March 27, 2006

A Golden Opportunity for You to Envy My Glamorous Life

I had a bad day yesterday. I bruised my hip and broke a glass, and then I missed my church's luncheon and ministry fair to go to a booksigning. I put on a cute skirt and fixed my hair, but when I showed up, I was about as welcome as an unwashed goat at a wedding. I walked up to the signing area and there was a store employee there putting out books for the signing and four other authors milling around.

SO... I stood there and stood there while they talked, a closed unit, and looked at me sideways as if wondering why I was standing on the edge waiting to introduce myself.
Employee: "Can I help you?" subtext: you crazy nut bag who is hanging around like a derelict.
Me: "Hi. I'm Joshilyn--I'm here for the signing."
Employee: OH! Great! Well, just a second, we are almost set up.

SO then the other four authors start trying to give me promotional material and asking me who I am there to see. I am confused. I don't get it. Then I notice that they have set up four chairs at the table and are setting out four books....none of the books are mine.
SO I think, maybe I am in the wrong place.

Me: Am I in the wrong place? I'm Joshilyn Jackson. Here for the booksigning?
Store Employee: Nope you are in the right place. This is the booksigning.

So I wait. The other four authors begin to look at me like I am a leper who is hanging around their table to gawk at them and not buy their books.
Author 1: Are you...missing something?
Me: Yes, I am missing my book.
They stare at me like I'm crazy, all clearly thinking that there is a table full of books right in front of me and any ONE of them could EASILY be mine, signed and everything, but right now I am just looming over the table and scaring the nice people away. I am beginning to think I AM crazy.

Just then the events planner who arranged for me to be there comes up and gently takes my arm and says "I need you to come with me." I am led away like a lunatic who is bothering the paying customers, my cheeks on fire. I don't think a single one of the four authors realized what was going on---it just looked like a manager came and mercifully took the weirdo off.

The events planner walks me away and gently explains that she was unable to order my book. See, it's three months before the paperback comes out, so the call for buy backs already happened, and it flummoxed her computer. She forgot to follow up with her Warner rep or, indeed, with me (I could have easily gotten them for her had I known), and then apparently forgot that I was coming at all, so subsequently she forgot to call and tell me that there was no reasons for me to be here AT ALL, primped up in my nice skirt, missing my fair, and looking like a whack-job.

I tried to be gracious about it but I think I failed. I was standing there, you know, kinda pole-axed. I wasn't sure what to do.
Because trust me, nothing that follows is going to get a even a tiny bit pleasanter. It's like gettign whacked with a hammer and then staying by the mad carpenter's toolbox, wondering if the screwdriver through the eye will feel better. Hint: it won't. But ALAS, I did NOT graciously say, oops well it happens, and leave. I was busy being flummoxed and standing like a cow with my mouth hanging open.

The computer said they had one copy of my book in, so the events lady (who was SO nice to me and apologetic, I have to say) went to find it so I could at least sign their one book's worth of store stock. I waited, thinking I would sign that one book and then do the gracious oops thing and leave.

A woman I think was the manager came up.
Her: We don't have your book in stock, huh?
Me: Nope. Paperback is coming out soon, so this happens.
Her: *condescending, slightly preachy tone* Maybe if you set it up in advance, we can have a signing for you here when the paperback comes out.
Me: *re-pole-axed* Um...what? Oh, um...okay.
Her: *clearly offended* Well, you don't sound very ENTHUSIASTIC about it...
Me: I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be ungracious, I just..It's no big deal, but I am missing my church function to come do this. I wish someone had called me, you know?

It becomes clear to me in the middle of this conversation, while the manager is looking at me like I am both a MORON and a JERK, that she has NO IDEA I have been INVITED. She thinks I have just WANDERED in during the middle of them trying to pull of a HUGE in store event with 4 LEGITIMATE authors and give-aways and drawings and balloons, and demanded to be included, and then gotten all shirty and hateful because they didn't HAPPEN to have twenty copies of my year old book on hand.

Just then the poor events manager creeps back to tell me that the one copy of my book they have has apparently been shelved wrong and she can't find it. We stood there looking at each other, perfectly in accord in our wish that the earth would open and eat us. Hell would have been a more comfortable environment at that point. I think I felt about three inches tall, if that. I think she felt about two inches tall.

