I spent much of last Saturday at a “Meet Your Local authors” event in Calgary. Upwards of 25 authors came together in a busy sports, library and community centre in Calgary to display their books, engage with the passers–by and, not least, hope to sell some of their books.

And we’re talking about real books here. Real paper. Real ink. Pages that turn and are easy to flip back and forth. Batteries not required!

I, myself, and others were particularly intrigued to meet a young author named Frederica Sojourner Soleil Schmidt-Gonzalez, otherwise known to family and friends (and, fortuitously for people with short attention spans), as “Journey”.

Journey has written and published a delightful children’s book called “Edwina Finds a New Friend”. Edwina is a young African elephant who makes friends with Lucy the lion.

I wish you could have seen and experienced Journey’s natural charm, effortless innocence, the admirable persistence that she brought to the event, and especially how she has mastered the ability to divert people from their “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date” mindset to “this is definitely worth a moment of my time.”

Her secret? There’s no real mystery. It’s to stand up, smile, and say “ Hello. My name is Journey. Would you like to see my book?”

Note to other authors wanting to make an impact (and I’ve seen so many of their sad faces at book signings): STAND UP (don’t stay stuck in your chair); SMILE; SAY “hello, my name is […] and I wrote this book. Would you like to look at it?” Or whatever variant suits you. In particular, she did not say: “Would you like to buy my book!

It’s really just about creating presence without intrusion; opportunity instead of obligation; invitation without interference.

Journey has also mastered the art of conversation at a basic level. She’ll ask you who you are before she tells you about herself. She has that ability to create relationships on your terms, not on hers.

So many lessons for us older folks to learn from, or to be reminded of. And speaking for myself, a delightful place to stop for refreshment on my own journey through life.

Older folks? Oh yes, I forgot to mention. Journey turned seven years old this month and is reported to be Canada’s youngest published author.

At events like this, authors are generally happy if they sell 10 books or more.  Selling 15 or more is a banner day.

Journey sold 45.

And everyone I saw taking one of her books away with them had a big smile on their face.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about Journey Gonzalez in the future. Remember her name and visit her website.

The image for this blog post shows Edwina and Lucy. Reproduced with the permission of the author, Journey Gonzalez