Wednesday, November 23, 2005

more of Chicago

Things have gone from bad to worse computer-wise. Yesterday as I was working here in the Bloomington public library, trying to upload the web course for UAF, my monitor died. A recurrence of the logic board problem I've had before. After sitting for a few hours turned off, the monitor came back. If the past is any guide, I will have recurrent outages for up to a month before it fails for good and I have to send it in. I truly love my little iBook, but Apple doesn't seem able to fix this particular problem (though their attempts so far have been free for me). The computer is three years old this month and still not obsolete. But it looks like I'm blogging on borrowed time. Don't be surprised if my next entry isn't for a while.

I thought I'd put up some more of my Chicago pix. Something about these buildings that really grab my imagination. Above is a view looking north on Michigan Ave., the "Magnificent Mile," from across the river.

Here are two houses on Maple Street in Evanston, Brian Davies' block. They date from early last century when Evanston was home to Chicago's well-to-do. I don't think I'd have the patience to live in one of these--old wiring, creaky floors, steam heating--but I sure like looking at them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fill 'er up

Eat your heart out, Fairbanks.

Bloomington Reading

The event at the Bloomington Borders went off well. There was a good crowd, largely due to the attendance of my family as well as Paul Tengan's. Yes, that's Paul T from Fairbanks who just so happened to be visiting family in the area. It was quite the surprise seeing him there. The photo above is of his great niece, who attended and sat very patiently through the reading.

This bookstore has special meaning to me because it's where I brought my father shortly before he died nine years ago to show him the first book I was published in, the Year's Best 13th annual collection. He lifted the thick volume and said, "You wrote this whole book?"

Had a grand day at the reading and then with brother Jim and sister-in-law Maria. I've got lots of photos but no time and no bandwidth at my mother's. I brought my work with me, a web-based InDesign course I'm putting together for UAF. I drove into Bloomington today (30 miles) to use the wi-fi at the public library (very nice library) to put lessons up on Blackboard. Not a vacation, alas, because there's so much exploring I want to do. Not to mention family stuff. Oh, well.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Bean

The artist prefers his own name--Cloud Gate--for this fantastic sculpture in the new Millennium Park, but locals call it the Bean, to his great consternation. It was installed (and is still being finished, ergo the scaffolding) after my last visit during Chicon, so I had to go out and see it. I'm not sure but Millennium Park seems to be just an extension (or piece) of Grant Park. I use a future M Park in my book, where it is four or five tiers high and extends out over the lake.

Water Tower/Hancock

I had only two hours to explore downtown before I had to leave. Took over fifty photos. Chicago is visually exhilarating for me, all the skyscrapers. Everywhere I look, I see another picture. It's like that for some people when they visit Alaska; they can't believe the scenery. For me, it's the urban landscape, and Chicago has the vistas that lets their buildings shine. Much more, IMO, than NYC or any other city I've been to.

Anyway, since the iconic Hancock building is on the cover of my book, I thought I'd snap it, alongside another icon, the Water Tower. And for good measure, I got a city employee hanging Christmas lights.

Oak Brook Reading

A photo of my reading at the Oak Brook Borders Bookstore this week. Went well. Oak Brook is a suburb SW of downtown, actually only a few miles from Villa Park, where we lived when I was a kid. We moved in when the fields were freshly bulldozed and the paint on the tract house subdivisions still fresh. Now the place has the look of an old neighborhood. I'm setting much of the action of Book 2 (Day of the Oship) in Villa Park, so it was nice getting so close this trip.

I was surprised to find that a rode that leads up to this shopping center is called Harger Rd. Samson Harger, of course, is my main protagonist. Is that a coincidence, or what?

It seems like I've been continuously driving for the last week. No time to blog and here in Indiana, often no wi-fi either. I'm using my AT&T calling card to hook up with my ISP in Fairbanks (with as little as 16 K pipe). So these photos take a while to upload.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Arriving in Chicago

Here's my first view of the Chicago skyline from the Dan Ryan Expressway when I arrived this afternoon. I drove 5.5 hours from Bedford on highways that seemed to have more tractor trailer traffic than passenger cars. 75 MPH in parts, two to six lanes. When you live in Alaska, you forget what real driving is.

I brought Arctic weather with me, the first cold dip of the season, snow flurries. The temp is supposed to drop into the teens tonight. In Bedford my heavy parka looked ridiculous, but here it seems to fit right in.

I'm staying with an ex-Fairbanksan, Brian Davies, who lives in Evanston, north of downtown. Oak Brook, where I read tomorrow, is way to the southwest. We're googling map directions and plotting our route to get there during the height of rush hour. I'll be driving. Wish me luck.

Guest cat

Here is this month's guest cat--Honey. This is a rambunctious young female mouser who has my mother under her complete control.