The manager, meanwhile, still hasn't realized I was actually invited...

She asks the events planner: Did you call her? (She means Did you call her to INVITE her.)
The events planner says, sheepishly: No. I didn't. (She means, she forgot to call and CANCEL)

At that point, I cracked my hollow tooth, drank the lethal droplet inside it, and mercifully died. Or I straightened it out with the manager that I had been invited, agreed with the events planner that we would have to do better for Between, Georgia, said goodbyes all around, and walked out to my car feeling like my spine was on fire. I got the door shut and started the car, and I swear to you, the fact that I was two blocks away before I burst into tears is the one thing about all of yesterday that I can reasonably be proud of.

PS: Yes, Virginia, I DID just end a sentence with a preposition. I feel I EARNED it.

Posted by joshilyn at March 27, 2006 8:37 AM

Oh my LORD, Joss, I am making a voodoo doll of that awful manager RIGHT NOW. I am about to burst into tears, myself. I never would've made it two blocks.

*PETPETPET* You are a lovely and beautiful tulip and she's an awful hag. GAH.

Posted by: Mir at March 27, 2006 8:48 AM

Did you see my Oscars rant? I just saw what you wrote about the night earlier in the month.

Jon Stewart rocks!

Posted by: Bookseller to the Stars at March 27, 2006 9:04 AM

The events lady was "nice" and "apologetic"? Well, yeah! She totally screwed up! You think you were ungracious when you offered to sign a copy of the book AND not set the place on fire? I think what happened to you was AT LEAST tizzy worthy and perhaps even diva-grade tantrum worthy. You know why? You are standing there, day planned around this, ready to do what YOU agreed to do and they aren't ready for you because oops! I forgot to call? What? Isn't that what they invented post-its for?

Granted, it may be a little over the top to go back and have your hissy fit now but they totally owe you a grand public mental breakdown. Get out your clogs because its foot stomping time!

Posted by: Em at March 27, 2006 9:21 AM

Yeah, the event planner messed up, but I am a complete flake and I mess up all the time. It happens.

I feel for the manager --- she DID NOT KNOW I was coming, so to her it looked like I was being the BIGGEST prima donna jerk on the planet while she was trying to get a HUGE event working. When she realized I HAD been invited she turned bright red and joined me in longing for death. It was an AWFUL situation for all of us, brought about by a mistake and an oversight that I could easily see myself making if the situation was reversed. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, and at a bookstore in powder sprinsg, I go slouching off toward home to have a big weep liek a dork.

The woman who messed up apologized, and really, what else could she do? Well, she could have offered me a free five dollar latte with sugar free chocolate syrup.

It was just so humiliating, creeping away with all those other writers staring with relief at my back, probably hoping the police were being called to take the crazed silent awkward groupie away. OH MY GOD...My skin tries to crawl off my body and get under the bed at the memory of it.

Posted by: Joshilyn at March 27, 2006 9:54 AM

Oh, cringe!!! How awful for you!!

Posted by: Katie at March 27, 2006 10:08 AM

Oh God, this is the stuff of my nightmares! I am so sorry this happened to you, and that these people weren't smart or gracious enough to try and make up for their stupid mistake! They should have been kissing your bee-hind!

Clearly they are not true Southerners. I'm revoking their membership.

Posted by: Renee at March 27, 2006 10:16 AM

Oh, pooor YOU! And yet you handled it wonderfully - it was definitely hissy-fit worthy, so good for you for not succumbing.

When Between comes out, they'll be lined up around the BLOCK.

Posted by: Shelley at March 27, 2006 10:41 AM

*cringe* Sorry you had to go through that. Nobody's allowed to be embarrassed alone in my presence, so I'm sitting here all red in the face and horrified for you. Hey! I know! Buy yourself some NEW SHOES! That'll make you feel better.

Posted by: Aimee at March 27, 2006 10:50 AM

Oh EVIL manageress with a chip on her shoulder because she's a bookstore manager and not a writer.

I would have cried right in the store.

