Her name was Sandy and she was the only other person in the room.
This was the Mountainside Public Library on Saturday where the kind folks who run the library has scheduled a reading for me.
They had placed a large poster in the doorway announcing my visit, and displayed copies of the two Frank Nagler mysteries they had in their collection, “The Swamps of Jersey,” and “A Game Called Dead.”
Thanks to the librarians for accepting a copy of the third Frank Nagler book, “The Weight of Living.”
It is hard to predict who shows up at such readings for little known authors. I have been at some when friends and family of a local author flood the room. I have been at others when curious readers arrive, and at others when no one arrives.
But on Saturday it was Sandy.
And what privilege it was.
I read some passages and described the tortured history of how a simple cop item in a long-forgotten newspaper became the so-far three book series, how the original manuscript changed and became “The Swamps of Jersey,” and how “A Game Called Dead,” resembled the first manuscript of that story in name only, and how I am attempting to write the original story again.
Sandy asked questions, and offered that she had worked in Morris County, the site of the fictional Ironton, N.J. the setting for the Nagler stories.
We shared stories about Picatinny Arsenal and other Morris County places.
The scheduled hour-long session ran 30-minutes long. And she bought two sets of the books. Thank you, Sandy.
The value of the session was not the sale of the books, it was to sit and talk with an interested reader.
The one thing I learned since 2014, when Imzadi Publishing released the first Frank Nagler book, “The Swamps of Jersey,” is that like most striving writers I am my both my best asset and worst enemy. No one owns us anything, and we have to work for it.
But sharing time with an interested reader who willingly gave me 90 minutes to talk about writing is the best experience.
The seminal lesson of American politics comes from the Tip O’Neill, the legendary Massachusetts Congressman, who after he lost his first run of office for a local seat in a district where he and his family were well known, asked a neighbor if she had voted for him.
Her reply, O’Neill said, shaped his political career.
She said, “No, because you never asked for my vote.”
Asking people to read your books is like asking for their vote.
Thus, the glory of an audience of one.
Also Saturday, after a writers’ marketing meeting at the New Providence Memorial Library, I dropped off copies of the Nagler books. The librarian and I chatted for a moment and as she read the back covers, said, “We need to have you come and speak about them.”
Then she asked for a second business card she could give to the local historical society where potentially we can chat about using local sites and histories as a basis for mysteries.
So, you never know.
Thanks to all for their interest.
The Frank Nagler books are also available at the following New Jersey libraries:
Mountainside; Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library; Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown; Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System; The Palmer (Pa.) Branch of the Easton Public Library; Deptford Free Public Library and Franklin Township Library (Gloucester Co.), New Providence Memorial Library.
The Frank Nagler Mysteries are available online at: