Friday, October 27, 2006

Continuing saga

One of these days maybe I'll go ahead and post the entry about my car that I started a few days ago, but for now I'll just let you know that between the tour, real life, the CLP, and writing, I have been short on time for blogging.

Life, as a friend of mine used to say, is what happens to you while you're making other plans.

Do want to say that I am really enjoying meeting folks (and seeing long-time supporters!) at the signings. Thank you all for your support, you've made Kidnapped a bestseller.

And now to pack and do laundry before the Texas trip begins.....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yikes! Important Schedule Changes

Just back home from Arizona, and I do have more to tell you about the past week, but for now -- important changes to tell you about!

Oline Cogdill of the Sun-Sentinel verified information about a signing and saw that my Web site was wrong. Here's the correct info:

Books & Books
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL
(305) 442-4408

Thanks for that catch, Oline!

And just added:

Tuesday, October 24 7 PM
695 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena CA 91101
(626) 449-5320

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If I do say so myself: brilliant idea #897

From my list of beauty and fashion ideas for the not-quite-put-together woman of today --

A new lipstick color: dried toothpaste.

Our staff is working on a sexier name for it.

Note to self -- may need two shades: white and light blue.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Denver 33, Kidnapped 34

33 wouldn't be bad for a Broncos score, but it's the forecast for the temperature (just above zero for you who use Celsius) of the place when I'm there in a few days. The big coat is out -- neither Texas nor California prepared me to withstand anything below 55 without referring to it as "freezing."

34 is Kidnapped's number on today's New York Times bestseller list -- and that is thanks to you! I can't express how much I appreciate the support of my readers!

As for being unplugged, I didn't mean to fall off the face of the earth...and I didn't. Honestly! I've been having trouble with posting but I'm hoping that's worked out now. The biggest obstacle, though, has been a time shortage. I had signings in Thousand Oaks and Westwood yesterday, fun events at Mysteries to Die For and the Mystery Bookstore. (Tom and Sue, thank you for the wine!)

Nothing like seeing Don Winslow on your way in and Mike Connelly on your way out -- and lots of terrific fans and booksellers in each store. Thanks for coming by.

I'm packing for the next round -- and look at what's listed here, you'll probably understand why posting here may be a bit sporadic over the next few days. I hope to see some of you in these places:

Monday, October 16, Noon
Seattle, WA
Seattle Mystery Bookshop
117 Cherry St
Seattle, WA
(206) 587-5737

Monday, October 16, 7:00 PM
Lake Forest, WA
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way, NE
Lake Forest, WA
(206) 366-3333

Tuesday, October 17, (TBA- stock signing)
Portland, OR
Annie Bloom's Books
7834 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR 97219
(503) 246-0053

Tuesday, October 17, 7:00 PM
Beaverton, OR
2605 SW Cedar Hills Blvd (at SW Walker Rd)
Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 644-6164

Wednesday, October 18, 7:30 PM
Denver, CO
Tattered Cover Book Store
Colfax Avenue
2526 E. Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 322-7727

Thursday, October 19, 5:00 PM
Denver, CO
Murder by the Book
1574 South Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210
(800) 300-2595 toll free
(303) 871-9401 in Colorado

Thursday, October 19, 7:30 PM
Boulder, CO
High Crimes Mystery Bookstore
946 Pearl St, Boulder, CO
(303) 443-8346
800-356-5586 (orders only, please)

Friday, October 20, 7:00 PM
Scottsdale, AZ
Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd. Suite 101
(1 block south of Indian School Rd on Goldwater Blvd.)
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(888) 560-9919 toll free
(480) 947-2974

Saturday, October 21, 11:30 AM
Scottsdale, AZ
Benefit Luncheon for the National Alliance on Mental Illness - Arizona
(books sold by Poisoned Pen)
Jan Burke, David Morrell, and F. Paul Wilson
Kierland Westin Resort
6902 E Greenway Parkway
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Tickets: $85; Seated with an Author, $125
(800) 626-5022 toll free
(602) 244-8166

"Snowman" photo above by Scott Liddell from

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

24-hours unplugged -- for the most part

A few years ago, on a book tour, I traveled to 19 cities in 21 days with nothing more than carry-on luggage. (Key to this pre-9/11 trip was a set of colorful silk blouses, black almost everything else, and praying that certain hotel dry cleaning services would actually return my clothing before I had to check out.) It wasn't uncommon to travel that way on a book tour then -- I remember one escort being unable to hide her irritation when I traveled with checked baggage the next year.

Why was she irritated? Because many times on a tour, you hit the ground running -- the plane lands at an airport that may bear a certain city's name, but is actually in an area remote from the downtown buildings where your first interviews will be held. So the escort is seeing the margin between your arrival at the airport and the next place you must be rapidly diminishing.

