Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anita's Attic: In the Presence of Greatness

The Greatness in this case is Nora Roberts. I had my second signing with her this weekend at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro, Md. This was a smaller signing than the one in May. According to them, their December signings usually are, but this one surprised them. They ran out of Nora's latest book, The Next Always, the first in her Inn trilogy. Her husband and bookstore owner, the very nice Bruce Wilder, had to drive to a nearby Sam's Club and buy their stock so the fans waiting at Turn the Page wouldn't be disappointed. Now that's customer service. This is the same book that my agent had recently bought and was telling me what a great cover it had. Nora was very pleased to hear that. :)

Austin went with me this time. They even had a chair for him beside me.
We had a great time. There were only six authors signing so it was more intimate than last time. Nora's husband and son were there, her publicist, and another writer's husband, who was a really sweet man, almost as great as mine. :) There was lots of laughter and joking. Even Nora commented on the great atmosphere. She took a picture with an adorable baby, and even she couldn't resist pinching those fat baby cheeks. And her publicist is great. She's wonderful with the crowd, offering to take photos, teasing to loosen them up. A couple of the people were really emotional and excited about being there. One girl was almost in tears. Most of the crowd was there to see Nora; some of them arrived really early to get tickets to the signing, but the other authors had our moments as well.

Before the event, Austin and I walked through one of the rooms where the authors' books were laid out on a table. We heard one woman comment to another, "Isn't that the highland warrior book I told you about?" Austin smiled and pointed to me. "She wrote it," he said. The woman looked kind of strange but smiled. A minute later, she poked her head into the room we'd just entered. "Were you serious?" she asked. And when we told her we were, she was so excited. She gushed about what a great writer I was and how she'd lost her husband recently and my book was one that had helped her through her grief. That was so touching. Bless her heart, she stood in line for a couple of hours to get Embrace signed. And another girl was very excited to see me there. She had made herself wait to get Embrace so she could get it signed. She said she'd found a favorite new author. That comment is enough to make me happy any day, but hearing it while sitting in the presence of a writer as great as Nora is enough to make me giddy with pleasure. It's such a thrill to hear readers say how much they enjoy my stories and to see the excitement on their faces. It adds a touch of awe when they say, "Please hurry and write the next one." These people are waiting for my stories. They're invested in me. That's a daunting thought.

Along with meeting some of my readers, it was nice to spend time chatting with Nora. Remember, I was busy at the authors' table and missed talking to her at the last Girls' Night Out? Well, I not only chatted, but got some Noraly advice.

I told her how frustrating it is trying to handle all the loops and promotion and writing at the same time. I wasn't surprised by her response. WRITE THE BOOK! That's the most important thing. She said writers need their local writing community, but being on a ton of loops will just take writing time. She said she didn't fool with that stuff when she started writing. Of course, times were different then, and now we do have to build on online presence. She agreed that I have to promote; she does lots of promotion too--I'm sure she can afford to have someone do it for her :) -- but she told me that until I can hire someone to handle email and some things for me, she suggested getting a family member to sort through my email and loops for anything that needs my attention. Between you and me...hubby is dying for the job and anxiously waiting for the moment when I can hire him. I'm sure that will come about the same time I buy him the ranch. Did I mention he's optimistic?

Nora also encouraged me to write every day, and when I asked if it was true that she writes 8 hours every day, she said she tries for 6-8 each day, but not on weekends. I asked if she worried about burnout. She looked blank for a minute and said she'd never considered burnout, that you're either a writer or you're not. My admiration continues to grow.

Another nice thing about this weekend was the comfort it brought. Some of the issues I'm going through at the moment are disheartening, and it was so nice to spend a few hours in the company of wonderful writers and dedicated readers. Grace Burrowes and Joyce Lamb were there along with two local writers S.D. Sawyer and Tim Snyder. Joyce sat next to me. The woman is hilarious. If she decides she's tired of writing novels and doing her new USA TODAY HEA Blog
http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/index which is a great voice for romance writers out there, she could easily be a comedian. She had me in tears, and Nora's publicist is very funny herself, wonderful at putting people at ease. After a few difficult weeks, this day was rejuvenating to my writer's soul.

16 comments:

Kari Lee Townsend said...

That's so awesome, Anita. Sounds like just what you needed. Hang in there. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and in my experience, thing usually turn out for the better.

Great pic of you and Austin. I always wondered what he looked like. He looks like HE could be one of your highland warriors :-)

Liz Lipperman said...

What a wonderful story, Anita. Although I don't know Nora personally, you can tell a lot about a person just by listening to them. She is a master motivator and has certainly tried to pay it forward.

Kudos to you and Austin for making the trip. Here's hoping you sell another ton of books.

Anita Clenney said...

Kari, it was exactly what I needed. Your comment about Austin is funny. He teases people and tells them it's him on the cover. Of course they know he's joking. He looked at the pictures last night and was fussing because he needs a haircut. His hair wasn't the greatest that day, but neither was mine. :)

Anita Clenney said...

Liz, we had a great time. I was so glad Austin went. Other than the event on Martha's Vineyard, he'd never been to my book signings.

Nora is an amazing woman. She (and her family) have put so much into that town. She has the Inn across the street. Her son owns a little restaurant a few doors up from the bookstore and is opening a larger restaurant across the street. Now, she's opening a fitness center behind the Inn. And she still writes all the time. Can you imagine writing that many books (over 200 now) and not burning out at some point?

Donna Cummings said...

Anita, that sounds like wonderful event, and the timing of it was perfect for you. I'm thrilled that you got to meet with your fans AND got to chat with Nora. Such great advice too.

Thanks for sharing the details. It was the next best thing to being there myself!

Anita Clenney said...

Donna, this signing was even more fun than the last. Since it was smaller, there was more laughing and joking around. Austin fit right in. They put him to work keeping books on the table.

Cassy Pickard said...

Anita: You are wonderful for sharing this with us. I love love hearing about great stories such as this. But, I will stop you for a moment. Nora might be great, but YOU were the one there with long lines and people waiting to talk with you. YOU. You've done it, girl. We always will find people we look up to. But, it's also easy to forget what we've done ourselves. Again, thanks.

Avery Flynn said...

So sad to have missed it, it sounded like a fabulous time!

Anonymous said...

This sounded like a wonderful event. I just finished the first in the new Nora trilogy and can't wait for the next two books. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

Marilyn Baron

Anita Clenney said...

Cassy, you're so good for my self esteem! :) It was a really fun day, and it was great to have Austin there to share it.

Anita Clenney said...

Avery, if you had been there it would have been a party! Wish you had been there, too. And I missed Dana. She was at the last one.

Anita Clenney said...

Marilyn, I bought the first in Nora's new trilogy and I read the first page out loud to my husband on the way home. That first page is such powerful writing. Her word choice just is a word of art. Thanks for stopping by the blog today.

Lindsay said...

Fantastic post and love the advise you got and shared with us.

Dana Rodgers said...

Anita, it sounds like the book signing was a success and a lot of fun. I'm sorry I missed it. Maybe next time--if Austin doesn't mind sharing. ��

Anita Clenney said...

Lindsay, now I just have to put the advice to use. Easier said than done.

Anita Clenney said...

Dana, it was really cool to spend more time chatting, and I was thrilled to get a chance to ask Nora for some advice. We'll have to alternate signings with you and Austin. :) How lucky am I to have two great supporters!!