Tuesday, March 20, 2007


seagulls 1

Years ago, when I was expecting to become a bestselling author at any moment, I read up on book tours. I hadn't much thought about the minor details, like say, sitting down and writing a book, but I had the ten-city author tour planned in intricate detail.

And since this was important to me, I retained a lot of what I read, too. Unfortunately, just like all the advice I've absorbed about organizing your life or reaching Nirvana in ten easy steps, knowledge doesn't always translate into action.

Conventional Wisdom: Don't overpack. Bring simple, coordinating items that hold their press.

What I did: Pack absolutely everything I owned, and then mostly wore my jeans and a favorite black sweater (rumpled, of course.)

with Ed at M is for Mystery
("The sweater" and me with Ed Kaufman at M is for Mystery)

Conventional Wisdom: Eat light, high protein meals that will give you an edge. Since you'll probably be eating crappy hotel food anyway, you might want to pack some trail mix.

What I did: Gorged myself in some of the best restaurants I've ever visited.

(The clock at Fuller's in Portland where the hash browns, the easy banter among patrons at the counter and the atmosphere definitely made breakfast the most nutritious meal of the day.)

Conventional Wisdom: If you're a debut author, be prepared for the humiliating experience of reading to crowds of two or three at bookstores.

What I did: Okay, a couple of times, you might say the crowds were less huge than I might have hoped. But I took that as an opportunity to really get to know the amazing few who turned out. As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed every experience.

book cellar
(With Irish coffee in Chicago on St. Patrick's Day. I really should have been wearing green, but I couldn't resist the lure of the black sweater...and besides, I've got the proverbial map of Ireland on my face.)

Conventional Wisdom: Separated from your family and friends, your days on the road can be a lonely experience.

What I did: Traveled with my husband, and met up with the most wonderful, generous friends a wandering writer ever had in every place I visited. Lonely? Not for a minute.

acting like tourists in SF

Conventional Wisdom: A book tour is a grueling experience, but it will further your career. Keep your eyes straight ahead, and you will get through it.

What I did: Keep looking upward. Otherwise you might miss out on the wonder and amazement.

outside crescent city

Special thanks to everyone who made my book tour the experience of a lifetime:

Sky and her wonderful husband for an amazing day in Seattle, and one of the finest dinners I've ever had.


Laini and Jim who hosted a delightful party in Portland. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera that night, but Laini has some great shots on her blog. Thanks, too, to Alexandra, Neil and Sophia, and Maggie! Leroy also made a huge impression and kept me from missing my dogs quite so much.

Marilyn who shared her hometown, acted as my personal tour guide to the wonders of California, and planned a terrific party with her friends.


Marc Lecard, the first member of Killer Year I've had the pleasure of meeting in person. Thanks to Marc and his wife Jane for coming out after a long day's work--and also for a couple of great restaurant recommendations. Both The Stinking Rose and The House of Nanking were divine.

with Marc Lecard
(Holding Marc's terrific new novel, Vinnie's Head which garnered a starred review in Publishers' Weekly, and was a Booksense pick for March)

The fabulous Jordan Rosenfeld who combined a Liar's Party with a bookstore reading for a uniquely wonderful event at BookSmart in Morgan Hill. Thanks, too, to Cinda and Brad for their warm welcome and everything they did to promote the event.

Jordan and me!
(Please click to get a better look at Jordan's terrific smile. But oh-my-god, where is my black sweater?)

Heather, who inspired me with her conversation--not to mention treating me to the best cupcake I've ever had at The Book Cellar in Chicago.

with heather

And Susan Messer, who introduced me to a fascinating group of new friends at an afternoon Liar's Bash, and with her husband, Jim, brought Chicago to life for Ted and me.

the brides
(Feeding each other the special blueberry pie we bake for our muses every August. This year we expect great things.)


