Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Big July - finished at last!

I can barely believe it - my madcap month of planes, trains and automobiles to get me around to so many bookstores is actually over.
In the end, I only visited 49 bookstores in the 31 days I set aside ... although I do have Number Fifty, A+R Town Hall, set aside for Thursday August 5 lunchtime, although I won't call it truly part of The Big July.
But, and here's the fantastic bit - I sold 1016 books to wonderful people across three states and the ACT!
Along the way, The Radiant Child hit the Dymocks Top 10 Fantasy Bestseller List at number 9, climbed to 4 and stayed there for two weeks, then finished the month at No. 6.
That was amazing, particularly as I think only about nine of my stores were Dymocks - the rest were Borders, A+R or independents (who don't do a bestseller list).
Still, The Radiant Child was THE best-selling book, of ANY book, for Erina A+R, two weeks after I visited there, while also being the top-seller for the month at Umina's Book Bazaar and a big seller for Infinitas at Parramatta as well.
My last four days of store appearances were a whirlwind ... Roselands and Miranda on Thursday, Newcastle on Friday, Parramatta on Saturday and then Hornsby and Macquarie on Sunday.
Thursday was a long day ... Roselands proved to be a tricky one as it was swamped with mums and screaming kids because Target (just around the corner from the A+R) has launched its big toy sale. That was a solid one and then I had Miranda Fair for late-night shopping.
That went really well and I met some great people, including Belinda Every, who bought the entire trilogy and is trying to start a fan page for me on Facebook! I also met a top bloke called Kurtis, who wanted me to write a character with his name and appearance into my next book: ``Just say he's got a beard like a lion!'' he suggested. You'll have to wait and see...
Friday was a fantastic day - although I got a massive shock when I arrived in Newcastle to see the A+R store boarded up, with posters saying it had closed the day before! As my heart slowed, I saw that it had, in fact, just moved down the road.
Despite it being in a worse location, the people were great, both there and at Borders Kotara down the road, and I sold about 55 books on the day, leaving me hugely confident I could crack the magic 1000 over the weekend.
I kicked off Saturday at Infinitas, which has been a wonderful supporter of mine. Waiting for me were a bunch of pre-bought books, ready to sign, including an entire trilogy for a US fan, Jan Barlow. This guy is a real fantasy expert, and I have to admit to being a little nervous sending my trilogy off to him ... he's gone to a great deal of trouble and I hope they live up to it!
Parramatta Dymocks is another favourite but, this time, I realised all my fears about Saturdays at big shopping centres were realised! It was just too busy, too loud and I couldn't get people to stop and listen. That's the biggest lesson I'm taking away - shops may like Saturdays but I don't!
This left me 20 books short of the 1000 target, with two Borders stores on Sunday to visit.
I was super-confident, as both Hornsby and Macquarie are great stores, plus I used to be the editor of the Hornsby Advocate, and Hornsby Borders is where I interviewed Raymond E Feist and began this whole adventure!
There were people waiting for me at Hornsby, including an old work experience girl, now a uni student and a budding writer herself! It was great to talk to them and sign some books but those didn't count as sales so I hurried off to Macquarie with six books still to sell to hit my target.
By now I was starting to feel some pressure - stupid, I know, and unnecessary but I habitually put myself under pressure - just one of many character flaws!
As time ticked on and people only bought book one, it began to feel less like a monkey on my back, more like an obese gorilla!
Then a lovely couple bought the entire trilogy to hit the magic 1000 mark and all the pressure was off ... no matter what the ``score'' for the month was, it was still a success, but it was still a real relief to reach the goal I had set myself!
There was no gold glitter falling from the ceiling, no balloons and streamers - perhaps I should have brought along a few friends to supply something like that - would have been a nice touch!
After that, it was easy to kick on until things really quietened around 4pm and I went back to friends at Turramurra for a quiet beer and a big sigh of relief!
Galaxy Books in my lunch hour, by comparison, was easy enough, although I sold few books I handed out plenty of bookmarks and chatted to what seemed like a lot of would-be writers!
So The Big July is over ... and what have I learned?
Well, I learned not to do anything quite as big as that again - I'll need to stretch things out!
I also learned there are wonderful people who love books, and fantasy, all across Australia. You just have to get out there and find them.
And I couldn't have done it without the help and support of the wonderful people at HarperCollins and, especially, my friends and family.
Thanks to everyone I met ... you have helped create a memory that will stay with me forever.
This was a massive challenge for me and I couldn't have done it without you all!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Big July - back home

