I’ve not ever kept it a secret that if given the choice, I’d relocate to Austin or San Francisco in a heartbeat. They are my two favorite cities in the U.S. So you can imagine how happy I’ve been for the past five days since I got to run a business meeting in Austin for my dayjob.
And while it wasn’t sunny and 75 while I was there (it hung mostly in the 50s), the weather was a heck of a lot better than the 20 below zero thing that was going on back home!
While I was in Austin, I got the chance to do a couple booksignings. The first was on January 16 at BookPeople, where I actually got to see my name up on an actual marquee! It was pretty cool to get out of the cab in front of a store and see your name in lights.
The customers in the store heard me read “The Right Instrument,” one of my flash fiction pieces that is always good for a reading, as well as the first couple segments from Covenant.
It was pretty cool to see The Horror Library Vol. 3 in the store, as I have a short story called “Fish Bait” in that anthology, and it was right there on a new releases rack when I walked into BookPeople. We put some copies on my signing table for the night.
After the event, I went down the street to eat at an Indian place, The Clay Pit, where I had the best Indian food I’ve ever tasted. I ordered the Mirch Masala curry with chicken, and just typing about it three days later is making my mouth water. I’m going to have to hunt for good Indian restaurants in this area now.
On Saturday, I sampled the awesome burritos at Freebirds, just down the street from the hotel (our meeting was serving salmon, so I took a walk!)
That night after work I had a signing at the Barnes & Noble by the Austin Arboretum, which was great fun – Janice, the manager there, was wonderful, and the store was busy all night. One of my MySpace friends — Melissa — actually drove up five hours to attend. It was great to finally meet her, as we’ve chatted on and off for a couple years.
She has read most of my small press releases, but I signed a copy of Covenant for her, and gave her a copy of the cover flat for Sacrifice.
I also met a couple other folks who came specifically for the signing, including one horror fan who saw the calendar listing for the signing on the Leisure Books website while in the middle of preparing dinner. He said he turned off dinner and hopped in the car immediately because he wanted to get a signed copy when I saw that I was in town. I hope when he got back home that his dinner was edible!
After the signing, I headed back downtown to 6th Street, and had dinner on the roof of one of my favorite Austin haunts, the Iron Cactus.
The “Perfect Marguerita” (martini style) remains perfect (hard to beat Patron Silver). Unfortunately, they didn’t have my Chile Relleno on the menu anymore, but the fajitas were good, and I bought a shirt to replace my previous Iron Cactus T, which is starting to fade from a few years of use.
I hung out the rest of the night at my favorite Austin club, Elysium (which is where the opening chapter to Sacrifice is set). It was the first time I’ve been in Austin since finishing the novel three years ago, and it was very cool to walk the path Ariana walks from Elysium to the Marriott (which has since changed to a Sheraton). I also met John, the owner of Elysium, who bought me a “blood shot” as I told him a little about the book that “starts” in his club. I wish I could get back to Austin this summer once Sacrifice is out to do something with the club to “launch” it.
I closed Elysium (all the bars shut down at 2 a.m. there) and ducked into the Red Eyed Fly a couple doors down just in time to buy another t-shirt there to replace my old faded one (I wear a lot of Austin cotton LOL).
The next morning, I enjoyed another Austin tradition for me — Gospel Brunch at Stubbs. The two-floor barbecue house has a stage set up downstairs (the main level ends in a balcony overlooking the stage) and every Sunday they do two seatings for brunch – a wonderful mix of eggs, sausage, bacon, grits, barbecue pork and chicken, and more. Meanwhile, on the stage, an R&B/Gospel acts plays some standards for an hour (“Jesus on the Mainline” was one of my favorites from Sunday’s act, who were phenomenally entertaining.)
After a walk down 6th street, it was too quickly time to head to the airport… but as always, Austin did not disappoint. I can’t wait to go back.
Just saw over on MySpace that Covenant has popped up on a horror reader’s Top 10 list, so I thought I’d share the link. I’m proud to be noted in such good company! Check his Top Ten Novels of 2008 blog here:
Every year, a grassroots group puts on the “Preditors and Editors” poll via the Internet and does a broad tally of bookloving fans on what books and stories they liked over the previous year. The P&E poll is a quick one — open for just the first two weeks of January.
