Anyone who has been around me at author events (conferences, symposiums, signings, book tours, etc) knows I am always wearing a purple shirt. The exact shade of purple varies but, without fail, I am always in purple when I’m at writing events. Only a few people, however, know why. I think it’s time I told the story.
It began in February 2015 at the Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium. I had hit the point in the convention where my brain was on overload and simply could take another panel’s worth of amazing guests talking about anything. They could have been telling everyone where to to find a pot of leprechaun gold and actually meant it – it didn’t matter. My brain was done. So I decided to take a break, clear my head, and work a little on the book I was writing at the time. I found nice comfortable chair, plugged in my laptop, and forgot about the world around me.
Now, I’m an introvert at heart and I was enjoying my time alone with my work after the press of bodies and social interaction the convention had brought. So when someone sat down next to me and cleared their throat, I was a little frustrated and still felt a little – for lack of a better term – “headachey.” I heard a feminine voice ask me what I was doing.
Naturally, I responded with something like “I’m just checking on stuff.” I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like that.
“Are you working on a book?” Why was she still talking to me? Had I not given her a good enough answer before?
I responded with “No” and thought the conversation was finished.
“Oh, that’s too bad, I’m Helena Steinacker. I’m the Acquisitions Editor at Future House Publishing.”
I immediately regretted my earlier frustrated answers and tried to figure out how to recover from something like that. Thankfully, Helena had a great sense of humor and irony and we had a great conversation there while both of us were sluffing classes. She gave me her card after I told her about the books I was working on and asked me to send her one of my manuscripts. I nodded, not knowing what else to do, and Helena got up to go to her next class. As she was leaving she turned and said something that’s stuck with me ever since.
“By the way, the only reason I stopped was to tell you that I liked your purple shirt.” And then she left. A few months later, I had a publishing deal with Future House Publishing based, in large part, on that conversation.
At the time, it was pure happenstance that I was wearing purple. Now, I do it to remind myself of how it all started and that no matter how tired I may be, “frustrated answers” only work once. Plus, being “the guy in the purple shirt” has grown on me and makes it easy for people to find me. So, if I’m ever out your way, just look for the guy in the purple shirt. I promise I’ll be more eloquent with you than I was with Helena.
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