By Sheila Lowe, Forensic handwriting examiner and Mystery author
That’s not just the title of one of my favorite Beatles songs. Last week I had a mini whirlwind tour that zigzagged me across several Southern California counties. Starting on Wednesday morning, dragging myself out of bed at o’dark-thirty, I made my way forty-five miles from Ventura to the Woodland Hills Hilton, where I was scheduled to speak at a Elderhostel group. I don’t usually do mornings, so presenting a ninety minute lecture that started at 8:30, which is when I’m usually waking up is, let’s say, a challenge. But the reward was the intense interest of the small group of Seniors I addressed about handwriting analysis and the mysteries of personality. Sold a few books, met some lovely people.
The next day, Thursday, was an evening gig: Book’d in Burbank, a literary salon, where I was one of six authors invited to read from our latest work. Besides battling L.A. rush hour traffic, the challenge this time was cutting chapter one of What She Saw in half to stick to the allotted eight minutes. It proved a good lesson in editing as I ruthlessly sought out passages that could be deleted without ruining the scene. There were no book sales opportunities at this event, but about fifty people attended and one can only hope they were so bowled over by my fabulous dramatic reading that they immediately got on their iPads and smart phones and ordered my books.
Next day, Friday, was a book club appearance. I headed 70 miles in the opposite direction to Solvang, a charming Danish village in the Southern California mountains. Choosing a route that took me alongside the Pacific Ocean, I drove up early on a perfect afternoon and checked into a motel (slightly seedy, but for some reason the No Vacancy signs were out in full force everywhere else). As gorgeous as the drive is, parts of it wend through scary mountain passes. At night there are no lights and these aging eyes aren’t as sharp in the dark as they usta be.
I strolled along Mission Avenue, the quaint main drag, where lo and behold, I found the Book Loft, and bought a copy of John Sandford’s new Virgil Flowers story. Wandered into Olsen’s Bakery and exited with far too many amazing pastries, which didn’t make it home.
The book club meeting was held at a member’s lovely home. It was a small but lively group with whom I shared a yummy dinner of pasta, garlic bread, salad, and conversation. Oh, and apple crumble and ice cream for dessert. Clearly, sugar overload has never been a problem for me (except for gaining 3 lbs).
Having visited several book clubs, I’ve found them all to be unique. At this one, the leader wanted to know about my life to date. After the oh-so-fascinating details were exhausted we talked a bit about my books. Again, not a direct sales opportunity, but I do hope the conversation will eventually lead to some of them buying books.
At each of these events I left bookmarks and, I hope, a good impression. The final appearance if this cluster is tomorrow evening. I'm speaking at the Women’s Artistic Network in Camarillo, relieved that it's only 14 miles from home.
It’s unusual for me to do so many events in such a compressed time period, but I rarely turn down invitations such as these, even if there is no payment and I’m not selling books at the event. Do they pay off in the end? I honestly don’t know, but I’m staying optimistic. What have you found, fellow authors? I’d love to hear your experiences.