Talk about twists and turns…

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Several months ago, I arranged a book signing with the owner two independent book stores in The Villages, a very large and wealthy retirement community between Leesburg and Ocala here in Florida. I was to be there between eleven and one in the afternoon. I had made arrangements to place an advertisement in the local Daily Sun newspaper that serves the community.  Unfortunately, I had some urgent medical issues that prevented me from buying the space in the paper.

I was up at four-thirty this morning and out of the house a little after six for the drive down to The Villages. Not knowing exactly what to expect since there was no promotion for the event, I brought twenty copies of both novels. It was raining cats and dogs the entire trip. Two and a half hours through one tropical downpour after another. I still got there early.

Oddly enough, the manager of the store expected me, and we had my table set up well before time. Oddly enough, we realized after a few minutes that while she did indeed expect an author, that was not me. Apparently the owner had not told her she had made arrangements with me for that day. The other author showed up around eleven. No one else did until around noon, due to the very damp conditions. Damp? Try downpour.

I sold one copy. The other author, with his very first mystery novel ever, sold around a dozen, mostly to friends and relatives. We got on famously. It isn’t all that long ago that I was doing my very first ever book signing.

Around one o’clock I packed up, thanked the manager and left her with a few copies of “Hog Valley” to put on her shelves beside her copies of “The Big Bend”.

I spent some time in Ocala visiting friends before heading home. Then I decided to stop by the 88 Bar & Grill on Forest Road 88 near Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest. The usual crowd was there in the early afternoon, drinking beer,  a few playing the WII Bowling game on the big screen television, everyone talking and visiting quietly. It really is a very homey and comfortable place to relax with friends. I spoke with Deb, the barmaid on duty, and gave her the signed copy of “Hog Valley”. She gave me a beer, wouldn’t let me pay for it. Then she said she wanted a copy for herself.

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The 88 Bar & Grill

I was glad to oblige, and went out to my car to get her copy. After signing it for her I tried to refuse her money, but she wouldn’t take it back. Then someone else wanted a copy, then a local marina operator wanted two copies and the owner of another local bar, The Pig Pen, wanted a copy for herself. By the time I left I’d sold and signed seven.

That more than made up for the lousy turn out in The Villages and restored my faith in my fellow man. And the beer was ice cold. And free.

Salt Springs is a very nice little town, a real tourist attraction, and hosts a large and growing retirement community. But the 88, as it’s called is a bit off the beaten path and the locals like it that way. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll be very welcome if you can find it. They have live music – country, of course, and bluegrass, and real wood floors and very down home decor (not designer down home decor, mind you, the real thing). The 88 Bar & Grill is a ‘juke’, a road house, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Pretense does not go over well in a place like the 88.

But if you’re ever in the area, drop by and mention my name. Tell Deb, and Anne and Mike and Trish that I said hi.

“Twisted Key” is essentially complete (hurray). I’ve got some editing and fleshing out to do over the next few weeks and then it goes to my editor. When I get it back I’ll be another month working the edits into the manuscript and then it’s off to the publisher.

Have a great week. Drive safe, and stay warm.

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About Gary Showalter

Gary Showalter was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He lived in Aruba, Florida and the Panama Canal Zone before joining the U.S. Army during the 1960s. Following his discharge from the Army, Mr. Showalter picked cotton in East Texas, baled hay in Ardmore Oklahoma, sold light bulbs in Los Angeles, California, and built cattle pens in Fallon, Nevada (during a blizzard, of course). After settling in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Showalter worked as a professional gardener before turning his hand to furniture making. In 1981, he moved to Israel, married, and raised four children while working as a furniture maker, silversmith, goldsmith, and ornamental wood turner. He served in the Israel Defense Forces Reserves for sixteen years, and when not on active duty he worked in government and private security. He has also served in senior management positions in two software development companies in Israel. During his time in Israel, Mr. Showalter published articles dealing with international terror and the Israel-Arab conflict in the Jerusalem Post, Israel national News and several political science web sites. Mr. Showalter returned to the United States in the fall of 2003, to care for an elderly parent. He published his first novel, “The Big Bend”, in the fall of 2008. His second novel, “Hog Valley”, is now in print. Mr. Showalter's third novel, “Twisted Key”, was published in the fall of 2011, and his fourth novel, "Lonesome Cove" is now available in Kindle format and should be published in paper near the end of 2012. He currently lives in Deland, Fl, where he is co-authoring "A Silent Star" with Tony Attanasio. "A Silent Star" is the true tale (though novelized, with names changed for security reasons) about the 4-person covert action team sent into Yemen to capture Osama Bin laden immediately after the bombing of the USS Cole in the Aden harbor in Yemen in October of 2000.
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