It seems insignificant to talk about my book signing after the senseless act of violence that took place on Friday, December 14th in Newtown, Connecticut.
I am speechless, and know that people around the whole world are feeling their sorrow.
Icy roads were predicted on Thursday, December 13th, the day of my WHSmith book signing in Paris. My dad and his wife, Jill, recommended we take the RER and metro to Paris. Thankfully, a light drizzle made the roads frost-free, and Catherine, Jill’s daughter, offered to drive all four of us to Rue de Rivoli, where the largest British bookstore in Paris is located.
It takes French guts to drive around L’Arc de Triomphe, where cars coming from your right side have the right of way. Multiply this by twelve: the number of roads leading to Place de L’Etoile, the focal point where the roads converge.
Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a world-famous street in Paris, known for its cafés, luxury specialty stores and “people-watching.” Several French monuments are also on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe at one end, and the Place de la Concorde at the other.
Parking is always a challenge in Paris, so at a red light, I jumped out of the car, grabbed my carry-on from the trunk, and rolled my books into the cozy store.
WHSmith has a cosmopolitan feel. Everyone who works there speaks English and French, and the feel was busy and exciting. My table was already set up with a poster on a metal stand announcing me as the guest author. Hannah, the marketing and events manager, greeted me and made me feel like a VIP. She asked me to show up early to make sure my book scanned correctly. Too scared to admit that it was indie published, I was terrified that it wouldn’t, and that my event would be canceled at the last minute.
Since my bar code was from the U.S., with $14.95 as the cover price, Hannah converted the price to Euros. I was relieved when she returned from the cash register and informed me that everything scanned properly.
My first customer was a mom with a student studying at a university in San Diego. She wanted me to sign a copy for her daughter. I started talking to some customers in the store, never sure whether to start in English or in French. A couple of Americans living in Paris, chatted with me. One man told me he’d visited Caye Caulker, the beautiful small island known for being a backpackers haven next to Ambergris Caye where we lived for a year.
Another British woman said she knew about Belize because of McAfee on the news. At first I didn’t understand who she was talking about. It’s strange how each country pronounces words differently. No wonder the British think I sound American, after 30 years in the U.S.
Many ex-colleagues from my father’s working days in Paris and Africa showed up to support me. It turned into a giant “party.”
Other photos from WHSmith below.
If you’re an indie-authoor, I’d like to encourage you to call book stores and ask if you can do a book signing. You might be surprised where this will take you. A couple of months ago, I picked up the phone and called WHSmith, and was pleasantly surprised when they said, “yes,” after several e-mails. Good luck and please share your own stories.
DECEMBER IS DIFFERENT.
I’m in London today after leaving Paris yesterday. In a few days I return to California.
I am collecting new “My Gutsy Story” submissions for 2013. NOW is the time to submit your own “My Gutsy Story” and get published in our Anthology. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.