Since 9/11, timing for certain aspects of tours have had to be adapted to changes in air travel, but even before that, my publisher was planning tours that allowed an author a breather now and then.

Yesterday I didn't have a thing scheduled. And baby, did I take advantage of that. I had about six zillion items on my to do list, and didn't touch more than one or two of them. I just unplugged for the day. I'm thinking it was a good idea.

Now I'm going see what Tarzan is up to (although the previous adventure, when he somehow survived being guided underwater while unconscious, will be hard to beat), then go back to work on the manuscript in progress.

I do want to take a quick moment before I do that to say how much I love the photos of Jane M. Sawyer, aka "Cohdra" on She took the one above of the unplugged plug. It seems that she's often captured just what I'm looking for to illustrate this blog or my site. As you can see from photo credits on my Web site, two of the four photos currently shown near the title on this page and the site are hers. (The middle photos are Mary Thorton's photo of raindrops and Annika's of the tree and clouds.)

When you see that desert road, it may remind you, as it did me, of a scene in Kidnapped. Finding photos of deserts is not all that hard. But not all deserts are alike, as you learn if you spend any time in them. I'm glad Jane Sawyer captured this view of something I had been seeing in a combination of imagination and memory.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Quick notes

I've had two good signing events here in So Cal this week.

I was at Book Carnival in Orange this weekend. In late 1992, a few months before Goodnight, Irene was published, Ed Thomas called me up and spoke kindly of the book, and invited me to sign there. So in 1993, when my book was out, my first signing was held at the Book Carnival. I signed boxloads of books and was misled into thinking this signing business was going to be a snap. Little did I realize that I was experiencing lEd Thomas Powerlat work. You see, Ed's customers listen to his recommendations. With good reason -- for example, two years before I stepped into his store, he told them that a young guy by the name of Connelly was going to win an Edgar for Best First Novel for Black Echo.

So by now I think of Ed and his wife, Pat, as family. Signing at Book Carnival gives me a chance to see old friends and meet new ones. I was also very pleasantly surprised by a visit by some close friends who traveled quite a distance to be there, including Bob (the Retail Doctor).

This evening I was at the Barnes & Noble in Encino. Kris and Jeannie were fab hosts, and I also had a good time talking with readers I met for the first time tonight. Two friends I met when I ran the Dublin marathon in 1999 were also there — I appreciate the effort! Those of you who live in the San Fernando Valley are lucky to have this store in your neighborhood!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Anger management

If there were fewer idiots on this planet, how would the rest of us know that we have tempers?

Today's episode:

I write a check at a local warehouse store. Because I have given into impulse and put far more than the dog biscuits I came in for into my cart (so who's the real idiot in this story?) the check requires the approval of a supervisor.

She looks at the check and says, "Would you write the word 'dollars' here?"

For a second, I want to ask her if she's afraid I'm trying to pay in simoleons or ToonTown jellybeans.

Then I realize that she means that on the line where the amount is spelled out, she wants me to write 'dollars' between the words and the fraction. I point out that the word 'dollars' is already printed on the check. "See? XXX and xx/100 Dollars."

"Oh," she says, pondering this wonder. I think we're done.

No, she insists I write the word 'dollars' after the XXX amount. "It's just a thing I have," she tells me.

WTF? I know what the 'thing' she has is. It's the pettiness of someone with less than one dollar's worth of power, but determined on exercising it to the full. She has improved, apparently, on the way we all write out negotiable instruments. And she has a clipboard. And a supervisor's vest. All bow down.

I look back at the people patiently -- so far -- waiting behind me in line. For their sake, I give in, and hand it back.

"Oh, now I need you to initial where you added the word 'dollars,'" she says, handing it back to me.

I have a nearly irresistible urge to tear the effing check in half and walkout, leaving her to restock my purchases. I don't do it. I initial the check and grit my teeth.

But I don't think I'll be back at this store any time soon.

That would be to risk losing my temper, and I'm saving my next tantrum for a better occasion.

Probably Election Day.

Photo above, "Mad As A Hornet," by P. Winberg from Photo © P. Winberg.


Okay, here's a confession: I love touring.

Yes, it's hard to be away from home -- I miss Tim and the dogs more than I can say.
Yes, it is exhausting.
Yes, some aspects of it are so repetitive, it does feel like "déjà vu all over again."
No, I don't love it as much as I love writing.
And no, it's not the extended vacation or giant ego-boost some think it will be. (I don't know anyone who has been on much of a tour who has failed to have either a moment of utter humiliation or an encounter with someone who has no social graces whatsoever.)

