Once again, the seasonal cycle is upon us: the frogs have flown south, the mallards are burying their nut stashes, and the cougars have begun their long swim to their calving grounds far beyond the Continental Shelf. Yes, the seasons are changing, reliably and comfortingly, as they always have.
And as readers and writers we look past whatever strife may be weighing upon us, and take a moment to visit with friends. I always begin by opening the old mailbag, a fresh cup of coffee and a Kit-Kat bar at my side:
Q: You went on tour to promote your latest book, THE EXTRA, in July and August. How did it go?
A: My goal, apart from selling books, was to make new friends among the mystery / thriller cognoscenti, and I did so. At each event I made sure to share chocolate, which always entices people to sit and listen for at least as long as it takes to consume a mini Snickers or a few Hershey's Kisses (if only this were paid product placement), and sometimes they even get mixed up and decide that it's ME that's making them feel so good. Apart from terrific booksellers and readers, I was pleased to get to know authors Dorothy Howell and R.T. Jordan at our event at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. Their books are fun and they've both managed to survive life in Southern California, so you know they're special people.
I might add that I had a terrific time on faculty at the Alaska Writer's Guild conference in Anchorage in August. A wonderful group of people, and you won't find better reindeer sausage anywhere.
Q: I heard a rumor that the third book in the Rita Farmer series is called something different from what you called it in your last newschat, which I don't remember.
A: Don't you just love rumors? The working title was THE SCOUT, but the published title will be ON LOCATION, and that's final.
Q: What's it about?
A: Rita's loopy sister Gina, on a trip to scout locations for her new boyfriend's film, goes missing in the great mountains of Washington's Olympic peninsula. Rita, needless to say, must follow. Son Petey, best friend Daniel, and off-again / on-again love George all shine bright in this one.
Q: How long do I have to wait for it?
A: Publication date is August 3, 2010.
Q: There is no way I can wait that long. No way. You are an evil temptress.
A: Be strong. To tide you over, check out my articles in Writer's Digest magazine. In the January issue (released in December) I'll reveal all in "How to Make Your Novel a Page Turner."
Q: You mean--
A: No! I'm talking about writing. I left off doing the other kind for money when I turned 18.
Q: Any more appearances this year?
A: Yes, in fact! Michigan friends, I hope to see you either at:
1) Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookshop in Ann Arbor the evening of Thursday, October 22. Dinner at Seva at 5:30 to be followed by discussion and signing at the store at 7. To reserve a dinner spot, phone or email Aunt Agatha's (www.auntagathas.com,)
2) Borders Book Shop at the corner of 13 Mile and Southfield in Beverly Hills on Sunday, October 25 at 1 p.m.
Also, Western Washington friends, I'll be at the Port Angeles Public Library on Friday, October 30 at 7 p.m. for a discussion and signing, sponsored by the wonderful Alan and Cynthia Turner of Port Book and News. I'll talk about reading and writing mysteries, how I do research in Los Angeles for my books, and probably ten other really fascinating things.
Q: When will you be back in Southern California?
A: I'll be attending Left Coast Crime in Los Angeles (March 11-14). If you're going too, let me know so we can develop a plan to crash the best cocktail parties. Strength in numbers.
Q: Are you Facebooking yet?
A: Sporadically, but everything I post is grippingly amusing. Friend me, or check out my fan page, where you can get updates and see photos from the tour, at this url:
Thanks for your company.