Whew. What a week. My throat is raw from talking too much, (no new news), I'm exhausted from running place to place, and I have about a thousand emails to catch up on. Meant to keep up a daily recap during the tour. Obviously that didn't happen. I'm even late posting this today because I arrived back in Cali wrecked from exhaustion and sick to boot.
Worth it. ;)
Okay, so here we go. My tour stops broken down by day!
Thursday, May 29th
I spent almost all day at Speedway Middle School and met with six or seven groups of students. Soon as I walked in the door, I heard one student say, "Dang! He dresses better than I do."
I told him my wife dressed me. ;)
After my introduction, I opened with a monologue from the film Anonymous. Predictably, I saw most of the student's eyes glaze over. Then, I switched to performing various impressions and dialects.
That caught their attention.
I went on to explain when I did the monologue, I was telling them about the voices in my head, and how doing so doesn't engage the reader or viewer.
However, when I did the impressions, I showed them voice. I mentioned that's why they became more engaged. We also talked about conflict, where inspiration comes from, and the importance of editing. Pretty sure their favorite part was when I wrote out similar phrases of dialogue, (without listing any character descriptions), and asked them to describe the character to me.
Afterward, we opened up the talk to questions. Man, did they ever have fantastic questions! One asked me what, if any, philosophies I liked to incorporate in my stories! Others wanted to know where inspiration comes from. Tips of the trade. More than anything, they wanted to know what Batman was like in real life. ;)
Another student and I could've talked Game of Thrones the entire class period if allowed. He knew more about the kingdoms, characters, and histories of Westeros than I did. (Hard for me to admit, but it's true).
I can also now say I've autographed phone covers - two, to be precise.
I loved hearing about their own writing the most. One student won an essay contest on what she believed America to be. Two others asked me to read their short stories - I can honestly say both far surpassed my own writing at their age! I also had an absolute blast improv'ing with them when they asked me to voice different characters and dialects. Great times all around!
After the school day ended, I stopped off at Mom & Dad's for a quick break and barely had time to say hey to my wife before bounding off for the Thorntown Public Library. I was especially excited about this tour stop because it brought everything full circle for me.
When I was a kid, my grandparents took me to this library any time I stayed overnight with them. I would load up on the maximum number of books and movies, then read or watch the films until they kicked me out of the house for some much needed sunshine. That's typically when I searched for hobbits in the woods behind Mamaw & Papaw's house, or hoped the passing deer might be a talking beast from Narnia trying to fool me.
The library has changed considerably since my last visit. They received a grant that allowed them to expand 400%! It looked amazing, especially the fountain outside. (Apologies for my idiocy in forgetting to snag a pic of it).
I was told we broke another record for attendance (51 people) and I'm proud to say we sold 29 books.
I also want to share not just one of my favorite moments of the day, but the entire tour. The talk had yet to begin, but I noticed a teenager in the crowd with her father. I didn't recognize either of them.
Sweet. I thought. People I don't know who've learned about my book somehow!
She seemed engaged during the talk. I remember hoping she'd stick around so I could introduce myself and learn how they learned of my tour stop. Fortunately, she did. More importantly, she waited until the line died down so she could introduce herself and we could chat awhile longer.
I learned she attends my old high school and isn't just an aspiring author, she has a couple books already written! She had questions for me. (Wonderful questions I might add.) Not just on writing, but self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. She had a notebook and pen in hand and I could feel the passion flowing from her. It was truly inspiring. She's so much further ahead than I was and at half my age too!
I haven't received an email from her yet, so Allison, if you're reading this, please drop me a line - firstname.lastname@example.org - or hit me up through my website contact form. I'd love to hear from you and help you find the answers you need, (or someone else who can find them). ;)
Here's pictures from the day:
Afterward, I was invited out to watch X-Men: Days of Future Past with these two talented writers.
Great way to end such a fantastic day!
For the record, the theater we were at is in my hometown, Lebanon. I mean to sit inside this same theatre one day and watch Salted on the big screen.
Dream big, peeps!
Friday, May 30th
Oh, boy howdy, was I excited for this one. My first media appearance as an author!
Even though I've done many interviews, there are always butterflies when you know it's live. Fortunately for me, Tracy was a great host and kept things interesting. Even invited me back for the sequel!
You can watch the whole interview here.
Can't thank everyone at Indy Style enough for graciously helping me reach a broader audience. Here's some more pics:
I met up with some friends from college afterward to grab lunch at La Margarita. Couldn't help but notice this picture in the bathroom.
I kinda feel like I need a t-shirt of it. ;)
I went back to Mom & Dad's after, learned that Little Miss loved seeing her dad on TV that morning. Mom said Little Miss heard my voice and sprinted for the living room. Then, she kept looking at Karen saying, "Daddy!" Kind of like her way of saying, "Mom, can you believe Dad is on TV?"
