This Week’s Column:


... a MobyLives guest column

by Nancy Pate

Finishing up the book tour for "Fiddle Dee Death" (John F. Blair, $21.95 hardcover, $14.95 trade paperback), the book she co–wrote with her cousins, Meg Herndon and Gal Greer, Orlando Sentinel book editor Nancy Pate files her final journal entry, and takes a look back at the highs and lows of a book tour ....

8 July 2003— Another Sunday morning, and we're back "home" at our parents on Edisto Island, S.C., after 2 weeks and some 2,000 miles of the Caroline Cousins book tour. At 7 a.m., the tide is almost dead low, and the beach is flat as a plate with a blue sky like a bowl overhead. Meg may finally have a chance to wear a bathing suit.

We were such book tour novices. We packed bathing suits and novels for our leisure time. Little did we know how little down time there would be, and almost all of it would be spent napping.

Now we are catching up on sleep and current events. Being on the road is like being in a bubble; all we heard were headlines. Katharine Hepburn died. Strom Thurmond died. Wimbledon came and went. We might not have known about Tropical Storm Bill if it hadn't been for the rains that chased us across Tennessee.

Happily, Gail is aces at driving, even in the mountains in bad weather. We saw lightning glowing over the peaks to the point we wondered if there'd been an accident at Oak Ridge

We got so we hated orange construction barrels and motels — one in particular.

"Babes Lounge should have been our tip–off," Gail said as we hurriedly found a more welcoming establishment the next morning.

"That and the fact that our fire alarm had smoke smudges on the wall," Meg added.

We would never have checked in if it hadn't been close to midnight and pouring rain. Oh well, live and learn. We did that a lot. We discovered that internet directions can't be trusted and a whole lot of readers watch early morning local TV.

We also learned that booksellers are writers' best friends. We spent a delightful couple hours at the legendary Lemuria in Jackson, Miss., with Bill Kehoe, and were charmed by That Bookstore in Blytheville and the fabulous Mary Gay Shipley. The folks at Davis–Kydd in Jackson, Tenn., treated us to a luncheon, and Duff Bruce made "Fiddle Dee Death" a staff selection at The Open Book in Greenville, S.C. They became "our people."

Speaking of which, kinfolk again came through for us on the second leg of the trip — Cousin Doug's wife Melinda's sister and two daughters caught up with us in Memphis, and our friend Mary Ann's mother arrived in Jackson and gave us each a lucky penny tied in a vintage hanky. Meg's son–in–law's brother Charles surprised us in Knoxville, and we hugged on Gail's in–laws near Greenville like orphans. They gave us sandwiches, sweet tea, rooms for napping and pointed us toward Edisto.

We arrived just before midnight on July 3, cleaning out the Turn Around van so it could be turned in the next morning. It had carried us safely for many miles, but we weren't sorry to bid it — and the backseat where you can't hear what's being said in the front –– good–bye.

Our mamas — the sisters — and the Edisto Book Club and Karen Carter of the Edisto Bookstore made sure the cousins' wrap party Saturday at the Pavilion was a success. A couple hundred folks came by to have their books signed, to nibble on cookies and sample Pinckney Purple punch. And not all of them were relatives.

Now, for the answers to the two most–asked questions. Yes, three women can write a book together and tour for two weeks and still be on speaking terms. We have to be — we're family. Besides, we have signings together in Florida next month. More important, we have another book to write. Fiddle Dee Death the sequel. Just a tad more murder ....

©2003 Nancy Pate

The previous Column: MURDER THEY WROTE: THE TOUR, PART 2 ... The saga of the Carolina Cousins author tour continues....


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