Things have settled, just a bit, after the launch of my latest title: Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. The bookseller has packed up the unsold stock, I have pulled up the handmade signs and rested (just a bit). Life is returning to normal….slowly.
Those who follow me on Facebook have seen photos, or have caught a glimpse of the special day here. However, like many big events a lot of things go wrong before anything goes right. So today I thought I would tell you some things that didn’t work out like I planned so you know, the rest of the story.
The weather: Having an outside event is always a gamble. I blocked off an entire week to tidy up the farm (three acres), and wouldn’t ya know, we had a wet August.
The weeds: Because of the continuous rain, weeds jutted up higher than my head. Even when Crop Mob Atlanta invested a good portion of the day, there simply was too much to do and too few workers. As the days slipped by there wasn’t enough of me to go around. Remember, Farmer Billy is 82 years old, and I feel at least 102. We all did what we could, but had there been more time, I wanted to do more. A HUGE shout out to Tina who came to the farm and push-mowed Billy’s lawn in the blazing heat.
The food: I wanted a simple cake with the book title written across it; then I wanted several stalks of corn decorated by hand. A request that shouldn’t be too difficult. Seriously, slap the frosting in a bag, and draw a green line then tiny yellow dots to resemble corn. But no, technology is here and the lady who took the initial order said, “bring me a picture of corn and we’ll just copy it and stick it on the cake.” That just wouldn’t do. I wanted simple. White cake, green frosting, yellow ears of corn. Seriously, the cake just about made me loose my mind. Eventually, I found someone-at Target bakery no less- who said, “oh, no problem. I can do that.” Sigh….
The vendors: This event was more than a book launch, it was a community event. I asked other people to come sell their wares knowing that it would show people what a community looks like. All of the vendors were perfect, but I couldn’t help but worry if they sold anything. Was the trip worth the effort? (Must have been because someone asked me to do an event every year).
The neighbor: Because parking is extremely limited, Neighbor Joe graciously offered his front lawn. Two days before the event his mother became ill and he flew across the country to be with her. Parking cars on someone else’s property without the property owner present made me very, very nervous.
The worry: That no one would come. I must be honest, numbers were down from my first launch. I don’t know if that is because of the heat (it dried up and became hot and humid on launch day), or because there is truth to the rumor that people just aren’t reading anymore.
Is that true? Have you stopped reading? Hope not.
The sales: Being an author means you invest a year of your life writing and another year waiting for publication. During this time you receive zero compensation. Then you must pray, beg, hope, and pray some more that what you have written is worthy, and that readers might be kind enough to linger at the cover, leaf through the book, purchase the book, and then (most importantly) tell others.
That is what I am asking today, that you tell a friend. If you purchased a copy of Farming, please tell a friend. Most local booksellers have signed copies in stock. Most of them will ship these copies to you. Here is a list. But I must think national, not regional.
Regional thinking won’t help me make a living as an author.
The book has launched. I have passed it to readers and today I challenge them to spread the word. Tell others. Talk about the book. Write blogs, newspaper articles, send emails to book club groups. Help me get Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches out of the South, because this book isn’t about “baloney.”
I can not do this alone.
So for those who haven’t read an excerpt, here is a little taste . . .
The Tradition of Bologna Sandwiches
There is no shame in enjoying a fried bologna sandwich. Some foods trigger memories. Whether we’re smelling a peach or trying sushi for the first time, food binds our taste with our experiences. Food memories, good or bad, linger in our adult lives. I bet you can still remember the first time you tasted a gooey campfire s’more dripping with melted chocolate and marshmallow fluff: the feel of a rough graham cracker as it touched your fingers; the anticipation as you pressed the crackers together, blending chocolate with puffy white goo. Your tongue traced the edge of the cracker. You wanted to savor each bite, but then your best friend said, “Bet you can’t cram the whole thing in your mouth.”
So you did.
Billy Albertson loves bologna sandwiches. It does not matter how Oscar Mayer spells B-O-L-O-G-N-A, for Billy it’s “baloney.” In his day,
fried “baloney” sandwiches were a delicacy. They still are today. Stereotypes label Southerners with an advanced level of outdoor
expertise. Southerners can kill a buck, spit tobacco juice through gapped teeth, wrestle alligators, and survive in the woods while wearing only a coonskin cap and carrying a pocketknife. Truth is, few Mason-Dixon Line residents enter the wilds of nature intent on snaring an animal with which to feed their family these days. But we sure do enjoy a good fried bologna sandwich.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches; Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.