Real Life Book Tour by Bus: All Aboard

Maine writer Meriwether O’Connor is packed and ready to depart on a multi-state book tour. Instead of reading in bookstores and libraries, she hopes to share her work with her fellow Greyhound bus passengers. It’s a trip too good to pass up, so the Daily Yonder tags along

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Writer, columnist and small-farmer Meriwether O’Connor of Maine is embarking on a book tour to promote her new collection of short stories, Joe Potato's Real Life Recipes: Tall Tales and Short Stories. Our interest was piqued when we learned that the author, who has rural Texas and Kentucky roots, planned to conduct her multi-state tour via Greyhound bus. She’ll leave the driving to the professionals (as the characters in her book do) and enjoy the company of her fellow passengers. She hopes to share copies of her book with other riders, in return for hearing some of their stories.

We asked Meriwether to take Daily Yonder readers along for the ride from Maine to (she hopes) Texas. In this article, Meriwhether shares a bit about the purpose and logistics of her trip. Then she provides a long-distance bus-rider’s to do list, which we hope will be of some practical value to Yonder readers, especially those of you who still enjoy packing your own food for a long journey.

But first, we asked Meriwether to explain why she was riding a bus on a multi-state book tour. Don’t authors usually prefer jets and limousines? Here’s her response.

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Greyhound is cost effective for me, it's what the characters in my short stories do, and it's a chance to get the book to, and hear stories from, folks who would probably not go to a reading.

On my last Greyhound trip to New York City this spring, I had a seatmate give me her extra paperbacks. So I thought it might be fun to do the same, but sort of with a twist – bringing my own book to the audience vs. the other way around. (That time I was seeing friends and also researching what weeds grow on the city streets there so my characters would be accurate when they described the foraging for food they did there.)

This trip is much longer. I'm visiting people along the way, and I’ve also passed out my itinerary to others so if anyone wants to come to the station and say hey, they can when I pass through their state. Some of my Texas plans fell through due to illness, so I'm still considering what to do. I'll be in Western Kentucky until October 7 or 8, then looking for stuff to do from there until October 11 or 12 when I need to head back. Should I still go to Texas, head to another state, stay in Kentucky? I can only afford to have livestock taken care of for so long back home.

One story in the book features a woman who takes the Greyhound bus to the city to gallivant around and the drifter who sets up camp in her place while she's gone. Oh, and it also has a recipe for how to make an old fashioned applehead doll, if you in fact needed to know how to do that.

I hope no one sets up camp at my place while I'm gone. Or if they do, maybe they can fix a few things and surprise me. It’s a 1970s trailer and has seen its better days.

Map from Google Maps
Meriwether's route for the first leg of the journey from Lewiston, Maine, to Louisville, Kentucky. Driving instructions estimate the 1,100-mile journey will take 17 hours. Meriwether's itinerary estimates a much more leisurely pace — 34 hours.

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 To prepare for her trip, Meriwether put together this list of “to dos” and “to don’ts.”

To-Do

1.     Wash clothes so can pack clothes.
2.     GET MORE HAY AND FEED.
3.     Lady taking care of dog fancies rabbit for dinner, see that she gets one.
4.     Cook up chickens in deep freeze for bus trip.
5.     Chickens in deep freeze are frozen to rack, must have had power outage.
6.     Go to barn and get fresh chickens.
7.     More clothes to wash now.
8.     Boil eggs for trip.
9.     No eggs.
10.  Crave a beer.
11.  I don't even like beer.
12.  Consider taking up alcoholism.
13.  Wonder why I said I'd go on this trip.
14.  Do I really like America this much?.
15.  Memorize itinerary so I don't get left behind at 10 minute stops.
16.  Fail at memorizing itinerary.
17.  Brush teeth for bed.
18.  Okay, brush remaining teeth.
19.  CAN YOU PUT TEETH ON LAYAWAY?
20.  Remember to smile at America .

To-Don't

1.     Don't miss the bus.
2.     Seriously, don't miss the bus. Remember New York!
3.     Even if you think it's the wrong bus, get on anyway.
4.     Better to go the wrong place than nowhere at all.
5.     Besides, Central America is nice this time of year.

 

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