Three Sensational Snubs (Alternate title: What The Hell Is WRONG With People?)
Question for the ages: ‘What, the hell, is wrong with some people?”
Your guess is as good as mine.
Statement for the ages: Being a writer will grow you a hide as tough as an alligator’s. ’Cause people aren’t always nice—and that’s just the shitty little One-Star reviews you will inevitably get. People can also be intentionally mean---and again, your guess is as good as mine as to why anyone gets off on being a deliberate douche.
It does make for some good stories, though, and here are three of mine, two quick, one long:
‘So, I Read Your Book….’
Back when I released the first title in my Secrets & Shadows series, I was not quite so naïve as not to know that many people in the small town where I lived picked it up just to parse out: “Who did she write this about?” “Is there sex?” “Omigod. There IS sex.”“Does her husband—the local school principal— know she wrote about sex?”
“Is it ABOUT THEIR sex life?”
(The answers to the above, incidentally, are as follows: 1. I wrote D&P about the imaginary characters who live in my head. 2. Yes, there are three distinct love scenes—and note, I say love scenes, not sex scenes because in my humble opinion, I craft excellent intimacy; these scenes are neither Mary-Sue prudish, nor vulgar either. There is a beauty there that I am proud of. 3. My husband is fully aware of the love scenes in my books and, 4. Just like the murders in my books aren’t about the people I have killed in real life, so too are the sheet sports between my characters. Art is not imitating life in these instances, rest assured.)
But I digress.
Releasing a book in the small town where you live is going to net you some fascinating encounters. One of mine was with a teacher in my husband’s school. I’d gone there to drop off his lunch, and she spotted me in the hall.
<Sidebar: Can’t you just tell, sometimes, by the smile that fills a person’s face, that whatever they’re about to say is going to jab an invisible blade in your chest?>
Uh-huh. So I braced myself.
“So, I read your book,” she said, big ol’ predator’s smile sparkling.
“And I actually liked it.”
“I mean…I didn’t really think you could write a book, but…I was pleasantly surprised.”
Umm…am I supposed to say “Thank you”? I didn’t. I just mumbled something like “Glad you liked it” then hoped that one of her students would pull his pants down and take a crap on her desk later…even if that meant my husband, the principal, would have to deal with it.
The Book Club Queen of Mean
Some chicks hang onto their ‘mean girl’ traits long past their shelf life. Again, the ‘whys’ are many, and I don’t really give a damn what makes these women that way. I have precious little patience for a teenage Mean Girl, much less for one who is already treading into bifocal territory.
This particular ‘Mean Girl’ surfaced YEARS before I ever wrote D&P. Her child and my first born attended Kindergarten together, and her unsubtle hatred of me was evident on the first day of school: it was in the curled lip, stank-face she wore as I straightened my daughter’s tiny lapels and helped buckle her adorable little Mary-Janes. It was in the behind-the-hand whispers (again, intentionally unsubtle), she swapped with her Mean Girl sidekick.
(Because, like ass cheeks, these bitches always come in pairs).
Ever have someone hate you before you even say ‘Hello’? Women are particularly skilled at executing this sort of indiscriminate loathing, and its bitchery is both heartless and despicable.
These two self-important knuckleheads continued Mean-Girling me for years; every school function was a landfield of their crotchery. Even once when I cleaned up the puke Mean Girl Sidekick’s kid had spewed all over a desk (pre-Christmas Concert jitters), I got the stink-eye as though I was the one who made her lose her lunch in the first place.
Ah, yes. This Gruesome Twosome were an elite force to be reckoned with—and they wanted me to know, at every opportunity, how loathsome they found me.
And then came D&P. And then came a host of (some SENSATIONAL! Some…not so much) invitations to local book clubs.
One particularly swank Club included none-other than these two mooing cows.
(Did I ever mention that, when it comes to luck, I am in an enormous cosmic DEFICIT? It’s just the dice The Universe rolled for me, apparently)
Now, one of these women was allegedly supposed to make cookies in the fashion of D&P’s original cover that night.Except…
The hostess approached me “(Name Withheld) won’t be here tonight. She didn’t want to make cookies for your book.”
Fuu…seriously? And really—why tell me that? Moreover, and again: what does one say to this while simultaneously maintaining graciousness? I think what I did was simply pour myself another healthy dollop of Shiraz. (The event, as stated, was swanky, and the wine choices excellent. Thank God).
Then - stop the presses! - in swept in the alpha Queen Mean in all her stank-faced glory. She said hello to absolutely none of her friends who were already in attendance. Instead, she bee-lined it for me and announced: “Just so you know, I didn’t read your book.”
Well, fuck you very much.
There are so many things that, to this day, I want to ask this Starts-With-A –C. Like “Why don’t you have manners?” and “Do you know you’re an asshole?” but mostly: “What, exactly, is your fucking problem?”
I mean…I don’t want to know. But I still kinda want to know.
The Signing From HELL
In the spirit of saving the best for last, this one has multiple layers of nastiness, so buckle up! Disclaimer: I won't share the city or the store this all went down in, because I have infinitely more class than the way I was treated. Here we go:
Shortly after I released Divinity & The Python, I was cold-called by the publicist of another Western Canadian author. This person, enthusiastic to acknowledge an unknown like me, invited me to join a reading with the author they were representing, and another well-known author—at a well-known bookstore.
I jumped at the opportunity.
And, yes, I know what you’re thinking: I am naïve. Hopelessly naïve. And you’re right, but we’ll set my naivete aside for just a second.
