Summer looms and it's looking to be a long one. Pretty much every single summer for the past five years I've had a new book coming out. I'd pile into my car for a road trip to promote that book. I'd roll up seven, eight, nine, even ten thousand miles - visit friends, eat great food that was bad for me, listen to too much talk radio, wonder at roadside attractions. Some people would ask me how I could stand to do it. Those people don't know me very well. It was fun, a lot of fun.
I can also tell you that it wasn't cost effective. But it was my summer vacation, and since when does a summer vacation have to be cost effective anyhow?
But this year I can't come up with a good excuse to do it again. And I'm kind of depressed about that.
I've written a new book, CENTRAL AVENUE. It's the first in what I hope to be a trilogy. At the moment, though, it's pounding the pavement of New York City trying to find a new agent who can sell it.
I've got my old books, but they are fast on their way to being out of print. I want to make them available for e-reader download (one of them, WRONG SIDE OF THE WALL, already is) but I need to formally get the rights to them reverted to me before I can.
The thing is, if a writer has even the slightest hope of making something vaguely resembling a career out of writing books, they've got to keep themselves in the reading public's eyes as much as possible; new book or not.
I could get arrested for something that will make the papers. But why waste that when I don't have a new book out? By the time the new book is out I'll be old news. Same for being a People Magazine level homewrecker. "Angelina Leaves Brad for Little Known Crimewriter!" But the tabloids, and maybe Angelina, are fickle enough that it is best to keep that in reserve for when it will do me the most good. (Not that it wouldn't be fun in the meantime.)
So I'm just doing what I can. That's to say, showing up at libraries and book events and other such things as often as possible. Maybe I'll show up somewhere near you one of these days, even without a new book to peddle.
Here's some of where I've been lately:
L.A. Times Festival of Books. I helped set up the Sisters in Crime booth, starting at 6am on Saturday and helped work at the booth from then until 6:30 that night, then again the next day from around 9am to 2:30. I also signed books at the SinC booth and at The Mystery Bookstore Booth. Part of the time I got to sit next to my pal Dianne Emley, who does have a new book coming out in about a week.
I ate truly fantastic sandwiches and went to the swell Men's Room at Pal Cabron in Huntington Park, one of my favorite L.A. neighborhoods. (Is everyone on Facebook?)
I moderated and was a panelist on a panel put on by Sisters in Crime, L.A. (of which I am currently the Speakers Bureau Director) at the Burbank Library. It was called "Murder Abroad" and was about crime books set in exotic locales. The Burbank Library always gets pretty good attendance at panels, especially considering that they are often on Saturday afternoons when the weather is good.And, I was on a panel about agents - a subject dear to my heart since I am currently hunting for a new one - at the Sisters in Crime meeting in early May.
Then I went to Tucson where some of the cacti were in bloom and there was a new, gigantic, world class Asian supermarket. It was my father's birthday and I neglected to do anything whatsoever to further my career.
Then last weekend it was San Diego by train - just because it is one of the only easy to get to by train from Los Angeles destinations. Take it from me, the blurry photo (damn cameras on cellphones) is of one of the all time great street performers. (He's in the Gaslamp District with some degree of frequency - check him out.) What looks like two dwarf sailors dancing with each other, is him in a bizzare suit with his hands and feet in pairs of boots.
Then there was a statue outside of the downtown branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art - which had wonderful, very well thought out, thought-provoking exhibitions - which seems to me to be a Native American version of the "He ain't heavy, father, he's my brother," statue at Boys Town in Nebraska.
May 22, from 5 to 7pm at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood Village, is the launch party for the new Sisters in Crime anthology of short fiction. I was one of the editors. I'll be there. And I'll be at a large number of events and signings throughout June and July to help promote the book as well. (Hmmm, I guess I do sort of have a new book out this summer after all.) You should be able to find an event somewhere near you by going to the SinCLA website.
Anyhow, I'm going to do my part to make sure you don't forget me until CENTRAL AVENUE comes out. You do your part, too.