Yesterday was surreal. I went to Barnes and Noble in Bellingham to sign copies of Dangerous Love, which they'd brought into their store. It was really exciting. Nerve wracking, for sure, but most things that involve me interacting with people without looking like a dork, tend to stress me out.
Armed with chocolate, bookmarks, my best friend, my husband, and my daughters, I arrived at 12:30. Barnes & Noble staff were not only happy to have me (they thanked ME), they had ten of our books sitting on a counter. I didn't know what to expect, but even if I had spent considerable time obsessing over what it would be like, I don't think I could have guessed how I would really feel to be in a bookstore that carries a book with my name on it, watching people buy it and want my signature. I hope it's my first of many opportunities but this one will always be special. Because the first one is always special, right? Here's some things that surprised me and just made me smile in general.
The first TWO people to buy Dangerous Love were men. The first one chatted with me for quite a while and it made me realize something very important-- I spend a lot of time on the computer, interacting mostly online and via text. Listening to this man's story reminded me how important it is to connect with the real world.
People thought I knew stuff! They asked advice on writing, on different avenues, how long it takes, and how one goes about writing a book with someone they've never met. The very best though was when a twelve year old boy carrying a stack of books came up and asked "What inspired you to be a writer?" I don't even remember what I said because I was so in awe of his bravery to just come up and ask. I do know that I recommended one of my favourite children's book authors, Jennifer A. Nielsen because the books he carried suggested he would be a big fan.
I sign ninety report cards a year. On top of several other things, all the time. So for people to actually want my signature felt kind of strange. Weirder still, when I asked Barnes & Noble if they wanted the remaining copies signed, they said yes. Though it felt slightly wrong to write in a book, it felt especially cool when one woman commented to her friend on the way out the door, "I have a book signed by a real author." She meant ME.
People are REALLY nice. Obviously I interact and communicate on a daily basis. My children are chatters, my husband likes when he actually gets an answer to what he's said, and...well, I teach every day. So I have to talk. But in terms of going out and just mingling or chatting, not so much. Being at the front of the store meant I was saying hi or bye to pretty much everyone. Not right away. First I probably just gave creepy, awkward smiles. But when I relaxed a bit, I chatted with quite a few people. They were gracious and kind, funny and supportive. They were really interesting and I enjoyed that aspect of it far more than I thought I would. Not saying I'm going to become a greeter at a department store any time soon, but it was cool.
It might not come as a surprise, but confident and easy-going are NOT the first adjectives applied when others describe me. So even though I knew my best friend, my kids, and my husband wanted to come, I spent a large portion of time feeling guilty for taking up their day, for making them wait. After I signed my first book, I thought, "too bad I didn't get a picture." When the man left, my friend came up, giddy with the delight of having taken a picture of my first signing. She was legit excited to be there with me. She was really proud of me. And so were my kids and my husband. She shared pictures on Facebook and actual DOZENS of people congratulated me and said nice things. There's a line in one of my favourite songs that says, "There'll never be a minute when I'm not surprised to know that you still feel the same." I feel that way every single day. While that can be exhausting, it also makes me exceptionally grateful.
I was tired! When we got home, we were all pretty tired. I slept well last night, which is not something I always do. I woke up today feeling refreshed. And successful. And grateful. And happy. Sharing this with all of you makes me really happy. I hope one day Kara and I get to do a signing together. But until then, my first experience was everything I hoped for and more.
I love the line "People thought I knew stuff!" We so seldom pause to realize that we actually HAVE learned things along the way. And we writers too seldom pause to celebrate our accomplishments. I'm so glad your friend was there to snap pictures.
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