Two days after my presentation, reading, and signing at the Lawrence Public Library, I was off to Louisburg, Kansas, about an hour away. It’s just thirty minutes south of Kansas City. I didn’t know much about Louisburg, truthfully, except that they were known in the region for their delicious apple cider. My dad buys it in Lawrence all the time.
A representative from the Louisburg Public Library had contacted me a few months earlier after speaking with Maria Butler, who was the coordinator for the Lawrence book event. Maria knew they were planning a month-long celebration of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” So, sure enough, they asked if I would like to have a “Silver Shoes” event there.
Hey, I was “in the neighborhood,” so I was more than happy to oblige. A chance to promote and sell more books? You bet!
I then asked a good friend from high school, Melanie Reed, if she would help manage books and issue receipts, since I was not coordinating with a local bookstore to facilitate the transactions. Such is the life of a self-published author! Such is the state of book publishing today. Melanie now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, so it wasn’t too bad of a drive for her. She agreed, and everything was set. We were both excited that it would give us a long overdue opportunity to catch up, as well.
Of course, the day of the event—Thursday, October 8, 2009—it was pouring rain. That didn’t bother me much, but I was a little concerned about a turnout. I figured most people would decide to stay all comfy-cozy in their homes on a miserable Thursday evening, rather than venture out to hear some unknown author talk about his new book.
Happily, I was mistaken. I must say, I really love “Midwestern determination.” If they plan to do something, they do it. Weather conditions notwithstanding!
The city was definitely smaller than Lawrence but absolutely charming. I loved the old downtown area, even in the gloomy rain. The library was located right on their old-school “main street.” And once I walked inside, I couldn’t have been happier with what greeted me. The library was all decked out in Oz!
The library staff was welcoming and incredibly helpful. I met Karin Stuart, who had been my primary contact prior to the event, and she was wonderful.
Then my phone suddenly rang, and it was Melanie. She didn’t sound very good.
I asked her what was wrong. She informed me that she was still in the car, only minutes away from the library … but that she had decided, just the day before, to start an intense new diet. And the powerful pill she had taken had made her nauseous to the point of … shall we say … bringing back any and all recently digested food? She “woofed her cookies” in her own car, in plainer terms! The front of her shirt was a mess, and she sounded seriously wobbly, distraught, and terribly apologetic about the whole thing.
By this point, I was comfortable and confident that I could handle the event by myself with the capable assistance of the Louisburg Library staff, but Melanie said she still wanted to try to do this anyway. I was more concerned about her health and her ability to drive! She insisted, though. In fact, she was going to pull off the road, tidy up a bit, compose herself, and then join me, twenty minutes or so later. We would reevaluate the situation, at that point. I strongly suggested she reconsider and head for home, but her “Midwestern determination” was setting in, and I was powerless to override it.
I was also praying she wouldn’t show up looking and (more importantly) smelling like she needed either medical attention or a sobriety test. The event was still well over an hour away. That’s one thing about me—I always allow plenty of time whenever I go anyplace new. I hate rushing for any reason! I’d rather be embarrassingly early than panicked, winded, confused, and unprepared. Call me crazy. Besides, Melanie and I had planned to go to dinner before the event. She had mentioned in her most recent phone call that she was still up for it, hoping that food might settle her stomach. Apparently, in addition to this nasty diet pill, she hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday’s lunch. Not good, Mel!
Fortunately, she arrived on the scene looking (and smelling) refreshed and ready to go. Whew! And I was truly glad to see her again after many years. We finished setting up for the presentation and then ducked out for a meal at a very good Chinese restaurant just a few doors down from the library. It was so great spending time with her and catching up.
When we returned to the library, I was thrilled to see people already gathering. I wasn’t going to play to an “empty house,” after all.
There were even a few surprises in attendance. A childhood friend from Lawrence, David Buller, showed up to the reading. So did Mike Boring, whom I’d known since grade school as well! And another friend from high school, Gina Spain Gerken, arrived with her son Chandler. Gina is a resident of Lousiburg now, with her own family.
It was terrific to see all of them again. And it meant a great deal to me that they showed up with their enthusiasm, love, and support.
I really enjoyed myself at this event. The people of Louisburg were warm and friendly, and the staff was so accommodating. They even baked cupcakes for all of the attendees, complete with yellow frosting and little “Silver Shoes”book covers stuck into the tops of them! I was blown away by that.
The staff of the Louisburg Library also presented me with a gift basket of locally-produced goods and treats after the signing. Yum! And we sold a lot of books here, too!
The evening turned out to be just about perfect in all respects. Even with Mel’s harrowing “car sick story,” which only added a touch of color and, in hindsight, humor to the proceedings. I’m glad she recovered quickly from it. And I hope she never tries rapid weight-loss again.