Bedford, Indiana

A good part of my book is set in Southern Indiana. I've never lived there, but my mother does, as well as a brother and sister. All of them near Bedford or Bloomington, where I have a reading on Sunday. My mother and I had dinner at my sister and brother-in-law's house last night. Here's a good shot of my sister, Rose Ann. There was severe weather last night, and at one point we had to take refuge in the basement to wait out the wind. Over 30 tornados touched down last night, but they missed us.

I asked three people in Beford if there was any wi-fi in town and got blank stares. So, I've been off line a bit.

I'll be back there next week for Thanksgiving dinner, at which I'm sure to get a lot of pix with my new camera to inflict on you blog readers. But I imagine there's one or two of you curious to see what my family looks like.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Let the tour begin

A little difficulty finding a free wifi hotspot here on Veterans Day. Here's a little slide show of my Title Wave reading in Anchorage (using my brand new Canon Digital Elph camera)

Here's the author leaving the cabin to catch his flight. A few minutes later, he had to unlock and go back in because he forgot his computer.

On the short hop to Anchorage, Denali was out. A good omen?

Carole Chambers picks him up in her funny little Honda.

The author at Title Wave, encountering his book for the first time in a bookstore. Yikes.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

done me proud

Last night Fairbanks turned out in force for my book launch. Old friends and new alike. They were waiting when I arrived a half-hour early, and I sat at the table for two solid hours signing books. I am gratified and honored. I'm starting to feel like people have actually been following along on my years-long writing effort, and last night they came out to cheer me on. The local media attention has been great, too, with a book review in the News-Miner and TWO notices in Dermot Cole's column (arguably the most widely read part of the paper), an excellent "lifestyle" feature in The PRESS, and radio interview on KUAC-FM.

Sales were spectacular--we ran out of books! Through the efforts of my publisher (see Wednesday's entry below), we had 54 copies on hand (including all of my author's copies) which arrived at 4 pm the day before. When we ran out of those, we presold from another box of 24 that will arrive tomorrow (people left instructions how I should inscribe them). With the ten copies the Fairbanks Arts Association will keep in their gift shop, that makes 70 sales in one night. Not bad, Fairbanks!

Here's a picture of the event. Alas, my old camera was not up to the task. (Oh, I need a new camera, oh) There was a table of punch and snacks, and in the gift shop we had live music. That is, Bill Rogers of Sand Castle brought his new theremin, which he set up along with a drum track. In case you're unfamiliar with the term, a theremin is the instrument that makes the ethereal sound in the theme of the original Star Trek series, and it was ideal to set an SFnal mood.

Well, now it's on to Anchorage and my mini-tour.

Friday, November 04, 2005

almost here

Been tracking this box of books all the way from NYC. It's on the ground in Fairbanks. Astounding, when you think about it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Heroes of the Hour

My editorial assistant at Tor, Denis Wong, and publicist, Dot Lin, are my heroes. They have labored tirelessly all this morning doing battle with the inertia of the entire publishing and distribution industries in order to wrangle up sufficient copies of my book for Saturday's launch. What a relief! Well, actually, what a relief it'll be when FedEx does its own magic and gets them here on time. One thing we in Alaska know is that "next day delivery" actually means next couple o'days.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Book launch nightmare revisited

Well, I've received good news/bad news today. My book launch this Saturday (the setting for a recent nightmare), has suffered a major hiccup. There may not be enough books. The arts association ordered 30 copies but have been put on backorder because the initial press run has sold out and the distributor has zero in stock. When I learned this an hour ago, I called Denis Wong in New York, my editor's assistant, who, thankfully, was still at the office after 6 pm. He says he's going to try to scrounge up a few copies around the office (they've run out of publicity copies as well) and ship them out. He's also going to call the printer, who is two weeks late delivering a second press run, to see if we can't pull some off the presses.

The good news, of course, is that 5000 copies have already been shipped, and they're printing more.

If you're planning on attending the launch, don't panic (or at least don't panic as much as I am) because I will bring all of my author's copies. I have no clue how many copies Fairbanks will buy, but at least the first twenty people will get one.

Elliot Bay

We've just added another reading to my tour schedule, this one in downtown Seattle at the Elliot Bay Bookstore, December 10, 7:30 pm.

Now my schedule looks like this:

Nov. 5 7:00 pm Book Launch Bear Gallery, Fairbanks
Nov. 10 7:30 pm Reading Title Wave, Anchorage
Nov. 17 7:30 pm Reading Borders Bookstore, Oak Brook (Chicago)
Nov. 20 1:00 pm Reading Borders Bookstore, Bloomington IN
Nov. 29 7:00 pm Reading Park Place Book, Kirkwood (Seattle)
Dec. 2 6:30 pm Reading Third Place Books, Lake Forest (Seattle)
Dec. 10 7:30 pm Reading Elliot Bay Bookstore, Seattle
Dec. 17 1-3 pm Signing Waldenbooks, Fairbanks

Hope to see y'all there.