Since anyone can cast a vote in this poll before January 14th… if you read COVENANT and enjoyed it… I hope you’ll give it a nod here: http://www.critters.org/predpoll/novelh.shtml
And while you’re at it, considering voting for Paul too — he’s in the top of the running in a number of categories, including author, poet, and short story!
The international Horror Writers Association is also currently in the midst of its poll of members to determine the best horror published the previous year. Currently, the HWA recommendations list includes votes for a number of stories from the two anthologies my small press Dark Arts Books published this year — SINS OF THE SIRENS and LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO. If you’re an HWA member and would like to see either of these collections to consider for voting, drop me an email.
Also, one of my stories, “Fish Bait,” from the new Horror Library Vol. 3 anthology by Cutting Block Press, has been recommended on the short story list. If you’re an HWA member and would like a read of that — just shoot me a note. The publisher has set up a website for HWA members to download and review a PDF of the book at no charge.
Just as in politics, I’d encourage you to vote in P&E or HWA (if you can) for your favorite fiction of 2008. The best way for both authors and publishers to know what they’re doing right, is to hear about what the fans have liked. So whatever it was you read and enjoyed last year — give it a vote!
2008 is gone. I’ll miss it.
But 2009 is shaping up to be a great year too. Leisure Books will be releasing my second novel Sacrifice at the end of April, while my third novel, The 13th, will be issued in a limited hardcover edition from Necro Publications this spring as well as in a paperback edition from Leisure at the end of the year. Meanwhile in Poland, Replika Books will be issuing Polish translations this year of Sacrifice and my short story collection Needles & Sins. So I’ll be supporting lots of releases this year, in addition to a couple of anthology appearances of my short stories!
Looking back on the last 12 months, I think I’ll always remember 2008 as one of the best years of my life on nearly every front. It was definitely a year for personal growth and change. At the start of the year I was adapting to a major job shift, forming a new department at work, while at the same time adjusting to no longer having a 2nd career as a music critic after 20 years of writing weekly columns (my newspaper merged at the end of 2007 and the column didn’t survive the merger). I’ve still kept the Pop Stops website alive, and yesterday posted my Best CDs of 2008 list there and in my blog.
In early 2008, my short story collection Needles & Sins (released at the end of 2007), had one of its stories nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, and I spent most of the first half of the year writing my third novel, The 13th, and putting together two anthologies for my Dark Arts Books press — Sins of the Sirens and Like a Chinese Tattoo. Dark Arts Books threw a “Pajama Party” at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City to celebrate the release of the anthologies, and the road trip to get there and back is an experience I’ll never forget.
In addition to World Horror Con, I also was a guest at the Milwaukee Massacre, Atlanta’s Dragon*Con, the Chicago Horror Film Festival and Flint, MI’s XcapeCon2 in 2008. I attended the latter three cons as part of my first “book tour” to celebrate the release of my first novel, Covenant, from Leisure Books at the end of August.
Covenant was, of course, my big news for 2008, and I redesigned my web site and set up a mailing list over the summer to prepare for its release. Then, nearly every weekend of the fall, I drove around to bookstores for signings to promote it. In the end, aside from visiting lots of stores near my home in Illinois and Indiana, I also did signings in Racine, WI, Nashville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and San Francisco, and autographed more than 1,000 copies of Covenant along the way!
Over the year, I also took my wife and son on vacations to Disney World and to the Wisconsin Dells, and went on a couple trips for work as well. So I spent a LOT of time on the road this year! In fact, I visited the most states I ever have in one year (16): California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Washington, D.C.
Those travels put me in an equal number of major cities for one reason or another: Atlanta, Cheyenne, Chicago, Cincinnati, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Orlando, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco (twice!), Santa Fe, Springfield, St. Louis (twice), and Washington, D.C. (twice!). If 2008 was just a couple weeks longer, I would be able to add Austin, Texas to the list, since I’ll be there this month.
So for me, it was an amazing year. I saw dozens of new places and met hundreds of new people… and made a lot of new friends along the way. It was often frenetic, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Here’s to an even more exciting 2009!