About Me

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I'm author of The Snipesville Chronicles. I'm also a published academic historian, but don't hold that against me.Oh, and I'm a Brit. I just happen to live in Georgia.

Monday, September 6, 2010

From Carnival Barker to Emcee: My Rise at the Decatur Book Festival

Salesmanship is in my blood. For that, I can thank my parents. Both of them are excellent salespeople, although for sheer chutzpah my dad (aka He who can sell the hind legs off a mule) wins the prize.

Despite being his peculiar daughter who was always drawn to work that doesn't pay (journalist, history professor, children's author), I have inherited Dad's love of selling. Ooh, I hate to admit that. He's going to love reading this.

So, I rented a booth at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend, and hired Reid, a former student of mine, to help me lure in unsuspecting passersby.

More than 120 books and possibly 300 enthusiastic pitches later, Reid and I called it a day. It was such fun to have fans--and I hope you're reading this--seek me out to say "hi." But the best part of all was pitching The Snipesville Chronicles to kids who've never heard of them or me. I love watching the lights go on.
Of course, it's always a tougher sell to parents, who are (sadly) often under the mistaken impression that children learn morality from books. What, one father asked, do they take away from my books? I gave him my best Mrs.D. glare, and said "I have a PhD in history, I have run history programs for kids since 2003, and my work has been profiled in the Associated Press. Does that answer your question?" He handed over the cash.

I skipped lunch both days to work, but I did leave the booth just once, having been invited to go onstage and interview Jeanne Birdsall (The Penderwicks, enough said)and Laurel Snyder (Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, Any Which Wall.} I had a brief and unexpected little moment of fame when Matt the festival staffer introduced me with effusive words of praise for my work that definitely were NOT the introduction I sent to the festival committee. My version said stuff like I live in a small town where my hobby is watching the traffic lights change...
But never mind me. I knew my job: Introduce Jeanne and Laurel, ask questions that helped them shine (not that they needed my help, mind) and keep an eye on the clock. They were delightful, down-to-earth, and clever. I feel honored (genuinely) to have met them both.

Afterward, I passed Jeanne's long line of kids and parents awaiting autographs, and you will be forgiven if you assume that I was jealous. It surprises even me to say this but no, I wasn't. I went back to my booth with a spring in my step, relishing the opportunity to ensnare and delight new readers, one book pitch at a time. What a lovely weekend it was. Absolute contentment.

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