CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Old Friends and New: Book Signings Part One

I've wanted to write this post for a long time and talk about book signings. I've had a flurry of recent ones, and these have been quite personal since they've taken me back to the "home fires" parts of the country. Chasing Lilacs is set in the Texas Panhandle. I grew up there. My roots go deep there. It's not just the landscape that holds my heart, but the people I've known through the years.

Natalie Bright coordinated the Canyon Library event.
When I found out that my former writing group in Amarillo - Panhandle Professional Writers - would be part of a group signing at the Canyon Public Library, I signed up. It was a trip that was long overdue, and I had a wonderful time reconnecting with the writers who first influenced my writing.

The best part of the trip, though, was seeing old friends. Not "old" as in years, although we're not getting any younger, but "old" as in a part of the fabric of my life.

I've known Janet since I was two years old. We grew up in the camp which became the setting for Chasing Lilacs. Her dad owned the Edsel which I remember being the "ultimate" car with it's push button controls. And it was Janet who I sat with for hours in that Edsel listening to KIXZ on the radio. Janet was a year older than me, and when your four or seven or even twelve, that year makes all the difference. I looked up to Janet and secretly wanted to be like her - I always thought she was prettier, skinnier, and certainly more savvy about our pre-teen world. I was honored that she would run around with me.

When I was in the eighth grade and Janet in the ninth, she moved away when her dad was transferred. Although the town was only 50 miles or so away, I never saw Janet again. Ever. I heard through the grapevine that she married, had a child, moved to Kansas. But I was in my own world of husband, kids, living in Dallas, and we just lost all contact.

With Janet at her home
Until about a year ago. Through a complicated series of emails with another friend who grew up with us, I found out Janet lived in Amarillo. Seeing her again was glorious! We went out to eat with our husbands the evening before the book signing on Saturday, went back to their home for coffee and endless conversation. It's hard to squeeze a lifetime into a few hours, but we tried. She loved that I had included the Edsel in the book (thankfully!). And I loved that, at long last, we had found each other again.

Book Signing Hint: Share it with friends!
I know this doesn't have a lot to do with booksignings, but in a way, it does. Janet came to Barnes and Noble the next afternoon and sat with me. A former classmate - Maelynn - joined us. Maelynn and I have seen each other occasionally through the years at reunions, and she was always the "wise and sensible" one in high school. Sweet. Considerate. And, as you can tell from this picture, still stunningly beautiful.

Going to a booksigning can be an unpredictable experience. Sharing it with two fabulous friends makes it a party! Another family that I hadn't seen in years stopped by my table in B&N to chat. Another great surprise. It was a remarkable day of laughter, friendship, and connecting. I signed a few books, but for me the success of the day came in connecting.

Part Two of Old Friends and New will go up on Monday. Until then . . . grab a cuppa and call up an old friend. Write a note. Say a prayer.

1 comment:

Myra Johnson said...

Sounds like a wonderful, wonderful weekend, Carla! Glad you got to reconnect with those lovely ladies!