Southern Comfort in the Shade of the Old Oak Tree

Happenstance. Yep, the best word to describe our book signings. It started with a long-lost dream of writing books together, which in true southern fashion only took 33 years to actually happen—imagine if we really took our time! Regardless, thanks to the current era of self-publishing we created a book within one year in our new career. Pay attention, friends, this is where Happenstance took over our lives and careers…

Happenstance is the short way of saying “being in the right place at the right time”, and works every time if one pays attention. At our debut book signing we met the owner of Short Story America, Tim Johnston, who invited us to do another book signing at his first annual Short Story America Festival a month later, right here in Beaufort! We happily said yes!

Attending the evening reception on the first day of the Festival, we were introduced to the president of the annual Beaufort International Film Festival, Ron Tucker. He’d gotten word about us, and was anxious to meet us. At that reception, out of the blue, he invited us to write a screenplay of our debut novel, “Murder In Twos and Threes”, to submit for competition in the next film festival. Twenty-nine days to get it done, yikes! We’d never written a screenplay… but, we studied, wrote it and got it in on time! No, we didn’t win…

As self-published authors, we had to sell ourselves to get book signings. One such venue was at a local vineyard, September Oaks. We did one signing alone, then were asked if we knew of other authors who could join in—after some emails and phone calls our “Novel” Wine Tasting and Literary Festival was born! Happenstance yet again—the owner was so pleased with the quickly-assembled event that he invited us back for a second year!

The local manager of the S.C. Tourism Commission happened to notice us from all the social networking about our festival, and invited us to be part of Lowcountry Tourism Week. She asked if we knew other local authors to take part, which we did, thanks to our own Festival. With the success of Tourism Week’s author days, during which we served as a knowledgeable welcoming committee to visitors, we were invited to set up every week (any time we wanted) on the grounds to welcome visitors, and sell our books… costing us nothing except time and gas. They let us store our tent/tables/chairs in their employee break room—and even better, Tourism Week allowed us to meet Virginia Lori Jennings, PDMI author… that’s how we found our new home with PDMI! So, in conclusion of our story, it was by Happenstance we met an anthology publisher at our book debut—and today have a regular free venue to sell our books, plus our fellow PDMI authors’ works, to a fresh round of interstate travelers each day. We learned the history of the grounds, worked up a welcome speech to greet visitors, and make sales to people from across the country and even a few from the other side of the Atlantic.  We get to place a business card in the hands of hundreds of visitors! Ah, to sell books in the comfort of the shade from centuries-old live oaks on the grounds a 19th-century plantation… all we need now are some mint juleps!

Just remember: wherever you are, you may meet someone important, although you may not know it at the time… because meeting the right person at the right time just might happen to move you on to bigger and better in short order.

Happenstance… works every time…

Jack Gannon and Cyndi Barnier are authors of the Task Force series and organizers of the September Oaks Novel Wine Tasting Festival and occurs in October.  The have created an innovative event with their opportunity at the Frampton Plantation  selling other authors books as well as their own.  They are often joined by local authors for a day in the shade.