Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Book Signings Reward for Authors and Readers

Recently I attended a book signing for a fellow writer. John Floyd of Brandon, MS, has compiled and published his second book of short stories. He is the master of shorts, mysteries that anyone can be read when there’s little time, like on a short bus ride, a bathroom trip, or waiting for the gas tank to fill up.

He once told me, after I had read my version of a short story to a writing group, that magazines and readers were crying for stories that were “short and sweet.” I had labored over one story because I thought it was “too” short. I should have taken his advice ten years ago. He did. And he’s been publishing ever since.

Floyd is a prolific writer. He enjoys spinning yarns that have an unexpected ending. I can see him at his computer wearing a sly grin and chuckling, outwitting his readers as the words flow faster than he can type. His plots are as varied as plants in a nursery. He teaches night classes in creative writing and has a large following. That was evident in the two-hour long line that waited patiently for his signature. But Floyd doesn’t scribble his name; he writes a personal note to each purchaser. That endears him more to us.

This is an unassuming man who is most grateful to those of us who attempt to follow in his footsteps. He’s our cheerleader. With his urging he’s seen several fellow writers go from zero to publishing. He has mastered the technique of writing and fills the mailbox of magazines with an overload of stories. He can be found mostly in “The Strand Magazine” and “Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine“, although he‘s had stories in more than 200 publications. In 2007 he received the Derringer Award.

Floyd walked swiftly into a small auditorium after the signing period to speak to a waiting audience. He told us one story about sitting next to a lady reading the “Ellery Queen Magazine” on an airplane. In that issue was one of his contributions. He watched her out of the corner of his eye to see if she would read his story. She did. After she closed the magazine, he leaned over and said, “I’ve a copy of that magazine. Did you enjoy the stories?” She answered “Yes”. He then asked if she liked the last story she read, and again she said she did. Then he announced “I wrote that story.” She looked at him incredulously and begged to differ with him. He insisted, but only until he identified himself through his driver’s license did she believe him.

John Floyd isn’t a big name--yet. However, his books have been found as far away as Toronto. Nevada Barr and Steve Hamilton, both famous in their own right, have a few words to say on the jacket. If you happen upon Midnight or his first book Rainbow’s End and Other Stories be sure to purchase a copy.

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