Guest Post and Giveaway: Overheard at a Booksigning with Karen Harrington

I frequently get asked what prompted me to write a story that starts with a mother who kills. It’s a fair question. If you told me five years ago that I’d be writing about this subject, I might have looked at you like you had banana peel shoes. (And if you do own a pair of banana peel shoes, I mean no disrespect, but I hope you have good insurance.)

Ultimately, I did write about the subject of maternal filicide, but not without a good bit of trepidation. Though JANEOLOGY is set in motion by this troubling crime, I decided that looking at the crime would be most compelling through the eyes of her spouse, Tom – who lived with her, loved her, and ultimately, heart-breakingly, was somehow unable to see the mental breakdown occurring right before his eyes.

As you might imagine, describing this story is even tougher for a debut author under the bright lights of a Barnes & Noble. It has been a steep learning curve for sure. Naturally shy, I bought every short sleeved turtle-neck I could find to hide the red nervous neck I knew would come when I asked someone to part with their hard earned money and take a chance on an unknown author. Like most things in life, with each description, with the meeting of each new book-buyer, I got better. (And even learned how to pitch differently to men and women, to relax and have fun.)

So thought I’d share some of the more interesting exchanges I’ve had in recent months.

Of my books on the signing table.

“Are these complimentary?”

Of the topic of filicide.

“I can’t read this. I read The Lovely Bones and I hated it.”

Of my pitch that my novel is about a man trying to understand his wife by way of understanding the family secrets and ancestors in her family.

“Oh, we all have black sheep in our family. My brother’s wife just left him and he’s now realizing it had something to do with her mother.”

Of my description of the book to a kind old man.

“Sounds good. Let me go ask my wife.”

Of the title.

“Oh, is this another book about Jane Austen?”

Of my offer to sign a book for a woman.

“Oh, are you the author?”

Of my newly confident introduction to the next person who approached my table, “Hi, I’m the author Karen Harrington.”

“Hello the author Karen Harrington.”

Of the chocolate mints on my signing table.

“What are these for?”

Me: Well, you know, fiction tastes better with chocolate.

Of the puzzle on my signing table.

“Why did you cut up your cover like that?”

Of the woman who ran over to my table with her hubby and told me her name was Jane.

Hubby: “If I read this, will I understand my wife better?”

Me: Uh, maybe. (nervous laughter) Here’s a bookmark.” (She leaves. Returns 10 minutes later.)

“OMG! OMG! My husband’s name is Tom!” (See, the couple in my book is Jane and Tom.)

Of my accidental penning “Very best pictures” (Doh! Should have written WISHES)

Me: “Oh, I’m so sorry. We were talking about pictures, and, well, ha ha…well, if I become famous, one day this will be very valuable.”

She: (eyes rolling)

Of me just standing there alone for a looooooong time feeling like a dork.

“So, I saw you standing here by yourself for a looooooong time. I’m a salesman. Make your best pitch in 60 seconds. Go.” (Yup. I sold him a copy.)


Number of signings so far: 5

Number of books sold: 71

Number of miles traveled: 156

Poorest results: 3 hours/3 books

Best results: Sold out – 25 books in 2 hours

Most useful signing tools: A smile, bookmarks and photo album including pics of my ancestors that served as genealogical inspiration for JANEOLOGY. (I would add chocolate mints, but I ate many of these myself, so…)

Times asked where person could find another book: 4

Funniest Ooops: When a bookstore manager introduced me over the store PA as Jane!

Biggest thrill: When a young girl told me she wanted to be a writer, asked my advice and would I please sign her bookmark.

Biggest book promotion lesson: Finally understanding my mentor’s statement, “There are many writers with talent, but few have the temperament to make a career of it.”

Ranking on the worth-it meter: Off the charts!!!!

Blogger Bio: Karen Harrington lives in Texas with her husband and children. She received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is the author of the legal thriller Janeology, and a children’s book, There’s a Dog in the Doorway, created expressly for the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation’s “My Stuff Bags”.

Read an interview with Karen on J. Kaye’s Book Blog HERE

You can read a synopsis of Janeology from the publisher’s website HERE

I will be giving away my copy of Janeology to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment here by July 15th for a chance to win!