Whirlwind Tour of Southern Alberta

Thursday, June 16th, Will and I set out our mini-book tour of southern Alberta – four stops in twenty-four hours, organized and co-ordinated by my sister, Lynn, who lives in Beaver Mines and works in Calgary. 

First stop: Tumbleweed Coffee House in Nanton, a cafe that opened this March. Owner Leslie Elder invited me in for a signing between 3:00 and 5:00 PM. Before the event, I designed and printed 12 posters; Leslie displayed one by the cash at her store and distributed the rest throughout the town. 

Tumbleweed is a lovely spot, with an inviting atmosphere. There’s a couch in front of the fireplace, comfy chairs, barrel tables and regular ones. The patio in the back will be great when it stops raining. 

Our two hours was a steady stream of talking to customers, most of whom seemed relaxed and approachable. Two people, each with a friend, came specifically to meet me and buy Deadly Fall. I sat at the table and chatted with a pair about writing and their far-flung travels, leaving Will to tackle new arrivals. The take-out crowd tended to brush off his approach with, “I just came in for coffee.”   

A man en route to Fernie bought the book. Someone else picked up a copy for her sister and gave me her business card. She’s a sales consultant for a radio station in High River and Okotoks and invited me to contact her for an interview.  You bet.

We wrapped up the afternoon chatting with a couple of avid readers who are renovating their historic home. This coffee shop signing felt more engaging than ones I’d previously done at bookstores; there was time to talk longer. At the end, Leslie kept four books to sell on consignment in the store. After I got home, she e-mailed to say some people had expressed regrets over missing the session; a couple were sorry the books weren’t signed. Yesterday, when we happened to be in the area, we stopped by so I could sign the three remaining copies.    

We ordered soup and bagels with egg and cheese for dinner and headed down to Pincher Creek, where Lynn had arranged a video-conference at the Pincher Creek Library. Since no other libraries signed on, the conference didn’t materialize. Instead, I read and talked and answered questions by the Pincher residents who showed up – two of them. As we were preparing to leave, a cameraman from the Pincher Creek Echo newspaper arrived and took a picture of me with the attendees. It was to appear in the paper this week.

We spent the night at Lynn’s home in Beaver Mines, west of Pincher Creek. A former mining community, Beaver Mines village is now popular with urban ex-patriates and nature enthusiasts. Fifteen minutes down the road is Castle Mountain, a ski-hill, where Lynn’s husband spends his winter mornings.

Friday, 9:00 AM, we gathered in the Beaver Mines General Store, a very attractive premise. Attendance was similar to that of the previous night. Owner Rebecca Holand set out coffee and snacks for the pleasant hour of conversation and questions.   

Late morning we drove to the Crowsnest Pass, stopped at the art museum and left them a few books on consignment. I’ve started a new folder of consignment sheets for the Deadly Falls I’ve scattered over the southern province.  This event was a joint reading at Exhilarate!, an eclectic boutique in the former theatre in Bellevue, Crowsnest Pass. The promoter provided lunch for the gathering of about 15 people, many of them members of the local writing community. Two short story writers read, followed by another novelist and me. We ended with questions. A reporter from the Crowsnest newspaper took notes and photographs. I’ll be interested in reading her piece.

Tired and satisfied, we left for home, up highway 22. A detour for a latte at Tumbleweed seemed a fitting conclusion.