When I walk into a bookstore with this vinyl cobra wrapped around my neck, you would be surprised at how many people freak.
“Does this snake look real to you? It doesn’t look real to me. His name is King by the way and he’s the star of The Snake Mistake Mystery.”
The young girl stares at me, gape mouthed. She steals an anxious glance back at her dad. Am I a danger stranger, can she talk to me?
She shakes her head slightly.
“Would you like an autographed bookmark?”
“We’re looking for a book,” the girl finally says.
“What kind of book?” I ask. “Maybe I can help.”
“Your book,” she answers. Apparently I spoke at her school. She’s not sure which in the Great Mistake Series she heard me talk about but I know it’s the one with King in it. When Mom joins us, she suggests they buy all three. Smart woman.
One of my favourite precocious readers, three year old Finley, my granddaughter, visits me at an Indigo Chapters signing.
We call them signings but most authors agree that beyond the dreamlike trance you go into when your writing is going well, the best part of our careers are the one-to-one experiences we enjoy with our readers. it always feels a little surreal to realize someone else will actually read our work; we’re sharing a very intimate creative experience with you after all. The bookstore signing is perhaps the easiest way to achieve this interaction.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be painful to sit at a table with piles of our book surrounding us and no one stopping by. Or worse people avoiding our glance. Some writers are introverts.
And while I am an extrovert and love meeting and chatting with new people, I do find the selling of my own stories awkward. So here’s what I tell myself. I am giving each child an encounter with a real live Canadian author.
This is an extraordinary opportunity for them, a cultural experience totally free to them. The book, or just an autographed bookmark, is their souvenir of the experience.
Mortie loves giving kisses a little too much. I have to restrain him from licking the public.
Sometimes it’s fun to share the limelight with a friend when you’re signing at a book store. Mortie is a gregarious Jackapoo who loves children and grownups alike.. He’s also my inspiration for Ping in The Great Mistake Mysteries as well as Finnigan in Revenge on the Fly or Venganza contra las mosques.
Warily watching for customers. Things can be a bit slow midday.
But then things pick up! Yay, a little girl who wants to talk books and pat dogs.
Making the big leap at home time. Mortie likes to browse the store a bit too.
George, Lydia and Madie visit me in the comfort of my own library courtesy of technology. I also get a great view of the Hazel Mackey Community Library ceiling.
Gosh it’s fun being able to chat with some bookclub readers of The Best Mistake Mystery all the way in Roberts, (population 1,651) Wisconsin. Our first scheduled meeting was delayed by the same wind and and rain storm so I was able to snail mail the librarian autographed bookmarks. On the new date the kids met Mortie, the inspiration for Ping in The Great Mistake Mysteries.
Worf, my brown granddog wasn’t availabl for the Skype visit. But Mortie was happy to visit Wisconsin bookclubbers.
We chatted about where ideas came from and I talked about writing block. (And suddenly nothing happens!) Then a few weeks later, I received actual snail mail thank you notes. So retro.
If it weren’t for the computers and miles between us, the experience itself was old school, an author chatting with her readers, almost one on one. It’s how real reading connections are made.
How can I not give my own series five stars, right? What’s not to love, plenty of animals, mystery and mayhem. But what differentiates these humorous dog walking, crime solving stories for middle grade kids is that they celebrate mistakes.
I noticed how much energy I put into feeling bad about my own mistakes and how kids were getting too anxious about trying new things. They want to be good at something before even trying it.
Enter Stephen Noble and Renée Kobai who analyze, list and number their own errors. Ten mistakes a day, usually, lately they have been making eleven, and after the third day or thirty mistakes which become the chapter headers–they solve the crime with the help of Ping, the Jack Russell and Pong, the greyhound. Sometimes they even solve the crime because of a mistake.
Putting the first three in the series in this e-package is genius. Because when you’re hooked on characters you want to gobble up more stories about them, immediately. So convenient. These make great family read alouds for ages 8-12. Enjoy!
Clients are dropping off like fleas when a ball python and other valuables disappear from their homes. Noble Dog Walking is not to blame! 12 year-old Stephen Noble and Renée Kobai will prove it with the help of Ping, see video for model, and Pong, a greyhound rescue.