Afterwords Bookstore Speaks….

This might be one of the sweetest press releases ever!  Jack and I head off Tuesday to speak at Afterwords Books.

Turning Retail Stores Into Community Resources
Bookstore Owners Lead Discussion for Local Business Owners at Special Event in Edwardsville

EDWARDSVILLE, ILL. October 11, 2013 – How can locally-owned businesses stay at the top of shoppers’ minds in a world dominated by big box stores and online retailers? On October 22, 2013, two family-run bookstore owners – one from Edwardsville, Ill. and one from Big Stone Gap, Va. – will share their stories how they transformed their stores into community hubs in order to drive sales.

Like many locally-owned retailers, LuAnn Locke of Afterwords Bookstore in Edwardsville faced an uphill battle in encouraging residents to shop local. As a bookstore owner, it was even more challenging with the proliferation of e-readers in the market. On the verge of closing shop, Locke connected with Wendy Welch, owner of Tales of the Lonesome Pine bookstore in Virginia and author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap. Through her experience and buoyed by the lessons of Welch, Locke transformed Afterwords into a community resource for book lovers and was able to stay in business.

On October 22, Welch and Locke will join together at Afterwords to lead a discussion on how local businesses can be more than retail stores – they can be gathering spots that encourage community interaction to help boost sales. Welch and Locke will share best practices, grassroots marketing efforts and in-store programs that helped their businesses survive in a competitive marketplace.

Said Locke, “Welch’s book was instrumental in our decision to keep fighting the good fight – to continue to believe in Afterwords Books and what it means to our community. She has inspired to me to make the store a place where book lovers can connect over their shared interests and boost interest in reading throughout the region.”

Small business owners and the public alike are welcome to join in the discussion, starting at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and a 20 percent discount will be offered on all book club selections. Afterwords Books is located at 232 Buchanan Street in Edwardsville, Ill. For more information about Afterwords or its upcoming events, visit or call 618-655-0355.

About Afterwords Books: Afterwords Books is a family owned and operated bookstore in Edwardsville, Ill. Afterwords offers customers both new and used books, a trade for credit program, free children’s story times, book clubs for all ages, a monthly documentary club, educational toys, and unique gifts crafted from local artisans. As a locally-owned store dedicated to the community, Afterwords is committed to serving as a community resource and gathering place for fans of the written word. For more information, visit

“Put the Kettle On”

Is it traditional to make your last post of the Old Year a True Confession?

When Jack and I did that string of author signings in October/November, friends who had published warned me to expect similar questions at each bookstore. But we found that for the most part (excepting, “How did you find an agent?”) questions were rarely repeated in different places.

We found it was comments, not questions, that tended to circle recurring themes: readers loved “Last Cowboy”; lots of participants made “we’ll put the kettle on” references; and people often interrupted at appropriate places with “You’re Nuts!”

But the questions they asked were as diverse as the audiences and the shops themselves. So when someone asked me about my author advance, I wasn’t prepared. She only wanted to know what I’d done with the money, nothing more invasive, but it still startled me.

Truth is, the day after I signed the contract with St. Martin’s and everything was official, I went on a little spending bender. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but straight to the Signals catalog did I go, and dropped $60. You know those sweet little white cups with “Sereni-tea” etc. printed on them? I got the four I’d always wanted. Silly though it is, I’d coveted those things for years, thought they were cute, but considered it silly–even un-Quaker-esque–to pay $15 for a household item available for 10 cents at any yard sale.

Until I became an author, and a much-published friend’s exact words to me were, “You should go buy yourself something you want.”IMG_3508

Ah. Permission from an elder. That made it okay.

The Sereni-tea, Creativi-tea, Simplici-tea, Tranquili-tea mugs hang in the one corner of our bookshop that is private—our wee kitchen with the microwave, electric skillet and teakettle from which Jack produces masterful meals. And every time I walk past them, I smile. Perhaps at my folly, or perhaps because I own them. Sometimes it doesn’t do to analyze.