Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
How we met: Facebook friend suggested we friend each other
Relationship/friendship length: Nine months
So I write erotic fiction, and was lucky enough to realize that if Fifty Shades of Grey could be popular, I'd best be promoting my erotic fiction. So last summer, that's what I was doing. My ex-boyfriend suggested I friend one of his friends. She was a politician, and since she wasn't getting any coverage from the local news outlets, I offered to do a story on her. She was thankful. Then, a few months go by, and she contacts me, saying she has an opportunity for me.
That opportunity was getting into a local adult novelty store and selling my erotic fiction there. I accompany my friend and her assistant/friend to the bookstore, where my friend takes over and sets pricing. I'm broke, so the store gives me a check to buy copies of my book, especially after it's discovered that a small women's expo is going to be held in a couple weeks at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. My friend calls the event coordinator, and gets a deal for the novelty store owners, who are in over their heads, both financially and how should I say it: business-wise? Logic-wise? Common sense-wise? Picture your grandmother and grandfather running a store full of stripper shoes, spandex and lube, and you'll get the idea.
So the only problem is the fact they've guaranteed the event coordinators that they will have a REAL-LIVE author signing books at the booth. However, I work on the weekends, and in order for me to get time off, I have to ask for it 30 days in advance. This event is less than 30 days away. I thought I remembered asking my friend if I could be there from 10 a.m. to noon, since I had to work at 12:30 p.m., but she said no. Apparently, a radio station was doing a live feed, and it was going to be between noon and 2 p.m. THAT'S when I should be there, she said. It took me a few days to secure time off, because my department manager had to notify the zone manager, and the zone manager had to contact one of my co-workers to see if she would cover for me. While I'd love to have a wealthy husband to support me so I could do whatever I wanted 24/7, like my friend and her assistant can, I have to work for a living. So it took me a while to see what time off I could get. I could come in a bit later on Sunday, but Saturday, the high holy day of retail, was out.
I had the check from the store, but I put off depositing it because I was sick. I woke up on a Thursday, feeling kind of out of it. I went to the mall, since I didn't have internet at home anymore. While I was there, I had to go to the bathroom, and had a bloody bowel movement. Then, I had another one. I felt justified about staying home the next day. I slept most of the day, and didn't get the check cashed until Saturday. The friend's assistant came by Friday and offered to deposit the check, but I said don't worry about it.
So Saturday, I deposit the check, planning to order the books a few hours later. I called my friend, and she was very upset that I hadn't deposited the check. Apparently, a bloody bowel movement was NOT a good enough excuse for taking the day off and not cashing the check. I didn't see what the big deal was. I'd ordered books from Lulu.com before, and they worked weekends.
When I got my days off all straightened out, my friend was mad. She insisted I was incommunicado for a week while I was trying to get my time off figured out. It was more like three days. There was nothing to report: I was waiting for my department manager to talk to the zone manager, who was trying to contact my co-worker. Was I supposed to call and say, "hey, no news yet?"
I finally got the books on a Wednesday morning. I called my friend and said the books were in. She asked if I could deliver them to the store that day. I took them over there before my class started. I went upstairs to the the owner's office, where my friend showed me the pictures the store took, and what they were going to take to the women's show booth. My friend then said since I couldn't be at the book signing on Saturday, they found someone who looked like me, who had my build, who would sign my books for me.
And that's when I exploded. A fucking STUNT DOUBLE to sign my books? Oh, hell no. HELL NO. World War III erupted in front of the owner and his wife. My friend and I screamed at each other. I was absolutely furious that I'd brought the books, only to be told this. I had to go teach class, so I took off. I called a friend of mine, and told her what was going on. We discussed options. I didn't want the store to own my books.
I taught class, and went back for round two. I went back and demanded to buy back my books, at cost. My friend thought I'd lost my mind. We yelled again, this time, just in front of the store owner. His wife and her assistant were hiding in the dressing room. My friend said I'd left her with no choice to get a stand-in to sign my books. I told her that was like saying Brad Pitt was going to be at Glenbrook, then the day of the visit, show up with a Brad Pitt lookalike. She then said, "honey, you are NOT Brad Pitt." Okay, so I'm just some nobody writer, but I don't care. If Joe Blow is going to do a book signing, I want to see Joe Blow, not Joe Blow's brother, who looks a LOT like him, or Joe Blow's neighbor, or Joe Blow's cousin. Who wrote the fucking book? Who proofread, edited it, proofread it again and shot the front and back cover photos? ME, that's who. And she had the gall to get a complete fucking stranger to sign MY books? So we yelled at each other again, and she gave me two choices. I can't remember what the other one was, but she said I could sign my books right then and there. So I did. She also said, "sign 'em pretty." I could have killed her.
