Books in Bloom is one of Arkansas’s premier book festivals, and, without a doubt, the most beautiful. Held each spring in the gardens of the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, it draws book lovers from several states. Authors are all there by invitation, and are right to feel honored when invited to appear under fluttery tent roofs spaced throughout the gardens during the festival. Flowers are everywhere.
This year was to be a special Books in Bloom for me. My newest novel, A FAIR TO DIE FOR, was near its release time, and my publisher said work on the book could be expedited so at least one case would be ready in time for Books in Bloom. I offered to pay the nearly $50.00 extra shipping to assure quick arrival, and UPS guaranteed delivery by the Friday before the event, which always begins at noon on a Sunday in May. So–in spite of the fact several earlier blips had come up to slow the novel’s appearance (vanished e-mails about cover art, for example)–everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and I left for an already scheduled book signing featuring my earlier novels in Branson, MO. The new books would be safe on our porch until my return.
But they weren’t. The porch was empty. Frantic phone calls to UPS, reaching mostly recordings, finally told us that the books were re-scheduled for Monday delivery because there was a mistake in the address. (We later learned it was three numbers off–11444 instead of 11447. We live in a rural area and no one has an address close to ours, so if it had been our regular driver the box would have been left. He was on vacation, and the substitute had to work to rule.)
My husband decided to make the sixty mile round-trip to the UPS distribution center to see if they’d release the box to him. I prayed that some miracle would bring us those books. The answer to my prayer was “No.” My husband returned without the books. For a time I wondered if I could claim that some awful disaster made it impossible for me to be at Books in Bloom and not mention I had no new books. Then I changed my prayer to one asking that I could be able to see whatever good things were in store for me the following day.
That prayer was answered. Eureka Springs’ residents are a cross-section of every type of humanity, from left-over hippies to sedate church ladies; from those living whatever their chosen alternative lifestyle might be to Mr. and Mrs. Mainstream America. They were all at Books in Bloom, including many from adjoining states who were just as colorful and varied as local folks. I think all stopped by my tent to chat, and many bought one or more of my earlier books. My publisher had sent publicity material to a large part of the USA, and some did come to buy a copy of A FAIR TO DIE FOR. However, not a single person seemed upset when learning why the books weren’t there. Though I offered to mail books, postage paid, to some, no one took me up. I gave the name of area bookstores and also information about how to connect with other sales venues. I suspect it was too beautiful a day tor anyone to be unhappy.
The case of books arrived Monday evening at 6:30. Most are already spoken for.
Aren’t life’s lessons interesting?