With a glorious three days off so close that I could taste them, I just had two more days of store appearances to go.
After arriving back home at 10.30pm from Adelaide, it was up early the next day to see my son's soccer team fight out a thrilling 3-3 draw before hading up the road to Leading Edge Books, Lakehaven.
This is a fantastic store, run by two lovely people, Sue and Howard, and they are always well prepared for me coming up there. They've been great supporters and it is the fourth time I have been to their store, which is always a pleasure.
There were people waiting for me there, which is always nice to see, including Prema and Tyce, who have had me sign all three of their books now!
It's funny though - when I talk to bookstores, they always want me out there on a Saturday. But, to be honest, I find Saturday one of the hardest days. Everyone is in a rush and it's hard to get them to stop and talk.
So it proved at my second stop for the day, at Erina Dymocks. This store is in a great location and had set up a fantastic window display for me.
There was a small queue of people waiting there, including Max, who is the only person to have contacted me on MySpace so far!
My older sister Julia was also there to get a couple of books signed for a friend and it was great to see so many friendly faces.
Sadly, it was a struggle to get anyone to stop and talk that afternoon, although I still sold more than 20 books there.
Contrast that with Sunday, when I headed up to A+R Kotara. This is in a major shopping centre in Newcastle and was my third visit to that store.
On the Sunday, people were willing to stop and talk and I racked up 26 books sold ... I sold out of WGs and was about to go, only for them to rush off to the storeroom and return with more!
But the break seemed to have triggered a shift in the rush of people outside and I was only able to sell one more book after that.
It strange - sometimes you just get on a roll and feel that every person who walks by is a fantasy reader, ready and eager to talk to you and, perhaps, pick up a copy. Then the feeling goes and nobody is interested.
Whether all that is in my mind or not is another matter.
During the month, I have experimented with combinations of shirts and pants, as well as seeing if wearing a particular pair of undies provides more luck than others!
It's not a particularly scientific experiment and seems to have proved that no pair of undies is luckier than others, while no shirt seems to get more positive reaction than another. But the time of day and the day itself do seem to all have an effect!
So I'm off on a mini-break, gearing up for four days of frantic store appearances which, I hope, will see me break through the 1000 books mark.
Wit the counter sitting at 853, the end is in sight - literally and figuratively.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Big July - Adelaide

