Tag: book tour

What (Not) To Do On A Book Tour, Part 2

March 29th, 2011 — 12:43pm

DAY 1: Harker Heights Barnes & Noble, just outside of Fort Hood, Texas

Pure author bliss.

It’s not a bad idea to kick off the official tour in the place where you wrote the book, even though you will be incredibly nervous, thinking someone will throw Texas tomatoes at you (which are of course much bigger and much riper than anywhere else in the country because Texans do everything bigger and better), or, worse, no one will show up. But, maybe, there will a full house, even people standing up in the aisles, and they might seem to actually like your reading, gasping at just the right spots, acting like they want more. You even see a few of your old neighbors and gals from Alpha Company FRG (yay 2-7 Arrowhead!).

But just when you think you might have done everything right for one whole day of your life, I am going to remind you of something foolish you might have done earlier that afternoon. You may have driven around your old neighborhood in the incredibly obvious Lincoln Continental that your publishers sent to indulge you. Be warned that if you make that mistake and ask your driver to swing by your old house, he might decide to stop in the middle of the street and show you a picture of himself with Sean Puffy Combs from the last time Puff Daddy was doing a concert at Fort Hood. While the driver is scrolling through his cell phone pictures, you might see all the children in the neighborhood, who were just playing dodge ball on your old yard, stare at that big black car, then start to scatter for their homes, and it might even seem like they are screaming. That’s when you will ask your driver to hurry up and drive away but for some reason he will just take his time making a K turn in the middle of the street, then hand you his phone to show you a picture of his Texas-bred football playing son. I tell you all of this, because when you are smiling at Barnes and Noble, signing books and chatting away,  the woman who lives in your old house will peer at you, a little embarrassed, and asked if there is any chance that you drove by her house earlier? She will be with a couple other of your neighbors, who will also be staring at you a bit oddly. And you will feel yourself go all red and wonder if you should lie, but you will nod, and she will tell you how there has been a pedophile loose in a dark car, how the entire neighborhood was worried sick all day when their children came sprinting in talking about a big black car lurking.

This will now be part of your legacy, how you wrote a book about Fort Hood, and when you came back to town, you scared the hell out of all your neighbors’ kids.

But it will still have been a close-to-perfect day.

You might also be a bit nostalgic as you leave Fort Hood the next morning, wishing you had more time to get on base, to see the front gates and Battalion Avenue and those tanks and helicopters outside of the First Cav Museum that you wrote about. And you will close your eyes for a minute, think of the neighbors and FRG wives who now have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, all those Fort Hood heroes, those soldiers and spouses and families, those who deployed, those who stayed, and be grateful to them.

DAY 2: Tattered Cover Books, Denver, Colorado

Marti and Charles at Tattered Cover-- the BEST!

This will be one of the most beautiful book stores you have ever seen. You’ll also get to hang out with Charles and Marti, who are the most enthusiastic, loveliest booksellers ever, and you will want to bring them back to your hotel, feed them chocolate, and listen to their author stories all night, they are that wonderful. I got to glimpse two branches of this fab indie—the cavernous, labyrinth, books-in-all-the-nooks one down town (LoDo location), where I got to sign a tremendous stack of You Know When the Men Are Gone, as well as the refitted old theater with the statue of an old man that you will be certain is a real old man (Colfax location). When that old man hasn’t moved a hair from the time you arrived until the time you are about to leave, you might wonder if you ought to alert a clerk that they have a corpse on the premises and wonder if you should really ruin your night by being the bearer of bad news. Fortunately Marty points him out definitively as a statue and the crisis is averted. (Podcast of the reading, minus any mention of the old man, can be found at http://authorsontourlive.com/siobhan-fallon-podcasts-you-know-when-the-men-are-gone/)

Day 3– Book Passage, Corte Madera/San Francisco, and Capitola Book Cafe, Capitola/Santa Cruz

Elaine and Karen, The Goddesses of Book Passage

Book Passage! Fabulous in every way! Elaine Petrocelli and her incredible staff  will make you feel doted upon and adored. Olivia Boler, your friend for a decade and one your best readers, gives you a smile and a thumbs up during your entire reading. Michael David Lukas, author of The Oracle of Stamboul, shows up and he has even brought his sweet mom to help cheer you on. As you leave, Book Passage packs you up a little to-go bag of goodness–soup! Two pints of it! I ask my kindly media contact, who drives me all the way from San Fran to Santa Cruz and back again, if he wants some, but I say it in the kind of way that definitely lets him know I really don’t want to share, sort of, “Um, you don’t want any of this spectacular soup that I am very quickly devouring, do you? Since, you know, you are driving on a windy California highway, and I have already put my dirty spoon into both pints?” He graciously demures.

