New England Authors Expo 2016 a.k.a. The Adventures of Blind Katherine

This is a story about why you should always, always, always have a spare pair of eyeglasses if you are as blind as a bat. Fair warning, there may be some cussing involved here.

Wednesday was my third New England Authors Expo, a collaborative author event in Danvers, Massachusetts at the Danversport Yacht Club. Authors, publishers, editors, and illustrators alike congregate to network, sell their wares, and this year, attend panel discussions about topics such as marketing and editing. I’ve had lots of fun attending the last two NEAE events, have met some great writer friends at them, and have usually sold enough to make it worth going back every year.

This year, I really wanted to step it up. While my newest novella hasn’t released yet, I decided that I would make some gifty items in order to promote it and the rest of my Monstrum Chronicles series. I spent hours upon hours making faux bloodstained book page art, drawing chimera bookmarks, crafting faux bloodvial necklaces, and even making some pretty cool book page coasters and pins. I had fun doing it but it left me exhausted the night before and as a result, I only got four hours of sleep.

That next morning, I spent another three hours putting the final touches on things and getting packed. I was late getting out the door, which put me behind in my estimation for when I’d get to the Expo. It was a three hour commute, which is fine usually. I had some killer 70’s and 80’s one hit wonders to groove to on my way. There’s a certain inner sanctuary one reaches while belting out Haddaway’s “What is Love” while flying down I-95. That is, until the other drivers turn into assholes and start weaving in and out of lanes as though they are vehicular dolphins. I quickly transform into the equivalent of a Great White Shark stuck inside a manta ray. My car isn’t exactly formidable, and I possess quite the road rage…

I finally made it to the yacht club in one piece and quickly gathered all of my things to bring inside. I had a lot more to lug in than I would have liked and did it in the clumsiest way possible. Two bags were slung on both shoulders and I lugged around a wheeled crate full of books and display items behind me as though attached to a ball and chain. It wasn’t until I had gotten inside and found my table that I realized my glasses were missing. I had my prescription sunglasses which I’d used to drive the entire way there and desperately tried to search the room with them to find my “eyes”. The ballroom itself is not exactly the best lit and so while I crawled around on hands and knees like an oaf searching, I tried to rack my memory. I remembered distinctly putting them in my purse next to my phone before leaving the car. I had my phone though.

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In the end, I had help from some of the most amazing friends in trying to find these damn eyeglasses. People I’d just met and others I’d only had a few interactions with helped me search the ballroom up and down, went back and forth with me to my car, and even spent time calling one-hour eyeglasses shops in order to help me get through the expo (and get home safely). I can’t say enough good things about these folks. They are great friends and it meant so very much to me that they went out of their ways to help me as much as they did. To Tanya Gold, Ian Hiatt, Bonnie Fladung, Rob Smales, and all the staff at the Danverspot Yacht Club, you are my heroes. Thank you for being such cool people to hang with, for keeping my chin up even as I slowly deflated from worry, and for walking back and forth over the same course numerous times while staring at the ground and potentially looking like chickens while we did so. I honestly can’t thank you enough.

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I finally found them. They had fallen in my car (even after I’d searched time and time again), onto the rubber mat on the ledge where the car door closes. It was a miracle they hadn’t been crushed. Of course, I found them after I’d packed everything up with the idea that I’d need to drive home wearing my prescription sunglasses before night fell. Tanya helped me turn back around and we went back inside to set back up again.

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Having spent the majority of the show squinting across the room at people, I had been worried about getting up and mingling with the other authors. Nothing is as unsettling as not being able to see or recognize other people. My problem is that I can’t read facial expressions and therefore, I feel like I’m missing a very important part of the conversation because of that. So, I’d stayed at my table hoping that my dead-eye stare wouldn’t scare people away. I promise, I wasn’t glaring or doing my best Clint Eastwood impression!

While this show wasn’t as lucrative as previous shows have been for me, I still had a great time with good friends including the aforementioned as well as Scott Goudsward, Rob Watts, David Price, Duane Coffill, Jason Harris, and Kevin Lewis. You saved my day, Kevin. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your books!

In the end as the evening wore down, I had to face the long journey back home, another three hour drive in the dark with my David Bowie, Depeche Mode, and Queen hits. Before I embarked on my journey, I stopped at my favorite place for dinner, Sawasdee Thai in Danvers. As I walked back to my car, the warm paper bag in my arms and the pleasant aroma of crab rangoon urging me on, I thought about how much I enjoyed the town of Danvers. I was sad that I didn’t get to spend more time there. Every year, I usually book a night at one of the hotels and spend an extra day bumming around. I couldn’t afford to this year (new house!), but I was still glad I got to come at all.

And so began the ride home, Dancer in the Dark blasting from the speakers, crunching into delicious fried wontons, and following the sometimes garbled directions of the GPS.

Which decided to stop working at one point.

And I somehow ended up in Amesbury, on darkened back roads because of it.

I got back on the interstate in time to hit night construction. Because that’s always fun. Always.

I had survived that entire day on two donuts, a bag of barbecue chips, a bottle of water, two cups of coffee, five crab rangoon, and four hours of sleep. I started winding down by the time I reached Maine and it was a Herculean effort for me to get back to the house without pulling over and sleeping ’til morning (which I probably should have done).

And so, another NEAE comes to a close and as always, there is something I can glean from it. Have a backup pair of glasses. Nothing is worse than finding yourself at the mercy of…yourself. Being hundreds of miles from home and not being able to see is a nightmare. Thankfully, I had friends around and I knew the area somewhat. If it had been any other show, I might not have been so lucky.

With that, stay tuned!

~KSilva

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