Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry and me

Spent the day in Fernandina Beach. Books Plus, in the downtown district, was the second stop on my tour. The shop is one of my favorite book stores of all time. Wooden floors, big showroom, comfy chairs. Regional authors get their books displayed up front. Don Shaw has been a big supporter of my work, so I was very glad to be able to visit his store. The store is nestled on a block with quaint shops and eateries. The district was wise enough to hang onto its old buildings and trees, and the result is a village-like atmosphere.

I met a variety of people—one woman who travels a lot told me about the challenges of maintaining the three homes she and her husband own, a problem I will never have, I am certain. She brought a reference book to the register and asked if there was another copy in the store. Mrs. Shaw, the co-owner, said there wasn’t. The customer pointed to a tiny bent corner on the back cover. “See, that will drive me crazy,” she said. Mrs. Shaw offered her a 10% discount. No way. Amazing to me the patience a businessperson has to have.

I didn’t have a banner day, but I had a great time. J. K. Rowling had a double banner day.Today was, for those who may have been on a deserted island this week, Harry Potter Day and it belonged to the tweens. One girl walked in, grabbed her book and began to thumb through it while her mother paid. As she left, book held in her arms like a baby, the smile on her face would’ve been fodder for a visual artist.

Florida-related titles do well there; books about locales and of course, mysteries. I made a mental note: must write a mystery one of these days.

After the signing, my husband picked me up—he and the girls had gone exploring while I signed. We went to Slider’s grill and sat outside on the terrace. The ocean breeze was perfect. The water is a deep blue color; the sea oats glistened and the shine seemed to say, “All is well.” We drank a couple of Coronas with lime and, for the first time, tried Florida’s famous fried pickle slices (served with Ranch dressing). I didn’t think I’d like them, but they were surprisingly good and light. I told the girls Southern cooks will fry just about anything.

Then we headed back to Jacksonville. This was an easy tour stop because we only live about 40 minutes from Fernandina Beach. The nicest part was being able to come back and sleep in my own bed rather than at a hotel.

Next week, once I’m done with a piece for the newspaper and some other assorted projects, we head for Miami where I’ll sign in Coral Gables, tour stop #3. Everybody raves about Books and Books. So we’ll see what excitements lay ahead.

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