I was again ordered to sleep upon my arrival - this time by both Karen and my Mom. Guess I must've looked like crap. They woke me with just enough time to shower up and head for Mass Ave. for the Indy Reads Books stop.
A good friend of mine had suggested their store to me. I'm thrilled she did. They're not-for-profit and do a ton for adult literacy. Check them out by clicking this link.
The thing I keep coming back to is how surreal this entire experience has been. In just a few short days, I saw friends from every significant time in my life. All of them taking time out of their schedules to come see and support me.
Nowhere on the tour was this incredible gift highlighted more than Indy Reads Books.
I saw a floor mate from when we attended Hoosier Boys State together! Only a week in both our lives, but this amazing friend still remembered me and wanted to support my dreams!
Others included a girl I spent all our jr. and sr. high school homerooms together with introduced me to her family. A cousin I haven't seen in years came straight from moving into her new apartment just to make sure she saw me. A distant relative who attended my talent show competitions stopped by to share his own writing endeavors with me. The amazing Carey family, who I spent Spring Break '04 down in Florida with and haven't had a chance to hang out much with since. Even my buddy from the lonely summer semester I spent at Ball State came out to reminisce on The Chapelle Show moments we used to quote whenever we saw each other.
I saw all these amazing individuals and countless more. And I loved, loved, loved having dinner with another friend from high school, Christie, her sister, and their friends. I barely noticed the Pacers sucking hardcore that night and losing to the Heat. Too busy laughing at Maury Povich impressions and listening to stories about running with the bulls.
Crazy as it sounds, the hour and a half drive to my wife's hometown after was the first real chance I had to catch up with my wife. The tour was that jam packed. Still wouldn't have changed it.
For the 4th night in a row, I didn't hit the hay until around 2 a.m., but I did so with a grin from ear to ear.
Here's pics from the day:
P.S. - I left a few signed copies at Indy Reads for anyone interested. You can find them in the local authors section!
Want to know another cool fact? The staff member said we broke a record for both sales and attendance at the event!
Saturday, May 30
Started off the morning at Marion Public Library and was greeted by another surprise: another teen and their awesome parent, who was kind enough to drive their daughter to the tour stop! They had seen my interview on Indy Style the day before and made the hour drive just to meet me!
How crazy awesome is that?
After picking my awestruck self up off the floor, I spoke with them awhile and learned just how passionate of a reader this teen, Karen, is. She had amazing things to say about the Anderson Library and YA librarian. Hopefully I'll be able to add Anderson on the next tour stop so Karen and her mom don't need to drive so far. ;)
The talk went well and I had a blast catching up with friends and family in attendance. I had a lot of fun giving my Uncle Allen a hard time about not bringing me a batch of his famous oatmeal raisin cookies. (Swear I've never had better). Told him I'd even work for a just a bite of those cookies.
Afterward, the staff allowed me to move up from the meeting rooms to the main library. I had the dreaded thought no one might show up and I'd be twiddling my thumbs for an hour.
No sooner than I took a seat to write a blog post, I recognized a new face from a friend request I'd had the day before. Gary had also seen my Indy Style interview! A former teacher, theatre guy, and fellow Ball State grad, I liked Gary from the word go. Then, I learned he had also drove over an hour to meet me!
Can't tell you all how blessed I felt in that moment. That's not meant to discredit friends and family who also took time out of their busy schedules to come see me. It just amazes and humbles me that strangers cared enough to show their support for a newbie author. I told Gary to stay in touch and I'd see what I could do about adding a stop closer to him on the next tour too. ;)
My in-laws, other family, and I went for a quick lunch after. My wife received a text that made her crack up laughing. I asked what the deal was.
She said we needed to make another stop on our way out of town...
Uncle Allen is a baller.
He went directly home from the library and whipped this batch of cookies up for me!
So let it be known: this author will work for cookies.
Thanks, Uncle Allen! I devoured the lot.
After the hour and a half drive back to Lebanon, I dropped Little Miss and Karen off at Mom & Dad's. I was seriously running on fumes at this point. With a 45-minute drive to the next tour stop in Lafayette awaiting me, Dad offered to accompany me. He had joked ever since my arrival on Wednesday that we'd have to catch up on the way to the airport so it was nice to have a long drive just to catch up one-on-one.
Even though you'd think these tour stops would seem old hat by this point, I was still nervous no one would come to the three-hour event.
Thankfully, I was wrong again.
Dad and I had barely walked into Robots & Rogues: New & Used Books when people showed up. I hadn't even unpacked the books onto the table. :)
With only one short lull, I didn't stop catching up with old friends, family, and even strangers who'd read my interview in the Lafayette Journal Courier and wanted to learn more about me and Salted.
