Wednesday, the day of my first book reading/signing event my mom calls me at work.
Mom: Hey, I was Googling you and saw that you’re speaking at a private school in Atherton the day of the Kepler’s signing!
Me: Wha? *cold sweats. quickly googles self + the school name*
Mom: Do you see it? Right there under the principal’s message!
Me: Oh god! What the? I gotta call my publicist. *hangs up on mom*
My publicist is on vacation but I get another lovely Flux publicist who assures me she will get to the bottom of this. When she gets back to me the news is even worse: there has been some disconnect and I am actually booked at TWO schools on Friday. A private school with 5th through 8th graders and a High School. It is Wednesday, and that night after work I have the book signing in town. This means I have to pack up the family and drive down to San Francisco the next night. But logistics are the least of my worries. My biggest problem is I HAVE NOTHING PREPARED!
I call the schools; I talk to the librarians who set up the events. I calm down a bit and head to my first event, right here in my hometown. It is packed! I’m shocked. I make it through even though I hate hate hate reading aloud. I think I do okay but I get a call the next day from my good friend and physician.
Dr. R: *gushes about book signing*
Me: *thanks her profusely*
Dr. R: So, I’d love to prescribe a little something for your speaking anxiety …
Me: *thumps head on desk* Was it that obvious?
Dr. R: No, of course not! Only something a doctor would notice.
Me: I’m leaving town in an hour, how fast can you call it in to the drive-thru pharmacy?
So I get the anti-anxiety medicine at 5:30 at night on our way to San Francisco. We roll in at midnight. The next day I am at the Middle School in the morning. It’s a Catholic School so all the kids are in their cute little plaid uniforms, as polite and quite as can be. The gym seems huge and I am put off by the fact that I need to use a microphone. But all goes well, very well. They ask amazing questions and laugh when they’re supposed to and they all buy lots of books from the nice Kepler’s woman and I feel as if I’ve been wrapped in a big warm blanket of adorableness.
Then, the high school. I am told I will be in the Performing Arts Center and my knees buckle. I can hardly watch performing arts without being embarrassed—and now I am one? I thank my lucky stars for anti-anxiety medicine and pop one like it’s a Pez. I walk in to see what looks like Inside the Actors Studio sans James Lipton: an enormous stage set with a desk, a chair, and a microphone. And there is a spotlight. Right where I am supposed to sit. I can’t hide my shock and neither can my prescription Pez. The stage guy mistakes my shock for something else, like indignation at his setup.
Stage guy: Oh, don’t feel like you have to sit there the whole time! The mic is on a little stand, so when you want to get up and roam the stage, just take the mic with you. I’ll follow you with the spotlight wherever you go.
Me: *convulses upon hearing, “I’ll follow you with the spotlight”* I can’t do that!
Stage guy: Okay, you can just sit then.
Me: No, I mean I can’t be up on that stage!
Stage guy: *looks at me like I am crazy person*
Me: Can I just sit on the edge of the stage?
Stage guy: *shrugs* I still have to light you.
Kids file in. Big kids. Like, adult sized. I read the short bit that I’ve been opening these things with. They clearly do not want to be read to. I fumble, I sweat. The teachers ask questions to be kind, the kids sit with arms folded. I lose 7 years of life up there. Finally, I forget about my book and turn the ship around.
Me: So what do you guys like to read?
The adult-sized children start to engage. They love to read. They tell me what they like; I give them some suggestions for other great books. One finally asks a question about my book, so I tell them some freaky stuff about the Mayan calendar. They pretend not to show enthusiasm but I can tell they kind of dig it. More questions are asked. The bell rings. I live, but have 90% more grey hair than when I started.
And yet, there’s more. That night I have a reading and signing at Kepler’s. Some kids from the private school are there, and tons of friends and family show up. Heidi Kling even comes by. Most astonishingly, people I have never seen in my life are there. Real live people who came to see me and get the book! I am flabbergasted and, most of all, grateful.
I live through the day. Kepler’s sells out of books. We all leave happy, but mostly happy that it's over.
And the moral? Never berate you mother for Googling you—it just might save you the embarrassment of inadvertently standing up two schools...