My last trip away for this amazing month of selling books was to Adelaide.
My main reason for going down there was A+R Edwardstown, which has been a great supporter my books and so I was keen to support them back.
I was being met by HC rep Anthony down there, who would look after me for the first day, then Graeme would take over for day two.
I was a little nervous, as they had warned me it was not like Sydney but at the same time I was confident I could make a good impression.
After all, this is not just about selling books. It is about meeting sales staff and getting the stores enthused about you, bringing your books out from the pack.
It was grey and drizzly as I flew in and headed out to A+R Westlakes, a combined book store and newsagency in a big shopping centre.
My fears were unfounded as I sold 21 books in the two hours there and chatted to some great people ... strangely enough both Anthony, myself and store manager Bradley had the same style of close-trimmed beard - make of that what you will!
A+R Edwardstown was next, an older centre but the store I was down here to see.
They were just as nice in person as they were on the Net, with Tarran and owner Jo snapping endless pictures of me!
After a slow start I kicked into gear and sold 22 books for them. A pair of spruikers were trying to sell exercise equipment just across the aisle from me - that was to happen a few times in Adelaide and I even tried to sell them some books (without success). Still, I thought, if I can sell to a spruiker ...!
I checked into my hotel, The Medina Grand, which used to be the old SA Treasury Department building. It was stunning - 15-foot-high ceilings, real old-world charm and in the heart of the city. I grabbed a early dinner in the Chinatown before heading out for Thursday night shopping at A+R Marion.
This was a tough gig, my toughest of the day. Not only was my voice really starting to break up but everyone was in a rush and very reluctant to stop and talk!
`MasterChef is on!' one exclaimed as she tore past me.
Still, I sold 17 books, aided by the manager, who loved the books and even persuaded one customer not to buy the fantasy book she had selected but to get mine!
Anthony, my fantastic guide for the day, dropped me back at the hotel for green tea, a hot bath and the hope that my voice would hold up tomorrow...
Graeme picked me up from the hotel at 9am ... only of course we waited for five minutes for each other at different entrances!
First up was Elizabeth, a working-class suburb on the outskirts of Adelaide, famously home to Jimmy Barnes at one point.
Like Campbelltown or Penrith, I had high hopes for Elizabeth, even though Graeme was sounding a note of caution.
But it went great - I sold 25 books and spoke to some amazing people. I even set a new record for myself, personalising WG for four women, who were going to share it and read it - still my highest number!
There were a few curious sights there as well.
I saw one bloke with the most magnificent mullet. A burnished gold colour, it was truly a thing of beauty. Fluffed up at the front, spiked on top, falling to a glorious length below his shoulder blades. I asked him if he liked reading but he answered `No!' and of course, I should have thought a little more before opening my mouth.
Maintaining and preening that amazing hair style would take all his time and, probably, spare cash. A hobby like that would leave no time for reading, sadly ...
Next stop was A+R Tea Tree, where I had a woman waiting for me, entire trilogy at the ready for me to sign.
It doesn't start much better than that and, despite the noise around me, including the centre's desire for piped music at a level just short of deafening, I sold 34 books and again spoke to some marvellous people.
The one sad thing about this massive, whirlwind tour, is that some of these people begin to blur in my mind. I come away from an appearance thinking those people were just lovely ... and then struggle to remember them all.
Last stop was Borders Adelaide, where they'd had to take down the big display of my books because too many were being sold! They only had a handful of books left when I arrived and I sold them out pretty quickly, to finish my Adelaide trip.
Luckily I caught up with Peter Cooper there - a Facebook friend who is about to become a published author himself. After corresponding by Facebook, it was nice to see the man in person!
Adelaide was a wonderful two days - great people, lovely stores and a fantastic pair of guides in Anthony and Graeme.
I like to think I brought a little good luck down with me as well - the Adelaide Crows defeated the rampaging title favourites Geelong that Friday night, as I was flying out!

The Big July - contrasts

I had a day off - at last!
It was lucky, because I had brought back a virus, or perhaps I was just exhausted. Either way, I spent most of Monday on the couch, trying to recover.
I seriously doubted if I could get out to Penrith Dymocks the following day and I started thinking about perhaps putting it off for a week. My voice was shot but, more importantly, I was exhausted. I had also picked up a cough - not good when you need to speak a great deal!
The welcome news that Radiant Child had hit number four on the Dymocks Bestseller list for fantasy perked me up but not as much as a tip from my brother-in-law, Bruce. He recommends putting Vicks Vaporub on the soles of your feet overnight - and it works!
I felt much better on Tuesday and ready to get out to Penrith.
I used to work out there so actually knowing roughly where you are going for once was quite the treat for me - and Penrith did not disappoint. More than 30 books sold and a great many wonderful people met along the way - it was a great session.
Next day was Borders Bondi, one of the glamour stores in the exclusive eastern suburbs. My family came down with me on the train; they were going to the beach while I hit the bookstore.
The staff at Borders Bondi were absolutely lovely - but the customers made an interesting contrast with Penrith.
Ask Sydneysiders - especially those living in the trendy suburbs - and 9/10 will tell you that they would rather sell books at Bondi than Penrith. Penrith, unfairly so, is seen as the home of `westies' and full of flanellette, not Faberge.
Yet I sold twice as many books at Penrith as I did at Bondi.
Some turned their noses up at fantasy, some were of the `ho-hum, yet another author' school and even the buyers only wanted book one, not the whole trilogy.
Perhaps they had spent so much on their mortgages that they actually had less disposable cash than their Penrith cousins ... who knew?
But I found it very interesting that it was far easier to talk to people (and sell) in the despised Penrith than the glamourous Bondi.
Make of that what you will!

