I’ve been waiting for weeks for my copies of the Polish edition of Sacrifice to hit my doorstep (known across the water as Ofiara). I have asked my wife dozens of times on the phone while at work: Hey, is there a box from Poland in the mail?
She always said No.
But today – she called me to say: Hey… the mailman just had me sign for a box from Poland.
I didn’t hop in the car at that moment and race home, but I wanted to! What she didn’t tell me, was that there was also a package from Leisure Books with my cover flats for THE 13TH. Opening the two packages when I did finally get home was like Christmas.
All I can say is… I write books.
People publish them.
Sometimes in languages I can’t even read.
Here are a couple other shots of the piles on my desk (click on the photos for larger versions).
Back at the end of April, when I started visiting bookstores and doing signings to promote my novel Sacrifice, I had this idea that I would blog every week about the tour, post pictures, produce kind of a travelogue…
Yeah. That didn’t happen.
In early May, I chronicled week one (San Diego, St. Louis and Springfield), but since then, I’ve been running around too much to blog about where I’ve been, until now, as it all winds down.
I’ll have other events coming up this summer — I’ll be at the Schaumburg Barnes & Noble in both July and August, along with a Bourbonais Library Author Fair — but the manic 3-4-signings-a-week phase coupled with lots of roadtrips, is done.
As much fun as it’s been, I’m looking forward to spending some time at home – and at the pool instead of in my car! – over the next few weeks. And now I can sort through the gigantic paperwork mess that’s collected on my desk in the interim, and post this belated travelogue. If you’re interested in a few notable moments from my travels over the past two months, along with some pictures, read on…
La Grange, Bolingbrook, Oak Brook & DeKalb
After I returned from St. Louis at the start of May, I did a couple of local signings at two stores that have been very supportive to me — the LaGrange Borders (where I enjoyed chatting with one of my biggest bookseller fans for half the night) and Bolingbrook Borders, which is just down the street from my house.
I spent the Saturday before Mother’s Day, May 9th, at the gigantic Oakbrook Barnes & Noble store and even sold a couple copies of Sacrifice to people who said “oh perfect, mom loves that gory stuff!”
Who knew? Sacrifice for Mother’s Day! Wouldn’t have worked in my house, but…
That afternoon also gave me my Tweet-ed Booksigning Quote of the Day from an older B&N customer who told me she used to read Stephen King but now…: “I believe in evil too much to read that kinda stuff.”
That same night, I drove out to DeKalb, a Western Illinois town that’s also home to Northern Illinois University, for a Borders Nite Out event, after stopping to sign copies of my books informally at a couple of bookstores along the way (finally got to enjoy the Claddagh pub just outside the B&N in Geneva).
The Borders Nite Out concept is an interesting one – one of the store managers puts together a collage of authors, artists, musicians and more to have entertainment nights in their cafe. We had three authors, a couple musicians and a fashion show there the night I went, and I read a bit of flash fiction for the crowd. I can’t say we sold a lot of books, but it was a lot of fun, and afterwards, my friends Lon and Amy and I decamped across the parking lot to indulge in lots of hot sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings.
On The Radio
I should note that I did a couple radio interviews this spring to promote Sacrifice, which you can still hear pieces of online. I actually kicked off the tour with an hourlong interview on April 15 on The Metal Crypt Internet radio (which you can now listen to via segments 1, 2, 3 and 4 posted on YouTube.
On May 8th, I got to hang out with Scott Mackay and his morning crew at my local Aurora, IL FM rock radio station, 95.9 The River (WERV-FM). Thanks to my friends at The River, an edit of the full version is now available here. After the on-air interview, they videotaped me reading the question for one of their daily “Morning Mindbenders” — you can still see that video on YouTube as well.
A few days later, I did a long interview on May 12 with the internationally syndicated X-Zone Radio show, which you can actually still hear via a podcast recording on iTunes (just click here and download episode #99 from within the iTunes application).
From Indianapolis to Cincinnati to Louisville
A couple days after chatting with the X-Zone, I was off to my next roadtrip – this time to Cincinnati, which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite towns. I had a great time there last fall when I toured through the town for Covenant, and so this time, I extended my stay a bit. As I did last fall, I drove to Indianapolis on Friday morning for a lunchtime signing at the downtown Borders there.
I was cruising along the highway, almost three hours into the trip, merrily Tweet-ing away on the long highway, when it suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten to take the time change into account when I planned my morning start time!!! Nice job, Ace. So yes, I’d thought I was ahead of schedule, but I actually started the weekend by arriving 45 minutes late to my first signing. Embarrassing!
Nevertheless, it turned into a good signing, where I sold more than a dozen books and made a great new fan in Lindsey, who I talked into buying a copy of Covenant when I saw she was walking out of the store holding a Charlaine Harris book. She later blogged about it and went right on to grab Sacrifice!
