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November 2004

North Dakoka Ho

By A Spider's Thread

Remember when travel meant steamer trunks covered with stickers from our destinations? Neither do I, but I've read about such days. If my luggage bore stickers from this year's tour, they would include: Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco, London, Harrogate, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, New York City, Rehoboth, Bethany, Indianapolis, Ann Arbor, Bowling Green, OH, Denver, St. Paul, Toronto and Chesterfield, VA. As I write this, I still have a trip to Detroit scheduled. And it's all been lovely, but the place I really want to visit, of course, is North Dakota.

I need to go to North Dakota. I yearn to see North Dakota. You see, I find myself in a friendly competition to visit all fifty states and North Dakota is the only state I'm lacking in the continental U.S. (I also lack Hawaii and Alaska, but I think those will come a little easier. Bouchercon will be in Anchorage in 2007, so I'm assured of bagging that state within three years. And Hawaii -- well, if I can't wrangle an invitation from the Maui Writers Conference, I'll just have to force myself to go there for a vacation.)

But is it too much to wonder if one of the people who reads this website has some serious North Dakota connections, preferably with the library systems? Librarians of North Dakota, I think we could work something out if you ever have the need for a speaker or a panelist. I'd waive fees, I might even pick up all costs, if I could just get to North Dakota. I'd even spend a night or two, which is more than I did for South Dakota.

South Dakota was my 47th state and a bit of an impulse. It began when I attended a marvelous conference called Mayhem in the Midlands in Omaha, Nebraska (number 46) in 2002. Almost immediately upon landing, I asked how far it was to South Dakota. Told that it was about 100 miles, I arranged to rent a car on my one free day during the conference, then proceeded to drive there and back. It took about four hours total and the only downside was that I missed several panels at Mayhem.

So, North Dakota -- call me! Let's see what we can work out. Then again, I am returning to Omaha in 2006 for Mayhem. As guest of honor, I won't be able to sneak away again, but I could extend my trip for a few days.


October has always been my favorite month. Good sleeping weather, the leaves turn, everyone seems fresh and reinvigorated. This year, October was particularly nice. Every Secret Thing won the Anthony and the Barry awards at Bouchercon in Toronto and spent the entire month on the USA Today bestseller list. My tenth book was finished, in a fashion. (I'm in the midst of revisions now, but I did receive my delivery-and-acceptance check, a not insignificant milestone.)

And, perhaps best of all, I got to be the "celebrity" guest when the NPR quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me" was taped in Baltimore Oct. 28th. Those familiar with the show will know that it features a segment called "Not My Job," in which the guest is asked to field questions on an unfamiliar subject. If the guest can get two out of three, a listener Laura's signaturewins the voice of Carl Kassell on his or her answering machine. By the time you read this, the show will have been broadcast, so it's no spoiler to say that I bobbled the first question, but, like the Boston Red Sox, performed well in the clutch. As an absolute NPR geek, this was pretty much nirvana. And the "Wait, Wait" ensemble is actually as funny and delightful in person as they are on the radio.

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