Fri., Sept. 19th
I confess that I scoffed. The television weather people were simply too excited, which always breeds skepticism. Besides, even they admitted that rainfall was expected to be only 1-3 inches in the city, and that Isabel would barely be a hurricane by the time it reached us. And my neighborhood proved to be a good bet. Too high up for flooding, and the power outage lasted a mere seven hours, whereas some 500,000 Marylanders are now being warned that they could go days without electricity.
But Isabel made some costly and painful mischief, primarily in the low-lying neighborhoods around the Inner Harbor and Fells Point, where the tidal surges flooded streets, homes and businesses. Hey, that's Tess country. It's also the home of the Mystery Loves Company bookstore, which had expected to sell a lot of books at the Baltimore Book Festival Sept. 20th and 21st. Books by Dan Fesperman, Sujata Massey, Donna Andrews, Marcia Talley, Tim Cockey. Praise the lord, the sump pump held, protecting the inventory, but the Baltimore Book Festival was canceled.
So here's the plan: Go to the MLC website or call its "800" number and order a copy of The Last Place, and you will receive a signed copy of Every Secret Thing at no extra cost. Just tell Kathy you want the Isabel special. But while you're at it -- how can you live without a copy of Dan's long-awaited Small Boat of Sorrows? How much longer can you deprive yourself of Sujata Massey's The Samurai's Daughter? Do you have all Tim Cockey's books? You see, as Baltimore's newly appointed literary ambassador, I take my job seriously. So I'll underwrite the cost of Every Secret Thing for the first 25 people who step up, and hope that you'll spend some of the savings on other books. And if most of the first 25 shoppers take me up on that offer -- buying books by the writers named above, or by any mystery writers that MLC stocks -- I'll try to expand this offer to another 25 customers.
Meanwhile, click here and scroll down to Nuevo Boogaloo to download a WAV file and listen to the Iguanas' sing about a much better-behaved Isabel.
"It was okay. We brought in the Iguanas for a late Cinco de Mayo celebration. We couldn't get them for the real thing."
"Very cool," she said on a yawn. She adored the Iguanas.
-- The Last Place, Chapter 22 --
Travels with my Angst
Advice for writers: If you can afford it, in terms of time and money, you should leave the country just before publication date of your next book. It greatly enhances sanity. Of course, no one's truly out of touch these days, not with easy Internet access and mobile phone rentals, but I got far enough away that I didn't obsess and brood, my predominant hobbies on the eve of publication. I focused on the book-in-progress, saw some lovely scenery and great theater, and didn't even mind when an (admittedly vapid) remark from a lengthy interview prompted some of the web's best minds to wonder if I needed to get out more. No contest: I do.
So I will. The tour for Every Secret Thing started officially with a Sept. 3rd signing at -- where else? - - Mystery Loves Company in Fells Point. The rest of the September schedule is here, with October and November updates to follow. Also feel free to use the Author Tracker program at HarperCollins.com.
Not much happened while I was gone. The pre-publication reviews (all extremely generous) had all come in before I departed. The independent booksellers made Every Secret Thing one of their mystery picks for the September-October Book Sense '76 list, putting me in some excellent company. Barnes & Noble features the book as a recommended pick. But the most gratifying response has been from the mystery book stores, who have touted the book in their newsletters and websites. Crime writers are so lucky to have this strong network of stores devoted to our genre. I don't think I'd have a career without the early and passionate support of these booksellers. Of course, some people think that would be a very good thing.
Publication is an odd affair, as I wrote here last year. This year, I feel like a 4-H kid who has spent all this time raising a cute little pig, and now I've won the blue ribbon and gotten a scholarship check -- but my pig is bacon. Eat heartily.
Reading report: Still reading Edgar submissions (and not quite fast enough), but I sneaked a few just-for-me books into the mix this month -- Bad Men by John Connolly, Don't Even Think About It by Lauren Henderson and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, which deserves its success. Just discovered the Leo Street series by Pauline McLynne and am enjoying the latest one immensely.
I'm halfway through a fascinating memoir by a Baltimore wiseguy, to be published next year by Kensington, and it's a revelation to read about the criminal enterprises that were run from a modest rowhouse a mile from where I used to live. Am making slow but steady progress through Richard Powers' Gain and A.S. Byatt's The Virgin in the Garden.
But all of those can wait, as I now have an ARC of George P. Pelecanos's Hard Revolution to keep me company while I tour. Eat your hearts out. And remember, I was George's fan long before this was posted.