Saturday, September 6, 2014

Grace Notes

I had the most incredible experience this past Wednesday. Way back in early July I read in Louise Penny's newsletter that she was going to be in Vancouver in early September as part of her book tour. I felt a knot form in my stomach. I desperately wanted to go, didn't want to go by myself, didn't know who I could find to go with me...

Then I did something totally out of character. In spite of all the unknowns I purchased a ticket. To understand exactly what I had committed to you need to know that she was going to be speaking at a church in downtown Vancouver. Not the outskirts of Vancouver, not even in the part of the city right before you cross one of the bridges that take you into the downtown core. The function was going to be where the traffic is the worst, the parking is almost non-existent, and where it would take me at least two and a half hours to get to.

About a week after I bought my ticket my sister-in-law Lynn phoned and told me she had finally started reading "that author" I had told her to try, and that she was loving the books. Well, that author was Louise Penny, and I know a gift horse when I see one. In a matter of minutes I had talked Lynn into going with me.

We decided I would drive to her home in White Rock, and then she would drive the rest of the way since the church was very close to where she used to work and she knows the area better than me. I have to say, it was very nice to be a passenger and not the driver for a change. I also have to say it's good I have nerves of steel, because my sister-in-law drives like a bat out of hell.

Due to the bat out of hell scenario we arrived at the church a full half hour before the event was due to start.


I was shocked when we entered the church and saw it was already two thirds full. Clearly I am not the only Louise Penny fan. I took this picture soon after we arrived. More and more people kept pouring in the doors, and by the time she started speaking there were over 700 people in attendance. (My apologies to the anonymous man whose rear end is featured in this picture.)


I wish you could have been there with me. She was funny and humble and fascinating and entertaining and I didn't want her to stop talking. I wasn't the only one either. She was scheduled to speak for thirty minutes, then take questions. At the forty minute mark she suddenly checked her watch and looked shocked at the time. She said she better leave it there and move on to the questions, and as soon as the words were out of her mouth the most amazing thing happened. I think it was this audience's equivalent of an encore call. There was a collective groan from all 700 people in attendance. She looked shocked again, then pleased, then kind of shrugged her shoulders and kept on talking for a bit longer.

She talked about Grace Notes in her life, and how so many grace notes went into her getting her first book, Still Life, published. Then after it was published her agent committed her to writing two more in the series and she was filled with fear because she didn't know how she had done the first book, and didn't know if she could do it again. Wow, could I ever identify with that feeling. Her therapist told her that she was letting "her critic" write the book, and instead she needed to let her creative soul write the first draft.

Then she answered questions from the audience. Being a complete coward, of course I didn't raise my hand. But many others did, and both the questions and the answers were very thoughtful. Now here's the part I should be hanging my head in shame over. After the Q&A, it was announced she would be signing books at the front, and they asked those of us who wanted a book signed to please line up in the middle aisle. This is where all those hikes up and down Teapot Hill paid off. In spite of being in the back of the church, I ended up at almost the front of the book signing line. In my defence I will say I didn't push or harm anyone on my way there. I just moved very, very fast. I felt this was totally justified since it was already almost 9:00 and I had a two and a half hour drive home.


This doesn't have anything to do with the rest of this post, other than it has what could be considered a grace note in it. Karsten texted me this picture yesterday of their family at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.


Here's their grace note. On the trail to the lake they encountered a grizzly bear. It was coming towards them with its nose to the ground, apparently oblivious to their presence. Karsten finally made some noise and it moved off the trail so they could pass. I have run into black bears many times, but never a grizzly. And I count that as one of my grace notes.


19 comments:

  1. Kristie, I love hearing stories like this.....when we step out in faith how things will work out. I'm so glad, too, that Karsten kept his cool and was able to do the right thing to protect himself and his family.

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  2. What an exciting post - I would like to have seen you moving very quickly up that aisle! :)

    That photo of Banff is beyond stunning. A grace note indeed about the grizzly.

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  3. Go you! What a lovely story. I always enjoy reading your posts so have nominated you for the "One Lovely Blog Award". Please don't feel obliged to participate but I hope that you get more readers and enjoy basking in the glory.

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  4. Thanks Kristie! I remember reading a couple of her books years ago but I forgot the author. I think CBC did a movie ? On one of her books. What a great evening, is that Christ Church Cathehedral on Burrard? I worked at the Mac and Bloe building eons ago. All that exercise pays off in unforeseen benefits! Enjoy your cooler weather!

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    1. Oops read the fine print Chris. On Burrard, aUnited church not the Anglican one.
      I am very happy to hear your family had an uneventful encounter with a Grizzly. Whew!

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  5. Seems to me my sister just met this author in New York, now that both of you love her so much I need to look into her books. I love the picture of you meeting her. And what a tale about the grizzly bear, I almost ran into a deer today but that is about as much wildlife as we have here.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  6. Kristie, thanks so much for the recommendation about Louise Penny. I've finished Still Life and have the next two ready to read. Such a pleasure to find an excellent new author.

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  7. It sounds like an amazing experience Kirsten, I am glad that you took the leap and that you enjoyed it so much. The picture of your son at the lake is lovely, what an amazing colour that water is! xx

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  8. What a treat it would have been to hear Louise Penny speak. I guess I`ll have to settle (happily, though) for a few more chapters later today!

    Karen

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  9. I "discovered" the Inspector Gamache books last fall after one of your blog posts about the series and I absolutely loved them. Fortunately our teeny tiny local public library actually had the whole series! Is this latest book a new release? I shall have to check. What a tremendous joy to be able to go and hear Louise Penny speak -- I'm envious. -- Ruth

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    1. ETA Yes, I see that this is a new book. And I was so sure the last book had finished Gamache's story! I'm the first person to put a hold on it at my library so I should have it as soon as they have it ready to put on the shelves!

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  10. Well done, Kristie. That was quite an expedition for just one evening, but obviously hugely worth the effort. I've only read one of Louise Penny's books so far, but enjoyed it and am looking out for more. I'm glad she was such a good speaker.

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  11. Sounds like it was well worth that ride. Hopefully the ride out of the city was less...hectic. I wish there was a video of your move to the head of the line. I could use some pointers.

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  12. Sounds amazing, well worth the long drive. You did make me smile with your swift move to the front of the queue. Have a great week.

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  13. That is surely a grace note. The event looks wonderful and I'm so glad you were able to go. I haven't read Louise Penny but I think grace notes are very important. I love that photo of you with her, you look like you're really enjoying yourself. :)

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  14. That looks a fantastic event, there are so many people there too! It must have been so good to meet her too. I will have to try and get one of her books from our library. So glad that the grizzly bear went away from Karsten and his family. As bears are some common is there guidelines of what to do if you find them? Sarah x

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  15. I've heard a few authors speak over the years and it's always a lovely experience. So glad you had someone to go with- I would have been very nervous finding my way there too! Can I just ask what a Grace Note is? I've not heard of one before.

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  16. How fun! I just finished her latest. Our lives are filled with grace notes if we can just listen, no?

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  17. I know how you feel. I went to see her with,oh I don't know, 800? other people in Toronto last month. And there were hopefuls lined up outside waiting for people not to show up. I slipped in, with my ticket, just in time.

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