14. March 2011 · Comments Off on Guest Appearance by a Real Arthur! · Categories: Uncategorized

crowded room

So, I had one of those author event things, this last weekend  which I should note first and foremost – I thoroughly enjoy, welcome such opportunities as come my way, and am perfectly willing to do more, any time, any day, any sized group – as long as said group is located at an easily commutable distance from where I live. I’m not famous enough to become totally blase by this kind of thing. For not-quite-famous authors, it’s also one of those neccessary things to do in order to build your base of fans. Besides, I like talking about my books. Being that this is Texas, the definition of easily commutable can cover a drive of up to four hours on the highway. I’ve gone as far as Richmond and Abilene in the last couple of years; those distances usually incorporate an overnight stay, so bliss it was that this event was in New Braunfels, a mere hop-skip-jump up the IH-35 from home. This one did involve a bit pre-planning, as it had been formally set up nearly six months ago: to be the guest speaker at the scholarship fund-raising brunch for the Ferdinand Lindheimer chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in New Braunfels, and the ladies who had invited me were also part of the management team at the Sophienburg Museum . . .  which had done me the honor of stocking the Adelsverein Trilogy for the last couple of years. New Braunfels actually features in the Trilogy, being one of the German settlements in Texas, and founded by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, who also appears as a character.

flag quilt

This quilt is being raffled to raise funds – the final drawing will be some months hence. It doesn’t show in the picture, but it is quilted with the names of all of the Alamo defenders, in alphabetical order. It took the quilter a year to do this, and she said she will probably never do it again!)

So  . . .  polish up and make some additions to my usual remarks, since they wanted to hear a bit about how I came to write about those events to do with the German settlements in Texas, and make a special effort vis-à-vis hair and makeup, and to wear something tastefully coordinated. Heck, I even dug out the peridot and gold stud earrings, since they would match my sage-green top (worn with a black long skirt) and Blondie came up with a green, cream and black Perry Ellis scarf, and chose a string of pearls and an ivory bangle to accessorize it all. Really, it’s nice to have an assistant; she even did my hair and makeup, although I don’t know how much good it did to tie the scarf around my head, since it kept slipping off. (I’ve decided to let my hair finally grow long again, and do it up in a plain bun or French roll, but it’s not anywhere near that point, yet.)

Anyway, up at what Blondie called the ass-crack of dawn, walk the dog, get dressed and put together and hit the road for New Braunfels, and the venue for the brunch – the Family Life Center, or I guess what used to be called the parish hall of the First Protestant Church. I thought we would be very early, and we were, but even early, there were a lot of people already there. It was beautifully set up in the hall, too – round tables ornamented with pots of blooming red geraniums, and each place setting adorned with an iced gingerbread cookie and a little card painted by Myra Lee Goff,  one of the members. The brunch was going to be a buffet, so I had time to circulate – so did Blondie, athough we were a bit stymied when people asked us what chapter of the DRT that we belonged to. We actually don’t; it’s just not possible for either of us to join the DRT in any way, shape or form, being that three of my grandparents arrived early in the 20th century from Great Britain. Granny Jessie’s folks arrived emigrated from Wales in the late 1600s  . . .  but as near as I can tell, they stayedput  in Chester County, Pennsylvania from that moment on. (The DAR is a solid possibility for us though, and I may look into it. With all these historical talks I am doing, it might help to be a member of some serious ancestor-worshipping organization.)

painting by Myra Goff

Myra Lee Goff did this painting, reproduced as a note card at every place-setting – a scene of the first settlers arriving, and Prince Solms-Braunfels on a beer stein. Myra also does a historical blog at the Sophienburg’s website.

So, circulated and talked to a fair number of people; laughed with some of the ladies who are teachers about the perils of public speaking. For a long time, I would be freaked about getting up and addressing a large group, even though I knew that when I was on the radio, I would be talking to all that many more. Seeing them all look back at you – that was mildly unsettling. All those eyes! The teachers confessed that they had no problem with talking to a large crowd, as long as they were all children  . . .  but adults? Major anxiety issues. Anyway, I think I have gotten over that particular hurdle in my talk; I did add some other new bits about how important it was to connect with history, and that it wasn’t really all just stiff people in funny clothes; it was everything to do with real life, and we would gain a lot by knowing about it.

As soon as the program was over, I had to hustle over to the Author’s Table – adorned with stacks of all three volumes of the Trilogy, and several ladies had everything organized. All that I had to do was sign and sign and sign again – in a case like this, writers’ cramp is an excellent thing to have. I wish I could have talked a little longer with each of the people who came up to buy a book, but  . . .  umm, there was a line. The very nicest bit was that a lot of them were people who had read the Trilogy, and loved it – and were buying sets as gifts. There were a couple of people whose family names we recognized, and a gentleman whose family had also originally come from Chester County, Pennsylvania, and who actually recognized Granny Jessie’s family name   – honestly, this whole part of Texas is just one large small town. A few had read Book One and were coming back for the rest of it – including one lady who was purely heartbroken to find out that tragedy would befall a character she had become quite fond of. Well, better you find out now, said another reader consolingly, in daylight and with friends, than late at night and alone. Yes, there a quite a number of readers who have told me that they had to lay down Book Two for a quiet weep.  In any case, and by way of further comfort, that particular character does appear again in the new book, which will be out next month.

Finally – the ladies did the most lovely presentation basket for me, remembering how we had told them about our moveable feast, when we drove up to Abilene; a basket with some books written by some of their members, but also of locally made foods: a box of pastries from Naegelin’s Bakery, some jams and salsas and pickles by local companies and a bottle of artisan olive oil from the Texas Olive Ranch, and some other lovely little things – all as appreciated as they were unlooked for.

Yeah, I like doing this kind of thing – and even if I do get famous for writing books like the Trilogy and the others – I’ll go on doing it. I don’t think I have the genetic material in me to be a real prima donna.

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