The Hamster of Time spins round on the Wheel of Eternity

Waiting in line is one of the least exciting ways I can think of to pass the time, but waiting in line for a book signing has its little amusements, and waiting in line for a book signing when it's the release party and when the book is The Gathering Storm (book 12 in the Wheel of Time series) - well, that can be a memorable experience...if you remember to bring warm clothes and a blanket. And a chair to sit in. And some snacks. And something to do. Oh, and also if some friends or family members come by to help you pass the time while you sit there for TEN AND A HALF HOURS until the thing finally starts.

So that is what I did. First, I drove all the way to Utah: eleven hours and fifteen minutes. It would've been a little shorter, but there was traffic in Las Vegas (when is there not?), and also I was approached at a rest stop by a distraught young lady who had run out of gas. After I ascertained that she was not actually a psycho serial killer in disguise, I drove her to a nearby station so she could get some gas, and then I drove her back to her car at the rest stop, where her equally distraught friend (also not a psycho serial killer in disguise) was waiting. They invoked several blessings upon me and then I continued on my way.

Since I have family members in Utah, I planned to get there a little early and do some family-type activities with them, which I did. Looking forward to Monday, 26 October, with a flutter of anticipatory delight, I intended to relax during a leisurely morning, have lunch on the BYU campus with my parents (it was their anniversary) and my son, perhaps run a few errands with my daughter, and finally get myself over to the BYU Bookstore by about 6:00 pm, a good six hours before the midnight start time. So, there we were enjoying our lunch and each other's company, and I thought to myself, "I'm just going to slip over to the bookstore and see if anyone's got in line yet." I wasn't expecting anyone camped out in a tent city or anything, like for some important concert or some Harry Potter release party, but I just wanted to make sure. I was wrong! Well, sort of. There was only one tent. But it had two or three sleeping bags in it. And there were perhaps a dozen people already in line. I could see that my plan of waiting until a fairly reasonable hour like 6:00 was not good enough. I should have known. People in situations like this, while not exactly psycho serial killers, are not entirely reasonable.

My mom asked why I was planning on getting in line so early. I explained the whole Wheel of Time 12th book situation, and she suddenly went into Preparation Mode (at which she is very effective). As we got back to her house, she told me to get my car and bring it around to the front of the house and she told my dad to go get her small rolling suitcase. "I feel a sense of urgency," she said. Then she went off in search of blankets, gloves, a coat and scarf (it was rather cold at the time), protein drinks and bottled water. We loaded up the suitcase and I got my bag of books that wanted signing, and off I went.

As I said, I wound up standing (or sitting) in line for 10.5 hours. Part of the time Shannon came to visit with me, and Ian was there, too, for a while. They brought me food and drink and companionship, but soon it got so cold that I sent them home. I couldn't stand to see them shivering. Most of the time while on my own, I read my book or fiddled with the preferences on my laptop, and listened to the comments of other people in line.

The front of the line at about 6:30 pm.
The tent had been taken down a couple of hours earlier.

The first people in line, the small group that had pitched a tent, were pretty vocal and seemed like hard-core fans. A girl in the group had dressed up in a sort of Renaissance Faire outfit, accessorized with a white shawl that had a flame design on the back of it. She also wore a grey hooded cloak while we were out in the cold, but she shed that once we got inside.

I'm not sure who she represents.

I couldn't quite figure out who she was supposed to be. I'm only in the first book, and I don't remember anyone wearing flames on their shawls. The Children of the Light, an obnoxious and unlikeable lot, wore white cloaks with sunbursts on the back. But a flame is not a sunburst, so I freely admit I lack understanding. There was also a fellow who had a sword, and another with a battle axe who I was pleased with myself to recognize as Perrin.


Behind them in line was a small group of weaponless young men who spent a great deal of time discussing the merits of the battle axe and proclaiming loudly and with great longing that they really wished they had such a thing in their private arsenal.

This guy (who wouldn't hold still for the photo - this was about
the third one I took of him and it's still blurry)'s friend brought this ball
made from rubber bands. The friend said it took him six years to make.
Who says standing in line is the most boring thing ever?

