Sunday, March 23, 2014

Penultimate week of Wall Of Spears tour

As the Wall Of Spears 50 Stores In 50 Days tour winds to a close, I headed down to Canberra for the last interstate leg - two days in Canberra and then back via the NSW South Coast, at Batemans Bay and Nowra.
The trip down was delayed, firstly by a breakdown on the F3 Freeway, then by a succession of "roadworks" on the Hume Highway south.
Fixing up the road surface is one thing but do we have to slow down to one lane and 40km/h just so two guys can put up a new sign at the side of the road?!?! I've heard of OH&S regulations but surely this was a little ridiculous ...
First cab off the rank was Paperchain Manuka, a beautiful little store in a rather posh part of Canberra. Of course I had forgotten to bring some change with me, because there's no such thing as free parking in Canberra. As far as the government is concerned, there's always a free lunch in Canberra but that's another story ...
So I had to get money out, get change and then buy parking before putting up the big banner and getting down to work.
I met some wonderful people there but also had a few amusing moments.
After chatting to one lady, I was sure she'd buy The Wounded Guardian - but at the point where I was about to offer to sign it for her, this dog started sniffing around the bottom of my huge pop-up banner. I jokingly said that I hoped it wasn't about to wee over my banner (hey, everyone's a critic these days ...!) but she got quite indignant.
`That's my dog and she'd never do anything like that!'
Off she went and, after a few moments, off went the insulted dog as well.
A few minutes later I was chatting to a bloke who didn't like fantasy but said his partner did. So I told him about the books, making special mention of Karia, the feisty orphan girl with magic powers and Merren, the Queen fighting for her throne.
`Oh, that doesn't sound like the sort of thing HE'D like,' the man said.
`But it has great battle scenes,' I said, performing a verbal backflip that would have had most of Canberra's politicians nodding with approval.
Too late ...
After selling quite nicely at Paperchain, it was off to Dymocks Civic, in the heart of Canberra Central. This store has changed position recently and I couldn't find it. In fact, I had to get one of the store assistants to talk me through the centre to get there! In my defence, it is hiding behind the escalators at the food court ...
Richard and Alison, the delightful store owners, were on hand to help me when I put up the banner only to have it fall to pieces! Luckily Richard was able to fix it while I sold a trilogy to one of their customers!
It was a quiet afternoon, with few people about, but the ones I met were fantastic!
Second day was much busier, however.
I started at Dymocks Belconnen. Every author has to go here once. It's like author tour nirvana. An endless procession of people who love to read and are excited to meet authors.
Owners Andrew and Steve kept the green tea and the replacement books up to me and people just kept buying - 50 books exactly!
One of the highlights was seeing Shaheen from Speculate Fiction, an online book review blog that you should sign up for - and I'm not just saying that because she keeps giving my books five star reviews!
Next stop was Dymocks Tuggeranong, the other perfect spot for authors. My personal record of 52 books sold was set here and owner Fiona was delighted to hear she was still the queen, that I hadn't quite beaten her record at Belconnen!
Thanks again to the likes of Rebecca and Jessica, who came in to pick up Wall Of Spears, after coming in previously to get the other books. It's a huge pleasure to see those people!
40 books later, it was time to wave a fond farewell to Canberra.
Day three kicked off at Hooked On Books at Batemans Bay, a lovely store that went indie after the collapse of A&R. They'd even advertised my arrival in the Bay Post!
This was a sell-out, selling all Wounded Guardians, Bridge Of Swords and Valley Of Shields in the store and meeting many fantastic people along the way.
All done by 11.45am, I hit the road to Nowra, a store I hadn't visited since 2010, on my Radiant Child tour. I struck a caravan convention on the road and was a little slower than I expected into town.
But I arrived in time to meet a bunch of great people, including Alex, who had bought Bridge Of Swords off me at Kinokuniya and had driven down from Wollongong to get the rest of my books signed. That was a fantastic honour!
Sadly Nowra was cut short by an enormous thunderstorm, which emptied the high street of people. Spookily, my last trip to Nowra was also cut short by a massive thunderstorm. I do hope there was no connection ...!
So ended my last interstate trip, with big smiles and 1146 books hand-sold in total, smashing my Radiant Child total of 1032, with four stores left to go.

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