Bookstore Crazies

You might think the above title applies to people who come to book tour events, and that wouldn’t be entirely wrong, because sometimes total nut cases do show up at signings.  My most notable one of those was the guy who had just been acquitted of murdering seven people and did I want to write his book.  Well … no … as a matter of fact I didn’t.

But today’s topic is all about author mental health on book tours—my mental health.

I usually start out in a reasonably chipper mood and then, gradually, things go downhill.  Sticking to a schedule and waging unaccustomed battles with rush hour traffic in one strange city after another is wearing.  Even in name brand hotels, there are times when cleanliness is not next to godliness.  And bouncing from one time zone to the next with wild abandon means your body arrives home on no known time zone.

I’ve had a few notorious meltdowns on tour.  One was early on in my book tour life when the strap on the three-week old purse I’d bought from Nordstroms broke, scattering my carefully packed necessities up and down a hotel corridor in Omaha, Nebraska.  That was a tour where the first stop was in Omaha, with the second in San Diego, before finally finishing up on the East Coast.  I believe at the end of that tour I sent a note to my then publicist saying that “just because an airline schedule says you can make it doesn’t mean you SHOULD!”

But back to the Omaha purse.  I grabbed up my stuff and loaded it into my suitcase.  This was long enough ago that there were still “Media Escorts” who met up with authors at airports and then dragged them around to signings, events, and hotels.  Upon my arrival in San Diego the next day, the Media Escort, whose name was Ken Something or Other, asked me if there was anything I needed.  “Yes,” I said.  “Take me to Nordstroms.”   He dropped me off, and I marched into the purse section carrying the broken remains of my $40.00 purse.

Me: I need to exchange this purse.

Clerk:  Where did you buy it?

Me:  Seattle, Washington.

Clerk: I don’t think we can do that.

Me:  Yes, you can.  This is Nordies.

Bill and I had been in Nordstroms in Vancouver, Washington the week before where I’d seen a beautiful Brahman purse that I loved, but since I had just bought the other one, I couldn’t justify buying the much more expensive one.  But there in San Diego, I saw the very same purse.  In the end, a store manager gave me a $40.00 credit toward the new purse which, from my point of view, was eye-poppingly expensive, but then I used that purse every day for the next ten years which meant that my purse budget of $40.00 per year wasn’t all that far out of line.

But I digress.  That was something that happened at the beginning of a tour, and I’m supposed to be talking about my mental health at the end of tours which, generally speaking, isn’t all that good.  On one tour, my flight home meant catching a connecting flight in Phoenix.  While our plane waited on the tarmac for a gate to open up, the Seattle-bound plane pushed back from the gate next door and took off without me.  I called Bill in full crybaby mode. “Go to Alaska Air, book an afternoon flight, and come home.”  I did.

So this week we’ve been mostly home with the final tour event scheduled for Bay City Michigan on April 26.  Since this event was arranged by a Speaker’s Bureau rather than by my publisher, I set up the flights, hotel, and car reservations on my own.  I did this a long time ago—prior to the tour—and because we were traveling so much between then and now, it seemed like a good idea to be gone only two days rather than three.

My daughter often says that I’m calendar challenged, and this week it was true.  For some strange reason, I decided we were departing on Wednesday rather than Thursday.  Departing on Wednesday and coming home on Thursday.  Finally, on Monday, the hotel in Bay City sent me my early check in notification, saying we were checking in on Thursday and out on Friday.  “Wait a minute,” I told myself.  “That can’t be.  We’re flying on Wednesday”  So I called the hotel to see if we could change the reservation to a Wednesday arrival.  Nope, I was told.  The hotel was completely booked for Wednesday night.  So I canceled the hotel reservation.  And then, hours later, when I finally got my head on straight and looked at the REAL calendar rather than the fictional one in my head, I discovered that we’re flying on THURSDAY.  At that point, I called the hotel back and uncancelled the cancelled hotel reservation.

So now we really are flying tomorrow—on THURSDAY.  We fly to Detroit on a flight that departs Seattle at 6 AM.  Whoever thought THAT was a good idea?  Guess who?  And we’re both dreading our 4:00 AM wakeup call, but we’ll manage.

And when we finally get home on Friday evening (Friday really!) the Duel to the Death book tour will be over.

At last.  It’s been fun, but I’m ready to be home!