Ten point five hours don't generally fly by, even at a book signing. There were frequent breaks in the monotony, though. From the time I got there at 1:30 pm until 7:00 pm or so, some passerby would stop about every two-and-a-half to three minutes and ask "What's this line for?" One girl asked if we were protesting something. Yeah, we're protesting having to stand in line for so long. A couple of guys in line after me got so tired of answering the question that they started saying we were in line for Free Candy. I don't think anyone believed them. The girl next to me said if she'd charged a dollar for every time she answered that question, she would've been pretty well off by the time we were allowed into the bookstore.

At about 8:30 pm, I walked down to the end of the line, just to see how long it was. At that point, it stretched to the southwest corner of the bookstore building, and I think I counted about 200 people. (It's not an exact count, because there was some fluctuation in the composition of the line and because I got distracted a couple of times.) I'm pretty sure more people showed up closer to the opening time, because there seemed to be more than 200 inside the bookstore.

The line stretching out to the crack of doom, or in other words,
to the end of the building.

Anyhow, it got colder and colder and darker and darker, until a little after 9:00 pm when Megan arrived to keep me company for the rest of the evening. She brought hot cocoa to warm my body and a sense of humor to warm my soul.

At 10:00 pm, they let us into the bookstore.

When I got in line at 1:30 pm, I was 16th in line. By the time they numbered us
for purposes of book distribution prior to entry into the bookstore, I had,
without moving from my spot, magically become 25th in line.

The people ahead of us

To ensure that we all experienced the "party" part of "Release Party", volunteers came by at 15 to 30 minute intervals, passing out candy, and bumper stickers, and bookmarks, and little quizzes on the previous Wheel of Time books, and there were drawings for prizes. I didn't win anything (I never do), and I knew a total of two answers to the Wheel of Time questions, so Megan and I filled out the quizzes and the crossword puzzle with clever and spontaneous answers. We thought our answers were excruciatingly funny. Because we were having so much fun, each hour seemed like a mere 50 minutes.

Answers to trivia quiz #1 - mine are first, Megan's are second

Answers to trivia quiz # 2 - Megan's are first, mine are second

Answers to trivia quiz # 3 - Megan's on the left. Some random
guy next to us gave us his pencil, so we were able to fill out the
quizzes simultaneously. Thanks, Random Guy!

Answers to trivia quiz #4 - Megan's once again on the left

I think this girl was using a lifeline to get the answers.

Around 11:00 pm, Brandon Sanderson came by and asked if anyone had any of his previous books that we'd like signed, so I hauled out my cache and he signed them all, commenting that I certainly had a lot of books. We took a few pictures and thanked him, and he in turn thanked us for reading his books, and then he went on his way.

Brandon signing one of my books

Signing another of my books (there were several)

Brandon Sanderson with Megan

Brandon signing Random Guy's book

Finally, at midnight (or I guess 12:01 am was the official start time), the fans all cheered and then the bookstore crew and volunteers began passing out books according to number. I got my #25, plus two other copies in the 1600s (they let people get only one copy according to their place in line, and if people bought any others, the numbers were from way high to leave room for lower numbers to be used at other venues - which I guess is okay, but...1600s? That seems a bit overdone. Oh, well.) Then the crew folk started herding us up one aisle and down another into a long snaky line to get our books personalized. By this time, all I really wanted was a couple of more pictures, so I sauntered right up to the front of the line and took a couple. No one murdered me for taking cuts because I had no books in my hand. I then made my way back to Megan and we departed, out into the cold October night, across the darkened and mostly deserted campus to Megan's car, and thence to our various homes, where we could dream on the events of the preceding hours. Or not.

One last photo: signing The Gathering Storm

Mission accomplished!


Shannon said...

holy humorous answers batman. I'd quote my favorites, but there are too many!
glad you came to visit :)
ps my word is daggr, which seems sort of fitting for this post. sort of.

Jared and Megan said...

yeah! fun times. and you are funny = more fun times.