The next day, we met for about three hours. I got to hear what an ungrateful bitch I was, and how I was passing up such a great opportunity, and why the hell wasn't I so excited about this? Well, because it's not Book Expo America, or even Tapestry, but a very small women's expo. And it's Fort Wayne. And, this store was not Barnes and Noble. Having my books at a tiny local adult novelty store was not going to change my life. THAT'S why I was not excited. I was smart enough to know this, and didn't want to waste valuable energy thinking that it would. My meltdown put them back 18 hours, according to my friend. I was asked time and again why I wasn't so totally, completely, wonderfully excited about this. I guess I should have told them flat-out they were making way more out of this than what it was.
But they went on. The store owner didn't want me to show up on Sunday. He wasn't even sure if he wanted to carry my books. Blah, blah, blah. The ironic part of all this was that my "friend" said I needed to gain more confidence and stand up for myself. She even suggested I put a really raunchy ad on Craigslist, in order to gain more fans on Facebook. She also said I should go out to bars as my alter ego (I write under a pen name). I said I wouldn't do that. The whole idea of a pen name is to create an identity that you can write under. People maybe wouldn't read erotic fiction written under my real name, but they might read it under another name. Having a pen name allows me to be more uninhibited, in a creative way. I couldn't make her understand that, so I basically sat there like a lump, listening to lies and half-truths from this woman. I realized this was another huge woman trying to make me feel like shit. I noticed the way she treated her husband and her friend. They seemed to be her assistants. And I wasn't about to become one of her servants. I was becoming more and more leery of morbidly obese women with attitudes.
So I show up Sunday, and I'm the first one there. I was told not to bring food, but they came in with candy. As an extra dose of humiliation, I had to write an apology letter to the store owner, and buy gift cards for the store owner's wife and her assistant. Yeah, I could barely afford gas, yet I had to shell out some MORE money. (I sent the letter to the owner, which pissed him off again, because I didn't seem sorry enough. I tried to explain myself, but that didn't work.) Getting back to the present, I get to the booth on time, and looked around at a booth packed full of spandex, candles, massage oil, paddles, stripper shoes and other accessories. We were about a hundred feet across the aisle from the main adult novelty store in town, which had previously been the only type of merchant of its kind at the show, until Grandma and Grandpa Naughty came in to spoil their show. But it was a joke. Yeah, our booth had the author (me) but our main competitor had a young, athletic girl working a stripper pole. Their booth wasn't crammed full of stuff and had a young, hip-looking guy running it. Our booth had five cows and a bull. The store owner's wife was wearing a dress they sold at the shop. The store owner's assistant was wearing a similar outfit. It was early March, and they were wearing spandex dresses they were too heavy for and no pantyhose. Their white, white legs were a contrast to the black and pink frocks. The store owner's wife looked like an aging hooker. And my "friend" was concerned about ME wearing the right outfit! I looked WAY better than any of them did. The store owner, since he wasn't allowed to bring in chairs from outside the Memorial Coliseum, parked himself in the back of a mini-van which was on display a few feet away from the booth. He and I never exchanged a word. I made nice, and talked to people, and was my best perky self. I talked about my book, but to no avail. No one bought a copy. My "stunt double" showed up. She gushed about the book and said they almost sold a copy on Saturday, but since the store wasn't able to accept credit cards at the show, they couldn't make the sale.
Now, if I'd shown up and rented a booth of my own and was unable to accept credit cards, my "friend" would have screamed at me. But because this was grandma and grandpa and they weren't experienced in these matters, it was okay. But I was furious. Why bring a shit-ton of crap to a trade show and NOT BE ABLE TO PROCESS A FUCKING CREDIT CARD? How much do those card readers cost? How much does a smart phone cost if you get a contract? Not very fucking much for either one. I left the show to go to my other job, with my "friend" and her assistant following me out of the Coliseum, no doubt to make sure I was actually GOING to my job.
Since then, I've not spoken to either one of them. For all I know, the store threw the books out. I know I'm never going to see a dime of profit from that place. I went to The Bookmark and asked them if they would carry my books, and they said yes. And the profit margin is much better there.
Here is a photo of the "stunt double author."
This is the photo of the store owner.
Please note: friends have looked at the stunt double, and say she looks NOTHING like me. And I do NOT have a tattoo over my left breast.
Aftermath: As a result, I'm very suspicious of morbidly obese women who want to control me. I'm also suspicious of people who want to "help" me.
P.S. That bloody bowel movement led to a colonoscopy which led to a right hemicolectomy. If I ever see that woman again, I'm telling her that the next time I feel ill, I'm taking time for myself, and everyone else can go to hell.