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Armchair BEA: Author Signings

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am very fortunate to live in a small city with an awesome independent bookstore, Malaprops (isn't that a fun name?), that brings in lots of authors for signings. Unfortunately, I somehow didn't realize this until the past six months or so. Don't ask me how I missed it. And while I'm on that subject, let me recommend getting yourself on any local book store's mailing list. That's how I know who's coming to town now. Too bad so many of them come while I'm at work. I keep up with authors who might be a little farther away through a site called Book Tour. I'm set up to receive a weekly email about any authors who are going to be within something like a hundred-mile radius of me.

My very first author signing was in college. Author/poet Wendell Berry spoke and luckily this Bio major was actually in an American Lit class that semester. The professor had us read one of Berry's short stories and a poem before he visited the campus. I loved what he had to say in his work. I went to hear him speak and enjoyed it. He writes about a small fictional town in Kentucky called Port William and about how the small farmers are disappearing and we're losing our connection to our land. I don't find it preachy, it's just presented as a fact of life to be mourned. I grew up running around on my grandparents' small farm, so I actually relate to what he writes. I bought and had him sign The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry 1957-1982, which I haven't actually finished reading. :( I have a hard time squeezing poetry in between all my novels.

Then there's a huge gap of almost ten years between meeting authors! The only thing that stands out from that gap is that my very favorite author, Charles de Lint, came to town and I didn't find out about it until that night, when I was already at work and checking out the newspaper. Can you say crushing disappointment! Oh, I was mad at myself! I did run by the bookstore and grab a signed copy of Little (Grrl) Lost, the book he was promoting at the time, so at least I have that, but I am still disappointed that I didn't get to meet him. Last year for my birthday, my husband ordered a signed copy of a tiny little book de Lint wrote called What the Mouse Found and Other Stories, so now I have two of his books signed. Yes, that scribble really is his signature.

The next author I met was Sara Gruen last summer. I had read Water for Elephants pretty recently and enjoyed it, but I was nervous about going. I made my husband drive me because I can't parallel park to save my life so driving downtown is a nightmare for me. This truly was just a signing, so I walked in, got in line, handed her my book when it was my turn, said thanks, and walked away. My husband couldn't believe that was all that was going on! What can I say? I'm shy.

Then Sarah Addison Allen, a local author, had a signing in December to do an early promotion for her upcoming book. I wrote that up in an earlier blog post. I walked away from that one with signed copies of Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen.  I think (hope) I must have loaned Garden Spells to my aunt because I can't find it to scan it.




A week or so later, I met Charles Vess, fantasy artist/illustrator extraordinaire. I've already written that one up in a blog post also. What was really cool about getting Drawing Down the Moon signed was that he drew a picture of a fairy lady underneath his signature!



Next, I got to meet Sarah Addison Allen again at the official launch of The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I was supposed to work that night, but one of my kind co-workers covered my shift for a couple of hours so I could go. I wrote that signing up in this post. She is just a sweetheart.





I took my grandmother and mom to see Ron Rash when his collection of stories, Burning Bright released. I hadn't read anything by him at that point, but my grandmother had received his book, Serena and it had disappeared as it made the rounds through the family. We bought her another copy and got this one signed. I wrote a little about that signing at the end of my Serena review.

Most recently, I got to meet Lee Smith when she came through town promoting her new story collection, Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger. Words can't describe how excited I was to meet her! I haven't written that one up yet, but I will get to it eventually, so I won't say too much here. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books, Fair and Tender Ladies and I am so excited that it's signed now! She writes about people in the Blue Ridge Mountains I call home and since she's "one of us," she gets it so right. I told my husband that I felt like a groupie meeting a rock star when I went through that signing line. When she talked to us beforehand, and even in person, she was so charming and natural and hilarious! I just loved her.
 

I almost forgot two! I won a signed copy of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter from Mel at He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him?





