by Susan McBride
Oh, boy, it's been a very interesting three weeks since The Cougar Club came out. I was tempted at first to write about a few less than pleasant incidents that completely blind-sided me (let's just say, the word "Cougar" inspires, er, different reactions in different people). But then I remembered my New Year's resolution to stay focused on the positive and shove the negative into the garbage like wilted spinach. So I'll babble instead about upbeat stuff, like friendship (which is what The Cougar Club is about after all) and good news.
I used to block off at least three months after a book's release to do promotion. I would try to hit every book festival, convention, and writer's conference within flying distance. In between the weekends I was gone, I'd schedule stock signings, school talks, library events, book club discussions, and anything else I could logically work into my schedule. But I was single then, and now I'm married (two years next Wednesday--yeeha!). I hate leaving home. I don't want to go anywhere that Ed can't go. So with Cougar, I tried very hard to stick around St. Louis. Luckily, the local TV stations think the word "Cougar" is hot and wanted me on to talk about my book and about the Cougar phenomenon in general (like I'm an expert, accidental Cougar that I am!). It's been great doing BlogTalkRadio from home and working a virtual book tour from the comfort of my own computer. I only had to drive across town a bit to tape a podcast for LipsticknLaundry, and I'll head out for stock signings next week, which gives me a chance to say "thank you" to area booksellers who've been so great supporting me, no matter what genre I'm writing.
It's helped a lot, too, dreaming up events where I'm not going solo. I can only take myself babbling about writing and the book biz for so long before I get tired of my own stories (is anyone ever tempted to make things up so they sound more exciting? Just curious!). Two of four scheduled Cougar gigs thankfully included buddies, like the panel at the McClay Road Library in St. Charles with Angie Fox, Bobbi Smith, and Sharon Shinn. The best part of getting a bunch of girls (who get along!) together is having a fun conversation that leads in all kinds of unexpected directions.
This past Wednesday, Sharon and I did a "Girls' Night Out" event at the St. Louis County Library, and it was a hoot. I've known Sharon for four or five years, and we've talked about our writing over many lunches and emails. But it was remarkably funny and spontaneous discussing books and the publishing biz in front of an audience and asking each other questions we'd never asked before. For instance, what type of books wouldn't we ever want to write? For me, it was science fiction or fantasy where I have to totally create my own worlds, or base a story on some myth or legend that so many other people know about (and probably know better than I). For Sharon it was the opposite: writing fiction completely set in real-life. She remarked that she doesn't want people telling her all the things she got wrong. Ah, good point!
It's aweseome, too, when things you hadn't expected to work out actually happen. Growing accustomed to disappointment in the book biz is part of the game, I'd guess, for many of us who have high aspirations for our literary babies and take all the "mights" and "coulds" to heart. So I have to pinch myself this time around, knowing that one arrow hit its mark (no pun intended!). Target selected The Cougar Club as a Bookmarked Breakout Title and they've got it stocked on (most) store shelves in a special promotion from Valentine's Day through April 11. I don't think my books have ever been in Target stores before (online, yes, in-store, no) so this is a big deal for me. Needless to say, I was giddy when I heard Cougar would be part of this program. So today, not only did my mom go checking our local Target's shelves (her report: they had two left, and she bought one!), but my mother-in-law went of her own accord sometime after and noted there was only one copy left. Both asked the associates when they'd get more in and were reassured it would be a matter of days. I heart my moms!
Another cool bit of news that came to pass: the Midwest Booksellers Association selected Cougar as a February Midwest Connections Pick. I'll be attending an author reception during their March meeting in St. Louis, and I can't wait. Indie bookstores were the first to support me with my mysteries, and I love supporting them back. Besides, there's nothing better than hanging out with a bunch of booksellers. They might have to pry me out of there with a crowbar before the night is over.
Other high notes for me these past three weeks are more personal. For the kindly chums who calmed me down after my frantic emails when I spotted anti-Cougar rants online, you rock. And thank you, too, for sharing your stories about less-than-stellar experiences of the rabid kind. Not only did they make me feel better, they also made me laugh. Laughing instead of crying is a very good thing, indeed.
For those of you who invited me to guest blog or to inaugurate a wonderful new site (shout out for Books on the House!), you made my day(s)! Aw, gosh, now I'm sounding like a gushing actress accepting her Academy Award. So I'll stop before you start barfing.
Still, all this positivity has me grinning like a fool, the icky stuff forgotten (or, at least, banished to the trash can with that wilted spinach). There are so many nice people out there that it's a shame when we let any bad stuff stick in our craw (where is the craw exactly?). So think about ways friends have helped you out lately--and little things definitely count--and don't let the ickies get you down, okay? Now go out there and have a great weekend!