Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Shape of Things As They Are, Apparently



(Courtesy of the New Yorker, to whom all credit is gratefully given)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Books and More Books - Adelsverein Trilogy Signing

Another signing event, last night at Berkman Books in Fredericksburg, for the Adeslverein Trilogy. Berkman’s is one of those nice little independent bookstores, holding its own specialized little niche against the overwhelming tide of big-box-bookstores and internet sales; Texiana, lots of events with local authors, curiosities, antique and used books. The clientele is a mix of adventurous tourists and local residents who don’t care to drive to San Antonio or New Braunfels in search of their reading matter. And they have two cats on the premises – I promised that I would frisk Blondie on departure, to ensure that neither of them had stowed away to come home with is. Berkman’s in a rambling old house on Main Street, a little removed from the main tourist blocks along Main Street… which, however, is slowly spreading along the side streets, and east and west from Marketplace Square. David, the owner, had ordered ten copies of each volume, and there has been considerable interest – even some notice in the Fredericksburg Standard. Kenn Knopp, the local historical expert who volunteered (kind of glumly, as he is the first to confess) to read the manuscript of the Trilogy, only to be astonished and thrilled as he got farther into it – was going to meet us an hour before the signing started. He had a friend, Annette Sultemeier, whom he wanted me to meet. Ms Sultemeier is also a local historical enthusiast, and still lives in her family’s house nearby. James P. Waldrip, the infamous leader of the pro-Confederate Hanging Band, who persecuted local Unionists during the Civil War was supposed to be buried in the back yard of her family home. Waldrip figures as the resident villain in the Trilogy, and his come-uppance under a tree at the edge of the old Nimitz hotel property was described in Book Three. Supposedly, he was buried in that unmarked grave, outside of the city cemetery, to escape desecration of his resting place. He was an especially bad hat, with many bitter local enemies.

There was a nice crowd at the signing. David had thought there would be many more people at the signing than there were, but I didn’t mind. This way, I had enough time to talk to people and answer questions. Enough of them were coming specifically for the Trilogy anyway, so I didn’t have that awful experience of spending two hours, watching customers come in the door and sidling around the desperate author, sitting at a little lonely table with a pile of books. Almost everyone bought all three books, many intended as Christmas presents. The last customer of the evening was almost the most rewarding to talk to. This was a young college student named Kevin, fascinated by local history and majoring in it, who read about the signing in the Standard, checked out my website and came straight over with his mother. He asked a great many questions about research, and bought Book One… and his mother bought Two and Three. Christmas present, I guess!
Afterwards, Kenn Knopp treated us to dinner at the Auslander Restaurant, which we had eaten at once before, and recalled as being pretty uninspired foodwise, and kind of scruffy on the inside. Apparently it has since been renovated, for now it was very comfortable, and the food was terrific; jagerschnitzel to die for, accompanied by little crispy potato pancakes about the size of a silver dollar. Blondie and I walked back to the car, admiring the Christmas lights, all along Main Street. There seem to be many nicer restaurants along Main Street now – it was quite lively on a Friday evening. Blondie noted there were many more wine-tasting rooms, too. The Hill Country is slowly becoming the new Provence, as I predicted a while ago, or at least the newest Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino, as far as wine production is concerned.

It was a great way to finish up the day – the interest in my books being almost as much of a satisfaction as the food. I have been warned, though; the event at the Pioneer Museum, on January 3rd will be even bigger, and the local history enthusiasts will come armed with even more searching questions.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekly Update - 14 December

Does anyone else have the feeling that Christmas is heading straight for us like a train speeding down the track? OMG, it's only eleven days from today, a week and a half and the boxes to family on the West coast haven't been taken to the post office, and don't even mention Christmas cards...

A fair number of interesting developments this week, so obviously other people are getting it together:

Nan Hawthorn would like people who are visiting their local library in the near future to ask for her book An Involuntary King, through the interlibrary loan program. Relevent information is here. Many local libraries will buy a copy of a book, if it is on an interlibrary loan listing.

