Sunday, July 10, 2005



JUST GOT BACK from my tour to the Milwaukee area with Cheri Paris Edwards and although I didn’t sleep well, it was a productive experience. The best part was we didn’t get lost, and we found everything quickly with the help of Mapquest. Milwaukee reminded me a lot of Chicago, though not many skyscrapers, and the downtown area was deserted compared to Chicago’s. The people were friendly for the most part.

the Cultural Connection in Glendale, which is right outside of Milwaukee. It was a small independent African American bookstore on the 2nd floor, over a barber shop. We found out later that the bookstore owner, Frances Utsey, is married to the barber shop owner (cute). We were scheduled from 5:00 – 7: 00 p.m., I thought, for the usual formal reading, Q&A, etc. but Frances informed us that she does things differently. She just has her authors and customers intermingle informally and just talk—which was fine. Over the course of the two hours, the bookstore had several visitors (10), mostly customers who knew what they wanted (paperbacks) or were picking up books which they had previously requested. The two customers who purchased our books were regular Christian fiction readers and knew we were coming & specifically asked for our books; one was a member of the GloryGirls Book Club so I hope they like our books. Frances had about 8-10 copies of our books (I didn’t count them), but she had us sign about 7-8. We talked and joked around, took pictures and eventually wrapped things up at about 7:15 p.m. All in all, it was less pressure. At the end of the evening, Frances was like an older cousin, a friend of the family. She then invited us to come to her booth at the NAACP convention the next day where the exhibits were free.

THE DROP-BYS WERE diverse in their reception, but overall positive. We were welcomed with celebrity treatment at the Barnes & Noble in Wauwatosa. They had two tables with chairs set up, our books (4 copies), and a nice announcement of our appearance (I took pictures). Although I spoke with the manager (Paula Jones) that morning, who was very nice, she had gone to the bank when we arrived. We were greeted by Leslie who used to live in Chicago and although she got paged several times and had to leave us, we didn’t feel abandoned. Even though people paused to glance in our direction, no one inquired about our books, maybe because we were there. Perhaps they wandered back over after we left.

THE RECEPTION AT the B & N store in Greenfield was good (but no comparison to the first); they had our books (3 each) ready at the Information Desk, and “Heather” treated us politely, like we were somebody. The one sad note was the B & N store in Brookfield, which could only locate one copy of each of our books even though the computer stated there were more (probably 3, but she couldn’t tell me because it was store policy).

BEFORE WE LEFT Milwaukee, we stopped at the NAACP Convention to see Frances. They had the usual artwork, clothing, etc. for sale, but we were there to buy (plus we didn’t have that kind of money; after all, we’re both temporarily unemployed). There were two local authors there, grandmothers who had written a humorous “whodunit” called Grandmothers Incorporated. They handed us a bookmark and told us about their book, stating “we’re grandmothers,” as if there was any doubt of their age. I told them I saw their book in the bookstore yesterday but I didn’t tell them I was also an author (and Cheri didn’t think we should have; she didn’t want to steal their thunder). While Frances didn’t have our books on display, she had our bookmarks and excerpts. She did have one copy of each in a bag, which she wanted us to personalize for another customer who arrived after we had left; so it was a good thing we showed up.

I DISCOVERED A Latino bookstore in Milwaukee, however, Peggy wasn’t able to schedule me until August, for a “Meet & Greet.” I wish I could’ve hit it while I was there, but I guess they have their reasons.

I WAS GLAD to return to Chicago (why I miss it, I do not know—and it’s not just because my kids are here). Perhaps because I can sleep.

Love, Peace & Soul
Amor, Paz y Alma



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