Monday, June 27, 2016

A Phenomenal, Whirlwind Weekend: Barnes & Noble Author Events — Waterbury and Stamford, CT

Barnes & Noble, Waterbury, Connecticut
June 25, 2016.


People who know me know that when it comes to Bob Crane, I can become overwhelmed with emotion pretty quickly. Emotions run the gamut: pure joy and elation when I see the public's opinion change from negative to positive right before my eyes; excitement and anticipation about my next author event; innocent happiness when I watch Hogan's Heroes or listen to any of his radio airchecks; sadness and helplessness over how his life was snatched away by the cruel hands of another; frustration that he never got to live long enough to realize any life goals past forty-nine years of age; and hot anger when the media chooses to spend its time fixated on sex and murder, especially when we know there was so much more to who he was as a complete human being.

Dee Young (left) and Carol Ford
Barnes & Noble, Waterbury, Connecticut

June 25, 2016.
When I travel around the country to author events,  I'm happily amazed at how quickly people switch their opinion about Bob from negative to positive. For so long, they have been force-fed hype and incorrect information, but doesn't necessarily mean that they wanted it. In fact, what I'm discovering is that despite the media's attempt to fool their audience by highlighting only sordid details (and more often than not, without proper context), what people really want and prefer is the truth. And in Bob's case, the truth is overwhelmingly positive. I can't tell you how many times I have seen good people nod their heads in agreement about how the media often gets it completely wrong. It doesn't surprise them that the media have a penchant for chiseling down a person's life story to shock and awe, and not much else. They have always liked Bob Crane, they tell me. They always suspected there was more to him, they admit. Time and again, they thank me for all of our hard work in getting the truth about Bob out there. Sometimes, they come up to me in tears, which affects me on a very profound level.

Most people really do care about Bob Crane; they just have not been given the chance to for fear of being ridiculed right along with him. That is, until now. This is the complete opposite of what one network representative told me last year, in person. "Your book will never sell," he said. "People don't want nice. They want scandal. That's what we give them because that's where the money is."

It's a long, difficult road, but one day at a time, and one person at a time, we are proving that representative wrong.

Eric Senich, son of Bob Crane's cousin Jim Senich,
with Carol Ford.
Barnes & Noble, Waterbury, Connecticut
June 25, 2016.
This weekend, my one co-author Dee Young and I did two back-to-back author events in Connecticut: the first in Waterbury, where Bob was born and where members of his extended family still reside; and Stamford; where Bob grew up; graduated from high school; spent two years in the United States National Guard; married his high school sweetheart; worked as a watch repairman at a jewelry store; dreamed of working in radio and began constructing amateur programs for his friends; and spent his free time performing as the drummer in his jazz band. More than half of Bob's life was lived in Connecticut, and despite his many successes and fame, he always called Connecticut home. He never forgot his roots.

When I go to author events, I don't just show up and sit at a table with a stack of books. I bring a full display, one that includes screen-used Hogan's Heroes props, autographed photos, poster boards containing rare photographs from Bob's entire life, his high school yearbook, and much more. I want people to enjoy the event, not just smile cordially at me as they walk past to the "New in Fiction" table or magazine rack. For many, Hogan's Heroes brings back fond childhood or early adulthood memories, and I want their visit to the bookstore that day to be fun and memorable, as well as educational.

Dee Young (left0 and Carol Ford
Barnes & Noble, Stamford, Connecticut

June 26, 2016.
Both the Waterbury and Stamford signings were a terrific success! In both stores, several people who knew or were connected to Bob stopped in to see us: a member of Bob's family; a radio enthusiast who has been a strong advocate of our efforts for years; a gentleman who worked with Bob at WBIS in Bristol, CT, in 1951; the brother of one of his close childhood friends; one of his dearest friends from high school; the contact from Stamford High School who met with me back in 2006—and allowed me to have a copy of the Class of 1946 yearbook; and the daughter-in-law of Bob's best friend from high school. It made me so incredibly happy to see all of them and for them to see our efforts finally realized and successful. Other shoppers from the area were surprised to learn that "Colonel Hogan" was born in Waterbury and hailed from Stamford, and they loved discovering his real story. And that makes my heart so happy and enlightens my spirit.

Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography author event.
Barnes & Noble, Stamford, Connecticut / 
June 26, 2016.
Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble, Stamford.
This was, without question, an amazing weekend. Being with members of Bob's family in Waterbury and getting to spend time with them touched my heart deeply, and being with some of the people who loved him as a friend and colleague made me overjoyed. I get overwhelmed (in a good way), but days like these are truly life-changing. These beautiful people who loved Bob (and still love him) mean so much to me, and they stay with me. Near or far, they become part of my own life story, and it's something I cherish on a daily basis. Bob surrounded himself with some of the most radiant and gracious individuals I have ever had the honor and pleasure to know, and they mean the world to me. Seeing their joy and happiness because of all the positive energy coming from this book and our hard work humbles me beyond measure.

Researching, writing, and publishing Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography was a daunting task and a labor of love; and marketing and promoting the book, while fun, is time-consuming, expensive, and often very exhausting—physically and emotionally.

But every single bit of it is all worth it. 

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Big thank you to the Barnes & Noble stores in Waterbury and Stamford, Connecticut, for hosting our author events! Special thanks to Robin Masiewicz, Assistant Store Manager  (Waterbury location), and Kai Connolly-Raub, Community Business Development Manager (Stamford location), as well as the friendly and helpful staff at each store. Dee and I appreciate all your hard work in preparing for and running the events, and for caring so much about Bob Crane and his true story!