Sky said...

oh, patry, how wonderful to spend time with you and ted. we enjoyed you guys so much! i am thrilled your trip south was filled with beautiful scenery, the raging pacific, delightful people and parties, and BOOK SALES! i can't believe we forgot to take pics during the time we were together, or that i left my book on the breakfast table and didn't even get it signed!

please come back soon. we can't wait to take you guys around washington - there is so much you will enjoy here.

in summer our gardens will be lush and in bloom, the rains will have stopped, and hopefully my health will have improved. it is a better time to visit seattle, for sure. in the meantime consider the move we discussed. we are ready to help you guys house-hunt! ;)

Anonymous said...

Girl, you need to add some more photos to your Flickr account...'cause I KNOW you took a BUNCH. ;) I'm so glad the trip turned out to be such a wonderful experience for you. Often when we get things like that built up in our minds it can lead to crushing disappointment. I'm so glad that you and Ted were able to weave a wonderful vacation into that book tour. And Fuller's! I love Fuller's! (Just ate there when I took a solo trip to PDX last year.) :)

Zhoen said...

I am so happy for you, you deserve all the accolades and fetes and food.

Anonymous said...

Great sweater, by the way. Forgot to mention. And that lovely top you wore under it.

Just finished off the blueberry pie last night.

Ivy said...

Congratulations, Patry! May the accolades and readers keep rolling in! :-)

robin andrea said...

Just my luck to have my hip start bothering on the morning we were to ferry over to Seattle to hear you read. Dressed and ready to go, but couldn't walk. Glad your trip west was so grand. I really wish we could have met, perhaps on the next tour! Love that coast shot.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

What was so great about meeting you Patry, is that unlike other experiences I've had translating from online to human interaction, you are exactly as you seem online. Well, not exactly--more nuanced, funny, interesting--but there isn't even pretension here on your blog. This is you. My husband adored meeting you and Ted, as well!

I was so glad to make it happen.

The Curmudgeon said...

Sounds like such a wonderful trip.

Sorry I couldn't get out on St. Patrick's Day to see you in Chicago... but I'm still not very mobile (can't drive on the meds and all)... and, besides, your stop that day was in the old German neighborhood....

Anonymous said...

Love this. You are something else, Patry.

Anonymous said...

It all sounds fabulous. Hope to see your novel moving up the bestseller lists soon!

Patry Francis said...

Just spent about fifteen minutes answering comments and enjoying every minute of it, only to be told my "requent could not be processed". Then to make it worse--my entire, mile long response vanished. Aargh!

At this point, let me just say--thanks and love to all of you, and if I can get in, I'll try again.

Anonymous said...

Lovely! I'm so glad you had such a good time.

It occurs to me that the "conventional wisdom" you cite was formed by authors who toured before the advent of the internet. While things like packing and dietary advice are still useful (though I strongly agree that you should pig out at fine restaurants if you can, 'cause if not now, when, right?), opportunities for loneliness have been somewhat mitigated by technology. And that's pretty cool.

I love the last picture best. :)

rdl said...

So happy for you! what great pics! only wish i coulda been there. :D

Lorna said...

I have vicariously enjoyed every minute.

NoVA Dad said...

I'll comment on this later -- glad to have you back!! However, I wanted to tag you with The Thinking Blogger Award! Details on your prize (and what you need to do next) are on my blog!

NoVA Dad said...

Okay, I went back and devoured the entire post. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of the tour!! It was great getting a glimpse of the fun you were having, and I really enjoyed watching how you turned potential negatives like a crowd of 2 or 3 into such amazing positives! Can't wait for you to come out East!

Shannon Hopkins said...

I was disappointed that I didn't know you were going to be in my state far enough ahead to make plans to be at your book reading. It's a haul over mountain passes, and requires a bit of planning ahead. But I'm glad to see you had such a great time. I hope to catch you next time.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations - I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time - your great attitude surely helped both your enjoyment and the book sales! Welcome home.

Jone said...

Hi Patry, it was lovely to meet you in Portland. I am passing your book on to all my friends.

