Thursday, October 3, 2013

Three Cartons of Books

Oh, such a lovely, busy September. I've been practicing my rusty, clutzy Arabic with a new Saudi student in my beginner-level ESL class, which is great fun (and also quite humbling). Oh, yes, and my new book! The Fifth Season came back from the printer about ten days later than expected. With my vast experience now as an author of two books, I know that things don't always go as planned and that delays are to be expected. I was so grateful to my publisher for overnighting the single advance copy I received two weeks ago -- and grateful to the marketing department for urging me to schedule my launch party a good month after the book was supposed to be ready!

My fourteen-year-old daughter Jessica was just nine when her grandmother died. Jessica grew from a child to a young woman during the years that The Fifth Season grew from journal entries and disparate essays into a memoir. When the single advance copy of the book arrived, she asked to be first to read it. Her older sisters were shocked. "You mean you never snuck into Mom's study and read the chapters she had tacked to the walls?" Jessica never had. She hadn't even read the advance review copy that's been lying around since the beginning of summer. "I wanted to wait until it was a real book," she said.

"Well, Jessa, I sure hope you don't have any objections," I said and handed her the copy.

Jessica read the book over the course of a few days and then asked me to somehow mark this very first copy of the book which she was the very first person to read. She asked if the copy could be hers, and of course I said yes. The rest of the copies would arrive any day now.

September rained itself out and we turned the corner into rainy October. Still no books.

Strangely, I haven't been anxious. My first speaking event isn't until October 10, and Third Street Books in McMinnville is handling the book sales that evening -- I'm happily out of the retail loop. The launch party is still two weeks off. The books are on the way. Plenty of time!

Then, late this morning, I had an email from Sylla, the owner of Third Street Books. She was a little worried that her copies wouldn't arrive by next week. No problem, I emailed her back. I have three cartons en route and I'll bring a carton next Thursday night just in case yours haven't arrived yet.

Around noon my sister-in-law from Indiana texted me to let me know her copy of The Fifth Season, ordered from, had come in today's mail. Woo hoo! The books will be in readers' hands now -- and in my own soon enough.

A couple of hours later I picked the girls up from school and arrived home to the happy sight of three sealed cartons on the front porch. The girls and I moved the boxes inside, but didn't open them. I had a quick errand to run. And groceries to buy. An hour later I knelt with my kitchen shears and opened the first box.

Not my books. The cartons are labeled quite clearly on the side. A history professor in Houston must have had a similar surprise on his front porch. I just hope he opens the cartons before his next lecture and book signing.

I'll call the distributer tomorrow and see how to proceed with returning these cartons and getting my own books here next week. I'm not anxious (yet). There's still plenty of time, right?

If you're in the area, please join me for the launch party October 19, 7:00 p.m. at the Chehalem Cultural Center (enter from the rear). We will definitely have cake and live music and hot cider and cheese and crackers. I hope we'll also have books!

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