Tales from the Moving Target Trail, Florida Edition

Yesterday was two weeks and one day into the Moving Target book tour. It was also my first day off–a day with no travel, no events, no interviews. I almost got caught up on answering e-mails, some of which had been lurking in my new mail box for several days. I also had a mani/pedi, a haircut, a brow wax and, at the end of the day, dinner with family.

Sleeping in my own bed for a couple of days was very nice. Not having Bill and Bella with me was not so nice. My Bill drove Miss Daisy on the Arizona part of the tour, and my son, Bill, did the driving for the Western Washington portion. Now they have handed me off to my daughter-in-law/webmistress, Kathy, for the duration. Do you see a common denominator here? The drivers may change, but the author remains the same. They throw me out of the car, I go into the venue, do my dog and pony show and then they haul me off to the next venue. The day in Phoenix when I did four hour long events plus signings in one day was a killer. It’s a good thing Bill was driving. I hadn’t had a drop to drink, but I would have been an impaired driver due to sheer weariness. They could have cited me for DWT–Driving While Tired.

It’s great to do an event with a responsive crowd. Three hundred people in Centralia in the middle of the afternoon? YES!! A standing room only crowd in Puyallup on a Friday night? Yes! Unfortunately, several other the Puget Sound area events were dismally attended. When I can sell more books at Ida Culver House, an assisted living center, than I did at two library branches PUT TOGETHER, then something is seriously amiss. I’m taking that to mean that I’m old hat in the area Seattle these day, and that’s also going to mean that I will be doing fewer Seattle events in the future. Book tours are intended to see the people and sell books, and I’d rather go to where the people are than where they aren’t.

Speaking of people at signings. Some of them leave me absolutely shaking my head in dismay. For instance, there was a medical emergency at an event in Arizona. With so many Arizona communities being retirement communities, that’s not exactly surprising. I would hazard a guess that more medical emergencies occur there than in other cities of similar size but with a somewhat younger age demographic. I was standing in a roomful of people and had launched off into my talk when, over to my left, in the second row, I could see that something was going on. A woman, flanked by her husband on one side and a younger woman, most likely a daughter, on the other, was having some kind of difficulty. I paused my talk for a moment, saying I’d give them a chance to deal with it. What I thought they would do was leave. They didn’t. Instead, the younger woman hauled a cell phone out of her purse, summoned an ambulance, and proceeded to recount her mother’s various symptoms to a dispatcher.

I was truly at a loss as to what I should do. I felt sorry for the woman, of course, but I also felt sorry for the rest of the people in the room who were being held prisoner by the drama. At last several of the men in the room rose as one and helped the woman from the room. With some assistance she was able to walk out under her own steam. So now, along with asking people to turn off their electronic devices, I tell them that if there is a medical emergency, to please exit the room if at all possible before summoning an ambulance.

I am amazed that people hosting various events have to be TOLD SEVERAL TIMES that they MUST have a PA system. This is not rocket science. In addition, how many of you folks, besides me, have hearing impairments? And what about my voice? Projecting my speaking voice for an hour-long presentation doesn’t work. Try several presentations a day! I can’t do it. My position at the moment is this: if the venue doesn’t have a working PA, I will walk. No mic? No talk! It’s that simple. I’ll simply sign books and leave.

My goodness. I’m sounding cranky today. If this were an e-mail that showed up in my mail box, it would definitely go to the bottom of the pile. So let me just say, the vast majority of the people who come to signings and who host signings are terrific! And even given all the challenges, I love being able to interact with my readers and tell them the stories behind the stories; to introduce them to the real people who have given rise to my characters; and to tell them the bits of my life that mysteriously seem to work their way into my stories whether I know it or not.

One of the most difficult things about being on tour is having to be charming 24/7. I’ve given myself a bit of a break from the charm department yesterday and today, but by the time we land in Fort Lauderdale, I’ll be ready. I’ll have a smile on my face, a red pen in my hand, bookmarks in my purse, and I’ll be ready to meet the world!

Hello Florida!

17 thoughts on “Tales from the Moving Target Trail, Florida Edition

  1. Traveling even for vacation can be very tiring. I always appreciate getting home to rest up. To travel for work no matter how important it is is exhausting. I love your honesty. I’m sure your few requests are forwarded to each of the venues so they should have everything when you agree to speak. If not, you have every right to be cranky when those requests are not met. Loved the book – as usual.

  2. You were very charming when I saw you in Sun City West–and also the four or five other times I have been at your signings. I LOVE all of your books.

  3. I do have to avoid all author signings I might like to attend, even ones close to home, like the library several blocks away. The signings are always at night and I don’t do well with night driving, so I don’t. The night fact, plus I buy books for the nook pretty much as soon as they are available for the authors I read religiously, means I have already finished the e-book and have nothing for anyone to sign. So, instead, I sit home and read. Waiting and standing has never been my forte.

