Things to Do at a Dead Book Signing

Bring the magpies
Stack of Gold

A couple of weeks ago, I set out for my first book signing full of hope. I got to the book store early, lugged in three boxes of books, set up my table, stocked my cash box with correct change, then sat down—pens at the ready—and waited. Despite my and the store’s promotional efforts, only about twenty-five people drifted through over the next three hours. Apparently there was a Michigan vs. Ohio football game on—something I had overlooked. Even so I made one sale, and if even one more person is reading your book, you’ve expanded your readership. I also learned a few things: Keep an eye on the football schedule; People generally turn right when they walk into a store unless they already know where they are going. If you are set up on the left side of the store, and the customers enter right then circle left around the floor plan, they will have made their purchases before reaching your spot. If given a choice, set up on the right side of a store; It is hard to look interesting or remotely intelligent as part of a static display, have something to do. With this in mind I have the following suggestions:

  1. Write something. People will assume you are scribbling away at your next book and it might draw them in. If you can be writing your next book then it’s time well spent.
  2. Build castles out of peanut butter cups. This will attract hungry people, tinkerers and kids. They flock to the gold wrappers like magpies, and if they eat one of your building blocks…well, then they kind of owe you; they’ll have to pick up your book for at least a glance. Have a thumb-through copy at hand that you don’t mind getting chocolate on.

Anyhow, I must extend my thanks to 2nd and Charles bookstore for hosting me, even if it was a quiet time for both of us.

A Dream of Steam releases on Monday.

Sneak Peek

It has been a long trip, but finally my book is coming together. I’ve picked December 10th as my launch date. It’s an exciting and anxious time; right now I am sending the book around to potential reviewers as a means of promotion, releasing my story into the wild. Any writer would wonder: Who will like it? Where will it go? Time will tell.

In the meantime I have the cover to show off. My friend, Josh Payne, painted (yes actually painted) this scene.DreamOfSteam-eBookCover

The Falls of Clyde’s Layered History

falls-of-clyde-rusty bottom

 

To a writer, looking for fresh inspiration when creating historical fiction is an ongoing job. At times one can just trip over a great tale, but most often a story requires digging.

 

For me, weather-beaten objects can provide a good starting point. Last winter, while traveling through the hurricane-racked Caribbean, I was surrounded by the evidence of disaster. Each boat I saw, abandoned by wind and sea in some unlikely place, offered up a set of speculations: Where was this wrested from? At what point in the storm did it break free? How exactly did it land here? And then further back: Where did it come from? Who owned it? What were their hopes? Where are they now?

 

Let me turn now to the Falls of Clyde, an historic sailing ship lying in Honolulu Harbor. This once great square rigger has fallen on hard times. She is nearly one hundred and forty years old, and, despite the valiant efforts of local volunteers, has been in danger of being scrapped, or swallowed by the sea. I’ve walked her decks several times over twenty-five years, and each visit has lit up the imagination. Early on when the vessel was mostly intact, I could see her in her youth, her long, lean hull carving through the sea under a grand press of canvas. On later trips I took note of greater decay, and the individual efforts being made to paint bulwarks, or keep tar on the rigging. I wondered who was making the attempt to hold on. On my last visit the rigging had been taken down, and water was collecting below from leaks in the upper deck. My imagination ran down dark tunnels at that point; I began to speculate about what would happen should the volunteers stop attending the pumps. How long could this ship continue? What would be the final misfortune that would end her time?

Falls of Clyde-(NPS)

Happily, it is time for a new set of speculations. An organization named Falls of Clyde International has emerged with a plan to repatriate this storied ship to Scotland. They have secured a great deal, to have the Falls of Clyde transported on a huge dry-dock ship across the Pacific, through Panama and across the Atlantic starting in February. Once home, plans are in place to begin a full restoration. If you would like to help, you can find out more at: www.facebook.com/savefallsofclyde; e-mail directly to savefallsofclyde@gmail.com, or donate to their Indiegogo crowd sourcing campaign.

Falls of Clyde is a rare survivor of long sea travel, typhoons, and the ravages of salt and time. With broad-based support, future generations will be able to wonder about her long life and ask themselves: Who were the people who saved her?

Rhode Island Red

That awkward looking chicken in red below is none other than the author of this post, come north now that the weather has warmed up. I’m not ashamed to admit that I try to hide from the cold. In this shot I’m splicing some new wire for the Oliver Hazard Perry, Rhode Island’s sailing school vessel.20180617_140438.

Here also is my friend Boyd, serving up the topmast stays (a process of wrapping the wire in twine). This protects the wire from sea water and is a foundation for the seizings that form the terminal eyes.

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Boyd swinging the serving mallet

After a few weeks of refurbishment, while we replaced the top section of the main mast OHP is ready to sail again.

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If you get a chance, have a look at my stories page; I have written a couple of new shorts  while I’ve been preparing my first novel for print. A Dream of Steamcoming soon.

Bad at Blogging

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Growing Your Own Foremast.
A couple of months ago I posted that it was enchanting to watch the first snow fall. It is easier to feel that way if you know you won’t be shoveling in February, and just a few minutes ago, as I was waiting in line at the bank watching snow fall on television, I felt happy to be away. I’m in Antigua; my wife and I sail an old steel sailboat when we can get away so this winter we will be traveling northwest to Florida.

I’ve happened into blogging without much of a plan. It was suggested to me that this was a good idea for self promotion –and I can see it– but reading about somebody trying to write or get published seems like watching one of those news shows that tell you how they produce the news. I care about writing, but it’s only so newsworthy. I care about other things as well and so  while we are under way, en route to Florida, I think I will post about some of the places we stop, what the hurricanes have done, dark skies, dolphins and sea turtles. Hopefully I’ll get a few good pictures along the way.

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Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua