Santa Rosa

Tonight’s event at Copperfield’s in Santa Rosa was a benefit for the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. They got a percentage from every book sold tonight and in the last few weeks. I hear they have a pretty amazing worm bin setup—15 or so big wooden bins that fill an area as large as the wing of the bookshop where I was reading.

It was another pretty good crowd—a few people wandered in late and I think that by the end of the evening we had 25 or 30, including a few that just happened to be in the store, heard me talking, and wandered over to hear more. As usual, there were several people in the audience who had some experience with worms—people who already had a worm bin, or were planning to buy one, and some gardeners who bragged about their own worm populations. There’s always a strange cranky guy in the audience—some guy who knows a couple of weird worm facts and wants to share them with the group. So we had one of those, too.

I’m a little worried about this clear gel I’m putting the worms in for these talks. It’s worked fine up to now, but lately the worms seem to be getting odd little injuries while they’re in this stuff. One nearly severed a tail, and I’m sure nobody who had been handling it had done anything that would have injured it, and another seemed to have burst a blood vessel tonight. So I’m going to quit using the stuff and just pull them out of the dirt to show them to people. It means that my hands will always be dirty and I’ll always have to travel with paper towels and those little hand wipes, but at least I won’t have to worry about any more worm injuries. They seem perfectly content in their little plastic tubs of dirt.

Tomorrow we get up early and head down to Santa Cruz. I’m going to stop by Bookshop Santa Cruz to sign stock, and then I have a reading tomorrow night at Capitola Book Café. This is my former hometown, so it should be a great crowd.

Thursday, April 15, Highway 17

Scott’s driving us to San Jose and I’m blogging, here in the dark car, with the laptop plugged into the cigarette lighter. Tonight was Capitola Book Café. I knew this would be a good event—I expected a few friends to turn out, and there had been a nice article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, but I was still surprised to walk in and find that people were already jostling for seats near the front fifteen minutes before I was supposed to speak. A woman at the counter was holding a copy of my book and asking whether the author could sign it for her now because she had to leave early; the staff looked a little flustered so I sidled up alongside her and said, “Would you like the author to sign that? I think we can arrange it.”

Those are fun little author moments. I inscribed two copies for her.

I had a very appreciative crowd of 40-50 people tonight, including a woman who teaches worm composting workshops around town. She got a little extra publicity for her workshop alongside the notices that ran in the paper about my book, so much so that her workshop sold out and she’s having to schedule another one. So I made an announcement about that and let everyone know that they could buy worms from her, too.

People often bought my last book as a gift; it was so small and charming that it made a nice present. I don’t really expect anyone to give a worm book as a gift, but you’d be surprised how many I sign with the words “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations on your new home.” Worm lovers are very sincere in their affection for the creatures and are genuinely happy to share their enthusiasm.

I didn’t put the worms in the Soil Moist tonight. I just pulled them out of the dirt and set them on my palm. The bookstore supplied some towels so I had some way to clean myself up before I signed books. It wasn’t so bad. I’d rather keep the worms happy.

I keep waiting for a bad event, one in which nobody shows up and it’s just me and the worms and the bookstore staff and I have to try to pretend that I don’t mind. It hasn’t happened yet, though. Tonight we sleep in San Jose and tomorrow I head to Crissy Field for a talk at their bookstore/visitors center, then I’m back in Santa Rosa for the night because I’ve got an hour-long radio interview there on Saturday morning. Back and forth, across the Golden Gate Bridge. These will be well-traveled worms before it’s all over.