Zocalo Coffeehouse, San Leandro, CA
My last reading was Friday night at a punk show in Kansas City at Minibar. The touring band Magnet School from Austin opened for the local band Emmaline Twist, and I opened for
Magnet School. Dominique, Spitboy’s second bass player and bassist of Instant Girl, came with me, while our husbands stayed home with the kids. I was scheduled to go on at 10:00, which is both late for a reading, and frankly, past my bedtime. There were a lot of late nights while touring with Spitboy, and I was always tired by 11:00 even though I tried to pretend I wasn’t. I was always the first one awake too because I’ve never been one to sleep that late either. In fact, I got up just a bit after Dominique got up with the kids at around 6:30 in the morning.
This guy named Sean who is in the Kansas City band, Red Kate, reached out to me on Facebook and helped me set up the reading. He even made a flyer for the reading using my book as the image. This is one thing Spitboy was always really impressed with: the kindness of people that you meet on the road. While there were definitely more people in the audience later when the bands played, there were at least twenty or so people in the audience when I read, and Sean said that a few people came just to see me read, and I sold 8 books, which is a good amount, definitely some gas money.
The band Emmaline Twist were great with an amazing post punk, Echo and the Bunnymen or Killing Joke – the kind of band that I’d like to be in if I were ever in an active band again. They are a female fronted band too(who also plays guitar), and they have a female bass player, Kristin, who saw Spitboy play in 1992 in Sioux Fall, South Dakota. When she met Dominique and I said that going to that show “was a very big deal.” It was a pleasant surprise to read with such a great band, and to share the stage with these women. When they release some music, I will listen to it all day long.
On Saturday we took my son to the Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine in Kansas City, and I got to hang out with Dominique most of the day before we got back on the interstate and headed back to Minneapolis, back where we started the tour and from where we’d fly back home. It was a 6.5 hour drive, our longest on the tour, but we got to see Iowa again, and drive along side a cool lightening storm.
As it turns out, I was pretty sick the whole trip. It started with a sore throat that turned into swollen glands, a stiff neck, congestion, sneezing fits, and a bit of a cough. I didn’t really say that I was sick out loud until nearly the end of the trip, but I went through nearly a whole bag of lozenges, and a lot of tissue. I must have made it through the readings on pure adrenaline and old-fashioned work ethic, but I know I could not have even done that if my marido, Ines, hadn’t done all the driving, and if my son hadn’t navigated the roads, so I could rest in the back of the car. I was thrashed by the time we got back to Minneapolis. We all were, and I slept off and on all Sunday. We all slept off and on all Monday too after getting back home, and we slept well knowing that we done so much and seen so much in just six short days.
It might be a bit too early for real meaningful reflection on this book tour, but here’s what comes to mind now:
- Do include your family and bring them with you when you can.
- Your kids won’t always want to, but you should make them at least once.
- Stay with friends if you can.
- Staying with friends can make such a trip possible because it’s more affordable
- Staying with friends is also often better because you’re more likely to see more of each city and be with people who actually know it.
- Don’t forget to bring each host a small gift of appreciation.
- Take a chance on the kindness of strangers, like Sean in Kansas City!
- If you publish with a small press, try not to do all your readings in bookstores because you can’t sell your own books in books stores, and it’s nice to make a bit of gas money.
- Do read in some bookstores because bookstore people are your kind of people.
- If you can allow more time for sightseeing if you can, but since time is money, know that it might not always be possible.
- Consider doing a fund-raising campaign, complete with cool perks. I didn’t want to at first, at all, but I also didn’t feel comfortable spending all my family’s money on a trip that revolves around me.
- Find ways to make the trip to not feel all about you.
- Lastly, always keep a journal.