Sunday was the third and final day of my PBR weekend in Uncasville, CT. The day started earlier than Friday and Saturday, but it was no less eventful. I arrived at the Rider Relief Fund booth at noon to help sell raffle tickets and brought with me the items I’m donating to be auctioned off in Vegas to help raise money to aid injured bull riders. It was pretty much the same items I donated to the Brenda Novak Juvenile Diabetes Auction, and to the Authors After Dark auction to help the animal shelter–basically a custom printed “I Heart Cowboys” canvas tote bag, a “Let’s Buck” baseball hat, bumper sticker, fridge magnet, journal and pen, a cowboy boot charm bookmark, a Cowboy Corn Salad Recipe Card, and a signed print copy of Unridden (Studs in Spurs, Book 1).
I told the women running the auction how romance readers usually take the canvas bag and get it signed by their favorite authors, and how it would probably go for a lot more if some of the riders signed it. She took the whole thing downstairs to some mysterious PBR room and the next thing I know, she’s back telling me that Flint, one of the bull fighters who doubles as an entertainer/announcer, is reading passages from Unridden aloud to everyone in the room, and someone else wants to buy a copy. Sooo long story short, I had my box of author copies in the car and ended up selling 5, which is about what I sell at a good book signing at a Borders or Barnes and Noble after it’s been planned in advance and advertised. Though I can only imagine what Flint was reading aloud–I’m just gonna go ahead and assume it was the dirty parts because men have the uncanny ability to be able to flip immediately to those–I am a little concerned about what the people listening were thinking. There is also the concern that I wrote that book probably 2 years ago, when I was still learning about the sport and there is a good chance the pros will find inconsistencies in it, either things I changed because I needed to for my plot line, or things I just plain messed up. But so it goes in writing. Nothing I can do about it now. In the meantime I hope they keep in mind I write to entertain readers but a side benefit is that it exposes romance readers to the sport. If one more person discovers the sport and becomes a bull riding fan because of reading my book, it can only be a win-win for everyone.
So after the eventful prelude to my afternoon, the bull riding championship round did not disappoint either. From having one rider hanging on the fence right in front of us to avoid the bull, to watching the heart-stopping moment another was knocked out cold and had the paramedics scrambling until he hopped up and walked out under his own power, it did not disappoint. Our seats were once again one row back from the dirt and almost directly behind one of the judges.
THEN after it was all over, I got brave and stood along the rail with a few other fans and had the bull riders sign one of my baseball hats. Unlike the person next to me who felt they should critique each and every rider’s performance because apparently they know so much, I simply said thank you and was grateful to the ones that took the time to come out and meet us, which they are not required to do. And it was no hardship to get up close and personal with them. Yeah, they are all painfully young compared to me but phew…are they hot! Dirty jeans and all.
Then it was back home where I logged into my email and found the next big surprise–a fellow author saw my book in print on a shelf in Barnes & Noble. 2 copies! It doesn’t seem like much but it’s a huge deal for someone at my level to get unsolicited shelf space at a big chain bookstore. I’ve had 2 dreams in my career kind of come true so far. The first was that I wanted to walk through an airport and see someone reading my book and my Army consultant Sean saw that exact thing last year on his way from his garrison in Germany to leadership training at Fort Benning, GA. The second was to walk into a bookstore (one that I didn’t arrange a signing at and ask–or beg–the manager to order in my books) and see my books on a shelf and that is what my author friend Stephanie Julian found. Though both of these things have happened, the experiences have been second hand, but it is a step in the right direction and I couldn’t be happier!