Everything is big in Texas and they are the friendliest people on earth. That is unless your son is on the opposing football team. The fact that they are all Texans makes them all kin, but a little family rivalry at a Friday night foot ball maintains a pecking order.
I arrived to a balmy 82 degrees and a huge welcome from Nancy Killeen, my Peace Corps buddy from Micronesia. She had arranged a book signing at River Oaks Books Store in Houston on Wednesday. We slid through the door at 4:30 pm, and were greeted by that same friendly Texan warmth I have found nearly everywhere for the past two days. Small wonder why the Katrina evacuees don’t return to New Orleans. (Frank and Shannon Carmello, Nancy's daughter and son-in-law, are moving to New Orleans and everyone asks them why? I view it as a land opportunity in the midst of policital constipation, swarms of mosquitoes and high crime, not unlike living in a Third-World country.)
Before I even had a chance to sit down, I sold a book to Bill, who managed not to escape my little pitch for my prose. Within two minutes he bought a copy of The Last Voyage of the Cosmic Muffin.
4:30 to 6 pm is not the best time to have a book signing, but I was honored to be able to sign at this famous little bookstore in a rather posh area inside the I610 loop around the city. Somewhere close by former President George Bush lurked. I was hoping he might pop in, but making special arrangements with the secret service would have overwhelmed me.
Anyway, the cozy bookstore offered comfortable seats, punch and cookies, and a relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately, streams of book buyers were not lined up out the door and around the corner. Nevertheless, Mike Jones and Jean of the River Oaks Bookstore played perfect host and hostess and with native Houstonian Grace and Nancy seated in the front of the store we chatted about the character of my captain, the lack of my seafaring skills, the crazy motives of boarding the boat in the first place and life upon the blue ocean. Before I knew it was 6 pm and Grace could not leave the store without an autographed copy.
Four months of selling my book and I can’t say what a typical book signing event is like. I hope there isn’t one. I do know for the small time author such as myself, these events are not about selling books. They are about talking, sharing stories, meeting fascinating people and having fun. It all happened at River Oaks Book Store 3270 Westheimer, Houston, TX 713-520-0061.
Photo: Nancy Killeen, Jean, Valerie Perez and Grace