Newsy news first today:
The Saving Grace audiobook is out! The Saving Grace audiobook is out! Woo hoo! And guess what? If you sign up for an account with Audible, not only do you get free audiobooks, but if your first three choices are my books (and I have six available on Audible — just type Pamela Fagan Hutchins as your search), I get a bonus. You win, I win. Yippee!
We had a fantastic review come in on Leaving Annalise from Romance Times, since it is a romantic mystery after all. Please go check it out. We’ve also had several very nice ones appear on Amazon and Goodreads. Keep the honest reviews coming, my friends, keep them coming.
And now on to our story
After the Auburn-Birmingham-Jonesboro stretch, I was really ready not to deal with RV problems for a day, so St. Louis for us was all about the event. Of course, it was raining–heavily–but we wouldn’t have expected anything different.
Our St. Louis location was a pretty posh mall with RV-unfriendly parking. We finally found a spot in a maintenance lot and hoofed it inside. Poor Clark hoofed it over and over, since St. Louis had woefully under-bought for the crowd we expected, so we had to supplement with our inventory. Nice to have a big strapping man child when it comes to toting boxes of books!
St. Louis did not disappoint. The Sisters in Crime came out en force and early. It is so awesome talking to other writers around the country! Big love to Pam D. for spearheading their appearance. I also got to meet the friends and family of my beloved Meghan (my editor), her mother, brother, two close friends, and her stepmom. It was a Meghan Mutual Admiration Society! The ADHD mommas represented, too, with Meredith, her husband (congrats on your 20 years in the Air Force!), and a few of their (many) kiddos. It was an incredible evening.
“This is how it is,” I told Clark, “not like it was Jonesboro. I promise. It’s mostly fun like this.”
He grunted, Clark-like.
Eric texted. “You have an 11 am appointment with Carl the mobile RV repairman in Springfield in the bookstore parking lot to replace your carburetor.”
We moseyed on. The rain continued. Our dump tanks were full, so I employed the Eric fix: one large tumbler of water in the potty, to seal the chute and prevent odors. When we arrived at our RV park somewhere in Missouri (God knows where), I noticed something had spilled on the floor. I tracked through it to its source: the potty. I prayed it was only the water I had poured in, but, let’s face it, it was water out of a toilet, and I felt nauseous. I turned on the sink water to wet our only towels to clean it up, but nothing came out. Ever. Not the whole night.
I texted Eric. “Can I ask Carl to fix the water and toilet, too?”
“Absolutely, if he has time,” he said.
I got up early to do laundry, take out the nasty trash, and dump the tanks. The trash went well enough, but the laundry was closed until 10 am, long after we’d be nearly to Springfield. So I got Clark up and sent him to shower.
“I’ll meet you at the dump station,” I told him.
Clark left. He was back 5 minutes later. “I forgot my soap.”
Clark left. He was back 5 minutes later. “I forgot my shampoo.”
I was beginning to feel a bit . . . anxious. Irritable, even. I moved the Bookmobile to the dump station, chewing my lip.
Eric had attached a new collar to our dump house, ostensibly an improvement. It leaked like a mad thing. I prayed the people in the adjacent camp site didn’t notice. I rushed to rinse it with the dump station hose, but no water came out. I tried again. Nothing. I thought about crying and didn’t have the energy.
“Do you need some help?” the man in the next campsite asked. “We’re new to this, but if we can do something?”
A brittle, high-pitched laugh escaped me. “There’s no water at the dump station. It’s kind of a critical issue.” I pointed to my dump hose.
His wife joined him. “Oh my.”
“How about we lend you our bucket, and you can use our water spigot?” he suggested.
“Yes, yes, thank you,” I gushed.
I ferried buckets until I had gotten the hose half clean, then stuffed it back in its place to disinfect later. Meanwhile, my new friends had kept up a friendly barrage of questions about my RV and the tour. When I was done, I brought them back a set of signed books. I was too flustered to get their name. About the only good things beside them that morning were that it had quit raining and that Clark finally finished his ablutions and rejoined me. Ahem. Third try’s a charm, and all.
So now I had shopping and laundry to do in Springfield in addition to the RV repair and the event. We made it there in time to source a laundry mat, which turned out to be in the same strip center as the book store! A positive sign. A reversal of fortune in the works, maybe? I dropped in our loads, got quarters and cash from the bank in the parking lot, and went back to greet Carl. As I walked, cat calls and whistles assailed me. It was that part of town, apparently. I can’t complain, really, because at 46, a girl will take just about any affirmation she can get, at least from a distance.
Carl, my friends, Carl was a heavenly God-sent creature. In no time at all he had replaced our water filter and put in a new potty. If only I had been in a good enough place mentally and emotionally to remember to take his picture! Oh well. Picture him like Santa Claus, only younger, and not in red. Or like Jesus only older, without the robe. Something like that. I went in for my event reciting the Lord’s Prayer while Carl attacked the generator.
I had heard from a Goodreads friend, Cassandra, that she might come to see me, but a lot of people say that. If I had a dollar for each, right? But Cassandra did. She came early enough, in fact, that she saw us all toodle-looing around with laundry, errands, Petey duty, and RV repair. She brought her son, mother, and grandmother, and they drove two hours from Mountain Home, AR. TWO HOURS, y’all. Anyone that drives two hours gets a load of books free from me, that’s for sure, so Cassandra did. Check out her great blog post about our visit, HERE. Enter to win a giveaway of Saving Grace on her blog, HERE.
We also met lots of other nice folks at the store, ABC Books, not the least of which was the owner, Valerie (follow ABC Books on FB HERE). Check them out when you’re in town. They have a front room full of Christian, kids, and nonfiction books, and a back room of fiction. They are a gem, for sure.
I asked Clark to take pictures of all the greatness that was going on in ABC Books. Cool as an extra long cucumber, he reached into his pocket and pulled out . . . a sandwich. Everyone stared at him for a moment and then burst out laughing. I can’t say this was an unusual moment for me with Clark. I understood his logic: you never know when you’re going to need an emergency snack on the road. That Boy is a hoot, whether he means to be or not.
About halfway through the event, Carl came inside. He handed me his expectedly large bill, along with some unwelcome news: my generator had a brand new carburetor, but it now appeared that my motor was the issue, and that meant ditching old generator for a new generator, as a rebuild was too expensive and time consuming for a roadside fix. Carl could source one and install it Monday, but it was Saturday afternoon and we were due in Tulsa at 2 pm the next day, and OK City on Monday.
Sadly, we would have to turn down his help, and take our chances on down the road. The increasingly warm and steamy road.
And with that we bid ABC Books, Cassandra, and Carl adieu and took off for Joplin.
Pictures below, y’all.
30 minutes before the start of St. Louis event.
Clark and his public, take 1.
Clark and his public, take 2.
ADHD Mommas, unite!
Sisters in Crime.