#45–The short & long of it . . .

I had two PowerPoint presentations lately: One right here in Florence on March 23––a lovely, sunny afternoon––and the second in Coos Bay on March 29––a dark and stormy night. My presentation covers  how the book (Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges) came to be and what it covers, interesting facts about the coastal bridges, and some of the old-timers’ stories used in the book.

On Thursday, March 23, I gave the program to the Daughter’s of the American Revolution Oregon Dunes Chapter in the Fellowship Hall at the Florence United Methodist Church to a full house––about 25 were present.

During their business meeting, I quietly got everything set up in an alcove in the back. I like to do the set up myself and make sure the connections between projector and laptop are fitted gently, but securely. I also make sure the plastic bags and rubber bands for rolling up and storing cords are put where I’ll be able to find them when it’s time to take apart and pack up.

I'm ready to start as members finish their break between meeting and program.

My laptop is circa 2003, a dinosaur in today’s world, so it needs time and has been known to do the unexpected. It usually takes three tries for the PowerPoint to pop up and this day was no exception. (Always a bit nerve wracking.) Once the picture is projected on the big screen, I can then size and situate it properly. We find the right place for the table or stand that the projector will sit on and then adjust it up or down and level it. Then I make sure the laptop is at a level someone can sit at to do the clicking. I also bring extension cords and masking tape. Sometimes I need them, and sometimes I don’t. With the DAR group, I used one cord and taped it down to make sure no one tripped over it.

In the ten minutes or so between the meeting and the program, the members took a coffee and treats break while I got everything moved into place and worked with the image on the big screen. If I set up too early, the computer sometimes freezes up and won’t let me click to the next picture. I learned that the hard way. Now, if I have to set up early, I test click every few minutes to keep it from freezing up. No problem this time.

Volunteer clicker, Claudette Poirier, paying attention and ready to click to the next picture, as I show the Siuslaw River Bridge in the book "Bridges: A history of the world's most famous and important spans."

I always need a volunteer clicker (VC), since I can’t get the clicker that came with the projector to work—even with a new battery. So this time Claudette Poirier was the lucky person. Because I  spend more time on some photos than others, it is hard for the clicker to anticipate me. Poor Claudette, it seemed like every time she bent down or looked away, I pointed for her to click. It became quite humorous but also a problem, until I added sound effects––a clicking sound each time I pointed. From then on, we clicked as a team

Afterwards, there were a few questions, and the whole program took about 45 minutes. I signed a few books that were sold and many hands helped me pack up and haul everything out to the car. It’s only a 15-minute drive from my home north of town. I left about 12:15 p.m. and was back home shortly after 2:30.  Short and sweet!

Before I give a presentation, I practice at home and make sure the projector and laptop are still working. I also read through the script out loud and add or cut to fit the new audience and set the timer so I know how long it will take. I make sure all the props I need are packed ready to go as well as a stack of business cards. I put the change purse in my larger purse and try not to forget a box of books.

The Coos Bay Public Library in downtown Coos Bay.

The second presentation was at the Coos Bay Public Library at 7 p.m. So I practiced the evening before and got everything ready. It was blustery when I awoke Thursday and worsened as the day went on. Because of the weather, I also packed rain pants and boots, my hairbrush and mirror, and some food to eat. I would have to leave by 4:30 p.m. to make sure I got there by 6. In situations like this where I’m the whole show, I like to get set up before anyone arrives and be at the door to welcome people and pass out my card. And that’s exactly what I accomplished by leaving home a half hour early.

It was so bad weatherwise when I left, that I probably should have called and cancelled. But my Camry sits low and with a 6-cylinder engine is a little heavier than many cars. So off I went. I kept my speed below 40 mph all the way past Winchester Bay. Every time I got up to 45, wind started moving me around. And the rain was no fun either. My wipers stayed on super fast most of the way.

I had checked the map so knew to turn two blocks before the street the library is on and wrap around because of one-way streets. When I got to where I thought it should be, I noticed a big reader board high in the air that had my name with the date and time. Once again, my name in lights and this time way up high––just like marquee lights!! I loved it. This had to be the place.

What a great reader board. Almost the same status as marquee lights!

I arrived exactly at 6 and was able to park fairly close and get everything unloaded in three trips. Then I hit the restroom and got myself ready before letting anyone know I was there.

With Assistant Library Director Ellen Thompson’s help, set up was easy. I was amazed that 25 to 30 people turned up in such blustery weather. And the newspaper wasn’t much help. The World first announced my program as being on February 23 and then did the same thing for February 28 and both times the library had them print a correction. Then this week, they got the day right but omitted the time. AARRGGHH!

Even so, people turned out and the program went very smoothly with Ellen acting as my VC. She was spot on, not missing a click. The program went a little longer than I usually go and we spent at least 25 minutes on questions. They were a terrific group, and many already had the book. Afterwards I sold a few more and signed them. This program plus the questions lasted and hour and 15 minutes. Then Ellen helped me take down and pack up.

I arrived home at 10 p.m. And it was a blustery ride all the way and dark, really dark between the towns! No fun! I was mighty glad to see that the power was still on when I got home. Although, I had packed some food, I didn’t want to take the time to eat after the program. And because it was white knuckle driving, I didn’t dare try to eat and drive too. So I heated up some soup and scones for a late dinner when I got home. It had been a long––4:30–10 p.m.––and at times stressful evening.

I only sold a few books at each presentation, because many people already had the book. So they didn’t come to buy; they came to see and hear the author. Both audiences were attentive and seemed genuinely interested, which made both presentations a real pleasure from my point of view.

***

Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $4.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at http://www.connectflorence.com or pacpub@oregonfast.net. It is also available on the coast in bookstores, museums, and gift shops; in Eugene at the airport, the historical museum, and several bookstores; in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society; in Made in Oregon stores throughout the state; and more and more  bookstores and libraries in western Oregon.

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About crossingsauthor

Freelance writer/editor and author of Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, and Around Florence. Spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
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