Now that I’m a bona fide published author, toting around a box of books crafted from the pulpy flesh of dead trees, some wonderful people want me to sign them. I like to imagine that this is some sort of test. That, in proving I can spell my name, I grasp the brass ring of authorship while trumpets blare and my first year teacher weeps with joy at the ultimate culmination of all those hours spent teaching me how to get my apostrophe just right.
In truth that teacher would more likely weep, because my handwriting has gone to pot over the years.
My first real signing was the night before the Writers of the Future awards ceremony. We few, we proud, we horribly sleep-deprived winners, were presented with a stack of what I was told was near five hundred books. Ballpoint pens in hand, we set to it, and soon the ink was leaking and we were all a little delirious. Hand-cramped and loopy, I’ll forever cherish the glare Anaea Lay gave me as I heaped stacks of books into her to-be-signed pile. It was absolutely mad, and absolutely fun.
And still no preparation for the next day.
After the awards ceremony we were whisked (or, more accurately, herded) into one of the many ballrooms orbiting the Wilshire-Ebell theater. There we were arranged in a giant circle - and the floodgates were opened.
I am not certain how many books we signed that night. I know that from the moment we sat down and picked up our pens we were inundated with wonderful people. People who loved speculative fiction as much as we did, and wanted to celebrate that love with us.
At one point I’d worn my pen to death, and Kevin J. Anderson tossed me his. I still haven’t given it back. And I won’t. You can’t make me.
My next signing was, it’s safe to say, done at a more sedate pace. It was at a Barnes & Noble on Saturday afternoon when the temperature had crept well into the 90s. A handful of dedicated fans braved the heat and we had a great time. I suspect I even managed to strongarm one young man into giving writing a try. The staff at B&N were fantastic and kept hopping on the PA system to herd people my way. But for me, the real highlight of this signing was that I got to do it with my mom, an award-winning journalist, at my side.
That’s two generations of bullshitters - I mean, storytellers - right there.
My most recent signing took place at a little chain of local bookstores I’d had yet to visit; Books Inc. These fantastic people know and love their books. They have recommendation placards up on every shelf, and the store is chock-full of interesting displays showing off books that aren’t your usual NYT Bestseller fare.
I loved them as soon as I stepped into the shop. And then I saw the podium.
At this point in my zygote-level career I had only ever attended straight signings. I knew what to expect at these: I sit behind a neat little table, wield my pen, and chat with anyone who stops by. But the podium, and the semicircle of chairs arrayed before it, were fresh.
So I asked, you know, if there was something I was supposed to do. My cheery author-handler informed me that I could do a reading, or a Q&A, whatever I fancied. Relieved that there wasn’t going to be any sort of trial-by-fire, I happily obliged, and had a blast.
And, though I talk with my hands enough that they probably feared me knocking over innocent displays, I promise that no signage was injured during the course of my Q&A.