A View From Tracy's Point
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(Outside Hampton Inn & Suites, Mesquite Tx)
Allstar Author Showcase
Imagine my confusion when on Thursday afternoon I began receiving text messages from friends informing me that it was snowing in Dallas. There had to be a mistake. I had been checking the forecast and it called for rain on Wednesday with temperatures dropping to the mid-forties Friday, when I was scheduled to arrive. A decision needed to be made and it needed to be made quickly because I had never seen snow, let alone driven in it. Everything within my being was telling me to cancel this trip. I could cancel the rental car and the hotel room without penalty; move my plane ticket to my trip to Houston in May; and just chalk-up my registration fee as a loss. But then I remembered I had talked another author into attending the event and it wouldn’t be fair to her if I backed out. Plus, this is my business, and if I don’t make sacrifices for what I want to do and accomplish, who else will.
I arrived in Dallas around 9:30 p.m. after a 7 hour and 35 minute flight, which included a 4 hour layover in Austin, TX. I trudged through the airport with my three carry-on bags that were starting to feel much heavier as I made my way to baggage claim where I would claim two pieces of luggage weighing 50 lbs each. With all bags accounted for I look for the car rental shuttle... Oh my God, do I have to cross traffic to get to the shuttle? No way can I manage this with all these bags. No sooner had the thought exited my mind did a guy who worked for the airport came along and assisted me with my bags (Thank you Lord). The shuttle driver was even nice enough to take me to my car (thank goodness for on-line check-out). With Mapquest print-out in hand I made my way to the interstate/freeway/expressway. I was moving along with much ease when all of a sudden that left exit I was supposed to take required me changing lanes in a split second with cars riding my tail. Damn, I’m now lost. So for the next half hour or so I tried to figure out how to actually exit the interstate system and turn around. Without going through all the details, I finally made my way to my hotel at about a quarter past midnight, but not before I stopped at a Marriott and asked for directions….Oh, it’s just 3 blocks that way.
Now I know many of you are thinking, why didn’t I just rent a GPS system from the rental car company. The truth is, I like using my brain to figure things out on my own. I like memorizing my surroundings and having landmarks to reference. It annoys me when I ask my daughter if she remembers a street or building that we have passed and she hunches her shoulders and say’s “I don’t remember” or “I wasn’t paying attention.”
I’m at the hotel, which was the nicest Hampton Inn & Suites I have ever seen, showered and in bed. The alarm sounds too soon, and when I exit the hotel to start my day the chill in the air stops me in my tracks. Wow. I made my way to the facility (without getting lost) where the event was to take place and it was downhill from there. The area was on lockdown because of the NBA Allstar Jam Session, being held at the Dallas Convention Center. The Allstar Author Showcase was held in the Black Academy of Arts & Letters, but according to the Dallas police and convention personnel, no such venue exists and if it did we wouldn’t be able to get in without proper credentials. I, along with a few other participants was shifted around and around and around. Our set-up was to be 8 a.m. until 9:45 a.m. but it was after 10 a.m. when we finally located the entrance and were able to get in. Remember those two 50 lb suitcases, yep; I was lugging those the entire time.
Whew, my table is set-up and I see some familiar names from various social media outlets. I begin to make my rounds and introduce myself. The planned activities get underway and I must say the event itself was very well planned with interesting speakers, and good entertainment. The only thing missing was the much anticipated book lovers.
The goal of most authors, at least it is for me, when attending book events is to meet avid book readers, tell them about my novels, and hopefully sell a few books. Even if I don’t sell many books, I at least want to distribute marketing materials to potential buyers. The Allstar Author Showcase caught my attention because it was during the Allstar NBA Weekend, which was slated to draw thousands upon thousands of visitors to Dallas. And considering thousands of those visitors as well as Dallas residents, (and not to mention athletes, their wives, and other celebrities) would be at the convention center for the Allstar Jam Session, gave the illusion that this event would be very-well attended. Add to that the line-up of invited guest I just never considered the actual outcome.
Any event that an author attends comes with a risk. You may have potential buyers and still not receive the desired outcome, but to travel to an event and not have a real opportunity to connect with the community is disheartening to say the least. As my friend who met me in Dallas drove me back to my car, which was parked in the convention center garage, we passed hundreds of mothers with their sons heading to the convention center, and I couldn’t help but think, dang, there’s our target audience. Whatever the reason or disconnect that lowered the expectations of this event, I am grateful for the sales I did make in Dallas, and those in passing that I was able to distribute information to as I made my way to my car. I am also grateful for the opportunity to meet some authors, including Sherryle Jackson and her husband, who were also celebrating their wedding anniversary.
To cap off the day, Dallas you redeemed yourself as we relaxed for an enjoyable dinner and drinks at Joe's Crab Shack. That place will make you forget all that troubles you.
Next up, the Multicultural Literature Advocacy Group’s, Books By the Bay 2010 Literary Conference, where I am a finalist for Best New Author in their adult fiction category.
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