Vaughn Hardacker here: This past week I attended Caribou’s summer event called Thursday on Sweden (I blogged about this last year) a bi-weekly event held on Sweden Street in Caribou. I set up my canopy, attached the banner that proudly proclaimed my name with pictures of my book covers, and arranged the display of my books on the table.
The live music for that evening was a band called The Ghost of Paul Revere, a popular C&W group, so I expected a large turnout. I attracted a fair amount of attention as my expectations of a large crowd turned out to be true. I made a special effort to actually talk to people (Those of you who know me personally know how out of character that is!) I was actually starting to get in the swing of things when a little old lady (seeing as I’m pushing against 69 you can only guess her age–but suffice it to say she made me feel young) stopped by the table. She studied the three titles and then asked that question that every Mainer or visitor to Maine will eventually hear: “Are you local or from away?” I replied that I grew up in Caribou and graduated from Caribou High School in 1965. She looked at me with a look that I can only describe as that one your old maid grammar school teacher gave you when you messed up–that look that makes you feel stupid–well brain-dead at least. She said in a matter of fact way, “Then you need to tell us that. You need something that tells us who you are.” For a second I felt chastised then I recalled James Stockdale, Ross Perot’s running mate, who opened the vice-presidential debate with the immortal statement “Who am I? Why am I here?”. It struck me that as small a town as Caribou is, I lived away for most of my adult life and to many of the current residents I may as well be from away. She concluded by saying: “You need to do something that tells who you are.” To compound the situation, she smiled, patted me on the back of my hand and walked away without buying a book.
Jane, my partner for life (she says nobody would marry her but a fool and she isn’t marrying a fool), was busting a rib to keep from laughing. I once again felt like a scolded second grader. Jane said, “She sure told you.” I felt my face flush and then answered: “You know what sucks? She’s right. Ninety-eight percent of these people have no idea who I am–and the other two percent are related to me.”
The next morning I got busy and came up with a small poster (shown below):
VAUGHN C. HARDACKER
The author of five crime-thrillers, Vaughn spent his formative years in Caribou, ME and graduated from Caribou High School in 1965. He has degrees from Northern Maine Community College (NMVTI), University of Maine at Presque Isle, and Southern NH University and served in the U. S. Marine Corps and is a Vietnam veteran (1968-1969). He has lived in the Boston area and in Chicago. He has traveled to Asia, Australia, Mexico, South America, England, and Europe. His first two published crime-thrillers, SNIPER (2014) and THE FISHERMAN (2015) were selected as finalists in the Maine Literary Awards Crime Friction Category. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. has placed his next two thrillers, WENDIGO (July 2017) and MY BROTHER’S KEEPER (publication date To Be Announced) under contract.
He currently resides in Stockholm, ME. He can be followed on twitter at @VCHardacker and his webpage is http://www.vaughnhardacker.com
This will be prominently displayed on my table going forward. That way there will be no question about “Who am I? Why am I here?”
Totally! I have a little sign that I use for events in the area where I live, that says “Maureen Milliken is a Belgrade Lakes resident!” and I point out in a very short bio paragraph that I grew up in Augusta. It’s very important to people in Maine that you have some connection and aren’t just here for the lobsters and lighthouses! Thanks for a great post.
See you next week.
Her advice was right on the money. We need to introduce ourselves. I always find myself reading the back cover to learn more about the author.
Maybe, if you find out who she was- you could “pay” her with one of your books.
Giving her advice further thought all I could think of was something my late wife, Connie, used to say: “God speaks to us through other people…” How right she was.
Good ideas come from all corners! Great post, Vaughn!
Ain’t that the truth, Lea. Please note my reply to vy kava’s comment.
I loved this post! I find when I do local festivals (Keuka Arts Festival most recently) most of the crowd are locals, and they’re looking for local color, local authors, local artists, and so on. Fortunately (on many levels!), I grew up in the Finger Lakes and have come back after years away studying and working and traveling. At KAF, a bright bold advertising director stepped up to our tent and told us four “local authors” she was looking for Finger Lakes authors whose books are set in the Finger Lakes for a fundraiser at the winery she works for. Two of us held up our hands and we’re in (along with Kristin Higgins, OMG!). It turns out the young woman grew up in my home town, her mom’s family lived across the street from me, and I played kickball with her aunts and uncles. This is my favorite kind of networking! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face, Vaughn!
A great reminder that even if you grew up in a small town people will not learn who you are through osmosis.
Neat post and I like your who am I.
Thanks, John. It was something that needed doing, but since I can procrastinate procrastination I resisted doing it. To compound matters I haven’t seen a picture of myself taken after 1970 that I liked. Nothing against the various photographers, after all, I didn’t give them much to work with.
Nice photo, Vaughn. Is that one I took?
And a great reminder that people want Maine books by Maine writers. Working on my poster right now.
Hope you sold lots of books.
Yes, it’s the pic you took at Guilford. Thanks for sending it. I’ve clipped a portion and sent it to my editor at Skyhorse for use on my forthcoming books.
Excellent comments and food for thought. I’ve written four mysteries and have only now begun to advertise. I’ve always been reticent to tell anyone who I am. You’ve inspired me. Thanks!
Welcome to the ranks of those of us who wish publicity and advertising happened by osmosis!