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Entries in Book Tour (21)


Excuse me, while I kiss the sky

The murals at Garfield totally rock. Or at least blow virtual kisses toward midtown Manhattan, in the direction of Random House, where my new book is well under way. Revisions done. Edits done. Now doing minor tweaks this week. Then I'll be staring wistfully out my window, feet up, sipping a cup of lychee tea, indulging in some full-contact daydreaming. (Have I mentioned how much I love being a writer?)

Best of all, I'm home for the holidays. No book travel for two months. I'm tempted to just burn my suitcase, but I might need it to catch a football game next month ;)

Speaking of travel, I just wrapped up a visit to Seattle's Garfield High, The Seattle 7's Holiday Book Fair, a keynote address at the convention center for the National Council for the Social Studies, and a library gig in Tacoma where I met a page with the most memorable name I've heard all year: Catalyst. Or Cate/Cat for short. Love that name. Much better than Osmosis or Photosynthesis.

In other news, I STILL don't have a title for the new book. GLORY OF MOURNING is out. Too sad, I think. SONGS OF WILLOW FROST is in the running. We'll see...

And I just sold Arabic translation rights to HOTEL. I'll have books in Hebrew and Arabic. Now if those two kids would just learn to share their toys...


Coyote Ridge Blues

The CRCC library. Escape from Alcatraz, not allowed. Last week I had my most interesting book event to date, inside the walls of the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.

Corrections Center is a delicate way of saying prison. It's not a Supermax. Nor is it even old-school like Walla Walla. But it is a real-deal federal penitentiary where nearly 2,400 inmates are serving sentences from five years to life (and as Prince once said, "Electric word, life, it means forever and that's a mighty long time").

I was invited by a wonderful prison librarian named—actually, her name is identical to an actor on Little House on the Prairie. I'll let you figure it out. Only this is a Big House on the Prairie, with biometric key-logging and concertina wire.

And oh, how I wish I could show you pictures, but phones, cameras, and wallets, aren't allowed—nothing that could be MacGyvered into some other device. And yes, the security was impressive, but not necessarily foreboding, even when I visited one of the units (cell blocks) where more than one-hundred and fifty prisoners were hanging out.

The book gig itself was held in the Visitation Center and honestly, it was a joy to be there. I was impressed by how interesting, well-read, and thoughtful these guys were. They had deep questions about metaphor and symbolism, race relations, and of course, queries about the craft or writing. Granted, everyone was on their best behavior, but it was apparent that books are an amazing common denominator. And prison libraries (and the people that work there) are making this sad, battered world a better place.

Readers are readers, wherever they are, regardless concrete walls and razor wire.


A Road Warrior, in repose

In the dressing room of infinity (San Ramon)In the last two years, book-related travel has taken me to 135 events in 32 states, and as of next week, three foreign countries, (not counting a few layovers in Amsterdam).

It’s been an incredible journey, and more of life change, than a book tour. But alas, I’ve had to learn a new word: No. Actually it’s usually more like, “Gee, I’d love to—honestly LOVE to, but I gotta say ‘no’ in order to get more writing done.”

Something like that, and it’s always tinged with regret.

To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous: “This is the circus, everybody’s trying not to go home.”

I know how that feels. But I’m finally packing up the tent and dismantling the Big Top so I can get back to writing, in earnest.

This week takes me to the SILK Festival in Skudeneshavn, Norway, then Thousand Oaks, then Indiana, then…a story about a little Chinese boy, searching for his mother in 1931 will take precedent, for a while at least.

I hope we both find what we’re looking for.


Back on the leash

Summer is ending. Kids are back in school—which isn't such a terrible thing—I get to play my son's DBZ guitar during the day, cranking his amp to eleven, much to the chagrin of my neighbors and most of the dogs in the neighborhood. And I'm back in the thick of writing. What began as a short story about a group of orphans in Seattle during the Great Depression is screaming to be written as a novel. Or at least a novella. It's a sad story (with a redemptive ending) and it's breaking my heart with each page. Want to know more? I'll be reading the first two chapters here.

After spending the past several months working on the new manuscript, I've spent the last few weeks trying to squeeze a little magic out of summer. That included:

One more hike up in Glacier National Park. We set off to climb Mount Henkel, but the entire mountain was closed because of grizzly activity. We punted and hiked up and through the Ptarmigan Tunnel, a 13-mile jaunt that was breathtakingly scenic. And we still ran into a bear. But it was a brown bear who was more interested in huckleberries than gnawing on my femur.

Then I spent a few days in Bigfork where Taylor was attending the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop. Here he is doing his best Eddie Van Halen impression. (His solo is at the 3:00 mark).

I also made it out to Seattle once more (my 8th trip this year). But on this trip I was able to spend some time with family and friends and dine in places like the Lunchbox Labratory.

I haunted Chinatown and my grandparent's old neighborhood, enjoying my "back eddy, a pool of jetsam beyond the pull of the main currant."

Next week I'm touring again, traveling to Texas, Seattle, California, and then Frankfurt, where I have, at last count, 187 meetings. Okay, it's only 14, but it feels like a lot.

Now off to bed, where I will dream of things untwittered.