Sunday, March 22, 2009

My 1st Book Signing

Yesterday the St Augustine Lighthouse & Museum was the location for my first ever book signing. I was scared to death. Not sure if I was nervous about 'the pitch' or worried that sales would be dismal, like maybe even zero! The lighthouse folks opened the doors fifteen minutes early & the first couple through the doors (they were from Toronto) bought a book! What an icebreaker!!!

Deb has an eye for "stuff" - so she set up the table with lots of cool eye-catching promo gadgets - a small wooden treasure chest filled with faux gold pieces, skeleton parts made of foam & miscellaneous little trinkets. It turned out to be a kid magnet. We are in our element when it comes to kids, maybe 'cause we're kids at heart. No more nerves for JaxPop - lots of joking, laughing & teasing. We had a blast. Sales became unimportant - just let it roll. Here's a pic of Deb's set-up.

I couldn't leave the table so Deb buzzed around taking pics of the festival. The folks from Disney Radio were there. Live bands. Boat building. Plays. Lots of refreshment stands. Pony rides. Tours of the complex. Guided nature walks thru the hammock. Storytellers. Games & a coupla 5K races. It was crazy crowded. I missed all of that. The staff at the lighthouse handed out maps at the door showing the locations of the 'attractions'. Directional signs were posted on the grounds to use with the map to get where you wanted to go. Here's a pic of my favorite sign.

This is probably my favorite place to hang out. 2 Chapters of BAD LATITUDE are set in the haunted lighthouse (Ch 9 - Dead Girls & Ch 10 - Hezekia Pittee). I've done quite a bit of writing & editing in its shadow. Somehow it seemed fitting to do my first book signing in that same shadow.

The lines were pretty constant but the staff kept everything moving.

The gift shop workers kept the book near the cash register, replacing the stack as sales continued. Several times, the cashiers ran out to our table & swiped the books right off our display racks & we would have to run to the car to grab another box. (I didn't want to bring them all in & look cocky. I especially didn't want to have to carry boxes of books out to the car when it was all over.) We were supposed to be there from 11 'til 3 but were asked to hang out a little longer - 'til 5. It was a steady flow all day. In the end, the lighthouse gift shop bought more books to replace their inventory & we returned to the car, smiling like idiots, with .... all empty boxes. Truth be told.... the great day of sales was the result of Deb's slick marketing skills. 2 years of hard work upstaged by strategically placed bones & coins. (Sigh!)

There were plenty of highlights worth mentioning but I'll only include a couple. 1st was meeting a County Commissioner with a great story about his experience as a lowly Private during his time in military intelligence. I'm going to put it in writing for him. It's funny & inspiring. 2nd was a visit from 13-year-old Victoria. She read the book at school about a month ago & said she 'loved it' - then bought her own copy. How cool is that?

The people that manage the lighthouse & museum & their group of hard working volunteers were spectacular. They went out of their way to provide maximum exposure & made us feel really comfortable. Now they want me to do another signing in April for a weekday shindig for school kids. I need more books - & that's a good thing. Whew!!! What a rush!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bullseye On My Back???

Ever notice how so many TV commercials make men out to be helpless half-wits? I'm starting to think WIMMIN are believin' that stuff.

Deb hates to do the grocery shopping. She's a browser. I'm not. I have it down to a science. Takes me less than an hour to get a $200 order - & get home & put it away.

So I'm at the deli.... Here's THE DELI LADY....

Me - I'd like 1/2 a pound of Boar's Head Imported Swiss please.
Deli Lady - The Publix Brand is cheaper
Me - Thanks but I'll stick with Boar's Head
Deli Lady - Huffs & puffs & rolls her eyes like I'm an idiot - "It ain't my money"
I order 3 more items - each time she gives me an attitude & a speech about belt tightening & cutting out frills. People are starin' at me.
Deli Lady - There's really no difference between brands. You're just wasting money.
Me - (Now I'm annoyed) Lady ... My wife prefers Boar's Head. I don't even look at lunchmeat so I could care less. It's my money to waste - not yours. Just get the stuff sliced so I can get outta here.
Old guy waiting with his ticket starts to laugh. Deli Lady is fuming.
Me - (One more jab - commenting to the old guy) "Can you imagine that some moron acually married her... on purpose?
Deli Lady slams my lunch meat & cheese on the counter - Old guy laughs out loud.

