Monday, March 7, 2011

Conferences, Lectures, and Book Signings. Oh My!

I just returned last night from my whirlwind eleven days in Utah. It was fun to arrive in the airport last night and see my kids. I missed them so much!

But I had a great trip. Here’s a run down of the last few days of my trip:

On Wednesday, the Cache Valley Historical Society hosted a book lecture. It was in the beautiful historic county courthouse in Logan. It was well attended and lots of fun. I was born in Logan, but moved when I was a baby, so although I don’t know many people in Logan, it still has a “home” feeling to it.

Thursday I had two book signings – at the Logan Seagull Bookstore and then at the Harrisville store (near Ogden). Although this seems to surprise people, I get more nervous for book signings than for lectures. I really enjoy speaking to groups of people – I find it energizing. I love to talk to people who come up to talk to me at book signings. But, authors are also encouraged to greet people who come in the store – hand them a postcard and tell them about your book. This is what I find a bit uncomfortable. These are people who did not come to the store to talk to me. Some are excited about my book and end up buying it. That’s great, of course. But some of them don’t even stop walking and make it clear that they want me to go away. I try not to take it personally.

Thursday night, I spoke at the Ogden Regional Family History Center. When I visit Utah, it’s hard not to feel jealous of these family history centers. In addition to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah also has these large regional family history centers that are open long hours, have lots of wonderful resources, and are staffed with people available to answer questions for those starting out.

I headed from Logan down to West Jordan for a book signing on Friday afternoon. This was my favorite book signing up until then. I had barely arrived when I met a woman who told me some fun family stories and bought my book. I noticed another woman standing in the background waiting to talk to me. It turned out that this woman, Kathy, was a distant relative who had seen my book in the Seagull catalogue and recognized the pictures on the front as being her relatives! It was wonderful to talk to her about the family and the book. Because she comes through a different side of the family, Kathy has stories and memories that I haven’t heard before. We arranged to talk later so I can record some of these. Here’s a picture of Kathy, Kathy’s granddaughter, and me at my signing.

Towards the end of the signing, a friend I hadn’t seen since high school and an old college roommate (if you’ve read the book, this is the friend whose wedding I went to in Salt Lake City in the Swedish section) arrived at the signing too. It was fun to catch up a little.

Friday night, the Utah Genealogical Association hosted a talk at the Bountiful Arts Center. They told me they had expected about 25-30 people, but 110 showed up. That was a fun surprise due partially to the fact that Kathy Palmer, the organizer of the South Davis Regional Family History Fair, sent out an email notification of the event to all those registered for the conference, and partially due to an article that ran in the Davis County Clipper (click on the link to read the article) about my book and the talk (thanks to my husband’s aunt who contacted the paper!). It was a lively audience and I very much enjoyed the presentation.

Saturday, I attended the South Davis Regional Family History Fair. This was my first experience with the fair and I was very impressed. It was HUGE! It was held at the Bountiful High School, with the various lectures taking place in the classrooms. I taught three classes: The Journey Takers: An Inside Look at Immigration Research, Eight Ways to Cross the Ocean, and Writing a Page-Turning (But True) Family History. The whole conference appeared to be packed. Each of my classes had every seat filled and some had people sitting on the floor. I heard people commenting that every class they went to was top-notch. I didn’t get to attend any other classes, because I taught three in a row, signed some books, then headed for my next event. The conference also had a large exhibit hall with all sorts of vendors. If you live in Utah and haven’t attended this event in the past, be sure to watch for it next year. With free registration, it’s the best deal around!

That evening I had a book signing at the Seagull bookstore in Centerville. Besides talking to people I’d never met and signing some books, I also had two relatives and one of my best friends from graduate school stop by. It was great. But by this time, I was so wiped out that I had a hard time standing, smiling and greeting every person that came in.

Sunday, I packed up and Christian and I headed back home. The plane trip was tiring, but we made it! I appreciated my parents who watched Christian while I was at all these events.

I have some thoughts and analysis from my Utah trip, but I will save that for the next blog post!


  1. Whew I feel a little tired after reading this post! I'm so glad it was such a successful trip. And I love the last photo of little Christian with your parents.

  2. Glad you made it home ok. It was great to see you!

  3. Sarah,
    It was fun to see you too - but I was a little sad we didn't have time to talk more!

  4. Your mom looks great!

    I want to be the high school friend who comes to your signing.....hoping for Austin in June!!

  5. Jamee - I am speaking in College Station, so you won't even have to come to Austin. I am in the process of scheduling still, but it will be Tuesday June 28th at the College Station library. I'll send you the details when it gets all nailed down. I need to call you some time and catch up. I read your blog after you posted your comment and was really blown away...