For the trip home from Victoria, I organized one book promotion event: a presentation Tuesday evening, June 7th, at Hooked on Books, Main Street, Penticton, BC. As Will and I drove there, I thought how fortunate it was that we hadn’t scheduled this event for Monday or Wednesday, hockey playoff nights. All of British Columbia is wild about the Vancouver Canucks’ bid to win the Stanley Cup. At the Bloody Words banquet, people couldn’t settle down until they heard the game result (a win).
What I didn’t consider on Tuesday was the effect of rain. Will and I had avoided serious drizzle the whole trip. That Tuesday, the southern Okanagan skies grew ominously dark. We managed a walk along a self-interpretative boardwalk, a picnic by Osoyoos Lake and visits to several wineries before rain started battering our windshield. In Penticton, we parked in front of Hooked on Books, lugged in my presentation material during a respite from the rain and set out for the waterfront, carrying our umbrellas.
Within minutes, we had the umbrellas open. Viewed through downpour, the misted lakefront wasn’t particularly inviting. Seeing no restaurants in the vicinity, we returned to Main Street and ducked into a family run restaurant across from the bookstore. For most of our dinner, we were the only patrons. We enjoyed a delightful home-cooked turkey meal and had a chat with the owners’ son who works in computers during the day and helps his parents by waiting on tables in the evenings.
At Hooked on Books, Judy and Marcel, the owners, had set up chairs by the front window. Jerry, a bookstore patron and our first guest, arrived. Jerry has written about 300 pages of a book on meditation, inspired by his experience of living in Korea, and wanted to find out about getting published. I advised him to finish the book and join a writing group to get feedback. Judy gave him information on a Penticton group that Jerry hadn’t been aware existed. A problem with writing groups is that you tend not to hear about them unless you’re plugged into the writing circuit.
I shared my getting-published experience. Unlike many unpublished writers, Jerry appreciated the work involved with writing a book and finding a publisher. He said his former oilpatch job had involved working on presentations that routinely got rejected and he’d learned not to take rejection personally, as you never know where it’s coming from – a useful attitude for writers. So many get squelched by the submission process, which is mostly about rejection.
After an hour of conversation, Theresa arrived. She is writing a memoir and belongs to the Penticton writers’ group, but doesn’t have time to participate much in their meetings or pursue her writing. Theresa’s memoir subject and passion is the rescue of feral horses, a problem endemic to the Okanagan. Many of these beautiful creatures are being rounded up and sold for meat. Theresa worries that nothing will be done until someone is killed in a collision with horse. She belongs to Critteraid, an organization trying to save the wild horses through Project Equus. For more information visit criterraid.org.
Both Jerry and Theresa asked about the pros and cons of traditional publishing and self-publishing. I told them I had viewed self-publishing as a last resort due to the benefits of traditional: validation by people with experience in the field who will handle editing, production, distribution and more.
I wrapped up with a reading from Deadly Fall. Jerry noted that he writes too much description and needs to add dialogue; Theresa said she tends to leave out description.
Judy and Marcel were marvelous hosts. I wish them the best with their year-and-a-half old store. At the session, Jerry felt he got what he needs for the next step in his writing, Theresa talked about the cause that drives her writing and Will and I learned about Okanagan happenings from people who live there – not bad for a rainy evening in Penticton.