My family is trying to hand sell Blame It on Paris to the entire North American continent. I’m sure if they knew anyone in Britain and Australia and New Zealand, they’d be trying to sell it to them, too. They DO know some people in Ireland, so I expect to start hearing from third cousins any day now.
And the family is currently in a, err, debate is the word we want, or maybe a, umm, “friendly competition” on who is supporting my book the most. It all started when one person posted a review on Amazon.com and gently chided the rest of the family on the fact that no one else had done the same. I feel that she has a point here because, after all, it is a time-honored tradition for 5-star reviews on Amazon to be written by the author’s mother while 1 star reviews are generally written by the author’s anonymous jealous rival, as proven to anyone who doubted it that time Amazon had a bug and everyone could see who had really posted what for about 8 hours.
Now family members are sending emails back and forth about who has bought how many copies for Christmas presents, who has badgered the most bookstore managers into carrying it, etc. (WOE betide you if you are a bookstore manager and do not have Blame It on Paris on the shelves when someone in my family walks in.) One sister is making Blame It on Paris gift baskets for her daughter’s school auction, another is handing out flyers to all her piano students even though she is described as a poodle on the second page and, as she has several times explained to me, it is a fairly teeth-gritting exercise to keep getting people to buy books when she is described as a poodle so early on that they usually start snickering while she is still standing there.
But you get the picture, about the family support. My parents are still winning, though, because they got it bragged about in the church bulletin, which means at least five hundred families. As my mom gently pointed out, after she had let her children exchange these emails for about a week.
This is exactly like my mom. Every single time we play a game, she always just fuddles along with no effort whatsoever to win, barely even sure of the rules, generously allowing her hyper-competitive children any point possible, however dubious…and she always wins. She ALWAYS wins, and she ALWAYS acts bemused by it, as if she’d just taken her kids out to teach them how to ice skate the one winter our swamp froze over (yes, we have a family swamp) and suddenly, in the middle of her trying to wipe some child’s nose, the Russian judge was giving her a 10 and someone was handing her a gold medal.
So I thought I would tell a story about what my family is like. Because you can see a little of it in Blame It on Paris, but there’s always more. After I signed the contract for Blame It on Paris, I was feeling kind of down, because, after writing for over twenty years (I started very young), I had finally sold my first book and no one seemed really to appreciate what a big deal it was for me. We went down to Georgia for spring break to “help” David and Annette build their house. (Personally, my helping involved taking notes for a book I was thinking about writing that suddenly had to have an enormous house being built during it. But the guys were working on the framing.) Meanwhile, one brother’s birthday was that weekend, so they sent me out to get things for his surprise birthday party.
And–you have guessed it, haven’t you? It wasn’t a surprise birthday party for him. It was a surprise sold-first-book party for ME. I was standing outside talking to people, and all the sudden the people I was talking to started pulling off their clothes, which, really, even in my family, is a little unusual. And then I noticed everyone else had joined us and was standing around me in a circle and looking at me with that look they get which means, Truly, that child has NO skills of observation. Shall we hit her over the head?
And I finally noticed that they had not peeled down in that freezing weather to just any old T-shirt but to T-shirts that said: “Don’t blame me…” (with a cute little snail looking innocent on the front) and, when turned around, a giant snail that said, “Blame It on Paris!”
Sébastien and my niece Lori had designed them in secret, and Annette had got them all made. And I had to sign every single one of them. AND my sister Anna had prepared this entire “marketing kit” full of quotes from family members, samples of my early writing attempts gathered from family members, and a cover that showed me and a snail looking at each other and saying, “Eeuw!” And my sister “Mary Kay” had unearthed all the most ridiculous photos she could find of me as author photo options. And my niece Amanda made an Eiffel Tower of pictures.
And ALL these kinds of things. It was amazing. So. I am just saying. That is what my family is like. And if one of them comes up to you and asks you if you have read Blame It on Paris yet, it’s probably safest if you say yes.