It’s also the only signing where anyone came up to me and said, “Well, I can’t afford to buy a book right now, but you’re an author, wow… would you sign this?” before producing a crumpled receipt from his pocket. Didn’t beat the teenaged girls who had me sign their hands last fall though.
After the Indy signing, I hopped right back on the road because I had another signing scheduled (which kinda sucked because there were some good brewpub places I wanted to check out in downtown Indy!).
That night I spent three hours at the Eastgate Borders store in Cincinnati, where I talked with a couple folks who’d met me there a few months before. Then it was down to the Newport Levee to grab some good German beer and kraut at the Hofbrauhaus before crashing for the night a block away at the Travelodge.
The next day, I drove all around the city to visit area bookstores, sign copies of my books for them and leave behind some promo postcards before my next formal signing in the afternoon at the horror-friendly Barnes & Noble in Florence, Ky. I snuck in a quick pannini beforehand at my favorite British pub in Kentucky, The Pub, which I discovered last fall.
That night I went straight from Florence to Newport to sign for a few hours at the Barnes & Noble next to the Travelodge I was staying at. The latter was my most successful stops on the tour, as it was last year when I was there. I’m looking forward to going back!
To cap the night off, I ate dinner at an Italian place just across the square from the bookstore while listening to a band murder cover songs as they played to the tourists outside. They provided me a good Tweet if nothing else: “Having dinner on the Levee in Cincy… and a live band just merged Pink Floyd with Fleetwood Mac… now that’s Horror to me!”
(click thumbnails for larger photos)
The final day of this manic weekend roadtrip I spent in Louisville, visiting a couple of Borders and Barnes & Nobles before a formal lunchtime signing at the Shelbyville Road Borders there. This turned out to be the only stop where I had a true “glitch” on the tour – the distribution arm for Borders had failed to stock them with books, despite numerous requests. Luckily, I always travel with some books in my car, and the store simply sold my copies!
As I was heading out of Louisville on the 5-hour drive home, I got a Tweet from longtime friend Mehitobel Wilson telling me that since I was in town, I should stop by a Monster Con that was going on there – she’d flown in from Georgia for it. Talk about bummed! I had no idea the thing was going on while I was there or I probably would have stopped for a little bit, to see Bel if nothing else (who I’ve not seen in person since Horrorfind 2004). But it was too late to turn back at that point.
Closing out May
Over the next two weeks following the Cincinnati roadtrip, I fulfilled another longtime author dream – to sign at the Borders store on State Street, in the heart of Chicago. A few days later, I signed at two of my local Borders — in Matteson and Orland Park — who were each incredibly supportive of Covenant and were equally excited to help me with Sacrifice. I closed out the month with another close-to-home, very supportive store — the Downers Grove Barnes & Noble.
It was after the Orland signing that I finally got out to see the new version of Star Trek — and was blown away. Great scripting, savvy reinvention. As an “old” Trekker who was never sold on “New Generation” or “Deep Space Nine” (though I did like “Voyager”), this was a welcome return to the spirit of the original in many senses.
June on the Road
Over the first two weekends in June, I drove down to Nashville to guest at the Hypericon convention, and the next week flew out to Burbank, California to attend the Bram Stoker Awards weekend, both of which I’ve blogged about separately. And then I had a business trip to Atlanta, which allowed me to fit in a Barnes & Noble signing night there as well.
And here we are. The last week of the month, and the end of a long road. It’s been fun, but I’m ready to curl up and relax with a good book. And a big plate of barbecue. Yes. Thank God Naperville Ribfest is just a week away!
Someone fire up the barbie!
I’ve always loved barbecue. Hell, I have my own secret sauce recipe. I’ve had great barbecue in Kansas City and Austin and Dallas, among other cities. But my favorite to date may be a little place in Nashville, TN called Jack’s Bar-B-Que.
Thank you, Hypericon, for having me down to Nashville so I could discover it!
Here’s how it all went down. (And FYI – you can click on any photos on this page for larger versions.)
On Thursday morning, June 4th, I climbed into HAUNTER, my Mustang, and hit the highways for the 8-hour drive to Nashville for Hypericon. Of course, I managed to turn the 8-hour drive into a marathon 12, since I stopped at a handful of bookstores around Indianapolis, as well as stores in Lafayette, IN and Bowling Green, KY.
I was pretty wiped when I got to the hotel in Nashville, but after greeting Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry, P.S. Gifford and con chair Fred Grimm (not to mention the amazing Deanna Crews, who was responsible for bringing me to the con), I headed back out to the downtown strip to hear some music at the honky tonk bars. A little private pick-me-up before I had to be “on” for the rest of the weekend. A couple hours later, when Brian complained via Twitter that the hotel bar had no bourbon, I Tweeted him back noting that he shoulda hung with me, since I had a Newcastle and a glass of Makers Mark Bourbon sitting in front of me at that moment. This led to his post the next morning of: Am awake. Am about to go bang on @JohnEverson‘s door. Apparently, he absconded with the good bourbon last night and didn’t tell me.
