After breakfast at Cracker Barrel, a chemical spill on I-24 West, dead stop traffic, lots of backpedaling, and a 45-minute detour through the countryside around Nashville, Michael and I finally arrived at Lightning Source and Ingram. An 11 a.m. tour through the facility (and omigosh, what an amazing facility) lasted over an hour. Lightning Source (my distributor owned by Ingram) … talk about high-tech! Thousands and thousands of square feet of space, taking up several blocks, prints and distributes even more thousands of books each year for publishers all over the country.
(Lunch at Hardees-yippee-how original) and a quick trip to Ingram to meet book buyer/author, Alethea Kontis. She has a new story in the latest issue of InterGalactic Medicine Show, an online magazine by Orson Scott Card http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/ and edited by my close friend, Ed Schubert. Ed hooked me up with Alethea and after reading her awesome story, Small Magics, I had to meet her. It was no surprise to learn she was on her way to Memphis for the Book Festival, as well. Her new book Alpha Ooops!, a children’s picture book, is a scream … beautifully illustrated … fun!
The Tennessee landscape rolls from the Great Smokey Mountains to miles of white-crusted cotton fields. Acres of cotton, large farms all butted up against the Interstate. It’s a sight to see--a picture of the old South. My mind fills with story. I see the character and his mule … my plot thickens … hmmm … I take notes on the way to the next book store stop. The old man, his hair blends with the cotton, tells me about his mule … I’ll talk to him from time-to-time on this trip.
We arrive in Dickson, Tennessee. The little town reminds me of a tiny Asheville. Volume One Book Store is 30 miles outside of Nashville and appears to be more of a Hallmark Card Shop on the outside. But on entering, it’s a book lover’s paradise. An older store, yet one of those places you could loose yourself in. A store where browsing is involved. Here you stay all day and forget the time. With smiling faces, they took my book and press kit, promising to let me know if they’re interested in a book signing … I walked away, again satisfied, having met yet another book store owner.
(Note to writers: You don’t meet “owners” in Barnes & Noble, that’s for darn sure. It’s nice to meet the real decision-makers instead of employees who “have to send it to Corporate first.” Gotta love those independent book stores! And yes, Dena, they have cats! Especially the older stores, there's always a cat sprawled out over a book case or at the register counter. A fat cat that gives you that Mae West look and purrs, "For an extra dollar you can pet me. Go ahead, I dare ya.")
Cover to Cover, a little book store in Arlington, a suburb of Memphis, already had my book on their shelves! Thrilling! I felt so honored and the owner, a sweetheart, inquired as to a book signing in the Spring.
Off to Memphis, a quick look-see at the Convention Center and the set-up of the Book Festival, a check-in to our hotel, and then a hop, skip, and a boogy down to Beale Street. “Walkin’ on the Beale …” I get goosebumps thinking about it. What a place of history. Memphis is all about two things in my estimation. Music and barbeque.
The weather--cold and a bit raw, and the street not as crowded as anticipated. But the atmosphere, the home of the blues, drew me in. The bars, the lights, the sounds of the music echoing out to the street, a street (only two blocks long) where there are only pedestrians and no cars … it’s soothing to the soul. Dinner at Hardrock, too tired to go any further, we caught a cab back to the hotel.
Tomorrow it’s an amazing journey into the world of an author at her first invitation to speak at a major book festival! Stay tuned.
Blessings to you and yours.