Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Soupy Tour -- Survived (So Far)

San Francisco to LA -- George has caught a nasty cold. I'm the one who usually winds up sick from flying around and meeting my readers but so far I've been lucky. (My mother would tell me to knock on wood.) Am Purell-ing like mad and flushing out my nostrils with saline and doing other things you definitely don't want to hear about.

San Francisco was the last official city on the road. Patricia, the make-up artist, worked her magic. I got to wear the blue leather jacket on two TV shows (I'd bought it in Miami last winter then saved it for the book tour -- nevermind that I saw it on sale at half price in NY in June -- oh well!) And the booksigning at Books, Inc in Alameda was the perfect end to the Soupy road tour. When we walked in an hour early for the 6:30 signing there were already people seated. One girl, maybe 8 or 9 called out, "Judy -- I have a question!" I stopped to listen and she asked, "Are you nice?" I couldn't help laughing. I mean, that's a first! I told her I'd let George answer her question and he said, "Well, she's nice to children!"

Allison and Fhay from Current TV were there. Fun to see them again. And Jeff (Geoff?) who was hosting the event had a great sense of humor and added to the success of the evening. I admit, when I came out from the office later and saw the crowd that filled this small store, I had a moment when I felt Uh oh! You know that feeling when you think there's no oxygen in the room and you're going to pass out? But it only lasted a minute and I don't think anyone noticed -- someone opened the door or turned up the air conditioning, or something, because suddenly there was a breeze and we could all breathe again.

During the Q&A a boy with purplish hair asked how old I am. It's usually a boy who asks that one, and it's usually a boy who asks, "How much do you make?" (though I haven't heard that question on this tour.) As for my age -- I always make it into a math problem. I tell them my birthdate and wait for someone to get it right. I've heard everything from 25 to 95 but this crowd was quick to come up with the answer. I did a few tap steps to prove that physical age doen't mean much. It's how you feel inside. (Good they didn't see how quickly the energy faded once the signing was over). I was at the store for almost 4 hours so we didn't get back to the hotel until after 10pm. Too late for a proper dinner but we did get some scrambled eggs and toast. Thanks everyone for coming out and for waiting so patiently! I love it when the store gives out tickets then calls the customers up by number -- Now serving numbers 130-175. It reminds me of a deli or a bakery.

Had a couple of interesting moments when a fox terrier (a real one) picked up a kleenex from the floor and started munching it. His owner wasn't part of the signing -- she was just a customer browsing and didn't seem at all concerned at her dog's antics, not even when he went after a stroller and I called out to alert the mom to keep an eye on her baby. The "baby" turned out to be two adult cats. No wonder the dog was so interested. The crowd loved it -- That's Alameda! they said. Reminded me of Key West.

The next morning I was at it again, signing 200 copies for the NCIBA (that's Northern California Independent Booksellers Assoc). How I wish I could have stopped at all the independent bookstores in the area.

No time to see the friends I'd hoped to see in the Bay Area though we did get to have lunch with Dave and Vendela, a real treat. In Double Fudge I paid homage to Dave by having Peter and Jimmy Fargo play a game of sock hockey. Later, when I let Elliot and his friend try it in our apartment, they used brooms instead of hockey sticks and a package of Lipton Soup as a puck. What a mess! The game ended in hysterical laughter -- the kind you know can quickly turn to tears because the kids are so worked up and the hour is late.

Had a tour of 826 Valencia
What a great place. Chatted with a group of 7th grade boys who are regulars, then a group of younger girls, all being helped with their schoolwork by a dedicated group of volunteer tutors. Inspired George and me to try to get something going in Key West.

Raced to the airport to catch our plane to LA only to discover I'd lost my Afrin. (I'm not "allowed" to fly without it because of my sinus problem.) My hero, George, left me at the airport and hopped a cab to a drugstore. We missed the 6pm plane but enjoyed the quiet time, reading, until the next one, at 8:15. Finished a very good book by Vendela Vida, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name. A different and haunting story, one I won't forget.

And now we're in LA for two days. George is asleep on the bed, though it's a gorgeous day. Poor guy -- he really feels bad though he'd never admit it. I'm on the computer, watching over him.

On Friday we go to Santa Fe to spend the weekend with Amanda and Jim. Then back to New York for three more signings. Check the calendar to find out if there's one near you. Hope to see you there.