And so it began!
I arrived at the Dealer’s Room Friday morning to set up my books on the table Paul Gifford and I shared with a couple other authors, and met Kimberly Raiser, who gifted me with a mini bottle of Makers (someone was reading my blogs!) I also met the very cool Alicia Benson.
That was the start of an enjoyable, laidback, relaxed con! I sat on a couple panels, did a couple signings and did a reading of “The Eyes Have It” which I originally wrote for the World Horror Gross-Out competition in Toronto Canada a couple years ago.
On Friday night, Wrath James White, Paul, Alicia, Kimberly and I all went out to the downtown strip, but this time for barbecue – Jack’s Bar-B-Que. The conversation was all over the map – from child-rearing to cannibalism (thanks to Wrath’s novel Succulent Prey) and was one of the most enjoyable dinners I’ve had at a con.
Hypericon also turned out to be the first con where I was photoed wearing a crown. Huh?
Before attending my first panel on Saturday, HAUNTER and I hit the road in search of more Jack’s Bar-B-Que. Turned out, there was one just down the interstate from the hotel, easier to reach than the one downtown. It turned out to be miles better than the one we went to Friday night, with larger portions, more sauces and more side choices. The three meat combo with cole slaw and cornbread and hot bbq sauce — to die for!
I got back a minute late to my panel, which was already underway moderated by the hilarious Alethea Kontis, who promptly held up Sacrifice and introduced herself as John Everson when I joined the table. Then she handed me her tiara. I donned said tiara and for one brief moment was Alethea Kontis, Princess of Hypericon.
It’s not a look I can pull off though, so I gave up the crown. Thank god I’m secure in my manhood, since the very next weekend at the Bram Stoker Awards in Nashville, I ended up in a boa (as did everyone) at the pre-Stoker ’80s party! But that’s another blog.
After panelist identities were reestablished, we then spent much of a panel on villains talking about the Purple Pieman of Strawberry Shortcake. It was weird, but fun. And very energetic!
That night, pretty much the same group headed downtown again, this time with Alicia at the wheel instead of relying on a cab. We found some decent Mexican before heading back for the readings and a brief “I’ll pass” listen to the industrial/goth band playing upstairs by the con suite before heading to the late night parties (including Bryan Smith‘s room bash).
Somewhere along the way of Friday and Saturday, I had some great conversations with Jason Sizemore from Apex, Deena and Matt Warner, Maurice Broaddus, David Jack Bell, Brian Keene and Jonathan Maberry and, of course, Gifford. I also saw a showing of a short film based on a Keene story, and finally met and talked with Scott Nicholson (a very cool author!).
Somehow we all got up again Sunday morning, hung out in the dealer’s room a couple more hours and then packed it all up to hit the road. It always seems way too short on the day you pack the suitcase, but I extended my personal stay in Nashville a bit — I visited Jack’s Bar-B-Que one more time (even though I wasn’t that hungry!) and then stopped at a couple bookstores, including a cool B&N by the Opryland Mall before heading north for the eight-hour drive home.
It was a great weekend. Here’s some more evidence:
Joey Pinkney’s Author Interview site now includes a “5 Minutes, 5 Questions” segment about Sacrifice with me! Check it out at www.joeypinkney.com.
I’ve been to several Bram Stoker Award ceremonies over the years. I remember my first couple, in the early 2000s, felt very formal and a little stuffy (though that might have had more to do with me being a newbie to the field than the events themselves). The last couple I went to were simply nerve-wracking for me, since I was a nominee. This year’s, however, was the best ever, as far as I’m concerned! Hell – I got to stand next to one of my idols who inspired me to be a writer – Richard Matheson – and even met the Faun from Pan’s Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies of the past 10 years!
The whole Stoker weekend was a great time, thanks to the amazing work put in by organizers Lisa Morton and John Little. Bill Breedlove and I (with some help from Martel Sardina, Adam Pepper and Loren Rhoads) held down a “dealers table” for Dark Arts Books in the dealer’s room, and we debuted the presses’ latest book Mighty Unclean there, while at the same time selling many copies of Like a Chinese Tattoo, which was on the ballot for Best Anthology. It was a tough category this year and ultimately Tattoo didn’t win – the very deserving Unspeakable Horrors did – but it really was an honor for our press to receive its first nomination. The full list of winners was:
NOVEL: DUMA KEY by Stephen King
FIRST NOVEL: THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti
LONG FICTON: MIRANDA by John R. Little
SHORT FICTION: “The Lost” by Sarah Langan
FICTION COLLECTION: JUST AFTER SUNSET by Stephen King
ANTHOLOGY: UNSPEAKABLE HORROR edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder
NONFICTON: A HALLOWE’EN ANTHOLOGY by Lisa Morton
POETRY COLLECTION: THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTION by Bruce Boston
The weekend started for me on Thursday, when I went out to the “reception-style” signing at Dark Delicacies Bookstore in Burbank, CA, where dozens of authors milled around chatting, drinking and occasionally signing some books. Someone brought me a stack of things to sign, including the anthologies Damned, Spooks!, Freaks, Geeks & Sideshow Floozies and Tourniquet Heart. It was pretty cool to see all those old books again.