Anonymous said...

what a great, wonderful time you had and I'm so happy to be able to read about it! congratulations again Patry!

Therese said...

When I think about doing a book tour (this time next year!) I don't know which emotion is strongest: excitement or terror!

Seeing your pics and reading your tale eases the anxiety a bit, so thank you for sharing.

paris parfait said...

Patry, I'm so thrilled the book tour not only went well, you had a great time virtually everywhere you went! I saw the terrific photos on Laini's blog and read about Neil meeting you. And I understand the appeal of the black sweater!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this fabulous peek into your tour. It sounds like it was a magical time.

I can't get your sweater out of my mind - it's one lucky little sweater, isn't it? It might have been purchased by someone who left it at home to be slept upon by an incontinent feline. But instead it was chosen by you and it got to go on a national book tour!

Seriously, what are the odds that it would be picked up by a sensational writer who would get an agent, get published and include it at literary events?

That's one fortunate cardigan.


MB said...

Patry, I'm grinning ear to ear. What a wondrous experience for you. I'm glad Ted could share it with you. I wonder if that black sweater will some day make it out to your garden to join the shoes... and perhaps one day you'll have a whole "scarecrow" of clothes that marked your progress! ;-) Fun to see all the faces. (And that top photo is gorgeous.) I only wish your tour had brought you closer by. I guess your book will have to do the trick!

Anonymous said...

Yay! You're back! And it sounds like you had a wonderful time - I saw Laini and Marilyn's posts about their parties with you, and they looked like so much fun. I'm so glad you, your husband, and the black sweater, had such a great tour!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Patry! It's so much fun to read about your adventures. Inspiring, as always. And welcome back to your blog — I missed your posts!

Anonymous said...

What great advice and fun this blog is. I laughed at the prepare for the two to three listeners at some readings. That happened to me once, in Chicago, on a blustery rainy miserable night. Five listeners, two of whom were sales people. But the size actually created a blast of a reading ... laughter and sharing.

The paperback edition of my book, The Scent of God is coming out in April. Since the hardcover release last April, I've been so caught up in marketing and publicity that my next book (in process) is acquiring the hangdog look of an abandoned pup. How is your next book coming along? Ms. Auger wants to know. (By the way, what a great name for a teacher who mined for the best in her students)

Bev Jackson said...

Wow, wow, wow! Congratulations!
(I'm SO out of the loop of everything that I can only say I'm THRILLED for your new successes. It's such fun to read your enthusiasm.)


Patry Francis said...

Okay, I'm going to try againz;

Sky! Thank you for your comment, and especially for your amazing hospitatlity in Seattle. We loved meeting you and your wonderful husband, and sincerely hope to see you both in Massachusetts.

marilyn: Actually, your photos of Crescent City are so much better than mine. Next time we definitely want to meet Jeffrey--and get together for that breakfast.

zhoen: Thank you, dear friend.

susan: I hate to admit it, but your blueberry pie was definitely better than mine--even with the frozen blueberries. xox

Ivy: Next time I want to come to Wales! Wishing you the same success for Mortals--a marvel which I recommend to everyone I know.

robin: One of the major disappointments of the trip was that we didn't get to meet. On the other hand, it's given me a reason to make sure I return.

Jordan: I hope you know I felt the same wau about you. The connection was there, and it was real. Thanks to your wonderful Cinda and Brad, too.

curmudgeon: You're right. I spent St. Patrick's day in the German neighborhood, but the store clerks were all dressed in green and served a mean Irish Coffee. How could I complain? Next time I come we'll have to get together...

susan: As always, you leave me smiling.

dave: I'm waiting for that, too!

sara: You're right. The entire landscape has changed for authors and everyone else since the advent of the internet. If you reach out, people are closer than you think.

r: Next time you WILL be there.

lorna: I thought about you when I saw the signs for Vancouver. Next time, Ted and I will be hanging out with you and DAve!

kg: Thanks for the nice welcome home. I missed you all, too!

