Friday, November 17, 2006

Good Time, Good Friends--Kathleen Says "Thanks. I Needed That."

Ain't we sweet? (L to R, Michele Hauf, Kathleen Eagle, Lois Greiman) Last Saturday the three of us tested the waters at the Deep Valley Book Fair in Mankato, MN. The water was warm and friendly and fine.

We write to sell. I get the writing part, but the selling is so hard for me. We made plans to do the Mankato book fair months ago, back when the date was so far into the future that it posed no threat. "Sure, I can do that." But as the day approaches and I face the prospect of selling my wares, pitching my babies as book lovers browse the displays, doubt creeps in. What was I thinking? I cannot do this.

The fact that I've been doing it for years doesn't make a whit of difference. I'm not a salesman. But frankly, I needed this outing. It was good for me. To paraphrase the Bard, the world has been too much with me of late, and I've found myself withdrawing too much. Yes, I'm basically an introvert, but I've managed to push myself out there fairly successfully over the last, oh, 20-plus years. Maybe more if you count the teaching years. Come to think of it, I was pushing myself out there back then as well. But lately I've cocooned. Cowered, really. Left undone those things which I ought to have done (another paraphrase, the next line being "and there is no health in us." Recognize it, anyone?) because of that world thing. When coming out seems impossible, that's probably a sign that it's long past time. Don't think about it. Just do it. Lois volunteered to drive, so I didn't have that excuse. (I hate driving.)

But I felt guilty about not carrying my weight, so I volunteered to moderate the Fiction Writers' panel. (The guy sitting behind me in the cute beret wrote a book called The Cellini Masterpiece. I introduced him, but do you think I can remember his name? I was on autopilot.)

Fortunately, my companions were on their game. Not only did Michele and Lois offer the benefit of their experience (taken together we 3 have over 50 years of published writer expertise) but they had the presence of mind to display their books, front and center. Remember, we write to sell.

And speaking of inspirational, Lois, you da one. Friendly, outgoing, cute as can be, Lois did our table proud by getting out there, offering promo material, convincing people that we really are approachable. Thanks be to Lois!

And thanks be to the people who put on the Deep Valley Book Fair. I was inspired by the organizers. This was one of the best events of its kind that I've been to--and I've been to many many many of them. I was especially inspired by the volunteers, most of them teenagers, who visited the table often to see whether we needed anything. So cool! And the many fair goers who brought their enthusiasm to the table. Readers who like our work and ask for more are so precious to us, and it's not all about about selling. It's about having the courage to write the next one. Thanks, Mankato! Man, I really needed that.

The publishing world is going through lots of changes these days, and I guess I don't do change well. Put that together with family stuff and other stuff, and a guy gets to feeling snowed under. And it hasn't even snowed here yet! A day spent with good friends is the best kind of anti depressant. Worth pushing yourself out of the house for.

Isolation is a necessary part of the writing sometimes. Does anyone else find herself slipping into the staying away habit? How do you deal with it?


Helen Brenna said...

I recently made it a goal to get out for lunch with a friend at least once a week. And I take the dogs for a walk most days. People at the dog park love to talk while the doggies play!

Just what you need, Kathy. A dog. LOL!

Debra Dixon said...

I can sell *your* book but I suck at selling my own.

I don't mind the getting out part, which is good because I travel so much, but I do like quiet time as well. Love it in fact.

I suspect that I might begin to cocoon if life didn't continually interrupt the spinning process.

Michele said...

Lois does rock, doesn't she? While Kathleen and I sat at our booth, happily content to chat with passersby and tout each others books, Lois worked the crowd. She asked us "Do you ladies have some book marks you'd like me to hand out?"
Er...yeah! She was offering to do the hard part for us, and I don't think I could ever say no to that. Good chick, that Lois Greiman.
And Ms. Eagle makes for a great afternoon to chat away and forget as the long hours rush by.
(Okay, but I do admit, that I was getting pretty crabby by the end of it all. It was an 11-hour event. I so needed a nap about half way through. Thank god, Kathleen brought along the strawberry tootsie rolls...)

lois greiman said...

What Michele and Kathy are too nice to say is that I'm absolutely neurotic about books. I think I scared away half the crowd. "Have a bookmark, an autograph, a fruity roll!" I'm like a state fair hawker selling never-dull knives. But I have gotten some nice feedback. Some poor soul who I shoved books at has, since the bookfair, already read both my mysteries. That would take me a year. More if I'm in writer's mode.

But yes, it was a wonderful event which I highly recommend. Thanks ladies for sharing it with me. I'm proud to know you.

anne frasier said...

i'm glad the mankato trip was such a success!

isolation is tough in all seasons, but i'm so much worse in the winter. i'll get in the car and see evidence of the last time i drove anywhere -- maybe something i bought or something i left on the seat. and i'll realize it's been several days -- sometimes a week -- since i went anywhere. in the summer i at least walk a couple of miles every day.

Betina Krahn said...

I confess, I'm gree with envy at your Bookfair experience. What fun! You guys are such fun-- I so wish I could habve been there, too!

Kathy, I too struggle with the introvert/extrovert thing. I need penty of alone time to think and write, but when I need people, I REALLY need people. Having family close, down here, helps. But I often feel I need to get out more and do more for others. I'm now starting to volunteer here and there, but I have to do it on a regular basis to make it really feel right.

As for "taking time out" for writer's groups, etc. . . I sometimes fight it and say there's nothing there for me. . . but when I go, I always feel better and more energized about writing afterward. So I make myself go as often as I can. It helps to go with a friend.

lois greiman said...

Isolation. It is worse in the winter. Sometimes I whine because my daughter takes my car, but the truth is, I don't go anywhere anyway. I lock myself in my office and threaten to hide under the bed if I get too many interuptions. But they don't take me very seriously. They've seen the underside of my bed. No one's going to risk that.

Cindy Leslie said...

Hey! Can anybody leave a comment here or only you famous authors??? (grin) I love this blog, love hearing about what y'all are doing out there in the real world (as opposed to the surreal one where the writing may take place). Thanks for taking time to do this (blog thing) so lurkers like me can keep up with favorite authors, friends, and fun. "Read" ya soon!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Cindy, welcome! We are SO tickled to have you make the leap from lurker to poster. Are you working on a new story or too busy with your studies?

Anonymous said...

Hi all!

Helen and I have been chatting about agents and biz stuff lately so I wanted to pop over and see your blog. I love it. And I had to post on this because I so agree with you, Kathleen. I think as writers we deliberately become hermits if we weren't hermits to begin with, we need to in order to get the pages done. But, after a while, for me anyway, I realize I haven't been out of the house in so long that I'm mildly anxious about the outside world. Then I know I need to get out there. Your book fair sounds like fun and it's always great when you can do those things as a group.

Great chatting with you!


Barb said...

HI..I just discovered this site and I have never 'blogged' so I don't know if I'm even doing this right. I have loved reading the comments and finally feel I'm not alone in this winter isolation! Hey, I don't even open the drapes somedays, especially if it's gray; the bleakness of winter truly makes me want to hibernate and try to write...but mostly I ventures out are to the local library for stacks of books which I can lose myself in. Anyhow, I have written and have been published long ago...small articles in magazines, but oh, I was so excited..payment came in free copies of the magazine, but it didn't matter. I have written lots for work related/professional pay there, but again, just writing anything..truly energizes me like nothing else.
I have a few 'books' started and hope to be published, there I've said it aloud. That's a good start, right. I've never said that before to anyone, thank you for all that you've written. I'll be checking back on this site for inspiration.


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