Day Six

What a way to start off the day: with a sold-out brunch crowd and an audience of 100 at the Brownsburg Public Library.

Among the attendees is an avid Rizzoli & Isles fan who is so hooked on the show that she’s even traveled to California to visit the film set, and here she is happily wearing the evidence of her love for Jane and Maura:

The crowd at Brownsburg

The crowd at Brownsburg

R&I fan Barbara Wills.

R&I fan Barbara Wills.

Everyone wanted to know: why come to such small towns? I told them that I live in a small town of 5,000. I love small towns, and that’s why I wanted to focus on a small-town tour. But there is nothing “small” about the audiences I’m finding during this trip, and the crowd at Brownsburg just blows me away. Thank you to the hardworking library staff who made it happen!

Brownsburg Library staff, including Director Wanda Pearson and Public Services Administrator Amie Thomas.

Brownsburg Library staff, including Director Wanda Pearson and Public Services Administrator Amie Thomas.

A 2 1/2 hour drive takes us south, through hills and woods that remind me so much of Maine that I zone out and briefly forget I’m in Indiana. Our destination is the town of Washington, where I’m going to talk about BONE GARDEN because it was Washington’s pick for their “One Book One Community” program. At the Washington Carnegie Public Library, I meet Director Teresa Heidenreich, who organized a dinner with donors.

With Rick Chambon and Teresa Heidenrich of Washington Carnegie Public Library

With Rick Chambon and Teresa Heidenrich of Washington Carnegie Public Library

And got a chance to meet one of the local book clubs:

With the "Women of Crane Book Club"

With the “Women of Crane Book Club”

After dinner, we headed over to the High School auditorium where, despite torrential rain, around 100 people still showed up to hear me speak about the Bone Garden. Barnes and Noble (thank you!) was there to sell books.

Tomorrow: a holiday! We’re going to play tourists and head toward Bloomington.

Day Five

Up before dawn to slap on makeup and head to WISH TV in Indianapolis, where I was interviewed by Andi Hauser about my Indiana tour.

Book tours have made me comfortable enough on TV so that I don’t get completely freaked out by it, and I know to wear a jacket with a lapel for the lavalier microphone. The seasoned WISH crew works like clockwork — bam, bam, bam, every segment right on schedule. I’m in and out right on time, to make it to my next stop…

Being interviewed by Andi Hauser.

Being interviewed by Andi Hauser.

Hamilton North Public Library, in Cicero. Just before my talk, Library Director Sam Mitchel and Circulation Manager Emily Crickmore treat hubby and me to lunch at Matteo’s, where I discover the secret talents of this pair. Sam is not only a highland bagpiper and concertina player, he also used to raise Scottish Highland Cattle! Emily studied theater in Oxford and now wrangles her actor friends into performing Shakespeare! That’s what I love about library people. People who love books also love knowledge, and they just might know a few secret things they haven’t told you about.

With Sam Mitchel and Emily Dickos Crickmore at Hamilton North Public Library.

With Sam Mitchel and Emily Dickos Crickmore at Hamilton North Public Library.

Again a terrific event, with just about every chair filled.

With a bit of free time before the next library, of course I can’t resist visiting the Hamilton County Historical Society, where the old prison still stands, the cells unchanged since the Victorian era. Among its past prisoners is Charles Manson, whose name is displayed on the prison register. The old cells still have graffiti etched into the paint, including the ominous message carved over one of the cells: “Welcome to jail, fools.”

Old prison cell, Hamilton County Historical Society

Old prison cell, Hamilton County Historical Society

On a far happier note, the day ends at Carmel Clay Public Library, where I discovered that Director Ruth Nisenshal and I both have a connection to China. I’m descended from Chinese parents, and she was born in Shanghai.

With Ruth Risenshal, Director of Carmel Clay Public Library.

With Ruth Risenshal, Director of Carmel Clay Public Library.

An audience of over 100 came to hear me speak. Some of them drove over three hours, and then waited patiently in line as I signed books. What a terrific end to the day!

Day Four

Our whirlwind day takes us first to Hartford City, where hubby’s immediate objective is an excellent cup of coffee. Luckily he finds one in the town’s cozy little “Common Grounds” coffee shop, where you’re tempted to linger all day reading vintage Look Magazines and watching old movies. Adequately caffeinated at last, it’s off to Hartford City Public Library where we find a reception feast waiting … along with a full house, an amazing turnout at 11 AM, which is a tough time to schedule a talk. Former Library Director Vicki Cecil has popped back out of retirement just for my event.

With Hartford City Library staff Debbie Ehrhart, Stephanie Hess, Vicki Cecil, Andrea Landis, Cathy Evens, and Jolene Musselman

With Hartford City Library staff Debbie Ehrhart, Stephanie Hess, Vicki Cecil, Andrea Landis, Cathy Evens, and Jolene Musselman

Next, we head to Jay County Public Library in Portland, where I find another full house for my 3 PM talk. The library has sold dozens of books, and a big table of refreshments keeps everyone happy as they wait in line to get their books signed.

