Next weekend: See you in Chicago

Actually I’ll be in Elgin, outside the city, for the Elgin Literary Festival on January 27 and 28.  It’s a big affair stuffed to the brim with interesting speakers and panel discussions, and it’s all free to the public. 

The Elgin Literary Festival is a free celebration of the written word for both readers and writers taking place in Downtown Elgin, a blooming center of the arts. The Festival aims to highlight bookish culture and provide writers and readers a place to create and appreciate the art of writing, all within the charming architecture and welcoming businesses that are the soul of the City of Elgin.

The program (pdf) is here or you can have a look at the festival’s FaceBook page. If you’re in the area please come by and say hello.  I’ll be traveling with Jimmy Dean, so look for the little white dog who owns me. 


BookExpo Exploits, and the First Giveaway

This post is 2 years old.

yawnAs is often the case, my well-laid plans went agley. I meant to post and twit from the floor of BookExpo America, but technological issues and a number of other glitches kept that from happening.

Also, I did not nab as many books as I hoped. But I am still planning on drawing two names, and those two people will get signed ARCs of The Gilded Hour. Then I’ll toss a coin and one of them will get the stuff I managed to collect at BEA. 

I just got home, and I’m not exactly awake so tomorrow I will post with the details. I’m also going to give y’all another couple of days to sign up for the drawing, as I just okayed a dozen new registrations and those people should have a chance to throw their names in the proverbial hat.

So please pardon me while I collapse. I have to convince my dogs that I am indeed home again, and then catch up on sleep. I’ll be back soon.

Image: Big yawn by twob on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.



updates: reading and readings, Pajama Girls

This post is 8 years old.

All kinds of little bits of information and commentary I’ve been meaning to post:

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be contributing a once-a-month column at Writer Unboxed. Please stop by and say hello. I would like to see some familiar faces over there.

The ‘tell me what happened in 1883’ experiment is going better than I ever imagined. Y’all have dug up some fantastic stuff… more on that when I close the post and do the giveaway drawing.

I just finished reaading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a novel I really liked for a variety of reasons. I’ll post a review soon.

Thank you for all the suggestions on how to resolve the when-is-the-book-coming-out question. I’m going to implement a couple of them and hope they do the trick.

On February 12 I’ll be reading and answering questions at the Burlington Public Library here in northwestern Washington State. If you are nearby, please stop in.  The session starts at 7pm.

[asa book]0425225917[/asa] The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square will be coming out in trade paper on March 3. If you do plan on buying a copy, please consider pre-ordering from your favorite book store or from Amazon. Preorders are one of those factors that really contribute to a book’s success. Pajama Girls needs to do well if I want to write another book.

The puppy mill saga is still ongoing. They’ve now seized more than five hundred dogs from mills owned by one family in two different counties. I offered to foster one or two pups when they get that far. This is a dangerous thing for me to be doing, as I will find it hard to give them up. But I do have experience with small-breed rescue, and I think my two monsters would be a great help at rehabilitating dogs who have been shut up in cages.

In my next post I’m going to talk about The Endless Forest and the publication process.


This post is 9 years old.

If you’ve read Pajama Girls, you may remember than Julia has a weakness for an online word game called Babble. The people who run Babble (and other games) certainly noticed. Have a look at the top of the page.

I was as thrilled to see my name up there as they were to see Julia playing babble.

Right now I am in Charleston, South Carolina. The weather is beautiful, and I had a good night’s sleep. I have a choice: I can work for a couple hours or I can go walk around town until it’s time for this luncheon gig.

I wonder what I’ll do.

Off again to South Carolina

This post is 9 years old.

The conference went very well, I’m happy to say. As soon as I have a minute I will put the handout up for anybody who wants one.

However. I’m leaving early tomorrow for South Carolina to speak at an authors’ luncheon in Charleston. I travel all day Wednesday, spend most of Thursday at the event, and travel most of the day Friday. With any luck I’ll get some serious writing done sitting on various planes.

Every time I fly, I seem to come down with some kind of cold. A lot of people have this problem, I know, due mostly to bad air quality in a pressurized cabin. My question: how dopey would it look to come onboard wearing a full haz-mat suit? Or at least a surgical mask? I think somebody should design a line of masks in nice colors and sell them at the airport.

I’m rambling, I realize it. I need to get a lot written today and I’m hesitating before that high dive into cold reality. I would, however, like to give you something to read that interests you. As I don’t have time to come up with anything of real value, please ask questions. Anything is fair game — except asking when book six will be out. That information in available here. Otherwise, have at it. Business related, writing related, my third grade report card, I’m an open book.

Writing in the Garden of the Gods

This post is 9 years old.

Friday I head out for Bainbridge Island, specifically for the Kiana Lodge and the one day conference organized by Field’s End. The lodge is owned by the Suquamish tribe; the word kiana means “garden of the gods.” I tell you this so there’s no confusion. No gods will be in attendance, writing or otherwise.

The conference runs all day Saturday. I’m scheduled to give two talks:

10:45 – 11:45 / Literary Fiction.
The idea of a literary fiction is relatively new, but it is so widely accepted that it feels almost carved in stone. A closer look at what literary fiction claims to be, and how the litcriterati have bamboozled everyone — including themselves.

2:45 – 3:45 / Historical fiction: Authenticity and its limitations
Historical linguists strive for authenticity in setting, language, and mindset, but to what degree is that possible — or even desirable?

I asked them if they wanted straight lectures or interactive talks — I can do either, but the second is more lively. Because hey, these folks are paying money to come listen to published writers, and I take some pride in giving them value for money. I try to be entertaining, short of juggling, which I can’t, or bursting into song. You laugh, but I co-taught once with a guy who did just that quite regularly. He had a great voice, but let’s just say that undergraduates aren’t all that crazy about Rogers and Hammerstein.

And I have to admit: I did have a reputation as a lecturer ywhen I taught big introductory classes at the University of Michigan.

Which reminds me of a story, and what the hell, I’ll tell it.

I have a good friend who started as a new faculty member at UM the same time I did. We went to grad school together, too, and so we knew each other pretty well. She’s a very polite person, soft spoken. Extremely intelligent, very witty, but a big lecture hall is not her first choice. Big lecture halls never bothered me. Fifty kids or four hundred, my goals are pretty consistent: keep them awake, keep them interested, keep them on their toes, give them stuff to think about so that maybe, just maybe, they’ll crack a book. The most common comment I got was ‘tough but fair’ and I was very satisfied with that.

At any rate, this friend and I are talking, about six weeks into the semester, and she tells me she doesn’t know what to do about a student who comes to her lecture class. He sits in the first row, center, puts on sunglasses and earphones, turns on his walkman (this is way back in the 80s, remember), opens the newspaper, and settles in for the duration. She was in a quandry. How to handle it? What to do?

Which amazed me. I said: very simple, listen and follow this game plan step by step.

Wait until the kid is hunkered down. Come down off the stage, walk over to him. He probably won’t notice, that’s fine. The other kids will get out of the way. Walk right up to him, lift the headphone away from one ear and shout:


She looked at me with her mouth hanging open. No, she said. You wouldn’t.

Oh, I said. But I have.

These were first year undergraduates for the most part, clueless. I’ve never run into this kind of behavior when I’m giving a talk at a conference, and I don’t think I ever will. But getting notes together for these two lectures has made me nostalgic.

By which I mean to say: if by some chance you are going to be at the garden of the gods on Saturday, don’t hesitate to stop by my talks. I promise not to bite. Or even bark.