Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend over the mountain

Last week was a killer. I'm afraid I neglected this blog as I spent as much time as possible working on my new book and getting ready for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) show in Greenville, SC. We just got back late today from Greenville. It was a beautiful drive as the rain moved out and the sun moved in. Traveling I-40 across the mountains is not the most fun for the driver (me), but the scenery was gorgeous. We had thought there might be some leaves changing colors, but all of the rain over the past several weeks has left the trees with only varying shades of green.

There were enough fluffy clouds to provide an interesting contrast, with one occasionally dipping into a valley like an amorphous veil. Once in a while we would spot a lone house nestled high on the mountainside. We could only imagine what a striking view the owner enjoyed on a day like this.

For the uninitiated, the SIBA show is held annually around the South. It's an opportunity for publishers to showcase their books to independent booksellers from around the region. For authors, it's not a place to sell books except in the sense of selling the store personnel on the merits of ordering your book to sell their customers.

The Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime jointly sponsor a booth at the show and make it available for members to give away their books. It's fun to sit there and have a fairly steady parade of people stop by to get your autograph. Most of them only want you to sign your name, which means they can take it home and put it on the shelf for sale. The hope is that they will sell it and order lots more.

Fellow mystery writers signing included Deb Sharp, Kathy Wall, Cathy Pickens, Gail Oust, Alexandra Sokoloff, Darden North, and J.T. Ellison. Others helping out with the booth included my wife, Sarah, SEMWA Vice President Mary Saums, and Ellis Vidler, president of the Greenville chapter of Sisters in Crime. I'm sure I've left some off, but my brain is tired after the trip.

We had a delightful lunch on Saturday at a small restaurant called The Olive Tree, which had a mixture of Greek and Italian dishes on the menu. With two tables of author types, the conversation was lively. The tale getting the most laughs went to Cathy Pickens' recounting of a newspaper story about a man and woman assaulted by the woman's huband. She was beaten and put in the hospital. Her male friend was shot four times in the head, resulting in his being treated and released.

Yes, truth is often stranger than fiction. But these folks can make up a mean story, too.

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