Saturday’s inaugural Pomona Reads! festival was well-attended, with adults, children and families strolling the vendor booths, listening to music, making crafts and listening to authors. Above, I’m signing a copy of “Pomona A to Z” for two readers while another waits to buy one. This was about as close to a rush as it got, but I sold almost a dozen copies, and also moderated a panel on Pomona history. Photo contributed by Pomona’s Ren.
If you’ve never attended a performance by the Pomona Concert Band, think about attending Thursday’s. First of all, it’s the last show of the season, and secondly, I’ll be there selling and signing my book, “Pomona A to Z.”
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me last year to do this, but a few weeks ago, leaving a Food Truck Thursday night at Fairplex and thinking about the concerts in the park nearby, the idea came to me. Linda Taylor, the band’s conductor, agreed.
It could very well be that everyone at the concert will have my book already, there being a lot of overlap between their crowd and my crowd — but my guess is there’ll be some who’ll have no idea a book about Pomona exists. And that’s where I come in.
The concerts are a community staple and, as I’ve written before, a kind of small-scale Hollywood Bowl experience, as listeners fan out on the grass on blankets or lawn chairs in front of the bandshell at Ganesha Park (1575 N. White Ave.) to watch the band perform under the stars. The music might be a little corny or old-fashioned for your tastes, and I’ll admit I’m more of a Glass House guy myself, but there’s no denying the charm or community feeling here.
The show starts at 8 p.m. and I’ll try to get there around 7. Come say hello, even if you have my book. If you don’t, bring $20.
July 18 marks the one-year anniversary of publication of my first book, “Pomona A to Z.” Gosh! It’s done quite well, selling more than 500 copies to date. And although events and sales have tapered off, it’s still selling.
Barbara Cheatley’s in Claremont just began stocking it in June; when I dropped off copies, three customers bought it before I could even leave the store. I sold two just this week to a Pomona couple, one for them and one for a friend who’s moving away.
If you’ve bought a copy, especially if you bought one directly from me at a signing or talk, thank you! It’s been gratifying to meet people and take their money. That’s said jocularly, but it’s sincerely true too: To have people like my work enough to show up to an event to meet me, and to pay me for my book (as opposed to simply reading me as part of the newspaper), has been a real boost. The extra income is modest, but for a fella working in newspapers in the 21st century, and under a recessionary wage freeze, it’s been useful, believe me.
Where can you buy a copy if you don’t have one, or want another?
• In Ontario, the Daily Bulletin (perhaps you’ve heard of it? 2041 E. Fourth St.; if I’m here, or if you make an appointment, I’ll sign it for you), Newsboy Books (215 N. Euclid Ave.), Graber Olive House (315 E. Fourth St.), the Museum of History and Art (225 S. Euclid Ave.) and Vince’s Spaghetti (1206 W. Holt Blvd.);
• in Upland, the Cooper Museum (217 A St.);
• in Montclair, Barnes and Noble (Montclair Plaza);
• in Claremont, Rhino Records (235 Yale Ave.), Heirloom (175 N. Indian Hill Blvd.) and Barbara Cheatley Antiques (215 Yale Ave.);
• in Pomona, Magic Door Books (155 W. Second St.), the DPOA office (119 W. Second St.), the Glass House Record Shop (248 W. Second St.), the dA Center for the Arts (252 S. Main St.), Funny Business Comics (896 N. Garey Ave.) and the Ebell Museum of History (585 E. Holt Ave.).
I’ll update this list if new venues are added. As for a second book — a collection of columns is in the works for 2017.
Did you catch our “Daily Bulletin on Vacation” feature on Sunday? Diana Cheever of Upland brought our newspaper with her on vacation to the Virgin Islands. She took the photo, with the paper being held by a couple from Massachusetts. More importantly for our purposes, over on the right, Michele Cheever of Upland is holding my book, “Pomona A to Z.” (She’s with Mike Cheever of Lake Forest.) This is a first! Thank you, Michele, for buying my book and taking it on vacation with you. Hope you liked it!
