Book Tour with Heather Cullman
OH, WELL, NEVER MIND.
IT’S ONLY WEATHER.
Heather Cullman and Karen Kay decided to do a booksigning tour on their way to the RT convention in 1996. Being from sunny LA, they forgot that the rest of the country has a little thing called weather. Here is their story.
October 24, 1996
KK – Our adventure starts with a little red rental car, or what I termed the “ticket trap.” After stuffing all my things into the car, I prayed that there would be room for Heather’s things…
Little did I know that Heather’s entire foyer was filled with boxes and baggage. Oh, well.
HC – We had to play a game of creative cram and shove, but finally we were ready to head out for the open road.
KK – Snow? In October? In New Mexico?HC – After being reassured by our breakfast waiter that the snow we saw outside was unusual that time of year and that it wasn’t expected to last, we passed out bookmarks in the restaurant and left, bent on reaching Petrified Forest National Park by ten o’clock.KK – It took us longer than expected. Then again, we never expected to encounter a typhoon in Arizona.
HC – Yeah. The wind and rain were so fierce that we couldn’t open our car doors when we stopped for gas outside the park. Remembering the filling station at the park exit, I suggested that we proceed on through.
KK – We snapped some great pictures of tourists being blown away by the wind.
HC – As planned we stopped for gas. We also bought an unplanned (but mutually agreed upon) box of vanilla wafers, which I dropped in the river of rain water next to the car and had to stage a hair-wreaking rescue to retrieve. Certain that things couldn’t get worse, we headed on to Albuquerque.
KK – Who knew they had blizzards in Gallup, New Mexico?
HC – You ought to see my pictures of tepees in the snow. Awesome! As was Karen’s driving. Thanks to her years of living in Vermont, we reached Albuquerque safely.
KK – We lunched with two wonderful fans that day.HC – Yes, Carla jeanne Bingham, an aspiring writer with whom we both correspond and her delightful friend, Lelabelle Wolfert. We then did a booksigning at Borders Books in Winrock Mall. Note to fellow romance authors: Clint Wells, who is in charge of the store’s public relations, says that romance authors stage the best signings in the business.KK – After the booksigning we headed back onto Interstate 40. Of course, we ran through the blizzard again. Piece of cake. We
found Texas dry and warm. Surely all our trouble was behind us. What could go wrong…?
HC – Oklahoma went wrong.
KK – Sure did! We noticed it as soon as we passed the border. The air became suddenly hot and humid. And then it started to rain, which quickly turned to sleet. And not only that, off in the distance we glimpsed lightning. Before we knew it, it had started to pour. We glanced at each other…both making an instant decision. We’d seek temporary refuge in a convenience store.
HC – Right. And then with one streak of lightning, all the electricity in the store went out?
KK – Ever been kicked out of a convenience store in the middle of a storm?
HC – We did manage to buy a pop-gun before we left.
KK – A very cute one. And then we drove…and drove. It was 3:00 AM. We were tired; beaten. At last, however, the exit to our Oklahoma destination loomed up ahead. Sanctuary. We waited for that exit…prayed, even. I was driving and…I missed the exit.
HC – I almost threw her out of the car!
KK – Yeah. Finally, exhausted and battered, we arrived in Ponca City. All we needed was a room.
HC – Need we say more? We drove from motel to motel, unable to find anything or anyone who would answer our frantic knocks.
KK – I don’t remember ever laughing so hard. An hour, and two towns later, no room to be found, we stopped in another convenience store. Thankfully, the people there were helpful, teaching us the magical words we needed to get a room…reservation.
HC – It was 6:00 AM, but because eleven was check-out time at the motel we finally found, we had to rent two nights, if we wanted to sleep. We didn’t care. We were ready to buy the motel.
KK – At last, we met Jan Bois, of Brace’s books in Ponca City. We found Jan’s kindness and hospitality worth all the trouble to get to her, though. Thank you, Jan
HC – This day I rediscovered my childhood. Taking a rural route, we travelled to Arkansas City, Kansas (where I attended grades four through six), stopping at bookstores along the way to introduce ourselves. Once in Arkansas City we visited my house, school (the principle posted our promo materials on the bulletin board), and the local bookstore, where I was promptly claimed as their official local author.KK – They claimed me too since I was with Heather.HC -After promising to return soon for a booksigning, we proceeded to Wichita (where I lived before Arkansas City). Not only did we promote ourselves at several bookstores, we handed out bookmarks in my old neighborhood plus at the funeral home where we stopped for directions.KK – At this point, we changed our plans. Because Texas was flooded, we rerouted our trip through Arkansas. Managed to lose our way. Naturally, it was late at night; a night of hale and fog and visions of vampires and ghosts. Beautiful, haunting country.
HC – And the physic state. Remember? None of the towns had signs telling us where we were. We decided a person had to be physic here to read a map.
KK – Stayed at a rural, if good motel in Arkansas and had one of the best breakfasts we had along the trip. Arkansas, we decided, is the state of the best biscuits in the whole USA.HC – Instead of taking a main highway to New Orleans, we decided to take an alternate route and see a bit of the country. That route took us through such picturesque Louisiana towns as Transylvania (talk about Kodak moments, there were vampiHappy Days). In Tallulah, we were told to eat at the 66, which turned out to be an old gas station with a diner attached. There we not only had a tasty chicken dinner, we pitched our books to the help.
HC – That place was at a ramshackle filling station on a deserted road in Mississippi. One couldn’t look at it without the banjo tune from the movie Deliverance playing through their head. When Karen and I walked in, eight men resembling ZZ Tops minus their teeth, ceased gumming at what appeared to be ribs (by the looks of their clothes, they didn’t believe in napkins), to stare at us as if they’d never seen a woman before.
KK – By the unused look of the ladies room, maybe they hadn’t.
HC – The rest of the trip through Mississippi down to New Orleans proved uneventful.
We took a tour and, after staring up at Ann Rice’s writing room in worshipful wonder, we took the ghost and vampire tour through the French Quarter. HC- And don’t forget the cemetery tour. I wouldn’t have missed that.
October 31st – November 2nd
HC – Poor us! It would take a whole other article to tell you of the convention. For me the highlights were: Seeing my beautiful friend and fellow author, Susan Paul, who portrayed my heroine from Tomorrow’s Dream in the costume competition; getting to know my editor just a little bit better; dancing with Jeffrey Alan Kern, the hunk who portrayed the hero from Tomorrow’s Dreams in the Cover Model Competition; and last, but certainly not least, meeting all you wonderful readers and booksellers.
KK – Yes. The convention certainly provided the means to meet some wonderful people and make new friends and chat with old ones. I particularly delighted in meeting my editor again. But the most memorable part of the convention for me was the Romantic Times Book Fair. My husband, ever supportive, suggested we try a new form of promotion for the fair. Tossing off his shirt, he allowed me to write my name and book title all over his chest and back. What a sweetie!
Karen and Heather at the RT Booksigning with Karen’s hubby, sans shirt.
Karen’s gorgeous husband with Karen and Heather at RT convention.
|Karen, Heather and Karen’s husband, Paul.||
Karen’s husband, back view.
KK – Heather flew home, but my husband and I went on to do a booksigning at Sharon Murphy’s store in Houston and a seminar at Barnes and Noble in Tucson.
|HC – Yes. Exhausted but happy, I flew home.
KK – But the best part or the trip is that not only are Heather and I still friends, we are now closer than ever.
At Heather’s birthday party with friends
|Heather’s birthday party with friend.|