The Big July - road trip finishes

I arrived at my friends' house in Horningsea Park, near Liverpool, late on Saturday night, to beers and roast lamb.
I was feeling pretty tired but really positive as well ... Canberra had gone really well.
It as great to be with friends - Ann desperately wants a part if the series ever gets made into a movie and has even offered to play a prostitute, an extra - anything!
After being spoilt with a big dinner and then scrambled eggs for breakfast, I was ready to tackle the day ahead, at A+R Macarthur, Borders Macarthur and Dymocks Liverpool.
Like many of the other outer suburban stores, I love appearing at these ones. Why other authors ignore them, I don't know.
A+R Macarthur is run by Karen Sharp, who had been at the Borders upstairs.
Sadly it was a slow start, with not many people about and I couldn't do much for her.
But that all changed at Borders Macarthur.
The staff there were fantastic, with quite a few picking up my books themselves. James came in on his day off to get book three signed, after I'd done the first two for him on my previous two visits.
They were funnelling people over to me and things got crazy as I shook hands and signed books.
Old friends from Campbelltown Theatre Group popped in to see me and take photos ... it was a lovely time and I sold more than 40 books there.
I was almost sorry to leave but I had almost sold out and had just one more store before heading home. I really wanted to see my family again but Dymocks Liverpool is one of my favourite stores.
The owners are lovely and this was my third time back there.
Sadly, by now, I was starting to really feel the effects of the travel and the long hours outside the front of bookstores.
The crazy traffic and struggle for parking at Westfield Liverpool didn't help and I was nearly 30 minutes late as a result.
Again, though, I met some wonderful people ... a lady called Kristi, who bought WG from me on an earlier visit and loved it so much, she was back for book three. Quite a few of the people there were coming back for book three, which was marvellous.
Likewise I had a great chat with a would-be author called Dan, who wants to get his children's series published. Always good to meet people like that!
But by about quarter to four, I was pretty much out on my feet and had to call a halt.
The drive home took forever and no time at all ... although one Mitsubishi driver doing 30km/h through a roadwork zone near my house nearly had me chewing the steering wheel in frustration.
It nearly broke me, that road trip. It was one day too long and probably two stores too many - but I met so many wonderful people and sold many, many books.
It was an experience I shall not forget.

The Big July - Canberra

Two days in Canberra, with seven stores, hundreds of eager readers sure to walk past me and the guidance of HarperCollins rep extraordinaire, Jodi Callas. I was looking forward to it!
I kicked off in Queanbeyan, the NSW town on the border of the ACT, early on Friday.
The bookmarks had just arrived, which proved handy, although things took a while to warm up ...
One hour in, I had sold two books and had the nasty feeling that this was not going well ... then it all turned around.
People started buying the entire series left, right and centre and I actually finished with two people nearly fighting over the last Wounded Guardian, with the unsuccessful bloke ordering a copy in to go with the signed copies of books two and three
This was the first time I've ever been able to sell a trilogy without book one!
It was not without its dramas, with one bloke with a runny nose insisting on shaking my hand and a kid spilling its milkshake right in front of the table I was working from, so a cleaner had to block everything off while he fixed that ...
Still, it was the perfect start and had me warmed up for Dymocks Belconnen at lunchtime.
This was going great - until the renovated Belconnen centre decided to kick in the lunchtime entertainment for the littlies.
The sound of Shrek, Donkey and co doing the macarena and other dances from the centre square beneath us made my efforts to talk to people pretty difficult. But I still chatted to some great people - one bloke bought all three and declared he was going home to put his feet up and start right away!
Again, I sold out of WGs and so it was off to Dymocks Civic.
This is in a quiet spot but there was still plenty of action. One lady decided she wanted a better deal than the one Dymocks was putting on for the entire trilogy and waved a $50 note at me.
`Let's do a deal. $50 for the three, I put the money down and walk away with the books. Right?'
A little flabbergasted, I directed her inside to the manager, after failing to explain that while these were `my' books, they actually belonged to the store until I had sold them.
`No deal!'
Off she went, leaving everyone a little bemused!
I found myself having a long chat with a couple called Navin and Rebecca, who bought all three, and we talked more about what I'm writing now than this trilogy. They explained they were having a rough day at work, had come out for coffee and run into me - and our chat had lifted their mood. Well, they certainly lifted me as well!
Then it was off to my last store for the day - Borders Canberra, where the manager Geoff, is a fan.
A lovely lady called Jess made a special trip across town to buy the entire trilogy, while another bloke came in to get book three - always a huge thrill for me.
It was busy and I chatted to everyone I could until I was about ready to drop!
I grabbed some dinner in the food court outside, then it was back to the hotel that had been arranged for me through my planned travelogue story for the Sunday Telegraph.
The Novotel Canberra can be summed up in one word - sumptuous. I had a hot bath and fell into bed!
Next morning, Saturday, was my last in Canberra and I hit the buffet breakfast, loading up for a big day.
First stop was A+R Woden, where I began fast and then slowed a little, defeated by the distance between myself and passers-by a little - although I did sell WG to the wife of the manager!
Next was Dymocks Tuggeranong, where I was haunted by a lack of WGs. Apparently they had more somewhere in store but could anyone find them ... after selling out quickly, then attempting to sell trilogies minus the first book (not recommended) to a couple of blokes, I had one woman stop me as I was leaving.
Now, we'd talked earlier and she'd said she was going to `think about it and maybe come back'. To me, that's code for `don't call us, we'll call you' and is a very polite farewell. But, she came back, wanting to get all three books and I didn't have them to sell to her!
The fact I was going downstairs to the A+R store didn't even save things.
She was disappointed and I was gutted.
It took me a while to get going at the Tuggeranong A+R as a result - but then I got going and sold them out of WGs, racking up nearly 35 sales all up and selling the final trilogy (minus books one!) to a lovely young writer called Rebecca, who arranged to get it ordered in from A+R Woden.
It was a great way to finish in Canberra but all the Ricola elderflower lozenges and green teas had not saved my throat - I was feeling a bit scratchy and still had a full day tomorrow - Campbelltown and Liverpool!