For Village Venture, the popular crafts fair and street festival that took place Saturday in Claremont, I arranged to sell “Pomona A to Z” in the parking lot of Rhino Records, right by the sidewalk to catch foot traffic. As promised in print, I showed up at 11 a.m.
It got off to a good start when a woman with a walker approached to say she’d been waiting since 9. (She had left and come back, thankfully.) “I couldn’t remember when you said you’d be here,” she admitted.
Over the next hour, I sold four books. Might have been more if I were the type to shout toward passersby, “Pomona in 26 letters! Get-cher copies of ‘Pomona A to Z’ right cheer! Meet the author!” Instead, I sat quietly and read an H.P. Lovecraft book.
A few readers approached during that time just to say hello. One said her husband had bought a copy the day before from the shop Heirloom. One woman, whom I don’t recall ever meeting, remarked, “You’ve lost weight.”
Another walked up with a friend in tow. “I love you to death,” the woman said. She talked about how she enjoys my column and how much better she likes the Bulletin than the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, because as a Pomona resident, the Bulletin has more news of interest to her.
I gestured toward my book and said leadingly, “Pomona…?” “I’m short on cash,” she said (without asking how much it was) and quickly left. That’s okay. My book’s target demographic is people who only tolerate me.
I can’t complain about selling five: I left with $100 in my pocket, pretty good for an hour’s work. And it was nice to meet everyone. Even the odd encounters were entertaining.
Ken McNeil, formerly of San Antonio Heights, is spotted on a plane back to Reno reading his newly purchased copy of “Pomona A to Z.” Do you have yours?
(“Spotted” is a joke: His wife, Pam, took the photo at my request. They’d each visited our newsroom and, get this, they each bought their own copy of my book. They didn’t want to have to share. If all couples took this approach, I could almost double my sales.)
If you’re in or near Rancho Cucamonga, come to the Archibald Library, 7368 Archibald Ave. (just below Base Line) tonight for the 20th anniversary party, 7 to 9 p.m. I’m due to be interviewed for a few minutes by Library Director Robert Karatsu around 8 p.m. and will then sell and sign my book, “Pomona A to Z.” I’m curious what Robert will ask me and how many people in RC will buy my Pomona book. I’ll bring plenty and wait to be surprised, one way or the other.
Should be a fun night with lots of other things to do too: storytime, crafts, Beatles cover band and more. You can also meet my colleague Joe Blackstock and learn about the library’s history.
Isn’t the above photo cool? It was shot by my friend and former colleague Marc Campos in the Norms parking lot. I didn’t know what effect he was going for until I saw the photo later. Ha! I was even wearing a yellow shirt!
I was surprised when the Courier put my April 9 talk at Rhino Records in its calendar of events — in which I was described for the first time in my life as “reporter and author” — because, after all, we are competitors. It’s a friendly rivalry, though, and the Courier is mentioned in my column now and then. Also, I’m a subscriber and live in town.
I was even more surprised when a reporter and photographer from the paper showed up to my talk. You mean I’m getting actual coverage? I was. The reporter later interviewed me by phone and the whole thing turned into a two-page spread, with two photos, in the Courier’s Friday issue. Gosh!
Well, I couldn’t have asked for a better presentation, and even a journalist friend of many years said she wasn’t sure she could have written a better story about me. So, my gratitude to reporter Sarah Torribio and photo intern Helen Arase. I got a kick out of the whole experience, including seeing a couple of my cracks during my talk making print, and being “Mr. Allen,” in the Courier’s New York Times-style of respectful address.
The Courier wisely doesn’t give away its product for free online, so I can’t link to the story, but I photographed the two pages; click on the photos for a readable view. The issue is on sale at news racks through Thursday.
* Update: Turns out the story can be found online here.
I’m doing not one but two book signings Saturday for “Pomona A to Z.” The first is at Claremont’s Rhino Records, 235 Yale Ave., from 1 to 3 p.m. The second is at Pomona’s Magic Door Books, 155 W. 2nd St., from 7 to 9 p.m.
Evidently I’m the starting author at both places. Let’s see Clayton Kershaw try that.
