My book-selling father is working it 24/7 in Florida!

March 26th, 2013
bwalsh

My father is taking Florida by storm.
He is supposed to be on vacation in St. Augustine with my mother for the month of March. But instead, my 77-year-old dad is working the streets, the beach, the restaurants, the golf courses, and the book stores.
“Do you like to read?” he asks dozens of people each day.
It they answer yes, he hands them an August Gale bookmark, detailing the story about the 1935 storm that killed several of our Newfoundland sea-faring ancestors.
“The book,” he explains to these strangers, “has 76-five star reviews on Amazon. And it’s the #1 Canadian history Kindle book.”
He also confesses, “I’m the author’s father.”
Though he has handed out 1,000 August Gale bookmarks to New Englanders living near his New Hampshire home, Florida offers a unique opportunity: snowbirds and tourists from around the globe.
My father is giddy when he encounters Canadians, the Irish, English, or Americans living thousands of miles from his East Coast home.
“Met a lady from Minnesota,” he told me last week. “If she talks the book up out there, this could be really good.”
When my dad finds women in book clubs, he is over the moon. If their club chooses to read August Gale, my father has hit the jackpot. He has sold anywhere from six to ten books in one shot.
“I got a big one,” he exclaimed recently. “This lady is in THREE book clubs.”
Nearly every day, I receive emails from the people who tell me, “I met your dad.”
One woman messaged me, “Your father approached my husband and I and asked if we were readers. He then laughed and said that of course we were. We were in Barnes and Noble! I loved him right away. He proceeded to tell us about the book that you wrote. Tell your father thanks for his boldness in talking to strangers and his sweet spirit; it made our day.”
Another Minnesota couple met my parents at the Beachcomber, my dad’s favorite seaside bar.
“He handed me your bookmark and from our conversation, I knew I had to read August Gale. I hope to run into him before we leave and tell him thanks for telling us about you and your books. I may have to give him a big hug from a new fan.”
Ironically, August Gale is about a family secret that my dad kept private for much of his life. The book not only resurrects the storm that killed several of our sea-faring ancestors, it recreates my grandfather, my dad’s childhood hero, and the man who twice abandoned him, his brother, and mother.
My dad doesn’t tell these strangers that he is in the book, too. Mostly, he talks about how proud his is of the daughter who wrote August Gale.
“I just wanted to let you know how precious I thought your father was,” one woman said. “Take advantage of every opportunity to converse with him as much as you can now, because I am sure you know how quickly our parents are gone.”
I wiped tears from my eyes after reading this woman’s words. My father is indeed “precious.”
And when he calls to inform me, “I’ve got another winner here, a lady in two book clubs,” I smile and know that I’ve got my own winner, a dad who is determined to see his daughter’s book on the best-seller list.
I often joke to my father, “You’re doing a great job. I’m gonna have to give you a raise soon.”
My dad laughs because I have never given him a nickel, and we both know he isn’t in it for the money.

My dad and Trish Murphy, an Irish waitress who has promised to tell her Florida customers about August Gale.

SAMMY IN THE SKY. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Jamie Wyeth. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.