Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hail to the Dixie Divas

When I found out my novel was going to be published I talked to lots of other authors and they scared me to death. “The book signings are killers,” they warned. “Usually the only people who will show up the events coordinator and your mother.”

I also discovered a book called Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame. How terrifying! I thought there had to be some way to attract an audience to book signings. I talked to a mystery author, Denise Swanson. She traveled with other mystery writer and they called themselves the Deadly Divas. She said they sometimes attracted hundreds of people to their signings.

I decided I would borrow Denise’s idea. Since I was a Southern author, I formed a group called the Dixie Divas. I asked J.L. Miles, Julie Cannon, and Patricia Sprinkle to join me in my venture.

We decided we would have fun book signings. We wear boas and tiaras and other silly accessories. Patty, our mystery writer wears black and yellow crime tape. We tell jokes and stories. No staid, stuffy readings for the Divas. We aim to entertain.

Because we have to watch our pennies we often pile into one car and one hotel room. (Thankfully none of the divas snore.) I call us Thelma and Louise squared.

And yes, for the most part, our signings are wonderful. Sometimes we sell over a hundred books and present to packed houses. The press loves us and we have enjoyed half-page feature article spreads in many Southeastern newspapers, coverage we would have never gotten as solo authors.

But every now and then we have a dud signing. Once we spoke at Cocoa Florida library and the crowd was sparse and composed primarily of elderly retirees. The librarian apologized for the small turnout. A retiree who was listening in said, “You should have been here last week. There was an author who had a long line out the door.”

“Who was the author?” I asked wearily.

“I don’t remember,” said the retiree. “I just remember the name of his book. It was called Overcoming Incontinence.”

So yes, dear friends, we were upstaged by incontinence.

On another occasion we visited a small-town library in Georgia. The cub reporter interviewing us was wet behind the ears. His story had many inaccuracies but the most glaring was the title of his piece, which read, “Dixie Beavers to Visit Local Library.”
We’ve traveled together over three years and we’ve shared a heap of embarrassments as well as countless triumphs. You get to know a lot about people when you swill wine together, share long car rides and sleep in the same bed. The Divas and I have become as close as sisters and we cherish our relationships. I can’t imagine doing signings without them. When I’m with the Divas it doesn’t matter how many people are at our book signings. I know J.L. Miles will make me laugh, Julie Cannon will have a word of encouragement and Patty Sprinkle will give me valuable advice. That’s all I care about. Now it’s less about selling books and more about spending time with my darling Divas.

Karin Gillespie is the founder of this blog. Visit her and her books at She is also know as Karen Neches ( ) and her latest novel Earthly Pleasures will release in February and it has the MOST beautiful cover in the world. See above


elysabeth said...

I have your blog bookmarked for some odd reason but interesting enough - I just attended the SCWW conference in Myrtle Beach last weekend and I believe you all were there. I know I saw Patricia Sprinkle's books on the table for sale and it seems J. L. Miles was on the faculty or the name is sounding very familiar (I was a volunteer for the weekend and the only workshops I got to attend were the ones I was proctoring which was good - I did enjoy it because it worked out that it would have been workshops I probably would have picked out to attend anyway). It's nice to have a group to travel with - never a dull moment and lots of inspriation to work with for writing. There is a group of mystery writers here in the Carolinas called - what else - The Carolina Conspiracy - and they do the same thing - travel together, share costs of things and come be guest speakers at places. Joyce and Jim Levene are part of the group and they were at the SCWW conference this past weekend as well.

I'm glad I accidentally found your blog - looking forward to more of the Dixie Divas - E :)

Anonymous said...

We were there, Elysabeth. It was a wonderful conference. I've heard of the Carolina Conspiracy. The group touring thing has worked really well for me.

Karin Gillespie

Kristy said...

What a wonderful photo of you all! Great blog, too :-)Sounds like loads of fun...