Sunday, June 22, 2008

From BEA to Red Hats

Flying cross-country to Los Angeles for Book Expo America, I had time to reflect (lots of time) on what lay ahead for the newest Windrusher. BEA is the largest book industry trade show in the nation, and my reason for attending was to meet and greet potential buyers and promote Windrusher and the Trail of Fire
After landing at the L. A. Airport, we picked up our rental car and headed 
for the highway. I wasn't looking forward to driving in what is supposed to be the worst traffic in the country. Although it had it's pulse-quickening moments, it wasn't as bad as I feared, and driving through the heart of L. A. on the 110 was indeed impressive.
I was told that BEA is huge, and it certainly lived up to that reputation. Held in the cavernous L. A. Convention Center, the halls seemed unending, filled with aisle after aisle of publishers, distributors, and almost every entity connected to the book industry. Covering them all would literally take miles of walking.
As we moved from the vast parking area into the hall the first morning, we (my dear wife accompanied me) were passed by people heading toward their cars carrying tote bags overloaded with books. Some folks struggled to heft the bags, barely able to walk under the heavy burden. My first impression was that there must be one heck of a sale going on. My second impression was that we were late for the sale. 
But I quickly learned this was even better than a sale. The books were free, copies given to retailers, librarians, and anyone who wanted them, in order to promote the book. I knew that this was the case since I was there to sign copies of the new Windrusher for my publisher, Ocean Publishing. But I had no idea of the scope of the give-aways, or the feeding frenzy surrounding the event.
Inside, we were buffeted by hordes of people moving from one exhibit to another. From one autograph line to the next.  The official BEA autograph section was tucked away at the rear of one of the halls. There were 25 or more tables lined up with a different author at each one. The authors were scheduled for one-hour shifts, then replaced by another slew of authors eager to scribble their names. This went on for at least two days. And that wasn't all. Many other signings were done at the publisher's display area—usually a full aisle. Here and there I spotted Barbara Walters, Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Parker, and Dionne Warwick.
Ocean Publishing was part of the massive section filled by Publishers Marketing Association (which changed its name to Independent Book Publishers Association that very weekend). This trade association of independent publishers has over 4,000 members. Not all of them were 
represented, of course, but many were. IBPA had its own autograph booths, and Frank Gromling, Ocean's publisher, had signed me up for two 1-hour sessions along with an hour at the main autograph area.
Here I met many booksellers, librarians and others curious about the cat book. I told them about the Windrusher series and collected business cards. All in all, it was a great experience for a small fish like moi to be swimming in the nation's largest book pond. Just as importantly, we were able to spend time with our two offspring who live on the left coast, and see our new granddaughter once again. 
One week later, jet-lagged and weary, but happy to be home, I began planning the launch of Wind-3, as I affectionately refer to Trail of Fire. Although my publisher had several hundred advance copies printed for the BEA signings, the book will actually not be available in stores until early August. So I have some time to begin scheduling a string of signings, talks and conference appearances. It looks like it will be a busy year, and I hope to see some of you at one or another of my events. Please check the Appearances page of my website to see when I may be coming to your area.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking to the Foxy Red Hat Ladies Book Club which meets at
the Books-A-Million in Jacksonville Beach. I tracked Windrusher's journey for them from hairy idea to heroic literary figure. Here I am expounding on the life of a resourceful cat who has suffered through three book-length adventures filled with dangerous challenges and survived them all. Note the red cap. It was a gift from the good ladies of the Foxy Ladies Red Hat Club. Thanks ladies. And BTW, if any of you belong to a book club and want to hear of the further adventures of Windrusher, I'll be more than happy to make either an in-person appearance, depending on your location, or conduct a telephone conversation at your meeting. Let me know.
One more thing before I go in search of a caffeine fix, The Flagler Review, Flagler College's literary magazine, selected my short story, The Day Hemingway Died, for its latest issue. You may read it at
Until next time, keep reading.