Thursday, October 18, 2007
Journal of My First Book Tour
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
After I picked my mom’s dog, Buster, up from the vet because he got mauled but a large animal (either my brother’s dog, Hercules, or a cow), my sister in law Jessica drove me to pick up my rental car. Then I drove to Birmingham. I’m alone in a hotel room right now. Tomorrow I am going to drive to Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books. I guess you can say it’s my first official day of my first official book tour. Some days I wake up wondering if someone has figured it out. I wonder if they’ve realized that I’m a fake. That I’m not really a writer but a Cajun farm boy who managed to throw a few sentences together and fool enough people to get a book published. I just can’t believe it’s happening.
Thursday, October 11th
Drove to Nashville today. Seems like a nice city. I went for a 3 mile run. I walked most of the way. This summer I was running 4 miles a day without breaking a sweat. But I stopped for about 6 weeks because I hurt my knee and got lazy. My body is in so much pain right now. I’m getting old. Ordered room service and watched The Office and ironed my clothes for the next couple of days.
Friday, October 12th
Went for a longer run. Well, a longer walk. My body is really in pain now. My key didn’t work when I got back to my room. I didn’t have an ID so the front desk was reluctant to let me into my room. Thankfully I had a t-shirt on that said, “I support Mike Couvillon for Sheriff.” So they accepted that as proof that I was Jacques Couvillon. I think it freaked them out that my brother was a Sheriff.
Got a goody bag with a moon pie and a little bottle of Jack Daniels. A Mormon writer gave me her bottle because she doesn’t drink liquor. I was on a panel with Jack Gantos, who nominated for a National Book Award and Jeff Kinney, who was a New York Times Best Seller. It was so intimidating while I was waiting to speak. I thought about excusing myself and then going to the bathroom to drink the little bottles of Jack Daniels. There were about 25 people in the room including two nuns. Jack spoke first. He admitted that he used to be a drug mule and went to jail for it. Kind of made me uncomfortable because of the nuns. But I think everyone knew about it because he wrote a book called, “Hole in My Life” about the experience. Bravo to him for having the guts to admit it and write about it. He’s a really interesting guy. Jeff Kinney spoke next. I think he’s the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life. I read his book Diary of a Wimpy Kid a couple of days ago. It was awesome. I couldn’t believe I was on a panel with those two guys. Afterwards, we had a book signing. (Thanks to Karen Purdy for pictures) Jack had a long line. Jeff and I only had a few. It was cool to have Jeff there because I would have felt like an idiot.
That night I went to dinner with my publicist and some other writers. This one woman lost 170 pounds in one year. That’s how much I weigh. I couldn’t believe it. She did it with diet and exercise. She’s kind of a cool lady because she writes children’s books, romantic novels and works part time as a neurological scientist. Kind of makes me feel like I need to get on the ball. I think people think I’m crazy when I tell them that I’m trying to be a full time writer. I just need to keep reminding myself that it’s what I really want to do.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Couldn’t sleep last night. Look bad today. Almost didn’t check out in time. My clothes were wrinkled. I forgot my facial cleanser so I’ve been using soap. It made me break out. I look like a pimply teenager with a receding hairline and crow’s feet. Went to the wrong place for my panel. By the time I got there, Jeff Kinney had won them over. He had them laughing. When I spoke it felt like the quietest place on earth. But then I read a little and people seemed more interested. During the question session, everyone asked Jeff questions. He is so cool. When he finished answering, he asked what my experience was. When it was time for the book signing, a line of kids went up to Jeff. I went to the section where we were supposed to sign books. I only signed two. One was for a couple who was waiting for Jeff to show up. I convinced them to buy The Chicken Dance. They were from Louisiana and were in Nashville because the woman had a special antibody in her blood and was there to donate it because it cured other people. The other book was for a guy named Ed Sullivan who wrote a book for children about the Atomic bomb.
That evening I drove to Memphis with a writer, her three-year old son, her nine month old daughter and her mom. We stopped at a restaurant called The Log Cabin on the way. I picked the boy up and carried him on my shoulders. When we walked in the mother (writer’s mother) looked at us and said we made a handsome family. I wondered what it would be like if I had a family. I thought it could be nice and kind of felt a little sad that I was missing out on the experience. But then the son, Cal, poured milk all over the floor and cried because he didn’t have any more milk. Then the little girl started screaming. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. Especially a big, shaved head man who looked like that X wrestler who is now a governor of I think, Minnesota. That’s when I decided that maybe I wasn’t really the family type. Maybe I’m more of a loner. Is there anything wrong with that?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I went to TGI Fridays for breakfast. As soon as I sat down I noticed a woman and a little boy about the same age as Cal. He was wearing the same shoes (crocs) as Cal but a different color. He bit into an orange slice and made a strange face and his mother laughed. It was really sweet but really weird because last night, Cal did the same thing but with a lemon wedge. He made a face and his mom laughed. When the little boy from TGI Fridays left, he turned and said, “Bye oranges.” It was really cute. Made me wonder if I could handle raising a child again.
