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O Me of Little Faith

This weekend was a busy but fun one for me. I don’t normally include a lot of personal activities on here that aren’t related to my writing, but thought this would be a good opportunity to pull back the curtain into the glamorous life of this writer. (First thing you should know: it took me about five tries to spell “glamorous” right.)

Friday Night: Book Signing

I signed copies of the Pocket Guides on Friday night at the local Barnes & Noble. Book signings freak me out, because I’ve found myself in far too many bookstores where not-very-famous authors are signing copies of their books. And unless your name is Grisham or Koontz or King or you’ve written books about romantic vampires and werewolves, there’s not often a lot of built-in traffic for book signings. You’d be surprised how many people just walk by the table without making eye contact. As in, if I don’t look at this sad sack holding a pen, I won’t have to pretend to be interested in this book I haven’t heard about and don’t care about.

The author’s book-signing table can be a very lonely place.

So when I have a book signing, I make sure to invite 1) pretty much everyone I know 2) using every means of social media available. Primarily so no one sees me weeping into my Pocket Guides because no one wants me to sign any Pocket Guides. Having done so on Friday, I had a pretty steady crowd of Amarillo friends and family stopping by the local Barnes & Noble to buy books. Business was brisk from 7 to 9 pm, including some people I didn’t know at all who ended up buying books. (Always good.)

I even got pretty good with my sales patter. On multiple occasions someone asked me which of my three books I liked the best. Most authors are contractually bound to say, “I can’t choose a favorite. That’s like asking which of my kids is my favorite.” But my answer was as follows: Pocket Guide to the Afterlife is probably the most entertaining and interesting when it comes to new subject matter. Pocket Guide to the Bible is the best one for learning useful information, especially if you’re interested in the Bible. And Pocket Guide to Sainthood was pretty much my favorite book to write, because the subject matter was so fascinating. But they’re all funny.

Let me tell you: my inability to choose a favorite was a brilliant display of wishy-washyness. Because by I explained myself by advocating on behalf of all three books, thereby compelling my friends and family to buy…all three books. Instead of one. Genius!

Then again, maybe they bought all three books because they are my friends and family and they love me. Anyway, thanks friends and family.

Saturday Morning: Free Portrait Day

I’ve mentioned before that my brother operates an inner-city ministry in Amarillo called Mission 2540. He works with a lot of kids and their families in apartment complexes. He’s noticed that most of these families — which are often large and generationally mixed — rarely have any family pictures anywhere in their homes. What if we brought in a professional photographer, set up a makeshift studio, and took family photos for free?

(We were inspired several months ago by a video of Nashville photographer Jeremy Cowart doing something similar. He’s starting an organization called Help Portrait to do it on a larger scale.)

So my brother combined the event with his annual school-supplies-and-backpack giveaway. A friend of ours, Kyle Trafton of Trafton Photography, did the honors, and we had a lot of fun. I shot the behind-the-scenes stuff and helped with posing, while Kyle did the actual photography work. It was a lot of fun, and was, I think, a fun way to put some feet on grace and give back to the community.

Saturday Evening: Block Party

Amarillo has an annual downtown block party every year, which is mostly a festival of live music, hot food, and cold beer. The church we attend is the progressive Saturday-night ministry of a Southern Baptist congregation here in Amarillo. I play the drums for our worship band, which you may or may not have known. Several months ago, we decided that we needed to be out in the community more, for no reason other than to be out in the community, in a service capacity. So our band auditioned for the block party. Got accepted, and were given the first show on one of the main stages.

The photo above is the view from behind my drum set. It doesn’t look like very many people were there. That’s because it was 5 pm and 90 degrees on the street, so everyone is backed up — 30 feet away from the stage — in the shade of a building. They’re all hanging out where it’s cooler.

Anyway, we did a 75-minute set of worship music (lots of Chris Tomlin stuff). Also — knowing the nature of the event — we handed out free beer koozies with our church name and website on it. So there we were, playing worship music while audience members walked around sipping from cans of Coors Light that they’d wrapped up in a free koozie given to them by a Baptist church. That, kids, is something I’m proud of.

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