The Magic Door signing is sure to be low-key, given the intimate size of the store, and you get the benefit of the Second Saturday Art Walk (but the downside of searching for parking).
I’m not sure what I’ll be doing at Rhino: Will I talk a little and read a chapter? Or will I just sign? I definitely won’t sing.
I’m anxious about the Rhino thing and am doing my best not to think about it. After all, they have a small stage where Berlin, Dengue Fever and other bands have performed, which is probably where I’ll be, and the idea of standing there talking into a microphone, and gazing out over the aisles — as some continue their shopping and wonder why this man is talking at a record store — is kind of intimidating! And yet, what other chance will I ever have to do it?
In related news, after falling from No. 10 to No. 23, “A to Z” is back at No. 12 on the Rhino sales charts for the week, behind Judas Priest and Jack White but ahead of the Black Keys and Weird Al Yankovic. Not bad for a book — the only book in the Top 25.
Look at all the people! I’m standing up in the background by the banner, talking to my friends Elizabeth Casian and Doug Evans and feeling somewhat overwhelmed.
Pomona’s literati and glitterati turned out July 18 for the launch party for my book “Pomona A to Z.” Delayed at work, I walked in the door of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association office moments before the official 5:30 p.m. start and people were already waiting for me. I didn’t have plans for a reading or questions — I didn’t have any plans, really — but there was no need to fill time: I sat down, a line formed and I didn’t budge for the next two hours.
Having been to my share of book signings as a fan, I knew the drill, even if I hadn’t expected to ever be doing it myself: Shake hands, chat people up, ask how to spell their name and think up something to write in their books — in ink, which is unforgiving.
One woman told me she thought there’d be a line around the block, which is a bit unrealistic for a book signing by someone who’s not, say, Hillary Clinton. But the line was to the door, usually had eight or 10 folks in it, and some said they waited half an hour. Everybody was cheerful about it. It was all very flattering, believe me. It beat my usual Friday night routine, which is to unwind in a Starbucks by myself and read.
A few close friends came, and one co-worker, and various Pomona people, some whom I know well, some whom I know only slightly. Among the latter was a music fan named Alonso, who had approached me at the Pomona Christmas Parade to tell me how much he liked my column on the late musician Lou Reed. Willie Campos, who was featured in one chapter as a devotee of discount stores, tried to swap me a painting for a book, but we took his $20 instead.
I met brand-new people too. One treat was finally meeting Michelle Dubas, whom I’ve known via email and social media for eight or nine years; I remember her because, like me, she’s a fan of the 1970s TV series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” And I met Jill Carol, who like me has two first names; a photographer (her Pomona blog is That’s So Second Street), she had contributed a photo of my parade appearance to this blog.
One couple, John and Patti, told me they’d read all the “A to Z” columns when they were first published and had been waiting 10 years for a book version. They like my book because, unlike other Pomona books, it’s “intimate,” John said. I liked that.
Besides books, I signed a cast for Jerry Tessier, and I met the Goddess of Pomona, who’s shorter than you’d expect. She also sounds suspiciously like Upland artist Dee Marcellus Cole. I signed books for three members of the Pomona City Council (all women) and for one former member (also a woman). I also shook hands with an Upland City Council member, Gino Filippi, who waited in line with a friend but didn’t buy a book. Men!
We sold 61 books, not a bad evening’s work. I would have liked to float omnisciently above the room; I saw things from the limited vantage point of being seated in one corner. The photo of the whole room was startling to see. A lot of people came to see me!
Thanks to Sally Egan for the photos. She also photographed me for the book cover.
I stall for time while thinking up something lame to write in a book for my friend Alan Saunders. By the way, I’m wearing the same shirt as on the book cover so people would recognize me. Also, it was next in the rotation.
I’ll sign anything except a blank check. This is Jerry Tessier, who renovated the Fox Theater, the Claremont Packing House and the Padua Theater. In the achievement for which he will be best remembered, however, he bought five copies of my book.
“Pomona A to Z” and I get the blessing, I think, of the Goddess of Pomona.