Not so long ago I got an invitation to sign books more than one hundred miles away, and a two-and-a-half-hour drive from my mountain top village to coastal California. Specifically, Santa Maria. A bookstore called Bookworm. The trip offers an eyeful of glorious California scenery.
Before I left I got gas at the pump in the village and put my wallet on top of the car. You can guess, can’t you? When I stopped to buy coffee at the half-way point, I realized I had no wallet. I called the village office and learned my wallet had already been turned in by one of the many good people who live here. Sigh of relief.
However, I had seventy-eight cents in change and I’d been too rushed getting the dog and myself ready to go to eat breakfast. Knowing I had no money I was immediately hungry.
The bookstore was lovely, the proprietor charming. He helped me set up and immediately brought out his lunch. I just met him. I couldn’t ask him for a carrot. I couldn’t ask him for money. I watched every bite he took of a thick sandwich. He threw the crusts of that delicious sandwich in the trash!
People came in and sidled past me. People loved up my dog. They ignored my books for sale. I had forgotten what it’s like to sit in a small store and grin (like a fool) at customers, doing their best to avoid eye contact with me. Could it be that they think I’m going to leap at them with a demand to buy my book, buy my book, buy my book! Or worse that I’m going to say something writerly? Use a big word? Scold them if they want to buy a James Patterson?
The afternoon passed very, very slowly. My stomach growled louder and louder. The dribble of customers slowed and finally the proprietor closed up. Finally, finally a friend came in and bought a book. Tony and Susan Piazza, I will always be grateful to you.
Saving some money from the sale for gas, I rushed to the Dollar Store next door and splurged on dinner. Carrots, peanuts, and a banana never tasted better.
Ah, the glamorous life of a mystery writer.
Here’s my new book: Cats? Animal rescue? Not a cozy…