I'm uber happy to say that my first "live" appearance as Fab & Glam OAFQ went amazingly well. I was blown away with the evening's event on every single level and it's hard to believe I almost ditched my own gig when the "cold feet" tap danced over my self confidence.
Thank the Gods for a supportive family, the best friends anyone can ever be blessed with, and my wonderful and warm network of New Camelotians!
We were almost late because of the Girl Who Would Be Queen (me) as we were halfway to Barnes and Noble when I realized I'd left my banner at home. Since I was driving, I shifted the Falcon into hyperdrive and we sped back, grabbed Le Banner and got back on the road. I told my mother to just close her eyes as my driving was a cross between the Fast and the Furious and Cannonball Run.!
My scheduled time was 6-8pm and I'd be sharing a table with smexy Historical Fiction Authoress, Rachel Demeter, who turned out to be a sweet girl and kindred spirit. First thing I saw as we pulled up? A huge sign outside the front doors….
I almost cried. Me! Torie James! My name in connection with B & N? Who'dve thunk it? Mom, Sister and I took a moment to just drink that in and then we raced inside to get set up. This is one of the more "trafficked" B & N's so there is generally always a healthy amount of peeps looking to get their read on and last night was no different. I felt like a Rock Star, despite my nerves, which I always cleverly disguise under the mask of loud and brash. I had a bottle of ice cold Fiji Water with my name on it on my end of our table but the best thing by far?
Sitting there in pretty, glossy stacks were copies of Timeless Night and Timeless Desire! 30 books in total. Two more signs graced the upper and lower levels of the store and I tried to busy myself with laying out the grab bags and goodies I'd brought with nervous glances at the time. I'd spent the day getting fancified and researching these types of events online. New Writers….it didn't look encouraging for us. I made myself sick with the pro's AND con's, reading them until I could recite each bit of "advice" in crack-head detail.
So I did what I always did in these cases and hoped for the best but expect the worse.
6 pm came and went. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Luckily, both Rachel and I had our familia's and were able to relax in simple conversation as we all got to know each other. Rachel and I whispered in low asides to one another about game planes and brill ideas. I got a bit disheartened…there was plenty of customers but no one was really paying us much notice. Even though we literally at the front door!
Then I glanced at the time on my Darth Vader watch again. 6:20pm. Heavy sigh.
I didn't have the chance to look at the damn thing again until after 8. AFTER 8!!!
It started with a trickle of new customers as they walked in, some heading our way, drawn by the huge bowl of candy that Rachel had the wisdom to bring. Oh…piece of candy! Oh…piece of candy! That's right my little ones…step into mah web, said the spider to the fly! Candy grabbing led to inevitable conversations. Some patrons liked Rachel's genre (Historical) and gravitated her way but barely gave me a smile. But on the other hand, I attracted my own little crowd. Those keen on smexy Paranormal shenanigans and looking for something new. Now, I could have sat back and simply smiled, nodding at the appropriate times but not really interacting. But that's not my way.
I have always operated under the theory that there are no strangers, just friends I haven't met yet. I'd forgotten how much I genuinely love people and getting to know them in these types of outings. I'd spent so much time the last few years perfecting my crazy ol' recluse act that I'd let go of the fact that I AM a social creature and love, love, love meeting new folks. The good news is this is such a natural transition for me, I eased right back into my butterfly mode!
In the midst of greeting people, I was also blessed with the surprise appearances of several friends I'd made online! People whom I consider my family to be honest, cyberspace soulmates if you will. The best part was seeing them, knowing them and just throwing your arms around them and silently thanking the Fates for making that moment possible. Carolyn, Lyn and Brent….you done made me tear up! You traveled so far just to spend a few minutes with me and that…..well…you'll never know how much it meant to me. I love you!
Another lovely surprise was looking up and seeing another author from my family at Breathless Press walk in! Lady Brantwijn! Girl, you threw me for a loop but I am so happy you showed up and stayed the whole time, as did a few others. It was awesome sauce to meet you, B, and I can't wait to do ComicKaze with you! You rock!
There were moments where I lost my breath, moments when I looked up in the midst of signing book to just stop and look around. I saw some of my friends and fans talking TO each other and laughing, having a good time. Some only met last night. And yet, there they were, mingling and making memories. And that is the true magic and the one thing that made me prouder than anything. I didn't know what to say when the niece of a fan showed up and bought book 2. She'd read Timeless Night and was hooked! She couldn't wait to read more and asked so many questions about New Camelot I wanted to hug her. So I did! *grins* Another lady, a coworker of a friend of my mother's, showed up and although she'd read both Ebook versions, wanted print copies as well! She made me cry hardcore when she told me she never was much impressed with "first timers" but I'd changed the game! ME! WTH?
*watery laugh* I've started crying again…but happy tears only! It was a lovely experience I hope to know again. I hadn't even realized we'd gone past our time until I just happened to glimpse a wall clock. It was 8:15! And people were STILL at our table! It was surreal and unforgettable! I didn't actually leave until about 8:50 pm. *winks* Last minute sale and sign!
I'll tell you what! We are just getting started! As it stands now, I'll be making a couple more appearances at other Barnes and Noble stores as soon as we can get it set up. The Community Manager, Lady Shay, was impressed with the turnout and said she hadn't seen such a gathering for any brand new authors in a long time. *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* We're going to attempt to gather up a few more local area writers and do a panel. Brantwijn and I are going to ComicKaze in L.A. over Halloween weekend. HUGE turnout is expected and we're gonna shag that thing hard!
I made new connections, made new plans and got to hug people I've been dying to meet. I signed books, talked shop and even gave good advice to a new fan about writing. I got to listen to a gnarly Dr. Who debate rage on at the table. Brantwijn showed me a lot of smut on her Kindle. *winks and blows kiss* I watched my normally introverted sister interact with strangers and smile as she did it. She even grabbed some flyers and freebies to take to the upper level and gave stuff out. I got to see the gift bags I'd made (full of pretties from some of the most talented people I know!) be received with awe. I heard compliments about some of the goodies, preened with praise when people told me how much they loved the covers of both Timeless Night and Desire! (Lady Victoria..THAT WAS ALL YOU!! YOU ROCK!). I was so happy last night. Not just myself but for my friends who contributed to the bags. You guys have some new fans now too!
It was the best feeling. I wish you had ALL been able to be with me. But I had you in my heart and that made it precious. Because for those few moments when I did falter…I heard your voices in my head….loving me and encouraging me, just as you've done all along.
This small success….its yours as well as mine.
And I hope, a dazzling example of what can happen for YOU, when you dare to take a risk. It won't just fall in your lap. So, are you going to go kick ass or what?