Today on the way home from a reading in Charlotte I was on my new favorite road (87), listening to Neil Young’s “On the Beach,” and feeling very grateful for friends and family.
Since Thursday I’ve had three readings (!), and although I was a little nervous beforehand, all three have been great. Many friends attended my launch in Durham at The Regulator. I read the first half of “Jonas” and after signing books, we enjoyed homemade pepper jelly and goat cheese on crackers, and glasses of prosecco (thanks to Richard).
The Regulator is a fantastic independent bookstore, with a great selection, a knowledgable staff, and a large room downstairs for readings and events. It’s also exactly my age, which is “still quite young,” as my brother and I like to say. I’ve held readings for my students there, and the booksellers have always been gracious and welcoming. In fact, several of my former students and their parents attended this reading, and my student Samuel Carrell (wildlife specialist, math enthusiast, and fantastic writer), even brought me a bouquet of lilies:
On Saturday I read again, this time at Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, another excellent independent bookstore. They’ve only been open since this past winter, but they’re already known for being very community-minded–they host frequent events and classes and offer teacher and book club discounts. They also stock used and rare books.
I read the beginning of “Opportunity” at Saturday’s reading, and was happy and surprised to see so many friends again–some of them for the second time! Todd Pontius, who is learning to be a cheesemaker, brought goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy (it’s so good that even my dad liked it), and my mom was delighted to meet Monkey, Janette Park’s adorable dog, who attended the reading. Kara LaFleur of Roulette Vintage, my favorite store, promoted the reading ahead of time with a review of Mattaponi Queen on Roulette’s blog.
And the Independent Weekly helped both events with a full-page review of Mattaponi Queen on Wednesday.
Here are some things I’ve noticed about readings (so far):
-Third-person stories seem to work better than first-person, which I haven’t tried but have practiced at home. Maybe it’s just my writing, but my first-person stories seem to have too much interiority for a reading.
-Reading just part of a story may be better than skipping parts to squeeze a story into twenty minutes.
-Kids twelve and up can listen to mild sexual content, such as a story about a woman’s enthusiasm for her husband’s sex change.
Tomorrow I’ll post about my Charlotte reading at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, a new store (to me) that I’d like to tell you about, and the lovely people who were there.