Thursday, March 20, 2008

Last night's local book club visit...

I was invited to visit a local book club last night. They had just finished reading THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER and wanted to discuss it with me. I have to admit that this always makes me a little nervous. What if they didn’t like the book, and thought it would be more fun to tear apart if I was actually there in person?

But having agreed to go, I change from my usual sweat pants – so comfortable to work in – wash my hair and get into the car. I’ve printed out the directions to where the meeting is being held, have my cell phone next to me on the passenger seat, and I’m raring to go. Except that I’ve printed out the wrong address. A quick stop at the house listed on the print-out, a husband who has no idea where his wife is – despite my insistence that she and her friends are at that very moment sitting in his living room waiting for me to arrive – and I’m back in my car and picking up my phone.

Several calls later, I’ve failed to connect with anyone on the phone list. Worse, I still don’t know where I was supposed to have been fifteen minutes ago. (I have by now traveled the same five mile stretch of highway twice, once going east, and once going west). I finally reach someone who is also running late for the book club meeting, and she cheerfully agrees to meet me at a highway turn-off I didn’t know existed. By now it’s dark and has started to rain, I’m on a winding two-lane street I’ve never been on before, trying to find a white SUV that’s supposed to be waiting for me somewhere on the side of the road. After passing my rescuer twice, she honks and we finally connect. Shaking her head, she indicates that I should follow her.

My white SUV Saint Bernard leads me down ever more windy roads – which have by now turned to dirt (or should I say mud) – further into the country which, if I could see actually see it through the driving rain would, I’m sure, be beautiful. After ten minutes in this maze, we make our way through a white picket fence and up a gentle slope to a lovely farm house. Our hostess and her husband, it turns out, raise Angus cows which are contentedly grazing in the pasture outside their office window. I see them by flood light and am very jealous of the view; my office window overlooks the street, sans cows, sheep, horses, or any other animals. Lots of cars, motorcycles and bikes, though.

I take off my jacket, gratefully accept a glass of wine and enjoy the great dinner that is placed before me – I’m in luck, it’s a dinner meeting and the food is great. So is the wine, which does its job by calming my frayed nerves before I’m called upon to speak.

To my delight, all twelve book club members loved THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER, and do not seem in the least inclined to tear me apart or force me into the pasture to face the bull. We enjoy a delightful hour chatting, sipping wine and discussing the book, my childhood, how Sarah Woolson came to be, and age and sex prejudice in Hollywood. (Don’t ask, that’s a whole other story!)

The rich dark chocolate cake they serve me before it’s time to leave, is – you should excuse the pun – the frosting on the cake. A grand time was had by all, especially me since I don’t often find a dozen lovely, well-read women in one place who actually want me to talk about myself. This does great things for the ego!

My white SUV Saint Bernard offers to lead me out of the idyllic countryside and back to the highway, which by now I know by heart. I bid a fond farewell to the Angus cows, and dutifully follow her back to civilization.

Despite much wishful thinking, the view from my office window has not changed.


Blogger photoquest said...

Well, I know afeter all that you had to go threw to get there it was a releif there was no one there to pick you apart I know it has to wonderful when people read your work and love it!
that sounds very much like what has happened to me several times but i just left the address all together and wouldn't realize untill i was in unfamilier area then is when i would worry where my directions are.

March 23, 2008 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Karen H in NC said...

Good Grief Charlie Brown! Weren't you afraid? I was getting scared just reading this blog. The route taken to get to that farm house sounds like a good opener for an ax murder mystery.

Glad to hear you have a 4th Sarah Woolson book in progress. Looking forward to adding it to my shelf.

March 23, 2008 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Cindy D. said...

Hi Shirley,
I just finished reading the first two Sarah Woolson mysteries and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I am looking forward to the next book. If you ever have a book signing in Wisconsin, I will be there!
Cindy D.

March 23, 2008 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger Shirley Tallman said...

Hi Cindy,

I'm so glad you enjoyed the first two books ins the Sarah Woolson series. Don't forget to pick up THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER (book #3 in the series) before the new one comes out.

I would love to go to Wisconsin for a book signing! If I'm ever in the area, I'll let you know.

Thanks for writing, Shirley

March 24, 2008 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Shirley Tallman said...

Hi Karen,

You know I was so worried about getting to the book club meeting that it never occurred to me to be scared. Sounds kind of naive, I know, but it just didn't cross my mind.

Glad to hear you're enjoying the Sarah Woolson series! I'll try hard to keep them coming.

Best wishes, Shirley

March 24, 2008 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Shirley Tallman said...

Hi Photoquest,

Thanks for writing. I wish I could say this is one of the few times I've found myself lost (and not just in Eugene, unfortunately), but it seems to happen to me a lot more often than I'd like. And it isn't as if I don't try to prepare. I think some people (myself included), just aren't that great at finding places. Glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Best, Shirley

March 24, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Shirley Tallman said...

Hi Everyone!

Glory be! One of my kids gave me a GPS so that I never have to wander around again looking for a meeting place. Of course that means I have to learn how to use the darn thing. "But, Mom, it's so 'easy'," doesn't always work so well with me. Keep your fingers crossed!


June 23, 2008 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Cindy D. said...

Hi Shirley,
How is your book coming along. I can't wait to read it! Good luck with the gps!
Cindy D.

June 24, 2008 at 5:05 PM  

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