I’d been driving in circles like a moron for 15 minutes. I knew that there was a Barnes & Noble there, I just couldn’t remember exactly where.
“Take the third exit on the roundabout,” my navigation system said for the fourth time.
“Shut up, Tina,” I said. I named her Tina two years ago, and I have no idea why. Tina likes to do this thing where she gives up one or two instructions too soon, leaving me to fend helplessly for myself in unfamiliar places
I eventually parked—illegally, I think—and managed to find the store on foot. Inside, it was cold and nearly empty. Two teenaged boys were looking at a Maxim and some scattered freeloaders were reading from piles of books in the café.
Downstairs, I found my novel, Domestic Violets, piled next to some other new paperback releases. Amazingly, there happened to be a man about my dad’s age holding a copy, flipping through it. I stalked him for a few minutes, pretending to be looking at a Golden Retriever calendar. Eventually, without expression, he put the book down and shuffled off.
Since its release on August 9th, I’ve been showing up at bookstores near my house and signing copies. I’ve been told that a “Signed By The Author” sticker is good for sales. There was no one at the Information Desk, so I drifted around awhile until I found an employee. She was young—maybe early 20s—and she had two lip rings and a nose ring.
“Hi,” I said. “I wrote this book. I was wondering if you guys wanted me to sign all the copies you have.”
“Oh,” she said—and for a good while she said nothing else. She had no idea who I was, of course, and, in her defense, I didn’t look very writerly in shorts, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap. Next time, my plan is to show up in a tweed blazer and an ascot.
After getting her manager’s approval and then frowning suspiciously at my author photo for what seemed like a long time, we stood together behind the Music register with ten or so copies of my book between us. I signed the first one and handed it to her. As I signed the others, she scanned the back of the book.
“Sounds interesting,” she said. But then she had second thoughts. “Well…amusing, at least.” She didn’t put air quotes around “amusing,” but she might as well have.
If I were Tom Violet, my book’s narrator, I’d have said something clever and borderline obnoxious. “Wow, really? Because I was actually just shooting for mildly amusing.”
But I’m not Tom Violet, and I didn’t have the benefit of 19 months and ten drafts of rewrites to come up with anything good, and so I just stood there, grinning and pretending that I didn’t feel a little wounded. “Thanks,” I said.