His hair was white with a hint of silver. He approached slowly, having risen from his chair in the small, intimate room where we had discussed literature, shared words. Outside, the rain had stopped but the sky was still gray and large drops of water fell from the trees creating a slow, comforting rhythm.
Yes, he was older and, having taught English for thirty years, he was experienced. I’ll confess, I was nervous. My hand trembled as I grasped the pen. This was it. I was about to sign my first book. He was calm. Of course he was. It wasn’t his first time. He’d been here before, dozens of times. He probably had bookshelves lined with signed copies, but for me, he’ll always be my first.
This is how I lost my book signing virginity in Tampa, Florida at a charming bookstore, called Inkwood. I have to confess that the night before was plagued with book-signing nightmares: I forgot a pen, there were no books, and the audience was a crowded room (that part was good) of hyper and slightly deranged children (children of the corn variety!)
I’m not sure what I expected. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure anyone would show up, not with the rain, the road construction and the debut author. But some did brave the weather and the orange barrels, and we had a very rousing discussion about genetics, ethics, and of course, books.
At my second signing, the crowd (I use the word generously) was about the same, but there was a young man who stood out to me. He seemed shy, reserved, his long black hair hanging in his face, and I couldn’t help but think how he and the main character of Deadly Design, would be friends if Kyle was real. I thought to myself that this young man had a story and I wished I could sit down with him in the Starbucks and talk. While I didn’t get that chance, I’m glad Kyle went home with him, not because it means I sold a book, but because even if Kyle isn’t real and even if we didn’t get the chance to talk, he and I and Kyle will have conversations on the page and that’s what it’s all about.
At my third signing, I was met by lovers of YA and young aspiring writers, both groups asking lots of questions about the book and about the writing process. I was humbled when many already had questions prepared because they’d read the book and were curious about so many things. I signed books, stumbling over what to write because I wanted those who attended, those who had read or wanted to read my book to know how much they matter. I wanted to send home a reassuring voice, a cheerleader, to those who want to write but who struggle with the fears all writers have.
Did I sell a ton of books? No. Did I meet some people I will never forget — absolutely.
From the wonderful store owners and managers, to the graceful older men and women, to the young man with a story of his own behind his long black bangs, to the warm YA bloggers and those wanting to write. Thanks for crossing my path.
Touching people in person is a luxury writers seldom get. So here’s to touching on the page.