The Harlem Shake, Indie Bookstore Style

The Harlem Shake, Bookstore Style

Breaking News: It is world wide knowledge that Indie Bookstores go the extra mile to sell books. They have free giveaways, quirky contests, and sometimes . . . ask authors to act a fool while someone captures their shenanigans on film. Cat Blanco, owner of The Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia recently did just that, ask me and a handful of others to act a fool.

Younger readers will recognize The Harlem Shake as a phenomenon that has taken over YouTube.

For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, here’s the gist: as best as I understand. The video begins with a group of people hanging out. These people could be in the Starbucks, college dorm, or in this case, a local bookstore. All of the sudden a kooky person enters, dancing all kray-kray while no one else seems to notice. Then when the music hits a certain note everyone starts dancing kray-kray.

For the record, we realize our feeble attempt is in no way similar to the “Original” Harlem Shake. We’re just trying to spread the word that Indie bookstores are anything but boring.

Cat assembled the group and we picked out our headgear (apparently head-adorning-implements are required for this type of activity). Next, it was time to cue the music.

Law have mercy. It's a good thing none of our parents have internet access !

Law have mercy. It’s a good thing none of our parents have internet access !

What you can’t see on the video are customers entering the store as we’re standing there wearing hats, motorcycle helmets and bunny ears. Cat explained, Don’t mind us; we’re just filming a Harlem Shake video.

She said this like it was an everyday occurrence. Then she asked. . . wanna join us? The look on their faces was priceless. By the way, no one volunteered to join us.

harlemshake1 (1)Cat also pulled the guy next-door from the barber shop. C’mon, join the fun. Here’s a pic of her covering adjusting his silver wig.

As my people would say, They help my time.

It took a couple of takes, before the video was done. Even now, we look at the video and smile. We were supposed to stand in one spot and shake our booty. But there was something about the music, the excitement that filled the room that made up hop around the room like excited bunnies.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited an Indie Bookstore you’ll see that they are, loads of fun. No stuffed-shirts hoity-toity folk in here. Most Indies bookstore owners remember your name, and your reading preferences. They provide jobs for the neighborhood and are far from being extinct. If you haven’t visited The Book Exchange well it just up the road from you on Canton Road.  The address is 2932 Canton Road, Marietta GA 30066. If you’ve got your eye on a new release, or you want to load up on your favorite used books give Cat a call at (770) 427-4848.

Cat is known for hosting fabulous author events that bring New York Times best-selling authors to North Georgia. If you have never attended an author event, here’s a listing of upcoming author appearances:

April 16, 2013 Wendy Wax

May 16, 2013 Charles Martin and Patti Callahan Henry

June 4, 2013 Karen White

harlemshakemyra1I promise. We will leave our goofy headgear and stick pony at home. You will find that we’re just a group of passionate readers happy to support the local Indie, and a group of devoted authors acting a fool all for the love of books.

Please visit The Book Exchange on Facebook and LIKE their Page. We’d hate for all our Tom Foolery to be for naught. Oh, and while you’re there please follow me, or send me a friend request.

And now, without further ado, the video. The Book Exchange’s version of the Harlem Shake. harlemshakeyoutubepix

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at

Patience and Perseverance

By Anju Gattani

No one said writing was easy. No one said publishing was any easier. No one said an M.A. or an MFA validates that you are/your work is suitable for publication. No one follows the rules of writing (there are none) in much the same way no one guarantees that you follow the rules (of writing) only to break them. And yet writers continue to write in the hope that they will one day be published. Why?

I thought about this for a long time while rewriting, revising and re-editing (sometimes all at once) the debut novel in my ‘Winds of Fire’ series, DUTY AND DESIRE. However, none of the ambiguity held me back because of the reason that propelled me in the first place – my love for storytelling. As far as I can remember, I’ve always loved to tell stories – tall tales were my favorites. However, after succeeding at writing (and being published internationally) in short fiction, feature, travel and parenting columns I knew the larger challenge lay ahead – writing the fiction novel. What I didn’t know—and am still grateful for—is the 9-journey to follow and the slam of rejections just waiting to sock me. I learned very quickly that rejections were aimed at my work—not me—despite the truth that I had poured my heart, soul and blood (me) in the writing of the story I learned very quickly to laugh at myself, pump a little humor in my writing life and build on friendship with others like myself who couldn’t not write. I learned to navigate the watery abyss of publishing and steer on with the one reason that propelled me in the first place – my love for storytelling.

As far as I can remember I’ve always loved to tell stories – tall tales were my favorites. So I continued to research, work with professionals from various industries (2 of India’s leading fashion designers, a Pilates instructor and doctor from the UK) and fill the story with details. I learned the art and craft of technique, style and honed my writing voice until I could no longer hear myself. I continued to flesh out characters so that they stole the show and moved their story forward. I learned to integrate plot, pacing and weave descriptions so that it all appeared seamless. And all this required patience. Years and years of patience and perseverance. But most of all it required an inner strength and determination to go on and believe in the story. How could I not? I had too many people, including my husband and kids, believing in me.

As far as I can remember I’ve always loved to tell stories – tall tales were my favorites. And now I’ve just told another one. However, this one, I hope, will encourage you to turn the pages of a novel… perhaps one you’ve written or one you have to read or better yet, one that’s a work-in-progress. It doesn’t matter. What does matter are the millions of stories out there that have already been told and millions still waiting to do so. It takes patience to write. It takes patience to read. But more so it takes patience and perseverance to believe.

Anju has lived in Singapore, Australia, India, New Jersey and Connecticut. She now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two kids. Anju is a columnist for a multicultural magazine in the USA. She is also an avid guest blogger, who loves to share her experiences in health and fitness, food, self-empowerment and great fiction reads.

Duty and Desire is her first novel.

Visit Anju at