How I spent my Memorial Day Weekend

By now, we should all know that Memorial Day isn’t about barbeques, or hot dogs, or long weekends at the beach. It’s about the men and women who have given their lives so that you and I can disagree about things like Right-To-Life, Integration, and about whether or not the U.S. Department of Education should be dismantled. And so that we can have those long three-day weekends.

I’ve spent much of my working life overseas. No matter who is the President, no matter what the state of our economy (or who’s fault it is), this is still the best country in the world. Because those men and women gave their lives to preserve the way of life we enjoy each and every day.

That said, I had a more or less great weekend. Saturday was spent on Amelia Island at a bookstore (that shall remain nameless for reasons that will become apparent). We’d arranged the signing two months before, and I’d driven to the store to meet the owner and deliver some promotional materials and advance copies for them to read and display. I was there with a load of my novels, a nice shirt and polished shoes and my smile for over three hours, between noon and 3:30. Lots and lots of people walk up and down Centre Street in Fernandina Beach on Memorial Day weekend. Lots of tourists and Islanders both. Lots of them walked into the bookstore. None of them bought any of my books. After I packed up to leave I asked the bookstore owner if she wanted any copies for the store and she said, “No”.

The store did no advertising, did not put the advance copies of my books in the window and did not put up even a small advertisement of my appearance in any of their windows. They did, however, promote a local author who was scheduled to appear later that same day, and lots of people came in to verify that he would be there.

I won’t be back any time soon. I’ve already burned up the gas to drive there and back, twice.

Sunday and Monday I was at the memorial Day Riverfest in Green Cove Springs. There is a very nice little park in Green Cove Springs between Highway 17 and the St. John’s River, including a spring fed swimming pool, a pier and boat dock and a nice bandstand. They had some great live music and a great crowd on both days. Of course, I had way more books than I could ever hope to sell (since the never-to-be-named bookstore on Amelia Island burned me as badly as they did) at an open-air event. But I did okay, and even met some folks who had already purchased one of my books.

Their encouraging comments, more than anything, have convinced me to forge ahead with “Lonesome Cove”. I will admit succumbing to despair over ever finishing #4, or even wanting to. But now I will, in spite of bookstore owners, rising costs and dreams becoming ever more distant.

But that’s selling, boys and girls. You have to put yourself out there, knowing up front that there will be disappointments right along with successes. Don’t give in to despair, and don’t allow disappointment to drag you down. One of those previous buyers purchased both of my novels at a winter event on Fleming Island in December, and sent me an email Saturday night to tell me she had just finished “The Big Bend” and loved it, and was now starting “Hog Valley”. Then she showed up at my booth at the Green Cove Springs event to tell me in person who much she enjoyed “Big Bend”.

So of course I’m going to finish “Lonesome Cove”. How could I not? So what if sales are slow. The whole economy sucks like a vacuum cleaner. That’s not my fault. But if my readers can’t look forward to reading another of my novels, that will be my fault. And that’s just not gonna happen.


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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