KUSP 88.9 The Agony Column

(DO try to talk to Rick Klieffel of Agony Column/KUSP 88.9 if you are in Santa Cruz, he has the most amazing radio voice, asks really insightful questions that make you sound smarter and more thoughtful than you actually are, and he’s fun. Podcast of this interview can be found at the Feb 6, 2011 segment at http://www.kusp.org/shows/agony.html)

Lovely Tamera Walters of Capitola Book Cafe

Capitola Book Cafe will have been worth the drive. There might be another fantastic standing room only crowd.

Blue Star Moms

The Blue star Moms will be there talking about their soldier sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan (more about their amazing charity at http://www.santacruzbluestarmoms.com/).

Defense Language Institute Ladies

And a bunch of your army spouse friends from the Defense Language Institute at Monterey might be there, having smushed into a big van to surprise you. It will be another great day altogether, actually,  it will all have been too good to be true so far, which is why you deserve what happens next at…

DAY 4: Powells at Cedar Hills Crossing, Portland, Oregon

Lydia's very nice mom.

You might be getting a little cocky there, cowgirl, thinking your boots are mighty nice. Which is when you ought to get your come-uppance. And it will come. Maybe at Powells in Portland, which is enormous and beautiful, and the event planner might have put out way too many chairs that will remain empty, even though you start your reading about fifteen  minutes late, hoping some stragglers will come by from the gaping wide entrance to the  mall beyond.

Be prepared, there is a chance you might actually get heckled. Maybe heckled is too cruel of a word, but while you are begging the five people in your audience to ask you a question (one of them is your husband’s wonderful second cousin, the other an army wife friend’s mother), three very pretty teenage girls will come strolling through, talking to each other loudly, and they will sit in the last row and begin elbowing each other, as if on some kind of dare, and then all three will shoot their arms in the air and since you are answering a question and don’t immediately call on them, they will start shouting out things. Like, “DID YOU WRITE A BOOK?” and/or “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” and even “IS THIS FICTION OR NONFICTION?” which will illicilt something like impressed high fives from her friends. At this point you might have forgotten what you were talking about, stop speaking, look at the teenagers, Irish skin of yours getting flushed and red, and you will feel like a teenager yourself that just slipped near the water fountain in the gym and landed on her butt. You answer all three of the teenagers questions, trying to be witty and self-deprecating in hopes that you will get a laugh, but you don’t get any laughs, you just get pitying looks from the five people in your audience, which makes you manically try to be even funnier but you are just not very funny to begin with on good days, and you will go back to your nice hotel room feeling very very tired and a little scared about the readings to come.  But come on, no more pity party, this is your dream, so you take a bath, tell yourself to buck up, and get ready for an incredibly early wake up call and the next day’s adventure in LA…

Links mentioned in this blog:

Market Heights B&N http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/68695

Tattered Cover http://www.tatteredcover.com/

Book Passage http://www.bookpassage.com/

Rick Kleffel and The Agony Column http://www.kusp.org/shows/agony.html and http://www.bookotron.com/agony/index.html

Santa Cruz Blue Star Moms http://www.santacruzbluestarmoms.com/

Capitola Book Cafe http://www.booksite.com/texis/scripts/community/eventcal.html?sid=4892&cal=1

Powell’s http://www.powells.com/

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What To Do (or Not) On A Book Tour, Part 1

February 16th, 2011 — 11:25pm

In an ideal world, with a book about to come out, you think you’d do all sorts of healthy things in preparation: get lots of sleeps, go to the gym to lose those five pounds, maybe get a manicure for those ragged nails you’ve been chewing as you wait for the reviews to roll in. 

Or you could make sure your immune system is completely shot, your sleep schedule non-existence. You could pack up your home in Monterey, CA, and send most of your worldly belongings to Amman, Jordan, live out of suitcase for a month and a half, stay with your in-laws with your toddler who despises her air mattress and wakes you up all night, your two cats singing meow-duets at 4 a.m, preferably when standing on your pillow.