Nervous for this ‘big event’, I brought thank you gifts: a bouquet of roses for the bookstore, and a bottle of wine for each of the other writers who had agreed to do readings alongside me.
We sat down to lunch first—a chance to meet which, in a normal world with normal people, would be perfectly reasonable and civilized.
I presented the wine. The first author—the one represented by the person who’d cold-called me—took her bottle with passable graciousness. But the other author…. She looked at the wine, then blinked at me, much like I had just placed a steaming dog turd on her plate. “I’m allergic to alcohol,” she announced, in a tone that could cough out snowballs in Hell. “And my husband doesn’t drink.”
Now, I know a liar when I hear one, and I can spot a bitch in a pitch-black coalmine. This woman was not allergic to booze, and she was no recovering drunk, either. (Hey—I am an addictions counselor by trade). And while perhaps her husband really isn’t a drinker, whether he was or he wasn’t was irrelevant. She said what she said to be an asshole. And a bully.
And she wasn’t done.
Upon arriving at the bookstore, we found a healthy-sized crowd waiting, and each of us got to introduce one another. Lucky for me, ol’ Booze Free got to read my biography, within which said: “Bonnie Randall is grateful to live between her two favorite places: Edmonton, Alberta, and Jasper National Park.” Now, most people (the ones who aren’t assholes) would just read the bio, sit down and shut up. Not ol’ Booze-Free! At this place in my introduction she paused (dramatically; it involved looking over her eyeglasses), then addressed the crowd “I don’t know why she thinks it’s a good thing to live between her two favorite places.” She was far louder than necessary. “You’d think she’d want to be in either one or the other.”
I stared at her. At this point she had transcended mere ‘bitch’ status. She was now a full-blown See You Next Tuesday.
And she still wasn’t done.
We each read excerpts from our respective pieces of work, then fielded questions from the crowd. I was the only author with a paranormal story, so when a participant asked about hauntings, and how they informed my fiction, I stood up to answer.
Booze-Free beat me to it! Again loudly—and with nauseating, pedantic precision—she took the question…then smiled at me, smug.
“Okay,” I’m thinking, at this point, “did I take your friggin’ kids away from you back when I was with Child Protection?”
And she Still. Was. Not. Done.
After the readings, we headed upstairs where we were each stationed at a table with our books for sale. Booze-Free picked up a copy of my novel, perused it for far longer than necessary, then said “Well, I suppose I’ll take a copy of this.”
I’d pretty much had it with the whole fucking event by this time, so in lieu of a verbal reply, I simply gestured to the cash register counter.
Booze-Free smiled, broad. “Oh, no,” she said. “I don’t buy. I only ever do trades.” She held up her own novel.
What could I—wanting to be gracious, and certainly not wanting a scene—do?
In retrospect, I wish I’d said “Sure!” then traded her my book for the excellent bottle of shiraz she’d been such a See You Next Tuesday about.
Days later, it gave me great pleasure to dump her shitty, I-wanna-be-another-Margaret-Atwood novel into my local library’s thrift pile. Yet to this day, I am mystified as to why she was such a tasteless, nasty bitch. I was a total stranger. She already had her author-chops; a strong foothold in the writing community, reviews in the city paper, and a following among readers—ergo, I was no threat to her. In fact, to this day I am still largely an unknown author, so…was it some bizarre hazing ritual? Did I remind her of someone she hated?
Or is she just an asshole?
We might never know, and that night didn’t cease being disastrous.
I’d sold several copies after the reading, enough that the bookstore—a boutique affair with a massive following and stellar reputation—wanted the balance of the stack I’d brought; 13 books. “Invoice us,” they said, “and we’ll square up with you right away.”
I did and…they didn’t. Confused, I invoiced them again.
Then a friend of mine visited the bookstore to buy my book, and was told they’d sold out and had copies on order.
Therefore, they sold every single copy of my book for 100% profit, while I wrote—literally, in my ledger—their invoice off as a ‘Bad Debt’.
Moral of the story: My Dad always said “Be wary of the guy who wants to be your friend right off the bat. Don’t trust him, and don’t have anything to do with him.” Take that advice to the bank, kids. In my enthusiasm to get some exposure, I leapt at what was actually me being used as an excuse for two other authors to have readings and book signings. I still feel like a rube, and here’s what I know: I will never—EVER—pair with another author for promo. EVER. This is why I bust my butt writing blog posts, articles for Fiction University, why I query libraries, why I will attend book clubs who read my book, and why I put together my own pitches for speaking events, readings, etc. Marketing and becoming known is far harder than writing an actual novel—yet I will gladly claw my way up that mountain alone rather then ever have an experience such as the one with these self-serving asshats.
I do not wish them ill. But I do not wish them well, either.
And as for that oh-so-charming-and-revered bookstore? The one that ripped me—a newbie author who just wanted some publicity—off? I will never step foot in there again. EVER. And if Chapters (who may be a big box store, but who nonetheless have hosted me for countless signings, and paid me on time, every time) swallows their sales and forces them into bankruptcy? Boo-freakin’-hoo.
And that’s a wrap, folks! Like my stories? Then you’ll love my fiction!
The first title in my Secrets & Shadows series, is Divinity & The Python…where deception and desire dance in the dark.
Secrets & Shadows Book II, Within The Summit’s Shadow whisks you into the Rocky Mountains where love waits…but so does murder.
And if you’re in the mood for a little scare, let’s head down to Los Angeles and check into the notorious Cecil Hotel…where there’s always a room in No Vacancy
room in No Vacancy