Promoting a book can be an interesting experience.

For example: It’s not every day you see your name on the funeral home marquee. But that was my first “official stop” when I headed out to the kickoff event for the Authors on Grayson event on Thursday; a luncheon with New York Times bestseller, Jon Jefferson (author of the Body Farm novels. great fun). Vie Herlocker, my editor at Sonfire Media, picked me up at the hotel and proceeded to take a “shortcut” to the venue.

As we cut behind Wendy’s and came to a stop sign, I looked up on the hill to see the digital marquee on the local funeral home flashing out the time, the temperature, and Welcome Thomas Smith in big red letters. I guess when you write Christian horror/supernatural suspense, that’s not really that odd. In fact, it was really pretty neat…after they got me out of the SUV (Generally the folks on the marquee are the guest of honor, if you know what I mean).

Then came the tour.


The tour of the funeral home.

You know … the place where they keep the dead folks.

The tour was a lot of fun (especially when the funeral director asked if we wanted to see the person he had just finished working on and my editor turned the color of cotton) and it was nice to see someone who takes such pride in doing a job that would make most of us cringe. The facility was first rate as were the people who met us there.

The only thing that made me scratch my head was the little sign above the opening of the crematorium which read Caution: Confined Space. It just sort of made me wonder if anyone had ever complained of being a little claustrophobic just before they slid the tray into the furnace and hit the gas. As Arsenio Hall used to say, it’s just one of those things that make you go hmmmm…

Then it was on to the presentation by Jon Jefferson on The Body Farm. The facility was the first human-decomposition research facility in the country and has subsequently (with the help of Dr. Bill Bass, the facility’s creator) become a popular series of mystery novels featuring forensic anthropologist, Dr. Bill Brockton. It has also spawned four more similar facilities, including one here in my home state.

The presentation was not only interesting but also very funny, especially when he asked if anyone wanted to see the video of a body going through all the stages of decomposition in 30 seconds. A number of us said, “Yes,” but he decided to skip that part when one couple turned a little green.

Sadly the remainder of the festival/signing events over Friday and Saturday were visited by heavy storms and rained out. But even with the abbreviated events and torrential rain/hail, I met some great people, got some interesting ideas for magazine articles, and received the most unique reception of any author I know.

I love my job.

  1. Well, Tom, I’m glad I arrived at the festival AFTER your tour. I was satisfied just touring downtown Galax and the restrooms in the community center. 🙂

  2. Thomas Smith says:

    When we saw the casket in the embalming room and he asked if we wanted to take a peek, I wanted to be a ventriloquist so bad! As for the name on the marquee, once I determined that it was a welcome and not an omen, it was really neat.

  3. Paula Petty says:

    I think the sign is hysterical. Usually, signs are posted because of complaints. It does make you wonder. I am not sure how I would feel seeing a welcome sign with my name at a funeral home.

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