    Do strangers recognize you when you go out and about, not doing signings?

    • People with mobility issues are ALWAYS!!!! welcome to come to the head of the line, and you don’t have to show you Handicapped parking sticker, either. I appreciate my e-book readers, so I have bookmarks that I can autograph for the folks who do e-books and for the ones who do library books, too. Library readers count! I’m sure that, with driving a problem, being able to order your books wirelessly is a huge benefit.

  4. Who said that one must be nice ALL the time. We ALL need down time without apology. You must be doing a wonderful job or else you would not be having so many BOOK signings. Of course if you ask friends and Fans we will ask you to come to every bookstore and library just to meet and greet you. Take time for you and REALLY enjoy this time you are giving your greatful fans…

  5. I usually get to your book signings in Bisbee and love listening to your talks, I also appreciate how hard you work to make them seem so effortless. Absolutely Love your books.

  6. I was in the front row in Centralia and did not see how good a crowd we had until leaving.
    I bought Second Watch and Ring In The Dead on Kindle, but Gary would rather have the dead tree version, so we usually wait for paperbacks. The hard bounds don’t fit our bookshelves so they get put in a different place out of order. Either way, we love your books and once I re-read ALL of Beau in order!

  7. J. A., I believe our Author! Author! event for the Kitsap Regional Library Foundation was a smashing success. While compared to your other events, the attendance and sales may have seemed low to you, each and every attendee paid $50 for the privilege of being there. The proceeds benefited the Kitsap Libraries, which do a fantastic job of promoting authors, promoting literacy, and being a source of education for all. It was an honor being there with you, supporting this great organization.

    • Yes, I agree. Completly!!! The Bremerton event WAS a smashing success. I hope we can make something wonderful happen over there this summer when the next Joanna book is due out!! Yes, my fans in the “burbs” were definitely in my corner!!!

    • I’m trying to post a reply and it keeps telling me I’ve already said this. Perhaps, with a new beginning sentence, the gods of the Internet will let this post.

      Yes, I agree. Completly!!! The Bremerton event WAS a smashing success. I hope we can make something wonderful happen over there this summer when the next Joanna book is due out!! Yes, my fans in the “burbs” were definitely in my corner!!!

  8. Please don’t cross Port Angeles off your list! I love having the chance to hear you and see you. We weren’t on your itinerary this time, but I understand that it’s a long way out here. Hope you can be here next time. I think we always have a good turnout.

  9. I sympathize with your having to sometimes work without pa systems, etc! Very frustrating. I think your solution of just signing books is a good one. I have read all of your books switching over to Kindle a couple of years ago. I like being able to download books quickly but miss being able to get them signed. Hang in! Get rest! Thanks for an honest insight into what it’s really like being a respected author. You are at the TOP of my list of favorite authors.

    • Thank you. Working without a PA system is impossible. Thank you for adding your two cents to the discussion. And now that you’re using a kindle, if you would like an autographed bookmark, please write to me at jajance@me.com so I can give you directions about how to obtain one.

  10. Thanks so much for your warm, interesting and extraordinary talk today at the West Boynton Library. I am glad that I remembered to print out our picture and give it to you. We are so close in age (2 years apart) and I didn’t realize that we are 3 days apart in birth dates. Mine is Oct 24. DANG! I didn’t have the childhood experience you had, but I did have the husband experience. . . at an older age. I went to college late (applied to Arizona and was accepted and also UT=Austin and was accepted, however, I stayed at Illinois State U and graduated BS in History and almost a BS in Women’s Studies (they didn’t offer it at that time). Loved your stories and the way you tell them. You are an amazing lady and I’m glad to have re-met you from 2007 to today. I am a member of MWA. As a writer, I understand totally that the characters talk to you when you write, I’ve had to pull over when driving, but bought a small tape recorder to carry with me now. Blessings, Janet

  11. This may be your strangest question of the day, but why did you choose a red pen to sign your books? I thought maybe it was because you were a teacher and liked using a red pen. Or that is different and eye-catching—like you.

    • I like red. Red nail polish; red jackets; red lipstick; red ink. I started signing books in red ink by about book three. I would leave signed stock at bookstores and then, later on, someone would buy a signed copy and want me to personalize it. There are lots of different shades of blue ink. By always using the same kind of red pen, I could usually make the new personalization match the old signature and have it look like the both happened at the same time.

  12. What a good, practical idea. I never thought of the different colors of ink. I can tell you are the product of a sensible Midwestern family.

    Am enjoying the tales of your travels. It must be fun to meet the people who are such fans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *