Thanks for joining me on the 2012 MARA-thon! This includes a physical book tour through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California, and it includes a national blog tour. During the entire MARA-thon, please be sure to download your FREE prequel short story, When Whales Watch at www.MaraPurl.com/downloads. As of January 1, you’ll be able to find purchase-links for all e-readers at http://marapurl.com/books/when-whales-watch.
This is posted from the road during my All-Indie-Bookstore book tour titled MAPPING THE JOURNEY OF YOUR HEART. Revisit the entire tour at any time by visiting www.MaraPurl.com/calendar where you’ll see event details, links to the bookstores, and soon, photo archives. Also join me on the ongoing Double Blog Tour, which will be archived at http://marapurl.com/fall-blog-tour-schedule.
Two hours north of Los Angeles, the coastline takes a surprising turn for a short distance, creating a south-facing stretch known as the California Riviera. Nestled along this section of the map is the storied town of Santa Barbara. The town has been part of my own personal story since childhood, thanks to a lifelong friendship between my parents and a couple they met during World War II. Eventually each couple had two children, and another generation of friendships were born. We visited this wonderful family many times through the years. As a young teenager I remember being waked in the middle of the night by a perfectly round moon that hovered over the ocean and streamed its golden rays over the high mountain perch. That moon was a call to adventure and a signpost to the California coast that would later become my home, and the setting for my novel series.
Those of you who are already readers of the Milford-Haven Novels know that several key characters live here. They may appear at first to live idyllic lives with their wealth and access. Yet none is exempt from having to unravel their snarls, a process sometimes made more difficult when under the mesmerizing spell of such beauty and privilege. Once I’d become an Angelina (a resident of Los Angeles) I also began exploring coastal regions to the north, naturally drawn to this special childhood haunt. There’s a polish and energy to the place, a commitment to the arts in all its forms, a huge community of readers and writers, and more non-profits per capita than any other location in the U.S.
Santa Barbara is also a microcosm that provides insight into the story of bookstores that has played out nationally in recent years. Chaucer’s Books opened its doors in 1974, the creation of Mahri Kerley, who invested a modest inheritance when she moved south from the Bay Area. Despite the subsequent encroachment of the first wave of discount giants B. Dalton, Crown Books, and Waldenbooks, Kerley’s store endured, not by offering competitive prices, but by offering a level of service that created a loyal following.
Then came the next Big Box Bookstore Boom. Borders pitched an all-out battle to take over another indie’s downtown location, and despite vociferous protests from residents, won the day. Soon they occupied a strategic downtown corner and offered three floors of browsing and a charming café that spilled out onto a wide sidewalk patio. Not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble opened its own enormous store. Where? Almost directly across the street from Borders. It became a clash of titans that didn’t seem to actually service the community so much as it encouraged wretched excess in the local economy.
Was either store truly supported by the citizenry? It appeared so on the face of things. And yet the day came fifteen years later when both of these large, attractive stores closed their doors, leaving hulking empty shells to blight the otherwise thriving downtown area. But it also left Chaucers, in a location of its own, as the last full bookstore standing. So the store truly has an extraordinary legacy. This small ship plays the turbulent bookselling waters with aplomb, becoming a must-stop location for touring authors from across the country and the state. A local author did her first signing there, years before she became the mega-selling success she is now. So I’ve eagerly awaited my chance to sign my books at this legendary place. When I saw the store’s logo, I realized there’s one more connection too. For twenty-two years I kept company with a remarkable black kitty named Kage (Kah-gay) which means “Shadow” in Japanese. My beloved feline lives on in my books as a cat named Shadow, and I feel she kept me company at the bookstore too.
The thoughtful, experienced staff created a special poster for my event, set up their signing area complete with fresh-cut flowers, and arranged seating for the gang of readers who appeared in the store the evening of my signing. After introducing me very professionally, they left me to my audience. Yet during my remarks, I noticed all the booksellers were quietly listening with rapt attention, a professional courtesy that’s good for the author’s soul.
If you’re in the Santa Barbara area, Chaucer’s has a few signed copies of my new novel Where the Heart Lives. Or you can order your hardcover or e-book at your favorite on-line bookseller. And don’t forget that my gift to you is the FREE short story prequel, When Whales Watch. The special page where you can find links to all e-book readers, or a PDF download if you don’t have an e-reader is www.MaraPurl.com/downloads. Join me in Milford-Haven and discover where your heart lives.
For more information on the evolving world of The Milford Haven Novels, visit my new website www.MaraPurl.com where you can subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on social media, enjoy photos and videos, discover more special offers and more.