I didn't have a vacation last year. My money and time were spent on touring, and I missed out on taking the kids and dogs on a long car ride to a cabin somewhere to fish and swat bugs and get sunburned.
This year was looking to be similar. But something changed that. No, it wasn't my concerned wife, pleading with me to take a break and relax before I killed myself with work. No, it wasn't my 7 year old son, who was beginning to think that Dad was umbilically attached to his computer. And no, it wasn't me, who finally decided that I deserved a break after busting my tail for 3 years.
It was a bookstore.
I have a hard time turning down appearance requests. If someone wants me for a signing, or a speech, I consider it a wonderful opportunity for exposure, brand-building, networking, bookselling, and self-promoting. I spent a long time trying to set up appearances, and now that people are coming to me rather than the other way around, I try my best to honor requests.
So when I got a request to visit a store in upper Michigan, I said yes---even though it was a six hour drive. Six hours each way meant an overnight stay. Researching the area led me to a cabin on a lake, and I figured I could turn it into a vacation.
It was much needed after the work I put into my West Coast Tour, and I managed to get attacked by bugs, catch some fish, and even work on my sunburn, along with rediscovering that I have a pretty cool family.
Plus, the signing went well.
Now I'm back, and diving into the email and snail mail that has accumulated in my absence. This includes:
7 blurb requests. Somewhere along the line I said yes to 7 writers, all of whom have sent their manuscripts for me to blurb, deadlines coming up quick.
30 self-published books to read. Somewhere along the line I agreed to judge a genre fiction contest for Writer's Digest, and have to write 30 book critiques by mid-August.
223 emails to answer. I should probably be doing that instead of blogging.
I should be able to whip through all of this fairly fast, because I'm in the curious position of having nothing currently due on the writing front. Hyperion is considering my outline for the next Jack Daniels book, DIRTY MARTINI. They haven't sent me the line edits yet for RUSTY NAIL. No short stories are currently due. So, other than drive-by signings in the Chicagoland area, and a few scheduled events, I'm pretty open for August.
On the publishing front, various cool things are happening, including:
I just received the September issue of Writer's Digest, which features my article AFTER THE BOOK COMES OUT, a continuation of my piece for them last year called AFTER THE BIG SALE. The layout is a thing of beauty---I couldn't be happier. WD also bought another piece of mine called TURN A DISASTEROUS BOOKSIGNING INTO A SUCCESS, and is considering two others.
Jack Daniels will appear in the November issue of EQMM. The current issue has a back cover ad for my books, placed there by my publisher, along with a review of BLOODY MARY.
My Phineas Troutt story EPITAPH will appear in the upcomign THRILLER anthology, edited by James Patterson for the ITW.
Another Phineas Troutt story, SUFFER, will be in an upcoming issue of Ellery Queen. (side note; both of these Phin stories were written for the anthology CHICAGO NOIR, and were rejected. I should send that editor a Thank You note...)
I just recieved copies of SURREAL #1, which contains my horror short THE SHED.
I just recieved copies of THE STRAND #16, which contains my Harry McGlade story TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS... which may be the funniest thing I've ever written.
I just received copies of CRIMESPREE #7, which contains my story LIGHT DRIZZLE, a parody of my friend Barry Eisler's Rain books.
Another Harry McGlade story, WHELP WANTED, appears at the end of the BLOODY MARY audiobook. The story is read by me, and I don't suck too bad. The book itself is read by Dick Hill and Susie Breck, and they're fabulous. I'll put an excerpt on my website when I get caught up with stuff.
But first, I gotta go pick up some sunburn cream...