I’ve just returned home to Arizona after a two week book tour of Oklahoma, where I was born and raised and where The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is set. This was my first out-of-state tour, and as far as I am concerned, it went very well. If there’s anything this return to the Motherland taught me, it is that no publicist can compare to kith and kin. I would suggest, Dear Reader, that if you don’t have any of those kith and kins, you get yourself some, because they’re invaluable.
My husband Don and I left Arizona on Oct. 18 in our shiney new SUV, which we bought especially for this trip. (Perfect timing to buy an SUV, gas-pricewise. At least we were comfortable). We took three days to get to OK, stopping along the way at libraries and bookstores. We arrived in Tulsa on Oct. 21, where I had a signing at Steves Books and Magazines that evening. The signing was small, but pleasant. My brother and sister-in-law stood in close attendance throughout, and one of my mother’s cousins came and regaled me with the most wonderful family stories. Material galore for future stories. The next day I had a signing at a Borders in Tulsa, also attended by cousins I hadn’t seen in months, and in one case, decades. I was born and raised in Tulsa, so that first weekend was centered on my clan and friends from my youth, and incidently, some good literary connections.
On Tuesday, we drove to Enid, Don’s home town, where I gave a talk at the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County. Amanda Kashevarof was the reference librarian who did a remarkable job of publicizing the event, and provided me with a comfortable venue for my little talk. But I must say that a very large part of the success of the gig was due to the efforts of my sister-in-law Dolores, who, like Paul Revere, personally alerted the entire populace of Garfield County that I was coming. I spent much of the next day at the Enid Historical Museum, doing research for the fourth book in the “Alafair” series, which will be set in Enid.
We passed through Oklahoma City on Thursday, stopping at a couple more bookstores and signing stock. I talked to Heather Cook, the woman who is directing the “Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma” program, which is a five-year reading program leading up to the Oklahoma Centennial in 2007, (more on this later) and she told me that Old Buzzard is being considered for one of the 2006 recommended Oklahoma-centered books. Fingers crossed.
Friday was the day I attended the Red Dirt Book Festival in Shawnee. Red Dirt is a biannual affair which is attended by many of the movers and shakers of the Oklahoma book scene. I manned a booth in the exhibition hall, along with fellow writer Ami Elizabeth Reeves, author of her own novel, entitled Next Of Kin, which is a clever murder mystery set at the Arkansas Chicken Cook Off. I got a chance to talk to Glenda Carlile, Director of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, and to author Carolyn Hart, about whom there aren’t enough words of praise I can say. No one has been kinder or more helpful to me as I launch this writing career. And, I had an opportunity to exchange books with Francine Ringold, legendary editor of Nimrod, the University of Tulsa literary magazine. I reminded Francine that she was my first college creative writing teacher, when I attended TU back in the late ’60’s. It just goes to show, all you teachers out there, that it may take 40 years, but your efforts may indeed bear fruit in the long run. The best part of the Shawnee experience was when I was visited by five of my Montgomery cousins all at once. There are ten kids in that family – our mothers were sisters. In fact, the Tucker family in Buzzard is configured after the Montgomerys; eight girls and two boys.
The Red Dirt Festival lasts two days, but I was only able to attend for one, since I had a signing at Full Circle Books in Oklahoma City on Saturday, October 29. I arrived at the bookstore 45 minutes early, where I was interviewed by B.J. Williams, who hosts a cable TV program called “Read About It” for the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System. B.J. is a gracious lady with the most gorgeous green eyes, who made me feel very comfortable during the interview, though I don’t remember a thing I said, and so may very well have come across as a blithering idiot. I did look good, though. A professional makeup artist worked on me before the taping, and I was rosy lipped and de-shined and my cowlick was well patted down. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when the interview will air in OKC. When I find out, I’ll post it on this site.
After the interview, Morgan Harris, the lady who manages Full Circle Books, asked me if I would be willing to give a talk before the signing, which I am always thrilled to do. Morgan was incredibly welcoming to me, and most complimentary about the book. There was a good crowd at the talk, a lot of audience interplay. Again, I was well supported by relatives, this time from Don’s side of the family – two sisters, two nieces, a brother-in-law, and friends from his youth, some who drove down from Enid or up from Norman, some who drove down from Colorado, some who flew in from the Washington DC area! Don’s family is an unstoppable force. They break though brick walls and leap tall buildings at a single bound. If they want to attend your book signing, they will, come hell or high water.
We left OK on Oct. 30 and arrived home on the first of Nov. The entire trip was extremely productive, and Don and I held up very well, until the day we got home, of course, when we both collapsed in a heap and slept most of the next day. I’ve been catching up on my posts and correspondence ever since. I’ll save the news about my upcoming events and the progress of my second book for the next post, which, since I’ll not be doing any more long trips in the near future, will be in just a few day.