Yesterday was a bizarrely long day. I was awake by 4:30 in order to shower and get ready to be at the airport for my 6:35 flight to Halifax. I decided my one-day trip to Halifax to read at Word on the Street was going to be my practice run for if I ever get to be a Truly Important Author who gets send jet-setting around the world on a book tour.
It was a flying visit, but actually longer than it needed to be, since WOTS only ran from 11:00 – 5:00 and I was actually going to be in Halifax from about 8:00 in the morning till 9:00 in the evening (those were the best flight times I could get). I had all kinds of plans about being adventurous and seeing a bit of the city in addition to attending WOTS. When I got up at 4:30, one of those plans was to visit a church in Halifax in the morning — I love visiting churches, and what better thing to do when you have Sunday morning to kill in a strange city? (Well, Halifax is not all that strange as I’ve been there several times, but it’s not home).
By the time I woke from my brief and uncomfortable nap on the plane at about 7:00, I realized how tired and hungry I was. The option of sitting through a church service had lost all appeal and I decided instead that I would worship at the Temple of Brunch. I planned to go downtown to Cora’s, get a raisin bread French toast with “mound of fresh fruit,” and continue on to WOTS from there. This plan kept me buoyed up throughout the rest of the flight.
But when I actually got to the airport and checked the bus times, I realized it would be hard to do that and still get to WOTS on time, and I did want to take in the whole festival. So I reconciled myself to an egg and cheese crossainwich at Burger King — quite a few steps down from Cora’s! — and caught the airport bus downtown. I was the only passenger and the driver was extremely chatty. Mostly, he wanted to talk a lot about the drug trade and how people always seemed to be getting busted for it, but kept growing and selling marijuana anyway. He seemed like a very clean-cut older guy (61, retired trucker), but I’m not sure what he would have said if I’d showed a livelier interest in the subject of marijuana growing — I mostly just kept shaking and nodding my head and making “oh, that’s interesting,” kinda noises till we arrived at Pier 23 just as the festival was beginning.
It was a great day with lots of excellent readings. I had the chance to hear and talk with many writers, some I already knew and some who were new to me. Janet McNaughton, Ami McKay, Maura Hanrahan, Carrie Mac, Natale Ghent, Nellie Strowbridge and many others showcased some of the best Canada, especially Eastern Canada, has to offer. There were also great sale tables by the Halifax bookstores and I’m afraid the money I saved by not staying overnight was at least partly swallowed up in book purchases!
As for my own reading, I had about a dozen people there, which was a decent turn-out by the standards of what I’d seen all day, and especially gratifying as none of them were related to me! (Not that I don’t love my relatives turning out to readings … I rely on relatives and friends, but occasionally it’s nice to read to someone who doesn’t already own the book!) Only two people bought the book at my signing, although my hope is that a bunch more were intrigued enough to maybe follow it up later, because the audience did seem to really enjoy my reading (with all the sales on, I didn’t buy any of the full-price books by the authors who were reading, so I hope others were thinking the same way and will remember my book next time they’re book-shopping!) I had a lot of fun with the reading; it’s the one part of shameless self-promotion that I really do enjoy, since I have no stage fright and actually enjoy being in front of a microphone. It’s a bit like acting but not as risky.
As to whether it was worth the trip, from a book-promotion point of view, I’m not sure — it would be hard to justify the cost of even a one-day trip to Halifax on the strength of selling two books, but as I said I have to hope that things like this have a long-term effect in terms of word of mouth and networking.
I enjoyed the day, but was glad to get home at 11:30 p.m., very tired and pleased to have survived two plane flights in less than eighteen hours.