I usually write the blog on Wednesdays, but Bill just looked at the schedule and said, “Holy Moly! You’re totally booked for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday!” So I guess I’ll get with the program today.
Months ago, June first was scheduled to be a big day around here. It’s pub day for Unfinished Business, Ali # 16, from Simon and Schuster, but it was also the due date for completion of the manuscript for Nothing to Lose, Beaumont # 25 from HarperCollins. I finished the last bits and pieces of that and handed it off to my beta readers yesterday morning, May 31. (Squeaker you say? Yes, but that’s the magic of having a deadline. I meet them!)
What did I do with myself the remainder of the day? I signed book marks and book plates for people who had requested them and got those in the mail, and I also got my steps. By the way, sometime around noon yesterday I crossed over into 12,000,000-step territory. That number accounts for a little over five years of walking 10,000 steps a day, seven days a week, and it weights in a little over 5 miles a day. Total mileage right now is 5,750 miles. And I’ve kept off th 65 pounds I lost when I first started walking.
Maybe Miss Grumpy pants is doing an encore at the moment, but there’s a local TV commercial that gets my goat. It’s an ad for a senior living development, and in it one old guy says to several others, “Hey, I got my 40,000 steps today.” No, I don’ t think so. That would mean he would have walked at least twenty miles. What that tells me is that whoever wrote that script has no idea what it actually takes to get those 10,000 steps. But I digress.
So what am I doing to celebrate publication day on the first day of this virtual tour? For one thing, I had to roll out of bed at 8:05—early for me—because we had workmen coming. So far, I’ve answered email, made breakfast, got today’s ten thousand steps, and had a haircut. Next up is take Bill to PT, stop at the bank, and be back home in time for the Poisoned Pen event at 7:00 PM. (By the way, if you missed it, you should still be able to view it on line.). But before the event, here’s what’s going to happen. Bill and I will have dinner at our usual time, and when the evening is over, I’ll be sleeping in my very own bed. And why’s that important? I’m about to tell you, because here’s a glimpse of fifty-some pub dates past.
Book tours may now be things of the Pandemic past, but they were always wonderful and terrible at the same time. In the days before books hit the shelves, I’d track down a haircut and a mani/pedi and load up my luggage with enough clothing, makeup, and electronics to support my being on the road for three weeks at a time, give or take.
Book tours sound glamorous, but they entail a lot of work. For a typical one, I’d have to negotiate multiple airports and multiple flights that often included weather-related flight delays. I remember being stranded in Atlanta one night. The airline supposedly had rooms for us, but that didn’t happen. Eventually, I flagged down a Hilton bus. The driver told me the hotel was booked, but I didn’t care. I went inside, threw my Hilton Honors self on the mercy of the desk clerk, and ended up spending the night on a cot in the dining room area of the hotel’s presidential suite.
Book tours usually mean hopping from time zone to time zone with wild abandon, without ever staying in any one place long enough for your body to adjust. Staying in a hotel for two days at a time is like being on vacation because it’s the only chance there is to have laundry done. So you end up going to bed in strange beds every night, trying to sleep and then needing to wake up at odd hours. That’s especially true if your body’s usual time zone is Pacific and you have an early morning flight on the East Coast!
Book tours also mean eating at odd hours—before, after, or between events. At luncheon speaking events, while being seated at a head table, that usually means not eating at all because my host or hostess would spend the entire meal asking me questions the answers to which were most likely going to be suppled in my subsequent talk. As for the meals? Some of the one on offer were more than slightly questionable. I’m thinking especially of the dinner we had years ago at one of Seattle’s now long-defunct biker bars!
Most on-tour days were booked with multiple events. Each one takes an hour’s worth of speaking as well as an additional hour of signing books and greeting fans. Are you tired yet? The truth of the matter is, I’m getting tired just writing all this down, and it’s also bringing out my IGP—Inner Grumpy Pants. On tour, the comment I dread most is some sweet faced woman who smiles at me sympathetically and says, “My dear, you look SO tired!” Considering everything I’ve just told you, why the hell wouldn’t I be? And no matter how annoyed you are, it’s important to be polite to the people who tell you how awful you look, because the fan standing in line behind her will be eager to pass the word along if the author exhibits the least bit of annoyance.
So although I still prefer speaking to live audiences as opposed to virtual ones, I’m coming around . I’ve looked at the upcoming schedule of events. There are lots of them—many in places I’ve never been able to visit in person. That means I have the potential of meeting lots of new readers. But do you know what’s missing from that schedule? Airports, airline flights, hotels, and many, many dodgy meals. And there’s also the welcome prospect of far less wear and tear on these old bones.
So we’re off to the virtual races, folks. Stay tuned for Tales from the Virtual Trail. And where will you find them? As they used to say on old time radio—Tune in next week—same time; same station!