Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Retrospective

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held last weekend.  I'm delighted to say that I attended both days.  I had a signing at the Mystery Ink bookstore booth on Saturday, and another at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore booth on Sunday.   Plus, I staffed the Mystery Writers of America booth for a while on Sunday.

I had a delightful time both days!  A lot of other authors attended, so it was fun to touch base with them.  Plus, a lot of readers were there, too, and some even bought books! 

The LATFOB is now held on the University of Southern California campus.  It's been there for about three years.  Before that, it was located at the UCLA campus.  I like both venues, but USC is certainly convenient for me since I can get there by public transportation--a subway, followed by a train.  I could even read while I was on my way and back--appropriate for a festival of books.

 A lot of different kinds of programs are held at the festival, from children's to romance to mystery and cooking and lots of other panels and presentations.  When I arrived one morning, I even got to see and hear part of the USC Marching Band.

And then there are the many booths, sponsored by a lot of different kinds of booksellers,  publishers, writers' organizations and more.  It was fun to visit a lot of them, or at least pass by them, when I wasn't scheduled to be at a booth.

I heard recently that the West Hollywood Book Fair, another favorite book event of mine, won't be held this year.  I was sorry to hear that.  But it made me cherish my time at the LATFOB even more.

And in case you're wondering... yes, I bought some books!

How about you--are there book fairs in your area?  Do you attend them?  What's your favorite part?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Fatal Instrument

An early nineteenth century epitaph from Claremont, NH:

In Memory of
Chester and Elisha Putnam sons of
The late Capt. Solomon Putnam, who
On the morning os January 20th 1814
In the same bed were found suffocated.
A kettle of common coals having been
Placed in their room for comfort
Proved the fatal instrument of their
Deaths the former in the 27th the
Latter in the 19th year of his age.

How many roses perish in their bloom,
How many suns alas go down at noon.

This sort of accident continues into modern times: people will bring a charcoal barbeque cooker into the house when their furnace quits on a cold winter night and they are found dead in the morning.

Just in the last two days Snaps is looking a lot better.  He hasn’t vomited for over a week, though his nether end is still sometimes very soft.  His coat is looking better and he’s put on a little weight.  Oddly, he’s become a very insistent beggar for human food, which he never was before.  We’re careful not to let him have any.  We’ve put Panzi’s food in the closet in Ellen’s office, where we can close the door to keep Snaps away from it.  Panzi, not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, has to be watched carefully so we can pick up her subtle clues that she’d like a mid-morning snack.

I was killing myself – and Ellen – this past weekend, getting the ms of Darned If You Do ready to send yesterday, and had sent an email to my agent and editor saying it would come.  I got an email from my agent, one of those automatic replies, saying she was in Europe for an international book fair.  And I got an email from my editor saying not to bother sending it as she was going on vacation until the 23rd.  Remember those old-fashioned comic strips in which a character is drawn leaping back into a fall, one hand clapped to the forehead?  I missed a really excellent performance of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion Sunday afternoon to work on the book!

Though, really, it’s my own fault; I should have taken to heart a big sign on the wall of my office: Warning: Due Dates Are Closer Than They Appear and not let the writing fall behind like I did.

A blessed Good Friday and happy Easter to those who celebrate this season!

Friday, April 11, 2014


I am not happy to see people with their noses stuck in their phones, particularly when they’re out with me and we could be having a conversation instead. Or worse when they’re like the driver in front of me this morning. I could only see that it was a man, but not what he was doing, but his driving made it clear he was doing something besides operating his car. I’m sure it was something with a cell phone because after driving way too slow and wandering all over the street, all of a sudden he started driving at the speed limit and staying in his lane.

However having smart phone sure comes in handy when you need some kind of information.

I was at my knit and crochet group today and a question came up on how to do a certain combination of stitches. Some of the group looked through assorted books they had with them, while I took out my smart phone. I am still amazed that I could just type in slip slip knit (the combination of stitches we were looking for) and hit enter and there before me was a whole list of possibilities. There were a number of written instructions and groups of photographs illustrating how to do the combination.

I’m used to finding information like that on my computer, but often forget all that my phone can do beyond making phone calls.

I have no interest in becoming so enamored with my phone that I have to keep it close enough to see at all times. I see it all the gym all the time. People on the treadmills with their phone in view. People gazing at their screens, savoring the last few seconds of doing whatever they do with their phones before the music bumps up and we begin the cardio dance class.

Definitely not for me,.

But at times like today when I have a question while I’m out and about, it is so nice to have the world at your fingertips - literally.