Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My Glamorous Life as a Writer / Part 3

My husband thought it was terrific. His wife the erotic romance writer. He told ALL his friends. They started calling me Samantha. The first time that happened I thought the person had forgotten my name and I corrected him. He winked and said, “Yes but Samantha is so much more exciting, according to your husband.”
I was torn between wanting to hit my husband or hit his friend. Writing was serious business! I was an intellectual! I soon got off my high horse. A well written book is fine. But in the erotic romance business the readers want emotion, characters they can care for, and lots of hot and interesting sex. Dithering over things like description, pacing, and atmosphere held me back. My editor told me to stop mucking around and Just Write!
Fine. I could do that. I had to adjust my attitude, but I was used to that. Anyone who has had kids knows that having an attitude is setting yourself up for a hard fall. Who can feel young and glamorous when your kid asks you what it was like living with the dinosaurs? Or when they see you in your bathing suit, their eyebrows go up, and they blurt, “You’re so fat!” (And the minute before you’d just been thinking how well you looked.) So attitude wasn’t the problem. I put my dreams about writing ‘literature’ aside and wrote...and published over fifteen erotic romance books.
But having kids also meant they were always begging me to write a story for them. So I did. I sat down and wrote ‘The Secret of Shabaz’. It was one of the hardest books I wrote. I wanted it to be for all ages, especially for teens – that group of children with an attention span of about thirteen seconds. I wanted it to be fun but at the same time I wanted to give readers something to think about. I love fantasy, so I wrote a magical tale full of adventure, a dash of horror, a pinch of romance, and with a heroine I would have wanted as a best friend. I finished it after two years of writing on it between erotic romances and sent it to Medallion Press. They loved it.
I was on cloud nine. I was a published author of a YA book! Now I could tell my whole family, even the ones who had weak hearts. This was exciting. I started getting an attitude again. I was going to NY for the summer, what better way to kick off the new book than with a book signing in a big bookstore? I looked up bookstores in the neighborhood and called them. Two agreed. I gave them the ISBN numbers and practised looking modest. (Hard to do – I was getting an attitude.) I found a passage to read that was not too long, not too short, and had some humor in it. Perfect. I found a little black dress that made my tummy almost look flat. I asked all my family and my friends living nearby to come. I brushed my teeth.
I arrived on time.
The bookseller had set up a little auditorium with a table and MY BOOKS sitting upon it. I had a poster the publisher gave me which I propped up near the books. I sat on the chair. I waved to my parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles...and several strangers. The strangers sat up front. My family, in an élan of generosity, left the whole front row free. I introduced myself, picked up my book, and started to read.
The man front and center opened his legs wide.
He had on baggy shorts. He lifted them a bit to make sure I noticed he was not wearing any underwear.
I lost my place in the paragraph and had to start over. My first book signing and I was getting flashed.
I was determined not to let that little detail ruin my book signing. I would have understood if it had been for my erotic books. But this was a kids’ book, for goodness sake! My glamorous life as an author was taking another beating. I was at my first signing, damn it. I wasn’t going to let some pervert ruin it. And then the bookstore’s cat jumped on the table and sat on my pile of books. It wasn’t comfortable there. It jumped down and prowled around the table as I read. There were several titters. And I hadn’t gotten to the funny part yet. I risked a glance at the audience. Wrong move. Flasher had pushed his shorts up and was practically waving his equipment at me. The cat jumped down to my lap. Better. I kept reading. I didn’t miss a beat. Then the cat got bored and left. I finished reading and stood up, determined not to look at Flasher and ask the audience if anyone had any questions. There were more titters. I looked down. There was cat hair all over my black dress. It looked like I was wearing a gray apron. Resigned to my fate, I asked if there were any questions. There was a long silence. One person raised their hand.
“Yes, mom?” I said.
(to be continued...)


December Quinn said...

I would have said something. Really loudly. "Sir, please stop flashing your penis at me." Or maybe a little cooler, like, "Is there a problem, sir? You seem uncomfortable." The point is to make veryone look at him.

I once worked at a restaurant behind the counter, and a man came in and decided it would be a good idea to pleasure himself on the other side of the counter. I got the (male) cooks to go out there with an axe handle. I wish I'd grabbed it myself, now. (The axe handle, not the, uh...yeah.)


Sam said...

I Really wish you'd been there, lol.
Unfortunately in times like those, my mind goes curiously blank and all I can think of are really dumb old jokes like "That looks like a penis only smaller..."
But I had to think of the children in the audience too.

Jim Donahue said...

Oh, that's too funny--and sad at the same time.

Cheyenne McCray said...

I can't believe that guy was flashing you! Unbelievable and very disgusting. I wouldn't have known what to do, but continue like you did. Wouldn't have known what to do about the cat, either. Maybe say, anyone want a cat, cheap? ;-)

Gabriele C. said...

I'd have taken the cat and put it on his lap. "I'm sure your little friend is a bit cold, Sir."

But I'm the sort of girl who says alout so the entire bus can hear it, "take your fat fingers off me, you pervert." He went off at the next stop. :-)

Sam said...

My thoughts exactly, Jim, Chey, and Gabriele, lol.

I think there is another blog post somewhere of an author telling about their disastrous book signing in a big mall - and 99% of the people who stopped just wanted to know where the restrooms were.

Jona said...

Wow Sam! This is an amazing story. Stunned that you stuck with writing out your first book on paper (with the kids in the background too!) and then to go on so earnestly. Ashamed to admit I haven't yet clicked your link (am off to now) and hadn't realised you'd published so much.

And apart from feeling so totally in awe, am thinking myself an absolute fop! One of these days, I'll get back to writing (I too enjoy it - though more as a hobby without aim), hopefully edit the books, and eventually may even show them to someone (anyone ;o)).

You are inspiring! And whilst you may not have made a million (yet!), there's something wonderful hearing other people achieve a dream :o)

Sam said...

Thanks Jona - I try hard at any rate and I love to write.
But I don't think writing is for those who want to get rich quick - LOL

Virenda said...

OH SHIT-Toke Mushrooms!!!!

Oh for the love of chocolate.

I can not believe someone was flashing you, how gross and wrong.

I would LOVE to read that book.

I look forward to Thursday...

Sam said...

LOL - toke mushrooms? That's what I should have suggested.
OK - at the time I was Horrified. But looking back, it seems hysterical. Typical. I was born under a very strange star, lol.

Wynn Bexton said...

Too bad the cat didn't jump on his lap, all claws bared! That'd teach the perv! Funny story.