On Saturday September 19th, I arrived at E. Shaver Bookseller to sign copies of my debut novel Waving Backwards. I unrolled my ‘Author Inside’ banner, unpacked my Penguin Sharpie, and headed to the antique-filled room behind The Tea Room.
During the three years I spent rewriting my novel, while sprouting gray hairs, and dreading the idea of allowing anyone to read my work, I visited E. Shaver often. I tiptoed through room-after-room of the 1842 Greek revival home (turned bookstore) immersed in a reader’s oasis of classics, bestsellers, and rare finds.
During these visits, posters announcing book signings, and shelves filled with local author’s works, tantalized and tempted me to think about someday joining their ranks. Daydreaming of my Savannah novel, and how it would feel to hold a bound version in my hand, or (mercy me) see it on an E. Shaver shelf, made each visit to the store a mystical trip into the realm of possibilities.
Anywhere one dreams is magical.
After my book was published by SYP Publishing in July, it was far easier for me to contact local chain stores about carrying it, than to approach E. Shaver. Sometimes we hold something so dear that we also hold it at a distance. So, when the lovely ladies at the store contacted me about carrying my novel, I waltzed around my living room. Later, when I approached them about a signing and they said ‘yes’, dizzy does not begin to describe my reaction.
On the day of the signing, the ancient building welcomed me with the same creaky floorboards, and bookish aroma of freshly bound dreams. I sat at the signing table, peering at the store’s heavy wooden entrance doors with a fresh perspective. A new aroma joined the sensory party as the scent of fruit, jasmine and joyful spices made its way to my nose. A relatively new addition to E. Shaver’s offerings is The Tea Room that now resides where large format books once rested.
From my signing spot, I was privy to the whispering of the Tea Room ladies as they described in aromatic detail the hot and cold beverages they had freshly brewed for patrons that afternoon. Adding to the ambiance were a delightful array of bookish shoppers, and the symphonic calm of classic forties tunes playing quietly throughout the store.
I met wonderful friends, an adoptee (who found that his mother became a nun after his relinquishment), and signed a book for a young man who wore a Cheshire grin when he asked me to inscribe his book to, “the amazingly handsome Doug.” I also met the resident kitties, who pranced through tea cup and saucer displays with enviable feline grace. However, it was a moment of solitude that made the signing a true success.
As I partook of a cup of hot ‘Emperor’s Bride’ tea (a name that made me giggle) I picked up a copy of Waving Backwards, and reread the back cover describing the story that lived in my heart for so long. I teared up at the blurb written by author John Warley ( A Southern Girl, The Moralist, Bethesda’s Child). I admired the texture and color of the richly designed cover, and I gave thanks.
The hectic pace of launching, marketing, and selling a book (when you’re not J.K. Rowling) steals a bit of the achievement’s sparkle. In my little corner of E. Shaver, a quiet knowing replaced success metrics that rely on the latest positive review or sales ranking. I found among the steeping tea leaves, a solitude and pride of completion. Not showy, nor outward, I caressed my story, amid people who appreciated words, and felt for the first time what it really means to be an author.
Thank you to E. Shaver Bookseller (and all independent booksellers) for embracing local authors, and breathing life into the continued sharing of words and stories.
Blessings for thankful insight and a great read,
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Buy Waving Backwards for Kindle $4.99 at Amazon.com- amazon.com/author/vlbrunskill
Waving Backwards book trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_ufjmq0l-U