4.14.16 - On Writer Tribes and Indie Bookstore Love

This was originally published in SIBA's Lady Banks newsletter. I thought you guys might enjoy it, too.

_______


A few nights ago, I attended a signing at the wonderful Parnassus Books in Nashville.


The signing author was Ariel Lawhon, who was launching her brilliant story chronicling the doomed flight of the Hindenburg, FLIGHT OF DREAMS. As Ariel and I hugged and kissed hello, bookseller extraordinaire Bill Long-Innes smiled benevolently and asked, “Do you guys have a writer tribe? It seems like Nashville authors really make an effort to support one another. I wonder if any other cities have such a tight knit group?”

Ariel and I nodded.


Because we do have a tribe here in Nashville.


Our literary community, dubbed the Nashville Literati, is tight. There are cliques within it—young adult writers in the SCBWI, crime fiction in Sisters in Crime, romance writers in MCWR, literary authors big with Salon 615 and Humanities Tennessee and The Porch Writers’ Collective.


But when it comes to supporting another author, we cross genres like a boss.



We lunch together. We attend each other’s signings. We hang out in East Nashville at East Side Storytellin’. We pull together all our writing buddies when a writer friend comes to town. We even go on writing retreats together.


And now one constant we all have in common is our indie store, Parnassus.


I think the store’s staff has made it such a welcoming, open place for writers of all genres, of all stripes, that we can’t help but want to gather there.  

When our beloved former indie, Davis-Kidd, closed its doors in 2010 (and Parnassus didn’t yet exist), it suddenly became much harder to get everyone together. We have the annual Southern Festival of Books, which is always well-represented with local authors. We did lunches and cocktails, drove out to other counties to attend signings.


But not having an indie store that represented and celebrated all the writers in town was hard. A town without an indie store is a sad one indeed.



Davis-Kidd had a long history in this town. As a matter of fact, it was one of the reasons I was okay with moving here. When my then boyfriend (now husband) brought me to Nashville in 1993 to meet his parents, he drove me around, and our last stop was Davis-Kidd. “See?” he said. “This is the best bookstore in town. You’ll have plenty to read if we ever move here.”

(I’m not sure if I was more entranced by the idea of books—books!—or the fact that my boyfriend had just hinted strongly he wanted a long future with me.) 

Davis-Kidd was everything you could ask for in a bookstore: great staff, great events, a huge, diverse collection of titles. I attended my very first author signing there (John Connolly! My writing hero!). At that signing, I met a woman who became my other mother, who mentored me through years of writing, getting an agent, getting a deal. I did one of my first signings at David-Kidd. I hit my first bestseller list while I was launching my fourth book there. I attended Sisters in Crime meetings there. I wept with everyone else when it closed.


To have an indie in our midst again is incredible.



It’s been very fun to watch Parnassus take hold in our community, to see stories being made there. The Nashville Literati grows stronger day-by-day, with new writers coming up to join the established ones. And Parnassus is our hub. Several writers are booksellers there (And one co-owns it. You might have heard of her . . . her name is Ann.). This lends a verisimilitude unmatched anywhere else.

Yes, Nashville has a writer tribe, just as strong as Chicago, New York, and L.A.

And thanks to our favorite indie, we have a place to call our own, too.

One Of The Best Things About Nashville...

One of this big advantages of living in Nashville is the music. Last night, I had the pleasure of attending an awesome bi-monthly event called EAST SIDE STORYTELLIN’, which is put together by the indomitable Chuck Beard of the very cool East Nashville shop East Side Story. Every event features an author, and a musician. Words, and lyrics. What a beautiful combination.

By the way, Chuck’s bookstore is unique - populated with books by Tennessee authors only. It is a true labor of love, and I can’t recommend buying from him highly enough. Not only is it a cool bookstore, it’s filled with art and love. If you’re in Nashville, stop by. If you’re outside of Nashville - give Chuck a call. He can hook you up with just the right book. Because Nashville - heck, all of Tennessee - is FULL of brilliant writers. We’ve undergone quite the literary renaissance lately, and Chuck has all of us there.

So back to last night - a great match up of words and lyrics. The author was Alecia Whitaker, the music by Alissa Moreno. These two have been teamed together for Alecia’s book, WILDFLOWER, the story of a young singer who’s gotten her big break, and Alissa sang the breakout song that’s featured in the book. There’s even a talent search underway for the next big star, so if you know a great teen signer, send them here. The book itself is the brainchild of Kathryn Williams, developmental editor of Aerial. This is a great example of Nashville teamwork. 

And I officially have a crush on Alissa Moreno. What a voice! You know how some songs, some people, just strike you? Well, you’ve heard her before, too, though you may not know it. She’s one of those amazingly talented singer/songwriters who populate this town. I bought one of her albums, and I’m stoked to go see her around town.

And since this has turned into a linkfest instead of my initial premise, I’ll get to it now. I am not a signer. I have no discernible musical talent. I played a bunch of instruments in school — clarinet, mostly, but sax and flute and drums and guitar, too — but they didn’t speak to me like words, and I had to choose between band and G&T classes, and I chose the latter. As such, I am always fascinated by people who have both words and melody in their heads. It seems such an ethereal gift, less workmanlike, more tangible than words alone. I know I can turn a phrase, but do I give people goosebumps and make tears come to their eyes? 

That’s how I felt last night. That overwhelming spark that sends tingles throughout your body when you hear just the right voice, just the right note, just the right words. I didn’t want the evening to end.

Do check out these extremely talented women, and give Chuck a whirl — you won’t be disappointed.

Have you been moved by anything or anyone lately? 

PSA for Nashville Booklovers

I received this note today from my local bookstore, Mysteries & More. In light of the massive changes to the book market in Nashville, I thought I'd share it with you. I've gotten multiple notes lately asking where my books can be purchased in Nashville. Sadly, I fear this problem is endemic to all authors these days.

Mysteries & More is one of the last bookstores in Davidson County that stocks new titles, and a really sweet shop to boot. So if you're in Nashville and want to hit a real store, check them out. Also, if you're west of town, be sure to stop by Reading Rock Books in Dickson - another excellent independent store. I'll be doing signings at both stores in late September for the release of WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE, so stay tuned to the Tours link for more info.

Here's the note I got from Greg this morning:

Fellow Mystery Lovers,

So far, the month of April has been one of our slowest since we opened the store.

We realize that the recent bad weather has probably been a contributing factor for this.

However, we also feel that the press reporting of some current events may have created some confusion.

We are sending this short note to clarify any misunderstanding that may be out there.

Here are the real facts:

-          Davis-Kidd bookstore is closed.

-          Borders bookstore in Cool Springs is closed.

-          Borders bookstore on West End will close the end of May.

-          Sherlock’s bookstore in Lebanon is closed.

-          MYSTERIES & MORE IS OPEN  - AND WILL REMAIN OPEN!

If you haven’t visited us for a while, please stop by and check out our recent changes including our expanded Younger Reader’s section.

And don’t forget that we order and ship any book in print (not just mysteries) and always at a 20% discount.

Thank you for your continued support, we appreciate it.

Mary & Greg

Mysteries & More…books to die for!

Editor's Note - Both stores can get you any book, regardless of genre.... : )