One of the things I vowed when Alexandra the Great was published by Chicago Review Press was that I would go anyplace I was invited to speak about the book or sell the book or anything. That vow led me to the Lonestar Racetrack this past Saturday for their Roses to Ribbons event. I really really appreciate the Texas Thoroughbred Assocaition and Mary Ryule in particular who invited me and made my visit possible. Thank you Mary!
The event is sponsored by the Paddock Foundation, which is a non-profit group dedicated to finding forever homes for retired Thoroughbreds, so most people came for the horses (which were, of course, gorgeous!). Still there were several vendors. I was the only one selling books,
but there was one woman, Megan Hasemann, whose table was next to mine and who was selling custom jewelry from Origami Owl. I had never heard of it, but check it out, it’s really cool. I’m definitely going to have a locket made for my upcoming Rachel Alexandra events. You can put tiny 3D objects in the locket that tell your personal story. Very cool. Funny that her name is Hasemann, because Megan is also a real “horseman,” as they say. (If you say “hasemann” quick enough it sounds like horseman, that’s all). She owns three horses and teaches riding. Origami Owl is her “side hustle.”
Here is a photo of Megan (on the right), me and my friend Kathleen (in the middle). Kathleen and I have been friends for 30 years (yoikes!) and she lives in Oklahoma City, which is 3 hours from Dallas. That’s a true friend, someone who is willing to drive all that way and hang out with you at a racetrack even when no horse races are being run! I jokingly introduced her as my “Sherpa” because she was helping me carry stuff and arrange stuff, but honestly she made my weekend. We got to hang out all day Friday and Saturday. She introduced me to the Original House of Pancakes; even though it turns out we have one in our town, I’d never been. We talked for hours, we had some adventures and some misadventures.
After the Roses to Ribbons event, we got invited to set up our table inside the building at the foot of the escalator where people go up to the stands. Racing started around 5 and gates opened a little before 4, so there we were, with our table and our books. And then, true friend that she is, even though she is pretty shy, Kathleen helped me hawk books to this crowd!
I think if we’d been able to stay until the end of the racing we’d have done better; no one wanted to buy a book on the way into the stands, but many people were interested.
We handed out temporary tattoos to kids as a kind of ice breaker and we gave away a lot of bookmarks with the info on it. Kathleen was an inspiration. She wasn’t afraid to approach anyone, though of course we focused on the kids. The tattoos were definitely better than candy!
So what did I learn? I thought there would be more interest in Rachel’s story at the racetrack, but it turns out I was wrong. Neither the racetrack nor the bookstore seems to be the place to get the word out. Nevertheless it was an awesome experience, from the direct flight from Champaign to Dallas in a lovely regional jet, to hanging out with Kathleen and wandering in some of the Dallas neighborhoods, to discovering Froggie’s, a fabulous toy store/bookstore in Dallas that was an absolute hoot!
I knew I would love this place when I went to the book section and they had picture books displayed cover out. I wish I took a photo of that, especially since Patricia Toht’s All Aboard the London Bus, was on display. Patricia and I were two of four panelists at the Printers Row literary Festival last month, so that was fun! Why didn’t I take a photo for Patty? ARGH!!