Towers of Midnight Book Tour, Barnes and Noble, Sacramento, CA 2 November 2010Edit
Report by Tower Guards
Hello my fellow WoT maniacs!
Sorry this is so late, a full three days after the event. Hopefully I can make it up to you with punch and pie. Well no, I don't have any of that. I do have this reports and some pictures though. Almost as good, right?
All pictures for the event can be found at: http://www.dragonmou...amento-signing/
And for those that haven't finished the book yet, don't worry. This is a No Spoiler Zone.
It was a warm day in Sacramento, highs in the 80's which is a little warm for November even in Northern California. And where was I? Having an awesome time stuck inside a rather warm and increasingly stuffy Barnes & Noble. And I wouldn't trade a minute of it. The Tower Guards started to gather around 4 pm to survey the lay of the land, organize duties, get our equipment set up, and write on the floor. Yep, I spent at least 20 minutes wandering around B&N writing Wheel of Time phrases on arrows of bright pink tape on the floor to show people the direction of the line. Easy enough you'd think, but apparently writer's block is possible even in those situations. Thanks to the fans there that helped give me ideas when my brain locked.
Who would have thought setting up would require weaponry?
Yes, that is a sword.
The signing was supposed to start at 7 pm. At 4 pm there were already people in the store waiting. At 5:45 pm they started to give out numbers and move people into line. That was when we realized just how big this event was going to be. Some of us had felt a little pessimistic about turnout because there hadn't been much advertising. We scoffed at the estimate Tor had given the store of 400 – 500 people. However at 6 pm we had over 60 people in line already, and still an hour to go until the signing started. We started to realize that this could well be long night. Brandon, Harriet, and Jason Denzel of Dragonmount arrived around 6 pm. Brandon and Harriet sat down with a couple of people for interviews, including one with Tower Guard Virginia for the 4th Age podcast. Meanwhile Jason helped us Tower Guards with getting things set up. Then at 6:30 pm the Tower Guards, Jason, Harriet, and Brandon got to sit down to a nice pizza dinner and talk. One of my favorite parts was talking with Harriet personally about how we both loved Terry Pratchet's “Discworld” series, and how she and RJ used to share reading them, passing the books back and forth as they got them read. I also loved to listen as Brandon talked about writing and the best ways to get going when you're having troubles.
Brandon's main piece of advice was to write, no matter what, just find something and write about it. If you're stuck in the middle of writing a scene and feel like you can't finish, have some ninjas attack. Write something, and don't be afraid to throw it out. The important thing is that you're writing. He also said not to look back. Don't keep rereading and changing what you've already written. That is the path that leads to never finishing anything. Finish first, then go back and polish. Even if you end up rewriting half your work, at least you finished.
Interestingly enough this was actually a really popular question through the night. Yes we got Wheel of Time questions like the usual “Who killed Asmodean?” or “What happens if a person gets balefired in the World of Dreams?” However we also got a lot of aspiring writers there looking for advice on how to get going. Brandon was always happy to answer any question, even if it was with the dreaded RAFO card. But the questions about advice on how to get writing seemed to really resonate with him, as fans of his Writing Excuses podcast would probably tell you is not surprising.
After dinner Brandon and Harriet both got up on a ladder to see out over the bookshelves and addressed the crowd. They thanked everyone for coming of course, and Harriet made sure to let people know how much it meant to her to see us all out there supporting her husband's work. They announced the rules for the signing, i.e. what Brandon and Harriet would and wouldn't sign. And Harriet told us about the great vest she was wearing that was made from her husband's old ties. RJ had great taste in neckware.
Once the announcements were finished, Brandon, Harriet, and Jason settled in for a very long night of signing. For the most part things went pretty smoothly. We kept the line running well, everybody seemed to be behaving themselves, and despite the night lasting until almost midnight people seemed to keep in pretty good spirits. Sadly Harriet had to leave around 9 pm as she'd had a very long day already considering she'd had to fly all the way across the country from Charlotte to Sacramento. It was a sad moment for many though as Harriet got up to say goodbye to everyone. I know we not only missed our chance at getting her autograph, but just having her there was a connection to RJ that I think everyone wished to experience. People were eager to talk to her and say goodbye, but eventually she had to say farewell.
One of the most common things I heard people say to Brandon was how grateful they were to him for picking up the series and carrying it on for us. I know many people, myself included, despaired about the fate of the Wheel of Time books after RJ's passing. It was clear that people felt an intense gratitude for seeing someone who obviously loves the series be able to continue it and see it to the end. And it was also clear just how grateful and humbled Brandon felt each time he heard those comments. More even then how well he writes, the way he handles the responsibility of carrying RJ's legacy on shows that he was the right man for the job.
The signing lasted well into the night. After Harriet left I got to join Brandon at the table and assist him in making sure we got every copy of Towers of Midnight numbered. With the long day and the rush of trying to get to everyone I had to catch a couple here and there. It might not have been the most glamorous job, but it was a lot of fun. Getting to sit there and listen as everyone came up, and getting to interact with Brandon and Jason was great. I even got to be there for a question that stumped Brandon. Someone wanted to know why Verin was able to feel that the one Ogier had no soul when she visited the Stedding with the boys during tGH. Brandon, if you're reading this, the part of the Wheel of Time FAQ I was talking about is http://wotfaq.dragonmount.com/node/88 The whole time the signing was going on, we were stopping people as they left and had them sign large poster-board version of the Towers of Midnight cover, minus the text, as a thank you to Harriet and Brandon. Tower Guard David felt like they were going to spend all night signing things for us, so we should sign something for them to say thank-you.
Slowly the night went by, but eventually we started to make headway against the line. At one point some time after 10 pm we were told that the last person was in line and we were in the home stretch. As time went by I kept looking over at the line to the side where it wrapped through the bookshelves. I kept hoping for some sign that we were nearing the end. Finally I saw it, the end of the line. My girlfriend was at home watching us on ustream and sent me a text wondering why we were all suddenly looking behind us. It was amusing how everything stopped or that one moment as we all realized the end was in sight. At the same time though was a touch of sadness at knowing that this great night was coming to an end. Finally shortly before midnight, almost five hours after the official start of the signing, the last person in line stepped up to the table, greeted by a round of applause. We got our stuff packed up, and the Tower Guard finally got to get their books signed. Brandon tried to skip numbering mine as a test, but I caught it one last time.
We took some final pictures and said our goodbyes. It was a long night, but it was a great experience. It was easily one of the most fun I've had stuck for eight hours in a bookstore. A good time was hopefully had by all, and hopefully Sacramento gets another visit next year.
Thank you to everyone who came out.
Sacramento Tower Guards