With Jay County Library Interim Director Linda Shreve

With Jay County Library Interim Director Linda Shreve

Another drive takes us to Muncie. Hubby and I check into the immensely comfortable McDowell-Nearing Guest House, where the bed is SO comfortable and the surroundings so soothing that we stretch out … and almost don’t wake up in time for my 6:30 talk at the Maring-Hunt Library. Jump in the car, where the GPS tells us it’s only a short drive, but we hit every red light. Halfway there, we get an anxious call from the library asking if we’re lost. As someone who HATES to be late for anything, I’m a little embarrassed to admit we’ll arrive only 5 minutes before my scheduled speech. But we do make it. (Thanks, Tom-Tom.)

And wow, another nice crowd is there to hear me. I’ve been speaking so much today that halfway through this speech, I actually forget if I’ve already told this audience an anecdote. OK, now I know why politicians on the road misspeak so often — they’re so tired they can’t remember what they just said. But I have a great time, and this audience seems to enjoy hearing about BONE GARDEN (which is the one book everyone seems to like the best.)

With Susan Fisher, Donna Catron, and Ginny Nilles of Maring-Hunt Library, Muncie.

With Susan Fisher, Donna Catron, and Ginny Nilles of Maring-Hunt Library, Muncie.

As a book tour veteran, I’ve spoken in big city bookstores and libraries, but there’s something really magical about the welcome I’ve received here in Indiana. It should make authors — and their publicists — reconsider whether big cities are really where authors should be visiting. Maybe we should be focusing instead on places we’ve ignored for far too long: smaller towns, in the heartland of America.

Day Three

We drove south, past Fort Wayne, into the town of Huntington where we arrived early enough to pay a visit to the Dan Quayle Vice Presidential Museum, where there’s a fine exhibit of VP memorabilia all the way back to John Adams. Far more fascinating than I ever expected, it’s worth a visit for the whirlwind history lesson, including the origin of the term “Gerrymandering.” That’s where I picked up a copy of Dick Wolfsie’s “Indiana Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and Other Offbeat Stuff” — the perfect travel companion for the next two weeks.

At Huntington Public Library, I was treated to lunch with the board members, and got my first taste of an Indiana favorite treat, Sugar Cream Pie. Yum, but oh what a sugar hit! I also heard a slightly naughtier origin story for the word Hoosier. “It’s because there was so much hanky panky here in the old days, you’d often hear the question: “Who’s yer Daddy?” (That was said to me in all seriousness.)

With Library Director Kathy Holst and Head of Adult Services Jan Carnes

With Library Director Kathy Holst and Head of Adult Services Jan Carnes

Another jam-packed event with 90+ people and over 100 books sold!

A quick drive brought me to Bluffton, where I met the Wells County Public Library staff for dinner,and then arrived at the library to find my name — literally — in lights.

The lit-up billboard at Wells County Public Library.

The lit-up billboard at Wells County Public Library.

Emily Marshall (Community Relations) and Director Stephanie Davis had the library decked out in “Bone Garden” theme, complete with a little garden decorated with bones, a bone hunt, and posters everywhere.

With Emily Marshall

With Emily Marshall

With Stephanie Davis

With Stephanie Davis

While waiting for the program to start, I also got to hang out with a pair of young readers who’d never met an author before:

With library fans Brittany and Alexa

With library fans Brittany and Alexa


Another amazing event — over 100 in the audience, and Barnes and Noble was there to sell books.

Bill and Susan from Barnes and Noble, Fort Wayne.

Bill and Susan from Barnes and Noble, Fort Wayne.

So now I’m unwinding with a glass of wine in my hotel room, resting up for a big day tomorrow — a visit to THREE libraries.

Day Two, Indiana

After a night at the lovely Arbor Hill B&B in LaPorte, it was on to our first stop of the day in Bremen, formerly the “Mint Capital of the World,” a town where the air was once sweet with the fragrance of the herb. My husband and I enjoyed an hour examining some town artifacts in the Bremen historical society, and then it was on to the library for my afternoon talk.

With Library Director Marsha Patterson and Shelli Kauffman, Adult Services.

With Marsha Patterson and Shelli Kauffman

There I heard yet another possible origin for the word “Hoosier”, having to do with a guy having his ear cut off and someone yelling out: “Who’s ear is this?” The stories just get wilder and wilder. I can’t wait to hear the next version!

Also at the Bremen Library, I spotted a sign that rather took me aback, in the parking lot:

Bremen parking lot: no horses allowed!

Bremen parking lot: no horses allowed!

It’s because the local Amish come to town in their horses and buggies, and the library would like to keep the parking lot clear of horse poop. That I didn’t expect to see.

Next, we headed east, through gorgeous farmland and lush fields, to the town of Angola, way up in the corner of Indiana. Here we’re spending the night in the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park, courtesy of the Carnegie Public library of Steuben County. My evening event was packed, and quite a few readers asked me to focus on THE BONE GARDEN which seems to be everyone’s favorite book. Since it’s also one of my favorites, it’s such a pleasure to talk about it.

With Dina Ferree of Carnegie Public Library, Steuben County

With Dina Ferree of Carnegie Public Library, Steuben County

Thank you, Barnes and Noble, for coming all the way from Fort Wayne to sell books!

It’s been another great day on the road. Lots of readers, lots of smiles. I hope this inspires other authors to do similar tours across the country