So guess where Surprise, Arizona is? If you guessed Phoenix, you were only partly right, because it’s basically an hour from there.

*Sigh*

All my Phoenix contacts live in, well, Phoenix. There was no way I was going to coax people out to Surprise for the promise of one free book. And a book by me, at that, a Johnny-come-lately, a virtual nobody in the world of books. Oh well. We had sold to strangers all summer long, and it would be no different in Surprise.

One thing not surprising about Surprise: it was hot. Damn hot. So hot that even Petey wanted back in the Bookmobile after a five-minute walk. So hot that the struggling A/C couldn’t quite keep up. We sweated it out for an hour until it was time to go in.

Another thing not surprising at this point in the summer was that we knew more about how Barnes and Noble Corporate ran its business than did the managers and CRMs at their stores, when it came to Print-on-Demand Fully Returnable Books. Per Corporate, these were perfectly fine and could be ordered for store delivery, sold in stores, and sold at events.

Most stores in the country, to their financial detriment in our case, were staffed with employees and even managers that did not understand this and refused to deal with fully returnable books (that all other book buyers we have dealt with welcomed handling). There were some that said no to events because of this. Others said yes to events and ordered my novels, but said they could not order my nonfiction into their stores, although it was identically categorized. Some of the stores that said yes to events and had the novels said no to selling our copies of the nonfiction and paying us our cut under B&N standard consignment, as specified on the corporate form we filled out for payment in many stores. Some of these also said no to selling our nonfiction copies as “negative inventory” (meaning we would sell ours on their behalf, and they would ship us replacements — actually, it’s even more stupid than that — they would ship the books to their own store then ship the books to us as replacements, paying for shipping twice, which cost so much more than filling out a dumb piece of paper and paying us a cut, sheesh). Those stores would let us give away our own books, books that they could have sold and collected income from, but chose not to because “it was against corporate rules.”

Even though it wasn’t.

For goodness sakes, the 4th biggest B&N in the country let customers direct order the nonfiction in their store, to make sure they captured the income from the sale. If they can, why can’t all the other ones?

It gets worse. One store ordered one of the novels, but they ran out before I got to town; they had reordered, but the books hadn’t come in yet. We said we had plenty of stock and could bring it in and they could pay us our cut or do negative inventory. They said, “No, we can’t. They’re print on demand. But you can give them away.”

THIS WAS FOR A BOOK THEY WERE CARRYING IN THEIR STORE. I TRAVELED HUNDREDS OF MILES AND WE SPENT PROMOTIONAL MONEY IN THIS COMMUNITY TO THEIR BENEFIT, BUT THEY WOULDN’T LET ME SELL THE DAMN BOOK I WAS TOURING FOR, EVEN THOUGH THEY NORMALLY CARRIED IT. Yet quite a few stores around the country when faced with this same situation (usually because we sold out of their stock partway through a signing) said, “You’ve got inventory? Then keep selling! Keep selling!!”

{Some awesome stores ordered all my books and we sold them all. They were in the minority, but we love them. Other awesome stores ordered most of them and allowed customers to order them or us to sell ours when they didn’t, and either paid us or sent us books, no problem. We like them a lot, too.}

So, it was not a big surprise that in Surprise they did not carry my nonfiction and could not be bothered to sell it through their register. I gave away 11 of those books that night. Maybe that would only have been $50-60 bucks to them, but that’s one decision in one moment on one day. How many other of these types of decisions do they make? And to what exponential impact over 700 stores?

{Stepping gingerly from soapbox now.}

Surprise is a snowbird community, so, at peak of summer, most of its population had flown north. But we still had a good night. We always had someone talking to us, and we sold 8 of the 10 copies of both novels. But the best part? The very best part?

Separately, two high school friends showed up at the event!!! They drove a LONG way to get there! And it was sooooo good to see them. Since neither knew the other was coming, it was equally a surprise to them, and we all had a lovely time.

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Martha and Crissy!

