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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: The Great Bumble Bump
By Dolores Stohler


This was it! In the twilight of my life, I had finally accomplished a long-term dream--I’d written a book and had it published. Now to hit the local bookstores and ask them to order copies. I was a local author after all. Surely they’d be thrilled to sell my book and have me do a signing.

With typical optimism, I approached Barnes & Noble, book in hand. But the store manager looked at me as though I had a contagious disease, handed me a questionnaire and told me to fill it out and send it to their New York office with a copy of my book. “They need to approve you first. Then we’ll talk,” she said, dismissing me with a wave of her hand.

I did better at Family Christian Bookstores, although they thought I was self-published, which I’m not. Two stores agreed to take several copies of my book on consignment. One even said I could do a signing on a Saturday when business was brisk. I was elated. “Location, location, location,” I muttered to myself as I left the busy area. In preparation, I went to Kinko’s and had them make up a large poster. Expensive, but worth it, or so I thought. I asked the store manager to advertise the event by putting the poster in their window as I’d seen others do. And the local newspaper listed my signing.

When the big day came, I gathered up stacks of the precious books and entered the store with confidence, hubby in tow. My mind drifted somewhere in the clouds as I waited for the manager to appear. I looked around for my poster. Not there!

The manager appeared smiling and led me to a cozy spot with a table in front of a fireplace. When I asked about the poster, his face fell. My expensive purchase had sat in a corner of his office all week. Now, “Where should I put it?” he wondered, bringing the poster to light. “Oh, here’s a good place.” He found some tape and plastered it to a spot high up on the fireplace across from where I sat.

My self-confidence took a dive but I smiled and greeted everyone who passed by, hoping to make some sales. But everyone had their own agenda. They were looking for a particular book and some, thinking I was a store employee, asked me to help them with their search. By the time forty minutes had passed, I wanted to jump up and down and yell like a circus barker, “Please, everyone, give me a chance.“ But as time went by, I shrank lower and lower in my seat until I melted into a pool of butter and slid under the table.

Then at last an interested customer! I tried not to appear too eager as she thumbed through the slim paperback and asked about the plot. She was polite, she was friendly, but…she didn’t buy my book. At the end of my hour, I slunk through the door trying not to look like the fool I felt. Don and I dumped the books in the trunk, and, the following day, we laughed and called it “the great bumble bump”.

The next book signing will be different I told myself with my second book ready to go to print. My church was having a craft sale before Christmas and I signed up to sell copies of the new book. Changing my strategy, I planned to offer something at a bargain price in order to lure customers to my table. Accordingly, I spent several weeks before the sale baking dozens of cookies, storing them in the freezer, then wrapping them attractively with a bow on top and offering them at low, low prices--no profit there.

Success at last! All of the cookies sold, along with copies of the first book and orders taken for the second one that hadn’t arrived in time for me to bring to the church. But I wasn‘t disappointed. I had a wonderful time, no one ignored me and everyone looked at my books. Signing autographs like a star, I knew inside that I was just another cookie baker and lover of books. Oh, what a lesson the Lord had bonked me with! Self-importance has no place in His kingdom. So now I have a new motto: do what you love, love what you do and smile if they give you the old bumperoo.

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This article has been read 809 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight01/18/07
Hee Hee Great story well told. We writers certainly dream big don't we?
julie wood01/18/07
I enjoyed reading this and could feel with the narrator's frustration. Beautifully vivid descriptions--my favorite line: "I shrank lower and lower in my seat until I melted into a pool of butter under the table." Could just feel myself doing that. Great job!
Pat Guy 01/19/07
Ahhh ... if only we COULD actually GO THROUGH this experience! *sigh*

Thanks for the ride into reality. Excellent!
Marilyn Schnepp 01/20/07
This is definitely an eye-opener for those of us who are writers. I keep wondering how a story like this would go over in a crowd of bankers, soccor players or just ordinary everyday people? Would it bore them? Would they feel empathy for the writer? Would it keep them on the edge of their seats waiting to read the next paragraph? But you have a good audience here, my fellow writer...we understood, we empathized and we learned. Thank you! A very enjoyable read...and entertaining to boot!
Jen Davis01/21/07
I was captivated from the beginning paragraph, and you held my attention throughout. I could feel both your frustration and your embarrassment. Your message is a good one—do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for sharing.
Gregory Kane01/22/07
Wonderful self-deprecating humour. I loved the yelling like a circus barker and the slinking out of the shop – vivid imagery. One negative comment and I guess this is very much a cultural one. But in the UK the word bonk can have a strong sexual connotation, as well as the meaning here of being hit over the head. It’s difficult to write for a global audience, such as here at FaithWriters, without someone somewhere detecting a double entendre. Maybe this is more a topic for a forum discussion? But that aside, I enjoyed the story and sure hope it never happens to me!
Joanne Sher 01/25/07
I really enjoyed this look into the life of an author! Great read, and well deserving of your highly commended! Congrats!