Bashing or Bonding at Author Events?

I keep saying to everyone who will listen, “I could write a book about all my author events over the years.” I then tell humorous tales (they weren’t so funny at the time) about the foibles of participating in local author events and everyone laughs. I laugh, too, but honestly, most writers are prickly sensitive, as I sincerely try not to be. The occasional bashing by another author reminds me of minor dental work. No, not horrific pain, but it’s akin to the uncomfortable drilling, digging, pushing, and the dull ache that ensues afterwards.

One event at a Barnes & Noble store, I was sitting at a long table with local New England authors. I had arrived late and was asked to share a table with another author. I started to sit down and she pulled the chair out from behind me. I caught myself before falling to the floor, while she uttered, “You’re younger than I am and can stand.” Throughout the event, she called out loudly across my space to customers to come see her books. They bypassed me, not knowing how to ignore her. At another event, I was selling books like sweet hot cakes dripping with syrup. I was strategically (accidentally) located and my homemade scones helped, too. Oh, of course…the books themselves were, and are, appealing! But you know…this business is tough, especially at an event with lots of authors. Later, a high profile author stopped by my table and asked how I was doing. I proudly stated that I was selling so many books that I was running out. And then I asked how she was doing and she responded, “Well, not so well. You know, my books are priced in a different category than yours and it makes a difference.” Norah hadn’t been released yet and I was only selling my two children’s books.

At the ICC Boston Irish Festival last weekend, I sat at a table in the Library Tent with four other authors. We set up at 10:00 a.m. and sat until 7:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. We were also scheduled to speak at various scheduled times in the Author’s Tent throughout each day. No desperate groveling or hard selling snake-oil tactic was needed amongst the five of us. We all did well. And there was no shouting over one another, either. Kyle Darcy, author of Under Current Conditions, would comment to his buyers that my books were worthy of a look, as well. He didn’t really know whether my books were worthy or otherwise! But we had been conversing and there was a good spirit amongst all of us. When an author left to speak, one of us would step in to make sales and talk to customers for him or her. We got drinks and cupcakes for one another, as well as encouraged one another to persevere in this crazy and passionate work of writing. At the end of the festival, we exchanged addresses and books. It really was one of the best events I’ve attended with other authors. Although I was fatigued from talking, answering questions, performing in the author tent, I was euphoric because I had sold many books, but also because these authors had become fast friends. We probably won’t have time to do a lot of socializing, but I’m sure we’ll be at other events together in the future. And I do believe we will speak well of each other as we go about this writing business of ours. And so I will start right here in this blog and introduce you to them.

Kyle Darcy is the author of Under Current Conditions which is receiving rave reviews. The protagonist, Martin Quinn, is an engineer originally from Northern Ireland. He has his own company that possesses much financial potential. However, his work is constantly sabotaged by an unscrupulous competitor. Quinn becomes stressed, stops sleeping, suffers from PTSD, and eventually lands in a mental hospital. The side story, running parallel to Quinn’s personal account, is about the principal of his child’s school who is brutally murdered by her husband. Likewise, a lawyer whom Quinn had trusted turns out to be associated with organized crime. Who can he trust? Is it his paranoia or genuine affection offered to him amongst the people in his life? There is hilarity in spite of the pathos, and a candid look at a man’s struggle with himself in his adopted country. Ask Kyle himself if this is semi-autobiographical! His web site is:

Kyle Darcy and Cynthia Neale

Kyle Darcy and Cynthia Neale at ICC Boston Irish Festival

David R. Surette is a poet and teacher from Malden, MA and his sparkling and youthful eyes constantly scan the room, taking everyone and everything in. You know you will eventually end up in one of his poems. I am including one of his poems from his latest collection, The Immaculate Conception Mother’s Club.

Weekend Workshop

I read my poem.
The famous poet
lifted her nose like I had farted and
asked if I was putting on that accent.
I didn’t know what she meant.
We were in Massachusetts.
She lived in Cambridge.
How could my dropped “R’s” surprise her?

Then I figured it.
It wasn’t region but class.
She’d heard it before–
from her plumber,
her mail carrier,
cops and firefighters,
taxi drivers.
The gas man.
The waitress.
Just not here
in her poetry workshop.

