify three whole weeks, but oh, how glorious was that time. Now I'm planning to be there for four whole days at the end of June for my little brother's wedding. I wish I could have more time, but they weren't so eager to give me a lot of time off again. I won't see anybody except family, but family is always good.