Diary: Hitting the Lists!

Hitting the Lists!

The weekend is blissful but now it’s time to hit the road again.

Tuesday, May 26

Denver—Met by the author escort, Lisa, who is beautifully dressed and coifed. I’m in schlumpy khakis and a t-shirt, having left Santa Fe at 8:30 to make our 10:30 plane from Albuquerque. We’re going to stop off at Ingram’s, a book distribution company, on the way to the hotel. They have 65 books to sign. Lisa tells me I’ll be in a room by myself and will meet just one employee of the company (meaning not to worry about fixing myself up). But when we get there they announce my arrival over the loud speaker and a group of employees come in to say hello and get personalized books. Nobody minds (or even notices?) how I look. Maybe my mother was wrong?!

The really interesting thing is that Ingram’s has so few books and they’re all spoken for. And we’re not doing drop-ins at Denver bookstores because none of them have any books. So I’ve come to a city to publicize a book that really isn’t available except at the one store where I’ll be appearing tomorrow night. Still, I shouldn’t be too upset because when we reach our hotel there’s a message from Vicki saying Summer Sisters is #9 on the Denver Post bestseller list and that’s why the stores are sold out. (Oh) It’s also #4 on the Boston Globe list, #12 on the LA Times, #12 on Publishers Weekly, #14 on the Wall Street Journal and moving up on the USA Today overall list. This is great news! Nothing about the New York Times list. We don’t discuss it. They haven’t even reviewed the book. Just as well. I’ve always thought I really lucked out that the NY Times was on strike when Wifey was published.

AOL Book Report: an online chat room. George has spoken to the producer and made arrangements for the 6PM hookup. They ask if I want to type the answers to questions myself or use the phone and have them do the typing. We opt for the phone because the keys stick on George’s keyboard (he thinks from living next to a construction site last winter.) This is a big mistake. It takes forever for my answers to be posted…and they lack any personal touch. I’m so frustrated I vow never to do this again.

After, I call Randy, who was having lunch with the marketing director at the company that will be publishing her first book next spring. I’m so excited for her! Then George and I go out to dinner (Yes, more pasta!) and while we’re strolling past the Oxford hotel a bellman, standing outside, calls Judy… Do we know each other? I ask. No, but he recognizes me from TV. This is amazing because I’m wearing dark glasses (couldn’t find my other pair) and it’s dark outside. We stop to chat and he tells me how he and his girlfriend have recently moved to Denver and how she is planning on being at my book signing tomorrow night. He tells me about his fourth grade teacher who introduced him to my books back in Poseyville, Indiana, then asks if I’d sign something for her. He returns with a couple of pieces of paper. Later, he gives us a ride back to our hotel and we promise him a book, on us, for Melanie, his girlfriend.

Wednesday, May 27

Early morning radio show canceled because the host has a medical problem.

News at Eleven – Lisa picks me up at 10:30 for a live in studio interview. It’s a do your own makeup show. I would like Lisa to teach me how she does hers. The interview is a good one. (I judge them by my own standards – do I enjoy it or not?) They announce tonight’s signing at the Tattered Cover.

Lisa drops me at the hotel for lunch with George, then returns for my next interview: “Not For Women Only”. It’s an interesting discussion that ends with me choking up over summer losses – the deaths of my grandmother, father, mother, close friend. When we’re off the air she says she’ll delete that if I want but I tell her No…it’s okay. Then she tells me about having Isabel Allende on the show just after Isabel’s daughter died and how emotional an interview that was. Just thinking about Isabel’s loss is enough to get us both started.

Return to the hotel feeling down to find out Summer Sisters will be #11 on the New York Times Bestseller List on June 7! I cry…I bawl my eyes out. George thinks I’ve gone off the deep end. But I can’t stop. I talk to Carole Baron, my publisher at Delacorte, and thank her for believing in this book. I’m ecstatic. I don’t think I was anywhere near this thrilled when Wifey and Smart Women hit the list. Maybe everything is sweeter now, maybe it’s that I was told there wouldn’t be a market for a small, emotional novel (a third of it about kids.) I thank my readers. They’ve made this happen. The stores are unprepared. But the women at Delacorte are celebrating. They got behind this book and stayed with it.

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I can’t believe you’re in my life again! I thought you had forgotten me as I grew older. Glad to see you, old friend!
—Nati, age 23
Queens, New York

You don’t have to be a Blume fan to enjoy Summer Sisters, but if you are, you’ll remember why you loved her books as a child and read them again and again. Let’s hope she doesn’t make adult readers wait 10 years before writing for them again
.—San Antonio

Summer Sisters is a good beach book, as predictable as sand in your sheets, as warm as the sea breeze blowing through your hair, as nostalgic as James Taylor singing “How Sweet It Is.” You remember. So does Judy Blume. How sweet it was.
—Orlando Sentinel