What I love most about book signing is interacting with readers. They say the nicest, and often, the funniest things.
From morn till night (except on Sunday morning [last day] when I worshiped God in my home church), I chatted with readers at the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF). Priceless hours.
Lady 1 to Lady 2: Buy BFF and I'll buy BRB. After we've read them in a day or two, we can exchange books.
My thought balloon: These books are for tweens and you finish a devotional not in two days but in one year!
Me: Good idea.
While signing “What, Me Retire?”
White-haired lady: Oh, so you're Grace Chong. They told me you are a grandmother. You're not!
Me: Believe me, I am, cross my heart.
She laughed as though she heard the world's funniest punchline.
While signing “Quiet Time with Mateo”
Mother: (with two children in tow) Oh, another Mateo book! Oh, no, it's a devotional! Are these excerpts from the “Oh, Mateo” series?
Me: No, these are 52 new stories, not excerpts.
Child 1: Mommy, I want the 52 new Mateo books!
Me: (explaining to the boys) All the 52 stories are in this one book.
Child 2: But I want the 52 new Mateo books!
Mother: (rolling her eyes) I will explain later, kids. Let me go and pay for this one.
Child 1 and 2: (tailing their mom) Mommy, buy me the 52 new Mateo books!
While signing Oh, Mateo! No. 14, “A Flood of Kindness”
Teenager: (incredulous) I just browsed through this book, how come all the Oh, Mateo! characters are in it?
Me: That's the last book in the series.
Teenager: That was what I suspected! You're killing Mateo?!
Me: Well, it's . . .
Teenager: You can't do that. I look forward to a new Mateo book every year!
Me: Here's a new Mateo devotional. There are 52 new Mateo stories in this one book.
Teenager: But I'm collecting the Oh, Mateo series!
Me: Well . . . how about writing your own sequel of Oh, Mateo! That would be fun!
Teenager: How did you know I like writing?
Me: Uh . . .
Teenager: I've written poetry and some stories. I will be an author someday.
Me: Why don't you write your own Mateo story now and it's all yours to keep? I'd love to read the manuscript if you'd share it with me.
Teenager: (appeased) Yeah . . . why not?
While signing “Grace Found Me”
Young man: I bought one for my grandma yesterday. She is a speed reader, she's now in April, I think.
Me: Tell her to read very slowly, one page at a time.
While signing “Solo Flight”
Me: For whom is this?
Woman: (whispers) Me . . .
Me: Oh, you're so blessed to be single!
Woman: (louder voice) I am?
Me: Yes! After reading the book, you'll discover that singleness is a blessing,
Woman: (eyes lighting up) Are you serious?
While signing any Mateo book
Mother: My baby is named Mateo.
Me: (surprised) Really?!
Mother: He was named by my older son, a fan of Oh, Mateo! He was four when I was pregnant and he said, pointing to my tummy, “Mateo is in there!”
Me: I am speechless.
(Note: I was told by about a dozen other mothers and grandmothers similar stories in the next four days.)