Posted by: Heather Cook at March 27, 2006 11:09 AM

Look at it this way Joss. They will NEVER forget who you are because of their own embarassment. Later they will NEVER FORGET who you are because Between, Georgia will come out and be bigger and better than gods (which is hard to believe, but it will) and they will fawn all over you to get you back for a signing. And then later THEY WILL NEVER FORGET WHO YOU ARE WHEN THE MOVIE COMES OUT. Imagine them kissing those pretty toes peeking out of those very pretty Jimmy Choos you got in an Oscar party pack.

Posted by: Cele at March 27, 2006 12:04 PM

I am so with Cele on this. But I would still like to go picket this store even though they were apologetic, because that is NOT ENOUGH.

My picket sign would read "UNFAIR TO TULIPS!" And on the back it would say "REPENT!"

Posted by: Cornelia Read at March 27, 2006 12:18 PM


Yeah, they should BE so lucky to host you in the future!


Posted by: Martha O'Connor at March 27, 2006 12:55 PM

Sorry to hear about your annoying book signing - what a pain! Just wanted to say, I love your book. My grandfather was from Dadeville, Alabama, and your evocative writing took me right back there to Kudzu Kuntry. THey also used to always eat boiled shrimp in Birmingham at this place called Spat's, I think. Anyway, after five years in exile in cold and rainy Scotland, your book takes back down South! Thanks.
PS My German wife loves it too.

Posted by: Matthew at March 27, 2006 1:20 PM

Aw, honey! What a horrible, no good, awful witch! That book signing party for Between, Georgia better be fantastic.

Posted by: Nic at March 27, 2006 3:01 PM

Someday, all they will say when remembering this event will be "I once met JOSHILYN JACKSON!" And whoever they're talking to will say "SHUT UP! You did not!" And be REALLY impressed. ;)

Posted by: Amy-GO at March 27, 2006 3:15 PM

It was smart of you to have your bad day early in the week. Now it can only get better!

Posted by: Karen at March 27, 2006 4:11 PM

Oh NO. This is horrifying. You, however, were anything but horrifying - so gracious and forgiving and mightily UNDERSTANDING. So far away from a prima donna.

I agree with everyone - this just means they are obligated to throw you your very own book signing, no other authors ALLOWED, with all good things like flowers and cake, maybe a movie-star like chair with "Joshilyn Jackson" written on the back - all to atone for the mishap. And yes, perhaps they are Yankees.

Posted by: samantha at March 27, 2006 4:30 PM

Oh behalf of all booksellers who screw up, let me profusely apologize for the idiocy of that manager! We are human, we make mistakes, but there are gracious ways to handle things, and the manager should have known what was going on from the beginning.

Now, when - notice I say "when", not "if" - you come up to Seattle, we'll try to do things up right! We're gonna be on our absolute BEST behavior for Cornelia so she'll have glowing things to report so you'll want to come see us!

Posted by: Fran at March 27, 2006 4:36 PM

Note to self: Never forget you had three kids in diapers at once. If you are ever lucky enough to be published and invited to a booksigning prepare for the worst. In the van, keep extras of everything you might need like books just like you did with diapers, wipes, and extra clothes.

I'd say the events planner's mess up is up there with a number two buttplosion from two or more toddlers!

Posted by: Sabra at March 27, 2006 4:46 PM

Are you FLIPPIN kidding me?

Where the HE** in the greater metro area were you?

Because if I had known, I would have marched in with my prized edition and given that stupid store manager a "whooop" upside the head.

I have no more words, I am flabbergasted.

Posted by: Lisa at March 27, 2006 7:24 PM

Oh, Fran, I can already attest to how cool you guys are NOW, and I hope you can coerce The Joshilyn into coming west.

Janine (also of SMB) emailed me this morning to say that she felt horrible that this had happened to you, Joshilyn, and that they would NEVER ALLOW SUCH A THING to happen. I am still so bumming for you, despite the cozy haze of Vicodin following the adieu of my last wisdom tooth this morning.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at March 27, 2006 7:33 PM

Well, while mistakes are easy enough to make, this one sounds like pure dee incompetence, with a cover-up to boot. It really galls me that the manager took the 'damage control' route for herself and her planner at the expense of your professional image in front of those other authors. She had to KNOW how that looked to an uninformed observer. Unless she explained the mix-up to those other authors, she has by default allowed them all to conclude whatever they may about you. That's inexcusably unprofessional behavior for a business that purports to appreciate writers. Humpff! I sincerely hope there's another store in the area where you can receive better treatment. You totally deserve it.