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One of a nice handful of local customers, most of whom we didn’t catch on film. David here volunteers to read audiobooks on an AZ NPR show.

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Petey was READY for Arizona.

Well, once we closed up shop and went out to the Bookmobile, we had another surprise: a parking ticket, accusing us of using the parking lot to overnight our RV. Even though it was only 8:00, and we had a veritable billboard of books emblazoned on the vehicle, in front of a Barnes and Noble, with matching book posters on signs out front.

Grrrrr.

So, off we went to Tucson.

Now, Tucson was not a tour stop for us. Guess why? Because their Barnes and Noble doesn’t understand the difference between a returnable and a non-returnable POD book. We had left a day in our schedule for a Tucson stop, though, and we had to do something with the time. Susanne and I caucused about what to do with ourselves for two nights and one day: drive (considerably) north to the Grand Canyon? Look for something to do in Las Cruces? Stay in El Paso and shop?

No, we decided. We’d check into the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain and do a little spa time.

Yes, I know I held the iPhone wrong for video.

And that is what we did. Oh, the heaven of that big fluffy king bed, the perfect size for a mother, dog, and 5’7” daughter. The giant tub. The marvelous shower. The swimming pools, restaurants, waterslides, and hiking trail. The desert scenery, ringed with mountains. The birds. The rabbits, The javelina, for goodness sakes.

And the spa.

The spa, the massage, the scalp treatment, the mani-pedi. Susanne’s hair got did and so did her eyebrows. I bought a lavender-colored robe softer than baby skin.

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Simple yet staggeringly good recipe which the waitress took down in dictation from the chef after Susanne and I nearly wept with longing for it–we’d been clean gut cleansing for too long!

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I felt like a girl again after getting my nails spiffed up.

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Desert view from pedi-chair.

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Big tub!!

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First one to hit the bed was…Petey.

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The not-so-deserving Susanne and I marveling at our bathroom. Marie, honey, this leg of the trip should have been yours!!!

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Don’t hate me on Instagram b/c I’m beautiful.

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Desert view on hiking trail.

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Relaxing. Finally.

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Vista over one of the pools.

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Desert tortoise.

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This is what I look like, relaxed. Blink and you’ll miss it.

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This is what I look like when forced into doing the waterslide by my teenager.

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Petey loved Dove Mountain.

It was heaven. Afterwards, I felt like a new woman. A woman who had only one more RV park to navigate, one more event to do alone with Susanne, and only two more long drives and two cities total on her schedule of 60 cities.

Because that was it. That was all I had left.

And I thought, Bring it, Book Tour. Bring your bad ass self, because I’m way badder than you.

Pamelot

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7 Responses to Girls Gone Wild

  1. I can hear the manic relief in your “voice”! That place looks amazing as does that recipe. Can’t wait to try it immediately! You do look relaxed… or is that passed out?

    • Pamela says:

      For real on the manic relief. I was just so tightly wound by the end it was unreal. And the recipe is fantastic. add crumbled cojita cheese on top.

  2. Darryl says:

    Hey, where’s the picture or video with you guys flashing the camera?

    Darryl

  3. Eric Hutchins says:

    As you well know some of the things that we ran into in dealing with B&N on the tour were really surprising and challanging. AND there were SO MANY of the staff members that were truly awesome and welcoming and wonderful
    It is easy to see why the company struggles to stay viable and its tough not to dump all over them. YET, with 700 stores all over the country and the volume of books they do it is crazy to bite that hand.
    As a one time indie bookstore owner part of me wants to blame them for essentially wiping out the old bookstores and laugh as they fail, but I think it would be a loss of readers at this point. There is something wonderful about a huge store full of books and the opportunites that it creates. I hope they get it figured out before it is too late.

    • Pamela says:

      Yeah, and it’s just as easy to blame AMazon for the demise of the indies and probably as accurate.

      I hope they rally. Most of their employees were great.

      And BN can be really frustrating…

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