So much to catch up on. I spent Wednesday in Rochester, Minnesota. Hand-sold 18 more copies of Dot Dead at the B&N downtown. Based on a limited-size pool, I'd say most buyers are women from 30 to 60. Wednesday night my brother and sister-in-law had a reception at their house for 30-some people. Lots of fun and we even sold a few dozen more books.
Thursday the logistics had to work just right. I got on the road for the drive from Rochester to Madison, the site of this year's Bouchercon at 6.30AM. For the first two-and-a-half hours of cruising down I-90, I listened to KCRW's recording of Ross MacDonald's The Angry Man, read by Stacy Keach, and Elmore Leonard's Karen Makes Out, read by Sharon Lawrence. The first was good if predictable, the second wonderful. Then at 9AM I had a conference call for my day job. I kept listening and occasionally adding my two cents worth while I drove to the airport, turned in my car, took a cab to the conference, and stood in the hotel lobby. Done just in time to make it to my panel, "The Non-detective Detective." My new friend Maggie Sefton moderated, a sizable crowd of 40 or so listened, and I rambled on about the joys of writing about an everyman who finds himself sinking in perilous waters. Afterwards, the panel participants all rushed to tables to sign books for the hordes of fans that would inevitably queue up to gain our precious signatures on soon-to-be-valuable first editions of our books. Thanks goodness for Allyn and Lorri -- otherwise I would have been completely shut out. I fell in with bad company Wednesday night, the First Offenders. When the South Dakotan said she wanted to start drinking shots, I knew it was time for this old man to go back to his hotel room.
Friday. Hmm. Let me see? What happened yesterday? Well, I was a room monitor for the first time since grade school at the panel on reviewer ethics. (Covered in detail here.) I did an hour of volunteer work as checker-inner at the reception desk. My sole checker-innee was the guest of honor, Nevada Barr, who seemed both elegant and friendly. Last night was a cocktail party thrown by Midnight Ink, my publisher, whose reputation for a great list and great cover art appears to grow from conference. Kudos to the acquisition editor, Barbara Moore. Afterwards had sushi (in Madison?) with fellow Midnight Inkers Chuck Zito and Nina Wright. The aforementioned South Dakotan and Harry Hunsicker were both nominated for a Shamus for best first novel. Alas, found them both in the bar a little after 11, neither with a winner's grin.
I'm staying in the Madison Concourse where most of Bouchercon is being held. The hotel had allegedly been sold out for months, but I kept calling and got a reservation on the executive floor just last week. Because of my high-falutin' status, there are chairs and a couch in the corridor just outside my room. Late last night I found myself on one of those chairs chatting with the witty, engaging Janet Rudolph. She's from Berkeley and I from Palo Alto. We knew we had to have common acquaintances and eventually found them. Just before we finished our conversation, Lee Child stepped up to the door of his room. He could not get the electronic card to open the door. I offered to help and got him in first try. Somehow the entire episode seemed upside down. It should be Jack Reacher helping the klutz, not the other way around.
Deipnosophists and fellow Midnight Ink authors, Chuck Zito and Nina Wright.