Family I haven't seen in years, a friend and fellow talent show competitor, even an old RA buddy of mine came to see me. We closed the place down and the bookstore owner, Tricia, was gracious enough to allow us to stay a half hour past closing time to finish catching up. I forgot to ask if we set a record there or not, but Tricia invited me to come back anytime. Methinks they were pretty satisfied with the turnout. ;)
Honestly, I can't wait to revisit them. Everywhere I looked were beloved fantasy novels, comics, graphic novels. Definitely my kind of store and highly recommended for anyone passing through the Lafayette area.
Not as many pics from this day since I was running so much. Also, neither Karen, nor Mom, was around to remind me pics needed taking. Here's the few I was able to grab:
Sunday, June 1st
And then there was one.
This was the first day I'd had to catch up on sleep. Didn't wake till 10 a.m. and was mad at myself when I saw the time. I barely had time to shower, catch up on Facebook messages, and get around for the last tour stop.
Mom wouldn't let me leave the house without sitting down for a minute to sample the fabulous spread of a Sunday dinner she'd made. I wolfed it down in under two minutes, (the only home cooked meal I'd eat during the entire trip), and flew out the door with Karen and Little Miss in tow.
A college friend and fellow RA had put Books & Brews on my radar. They've only been open for a few months, but come on. How genius is the concept of books AND beer. Oh, and it was not by happenstance the last stop on the tour happened to serve home-brewed beverages.
I arrived early (don't I always) and again barely had time to setup the display and introduce myself to the staff before people arrived. My cousin Matt, he of the most wicked cool tattoo of Oren from The Neverending Story, was among the first.
Others included my Aunt Petey, who I unfortunately didn't have a chance to say bye to. The incredible Wilson family. My brother-in-law's awesome parents. My former hall director and man I've always considered like an elder brother to me. Former RA friends, Ball State and Western Boone classmates. Even Mr. Wissman, the teacher kind enough to let me speak with his students on Wednesday, made a second appearance!
I had former guys from my floor show up too!
For those who've never met me, I'm a superfan of the reality show, Survivor. In fact, I've applied several times, (had an interview once too!).
Anyway, from freshmen year of college on, I routinely held Survivor parties for any and all who wanted to attend. One of the all-time heroes of the show is Rupert Boneham, a fellow Hoosier.
The guy beside me, Nick, lived on my floor for two years. Way back when during our time at Ball State, he delivered me an autographed receipt from when he randomly met Rupert at a store. (I still have it).
So you can imagine my surprise when Nick came to the event with another autograph from Rupert. This time a headshot! Apparently, Nick asked Rupert to write: "You will never make it on Survivor."
Rupert, ever the nice guy, instead wrote: Keep trying.
Thanks again, Nick! Dude used to have quite the impressive film library, which I often borrowed from! ;)
Books & Brews was another reminder of how fortunate I've been to have so many friends. I caught up with one from high school I starred with in Oklahoma. Another high school friend had missed the hometown locations and stopped in just long enough to say hey and have me sign her book before she needed to leave for work. The winner of my 1st ARC giveaway held even stopped by to have me sign his paperback and his printed copy of the ARC cover. I loved it, Andy! ;)
And then there was DJ Lex, one of my best friends from the college years. I've always been jealous of this dude's skills on the dance floor. Don't even get me started on his ear for what songs mix well together. Little fun trivia for you: he spins at Pacer's games and their record is 10-1 when DJ Lex is throwing down the beats. Guess they should've had him spinning during this last series against the Heat. ;)
A fave pic of the day came when I wasn't paying attention. One of my wife's best friends had someone snap this shot and pretended I was a snooty author who didn't have time for her.
Personally, I think she still holds a grudge I smoked her in fantasy football this past season. ;)
To be fair, she claims to have drafted her husband's team that routinely lights my squad up. Meh.
Here's some pics from the day:
All in all, this was an incredible experience I'll never stop appreciating. I've said it countless times on this blog, in Facebook posts, and in the guest talks I did along the tour: I feel like not many are ever so lucky as I to witness how many people truly believe in and support their dreams.
You guys and gals are really ruining the whole 'No one believed in me' storyline I hoped to spin for the media some day. ;)
Here's the final two pics of the tour: before and after shots of all the books I ordered.
The picture on the left has 201 copies of Salted in it (I'd already sold 16 copies and given 3 away by the time I took this picture).
I finished with 25 copies remaining. (*And have since had 10 more orders requested from those who couldn't attend the tour stops.).
Not bad for a first outing, eh?
I can't begin to put into words how much your support means to me, but I hope you know you're helping see dreams realized. Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart.
Author. Actor. Rascal.