Jessica James (author of Shades of Gray) points members towards this book enthusiasts' website "Bookworms Dinner". Jessica says the proprieter, "Wysteria" is interested in historical
fiction
, history, memoir, women issues, contemporary issues, global
issues, religion and conflict in the Middle East, and debut authors.

Pauline Montagna (The Slave and Suburban Terrors ) has updated her website "The Romance of History".

Marva Dasaf (author of Tales of a Texas Boy and The Seven Adventures of Cadida) was interviewed about her latest project at "Toasted Scimitar". Read all about it...

Paul Krupin has a wonderful, handy-dandy PDF download, a calendar to plan your publicity with, available here.

Lloyd Lofthouse's My Splendid Concubine garnered an honorable mention at this years' London Book Festival.

Another in our continuing series of authors and their characters interviwing each other, from Laurie Pelayo (An Old Fashioned Murder) here.

New member Lillian Cauldwell (The Anna-Mae Mysteries)runs Passionate Internet Voices, and would like to arrange interviews and promotions for other IAG writers. Contact her through the discussion group; she would really love to work with other members on publicising their books.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Launched!

Well, there was a nice crowd at The Twig in Alamo Heights Thursday evening at my launch event for the Adelsverein Trilogy - even though all but one copy of Book One had sold, even before we walked in last night! Sort of embarrassing, since I then had to fall back on doing autographed book-plates for people to stick into the front of copies they ordered… And my daughter forgot her camera, as we wanted to have pictorial evidence.

Nice Q & A session from almost a dozen people; a nice elderly couple of ‘freethinkers’ from up Comfort way, who were familiar enough with the history to know what I was talking about and to be interested, two very knowledgeable and dedicated local fans, another couple- the wife of whom is the Queen of the Red Hat chapter I belong to, one of my current semi-employers… and a shaggy young man who had been hanging around on the back porch of Cappyccino’s - the little cafe next door, who followed us in. I think he started off being more interested in my daughter, but he seemed to become quite fascinated by trials of the German settlers in Gillespie County. I kept getting very happy vibes of approval and interest, especially when they asked questions about obscure local historical matters - like, about the massacre of Unionists at the Nueces during the Civil War, and I knew all the detailed ins and outs. One of the dedicated fans said he had read the sample chapters at my website and asked about the first chapter of “The Gathering” - had there really been German-American or German immigrants present among the Texians massacred at the Goliad? And yes, of course there were - half a dozen, according to records. I gave chapter and verse, practically page references. The fan looked enormously pleased - I had the feeling I had sailed easily over a pre-set challenge.

I read a bit from Book One, a couple of pages detailing what happens to the steerage passengers on a wooden sailing-ship, during a violent storm in mid-Atlantic. Nothing good, you may be assured - violent sea-sickness, hysteria and bodily fluids sloshing around on the deck are the least of it. Blondie says I read too much and too fast. Still and all, a much better signing than last time.

All three books are too available, here, here and here, from Booklocker.com. Amazon has them all up now, but most discouragingly shows them as being out of stock. Really, sometimes I wonder if they really want to sell my books at all. Apparently, there was a bit about the Trilogy in the Kerrville newspaper yesterday; so had an email query from a local bookstore there. They do mostly used and antique books, but they carry Texiana, and would like to carry the Trilogy. Bit by bit, sportsfans, bit by bit.

I topped off the evening with an interview on Lillian Cauldwell's internet radio station show, even thought I was so tired I practically dropped in my tracks. Something revivifying about being ‘on air’ so to speak. In the theatrical world they call this “Doctor Footlights” - the adrenalin kicks in and you feel better almost at once. (For the interview, enter the site, go to archives, then the list of hosts, pick host Lillian Cauldwell - my interview is there already - Dec. 11)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

December Update

Member Dianne Salerni has posted her monthly spotlight on her blog; this month, the theme is "Children and Teens". (Take note, last-minute Christmas shoppers!)

Nan Hawthorne intervies Sandra Worth, author of "The Kings' Daughter" at Medieval-novels.com, here.

New member Eileen Key sent us this link to a wonderful article, articulating the reasons that we are driven to write.

And just for fun, Al Past forwarded this picture of a very special Corn Maze...