Published in the Rains County Leader on December 3, 2019:
Most of my Saturday was taken up by a book event. Angela Snyder and Billy Watkins, partners in Lane Street Collectibles in Quitman, hosted a book signing for me. After helping me set up and tear down, Billy commented, “There’s a lot involved in these book signings.”
He’s right. I have a banner, banner stand, and several boxes and bags of books and other supplies that have to be carried in, set up, and positioned for traffic patterns and visibility. In addition to my inventory of books, my supplies include several tablecloths because you never know what size table will be available; business cards and holder; book marks; Lucite sign holders and signs; candy and a decorative bowl; tape, twine, scissors, pens, note pad, and other miscellaneous supplies; and snacks for me. I believe in being prepared.
I’ve spent quite a few Saturdays in the past few months at the craft fairs and markets that are popular this time of year. I sometimes check the numbers and wonder if it’s worth the effort. I sell enough books to cover my expenses, but not enough to make any best seller lists. However, all the interesting people I meet and the stories they share make up for any shortfall.
Some people walk by without making eye contact, but the ones that slow a bit or give me
a smile are the ones that interest me. I approach them with a simple question – “Are you a reader?” Some shake their head with a sheepish grin and say something like, “Not as much as I should be” before continuing to the next jewelry booth or the cookie table. But stop to take a closer look, and that’s when the conversations and stories begin.
Two of my books are about Alzheimer’s caregiving, and most people have been touched by Alzheimer’s in some way. People laugh as they tell me how Grandma lost her dentures and found them in the freezer. Others tear up when they tell about the first time their loved on failed to recognize them.
Child trafficking, the difficult topic of my novels, causes some shoppers to move on quickly, not wanting to deal with such a heart-wrenching subject, but others want to know the whys and hows of my creative process. Still others are even more enthusiastic. One customer explained that she was from Poland. “This needs to be talked about,” she said as she grabbed enough books to share with friends.
My most recent book is about Kitty and everyone, even confirmed dog people, have a cat story. At the Jingle Mingle several ladies stopped at my table, and after chatting for a few minutes, they moved on. However, one lady hung back.
“I’m not a cat person,” she said, “but one day when I got to work I noticed a small group of people gathered around some shrubbery. I asked what was happening, and they told me there was a kitten under the bush, and she wouldn’t come out. I watched until they had all gone into the building. I squatted down and looked at the kitten. ‘What’s the deal,’ I said. She came out and rolled over on her back. I scratched her tummy like I do our dog, and she purred.
“A co-worker came out of the building to check on the cat, and she laughed. ‘Girl, looks like you’ve been chosen.’ I protested but said I’d go get a bowl and some food. I couldn’t let her starve. My friend laughed again and said, ‘OK. I’ll go home and get a carrier so you can take her home for the weekend. It’s a holiday weekend, and you don’t want to leave her here alone for four days.’ I finally agreed to take her home, but just for the weekend. That was fourteen years ago.”
I smiled and nodded because I completely understood. After all, David and I know all about being chosen – and owned – by a cat.
Of course, there are always people I talk with just because. On Saturday I heard a man telling someone that he had met his business/life partner online. Since David and I also met online, I was interested, so I asked him about it. They met on Farmers.com three years ago and discovered they had been raised on farms four miles apart. But because they were on opposite sides of the county line, they went to different schools and didn’t meet until Cyberspace brought them together.
My most challenging and final event of the year is next weekend – Christmas around the Square here in Emory. It will be my first outdoor booth, so I’m hoping for good weather. My inventory won’t do well in wind and rain. I’m looking forward to it, though. I may be able to do some Christmas shopping of my own, and I really hope to hear some more good stories.