The Big July - road trip I

My last Sydney date before the big south coast-Canberra-Campbelltown road trip began was at A+R Warringah.
Some days you get the feeling that people are just not in the buying mood - happily, they were at Warringah! I sold out of Wounded Guardians in little more than an hour and so was able to get home early and prepare for my big road trip.
One of the more interesting people I spoke to was the father of Mark Timmony, the manager of Galaxy Books in the city, which will finish my 50 stores extravaganza - not that he needed to buy the books but it was great to talk to him!
Fourteen stores, four days and easily 700km in driving ... this was going to make or break The Big July. Possibly both!
My first day was driving south to Batemans Bay stopping at Shellharbour and Nowra along the way. As contemplated fitting in four store appearances around a 350km trip over 11 hours, I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew...
The trip to Shellharbour A+R was easy enough, despite the best efforts of roadworks to slow me down. At Shellharbour they had decided to restrict three lanes into one, then lean on a few shovels and watch their handiwork snail by. Then I discovered that there are actually two Stockland malls in Shellharbour, one for retail and one for bulk goods and of course I picked the wrong one first up...
The A+R was in a good spot but was probably one of the more challenging appearances I've had, thanks to the chicken shop across the aisle, where a spruiker was in full flight, extolling the virtues of their drumsticks.
Why all spruikers must have cockney accents and a desire to double entendre with specials on lovely legs and chicken breasts I don't know but there we are ...
Shellharbour really stuck in my mind. Firstly I sold Wounded Guardian to the sister of Ian Irvine, the famous Australian fantasy writer. Kerry was there with her mother and they kindly decided to support me - even better, Kerry came back 20 minutes later saying she'd read the first dozen pages and was hooked and wanted the whole trilogy!
But beyond that was a lovely Aboriginal lady, who was friends with the store owners, Doug and Beryl. She didn't buy the books but we chatted for a while, where she told me that I was writing something else now ... and then told me about it. She said she had some psychic powers, that she does not always reveal, but that sh felt compelled to talk to me. What she said will remain private but it left the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. It was accurate ... so accurate that she touched on things that I have only told a handful of people. I have to admit, it left me a little shaken - as well as uplifted.
I needed a little time to get my head back in shape and so stayed at Shellharbour a little longer than I planned, so set out for Nowra running a bit late.
It was a good trip down and I arrived at the Dymocks Nowra only 10 minutes late. I said before about how some days you just feel that people are ready to talk to you, and eager to buy. This was one of those days andI sold 16 books in less than an hour. There were few people walking by but they were almost all enthusiastic readers!
Just as was finishing, and preparing to go around the corner to the A+R, the heavens opened.
By the time I got to the A+R, the people who were ready to talk were all gone, replaced by people running for cover!
Nevertheless, things still went quite well, where I sold eight books, including one to a girl who had come in specially for book three (always a huge pleasure to sign one of those) and a family of teenagers, who bought book one after the oldest girl, who the father said would ``never'' read a book as thick as mine, begged and begged.
If Wounded Guardian gets her started on reading, and I hope it does, then that will be a huge thing for me.
So it was off to Batemans Bay, where I was staying with dear friends, dodging 4WDs along the way, who seemed utterly convinced that they always had the right to pull out at any moment, and other traffic had to avoid them.
Thursday night in Batemans Bay was chilly, and the people few and far between, although I did have an interesting discussion with one bloke down on holidays.
`What's your longest battle - how many pages?' he inquired.
So we examined my retelling of the battle of Pilleth in Risen Queen, which goes for four chapters and more than 120 pages.
`That's good enough,' he declared, satisfied.
He was from Sydney's north shore, and I remembered I had to sign a book for a chap at Chatswood, in a similar vein (so to speak) who wanted me to write ``enjoy the blood spray''. Not that I'm into glorifying war (the series goes the other way) but I'm happy to write whatever makes people happy...!
So I crashed at my friends' house in BB that night, thankful to have made it through a tough day - and with two days in Canberra to follow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Big July - A Big Day

