Thursday, June 23, 2005

WELL I DID my In-Store Stock Signings at three Border’s Bookstores on Monday, JUNE 20. The three stores ordered 3, 4 and 8 copies; all sold-out—woo-hoo. (When I asked why so few copies were ordered, they said it was a corporate decision, but that the fact that they sold out so quickly would probably guarantee a larger reorder quantity next time.) Everyone was friendly & cordial & helpful. I called them “ghetto signings” because I signed the books standing up, no comfy table & chair.) My family & friends kept asking me how I felt & telling me they’re proud but I just feel like it still hasn’t hit me. Weird. About a quarter of my family (14 members) were there for support (& responsible for most of the sales; my mom bought 2 for her friends in Puerto Rico (yes, they read English); my stepdad bought one for his sister in PR -- who doesn't read English-!); my cousin bought another one even though I gave him a free one. At the last stop on Border’s on North & Halsted, I think the manager couldn’t wait for my loud family to leave because we were just “hanging out”, talking, my mom brought me roses & was taking pictures left & right. I’m not sure if he said I should schedule a formal book signing because he wanted us to leave or because he thought it would be another chance to make more sales.

I HAD MY radio interview with Wali Muhammad from WSRB (which airs in Chicago, Northern Illinois & Wisconsin) & it was so frustrating. First, the pager I was supposed to call him wasn't working so he called me 1 1/2 hours earlier to tell me he'd call ME @ Noon. By 12:40, he hadn't called, so I called my publicist. Finally, he called me to say he was stuck in traffic. My home phone was acting up, apparently, he couldn't hear me thru the handset so I tried the speaker, but he still couldn't hear me. Then he tried calling me on the cell & he said I was breaking up, I guess because he was taping the interview via his computer. We finally did it from my home phone via the speakerphone with me screaming thru the speaker & saying, "I'm sorry, I can barely hear you. Could you repeat that?" Anyway, he said it got it. It will air next week sometime on "The Communicator Show" (I've never heard of it but I think it's 107.5 WGCI). Since I don't listen to the radio except when I sent my alarm clock to WNUA, I'm not sure, but I couldn’t tell him that. I’m afraid of telling people because my voice sounds weird on recordings. They're giving away 5 books when it airs. (I went out & bought a new home phone at Home Depot.)

WALI ALSO PLUGGED my signing at Afrocentric Bookstore on July 23 & the Signing/Appearance at the Bessie Coleman branch of the Chicago Public Library (7/30).

SPEAKING OF BESSIE Coleman, I finally spoke to the main Collections person at Harold Washington CPL & she started off pretty friendly telling me how they order from their distributors, depending on whether books have been reviewed by Library Journal, Booklist, etc. She found my book info in her system & said, "yes, this certainly is something that we would order, blah, blah, blah... we'd probably order about 20-30 copies." Since it’s listed under AA lit, they'll go to the libraries in AA neighborhoods (typical, because no one else will read them, right?). So I told her that my book also has a Puerto Rican character & that I would like the book sent to a couple of branches in the Latino neighborhoods I grew up in. I asked her if it would be possible if the books could be ordered by July 22nd & she said she had already placed the order for this month (I guess she thought I said June 22nd). I then said, "The event is NEXT MONTH." So she said there's a possibility she could order the books before then. And then, she just cut me off & said, "Thank you for calling & inquiring about your book"--! I'm going to call the Bessie Coleman branch tomorrow & speak to their Head Librarian, make HER put in the official request in writing or e-mail.

MY BOOK LAUNCH party has been scheduled for FRIDAY, JULY 22nd, 4:00-6:00 p.m. at the UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BOOKSTORE. At first, I was not very happy. #1 – It’s not my alma mater – why not NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY?? #2 – Friday evening during Chicago’s RUSH HOUR on LAKE SHORE DRIVE?? #3 Where the heck is U of C??? So today, I took a drive to U of C but instead of the LSD, I took the Dan Ryan & exited on 51st Street—not exactly the most scenic route. I could just see my Anglo friends driving down here, locking their doors, praying. Luckily I turned East which was the right direction; unfortunately, I didn’t have the address with me so I got lost, went around in so many circles, asked one person, who got me more lost, finally got the right directions & found the bookstore. I was able to find a meter despite the construction (that’s something the South Side has in common with the North Side). Since I didn’t have the contact person’s name, I was just going to ask the first person I saw in the store but obviously I looked very lost because the first woman I run into asks me, “Can I help you?” I told her I was doing a reading next month & I couldn’t remember the lady’s name. She said, “I’m Janis. And you are?” (the coordinator of the event). She recognized my name right away. So we shook hands & she showed me where the readings usually take place, and that they normally order like 25 books, in addition to stock copies. She said that my publicist stated I was bringing a cake, which was news to me. I hadn’t thought of it, but it’s a good idea. Anyway, I saw plenty of street parking & there is also a garage a few blocks away so people who really want to come, will come. I was glad I took the drive down there.

THEN I DROVE to Border’s on Broadway/Clark/Diversey & looked around for CHOOSE ME. I found it in AA Lit – ONE COPY! (I pulled it out of the shelf where they just had the spine sticking out and placed it prominently on the top shelf, face-up.) I started to ask a salesperson if it was the only copy and then I saw three more copies on the “NEW FICTION” table. I felt vindicated and recognized.

TOMORROW I HAVE another radio interview with Voice of America which airs all over the U.S. and Africa to 94 million people a week – talk about intimidating. I hope it goes better than my first radio interview.

AFTER THAT, I leave for Detroit on Friday 6/24 for Saturday’s Signing/Appearance as part of Walk Worthy Day at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore (I just love that name!). I am so nervous. It will be my first official reading. I bought some clear sunglasses since I can’t read up close with my regular prescription glasses (but also so I can’t see “all eyes on me”). I’m driving up with Cheri Paris Edwards, fellow WWP Author of PLENTY GOOD ROOM who’s done several readings so I feel a less anxious.


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