Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weekend Whirlwind

Friday morning I flew to Phoenix, Arizona, for Poisoned Pen's June 2011 Conference (that's the pool of the Arizona Biltmore, site of the conference, above). This was my first visit to Poisoned Pen, a fact for which I was gently chided by Barbara Peters, the famous bookstore's impressive owner. And I can honestly say she's right, I should have made the trek out there long ago, because I had a fantastic time. Both my Friday afternoon panel (with Laurie R King, Peter Lovesey, Lauren Willig, Patricia Wynn, and Dana Stavenow) and Saturday morning's presentation (with Patricia Wynn) were loads of fun; I met lots of enthusiastic readers, aspiring writers, and published authors, and was really, really sorry I had to leave early.

I took my camera, but of course I never used it, except to snap this shot of British author Peter Lovesey singing a hilarious ditty about mystery books to the tune of an old Irish drinking song (yes, I recognized it, Peter). Unfortunately, this is one case where a picture is definitely not worth a thousand words, because the words and delivery were priceless.

Then, Saturday night, I flew back to New Orleans in time to participate in a mystery and thriller panel with S. J. Watson, Erica Spindler, and Cammie McGovern on Sunday morning at the American Library Association Conference. I took along Steve, who is better about remembering to take photos than I am. (Note to self: do NOT drink a giant latte in an attempt to stay awake for an evening flight if you want to go to sleep that night and avoid looking like you've been on a three-week bender the next day.)

I signed books both after the panel and then again Sunday afternoon at the Penguin booth. All told, I signed something like 300 books, which was quite amazing. Yes, Penguin was giving the books away, but the recipients could simply have taken their free books and walked off without waiting in line to meet me, so the entire experience was quite humbling. Thanks to everyone who came; it truly was a pleasure to meet you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The 2011 American Library Association Meeting in New Orleans

Billed as the "world's largest and most dynamic library conference and exhibition," the annual American Library Association Conference will be coming to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans from June 23-28. I'll be on a panel entitled "Mystery and Horror at Your Library" on Sunday morning, from 10:30-12:30, in Room 268 in the Convention Center. Although it's billed as a "panel," the instructions say "each author has been asked to speak for 12 minutes," so I'm not sure if this is going to be a typical panel with questions asked of all or some sort of serial individual presentation. And I don't know who else is on the panel because I can't seem to find it on their schedule.

At any rate, we're told that a "booksigning will follow after the panel, and one of the Penguin staffers will be there to facilitate the signing."

Then, at 1:00pm- 2:00pm, there will be another signing at the Penguin booth, #1422.

The ALA had their convention in New Orleans the summer of 2006, less than a year after Katrina. It was the first organization brave enough to return to New Orleans after the hurricane, which means the ALA holds a special place in all our hearts. When I signed that year, I was still living as a refugee and the city was such a mess we were wondering if it would ever be made right again. How much things have changed in just five years.

So any of you coming for the conference, please stop by the panel room or the Penguin booth and say "Hi."

And it's nasty hot down here, so come prepared for some heat.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Candy Joins the E-Reader Revolution

So I finally did it: I broke down and bought an e-reader. Well, not a dedicated e-reader, but an iPad.

After years of watching one after the other of my family and friends buy e-readers, what finally pushed me over the edge? This thing:

It’s the published report of a Parliamentary committee that interviewed dozens of London magistrates, public office clerks, constables, pub owners, and clergymen in 1816, and it contains a wonderful wealth of information (more about that later). But after sitting at my desk and staring at my computer screen for something like 16 hours, my eyes hurt. My back hurt. My shoulder hurt (took me a while to figure that one out, until I realized it was from constantly making the same motion to turn the page). I download a lot of these old nineteenth-century texts from Google Books, and they are collectively a pain to read. Now I can sit out on my porch swing curled up with my iPad and read away.

My thoughts so far?

• The ready availability of free classics that I’ve always meant to read—or read long ago and would like to read again—is deadly. I was up until 2am last night playing with my new toy. And no, I don’t mean playing games on my new toy; I mean downloading free old books.
• You can’t comfortably flip through an ebook. I like to flip through poetry books, looking for old favorites or new ones that appeal or catch my eye. The first book I downloaded was Keats: Poems Published in 1820. I quickly realized that my style of reading poetry was not very compatible with the electronic format.
• Most people who buy iPads are not interested in reading books, or at least, they’re not interested in old books. I dealt with two sales reps in the Apple store, and neither had even heard of Google Books.
• The National Library of Australia is also a great source for old books.

Now excuse me, while I go play…

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

...and the livin' is easy

I've been taking it easy the last couple of weeks, enjoying having my daughter home for the summer, painting and refinishing furniture, and gathering boxes of necessities for the apartment she'll be moving into this fall.

But I did manage to submit the proposal for Book Number Eight in the Sebastian series, tentatively entitled Who Bells the Cat. My editor is most enthusiastic, so all I need to do now is, um, write it.

And if you're curious about the rose pictured above, it's my favorite of my four dozen or so old roses, the gloriously fragrant and deliciously named souvenir de la malmaison.