It was great to see Del and Sue and the store again, and they sold the first copies of Mighty Unclean that night. And it was wonderful to see Alice Henderson again, who I haven’t seen in a couple years. On the opposite side of separation, I also got to hang out with P.S. Gifford for the second time in a week, since we were both guests at Hypericon the weekend before!
Afterwards, Bill and I caught a great Mexican dinner at an authentic joint on the corner before adjourning back to the hotel bar, where I talked with Larry Roberts from Bloodletting and RJ Cavender and Boyd Harris from Cutting Block about small press stuff.
On Friday at the Gauntlet Press Party, I talked with Nate Kenyon and hung out in the same room with Richard Matheson, and later that night heard Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp do a reading and F. Paul Wilson play drums while Heather Graham sang, at a party sponsored by Medallion Books.
I also got to catch up with Matt Schwartz from Shocklines, who I hadn’t seen in a couple years, and talked with Monica Kuebler, Kelly Laymon and Sephera Giron (the latter pictured below dancing to the all-star band).
Saturday was my busy day. I did a video interview with Feo Amante, talked to an agent about a YA project, had a great lunch with my editor at Leisure Books, Don D’Auria, and then packed up the Dark Arts dealers table and went to the ’80s Party hosted by Unspeakable Horror where everyone was encouraged to wear feather boas. Damn, those things are scratchy!
Then I did the quick change into a suit and sat at the Leisure table for dinner and the Stoker awards, where Nate Kenyon and Goodfellow & Skipp kept the laughter coming all night.
After a good catchup with Maria Alexander, I hung at the after-Stoker room parties for a bit, until the hotel closed them down, and then spent the rest of the night in the hotel bar and, when that closed, lobby, with Bill Breedlove, Martel Sardina, Adam Pepper, Nate Kenyon. At one point, our table also hosted Sephera Giron, Alexandra Sokoloff and Robert Fleck, and threatened to boil over into a war with the screenwriter hopefuls carousing at the next table. Thankfully, in the end, we showed some mild restraint and eventually, after splitting a sad last bottle of Heineken at 3:30 a.m., drifted back to the elevators.
It’s been a month of signing Necro Publications signature sheets for me! A couple weeks ago I signed all the inside pages for the hardcover edition of my novel, THE 13TH, which Necro will issue next month. And last night I finished signing a stack of 500 signature sheets for the anthology INFERNALLY YOURS, which Necro will also be issuing in a month or two. Click on the photo at right to see a larger version of the photo, where, in the righthand sheet, you can see where John Shirley signed one of his signatures using a mirror (compare second sig down to the sheet on the left). How’d you do that John???
This book is a tribute to Edward Lee‘s “Infernal” series of novels about the Mephistopolis… the city of hell. I’m especially proud to have contributed a story to the anthology since I love, love, love Lee’s Infernal novels. I read the first one in one sitting out on my deck on the 4th of July a few years back — and skipped the fireworks that night in order to finish it!
INFERNALLY YOURS includes a gang of horror visionaries spinning their own yarns on Lee’s Infernal mythos. It’s a gang who I truly respect – John Shirley, Brian Keene, Charlee Jacob, Maynard and Sims, Gerard Houarner and Bryan Smith. To top it off, there’s a new novella to lead it off by Edward Lee himself.
Today, I dropped the signature sheets off at the press for Necro (while Necro is in Florida, I happen to live just a few miles from where the books are printed, in the west burbs of Chicago!)
Signing that last sheet and dropping the stack at the printer is the end of a long road for this book. Necro Publisher David Barnett and editor/artist GAK first talked to me about being a part of the project that would become Infernally Yours during the World Horror Convention in San Francisco, three years ago. My contribution, “Then Shall The Reign of Lucifer End” was done about six months later. A couple years passed before all the rest of the stories were in, and then last fall, I helped proof the book (ironically, I was copyediting Lee’s latest vision of hell while taking my son on his first vacation to Disney World!) It took a few more months after that still to finish all the artwork. But now, finally, the presses are about to roll on it.
All I can say is, it’s going to be a helluva book!