I hope you hear my neighborhood.
My hometown.
My mother and father.
Grandmothers and grandfathers.
School and church.
The rink and the playing fields.
The Irish and Acadian.
Fishermen and farmers.
Gaelic and French buried deep.

All she heard was the gas attendant asking.
Regulah or high test?
That’s all right with me too.
I don’t mind pumping it.

David R. Surette and Cynthia Neale

David R. Surette and Cynthia Neale

I met Eoghain Hamilton in 2004 at conference in Boston. He wasn’t selling books then, but dreaming of writing and publishing them. Eoghain is originally from County Cork, Ireland and now lives in Boston with his wife and son. He is a warm, intelligent, and very intense person. Ha! All of these authors were intense. Eoghain is intense in a deeply mystical, even haunting, way. He is genuine and what I like so much about him is his knowledge and love of the lore and myths of Ireland. And he also treasures the landscape and believes as I do that they resound with stories of the ancient past. I knew this about him in 2004 and here he was at the Boston Irish Festival with his first book, a collection of stories titled, A Celtic Darkness, Supernatural Tales of Ireland. These are night-prowling stories that speak of the spiritual world we cannot explain, but we don’t really want to have tidy little reasons for the ghosts and fairies that exist, anyway. The stories are dark with light shining through, haunting, and compelling. His prose flows naturally, and at midnight with book in hand, I listened to a barred owl call out eerily to me as I read.

I immediately warmed to Deborah J. Swiss, author of The Tin Ticket, The Heroic Journey of Australia’s Convict Women. She possesses a vibrant and spirited personality, and I soon learned how fearless and passionate she is in regards to her writing and life. In 2004, she traveled to Tasmania for a wilderness trek and while there, coincidentally and serendipitously, met a woman who told her the story that few people know. As a writer, she was intrigued, but as a woman, she felt the stirrings of something more powerful. There is healing and overcoming power in the telling of the stories of people who lived through tragedy of long ago. This, Deborah and I had in common. And this (and so much more) is why Deborah didn’t walk away that day when she met Christina Henri, a Tasmanian commemorative artist whose work honors the twenty-five thousand women exiled from the British Isles to Australia. Historian Deborah J. Swiss tells the sorrowful, horrifying, and ultimately triumphant story of women exiled from the British Isles and forced into slavery and hardship. After five years of research, she returned to Australia in 2009 and completed her work, making life-long friends with some of the descendants of these women. Deborah writes in the Introduction,

“Their epic tale reveals universal themes involving the depths and heights of humanity, long-suppressed intergenerational secrets, and the potential for nobility that lies within us all.”

I’m into the book and feeling I’m right there with Agnes, Janet, Ludlow, and Bridget. This book is highly recommended.

Cynthia with Deborah J. Swiss

Cynthia with Deborah J. Swiss

About cynthianeale

I am the author of The Irish Dresser Series that includes The Irish Milliner and Norah, The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th Century New York (Fireship Press), two young adult historical fiction novels, The Irish Dresser and Hope in New York City (White Mane), and Pavlova in a Hat Box, Sweet Memories & Desserts. I’ve written a screenplay, The Irish Dresser series, adapted from these works and I’m ready to sell! My historical fiction novel, Catharine, Queen of the Tumbling Waters, a story about a real life Native American/French woman set during the French and Indian War and American Revolution in Pennsylvania and New York is being released in April 2023 by Bedazzled Publishers. I write plays, screenplays, essays, and short stories. I am a native of the Finger Lakes region in New York and reside in New Hampshire. I enjoy reading, writing, Irish set dancing, waltzing, walking, learning about nature, traveling, painting, baking fanciful desserts, kayaking, creating events for food, dance, and fund raising, invisible volunteering, laughing until it hurts, and dreaming about possibilities.
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1 Response to Bashing or Bonding at Author Events?

  1. SueEuryKelly says:

    Hi Cynthia, I really enjoy reading your blog. I have been updating mine more lately. sometimes I get discouraged but then what author doesn’t. I try to pull myself up and keep going.
    Next Sat. our kids are giving us a party for our 50th anniversary. I’m busy getting ready which is kinda crazy because they are doing it all and won’t let John or i even know too many details. I think they are trying to keep the stress off of us but I have some anyway. It seems to be the way I am wired. Keep writing, you were a very good inspiration to me in Lima.

    Sue Kelly

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