Saturday July 3 saw me zooming around the Central Coast, visiting Mandi at Book Bazaar in Umina and Kate at All Good Books Gosford, before watching my son play soccer (they lost 1-0) and then tackling A+R at Erina Fair.
Book Bazaar and All Good Books are not the biggest stores, nor are they in the busiest shopping centres but I really enjoy going there. The independents, more than anyone, work harder to bring people in and I sold 18 and 14 books respectively at the two stores, meeting some wonderful people along the way.
One lovely lady came in to buy Radiant Child for her grandson - this was the third time she had been into All Good Books at Gosford to get a book signed by me - the ONLY person to have come out three times!
I really like to support stores that have supported me and those two are just great.
A+R Erina is another store that has been a great supporter - in many ways they were the ones who started me on this big adventure, putting my details on the A+R intranet and basically booking me at a bunch of other stores. This was the fourth time I went there and it was a pleasure to sell for them again.
The day ended with a flurry as well, with two people buying the trilogy, both at the same time!
I also met a lovely bloke called Daniel, who had bought and read the first two - and was both surprised and delighted to find book three was out and he could get it!
Sunday saw me at Borders Rouse Hill, which is another great store, run by Aimee Green, who used to be the manager at Hornsby and I was pleased to be able to put in a huge day for her and her top team, selling 49 books to equal the record set by Borders Tuggerah!
They tell me authors are reluctant to go out to Rouse Hill but I don't know why - I met endless charming people, including a bunch who had come out specially to buy book three, including Facebook friend Alex Heydon - it's the second time I signed books for him and lovely to meet readers like Alex!
I posed for three photos and signed and gave away a stack of posters as well ... all in all it was an unreal day.
Monday saw me at Borders Chatswood and meeting the great staff there. Lucas, Jez, Nathan and the others were great - they even gave me a card and a box of chocolates to thank me afterwards. They also seemed quite impressed by my sales ability.
Proof of that came when I chatted to a young bloke about the book - only for him to admit he worked in the multimedia section and Jeremy had sent him down to talk to me and get some tips on sales manner!
It was another solid day, selling mostly Wounded Guardians but that's just fine with me - means they'll be back for the other two later!
So, just FIVE days into July and NINE days into my 30 days, I've already hand-sold 291 books ... well on the way to my target!