Posted by: David at March 27, 2006 7:49 PM

Sheesh. I'm impressed with how you reacted Joshilyn. I would have been a total female dog and then burst into tears in front of the events coordinator, the rude manager and the four authors.

Don't worry, when Between comes out and sells half a million copies, they'll all be clamoring for your autograph. And they'll serve you Pomtinis while you graciously sign away.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at March 27, 2006 9:50 PM

Oh geeeze, that's just a nightmare scenario. I'm so sorry to hear you had to go through that. In my opinion, the Universe (not to mention the management of that bookstore) now owes you an Extra-Special SuperFantastic Wonderful Day. With cake!

Posted by: DebR at March 28, 2006 12:20 AM

As a recently-ex-bookseller I'm having a schizophernic breakdown here. On the one hand, I could soooooo have screwed up like this (though not for you! Crying out loud, gods was a #1 Booksense pick! What are they, illiterate?) On the other hand, the bookseller failed doubly. Because what you do when this happens is go for the gold in Extreme Grovel. You hold your liver, spleen and heart in your trembling hands and you offer to have them turned into slender strips of turquoise leather which your heirs and assigns will then indenture themselves to Jimmy Choo to turn into Restitution Shoes. Then you pry open a seam in the carpet and dig your own personal fastlane to hell, lubricating it with tears.

Still. You now have The Worst Professional Experience of Your Life, and it will make/is already making a great story. IMAGINE the compensatory karma the universe is scrambling to arrange on a platter for you.

And I am limp with envy that you made it two blocks away before you burst into tears. Looking it over, I think you pretty much get a 10 for style points.

Posted by: rams at March 28, 2006 7:54 AM

That bookstore sounds much too snooty for gIA fans. They probably didn't know who you were because thoughtful readers who would enjoy your writing likely ran screaming from the place YEARS ago. I have a hard time picturing a bunch of authors looking down their noses and huddling against anyone within 100 yards of a table full of the authors' books. First they try to ignore you and then they all thrust promotional materials at you? For all they knew, you were a potential customer. Weren't they suppose to offer you candy and go out of their way to thank you six ways from Sunday for giving up your afternoon to come to their booksigning? And not only that, they have now rubbed a bestselling author with a widely read blog and a loyal fan base the wrong way. A bad career move for them in the face of someone who showed massive grace under pressure.

After all this, get the Choos!

Posted by: Elizabeth at March 28, 2006 1:02 PM

This is so dreadful. You have to prepare yourself to go through this 'smile and sign' mini torture session in the first place. My heart chills. I would so want to go home and curl myself around my diet root beer before I even got there.

But you were strong. You did not shrill and you did not throw anything. You also were absolutely right not to just say "Ah, mistakes happen, ta ta all", because the mistake hadn't even been recognized let alone acknowledged. It doesn't seem that either guilty worker or manager even when they realized how badly they had blown it were willing to set the record straight. May they grow warts.

Because of your obvious courage, (two whole blocks!) your refusal to just disappear for everybody, and the fact that you didn't make a speech to the other authors to make sure they felt like pond scum (holy maturity!) I think you may be the one we are seeking to lead the fight. That is the fight about the stupid dangling participle.

It is time we all took a stand about this ridiculous rule. Dangling participles are hardy, springy little wordlets. Not a single one ever falls off the end of the sentence. In addition, the little word cradles in which we are expected to lay them are so clunky. Who on earth would not trip over 'the party to which I was going'? It makes you want to put skirts on all the tables.

In your place I would have been furious. I would have then cried, so that my stuttering, blubbering words were completely incomprehensible. Everyone would have understood that I was not an idiot trying to horn in on an event but an emotionally unbalanced, scary person who needs to be escorted out by the police. See why the participle battle cries out for you. You seriously rock.

Posted by: Gillian at March 28, 2006 4:26 PM

Aw, geez.
People act so weird when life throws 'em a curveball. YOU handled it beautifully, the weird-ass manager did not. Cranky people stink, and people who work in retail (i.e. bookstores) should be more gracious and bendable. Blargh!

Posted by: Janet at March 29, 2006 7:45 AM