I had the privilege of being invited to share a vendor booth at the Hamfest Festival last weekend with fellow author, Steve Newman. This was an annual event in Huntsville, sponsored by Ham radio operators. While this venue would not be in my list of "niche markets", I excitedly accepted the invitation, looking forward to the two day event.
Saturday morning dawned ominously. As I got into the truck, ready for the hour drive to Huntsville, I turned the key with absolutely no result. I couldn't believe the battery was dead! Waking my husband at 7 am on a Saturday when he didn't have to work was not on my "to do" list. But he graciously got up and jumped off my vehicle. This put me fifteen minutes behind schedule, and I really wanted to make a good impression on my author friend!
Without any further difficulties, however, I arrived at the venue with time to spare. We were set up inside the Von Braun Center, and I was amazed at the number of booths there! 9am arrived and hoards of people began to mill around. Steve and I were both excited by the turn out and eagerly awaited the chance to talk with people about our books.
Steve's book, "The Night Eagles Soared", drew many people's attention, and he had the opportunity to share with many fellow military men. One gentleman in particular will remain in my memory for a long time. He was an elderly man, in his eighties, I would think. As he and Steve talked, this man began to share his military experiences, siting that he had landed in Egypt during WWII. He said his squadron was known as the Falcons, and was intrigued by the title of Steve's book. This gentleman went on to say he was writing his own memoirs, but only had about seventy pages written. We both encouraged him to continue and to get that book finished! He eventually purchased Steve's book and bid us farewell.
The next day was Sunday, and as predicted by a Hamfest veteran, was not as busy as the previous day. However, a couple of hours into our day, Steve and I observed this same gentleman returning to our booth! He had in his hand a computer printed copy of his manuscript. He had come back to the Hamfest just to bring Steve a copy of his book, saying he only gave them out to his friends. It was full of pictures, poems he had written, and I even glimpsed a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt!
I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of this elderly gentleman, the immediate camaraderie between him and Steve, and the way he reminded me of my own grandfathers, both of whom had served in the armed forces, that I only managed to hold myself together until after he had walked away. Unfortunately, I think my unexpected tears may have scarred Steve for life (I'm going to have to use that encounter in a book somewhere, Steve!) and he quickly left to find some napkins. I think it was an excuse to escape the crazy crying woman!
As far as book sales go, the event would not make my top five. But the opportunity to work alongside another author, to be able to share ideas and experiences, and to have that single memory to cherish made the weekend a huge success! Many thanks again to Steve and his delightful wife, Brig, for allowing me to be a part of it!