Thursday, December 03, 2015

Life is Short. Tour Small Towns.

Donis here, feeling blue. I just spent an hour on the phone with an old friend from Tulsa whose husband died a few days ago. She and I have known one another since we were seven years old, and for most of our growing-up and young-woman years, we were BFFs. Even though I moved to Arizona in the 1980s, we have kept in touch and always got together whenever I managed to get back to the home country. I knew him pretty well, too. I was in their wedding over forty years ago.

This has been coming for a few months, so it was not unexpected, but it was not a particularly good passing. My friend is in that weird numb state right now, which everyone who has ever lost a loved one knows about. It's hard when you realize that you now belong to the "grandparent" generation, and you and your compatriots are the next to go. For most of our lives there was a buffer generation between us and the bitter end. No more. I don't mind the idea of joining the choir invisible myself, but for the past several years I've lived in a state of dread over losing my nearest and dearest. It's enough to drive you to take up Zen. Live in the moment and enjoy the day as best you can.

Holding forth in Ajo, Arizona

Anyway...on a less depressing topic, I took a few days off for Thanksgiving, but the next couple of weeks are full of promotional activities for the new book, All Men Fear Me. One of my favorite events in this cycle was my November 20 trip to Ajo, Arizona, far out in the desert, half-way to California and almost all the way to Mexico. As long as you're reimbursed for you gasoline, never pass up invitations to do events in small towns, my friends. Everybody will turn out and you'll feel like a star.

Holding forth in Boynton, Oklahoma

Nine years ago, after my second book came out, I did a book tour in Oklahoma. I hit all the big towns and did well, but we ended the tour by going to Boynton, where everything began, back in the misty past, when my great-grandparents moved to Oklahoma at the turn of the 20th Century. It was raining cats and dogs when we left Tulsa that morning, so I didn’t have much expectation of a successful event. But my expectation was wrong. The talk was held at the Boynton Historical Society building, in a 20X20 room that was bursting at the seams with people – and believe it or not, I wasn’t related to most of them! A gorgeous feature article about me and the books had appeared the day before in the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper, on top of a feature in the Haskell News, and folks had hauled out their canoes and rowed to Boynton in the rain from all around the vicinity. We even had a woman there from Oklahoma City! (130 miles away) It was a gratifying experience, to say the least, since crowd made me feel like some sort of celebrity. I sold every single book I brought with me, and could have sold a lot more if I’d had them. Pretty good for a town of about 400.*

So take advantage of every opportunity you are offered, big or small, and don't pass up the chance to eat ice cream if you want it. Because you never know.
*Boynton now has fewer than 200 people. In another nine years it will have disappeared altogether.


Vicki Delany said...

So true!

Barbara Fradkin said...

Agreed, Donis. I have had great experiences in small towns, Sometimes you're the entertainment of the week (even month) whereas in a big city, there are so many events vying for attention. Small towns also appreciate that you cared to visit.

Eileen Goudge said...

Recently I was the guest speaker at a library event in the town of Grantsburg, WI, pop. 1,300. I had a huge turnout for such a small community- 120 people. I felt like a rock star. Yep, small town book events are the way to go.