It’s not often I have a guest post on my blog, but when I do, it’s a fantastic guest. This week I’m happy to be hosting Hope Clark. If you don’t know Hope, or know about her, you should. Read on and learn a little about her and about her newest book.
Quit Laughing – I’m Not Funny
When I began my first book tour, those magical traveling book shows that burgeoning authors dream about, I refused to sit behind a table with my wares stacked in front of me as people gave me the once over. Painful, stupid situations in my book (sorry, couldn’t resist). So I included speaking engagements in my tour to dispel that energy. Yes, I know I’m supposed to be a bit shy. No, speaking is not a turn-on for me. However, moving and talking beats those seated, buy-my-book gigs. Shiver.
First, I must explain that I’m from the Southeastern part of these United States. We tell stories, we curse, and we adore metaphors. I rein in the cursing unless I know the room can stand it, and I never thought the other two characteristics all that unusual . . . until people started laughing at me.
I recall the first time someone came up to me and said, “Girl, you’re funny. I could listen to you all day.” Say what? After concluding the woman might be a half bubble off center, I pushed the awkward conversation behind me.
My husband often accompanies me since he can carry the boxes of books easier than I can. He also stands in the back of the room where I’m presenting and performs his unique style of sign language telling me how long I have to speak. During one particularly long event, where I presented for six hours in one day, I guess I got goofy as time took its toll. People had been laughing off and on to my anecdotal storytelling, but they started laughing harder. At one point the room was roaring. I had no idea what I was doing and glanced at him for some sort of mental telepathy explanation of what the heck was going on. He shrugged.
Then he went home and told the family.
They died laughing, in a different way. The joke around my house now is, “Oh, you have to remember . . . SHE’s the funny one.” Because I’m the butt of the jollies around my family, the straight man, not the jokester. I can butcher a punch line faster than the meat guy at Piggly Wiggly.
I credited the alien experience to my nervous jitters, or the lengthy presentation. Or maybe the fact I was from South Carolina and the group consisted of Yankees, um, sorry . . . um, Pennsylvanians. But then it happened again in Iowa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and yes, my neighboring states of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. In Nebraska they were rolling in the aisles! I could’ve been a headliner the way they guffawed in Las Vegas.
I write mysteries. Serious ones. In my Carolina Slade Mystery Series, Slade is spunky and enjoys her metaphors and one-liners while solving some nasty crime. Her secondary characters are quirky for comic relief. She does stupid stuff but for the best of reasons, and the way she argues herself out of situations will either have you chuckling or screaming at her for being an idiot. But she’ll go to the mat for her friends and families, and especially for a good cause and the honest truth. Picture Reese Witherspoon. You know she’s an earnest actress, but sooner or later she’s going to say something to make you laugh. That’s Slade. Maybe that’s me, too.
I love speaking about my books. But I thoroughly get off on aiding other writers find their way in this mess of a profession, too. So when I find an audience of like souls, people who love stories and how they’re put together, how books affect mankind and the authors, I find myself in hog heaven. The guard comes down and we talk turkey about what we have in common. Throw a few nerves in there and maybe that’s what triggers the tickle factor and makes it real for all of us. Like shedding the tie, or kicking off the shoes.
But after three years of touring, I don’t care why people laugh anymore. I care more about how much fun we’re having, and how lucky we are to be writers, readers, and people who cherish eating up books like butterscotch candy. And how wonderful is it to be laughed at about that?
BIO: C. Hope Clark’s latest release is Murder on Edisto, the first in her Edisto Island Mysteries, and the beginning of a new protagonist, Callie Jean Morgan. Hope is also author of The Carolina Slade Mysteries, set in the rural reaches of South Carolina. Hope’s other life is editor of FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. Her newsletters are read by 40,000 readers each and every Friday afternoon. When she’s not at home in SC dipping her toes in Lake Murray, she’s strolling the sands of Edisto Beach. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com