Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lots of thanks, and lots of pictures

(NOTE: I’ve embedded links to photos throughout this time as an experiment, just because I have WAY too many pictures to share this time around.)

I’ve entered into that part of the process where I’m getting responses from friends and family, who are telling me how they like the book. You hope to hear that, of course, and you expect to hear that to some extent — I mean, even if they didn’t like it, you might anticipate that they’d be polite and lie to you.

But if they’re lying, then please, lie to me some more.

I got some nice phone messages last week just before the Java Café debut — Windy (who sent this picture of me with The Son of Todd at Java Café) called to say she usually can’t read something that’s written by someone she knows without imagining them in the process of writing it; that wasn’t a problem when she read Century, and any time she can get me out of her mind is a good thing.

And Virginia called to say there was nothing missing from the story and anybody who thought so must be — (cue the Texas accent) — from NEW YORK CITY!

Bette sent me an e-mail this week to say that she set aside Love in the Time of Cholera to be "wowed" by Century. Wow indeed, Bette. For Bette I’ve got some pictures of patriotic barbershop poles gathered within two blocks of each other on Palafox Street (the main drag) in Flomaton, Ala. Look here. And here. And here.

And then there was a long letter (via email) from my sister, which came at just the right time to counteract things that were really bringing me down in "the real world" — you know the sort, the things that don’t care that I’m trying to promote a book, write new stories, start up a new novel, keep up a blog — the "real world" that thinks I should work a "job" and pay "bills" and answer to a "boss" and keep up a "household" and take "baths" and "eat."

Here are some excerpts from Lisa’s letter (used without permission) taking out elements that maybe got too personal or gave away parts of the plot for those who haven’t read the story:

"So I read this really good book the other day. Have you heard about it? It's terrific! You might want to check it out. It's called Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century. ... Perhaps you recognize the title? Yes? Your little sister is very proud. I feel as though I was transported back home for awhile there. I absolutely loved the book, Tony. It made me laugh out loud, and it made tears come to my eyes. Let's see--I love the way you interwove Shakespeare throughout the book, the references to the Macbeth witches, the airy sprite. I love the chapter on Mary Anne's String Theory, the chapter on Gil at the river ... I love the Centennial Man! The devil! I almost cried while I read about the heart and soul of the town being Friday night football games--isn't it true? And knowing what I know about the school being gone now--it's just very sad, and I think the heart of Century is gone now that the Blackcats are no longer their unifying force. Anyway, some of my reactions were very personal, having lived your life, basically, knowing the stories (like the reference to what that witch Ms. (CENSORED) put you through), but I tried to read the book as a READER, as a lover of words, as a consumer, as someone who had never been to Century, and I really, really liked the book! I feel as though I can't say enough. I think anyone from a small town, particularly in the south, will feel the same. ... The way you talked about it, I really expected worse things--harsher things--to be said. I think, if anything, the book is realistic, not idealistic, but also not derogatory or belittling to our hometown. ... How does one go about getting on the NY Times Bestseller's List?"

I wish I knew. I don’t even know how to convince local booksellers that they could make an easy buck or two by carrying the thing.

Then there was my Dad (shown here on the right with my Uncle Eddie on the left), who talked up the book at Century, telling people how he liked the stories and even warning one lady about the dirty language — even thought it’s not gratuitous like on TV, he said. Maybe he ought to have warned her about the folks bumpin’ uglies. Or not. But I was relieved a bit to hear him say that, because I have to admit to some trepidation about how he — as Alger-Sullivan historian for one, and as my Dad for another — would take the thing. I’m still waiting to hear the reaction from my brother- and sister-in-law, him being the butcher in the family who was formerly employed at the Piggly Wiggly.

More photos from the Century signing:
Here’s me holding the book at the very sign that inspired it.
The Atmore regulars as they perused the table.
A jazz band playing on the steps of the old Century Post Office Museum.
Model A Fords lined up for the crowds to view and later to take rides.

Anyway, this is a really long-winded way of saying thank you all. Thanks for buying the book, for reading it, for responding to it. Thanks for supporting me emotionally as well as financially (the former even more so, as you can probably understand). This book is never going to take the world by storm or make me a billionaire. But your enjoyment of it enriches me.

Next up: Sunday’s Lifestyle front of The News Herald will feature a story about Lynn Wallace, Me, and a deer in the headlights — er, that is, Lon Prater, a nice fellow also from Panama City who has a story in the recent L.Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future collection. I’ll email the story to members of the group Sunday. Here’s a sneak preview of the photo from the story.

Lynn and Michael and I will sign books at Books-a-Million in PC on Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come by and say hi and hang out and have coffee.

Finally be sure to check out the Pottersville site. There are pictures from our events going up now and they’ll be updated regularly. Also, the "Dispatch" newsletters that I’ve been handing out at signings are on the Century page in PDF format. Look for these to turn into a regular newsletter in the near future.

Street Team assignment: If you’ve read Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century, please go to, Barnes and, and and write a customer review.
That’s about all for now. Peace.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Day in a Life in Century

We loaded the van and drove to Century on Saturday morning for the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society's fundraiser to "Bring Back Old No. 100" -- the effort to raise enough cash to pay for moving an old steam locomotive that once served the lumber mill in Century from its current location to the James Houston Jones Historic Park off Jefferson Street. There was a jazz band that played on the porch of the old Post Office Museum, and cloggers that danced in the street, and a dancing troupe, and twirlers who performed, and barbecue plates and hotdogs for sale. The Model A Club lined up a dozen different roadsters, coupes, trucks, and so forth -- all "Model A Fords" -- and gave rides around the town for a $5 donation to the cause. I sold books, as did the Escambia County Heritage Book folks, the Alger-Sullivan group, and a couple of self-published authors. There were other venders along the walkway between the museums as well, and a Civil War re-enactment group from Atmore, Ala.

