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 www.reneawinchester.com

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Not “loving it” at McDonald’s

Recently I caught up with author friend, and award-winner extraordinaire, Ann Hite at the place where authors hang out…the McDonald’s. We chatted about her beautiful book, Ghost on Black Mountain and her upcoming novel, Barren Soul. We chatted about my work in process, In the Kitchen with Billy. We chatted about books we love and the importance of  marketing. If you are a writer you realize marketing is a “must-do” prior to the release of your manuscript. Hopefully, this blog entry will also provide a teaching moment.

Connected by words, we communed like long-time best girlfriends. Before Ann corrected my mistake, I was certain she had grown up near the western North Carolina mountains. She probably believed I had grown up in North Georgia. Gardening, farming, and family members with calloused hands tied us together.

An hour into our conversation we were interrupted by a man sitting in the next booth who asked the question, “are you familiar with Casey Anthony?”

Since my back was to him, Ann responded in the affirmative. He had obviously overheard a majority of our conversation and in a blink of an eye asked the question, “can I have your opinion on something?”

Mistakenly, I opened the floodgate by saying, “sure.”

“I’d like you to have a look at something,” he said while passing his laptop over my shoulder and into my hands.

Note to authors everywhere: please do not do this. Ann and I had been cooped up in the house for who knows how long; writing, sweating, praying. We needed a little girl time. Authors don’t get out much.

As proper southern manners dictate, I opened the Google search window as he instructed and begin typing the title of his work in progress, “Catch Her in the Rye.” He was making a point, that his work is ranked high on the web. Admittedly, I held my breath when the ever-helpful Google search window completed the words “catch herpes” instead of “catch her.”

I didn’t look at Ann. I just kept typing (really fast) the words, “her in the rye.”

Side note: Please, do not give your title a quirky little name.

“Casey Anthony is innocent,” the man professed.

He did not give us his name. We both knew better than to ask. “The court found her innocent. She’s a free woman,” he continued.

His obsession was clear…. crystal clear. Then he said, “I’ve written a play on words account using sentences from Catcher in the Rye. You’re familiar with Salinger?”

We nod, smile, and notice that his thumb and forefinger display permanent nicotine stains. At least we hope it is nicotine.

Coming around to the edge of our table, he leans over our drinks and locates his work in progress on the screen. His work isn’t displayed on a word processing program. Instead, it is posted on one of the billions of “free” author sites available to those who don’t realize the risk of posting your words online. Were his work-in-progress phenomenally fantastic, it would already be “published,” which most publishers consider a significant no-no. While he pointed out the number of “hits” his work had received, I notice a sentence from Catcher. I am certain Ann noticed it too.

Crossing thin arms across his chest he said, “I’d really like to know your thoughts.”

I hear this sentence often. People who utter this phrase rarely want feedback. They want affirmation, which we (eventually) politely provided.

“You don’t have quotation marks around this sentence,” I say pointing to the Salinger quote. Ann moved our drinks away from the laptop.

“Don’t need ‘em,” he replies. “I’m just using a sentence from Catcher here and there. That’s not copyright infringement.”

As he broadcast Casey Anthony’s innocence and name-dropped reputable attorneys from his home state of Florida, his words sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. The positive energy Ann and I had shared earlier rapidly evaporated.

“I’m moving a word around here and there,” he defended. “I’m not quoting Salinger directly, but people will know who I’m quoting.”

He wanted to talk. He did not want to know “our thoughts.” He did not listen. Eventually we said what he wanted to hear and then it was time to go.

“I’m sorry,” I said pointing to the time on his computer screen. “I have to teach a class in a few minutes.”

Standing, Ann and I wished him the best.

What are your thoughts about this man’s actions? Please feel free to share your comments.