All of that said, the greatest parts of a tour come in glimpses, brief moments of connection and wonder. Seeing friends, readers, favorite booksellers, all for a few moments at a time. Short interviews with knowledgeable reporters. The view of a different landscape from a car window, rainfall when I've lived with dry weather too long at home, the taste of something savory at an eatery I've never visited before.

I'm not the first writer to say this, but essentially, a writer writes half the book. The other half is provided by the reader, when whatever what the writer has created interacts with the reader's imagination, experiences, prejudices, tolerances. When we meet in bookstores, I'm always happy when a reader buys a book, but the real joy is hearing your thoughts, learning how your half of the books are experienced.

The days in San Francisco were hectic. I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before I flew up there, and the moment after I gathered my luggage, my escort, Naomi Epel began the day's work — I was on my way to sign stock at lovely independent stores like Diesel in Oakland, and at a couple of large chain stores where — contrary to the stereotype — I found staffers who cared about books. I got to the hotel where the ASCLD meeting was being held just in time for lunch with folks who were on the afternoon panel on advocacy.

As soon as the panel was over, I hurried back to my room, set down my materials from the meeting and gathered up what I'd need for the evening. Naomi picked me up, and off we went again for more stock signing. It was raining — although I had walked through a light drizzle at Bouchercon, it had been awhile since I had been out in real rain. It was good.

We made our way to San Mateo, and M is for Mystery. I love this store, and it was great to see Ed Kaufman and friends there.

I got back in time for a late dinner. Early the next morning, I was on another ASCLD panel. I'll just say that I am honored to be working with these crime lab directors. Their dedication leaves me in awe.

I won't give you all the details of the rest of the day, which was managed with the help of Catherine, another fine escort, except to say that visits to three excellent independent bookstores — Book Passage, Bay Book & Tobacco, and Capitola Book Café were among the highlights of my day. It was Fleet Week, and seeing the Blue Angels fly over the San Francisco Bay on the way to Book Passage was another.

I was a little early, on the other hand, for the Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay, but the straw castle was already built on the Arata Farm. On a drive along the stunningly beautiful coast between Half Moon Bay and Capitola, here and there I saw a field of pumpkins, a swath of bright orange on green, something like what you can see in the photo above. (Although Kevin Connor's photo was not, as far as I know, taken at one of these farms.)

We took the recommendation of Jeff at Bay Book & Tobacco and turned inland a bit, past marshland and into Pescadero. We stopped at Duarte's Tavern, where the food was superb — the pumpkin pie there was the best I have ever eaten. I do mean ever.

We made the drive back to an Francisco after the evening event at Capitola Book Café, and after packing, I got about three hours of sleep before meeting Susan, the next driver, downstairs at 4:30 AM. Back to the airport, back to Southern California, back to Tim and Cappy and Britches.

And sleep. Which I plan to indulge in again as soon as I send off this post. But I will fall asleep thinking of rows of pumpkins, kind hosts, a story a reporter told me, and glimpses I caught of friends along the way.

Photo above by Kevin Connors, from

Friday, October 06, 2006

What happened?

I said I'd post more that evening. A crazy thing to say.
I forgot to look at my schedule. I had something going on the next day from 8 AM until midnight, and had to be packed up and ready for my ride to the airport by 4:30 AM.
Today, I caught up on sleep. But I do have lots to tell you!

In the meantime, I will not make promises about when I'll post -- I'll just try to get back here more often.

More places to meet:

Saturday, October 7, 1:00 PM
Book Carnival
348 S Tustin Ave
Orange, CA

Tuesday, October 10, 7:30 PM
Barnes & Noble
16461 Ventura Blvd (at Havenhurst)
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 380-1636

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A quick note

I had a lovely time at M is for Mystery last night!

I will be writing more about that event later today -- at the moment, I'm about to rush downstairs to take on the day's tour activites....

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mysterious Galaxy and beyond

(For some odd reason, this didn't end up on the blog on Tuesday...sigh....)

Many thanks to all of you who turned up at Mysterious Galaxy tonight! I'm especially indebted to Greg Thompson, Director of Forensic Services for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, who was interviewed with me at KPBS and spoke to the crowd at MG about the local lab and its work and new programs.

If you didn't get my latest newsletter, sent yesterday, be sure to sign up for the next one by clicking here and submitting the form.

Now I'm packing for San Francisco and the American Society of Crime Lab Directors meeting. You can see me at these places:

Wednesday, October 4, 7:00 PM
M is for Mystery
86 East Third Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 401-8077
(888) 405-8077 (toll free outside the Bay Area)

Thursday, October 5, 1:00 PM
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 927-0960
(800) 999-7909

Thursday October 5, 7:30 PM
Capitola Book Café
1475 41st Avenue
Capitola, CA 95010