Book Promotion (yawn)

It's been one month since my latest novel, Trouble Down The Road, was published. It's been a remarkably easy time for me. You see, for the firsttime in my writing career I have not scheduled a single booksigning appearance. There are no bookstores in the city where I live, and truthfully I am not well established enough up here to put on a signing anyway. I used to do quite well in the stores in my hometown of Yonkers, NY, and in Jacksonville,Florida, where I lived for nearly 20 years. Once you get accustomed to selling 50 to 90 books at a signing, selling 15 to 20 just doesn't cut it...especially when you factor in the travel time from my home in southeast Wisconsin to downtown Chicago, the Southside, Northwest Indiana, or Milwaukee. So I decided to just skip it.

To tell the truth, the one thing I miss the most is the time I get to spend with friends who live in those areas, like Donna Deloney and Sean Young. But aside from that, I'm perfectly content to do whatever promotion I can from my chair at home, venturing only as far (or in my case, as near) as the area booksellers to sign store stock.

I find I can even take or leave that small effort. At a stop at a Wal-Mart in Gurnee, Illinois, a wealthy suburb north of Chicago (it's home for a number of professional athletes), but with enough black people to warrant their carrying a limited selection of black-authored novels, I encountered the lady from Levy (the vendor who stocks Wal-Marts in the Midwest with books, music, and DVDs). I introduced myself to her, with the intention of asking her to order TDTR as well as the mass market version of Once Upon A Project, when she promptly informed me that her company doesn't purchase manuscripts for publication. Of course, I know Levy is not a book publisher. But I felt no burning desire to tell her I was already a published novelist. I was content for her to think I was an aspiring writer trying to break in to the business, so I merely tucked the business card I'd been about to hand her back into my purse and headed for the next store.

I'm not quite sure where this ho-hum attitude came from, but I suspect it has something to do with my getting older and reorganizing my priorities. I get the most enjoyment out of crafting stories, and at this point life's too short to be spending it on things that seem to take more time or involve more aggravation than they are worth.

Do you find yourself becoming more laid-back about certain aspects of lifeas you get older? If there are any authors reading this, do you still schedule book signings for your new books?

Won't you be my neighbor?

Just heard that Vanessa Williams is moving to Wisteria Lane for next season's Desperate Housewives now that her gig on Ugly Betty is over. I like this. I always thought she would be an ideal neighbor to add some color to that show, being about the same age as three of the 45-ish leads (Eva Longoria Parker is the baby of the group). Alfre Woodard never fit in to me; while still pretty, she's clearly a woman in her mid-to-upper 50s (and that plotline they put her in was just silly).
Maybe I'll watch more often this fall. I've kinda fallen off in my regular viewing.
Do any of y'all watch the show?

And now a word from our sponsor

I just love that commercial for the gizmo that has Gene Wilder's Pure Imagination as the soundtrack. A close second is the commercial that shows in flashbacks how a future U.S. President's parents met, also for a gizmo, cell phone, I think. As far as I'm concerned, these gizmo people have the most imaginative commercials. Too bad I can't remember the products they're selling.

How about you? Do you have any favorite ads?

What's love (or most other stuff) got to do with it?

When going over the galleys for Trouble Down The Road, I found myself frowning at my biography page. It then occurred to me what the problem was, and I picked up my red marked and drew a line through three words: “with her husband,” as in “She makes her home in Southeastern Wisconsin with her husband.”

Now, before any rumors get started, my husband and I are still very much together. (I think of him not as my second husband, but as my last husband.) But, as my recently eliminated-from-my-author-biography spouse would put it, “What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” The real question here is, "What does that have to do with my books?"

The answer, of course, is, “Nothing.” It occurred to me at that moment that my marital status really doesn’t belong in that little “About the Author” paragraph, which is usually limited to the mention of my most recent novel or what number novel this particular book is, my general geographic area, and an invitation to visit my web site or to befriend me on Facebook. If I'd made a bestseller list or won any awards, or had a book optioned for film, I'd mention that, of course. Maybe if I'd majored in creative writing or English in college I'd mention that as well, but because I was an Accounting major, what's the point in saying where I went to school?

I'll never forget reading a bio of an author whose book I enjoyed, and in that one brief paragraph she got in her husband’s full name, the name of his employer, plus his profession. I knew more about the spouse than the author, which made no sense to me. She was probably just trying to pay homage to him for his emotional support while she wrote (anyone married to a writer knows they have to give their spouse plenty of time to work), but it ended up looking like the husband had a major insecurity problem. By the way, this author is still writing but has changed her bio.

Another issue that has become popular in recent years, among black authors if no one else, is whether authors write full time, i.e., have or don't have outside jobs. I’m not sure when this originated, or even why. I personally don't understand what a writer does with the rest of their time has to do with their book. Is this some kind of code to determine if authors are making a living wage from their books when included in interviews, or a proclamation to the world that the author is doing well financially if it comes directly from the author? For the record, at least here if not in my bio, I will state that I personally don’t do anything full time, not writing and not work.

What do you think? Does anything not writing-related, aside from a geographical area, really belong in an author biography? Is this really the place to mention our spouses, children, cats, dogs, hobbies?

The Stuff Books Are Made Of

On a simple trip to the post office this morning, I checked my box and found a letter addressed to me from an unknown person marked "Photo, Do Not Bend."

Inside was a picture of a family member taken 74 years ago.

Also included was a nice notecard of introduction and explanation.

Now, it wasn't as though I didn't already know of the situation pictured, but what if I hadn't? It would've have been quite a shock. And what if the note included had a sinister tone to it rather than friendly?

My writer's mind is working already on creating a story.

Here's the picture I received...but I'm not talking beyond that. You can read about it, or at least a twisted, much more interesting version of it, in a future Bettye Griffin novel.