Here's are a couple of curious things for those of you who have never done this:

1) If someone tells you they'll be back for a book before the day is over, they are probably telling you the truth. That has been my experience. You'll think they're putting you off so they can get away without spending money, but they are most likely just delaying having to carry a book around. They'll be back.

2) The people you most expected to want your book -- friends and neighbors from the old days -- are not going to buy one. They are going to come up and hug your neck and fawn over you and talk about you always writing when you were a kid, and dressing up in costumes and playing with their children, and how proud they are, and is that your mama over there by that picnic table? and then they're gone... They are not going to buy a book. They just think it's real cute that you think you're a writer.

And old friends are NOT going to come out to see you. Not. One.

However, strangers will be excited to know that there's a novel about this subject. They'll be tickled by the chapter headings, or the cover photos. They will buy a copy, and bring other strangers to your table to show them the book, and those people will buy a copy. Sometimes, they'll also ask for information on how to order additional copies, how to order autographed copies. (See Matthew 13:57 and substitute "author" for "prophet.")

That's not to say that I had a bad time in Century. Far from it. I had a good time. The turnout was about what everyone expected, but less than we all hoped for. I was pleased to see so many members of my family again, and so many other people I hadn't seen for such a long time, even if they didn't trade cash for my pretty little paperweight.

Please take a minute or two and check out the Pottersville site, which has been updated recently to include PDF files of "The Dispatch." I've been putting together silly versions of the fictional Century paper to pass out at signings and to leave behind to tweak the curious into scanning the Web for more info, and Michael is putting these on the site as PDFs. If you go to the page for Welcome to the Dawning, you'll find the "Java Cafe Edition," and the "Century" edition should be up shortly. In the future these will become an actual and regularly scheduled newsletter both showcasing recent events and giving a schedule of upcoming ones. I'll let you know when that becomes available. The Pottersville site will also begin hosting some the photos from our signing events, so you might want to bookmark it and visit regularly.

Also, watch for this Sunday's Lifestyle front in The News Herald to feature a story about three local writers -- Lynn Wallace, myself, and Lon Prater, who recently had a tale published in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future collection. There'll be info with that story on a joint signing Lynn, Michael and I will be having at the PC Books-a-Million.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Pick a book, any book. See? Nothin' up my sleeve.

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One down, one to go ...

So the signing at Java Cafe was Tuesday, and a good time was had by all. Bette (who maintains that never a blue stripe should circle a barbershop pole) was there in spirit, surprising us with free drinks (thanks) when she couldn't make it in fact. Among the pleasant surprises were Tom Needham (whose photo of me will follow this post), Kendall Middlemas Henley, who brought Addie, and Windy (I spelled it right this time) Twilly and The Son of Todd.

I distributed copies of The Dispatch, which are going to be regular funtime elements of signing events, and which I intend to become a regular snailmail/PDF newsletter at some point. For now, Michael is planning to link PDFs of them to my page at the Pottersville site, so keep an eye out.

Saturday is the "Return of the Native Son" event. No, that's not quite right. It's the "Help Bring Old 100 Home" event in Century, and I'll be signing books there while they last. Quantities are limited, then I'll be preselling for shipment of signed editions back to the homestead. Anyway, in the historic district Saturday morning, right by "the Old Leach House" just down the street from the Post Office Museum, I'll have my table set up. Parking will be by the little league field on Church Street, as Jefferson Avenue will be closed for use by the Model A club and the cloggers. Barbecue plates for sale, gospel music and tours of the museums on tap. All to raise money to bring the old Alger-Sullivan steam engine back to town for use in the historic park. If that doesn't sound like the ultimate smalltown Saturday, I don't know what does.

The Pensacola News Journal carried a story about the event in Wednesday's edition.

Finally, Michael last night reminded me of the Bible verse about a prophet's popularity in his own country. Hope that doesn't have dire meaning.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

At the risk of redundancy...

I sent the following out to an e-mail list I've compiled of various and sundry folk with whom I've corresponded over the years. Most of them are not people who have signed up to receive notices from this blog when it is updated. (Ha-ha, they got spammed anyway.) I try to blind copy those emails, and hope I do it right. For all my big-city ways, I ain't so technologically sophisticated after all. Here's what they saw in their Weird Wired Interwubs thingy:

Hello from Northwest Florida and "Welcome to the
Dawning of a New Century." This is just a short note
as a reminder that I'll be sippin' Joe and signin'
pulp with fellow scribner Lynn Wallace in a
Pottersville Press debut party Tuesday, Oct. 4, 6 to 8
p.m., at the Java Cafe on Harrison Avenue in downtown
Panama City. Hope to see you there. (Mention this
e-mail and I'll give you a free gift.)

If you haven't seen my new book, come by and check it
out. It's shiny and pretty. Looks nice on mantles and
bedside tables, but even better in the hands of
readers who maybe by now have got an inkling that
they're in for something a bit different even before
they crack the spine.

"Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century"
(Wish You Were Here.)


“Tony has his fingers all over the pulse of Florida
funk — probably a blessing and a curse for him — but
always a delight to readers of this state’s fiction.”
— Tim Dorsey (author of "Florida Roadkill")

"Welcome to the Dawning of a New Century"
By Tony Simmons
ISBN: 1-888146-08-7
Hardcover * 165 pages * September 2005 *