Hello…My name is Annette Drake

After driving more than 1700 miles, I stood in front of an audience of four and said those words. This was my first presentation about Celebration House and marketing genius that I am, I decided there was no better place to do this than Lexington, Missouri, where the book takes place. Thus the oh-so-long drive.

I hoped to have an audience of 10 people. The Lexington newspaper printed a small article about Celebration House. Sure, it was nearly word-for-word from the press release that the library gave them and it was on page 4. But, hey! I was in the Lexington News.

As the day approached, I tried to decrease my anxiety by telling myself that no one would come, but I was wrong. Tucked downstairs in the basement of the Lexington branch of the Trails Library, I had an audience of four. Two of those were my husband and our son.

Mary, the first audience member to arrive, was a print journalist who just helped publish a pictorial history of Lexington. I bought a copy of this amazing book, and Chris and I poured over its pages the rest of the trip. We history nerds loved it!

The other attendee, Larry, was writing a genealogy of his family. He and I talked about the pros and cons of self-publishing, and he told me that Lexington actually had two Civil War battles, though the second one wasn’t of much consequence.

Larry made me laugh. When he saw my cover and the ghostly soldier outfitted in blue, he said, “You know Lexington was pro-south, don’t you?” I did indeed, but I quickly explained the hero of my book served under Col. James Mulligan from St. Louis. Larry nodded a curt approval.

Both of these attendees were a delight. My 30-minute presentation stretched into an hour and a half. The woman was determined to buy my book, and we spent the last 10 minutes of the session trying to navigate the Tirgearr website so I would receive the most money. I gave up when the Amazon page she’d been directed to asked for payment in English pounds. In all of my interest in these two attendees, I forgot to actually read the first chapter from the book. Oops.

A huge shout-out to my amazing husband, who drove nearly all of those 1,700 miles and stayed up until midnight the night before the presentation to change a flat tire. Thanks to my mother-in-law who bought us an AAA membership for the road. And of course, thanks to the staff – Carol, Donna and Mardeana – at Trails Library for hosting me.    

But even after the library presentation, my book tour wasn’t done. At the Obermeier family reunion the next day, I saw my Aunt Mary Rose. This, truthfully, was one of the purposes of the trip – to see and talk with this amazing woman who played such an important role in my childhood. I was also delighted to see my Uncle Jack, Aunt Joann, cousins Debbie, Bill and David.  

At the reunion, I showed my power point again and a cousin’s wife, Connie, told me she would buy the book. At the end of the reunion, I was approached by an older relative, Bill. He wanted to buy my book because, like me, he suffers from insomnia and reading books on Kindle helps him through some long nights. I was delighted to show him Celebration House.

The next day, I met my father’s new significant other, Margaret. She saw my book and bought a copy, then posted it to Facebook and told me her friends were buying it.

We spent a few days invading, I mean visiting, my sister, Barb. On our last day at her house, Wilda, the clerk at the Prengers grocery store, told me she’d gone looking for me on Facebook and had stumbled onto my book. Why hadn’t I told her I wrote books? I explained that self-promotion sometimes felt awkward to me. She told me she had already bought and downloaded Celebration House.

Perhaps the event at the library in Lexington with my audience of two wasn’t worth driving 1,700 miles. But reconnecting with my family and meeting these new readers was.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: More treasure from the long road trip.