On the Road

Friday morning, May 27th, Will and I set out on our road trip to Victoria. We left at 5:00 am to make sure we got to Bookland, Vernon, in time for my 1:00 pm book signing.

I had thought driving into the mountains at sunrise would compensate for lost hours of sleep. Alas, it poured rain through Calgary and Kananaskis. Rain turned to snow in Canmore and the mountains were shrouded in cloud. Between the weather and my fatigue, this was far from my best ever mountain drive, but due to minimal stops we made good time.

In the Okangan, the rain cleared over lush farmland and homes backdropped by hills. We got to our Vernon hotel at 11:00, went for a brief walk, settled in and finished the parts of our lunch we hadn’t eaten in the car.

Bookland is located on Vernon’s main street. The store had posters announcing my signing on the front door and an end-aisle display inside. They had ordered 12 hardcover copies of Deadly Fall. I went into this thinking I’d be lucky to sell three, since I was outside of Calgary, where the local setting has been the book’s main appeal, and several people I knew had come to the signings and bought.

Store traffic this Friday afternoon was lighter than it was at the Indigos I signed at in Calgary. By 1:30 I was ready to revise my sales forecast downward, when a woman bought a copy for her 90 year-old father, a retired policeman. My ‘Gift for Dad on Father’s Day’ poster inspired her.

People continued to trickle in. A high percentage of men, it appeared to me. Many went directly to the cash to pick up magazines and books they had ordered. My table was angled toward the cash, rather than at the door. The placement seemed to work well. I hailed most people as they passed by.

Some took cards; others bought books. I think it helped that Bookland was offering a 25 percent discount on the hardcover that day. One man told me his wife, an aspiring writer, was going to the Bloody Words conference in Victoria next weekend. I gave him a card and said to tell her to be sure to look me up there. Another man said his cousin was a homicide detective in Calgary. He took my business card to pass along to her – she could be a new resource. A third man bought the book for his mother as a belated Mother’s Day gift.

A woman who is an avid mystery reader urged me to join two mystery Internet sites to promote the book: For Mystery Addicts – called 4MA – and DorothyL. Someone else had already advised me to join the latter site. This prompting by the customer might get me to do it.

Toward 4:00 PM, my finishing time, Will returned from his touring of Vernon. He’d walked to our hotel and back and stopped at Polson Park, where he witnessed the Vernon tradition of high school grads dressed to the hilt, gathering for pictures. I had seen one of these grads in the store. She clerks here on weekends and evenings.

I began to pack up, more than satisfied with my seven book sales. Will’s cousin’s daughter, Lahaina, came in. We hadn’t seen her in years and hadn’t expected her to turn up. Our chat extended my stay long enough to sell book # 8, to a woman who bought it for a friend recovering from surgery. Four books leftover for future customers seems about right. One of the sales clerks said she’d buy one, after payday.

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