Sunday, February 18, 2007

If It's Sunday, It Must Be Wetumpka

Wow, just a week ago I was in Wetumpka, Alabama, enjoying legendary Southern Hospitality, which is not, by the way, a myth. After spending 5 days traveling between Atlanta and Birmingham, I can honestly say I don't know when I've heard the phrases "bless your heart" or "yes m'am" so much. Nor can I remember the last time I ate so much fried food, all scrumptious. I came home and renamed my left buttock "biscuits" and the right one "gravy." Since coming home my breakfasts have been low fat granola bars and black coffee ... sigh.

So here's the rundown of my trip for those interested...

After landing in Atlanta I picked up my rental car, had the first of what would end up being many “southern” breakfasts and started down the list of bookstores my manager had contacted for drive-by signings. Even with traffic delays and getting lost several times, I managed to hit close to 10 bookstores before calling it a night around 6 pm. I checked into my hotel exhausted and starved, but in time to watch the opening episode of Survivor while munching on a terrific room service burger. The drive-bys were fair to middling in success. Most had my books but not many of them. Two stores had not a one in spite of my manager calling weeks in advance. One store had ordered 10 copies of each but had only received 2 of each from the distributor. My favorite store was the Barnes & Noble in Alpharetta. I spent a lot of time there schmoozing with the staff and the manager, a transplanted Californian, and bought a copy of the Kosher Southern-Style Cookbook for my friend Patti who was cat sitting for me back in LA.

I slept 11 hours that night, got up and spent the day writing on my new AlphaSmart. Had a great lunch at Joe’s on Sullivan – fries and fried tilapia. The fish melted in my mouth and the fries were the BEST I had ever tasted. When asked about them, manager Larry disclosed that the fries were first dipped in a beer batter and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. No Wonder! If you're staying near the airport in Atlanta, go by Joe's. The fries alone are worth the trip.

Friday night I gave a short speech at the American Beauties Plus Pageant, then scooted out the door for the 2-1/2 hr drive to Birmingham. About an hour outside of Birmingham my guy pal called my cell phone and laughed out loud when I told him I had just finished pumping gas in 32 degrees. The original weather forecast for that night was rain and possibly sleet, but my road was dry and the trip, thankfully, uneventful. In other parts of Alabama, roads were iced over that night.

I had 3 events planned in and around Birmingham and all were very successful. First thing on Saturday morning I gave a workshop at the Alabama Association of Paralegals Winter Conference. The workshop was on goal setting. After, with the help of Crosshaven Books, I signed books, lots of books! Then I jumped into my rental car and raced up the road to attend Murder in the Magic City at the Homewood Library. This event boasted 20 authors in an all-day conference of panels, lunch, and fun. I got to see a lot of friends from LA, reacquaint myself with authors I’d met at other conferences, and meet authors for the first time, including one of my personal favs, Laura Lippman. But the best part was meeting the wonderful readers who attended the conference. Because the conference format was so informal, authors and readers got to spend a lot of time visiting with each other throughout the day. Margaret Fenton is the organizer of this event and she does a bang-up job, along with Crosshaven Books.

The next morning, the same bunch of authors piled into cars and headed for Wetumpka, Alabama, where our last event, Murder on the Menu, was held. Wetumpka is a lovely country town about 2 hours outside of Birmingham. The event was held in their beautiful new Civic Center and was organized by the Friends of the Library and Tammy of Tammy’s Book Basket. Wetumpka rolled out the red carpet and treated us like visiting dignitaries. About 150 people were in attendance and once again we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves and our books to eager readers.

After leaving Wetumpka, I headed solo back to Atlanta via a very convoluted route … meaning, I got lost. However, along the way I stopped at one Barnes & Noble and two Books A Million and signed a couple of books. My plan was to head for Columbus, GA but it seemed I was no where near Columbus, GA, but instead just 90 minutes from the Atlanta airport. Since it was late, I found a hotel, some dinner and snuggled up with one of the three books I’m now reading. The next day I tried to get on an earlier flight back to Los Angeles but with no luck. I spent 3 hours in the airport typing away on my 4th Odlelia book, so the time was not wasted. I also wrote during most of the flight back. LOVE ALPHASMART!

Other Authors at Murder in the Magic City and Murder on the Menu - check them out, you'll be glad you did:

Mark Arsenault, Charles Benoit, Tony Burton, Joanna Carl/Eve Sandstrom, Bruce Cook, Thomas H. Cook, Troy Cook, Mary Anna Evans, Robert Fate, Laura Lippman, Julia Spencer Fleming, Chris Grabenstein, Denise Hamilton, Tim Maleeny, Patricia Smiley, Patricia Sprinkle, Denise Swanson, Heather Webber, Patricia Wynn. Authors John Floyd, and Carl T. Smith joined us for Murder on the Menu only.


Murder in the Magic City

Murder on the Menu in Wetumpka

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