Hastings — The End of an Era

Hastings, the book, movie, music, and kitsch store is no longer accepting books from local authors. Nor will they support local author signings.

This news hits me especially hard.


Hastings in Killeen, TX (my high school hometown) was very good to me as an author; not only stocking my Click Your Poison e-aversion versions (paperbacks), but often giving me prime shelf real-estate and hosting me for an annual signing event.

Alas, due to corporate restructuring and chapter 11 bankruptcy, this is to be no more.

I’ll look back fondly at the memories. Like after my first book signing when INFECTED was the #1 bestseller in the store that week (“Bigger than Twilight!” as the book manager put it). Not to mention the repeat fans who would bring a dog-eared copy of my newest release each year for an autograph.

I’m sure we’ll find a new spot, but the irony isn’t lost on me that as an author who primarily sells ebooks is now lamenting the death of the brick-and-mortar venue.

Sums up my feelings with painful accuracy.

So I suppose we’ll just have to move on. Find somewhere new. Or, with a bit of wishful thinking, perhaps I’ll be stocked on the “general” shelves if Hastings survives into the future.

I know I’ll be there. Creating more books.

Thanks for the memories.

Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Did we ever meet in person?

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Thoughts on a Book Signing

Yesterday I was back at my old stomping grounds for a signing at what must be my most supportive bookstore, Hastings in Killeen, TX. How’d it go? Let’s review.

Only one fan cashed in on a high-five, kind of disappointing. I did, however, sign my first book withing five minutes of setting up (from a fan who had been to both of my other Hastings signings). Off to a good start.  

Seriously. I signed more copies of MURDERED than INFECTED yesterday and my zombies always overwhelm my mystery in the sales ranking. What am I doing wrong online that I’m doing right in person?

I’m too polite to say so in person, but whenever someone tells me they don’t read, I can’t help but think they’re confessing illiteracy. One guy even said, “Reading is against my religion.” Counterpoint? As a wise man once said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” (Mark Twain)   signing1

My nephew holding a book he’s not yet allowed to read (it’s at least PG-13, says the guy who doesn’t have kids). Still, those are real smiles!  

And then, of course, you have the other end of the spectrum. The people who make me feel like I’m hocking a sham-wow or something. Pro-tip: Be polite, say hello, and keep walking. Or, if you stop by and aren’t interested, just say “good luck with it” and be on your way. I understand not every person on the planet will love my books.

It’s a roller coaster, with massive ups and downs. Yesterday was an “Up.” ‘Nuff said. signing2

Talk about a fun experience. I was introduced via webcam because a pair of fans wanted to “meet” me! I don’t have much experience with people “fanning out” but it’s certainly welcome. I spend a *lot* of time sitting alone with my imagination, so it’s good to remind myself that I don’t exist in a vacuum.

Wearing a comic book t-shirt? Come check this out. Hey, kid in the zombie tuxuedo! I’ve got something you should read. Still, the nice lady in the American flag shorts with (another) American flag on her tanktop bought all three books, so you never can tell.

I’ve got a lot to live up to if Mark Hamill is any example of autographing done right. Glad to see my nerdy scribblings are appreciated!

And there you have it, ladies and germs. Until next time! Maybe with a new book to show off?

Add your opinion in the comments below. And don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!

My Big Week in Texas

Hey, that's me!
Hey, that’s me!

If you follow me on twitter, goodreads, facebook, or have checked out my “events” tab in the last month, you probably know I went to Ft Hood, TX for a book signing (Or, to be more accurate, I went to Texas for my sister’s wedding and scheduled a book signing around the same time. Congrats Melissa and Craig!). Well, for a self-published author, this was a big week.

Knowing it would be a 3-day signing event, but not knowing what to expect, I ordered 3 boxes of books (24 each) and brought the 10 I had sitting at home, just because I was feeling optimistic. So, with 82 books, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to leave too many at my parents’ house.

First stop was to our hometown newspaper, where I was interviewed. I’m still new enough to the game where little things like this are novel and exciting. If you like, you can read the article here.

Source: “Heights High School grad pens zombie book” from KDHnews.com

Next stop? I’d heard that Hastings has a “local author” section, so I decided to give it a try and see if I could leave a few copies there. Much to my surprise, not only was I accepted at Hastings in Killeen, but I was placed on the “zombie” shelf right up front as well as out in the general “horror” section. Whoa! That in itself was a huge life event–my first brick-and-mortar store.

Make Your Choice
Make Your Choice
Note to self, stop having an "S" last name.
Note to self, stop having an “S” last name.

Then there was the signing. My sister Alison had the idea to dress up like a zombie on Saturday, and my other sisters soon caved to the peer pressure. After all, I offered a free t-shirt and a professional makeup job. I’d play Friday straight, have my zombies with me on Saturday, then offer a sale on Sunday in hopes of reducing my inventory. I needed to leave some books behind for Hastings, but not too many…


Friday, day 1: People were very receptive to INFECTED! In fact, I sold 21 books–almost a full box. Not bad, maybe I could sell the same on Sunday and try for a full 30 on Saturday when my zombies were with me. That would leave 10 books for Hastings. My nervous fears that I’d be ignored for three days were proving to be unfounded. I even met some very nice people who were excited for me to sign a book for either themselves or a zombie fan in their family. At lunch, my fortune cookie sagely reminded me:

Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.”

Saturday, day 2: Thanks so much to my sisters–love you guys! The book sold like hotcakes. There was often a queue at my signing table, zombie fans eager for a book and a photograph with our crazy family. I sold 47 books. I had to tell my family members not to buy any for themselves, otherwise I’d be in danger of selling out. I had already dropped off  9 at Hastings, so I was left with only 5 left for Sunday… gulp.


Don't worry, my family scares me too.
Don’t worry, my family scares me too.

Sunday, day 3: I sold out in about an hour. Boy, did I underestimate. I should’ve brought two more boxes at least. I think I could’ve hit Friday’s numbers at least, then I would’ve had some left over for Hastings after I left. Instead, I had to direct disappointed would-be customers to either this store or amazon.com. After checking with Hastings, turns out they sold out of my book as well–making it their #1 book for the week. Even beating out “50 Shades of Grey”! Granted, E.L. James wasn’t in Killeen promoting like I was, but it still felt like victory.

This was an appreciated confidence booster, and it was fun to be a minor celebrity for a weekend, but I still have lots of work to do before “Click Your Poison” is a household name. So what’s next? Of course there’s book #2 to work on, but I’ve also been invited to come back to Fort Hood any time, and I probably will. Maybe for book #2? Maybe around Halloween when the zombie craze is at its peak? In the meantime, I need to ship more books to Hastings and see about getting other stores out there to carry INFECTED. Maybe there’s a Big Week in California in my future? Who knows–but wherever life takes me, the future looks bright.

Thanks to all who attended!