Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book signing

Yesterday I went to a book signing. Not the "I sit behind a table and sign books" kind, but rather the "I sit in the audience and listen to one of my favorite authors talk about her craft" kind. Boy, was it fun!

I was thrilled when I found out Jennifer Chiaverini would be signing books at Chester County Book & Music Company. I planned my week around going to the event, packed up all my hardcovers, and went down to West Chester.

It's been a long time since I've gone to a book signing, so I had forgotten how it feels. I felt giddy with excitement as I waited for Jennifer to arrive. I realized I had this mental image of her waiting in some sort of "green room" enjoying light refreshments and waiting for the curtain to rise so she could come onstage. Of course, there was no curtain, and no stage, and I knew from my own signings that the likelihood of light refreshments was slim. When I go to a signing, there isn't even a staging area. Generally I walk into the store/library/venue, greet the bookseller/librarian/event coordinator and go straight to the location of the signing. If my experiences are any judge, Jennifer would not be reclining in a special "pre-signing area." At best, she might be waiting in the staff break room.

As it turns out, she was sitting in traffic on the PA Turnpike.

She had a great crowd (by my standards, at least) and although everyone was excited for her to arrive, no one was disgruntled that she was late. In fact, one woman who learned about the signing only 20 minutes before it started was thrilled that Jennifer was running behind. My only concern came from the fact that I had multiple books for her to sign.

Jennifer is one of the authors whose writing has inspired me to collect hardcovers of their work. It started when I purchased a paperback copy of The Quilter's Apprentice and loved it. I knew I wanted to purchase her second book, Round Robin and found that it would be more economical for me to purchase the hardcover compilation of books 1-3 rather than purchasing paperback copies of books 2 and 3 separately. So I did. Books 4-6 likewise came bound together in a single hardcover, so when I finished Cross Country Quilters I purchased the second compilation and read The Runaway Quilt, The Quilter's Legacy, and The Master Quilter. When I finished book 6, I asked about books 7-9 and found that they were only available individually.

At that point I could have switched over to paperback books, but by then I was totally hooked. So, one by one, I picked up the remaining books in the series, all in hardcover.

So, yesterday I attended Jennifer's signing with my 13 hardcover books. When Jennifer arrived she was far more poised than I think I would have been after sitting in crazy traffic. She took the podium, read from her newest book, The Union Quilters, and took questions. I have to say, Jennifer Chiaverini is extremely likeable. Like her characters, Jennifer was friendly, intelligent, funny, and honest, even when she thought her honesty might upset her fans (apparently there is great controversy on the issue of a "quilter's code" in the Underground Railroad).

When the questions ended and the signing began, I joined the line of readers waiting for an autograph. I wasn't sure how Jennifer, or the kind people at Chester County Books would react to a request for so many signatures, but to everyone's credit, no one batted an eye... not even the people behind me in line. In fact, since I brought my copies of The Aloha Quilt, and The Quilter's Holiday with me, Jennifer even gave me the pins she designed to promote those books.

In all, it was a delightful evening, and one that I'll remember for a while. And the best part? Well, that must have been when Jennifer announced she'll have another book out in November. The Wedding Quilt. I can't wait to find out who's getting married... I have a guess, but it seems I'll have to read more to find out!

So, when was the last time you felt giddy to attend a book signing? Which authors would you drive an hour to see? What was your best book signing experience?


  1. I think the last time I was giddy about a book signing was when I attended Book Expo America (BEA) last spring at the Javits Center in NYC. That place made me very giddy, because it wasn't just a book signing. It was multiple book signings going on simultaneously. And all those wonderful books to bring home. I didn't hurt that I went with three friends. Among us we saw so many famous and favorite authors.

  2. Oh yes, BEA was amazing. I was far beyond giddy, I was overwhelmed! What a strange contrast that wonderful mayhem was to the actual act of writing, which is so solitary.