Where I’m going and where I’ve been

Yes, that's a horse

So I’m two weeks into the book tour for The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. I’m sitting at the hotel in Austin, Texas, gearing up for The Texas BookFest.

 I don’t have children, but I think that giving birth to a book is how you might feel if you had labor planned. I handed off this book nearly a year ago. It was coming out and once it did, there was no way to put it back in. I’m glad to report that it feels like this has been a relatively easy birth. Lots of great reviews, starting with one in People magazine right before our big event in New York at the Institute of Culinary Education. That was a fun night as author Pam Anderson (of “The Perfect Recipe” series and the upcoming Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals) and Lauren Shockey, author of Four Kitchens and food writer over at the Village Voice. From there, Mike and I winged it down to Atlanta where we led an enthusiastic group through tastings of salt and Parmsean cheese right in the Barnes & Noble bookstore. Then, it was back to Seattle for our launch event at Elliott Bay Books not far from our house.

Lauren, me, Pam at ICE

That first week was exhausting and exhilirating. The second, a little tougher. Bookstore events are feast-and-famine affairs. One night, nearly 70 people in Seattle. At the next few events in California, only a handful turned out to each. That’s OK, it happens. Mike stayed home that week. On my own, I nearly missed a flight, I couldn’t sleep and by the time I got to Portland to hook up with him at the weekend, I was over the whole thing. But then, we had a great event at Quailhurst Winery in Sherwood, Oregon, and it reminded me how fun it can be on book tour. The winery itself is quite the posh affair, and they set up the chairs in an immaculate horse stable with laminated wood walls and old-fashioned gas-style lights. The turnout was great, people wandered in with bottles of wine and we had a great time. It also marks the first time I’ve had a horse attend one of my readings. The next night at Powell’s in Beaverton turned out to be a terrific event, too.

That's me signing her copy of my first book

A lot of authors dread book tour. Not me, at least not yet. Sure, I’m over TSA and airports, for instance. It takes planning to eat vaguely healthy; I’ve taken to carrying a little Built lunchbag with snacks. But it’s great to meet booksellers and readers face to face. It’s kind of like hooking up with old friends and meeting new ones. Plus, I’m interested in what people think about it, the same way new parents seem eager to get feedback on their handiwork. I’ve heard stories from coast to coast about people’s lack of confidence in the kitchen, or conversely, that people who felt confident cooking who have decided to help friends or family members learn a few skills. A couple of people have hugged me and cried; one woman showed me a photo of her first-ever roast chicken on her mobile phone. That’s worth dealing with the 3-1-1 rule on liquids and packing some hummus in Tupperware, right?

I’ll be in Austin this weekend, first as part of LitCrawl on Saturday night and then in a one-on-one chat at 11 a.m. Sunday morning with the wonderful food writer MM Pack. Next stops below. If you’re around, come out and see me! If you know people who live in places where I’m going, give them a heads up!

Wednesday, Oct. 26th: Books Inc., Palo Alto
Thursday, Oct. 27th: Book Passage, Ferry Building, San Francisco

Tuesday, Nov. 1st: Boulder Bookstore
Wednesday, Nov. 2nd: Tattered Cover, Denver
Thursday, Nov. 3rd: Changing Hands Bookstore, Phoenix

Sunday, Nov. 6th: Chicagogourmets author dinner, Bistro Voltaire (almost sold out)
Wednesday, Nov. 9th: Next Chapter, Milwaukee

Thursday: Nov. 10th: Diesel Books, Brentwood, Calif.
Friday-Sunday, Nov. 11-13th: Intl Food Bloggers Conference (speaker)

Wednesday, Nov. 16th: Kitchen Xhibition, Northeastern University, Boston 
         (free cooking demo, open to the public)
Saturday, Dec. 3rd: Malaprops, Asheville, N.C.
Thursday, Dec. 8th: Garden District Bookstore, New Orleans



Filed under book tour tales

9 responses to “Where I’m going and where I’ve been

  1. What a whirlwind! I hope you do the whole “picture them naked” thing when you look out at the sea of readers in the audience. ❤

  2. Erica C.

    It was so wonderful to meet you at your LA event at Vroman’s. It’s true it was kind of a small crowd, but your talk was AMAZING. I wish I had videotaped it since I’ve been talking about it non-stop to anyone who would listen.

    Thanks, too, for the encouragement. I put a note up on my fridge that says “be fearless!” and I went out this week and bought my first chef’s knife!

  3. Oooh still planning on the Book Fair in Paris in March! Now that should be exciting! I would love to do a book tour (yeah, I’d love to write and publish a book) but I think if we are a book lover and passionate about our topic then each stop must be exhilarating. Yours sounds like great fun!

  4. Vicki Langford

    I just finished reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. It was fabulous. Thank you for an inspiring book, as well as a darned good read!

  5. Aimee Borders

    Really enjoyed your Sunday morning Austin stop. Went right home and figured out how to make a frittata out of leftover spaghetti squash I was tired of eating and tempted to throw away. Full of fresh veggies and leftover blue cheese, it was AMAZING. Since gone on to use up frozen fruit in my first ever mango compote. (Leftovers will be stirred into oatmeal in the morning.) And I left the packaged sushi in the case since it was full of things I couldn’t pronounce. Thanks to your reminder, I’m actually enjoying the challenge of not throwing away food and its influence on my shopping.

    Teenage girls could really benefit from your experience too–so many cook for their families, and a shot of confidence at that time in life could work wonders–plus prepare them to take good care of themselves forever. Thanks for all you do!

  6. Hooray! So excited you’re coming to Boston and can’t wait to attend your event!

    As for the tour – I’m sure it’s exhausting and often not-easy (the tagline for travel these days, right?) but I’m so happy you’re coming to Boston and I can’t wait for the demo/signing.

    Literary agent Jennifer Laughran had a great post this summer about how to survive book tours. http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011/08/great-big-tour-post.html

    In the comments, I posted links to some yoga poses for in-flight stretches to help with that travel-induced tightness. Hope they/Jennifer’s post helps. Safe travels! 🙂

  7. Broke

    Do you have any plans to come to Michigan for a book signing? I just finished “The Sharper Your Knife” and absolutely loved it. I almost fell out of my chair when I read that you are from a town that sits just minutes from me. I love cooking but my health doesn’t allow me to pursue a culinary career route. Living vicariously through people like you is the best I can get. Thank you for such a great story.

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