My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to travel to Italy a couple of years ago. One day we made our way to the famous wine town of Montepulciano and the cellar of Contucci Cantina. The guy in charge, Adamo, instantly became my Number One Fan, I swear! So maybe he does it for all the tourists, I don't know. Let me have my fun. Anyway, he saw me carrying my handy-dandy Rick Steves travel guide, which just happened to have a picture of Adamo with Rick. Adamo just had to sign it! I love it!

So that's it for me so far. There are several authors coming to town soon that I'm excited to meet, including Sharyn McCrumb promoting The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, one of my recent WoW picks; and Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians. Of course, I should probably read that one first.... Good thing I own it.


Who have you met? Write a post and link it up at Armchair BEA. It doesn't have to be in on this topic. Write about anything you want and then go visit the other participants. We can have our own kind of BEA fun, right here at home!

Jennifer G.

14 comments:

  1. I have a similar bookstore near me where I see a lot of authors. I love those you listed. Did Sara Gruen happen to say when she'll have a new book out? I loved Water For Elephants. And you got to see Sarah Addison Allen! Love her books. I have Lee Smith's book on my tbr list and now I'll add Fair and Tender Ladies.
    Nice post!

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  2. You are lucky to live in a small town with a bookstore!!! I live in one that must be smaller..lol no bookstores I have to travel to bookstores and then I don't ever know if they have book signings because I don't get to go that often to the store. I usually do most of my buying online because its easier...I want to go to a author signing!!!! lol I am pouting..lol

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  3. Great post and some very fun signings you've experienced. This is making me want to do a similar post, but not sure I'll fit it in this week. Maybe next!

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  4. i never experience any book signing with authors..aww..you're lucky!

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  5. I love author signings. I have found new authors and books because authors have gotten out there and connected with me. There is nothing to replace that experience.

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  6. Oh my goodness! You have such an awesome collection of signed books!

    We have an indie bookstore here in Utah where all the cool authors come to sign. It's wonderful. I'm so glad you've been able to get so many books signed!

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  7. Wow, you get around. Heh heh. I'm impressed. I love your blog name; I'm an introvert too.

    And I've also been to Tuscany and Florence! Isn't it just beautiful?

    I did an author signing post too. Not nearly as impressive as yours, though.

    Lynne's Book Reviews

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  8. WOW! I am so jealous of that list of authors you got to meet! I would really love to be able to go to a signing too! I haven't had any signings in my tiny town, but I hope to go out of my town whenever possible!

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  9. I haven't heard of Book Tours before! Looks very interesting.

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  10. Wow, you've met loads of authors! The first author I met was David Maine. I went into the city to see him perform a reading and ended up spending one whole hour chatting with him - it was really cool. He signed all my copies of his novels.

    Next I met Audrey Niffenegger. I got to meet her in her literary agents nyc penthouse for 5 minutes, where she signed my copies of her books. That was pretty cool.

    Lastly, I met Christopher Moore at his reading of FOOL. I asked him about Goodreads and if he had ever been on on it, and he kinda poo pooed me. Funnily enough, a few months later I emailed him through myspace and got him to do a live author Q&A on goodreads with me :)

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  11. First things first . . . I have never heard of Book Tours and just bookmarked it! GREAT site!! Thank you for that one!

    I love author events and since I'm in a new city, it's about time I start exploring my indies! Maybe I will do that this weekend!

    Lastly, I would have love to have met Sara Gruen! I really enjoyed Water for Elephants!

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  12. That is quite a collection :-). I didn't think to track down all of my signed books but I did blog about one author signing experience today.

    What's fun is when I buy an used book for cheap and then find that it's been autographed (sometimes personally) inside!

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  13. Okay...OMG!!! Sarah Addison Allen! I adore her! And she's local! Wow! And The Witchy Worries...I loved that book and actually gave away a signed copy as well, Rhonda is wonderful! I thought I had a big collection, but it looks like you have definitely surpassed me. :o) I love hearing about your local bookstore, it's such a good idea for everyone to look into, you never know? Great post!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! Have a great day!

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