Thanksgiving. I pack light. One carry-on and a small bag with my Kindle. Off to Nashville for the holiday. This time, I leave my cowboy boots at home. I’m here to visit with my daughter. And also, to present my newly published YA novel, Ecowarriors. My destination, Parnassus, is a small independent bookstore and a bit of a legend. Unique, of quality, delightfully cozy; a store the likes of which you don’t see much anymore. I’ve heard it has real atmosphere and book-loving dogs roaming about.
I head toward the busy intersection. Press the button by the traffic light with determination. Wait to cross. Protect that book. The heels of my cool black boots click as I make it across in the twenty seconds allotted by the digital traffic-God. I’m pleased with my choice of tight black jeans and leather jacket. My curly hair blows in the light wind. I’m wearing just the right shade of lipstick, too–what actors call, “leading lady.” I’m ready for my book audition.
I strut onto the sidewalk that leads past a few uninteresting stores. Then, on my left, I see my target. Parnassus is partly owned by one of my favorite authors: Ann Patchett. I loved Bel Canto. Read it twice. My stomach tightens when I see all the new books lovingly arranged in the window. Every book in the storefront looks important, perfectly placed.
I feel vulnerable, yet protective. It’s hitting me. Writing a book is very personal. This is my precious “baby” I’m carrying in my indestructible, dark-blue satchel. I’m not selling vacuum cleaners or magazine subscriptions. I want these literary people to get excited about my eco-fantasy. After all, aside from a perilous adventure involving superpowers, the novel deals with the controversial topic of fracking. Equally wild and timely, the book will sell.
I’m struck–not by a Stephen King hardcover that’s fallen from the top shelf, but with anxiety. So, I quickly duck into an adjacent shop instead. It’a a maternity shop that’s going out of business. I quickly about-face. No place to hide here. As I walk back to the storefront of Parnassus, my head fills with lyrics from a musical. This is a norm for me. This time, Chorus Line is going strong: “Give me a chance to look forward to sayin’–hey listen they’re playin’ my song!” I imagine my book filling the Young Adult shelves; a large Sandra Dreis display in the window.
Once again, I manage to postpone the inevitable–and head for the nearby Chipotle. Food for thought is exactly what I need. Never pitch a book on an empty stomach. My Jewish mother told me that. Lunch will give me strength! So, I line up and order a burrito that slowly expands as I nod my head “yes” to everything remotely vegetarian. Suddenly, a monster burrito is sitting on my tray. I choose a drink, a Nantucket nectar, (noticing after paying) that it had over 60 grams of sugar.
Like a CIA operative, I sit at the narrow counter on a stool facing the Parnassus. I study it while I slowly eat every bite and hear my straw make that empty-bottle sound. Fortified, I pick a jalapeno from my front tooth. Courage and determination are now mine. I’m set. Confidence rises in me like a souffle. The moment of truth had come. Time to go forth and present Ecowarriors to the manager of Parnassus. I reapply lipstick and wash guacamole from my hands. I hold my satchel under my arm like a football. This play can’t be more than twenty yards.
Here, in front of me, the bookstore of my dreams. I enter. Floor to ceiling bookshelves, comfortable chairs, and yes, dogs. In fact, I almost step on a homely dog lying in the center aisle. Immediately, the people-friendly canine rolls onto its back inviting me to rub its belly. A good sign. Next, a smiling employee walks toward me with a dachshund slung over her hip in a carrier. I now understand why I was beckoned to Parnassus. This place feels right.
My eyes scour the shelves. A section in front of me is filled with books signed by local authors. Further back, I spot the mile-high Young Adult shelves. I pluck a few books, sit down and browse. Then, I remember why I’ve come. I stand and approach a pleasant young woman who is busy re-shelving. She tells me Parnassus is way too busy to deal with any new books until after Christmas. With a nod at my sell sheet, she takes my book and heads to the back of the store. Returning, she assures me my book is safely on the manager’s desk.
No drama. That’s it, I guess. At first, I’m not sure what to do. Then, I figure I might as well stay and enjoy the ambiance. I relax back into a soft rounded chair with half a dozen books. Not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. Hmm. What’s that they say? Good things come to those who wait…