Intersperse that with a manic trip to Disney World with same toddler waking up at 3 a.m and opening all the hotel room curtains, claiming the street lights are the sun and it is now time to visit Snow White. Then maybe drive from South Carolina to New York, including a stop in Raleigh just when Mother Nature makes an appearance, throwing her most delightful ice storm your way. Oh, and make sure your most troublesome cat decides to crawl through a hole in the hotel room, slipping into the fiber-glassed beyond of water pipes and dry wall, getting so lost that the hotel maintenance supervisor, after removing all of the sink paneling, tells you that the cat could be just about anywhere in the five-floor hotel. Then send your husband and daughter on to DC while you sit in that same now naked-walled Raleigh room with a can of cat food, your face in a hole flaking with insulation, and call your cat for about eight hours, until he comes out well rested enough that he will meow straight through until the next morning. 

That bad-idea trip to Disney (but yes, it was fun).

Wait a minute, aren’t you supposed to be talking about books at some point? 

Right. Exactly. You are supposed to be talking about books. Reading and rereading your book and the meticulous Questions & Answers that you filled out for your publisher in preparation for the questions you might get from kindly NPR interviewers or people sipping lattes at book stores. 

But instead you show up at your childhood home in Highland Falls, New York, strung out on sleeplessness and caffeine and toddler/cat drama. And maybe your whole family is also at your mom’s house because they love you and want to catch up with you and don’t realize you have an interview or two a day until the book release, not to mention random writing deadlines. You hope that the interviewers can’t hear all the toddler-rattle from the three cousins chasing each other each day with cardboard swords while you hide out in your mom’s bedroom and talk, very nervously, to The Fort Hood Sentinel, The Killeen Daily Herald, Rick Kleffel of The Agony Column, USA Today, PBS NEED TO KNOW, Irish America Magazine. By the time you go into New York City to do NPR’s Fresh Air, your eyes are so blood shot and your nails so chronically mutilated that an undertaker couldn’t get you looking fresh. 

But if you are really really REALLY lucky, and your editor and publicity team are made up of the finest fairy godmothers Walt could ever dream up (Marilyn Ducksworth, Mih-Ho Cha, Stephanie Sorensen, I adore you!!!), they will put you up in an incredible hotel the night before the book release, and you and your husband will suddenly have absolute quiet, no meows, no Angelina Ballerina swordfights. You might get up at 5 a.m. for an interview with NPR’s THE TAKEAWAY, but your husband gets to go on the air with you so that one is a breeze. 

Then you get to go the Penguin/Putnam offices and sign books! You think your daughter is pretty adorable but those books, stacks and stacks of a dream, Pinocchio becoming a REAL BOY, is one of the prettiest sights you will have ever seen… 

My Pinocchios!


Maybe you do another short radio gig with NPR’s Leonard Lopate with the lovely writer Lily Burana and you try not to be jealous that she looks so gorgeous, well-rested, and put together.

Siobhan Fallon and Lily Burana at WNYC-AM Studio


Then the book opening at Barnes and Noble. Whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO THANK THE PEOPLE WHO CAME OUT!!! Especially those incredible Penguin/Putnam folk who made your book a reality, who are sitting in the front row, smiling with such support, who have seen your book as a loose page manuscript and managed to take that mess and make a BOOK! A real BOOK! Well, don’t be an idiot, you absolutely must thank them or you will be kicking yourself for the rest of your life. (Yes, I forgot to thank the amazing people at Penguin/Putnam. Unbelievable. Please don’t let it happen to you).  

Book Release Reading, B&N Tribeca


Book Party. You should definitely have one. Especially if you have an amazing agent who will help you out in every way and then pick up more than half the tab. Best of all your parents will finally realize that this little hobby of yours that they have probably been bemoaning ever since you switched from pre-med to English Lit in college, is actually kind of cool and maybe even potentially lucrative (I said maybe, but let your parents think you are making a bundle, they will sleep better at night). You have finally given your folks something to talk about with their friends other than that cute granddaughter. Make sure you have alcohol, preferably an open bar, and invite as many people as you can. Ask your fabulous literary agent, Lorin Rees, and gorgeous editor, Amy Einhorn, to get up and say a few words about how magnificently talented you are. You will feel like a superstar and it will be one of the best nights of your life. 

While you are feeling like a superstar and remembering to thank everyone you forgot to thank at your first reading, don’t forget to thank your husband. If you don’t, someone at the party will shout out that you forgot to thank your husband and you will feel like a total jerk and have something new to kick yourself about for the rest of your life.  

Book Party (author with husband she forgot to thank).

If you are lucky, you can go to your father’s Irish pub and continue to party as if you were young. Unfortunately your child will not care that Mommy was out until 2 a.m pretending to be a super star, and she will be up at 6 a.m, eager for breakfast. And since you forgot to thank your husband at the book party, your penance is that you now have to get up with the toddler. 

Kick yourself some more.

And the official book tour hasn’t even started yet…

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