We go a little more indepth about relics on my other blog Exploring Relics on ParishWorld.net. It's a chance for me to, well, explore relics and maybe squirrel away some information that I might be able to use in later novels.
This is truly an era passing away. Dutton's in Brentwood, CA (Los Angeles) that used to have two locations in swanky areas has to close its doors after twenty years. It's one of those places I dreamed of doing a signing in some day. Unfortunately, now I won't get that chance. They are closing up shop in April well before my book can hit the streets. Their Beverly Hills store closed in December over rent disputes and now the Brentwood store will close because the developer who owns the property is going to refurbish and rebuild the shops in that area. The new, smaller bookstore he is putting in at "ridiculously low rent" may be too small for Dutton's culture, says Doug Dutton.
Hey, I know LA is about change. I've seen it morph into all sorts of things over the years, from when I grew up there in the sixties to today. When I was a kid, I remember being in the car and cruising down the Harbor Freeway and gawking at the buildings of downtown. In those days, the City Hall was the tallest building. Now it is dwarfed by the other mega buildings surrounding it.
Book culture was always part of my younger days. We'd make the occasional trek downtown to the LA Public Library and even when I was a kid, I marveled at the deco design and WPA artwork in the place. Stairwells with brass and wood. Large wooden book index files (before computers made it easy to look up books and where in the library they could be found.)
When I was a teenager, we journeyed to Westwood by UCLA to go into their multi-floored bookstore. We perused the used bookstores in Long Beach--Acres of Books, and all the other stores we came to love. Recently, I've come to love Warwick's in La Jolla as the sort of standard independent bookstore; cozy, knowlegdable staff, a little of this, a little of that. Sure, we all buy books on Amazon, too. It's inevitable, the convenience. But it is no substitute for thumbing down the shelves, picking up something that looks interesting, and making that discovery.
Are bookstores a dying breed? I hope not. Like books themselves--paper and cardboard cover--I hope they never disappear. We need them. We need the visceral sense of walking into a place that smells like books, of taking a book down from a shelf and paging through it with our flesh and blood hands, not virtual fingers, of chatting with staff that actually reads and can recommend. Call me a dinosaur, but I don't want these experiences to die off. Yeah, there's room for Amazon and e-books and e-book readers, but please give me the brick and mortar stores, too. Can't we all just get along?
If you look to the left in the column below my picture, you will note a category called "Most Popular Posts" with links (that work now) to those posts. If you missed them, pick 'em up here. They seem to get the most hits for some reason or another. The winner by far: the interview with Sharan Newman and Margaret Fraser. Let us hope that someday an interview with yours truly will garner as much interest. Hey, any takers?
Ah, social networking. Many of you who read this blog--fellow writers--know that social networking is a must these days. For those of you who don't understand the term, it is the long, tortuous process of advertising yourself and your book on as many venues as you can find. One of them is this very blog, my web site, Crispin's blog, crimespace (a social network of mystery authors and readers who like mysteries), even another blog I write about relics, and now myspace. Yes, Crispin has a myspace page. Why do we flog ourselves like this, go to conferences and vie for space on panels, lock up signing space in bookstores? It's simply the "Way It Is" these days in the world of publishing. No longer can an author simply write their masterpiece, send it off to the editor and let the publisher take care of it. Nope. The author must take his own publicity in hand and get out there. After all, these days one must compete with cable television, the internet, and monster truck rallies.
So go ahead and friend Crispin over there. He's sort of lonely at the moment.
Did you notice I changed the sub title of this blog? Look up to the top of the page right under "Getting Medieval". Yup. No longer does it say "The Trials and Tribulations of Getting My Medieval Mysteries Published." The change of name was to go along with the change in attitude. Hey, not that I still won't experience "trials and tribulations." but now that the book will actually be "out there" in about seven months (and I'll have more news about the series soon), it's time to think positive and look ahead.
Also, I've noticed on the web site, that I've been getting a few more visitors from all over. Israel, the Netherlands, England, Canada, Germany, Greece, France ...It's been very heartening. Thanks to you all for stopping by. Though the book will only be available in North America initially, I have hopes that eventually it will be available in other countries as well, particularly Great Britain (where my heart is).
In the meantime, I am gearing up to go to Left Coast Crime, another mystery conference to be held this year in Denver, Colorado. I will be on another panel called "The Good Old Days: Writing About the Past" with moderator Lauren Haney (who writes about ancient Egypt), Francine Mathews aka Stephanie Barron (who writes the Jane Austen series), Sharon Rowse (whom I met at Bouchercon Alaska but I bet she won't remember that, and who writes a Klondike era mystery), and Brian Thornton whom I interviewed on this very blog.
We will come to you Live! from LCC once again telling you about my trials and--no, wait. Telling you about my triumphs and...um...good stuff.
That's right. The next time the kids come up to you with a, "Mom, I'm BORED!" you can hand them a blade and say, "Just go outside and fight with your sister!"
It's the Royal Armoury at Leeds at it again, offering a chance for the ankle biters in your life to have at it. With wooden swords, though. Check it out here.
If that is not to your tastes, the older crowd can enjoy a good-old fashioned joust for Easter. "This Easter sees the return of the Sword of Honour four day joust leading up to the grand final on Bank Holiday Monday at 2.30pm. There will be two shows each day at 12.30pm and 2.30pm, bookings for these shows are now being taken by the bookings team."
AND, they've got an exhibition of the Chronicles of Froissart, THE firsthand account of the doings of the Hundred Years War. That would be keen to see. They also offer classes on calligraphy and all sorts of other things. If you find yourself in England in the spring, check it out and send me pictures! For more info, go to their web site.
Yes, you heard it here first. Crispin gets his own blog, and about time, too. In his own words, he tells of his life in London, his struggles, his angst, his loves. He'll even have a few book recommendations. See what he has to say at www.CrispinGuest.com