Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wild, wonderful week!

Hi, all!
The past week and a half included so many book events and was so much fun I don't quite know where to begin. My adventures started when I was invited to be on the "St. Louis on the Air" program on National Public Radio. The host for the program was Don Marsh, a person who is one of the all-time best interviewers. He is always meticulously prepared, asks detailed questions, and makes authors feel right at home in the studio. We talked about Olivia's Story for almost an hour before taking calls from listeners. It was so wonderful to be able to talk about Olivia's Story in St. Louis -- where the events of the story took place. I lived in St. Louis for a long time, so this was like "being home" for me. I'll be posting a link to the program on my website in about a week if you'd like to listen to it.
I next was on Fox television. Television studios today are nothing like what they used to be. The studios once were filled with people lugging cameras around very sparse furniture while trying not to trip over dozens of cords of one type or another. Today, most everything is done electronically, and the programs are choreographed like a fine ballet. Before going on the program, I was asked to stand in a specific spot off to the right side of the main interview area. Then, while the national weather was being reported on the other side of the room, I was directed to move up to the main table to sit with the news anchors. This was done quickly and precisely. The hosts were Andy Banker and Theresa Woodard, two incredibly gifted newscasters. After the weather program finished, the cameras were then focused on us while a photo of the book cover was shown to the side. Both Andy and Theresa asked me questions about the story, and I responded as quickly as I could. Television involves a very specific amount of time allowed for each segment, so all responses should fit the time frame. I don't naturally talk all that fast, so this was a challenge for me. I wanted to give a good background of the story, but I also knew the clock was ticking. I had a *wonderful* time. Everyone at the station treated me so well -- and even let me look around the studio to see how everything is done behind the scenes. I'll attach a picture of me on the program so you can see what the studio looked like that morning.
A book signing followed later on that Saturday at the new Barnes & Noble store in Fenton, Missouri, which is a southern suburb of St. Louis proper. The store manager (Randy Carrington) and the book event coordinator (Deborah Horn) had everything set up perfectly. I brought a sheet cake with the title of the book written in the icing so that those who came to hear me talk about the book could eat and enjoy themselves. I signed a TON of books that day and had a wonderful time visiting with readers. I'll also be posting a picture of this event shortly.
Then, this past Tuesday night, I was asked to be part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" series out of Iowa City, Iowa. This is a reading series in which writers meet at Prairie Lights Book and give a reading and interact with an audience is their studio, which is on the top floor of the building. The program is also streamed across the Armed Forces Radio Network, so I was proud to provide a reading for all those in military service across the globe. This was a fairly unusual program in that I was asked to give the background of the book, read several passages, and then take questions from a live audience. One of the individuals in the audience was Paula Perkins Taylor, who is the niece of Inman and Olivia. I have known Paula for a couple of years, and it was wonderful to see her again. The radio program will soon be archived in the "Live From Prairie Lights" file, so stay tuned......
I have another book signing this afternoon from 2-4 at the Waterloo, Iowa, Barnes & Noble store, so I better sign off. I'll write more soon.
Be save and well -- and happy reading!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hi, everyone!
This will be my last chance to write for about two weeks. I'm headed off for the first part of the book tour for Olivia's Story. I mentioned some of the events in a previous note, but I did want to add another one to the list today. On February 13, the same day I'm doing the signing at the Barnes & Noble in Fenton, MO (a suburb of St. Louis), I'll also be on Fox2 television. I'm supposed to be at the television studio about 7:30 a.m. for "hair and makeup." If you've seen my picture, you are probably also wondering the same thing I am: "What in the world could they do to my hair to make it look better!!!" --ha ha. My hair looks the same no matter what I do to it, so it should be interesting to see what they do to me that morning. Anyway, I "think" the program is scheduled to air live between 8-8:30 a.m. If I find out the exact time, I'll try to sneak back to this blog to give an update.
I'll write again as soon as I can.
Take care.

P.S. The chili-burger I had the night the book was released really did make me burp all night! But in the context of that wonderful day, it was also delicious. For an author, there aren't many things more exciting that Book Release Day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hi, again!
I'm floating on Cloud 9 because today is the day: Official Book Release Day for Olivia's Story! As of today, Olivia's Story is available nationally -- and internationally. This is another of the very special days in the life of an author. This is the day when the book can be found on the shelves of bookstores and on a wide variety of electronic locations.
Until "Book Release Day" actually arrives, a book is still sort of a formless collection of words. Having the "real thing" available brings the whole process of publishing a book full circle. Many of you know Olivia's Story grew out of my work on Inman's War. Olivia's Story isn't a sequel, but there are some characters and events the two works have in common. So, after writing Inman's War, I felt that I had another story that should be told. When I first decided to write Olivia's Story, I was sitting in a hamburger joint in Waterloo, Iowa. I was by myself that night and doing my best to eat a spicy-hot chili-burger with fries. I distinctly remember putting down my chili-burger, spreading a napkin out on the table, and then outlining the first few chapters of what would become Olivia's Story on that napkin. What prompted me to start writing then? I honestly couldn't tell you. Maybe it was the atmosphere, which reminded me of Olivia's favorite restaurant back in St. Louis. Maybe it was loudness of the restaurant, which reminded me of the lunchroom at the high school where Olivia taught. Maybe it was the chili-burger! Whatever it was, I can say the writing of the story began in a restaurant -- and everything came full circle when the book was released today. And you know what? I'm going to go back to that same restaurant tonight and celebrate --and probably burp my head off after another chili-burger!
One more thing today: Please click on this address:
This will take you to the Paragon House website. Scroll until you get to Olivia's Story. On the main Olivia's Story page, then scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will then find a link you can click on to hear me reading the first ten minutes of the book. Enjoy!