Drove to a bookstore to sign books. It wasn’t an official signing. I just signed books for them to sell. I kept getting lost and irritated but finally found my way. I stopped in a neighborhood that some might not consider too safe. But the guy I asked for directions was super nice and got me there.
Drove into Blytheville, Arkansas. Spent the afternoon in my hotel room. Ironed my clothes and then ran to Taco Bell for dinner. Didn’t feel like eating alone in a restaurant again. Decided to let the TV keep me company. Can’t make a habit of eating fast food. I have to get up at 6 tomorrow and face 150 kids. Should be interesting. I am loving this life.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Went to a high school at 8 in the morning. It’s so weird to speak to high school students. I feel like I’m in high school again and it’s kind of scary to stand up in front of them. It was 150 students. Some of the fell asleep while I was talking. I kept wondering if they thought I was the biggest geek alive. I didn’t sell many books. I think they kind of liked it when I read to them. Some of them laughed. But I’m not sure if they were laughing at me or at the jokes. Nobody wanted to ask questions when I was finished speaking. The second group of high school students seemed more interested. No one fell asleep. I guess it’s going to depend on each group. One guy came and asked me to speak Cajun. It’s funny to think that people think it’s an entirely different language. They seem to like it though. That afternoon, I went to another high school. The drama teacher made some students dress up in chicken costumes and do the chicken dance for me. It was kind of funny. Then I went to an elementary school. They asked more questions. I think I like talking to middle school students more. They seem to be more interested. I guess I can understand. It’s hard being in high school. You’re constantly worried what people think about you. I’m not even in high school anymore and I was worried what they thought about me. Marvel from That Book Store in Blytheville drove me around to all of the schools. She was so nice. Mary Gay owns the store and she’s super nice as well. She told me that when John Grisham published his first book, he went to their store and asked them to sell his book and if he could have an event. They took a chance on him when no one else would. Now, he goes there every time he writes a book and signs all of their stock. Mary Gay said they usually sell around 2,000 copies to people all over the world because they know that the books are signed. Every time an author visits they let him/her sign a chair. It’s a really cool store. I hope I get to go back.
After the last school, I drove for 6 and a half hours in the rain to get to Monroe, Louisiana. After I ironed my clothes and ate some Wendy’s, I fell asleep. Well, I tossed and turned until morning.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I had to get up at 5:30 this morning. Betty Joe (the coolest woman in the world) from Windows, a Book Shop, picked me up at 6:30 to go to a radio interview with a guy who was kind of a shock jock. He was pretty cool but spoke so loud and I was still half asleep. I could barely speak. The next interview was with a woman and was a little more subdue. She talked about her daughter’s mid-evil themed wedding and how she was going to wear a sexy witch costume and then cackle at her son in law at the reception. Then she looked at me and told me to put on the earphones and said, “We’re on the air.” I think this interview went a little better. It’s kind of hard to speak about the book. I guess I’m just not used to people asking me so many questions. I feel like Don after he won the chicken-judging contest. I went to two middle schools to speak. The kids were very energetic and asked a lot of questions. Some of them are really cool and I feel great that they seem so interested. But then I noticed some of the cool kids and I felt like they were judging me. One of them raised his hand today to ask a question and I was a little surprised. Then he asked me to do the Chicken Dance and I knew he was kind of being smart. So I just smiled and told him that it wasn’t in my contract. Isn’t it crazy that I got intimidated by a 6th grader?
After the second school, I had a book signing at Windows. The women who own it are Pat and Elizabeth. They are really amazing. They do so much for the community. They host a radio program and write book reviews for the Sunday paper. These independent bookstores really reach out to the community and try to get kids to read. I wish there was a bookstore in Abbeville that did the same.
I was so tired after everything that I fell asleep for a few hours when I got back to my hotel room. So that means that I’ll probably be up late tonight. I’m ready to go home. I love what I’m doing but it’s hard living out of a suitcase and being moved from place to place to speak to groups. But I’m still positive that there is nothing that I’d rather do than write and encourage others to do the same.