Monday, October 18, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

After the book reading and signing in Columbus a few weeks ago, my friend Murph and I were doing an in-depth quality control check of his Irish whiskey (good, by the way... very good) when he asked me what the best thing about (finally) getting published has been. It was a tough question to answer because so many wonderful things have happened--from positive reviews to print, television, and radio interviews to seeing people I haven't seen in years show up at readings.

Near the top of the list, however, has to be the emails--and in some cases, actual snail-mail letters--from readers I don't know. These are strangers who have taken the time to write and tell me that they enjoyed my book, that it made them laugh or cry or touched their heart in some way. One of my favorite lines so far: "I don't remember you being in the house I grew up in, but it's apparent you were there." In another, a woman wrote, "I don't usually read novels, but I read yours. And now, I'll read your next one, too."

Those kinds of comments motivate me to keep writing. What about you? If you're a writer, what keeps you going? If you do something else, what drives you to do what you do?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reading Reflections

I'm nearing the end of a series of thirteen readings and book signing events, covering cities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Minnesota.

The experience has been beyond fun, far exceeding my expectations. One of my favorite moments was meeting an older gentleman who happened to sit down in the reading area to rest while his son browsed elsewhere. He was too polite to get up and leave once the reading started. And at the end, he bought a book and asked me to sign. Turned out to be a former marine, like the title character. Semper Fi, my friend! Other highlights included:
  • Stonington, CT: First reading. Learned that briefer is better.
  • Minneapolis and Cleveland: Thanks to brother Bob, great crowds of enthusiastic book buyers. In Cleveland, saw relatives and friends I haven't seen in decades--including my high school sweetheart. (Much as my ego would like to think otherwise, she was in town for other reasons.)
  • Wilton: A great crowd was kind enough to show up and support this neighbor. My editor, the great Liz Van Hoose of Viking, came and didn't disavow knowing me or my work. Bookseller sold out of stock!
  • Cincinnati: A reader and now friend, along with his beautiful wife and daughter, drove two hours to attend. Incredible. If that were me, I would have asked for gas money.
  • Chicago: Mini-reunion with several college buddies. At the reading, arranged by my generous friend Sheila, I met and talked with Christopher Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy's youngest son. He looks and talks just like his father. Could not have been nicer or more down-to-earth. Also met Peter Lawford's grandson, who spent more time checking out his uncle's book (Arnold Schwarzenegger) than mine. I'm pretty sure I outsold Arnold that night, though.
  • Columbus: A total of four canceled flights, but I made it! And thanks to lifelong friend Murph, a great crowd of friendly, enthusiastic book buyers.
Still ahead: Readings in Ridgefield (CT), Nanuet (Sleepy Hollow country), and Huntington, NY. All within driving distance, so I'll be able to enjoy the fall foliage. 

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    NPR Cincinnati

    While in Cincinnati last month for a reading, I was a guest on NPR's "Around Cincinnati" show. It aired last evening. You can listen to it here: