It is always a pleasure to come home to Easy Going Travel Shop & Bookstore. I might only see Audrey, Michael, Julie and Thelma once a year, but it's as familiar as if I was there last week. The only difference yesterday was that there were also 80 people with us. Most of which I'd never seen in my life. Yep, standing room only for Sand in My Bra’s Berkeley debut and they sold out of all 25 of their copies. Krista had brought 10 extra and they sold one more of those and kept the rest.
Bringing in the crowd were contributors Annalisa Valentine who read from her story “Pissed Off in Nepal,” Lesley Quinn, author of “At a Loss for Words,” and Jennifer Colvin who read from her phallic misadventure, “Cultural Exposure.”
I emceed and read from Joan Churchill’s epliloque, “The Importance of Packing,” and a short excerpt from Sandra Tsing Loh’s “Peril’s of Leisure.”
The crowd seemed to be having a good time and laughed throughout all of the stories. After the readings we opened two questions to the panel, 1) How did we get started travel writing? and 2) Is a misadvenutre funny at the moment a trip starts to go wrong, or only after we’re home and telling the story. Then the audience asked us what they wanted to know. The only question of those that I remember is — Do we write full time and if not are we trying to? I don’t think any of us answered yes to that though Annalisa is writing a book about her adventure as a sailor on a junk for three months in the Red Sea.
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Then we milled about signing books, and talking with the audience individually until Easy Going was ready to close the shop. It was a nice surprise to see along time TT fans Fred Hornbruch, retired owner of the travel bookstore Phileas Fogg’s which used to be at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, and TT contributor Betty Ann Webster. And I particularly appreciated the two women who came up to me and let me know they had submitted to Sand. They were eager to submit again even though I never sent out the rejection letters, and are taking a class from my good friend and excellent writing instructor, Linda Watanabe McFerrin.
Afterwards I went to Cesar’s for mojitos and tapas with Jennifer Colvin, her husband Bob, Joe E., author of the Travel Gear Blog, and Amy Scott. We got a table next to Lesley Quinn’s party and joined them for more talk about the writing life.
So, how could I have improved on this event? As promised, and an inside joke to all 80 that turned up last night, no Venti Cafe Mocha’s with three shots of expresso right before the event! While it’s no embarrassment to be nervous before any public speaking opportunity, I feel that a polished speaker avoids distracting the audience from the topic. Shaking hands, fidgeting with clothes, and rubbing your nose all take away from the entertainment. At each of these events I’m learning which excerpts arouse the most jokes, and I love improving my speaking skills as well.
Come join us us at the next show this Sunday at Book Passage!