From July of 2016 to December of 2017, a period of almost a year and a half, I spent just about every waking minute of nearly every single day working on, thinking about, or worrying about this book. If I wasn’t poring over maps, researching history and geology, or driving some remote desert highway, I was taking photographs, editing photographs, or driving on some curvy mountain road. In between all of that driving and researching, I was writing, writing, and writing still more, pounding away at my “soft touch” keyboard so relentlessly that I literally raised blisters on my fingertips! From inception to completion, this book was an enormous, all-consuming project, and the effort required was epic. The fact that I’d actually finished the danged thing really was a big deal, worthy of a really big celebration!
On the morning of the big event, I made an appearance on a local TV show, an interview and discussion of the book that was taped in the studio the day before. That was actually kind of fun, and I surprised myself by making it look easy (the photo below has a link to the video):
That afternoon, I headed out to the Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, where the staff was busy setting up a stage and a projection screen, and rearranging all the furniture to make space for multiple rows of folding chairs. Special Moments catering was setting up to serve food and drink, fancy h’ors d’oeuvres, like spicy shrimp skewers and mini beef wellingtons, chocolate desserts, and cases of white wine. My publisher pulled out all the stops to make the party memorable–and much to my delight, it worked!
As many as 75 people magically appeared. Old friends, former co-workers, schoolmates, neighbors, friends of the publisher, random book lovers, and even a few people who caught my interview on the tube and were inspired to come out and see me in person. Mark Sedenquist and Megan Edwards of Imbrifex Books, quite likely the most supportive publishers in the history of the industry, staged and choreographed the entire event, which went off without a hitch.
The audience enjoyed my presentation, and the shop sold out every copy in their inventory. Was I happy with the result? I didn’t realize I was capable of a smile quite that wide!
Ten days later, I drove down to Tucson for a smaller event at a sweet little store called Mostly Books. We set up in the back room, and I gave my talk to a couple of dozen people, including several of the regular contributors to RoadTrip America. This was a much more intimate gathering, and very enjoyable (Even though we didn’t sell quite as many books!) More photos from the Tucson event here.
The following week, I was back on the road for real, with a drive from Phoenix to Albuquerque. We covered half of the distance on two-lane back roads, following Scenic Side Trip #10 as far as Payson, then north through the mountain forests to Heber and Holbrook. I was on a tight schedule, so, alas, the other half of the drive had to be on Interstate 40, pretty much non-stop. Why the tight schedule? At the equivalent of 4 AM the next morning, I had to be in a TV studio in downtown Albuquerque. This time, there were two interviews, two separate segments spaced one hour apart, live and in person on the morning news. I was barely awake, standing in front of a bank of TV cameras, pitching my book to the good people of New Mexico as they ate their collective breakfast! After a pleasant day of sightseeing that included most of Scenic Side Trip #21, my “Albuquerque Loop,” we headed to the big Barnes & Noble Booksellers location in Northwest Albuquerque.
This event was a book signing only, without any kind of presentation. It was lovely to have so many people lined up waiting their turn to get their book signed. It was sincerely fun for me, meeting folks one-on-one, answering their questions about the book, and swapping Road Trip stories!
Next came two days and nights in beautiful, but cold–and very WINDY Santa Fe! My Santa Fe book event was held at a lovely Independent shop called Garcia Street Books. The crowd that came to see my presentation was small, but incredibly enthusiastic, insisting on more of my stories, and more projected photos, to the point where they kept me talking for almost an hour, sparking a lively discussion.
I was told ahead of time that these book events would be the most enjoyable part of the book publishing process. I wasn’t at all sure about that. I’ve never been fond of public speaking, I’d never been interviewed by any kind of reporter, and I had most definitely never appeared on television. What if I froze? What if they asked me questions I couldn’t answer? If I came across as an idiot, these public appearances might actually hurt our prospects for good regional sales, and going into it, that thought was nagging at the back of my head. I needn’t have worried! The topic, Road Trips in Arizona and New Mexico, is so near and dear to my heart, and I’ve studied it so intensively, that I can talk about it, easily, naturally, and enthusiastically, for hours on end, in just about any setting.
I have five more of these events scheduled in May, starting with Flagstaff on Friday, May 4th. and this truly is “the fun part!”
Friday, May 4th: Starrlight Books at 15 N. Leroux Street starting at 6:00 pm. All are welcome, free registration and more information.
Monday, May 7th: Distant Lands travel store in Pasadena, 20 S. Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105. Presentation begins at 7:30 pm. More information and free registration.
Wednesday, May 9th: I will be at the historic Shoshone Museum in Shoshone, California. Hosted by The Death Valley Red Light Chronicles and the Shoshone Museum Association, the presentation starts at 6:30 pm. Imbrifex Books will be hosting a reception at the Crowbar Restaurant immediately after the author event at the museum. Bartenders will be serving a special cocktail “Scenic Side Trips” at the reception. More information.
Friday, May 11th: The Writer’s Block in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada starting at 6:30 pm. Refreshments will be served. More information and free registration.
Thursday, May 24th: The historic LoDo Tattered Cover in downtown Denver. The store is located at 1628 16th St, Denver, CO 80202. More information and free registration to this event.