Beryl: Your book sounds amazing, and I much admire the warmth and depth of everything you write. I'm hoping that you and I have a chance to meet--and soon!

bev: So happy to see you here after all this time. I was about to say something like 'I feel your spirit shining through your comment.' Then I realized it sounded hokey. But oh my god, I'm afraid it's true.

Matt: Thanks for the award, for your friendship, and all your support. It means a lot.

tara: Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet in Seattle. It's such an amazing area; I hope to return soon, and next time, we'll plan something.

beth! Thanks for your welcome and looking forward to seeing you VERY SOON! xox

jone: Thank you. I also enjoyed meeting you. I've been reading your blog for a while, but meeting in person takes it to another level!

irene: Will you be there when I cometo Paris? (No plans for that yet,but I've learned that when you pronounce a possibility, it frequently happens.)

therese: We must talk! I'm so excited about all you have ahead of you! I know you will have a blast.

tara: We truly have an amazing community here. The connections I felt with Laini, Neil, Alexandra, Sky, Jordan, and Marilyn--among many others--were immediate and strong.I know it will be the same when I meet you. The absolute best part of the tour wasn't selling books; it was seeing all the good that's out there--all the hope.

Tish: I love the way you brought the sweater to life. (And yes, it sometimes feel that way.) I think you're right: it needs to be out in the garden where just yesterday, an intrepid photographer from the local paper trekked through the muck to take a picture of my forlorn looking waitress shoes.

Anonymous said...

It was so wonderful to meet you in Portland. You're as interesting and genuine in person as you are online. I wish you all the success and can't wait to see you in LA when you come here to write your screenplay!

Patry Francis said...

Neil: I felt the same way. I even felt as if I knew Sophia! (But I was hoping YOU'D write the screenplay...)

Melissa Amateis said...

It sounds fabulous, Patry! Congratulations!

I also saw your interview in Writer's Digest. How cool!!!

Patry Francis said...

Thanks, Melissa. That fabulous profile in WD was written by Jordan Rosenfeld, pictured above.

Anonymous said...

Welcome home, Patry! I must say I'm a little star struck. Thanks for sharing your trip in such a personal way. I enjoyed looking at the whole lot of photos and the more I looked the more I saw your sweater colors change! Let me know if you swing by Floyd on your way to any bigger cities in the future.

Patry Francis said...

colleen: You know how much I want to come to Floyd! After I rest up from my last adventure, I'm hoping to persuade my publisher to send me on another one that takes me down the East coast.

floots said...

so glad it was a good time
well done

Kay Cooke said...

Welcome back - you've had a wonderful time and it couldn't have happened to a nicer writer. Now for the next book ??? :) I don't know about you, but I can't wait!

Noelle said...

I completely want to be a published author for all the wrong reasons after this post! (Especially restaurants in fabulous new cities!)

Patry Francis said...

floots: One disappointment--I didn't get to Scotland. But maybe it's better that I envision it as it is in your photographs.

chiefbiscuit: I can't wait either. All this galivanting is lovely, but in the end, I always long to be back at my desk. Just me and my characters--and of course, my blog friends dropping by for tea now and then.

noelle: Oh, no! Fabulous restaurants, and meeting amazing friends definitely count among the right reasons. (There has to be some reward for all those years spent sitting in a little room by yourself, right?) I know that's not "conventional wisdom," but as you can tell, I'm not a big believer in that.

Marly Youmans said...

Hi Patry--

I'm glad you popped by--and now I know who you are and what you do. Some of it, anyway.

Congratulations on having what seems a very pleasant and useful book tour!

Patry Francis said...

Marlyat (whose rejoicing is still with me): Thank you and welcome!

melba: Oh yes! The weather is so lovely. Maybe we can take kids and dogs to the beach?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good argument for not following conventional wisdom. Glad it was such a grand success and encouragement to you.