Coupla hours later I decide to get a haircut. The barber that's never open, isn't open. I go to a joint next to Starbucks, all Wimmin hair cutters. Get in the chair.
Me - Yaknow, I think I want it short. How 'bout a flat top?
Lady - You're dreamin' - hair's too thin for that.
Me - Well aren't you diplomatic. Look at it as your biggest challenge of the day.
Lady - Least ya don't try the comb over thing like Donald Trump.
Me - It's thin - not gone! (True - it's thin, but the thinning hasn't progressed)
Lady - If you say so....
Me - Guess we'll see if you can do miracles so ya get a tip.
(She did a good job - gave her a $5 tip)

My dad taught me to cook.... which means I can't cook. Tonight we weren't in the mood for a big dinner - in or out. Deb decided she wanted chicken. I detest chicken so I said, "I'll make one of those frozen pizzas later."
Deb - I'll make it for you. (She's in another room adding pics to FaceBook)
Me - I can do it. How tough can it be to stick that in the oven? Do what yer doin'
Deb - Okay - Don't burn it.
Me - (sigh!)
So I read the directions, heat the oven to 475, pop it in & return to the book I'm reading.
Deb - Later... from the other room..... Is your pizza done?
Me - Nah... it's got about 5 minutes to go. Meanwhile I'm running to the kitchen knowing it's gotta be burnt. It is. Now I have a dilemma. I ain't admittin' to burnin' the pizza. I can't eat the whole thing & don't like 'em anyway. Frozen pizza with black cheese is even worse. So... I eat the pieces that are the most burnt... to hide the evidence. I choke some of it down, wrap up the rest & throw it out. Maybe Deb will think I was hungry after all & wolfed it down. All is good. I'm in the clear.
Deb - Half an hour later - How was the burnt pizza?
Me - Whaddya mean?
Deb - (Laughing) I smelled it burning, that's why I yelled out to ya.
Me - Wasn't burnt THAT bad.
Deb - Was the cheese black?
Me - Yeah. Guess some of it was. Maybe just a little.
Deb - Yeah....right.... just a little.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lotsa Cops & Redneck Dawgs

There is a nature preserve behind our property. It's a jungle, thick with palmettos, vines, sticker bushes, twisted live oaks, & loaded with wildlife - deer, wild pigs (with sharp tusks), armadillos, gators, & snakes. Lots of snakes. Lots of poisonous snakes. I've never made an attempt to walk through it. Maybe Bear Gryls would give it a shot for his Man vs Wild show.

Some moron, trying to escape the county Sherriff, plunged into that snake infested mess in the middle of the night. We had a Police chopper sweeping across the tree tops with a huge spot light beaming down. This went on for about an hour when I decided to check things out. I flipped on all of the outside lights - enough to blind fans at Yankee Stadium & started walking around the house. Then I heard the footsteps through the heavy brush - heading my way. 15 to 20 feet behind the hedgerow. I told Deb she should call the County Sherriff cuz the guy they were tracking had almost reached our back yard.

A couple of minutes passed & Deb returned to the back door to announce that police were on the way & the guy at the desk said I should get in the house & put my weapon away. Bummer. I had the old adrenalin rush goin'. I felt like ... like ..... Rambo!

But I probably looked more like this guy.

Deb got into the action - Ran out to the garage & grabbed her customized AK 47.

Our flanks were unprotected so we stationed Nubber (our cat) at a window on the north side. He didn't see much action, but he was ready. He made me proud.

The chopper hovered over the back yard. Real low. Real loud. Sherriff's Deputies arrived. 15 or 20 of 'em. They swarmed all over the place. They looked inside & under the boat & my truck, all around the property & into the edge of the woods. Then.... they set the redneck hounds loose. I'm making an assumption that they were rednecks based on appearance - which I know is very unfair. Couldn't help it.

After an intense search and some serious lawn trampling & boat climbin' by the deppittees .... the dogs & the cops...... lost the bad guy! Maybe snakes or gators got 'im. Maybe a wild pig! An armadillo with an attitude? Dunno. All I know is... bein' Rambo wasn't so much fun after all. It's not easy for a guy my age to puff out his chest & suck in his gut for that long.