Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wow, just back in from Charlottesville and the Virginia Festival of the book! It's been a jam-packed two weeks and, while I'm not sorry to be getting back to my regular life, I have enjoyed a lot of going around the country and visiting indie book stores.

I plan to profile some of these stores over the next few weeks, but for now, I'm gonna enjoy some nice weather and go jogging in the park.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New York Part 2

On Wednesday night I had a fun time at Mysterious Bookshop. This is a great store, with a huge selection of books, and I feel jealous of the New York writers who get to hang out there. They have a large room, floor-to-ceiling books, and a smart and helpful staff. Ian and Dan ran the event, and also shot a video that's on their site. We had a nice group of folks, and I hope to return someday with a new book.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New York part 1

I had a blast, last night at Partners & Crime. A lot of friends, family, and good vibes all around. Kiz, one of the owners, worked hard alongside Dan to make sure the event went well. Kiz also gave good advice. ("Don't talk too long.")

Partners & Crime is what I love about indie book stores - open, friendly, a real neighborhood place. And they have great music on their sound system! Come visit them at 44 Greenwich Ave., New York, NY 10011

Tonight I'll be at Mysterious Bookshop, come on by!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I spent the weekend in Ohio, land of my birth, to sign copies of DRINK THE TEA and hook up with old friends.

My first stop was Foulplay Books in Westerville, Ohio. Toni and John were the perfect hosts in a splendid store -- the kind where I'd like to spend a few days, looking for treasure. Toni is a school teacher and John a retired nuclear engineer. They are ably assisted by two and sometimes three cats. We had a wonderful group of people, including my brother Pete, also a novelist, who drove from Cincinnati. And Tom Hayes, a filmmaker and comrade-in-arms showed up as well.

Then north to Cleveland, the best location in the nation, or so we were taught in public school. Jane Kessler owns Appletree Books in Cleveland Heights. She's also an old family friend and neighbor. We held the event down the street at Nighttown, a fantastic restaurant and jazz club. In fact, just a week ago John Pizzarelli, son of guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, performed there. And we have the same agent --Doug Grad! How strange is that?

But I digress.

The Cleveland event held between 50 and 60 people, all friends of my mom's. You know, when she started her blackmail business, I never realized how much help it could be for a debut author.

Jen Forbus came, it was great to meet her in person. Some favorite high school friends as well. And many family friends I hadn't seen in 15 or 20 years. Who knew writing a mystery novel would be the wing nut that kept our family and friends together?

I'm home for today, then off to New York tomorrow to sign at Partners & Crime on Tuesday and Mysterious Bookshop on Wednesday.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Publication. Going from a first draft to a finished book.

It's been a wild ride. And all leading up to this past Tuesday, March 2nd.

For the last year I've been getting ready for that day, for when my book comes out.

The stuff I had to learn to promote it, well, it's valuable but somehow, as a writer, I didn't think I would be doing it.

For instance, Borders has brick and mortar stores that are selling more romance novels than mysteries, so Borders nationally chose not to carry DRINK THE TEA.

Keith Gilman, a Philadelphia cop and a great writer, told me to go to individual Borders stores in my area, and get them to order the book on their own. Once it's in the system, any Borders store can get copies.

So here I am, working as a cameraman, meeting folks about films they want to make. Then, when the meeting is over, using my GPS to see if there's a Borders nearby where I can flog my book.

Ah, the glamor of it all.

Now, I have to say that, back when I started this racket, I was thinking how I would spend my millions. What type of car I'd drive. The width of my new swimming pool. What I hadn't thought about: standing a few feet in from the entrance of a Crystal City, Virginia Borders and greeting people as they walked in -- in fact, accosting them with my book. But that's just what I'll be doing in 10 days.

In this age of social media and mystery sites and blogs, some publicists advised me against going on a traditional book tour. "You could travel to a distant city and have only 2 people show up. Or no one at all."

True. But, as Steve Hamilton reminded me, the bookseller would be there. And that's the person I need to meet most. So as I plan my trip, and look forward to seeing old friends in familiar cities, I'm most looking forward to the folks who own the stores. Some of them I've met before, but this will be the first time I'll see them in their native habitat.

Somehow, this appeals to the documentarian in me.

So, the big question: should I take my camera and film the proceedings?