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Entries in Authors (10)

Wednesday
Oct052011

Jetlagapalooza

Just got back from (thinking...) Seattle, Dallas, and Mission Viejo. Next week, I'm off to Germany for the Frankfurt Book Fair. Yes, this is the same great city where books were burned by the truckload in Römerberg square, way back in 1933. Ah, life does have its little ironies, dunnit?

Here's a recap of recent travels, and travails:

Seattle, WA - Did a corporate read event at Vulcan Inc., which was an interesting change of pace. There was also a camera in the room live-casting the event to "employees in remote locations." I couldn't help but think of that scene in the movie, Contact, where Jodie Foster is pleading for research funding while billionaire industrialist S. R. Hadden watches remotely from some hidden locale. I waved. Not sure if Paul Allen saw me.

Next up was the big Bedtime Stories event for Humanities Washington, where we helped raise $115,000. I read ten pages of a new project. Everyone seemed to like it so I'm plowing forward, hoping the moral territory of the story is novel length.

Richardson, TX - Next morning I was off to Dallas for a splendid community reads event in Richardson. The turnout was amazing—1,400 people—my largest crowd ever. I guess things really are bigger in Texas. Fellow authors, Judy Kibler and Jaye Wells were there too (great to see you!) I also managed to sneak away and catch Monday Night Football in the new Cowboys Stadium. That mega HD jumbo-tron is incredible.

Mission Viejo, CA - On to California for the Mission Viejo Readers Festival—a great event in a lovely community south of LA. The best part was meeting Cindy Pon, and chatting with Cornelia Funke about time management—when to write, when to travel, and the fine art of saying, "No." I'm learning. Thanks Cornelia.

Monday
Jun272011

Willing to learn

Just got back from a quick trip to Seattle for a multitude of festivities.

The first was the Locus Awards, which are the Cinderella of the SF&F awards. The prettier, more well-known step-sisters, Hugo and Nebula get more attention, but the Locus Awards are unique in that the winners are chosen by readers—the People’s Choice Awards, if you will. Plus the dress code consists of gaudy Hawaiian shirts (extra points given for actual retinal damage).

As my friend Timm and I walked from the car to the hotel where the awards were held, people on the street stopped us and asked, “Are you here for the Gay Pride Parade?” And whipped out their cameras.

Granted, Timm has long hair and was wearing a Utilikilt, but still. He said, “Um, no.”

I quoted Harold Ramis in Stripes and said, “No, but we are willing to learn.”

They didn’t seem convinced, “Can we still take your picture anyway?”

So if you see us on the cover of Instinct magazine, would you drop the editorial staff a note to clear up the confusion?

...

The awards themselves were like none other I’d been to. There was singing of British poetry to the rhyme of Gilligan’s Island. There was a trivia contest. There was a raffle, which I won (but didn’t claim, since I already owned one of the books).

And of course there were fine authors in attendance, including Nancy Kress, Connie Willis, and Neil Gaiman, along with readers, and Clarion West workshoppers.

Shortly after the awards we all traipsed over to the Science Fiction Museum for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony which was like drowning in awesomness—especially Neil’s acceptance of behalf of an ailing Harlan Ellison. His speech was actually a short, meta-fiction story about he and Harlan in Paris in 1923, butting heads with the likes of Gertrude Stein, which he brilliantly read aloud. Everyone felt like they had witnessed something very special, very unique, in a story that would never be read again.

Harlan would have been gushingly proud.

(Plus it was delightful to meet Neil in a small, intimate venue, rather than fight the crowds at his Seattle Town Hall book event the next night amid thousands).

...

The following morning I popped over to the Richard Hugo House for a workshop on Romantic Comedy with Connie Willis (who is hilarious, in addition to being a genius).

It was a strange indulgence to go in with “Jamie” on my name card, somewhat disguised as an aspiring writer (I still aspire, don’t you?) but I didn’t want to mention that um…I’ve kinda sold a LOT of books, and be a distraction to the class in any way. (That came later when I had to sneak out and meet with a book group downstairs).

Needless to say, I loved the class. It was kismet that I left for the airport and the first song on the radio was Silly Love Songs. Speaking of which here’s a Kindle blog post.

Also, HOTEL was named Book O’ The Week by some lovely folks in the UK.

And a group of 7th graders put together this delightful Prezi slideshow entitled, "I AM."

...

Now it’s back to my Sisyphean rewrites.

Saturday
Mar192011

March Madness

I wish I were a bigger NCAA basketball nut, but alas, I’m not. And neither is my immediately family. When I asked Luc, my 12-year-old, who he was pulling for he said, “Kentucky, because I love their fried chicken.” That kinda says it all right there.

But March brings travel madness—in this case I’m on the road for more than half the month. So far it’s been Seattle…Stuart and Vero Beach, Florida…Coeur d’Alene, Idaho…and Arizona, for the Tucson Festival of Books.

The best thing about book festivals is getting to hang with fellow authors. I loved spending time with Lisa Genova, Ann Hood, Helen Simonson (who really should have her own HBO Special) and Luis & Cindy Urrea.

On a side note, while in Tucson we were able to attend a benefit to preserve ethnic studies in Arizona—Mexican American History, Black History Month, books about Chinese boys falling in love with Japanese girls—just sayin’.

With plaintiff, Curtis Acosta, along with Luis Alberto Urrea, Ann Hood, and Thomas Cobb.Next week I’m off to Findlay-Hancock, Ohio for another community read.

Sunday
Feb202011

Fellow travelers

The students at Yulee High all had "I Am ______" buttons. Elliot's reads, "I Am Legend." Well played. I’m sitting in the half-empty first-class cabin (thanks to a fortuitous upgrade), winging my way home, knowing that I’m less than 5,000 Delta miles away from qualifying for “Diamond” Medallion status—a dubious honor at best. It officially means that I’m spending far too much time away from my family.

If there’s a level above Diamond, it’s probably passed on like some secret handshake at a candle-lit fraternity swearing-in ceremony. Let’s hope for my sake, we never find out.

My goodly wife, Leesha, does come along when she can. Or more aptly, when she chooses to do so. “That’s okay Hon, you go to Des Moines in winter, I’ll tag along for Palm Beach,” is a familiar, and entirely understandable refrain. And the kid-posse does accompany me as well, but alas, the school year is still in full swing.

But despite the bout of homesickness, the week was a grand time.

Northern Trust put on a tremendous event in Fort Myers, followed by my whirlwind weekend on Amelia Island which included daily, crack-o-dawn treks to Jacksonville for morning news segments, a trio of story-generations workshops at Yulee High School, a sold-out Books & Jazz event featuring yours truly, and a pleasant siege of signings, talkings, hand-shakings, and other book-doings through Saturday.

Susan and I share the same editor. And are equally grateful.The best part was meeting (and hearing) authors Rick Bragg and Susan Vreeland.

For an author on the road, fellow travelers are as close to family as one can get, even if it’s just a laugh, a handshake, and a pat on the back.