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My Big Fat Book Tour 

When friends heard that my book was being published, they almost always asked the same question. "Will you be going on a book tour?" My answer of "yes" was invariably followed by trills of excitement and envy over the red carpet adventure in which I would soon partake. I acted like it would be no big deal - riding in limos, flying first class, staying in suites, running from the paparazzi - who cares? Not I. Secretly, however, I went to the dentist and got my teeth professionally bleached.

New York was the first stop. Since I live here and I'm a very grounded person, I took the subway to both of my readings. Better to save the limos for out of town. The Manhattan readings were absolute joys. The rooms were packed. Friends I hadn't seen in years showed up. Former American Express colleagues who had been fired before and after me came. My old secretary and direct reports. Friends, relatives and one or two strangers even. Mr. Sharma, the taxi driver I wrote about in the book was there. My children. My husband. My agent. my editor. My babysitter. Anyone who mattered to me was present and accounted for. In the excitement of signing book upon book after the readings, I found myself blanking on some of my closest confidant's names. Luckily, someone from the bookstore would ask people to write their name on a post-it-note before they reached me. A few refused. Them: "I'm her best friend; this isn't necessary." When the unidentified person would hand me her book, I tried to be sly. Me: "Who should I sign the book to?" Them: "Me." Me: "And remind me how you spell your name?" Them: "P-A-T." This happened more times than I care to admit.

Flying to Boston for my first stop, I found out that I would be travelling coach, staying in a regular hotel room, and driven around by someone in a Ford Taurus. Even worse, there was no paparrazi anywhere to capture my now-dazzling smile. It snowed the night of my reading. When we arrived at the bookstore, four people were there. The store manager assured me that this was the smallest turnout they'd ever had, EVER. BAR NONE. I told him I preferred to speak in intimate settings. As I presented, one more person arrived and joined us. She was a bag lady, at least I think. She carried lots of bags. And soon, she nodded off, sawing logs with great gusto. I continued my talk through her snores. We sold one book that night. But I bonded with the store manager. He gave me a free book as a parting gift.

When got to Chicago, I had a great interview with Debra Pickett from the Sun Times. We lunched at Marshall Fields, an elegant department store, the kind that doesn't exist anymore. Crystal chandaliers, stained glass ceilings, it was a throwback to an gentler era. I had their signature chicken pot pie. Debra was fun to talk to and we dished for about three hours. After, my escort took me around town to sign books. Lots and lots of books. Had it not been pouring, and had my escort offered me an umbrella, I would have had more fun and stayed more dry. That night, two people came to my reading in Winetka. My mothers best friend and a woman who wanted me to write a blurb for her soon-to-be-published manuscript. So, the reading itself was a semi-bust. But I did get to see the house where they filmed "Home Alone."

I fared better at my San Francisco reading. We had a nice sized audience and my sister-in-law's ex-husband came. He laughed really loud at all my jokes, which cued the rest of the audience to do the same. Judging by the enthusiastic laughter, everyone had a good time. Many books were sold and the store manager gave me beautiful engraved note cards as a gift. In L.A., it took almost three hours to get to the store ( which was in Pasadena) because of the downpours. You know, the ones in February that made swimming pools slide down hills. I didn't think anyone would show due to weather, and yet they did. Including cousins of mine that I hadn't seen in twenty years. An old friend drove all night and all day from Canada to surprise me. Unfortunately she arrived just as we were leaving, so she missed the whole thing. Friends and friends of friends were there. One of my friends came and I suspect she had had extensive plastic surgery. But I didn't say anything. It was an excellent readings. I also did The Connie Martinson show, which is a half-hour cable show about books. I'd never seen it before, but of course now I'll try to catch it if I can figure out when it's on.

After jetting back (coach) from the coast, I had to make reservations for brunch with a reporter who was coming to interview me for the London Daily Telegraph. I called Odeon, a hip restaurant that has been around forever and is just around the corner from my house.

Them: "And who's name should I put on the reservation."
Me: "Karen Quinn"
Them: "Karen Quinn? You're not the Karen Quinn who..."
Me (thrilled to be recognized): "Why yes, yes that's me!"
Them: "So YOU'RE the Karen Quinn who has been making reservations and then not showing up!"
Me: "Oh, no, that's not me."
Them: "Then which Karen Quinn are you? Should I know you?"
Me: "No, never mind."

Dallas and Denver were next. In Dallas, I signed lots of books and did interviews. I was on a national UPN show called "The Daily Buzz." I was also interviewed for a public library show in Irving, Texas. I doubt if I'll see that one because it's only shown on streaming video and I don't know how to work that on my computer. Good thing I didn't know it was bound for streaming video when I did the shoot. I might not have been quite so fascinating. Denver was the best tour city of all. First, I got tons of pre-visit publicity in the society columns. Why? Because I have socially prominent friends, of course. They weren't socialites when I moved away from Denver twenty years ago, but they are now. On the day after I arrived, I was featured on a popular local morning talk show. But dammit, President Bush pre-empted my segment by holding a press conference to talk about Putin. PUTIN? Answer me this. Who is home at 10:00 a.m. that cares a lick about Putin? Could they not have held off filming my segment until later in the show? The piece on Champion insulated windows (I KNOW! WHO CARES?) is the only thing that got on that day. Oh wait, I forgot, there was also a piece on foam mattresses that mold to you body. Trust me, my interview was way more fun.

That night, my friends Kathleen, Matt, Danna and Holly held a party for me at the lovely restaurant above the Tattered Cover, where I was to read. There were about 175 people at the party and the same number at the reading (not all the same people!). We sold lots and lots of books. After, I did many other events and book clubs. I tried to come home on Monday, only my flight was cancelled due to snow. That's okay. I never mind spending five hours at an airport. On Tuesday, I made it home by dinnertime.

I went to sleep on Tuesday night, setting my alarm for 1:30 a.m. Waking up, I showered, had breakfast, and then took a car to a studio near Times Square. At 3:30 a.m., I appeared live on a London morning show (much like the Today show). Their Katie Couric was a Scottish lassie who spoke very quickly and was hard to understand. She was friendly and perky, though, just like Katie. I can barely remember what we talked about because I was so exhausted. But I'm glad I did it. I learned how to do an interview where you talk into the camera and get the questions through an ear piece.

So now you know what it's like to be on a book tour. Extremely tiring and exciting at the same time. Despite the lack of limos and hotel suites, it was an experience I'll never forget. I'm now home, trying to recover. And now it's time to get back to writing my second book.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

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