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Senior Correspondent

Touring with Stewball

The Long Road to Paris

Touring with Stewball

Ed and Janet Howle with Jack and Mary Crabtree in Savannah

Jan. 19 to 22: Stewball doesn’t travel without a new flower in his bud vase. Fortunately my pansies are still blooming so we started on this book tour to promote (make that sell), "The Long Road to Paris," with fresh flowers in Stewball’s vase.

First stop. Bluffon, S.C., Actually Magnolia Hall Performing Arts Center in Sun City just west of Bluffton. We had been invited to describe our novel to an audience of book clubs, gear-heads and interested others, not to do a reading. We were told this audience can read and does, so we should just tell our story, how the book came to be, you know, things that are unique to us and our writing. Our focus included which parts of the novel are real, and which parts are not. This included characters, places, history, the real car rally, suspense and intrigue. A great group, lots of questions but somehow we didn’t get the idea of actually buying the book across very well!

Still a very warm welcome and lots of interest — in us and Stewball. He had fun, parked in front of the hall with the marque advertising our event. We felt like at least minor celebrities.

Day 2. A day to drive to Daytona Beach and check on Silver Girl, our Catalina 31. All well there and a day to feel the sun, listen to the lapping of the water on the hull and just chill. Stewball seemed refreshed too. Ed even had to change the setting on the preheat for the carborator for warm weather!

Day 3. Back up Interstate 95 to Fernandina Beach for a book signing at The Book Loft. The weather was with us and Sue invited us to sit outside in front of the store. Talked to a lot of people interested primarily in our trip in Stewball since he was parked directly in front of the store and stopped a lot of people. He does get a lot of attention, but how to translate this into book sales? Do we need to be more aggressive? No, maybe the word is assertive.

Onto Day 4. Savannah, Ga., to speak to the AACA club there. An additional benefit was meeting Jack and Mary Crabtree who brought their 1929 Model A from Charleston. This displayed the only two cars from the World Race 2011 that covered all 14,000 miles on the ground. This presenataion was mostly about our rally with book sales after the presentation. More books sold but none of the events produced sales at the level we had hoped. Maybe our expectations are too high. Maybe we really don’t know what to expect and maybe there will still be more trickle down from these events. Time will tell.

Two unexpected benefits. First, we had an email from our website from someone who saw the car at a rest-stop in Florida looked up the website and contacted us. So, you never know when and where a contact will be made.

The second benefit was meeting Felix in Fernandina Beach. Felix has been named “town ambassador” and covers the city on his tricycle, playing his harmonica and selling cookies and chips. He’s at the ball park for all the games as well, we were told. He really enjoys his role and is known by all the locals — and now by us. We should all get as much out of life as Felix obviously does.

So, our first tour with Stewball is over and we must decide how much of this we want to do. It takes a lot of time, is tiring, expensive and the overall benefits are still unknown.


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