Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Perfect Book Signing

A warm evening, soft music, delicious food, a little wine, great friends and Evenings at the Argentine Club available for purchase all made for an enchanting launch last night.

Of course, not everything goes as planned one-hundred percent of the time. And in fact, I made myself a promise recently that I was not going to allow myself get upset and stressed out over things I had no control over. And as tends to happen when you make a deal with yourself, that promise was put to the test yesterday.

Having spent the day making sure I had everything perfect - not only my clothes and getting my hair done (since my favorite way to wear it is in a pony tail) but also having extra books in my car, pens, my large poster board of the book, and a full gas tank - I thought I was totally prepared.

And I was! I was even due to get to the restaurant an hour early. But 20 minutes down the freeway, I feel a pop and then my car begins to shake and I know I'm in trouble. Proud of myself for not spouting a string of curses, I turned to my mother who was riding with me, and told her I had a flat tire and preceded to pull out of the carpool lane and to the center of the freeway with cars flying 200 miles an hour past me.

I called AAA who promised to send a tow truck out soon, then my husband who happily supplied the curses I so wanted to say myself. Coming to my rescue in the dirty van whose air-conditioning died this week, we transferred my extra books to the van, and my big husband took my tiny car with the tiny temporary wheel back home. And I, with wind blown hair, feeling extremely hot and flustered (in a bad way) continued to the signing.

But I'm happy to say that when I got to Tango Baires Cafe, I found the Borders book seller looking very happy and relaxed beside a table full of my books, enjoying a cool drink and some snacks. I then walked inside and found friends and readers enjoying dinner, and the restaurant owners busily working to keep everyone happy.

The rest of the night was a beautifully relaxing time. People enjoyed their meals and time with their friends and family, and strolled out to the patio when they were ready to purchase a book. Unlike typical book signings where people get a few seconds to talk to the author then have to move a side, or feel awkward standing beside a signing table and leave, here we got a chance to sit together and chat.

A college student photographed the event and interviewed me at the end of the night, and I met some great new readers from Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico. Even the mom of 90210 star, Michael Steger stopped by to buy a book.

Thank you to all who promoted the event and attended, helping make this an unforgettable night! There was talk last night about expanding the evening and creating an Argentine restaurant tour - LOL - so you never know. We may be following this up in another city on another night!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tango Baires Cafe

Last mother's day I decided to take my mom to an Argentine restaurant. A friend of mine had told me about a place in Upland that she really liked so this seemed like the perfect time to try it out. Where I live there are no Argentine restaurants. This place is about 40 minutes from my house which compared to driving into Los Angeles (a two hour plus drive) was pretty close.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and in fact, we almost drove right past it. It's located on a strip mall next to Baskin Robbins. We were served by two guys who were super charming and one of them, Diego called my mom, "Mamita" which she got a kick out of.

But, I knew immediately that if they agreed, I wanted to have my kick off book signing in this place. Dining in Tango Baires sent me back to my teen years in Argentina eating at my aunt and uncle's house, and to my childhood when my dad used to take us to an Argentine Deli owned by friends in West Covina. In both places I felt a warmth and friendliness that mades you want to relax and hang out all day.

At Tango Baires I was surrrounded by Argentine products like Yerba Mate and cookies and candies that my grandmother used to buy me; by bottles of wine and scrumptious desserts; by a TV with Argentine soccer playing in the background; and customers that spoke Spanish as they walked in and out with their take out. The atmosphere was perfectly homey and exactly the same feeling I tried to portray in Evenings at the Argentine Club.

So I took down Diego's number (one of the owners) and pasted it on my board in my office, and promptly forgot about it for a couple of months. But a couple of months later, my family and I returned to the restaurant and this time I mentioned my idea to the owner. I was pleased to hear from Roger and Clara - the other two owners - that they loved the idea of hosting my book signing!

So next Friday, on September 25th, I won't be posting (I'll post Saturday instead). I'll be signing books and sharing some empanadas and good conversation with all of you at Tango Baires Cafe. Join me and get to know the friendly owners.

By the way, the food is fabulous. I won't bother to critique it because I'm not a food critic, however, read what other customers say about their visits and you'll see that I'm not alone in feeling deliciously satisfied after my visits to Tango Baires.

Here is their address: 870 E. Foothill, Upland, Ca. 91786 (cross streets: Campus & Foothill)

If you get lost call: 909-985-6800 and they'll direct you in.



Friday, September 11, 2009

How much do we change?

Can't post on September 11th, without remembering with sadness the heroes and victims of 9/11. My heart goes out to their families and wish for them - all of God's blessings. Proud, as always, to be an American.

On a personal note, I've been thinking this week about how much we change or don't change as we grow older. Thanks to Facebook, I reconnected with a childhood friend recently. I found it interesting the things she remembered about me (and what I remembered about her). I asked myself, wow, am I still that person that hung out during long summers with her and talked about everything and nothing. The same person who cried about life's injustices, the same kid that played imaginative games and watched Luke and Laura soap operas?

On the one hand, yes, absolutely. We're formed by our childhood and teenage experiences and the friends we have. And that shapes the rest of our lives in a way. I'm not sure we ever really "change".

But, we do grow, I think. We come to understand things we didn't as kids. As adults we've had so many more "real life" problems and joys. We've finally gotten control over our lives and have been able to take our lives in the direction we wanted rather than where our parents decided. So I think we end up with layers to our personality.

And this got me thinking, of course, about writing. How the best characters, the most well formed characters are those that have layers (like Shrek - sorry couldn't resist). Characters, like people are not one dimensional. They should be formed by, not one event, but by everything they experienced before chapter one. I hate to spend time with the non-writing part of writing. But thinking about who the character really is, is probably the most valuable exercise I do. I don't bother with those "what's the character's favorite color" worksheets. But I do think and create their history. What they've done, and with whom. Have they been hurt? Have they traveled, gone to school, had children. What was their relationship with their friends, siblings, parents like? Those questions and more like them matter to the development of the character within the story. Thinking about my own transformation from childhood to today, has re-inspired me to make sure that I'm carefully giving my characters a full and complete backstory.

So, am I still the same person I was in the late 1970's and early 80's? I want to say, "God, I hope not." But deep down I know the writer I am today was born back then when I was full of daydreams - so I guess I haven't changed all that much after all.

What about you? Have you changed much from when you were a kid?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Guest blogging at the PlotMonkeys

I'm very happy to be in the jungle visiting with the lovely PlotMonkeys today.

Read about how research can get in the way of storytelling sometimes if you're not careful to include only what is necessary for a believable plot.

The PlotMonkeys will be giving away a free copy of Evenings at the Argentine Club so be sure to leave a comment!!