It was over two decades ago that I found myself relocating to Tucson, the beautiful eclectic city in the desert. I grew up on the water. I was literally a fish out of water. Until I saw it. The beacon shining out upon me from the local mall.
My comfort zone. A bookstore. Not just any bookstore. The queen of bookstores. For several decades, my family had a tradition. Hubby and I took our girls there on Christmas Eve. We shopped for gifts there. Because it doesn’t matter who the gift is for, you will always find something at the bookstore. We wanted them to always know that.
The inside of the store was decked out with holiday decor. Classic sounds of the season music creating a festive mood. We’d immediately head to the aisle for books on games, where my brother Eric Schiller, had several of his infamous chess books for sale.
We’d take the best one and turn it so it faced outward, when nobody was looking.
My brother is gone now, and it seems, so are his books at our local store. I asked about that. I’ll continue to ask.
Yesterday, hubby and I went for a Saturday outing to the bookstore. We went there with a singular purpose. We headed straight to the local author shelf and scanned the books. At first, I was disappointed. I’d hoped mine would be there. But I didn’t lose hope. I went to customer service, and asked. The woman was more than helpful. She refused to let me down.
First, she hurried off to the mystery shelves, me following close behind, thinking it was placed there. Nothing. Then she had an idea. She turned and hurried across the store, over to the backroom, and came out with a big grin and the book. Set aside for a book signing which had yet to be scheduled!
She grabbed a book for shelf placement, and I took a photo, as I remembered being a teenager in our brand new BN in New York, and standing in awe thinking someday…
and someday had arrived.
We headed over to see if my brother’s books had returned. They hadn’t, but I ran into a friend. I said hello, what brings you in? He said he was just waiting on a friend.
I told him we were there because my book was in. He hadn’t known about my books. I was sure I’d told him, but perhaps in an insecure moment I neglected to mention it.
He was excited, said I should sign it for him. He’d buy it.
That’s when it happened. Turns out the staff member who’d ordered the books and set them aside for a signing was working that day. In fact she rang up his book, then fetched the other copies and voila.
Indies, Leather and Ink
I know there are those who prefer the small independent bookstores. I love those as well. They just don’t love indie authors. At least in my experience. They are hesitant to invest in the unknown. Which is a shame. In fact I’ve reached out several times to my hometown bookstore in New York, right there in the town where the story takes place. No response. A handful of small shops have requested it on consignment. I did that with my first novel. It wasn’t a great experience. I wonder, now that my next series will be traditionally published, as they say, will they then carry my book? Will I let them? Of course I will, I'm not an idiot.
And then there are the second-hand shops. I adore them. The smell of leather and ink. The dust mites flying about. The treasures just waiting on the shelf. I hope someday a reader will come across a mystery by MJ Miller, gently used and worn with age and smile as they leaf through it. Maybe wonder if someday their stories will come home to rest on the very same shelf.
For now, I am resting easy on a Sunday morning. Thinking yesterday was about as momentous as it gets in my life. I’ve never been one to overestimate my ability to tell a good tale. I’ve always had that niggle of doubt that maybe I’m just not good enough. It started in high school, teachers who paid little attention to creativity. Then in college, professors who criticized yet never encouraged. In fact, my first year the only encouragement I had was another student, one who excelled in writing. He’ll probably never understand how his few words of praise for my writing, and trust me they were few, saw me through some tough times.
Stranger than fiction...it was much later in life, I saw he’d made a career of writing. It was the motivation I needed to finally share my own writing with the world.
One part of me thinking, if he can do it so can I.
The other part thinking, if he can do it, so can I.
It might have taken a bit longer than I hoped, but, eventually, I did it.