The Big July - Brisbane Part II

I checked out of the Royal Albert Hotel at 10am and had an hour to spare before heading up to Pulp Fiction, the specialist fantasy store in Brisbane. So I wandered around the streets, ducked into an internet cafe to write the first part of the Brisbane blog, and found myself noticing far more of the buskers and spruikers on the streets.
I listened to a busker and threw a couple of dollars into his guitar case, shook hands with a Red Cross spruiker, who had a nice line in greeting patter ... I found myself thinking it was only right that I give as many as possible the time of day when I walked past an old man shouting something about ``The Indonesians are coming!''
I drew the line there.
It was great to go to both the Brisbane Dymocks and Borders stores and it was fascinating to see the people who like to read fantasy.
The first guy to buy a book in Borders was this biker called Froggie (well, that was what I signed the book to) who had a full beard, a delightful Irish accent and the ability to use the word ``Fooken'' as both a noun, adjective and a compliment.
Two blokes who both bought the full trilogy were big New Zealanders, who looked like they'd be happier ripping apart a scrum than they would settling down with a book - just goes to show that you can never judge a book by its cover ... (groan!)
I have to admit I was walking on air the whole time, after the manager at Dymocks, Pam, told me that Radiant Child had gone straight onto the Dymocks Top 10 Bestseller List for fantasy! Obviously I was delighted - although couldn't help thinking perhaps I should have scheduled a few more Dymocks apperances, rather than all those A+R and Borders ...!
One more wrestle with the GPS, which I turned off as I approached the airport, with it imploring me to chuck a u-turn immediately (perhaps it didn't want me to leave) and I was heading back for Sydney and a busy weekend of appearances.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Big July - Brisbane Part I

Well, here I am in Brisbane, it's cold and a little rainy - perfect book-reading weather I say!
My first day here was both interesting and frustrating - interesting because of the people I met and frustrating because all the roadworks going around the place freaked out the GPS I was using in the hire car!
I still have to return to the airport, and must admit I am dreading to hear those metallic words ``re-cal-culatating''. Not only it is infuriating to know that the GPS is baffled, it is also an affront to the English language to hear it mangled like that. And coming from me, who needs a great editor and proof readers to avoid committing the same crime, that's a big statement!
Yesterday, while travelling from Manly to Chermside (in Brisbane's northern suburbs), it took me on a route back to the airport - and started screaming at me ``U-turn now!'' and ``in 100 metres, make sharp right down an alley!''
I looked at the concrete barriers to either side, and the trucks whirling past me at 100km/h and screamed back: ``You stupid bitch, we're both gonna die!''
Suffice to say we managed to find our way there in the end.
My first stop was at Borders Garden City, which was a wonderful time. The place was packed though, and it took me nearly 20 minutes just to find a park.
My friend from Campbelltown, Maureen Thompson, a fellow thespian from Campbelltown Theatre group, winters in Brisbane and she came along and bought books two and three, being almost all the way through the first. It was wonderful to see such a friendly face - unfortunately the vagaries of the GPS had me behind all day, so we couldn't sit down for a coffee and a proper chat.
There were many lovely people I met, including a couple of budding writers and a lovely girl called Yassmin who had already read the first two and then came back for book three and insisted on getting a photo with me. Why anyone would want to look at my rough head (I have a great face for writing) is beyond me but I am always happy to oblige. Luckily Maureen was there at the same time, so could exchange photographic duties!
Then it was on to TLC books at Manly, a small store in an outlying suburb but the owner, Tanya Caunce, is a Facebook friend and it was her contacting me that led me to come to Brisbane. I love to support the stores that support me, so it was a pleasure to come out there. For such a small place, we did remarkably well, selling 14 books there in about 90 minutes!
Lastly I was out to Chermside, which is a simply massive place. After my parking troubles at Garden City, I grabbed the first spot and saw and it took me five minutes to walk to the store. I had some lovely chats with people, including Facebook friend Besa Ajazi, who took out time from her work in the cinema upstairs to come down to see me, which was fantastic.
I sold out of my first book, although still had plenty of books two and three there, so had to call a halt.
By now, not trusting my GPS entirely, I made my way into the city, to my hotel, the Royal Albert Boutique Hotel. Amazingly, I managed to get there without more than a couple of snippy comments from the GPS, who was now saying things like: ``please drive to the marked route''.
I didn't dignify that with a reply.
The staff were very kind to a frazzled writer who was both tired and famished, and I was able to soak in a hot bath and think about the next day ahead.
So, I'm off to Pulp Fiction in a few minutes, then Dymocks and Borders in the city. Just walking around the city, I find myself talking more to spruikers and buskers than I would have done a year ago, before I began this book selling. I appreciate them much more.
However, that nearly got me into trouble last night, when a spruiker approached me as I walked to the hotel. I was about to at least offer them a smile and a polite no when I realised what they were spruiking - a gentleman's club! My polite no came as I walked very swiftly away!