The Weird Scheisse that Happens to Me at Signings

Had a great signing for Writes of Spring tonight at a Barnes & Noble. That link is to buy from B&N, but if you live in the Twin Cities and feel like picking up a copy, please consider popping into Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore, the Raven-Award-winning independent bookstore behind the anthology.

Even though there were about seventeen of us contributors, we managed to pull in an audience that outnumbered us. It’s always a shame when the audience is so small the writers could beat them up. Judging by the number of books I signed for people, we also sold a fair number of copies.

As soon as I arrived in the store, I had checked the shelves for Shattered Light, the Star Trek: Myriad Universes anthology I’m in. There was one copy on the shelf, so I grabbed it and plopped it down on the table in front of me when I sat down. I figured there might be one person in the audience like myself who reads both mysteries and Trek, and maybe I’d bag a sale.

We all said a few words about our stories in Writes of Spring, then got down to signing books for people. As the crowd began to thin out, a guy came up to the table and spotted Shattered Light. He tapped the cover. “This is your story in here?” I told him that it was. I was thinking, Cool, I’m going to sell a copy of Shattered Light at a mystery event! He leaned in a bit. “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

Now that was different than what I expected. “Sure,” I said, wondering where this was going. Was he going to ask where I got my ideas? How I got a chance to pitch for the book? How to get blood stains out of a carpet? Instead: “On Margaret Wander Bonanno’s site she has a story about her book Probe . . .”

“Yes, she does,” I said. Most fans of Margaret know how her novel Probe, a sequel to Star Trek IV, got hijacked from her after she ran afoul of arbitrary licensing approval problems with Paramount, leading to it being ghostwritten.

“How was your experience working on your novel?” Ah, well, a fair enough question. I said my experience was fine, and that I was working with a different team than Margaret had, both at Simon & Schuster and at Paramount. He was glad to hear it, and thanked me for talking with him. Off he went, without purchasing Shattered Light. My hope for a sale had turned into a discussion mostly about another writer’s experience from twenty years ago!

Now I need to make it clear–especially in case this guy happens across this blog–it’s totally fine that he didn’t buy my book, and it was fun talking with him. For all I know, he could already own it. What’s funny to me is the difference between what I imagined was going to happen and what did happen. That’s what made this a fine example of the weird scheisse that happens to me at signings. Like the time at Shore Leave I got seated next to a Girl Scout selling cookies. Who do you think moved the most product?

Hint: Not this guy. Scheisse.


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