Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A noble literary experiment gone horribly wrong...

Okay, maybe it wasn't all that noble or literary, but it did go wrong.

A book reading at an RV Show. Turns out that it's not such a hot idea. It seemed like a natural, given that a recreational vehicle plays prominently in THE LEISURE SEEKER. "Why not?" I thought. " I could expose the book to a whole different audience who might truly enjoy it." Nope. Not so much. Turned out they didn't want to be exposed to my book. Or me.

My first reading at 2 p.m. was attended by about 12 people, which really wasn't that bad. I've had worse. (E.g., Austin: 4 people, which included one homeless guy who was just there to get out of the blistering sun.) Sometimes I'm happy to get into double digits, but 12 people don't seem like much when there are about 100 empty seats surrounding those loyal few. Oh, and did I mention that the stage was right next to the bouncy tent? (You know, for kids!) Not the optimal placement for a intimate literary event. But the telling moment was the 5 p.m. reading which was attended one. Cue the cricket sounds. Yes. Zero attendees. Just as well. I was ready to leave by that time anyway. I was suffering from sensory overload. Too many people, too many RVs, too much ambient noise, too much bouncy tent. I'm a highly sensitive person, you know.

But those folks that were at the first reading were great and really seemed to enjoy it. Met Craig Hill, one of my Facebook pals. And Emily from Schuler Books did sell a fair amount of books. And I signed a lot of the new trade paperbacks which are now being sold before the official street-date at Schuler Bookstores around the state. And the publicity for the event was very good. Radio, newspaper, website, tweets, the whole shebang. Which is very helpful for a book coming out. Big thanks to the people behind the scenes. (I mean you, Derek.)

Anyway, one has to try these things. Besides, I was also able to go to the Hop Cat, one of my favorite new beer bars in Michigan with my good friend Dave. Which made it worth it right there. Still, I think I'm going to stick to readings at libraries and bookstores and colleges for the moment. Although I did just get a call from Truckstops of America...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Very First Copy of the New Trade Paperback!

Okay, time for some nerdly authorial enthusiasm. I just received the new trade paperback edition of THE LEISURE SEEKER over the weekend. It doesn't actually come out until February 9th, but I got an early copy because, well, you know. (Btw, I could have also said that the book "drops" on February 9th, were I trying sound more hip hop. Luckily for everyone, I don't do that.) Anyway, I have to say that it was really exciting to receive the book.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog, the cover design is completely different from the hardcover. And though I loved the hardcover, I think this new design is just beautiful. All day Saturday, I kept walking back to the book on the desk in my study. I kept needing to pick it up, open it up, run my hands over the cover. Obviously, I'm a dork, but it was thrilling. Everything -- the satiny cover varnish, the type treatment, the back cover design, the five pages of blurbs, all of it, right down to the tiny photo on the spine of the book underlined by a stripe that matches the woman's track suit in the photograph -- reveals an incredible attention to detail. It's no wonder I couldn't keep my paws off of it.

Of course every author wants his cover to look wonderful, but it doesn't always happen that way. Though I think cover design just keeps getting better and better (Thanks, Chip Kidd!), that's no guarantee that a writer isn't going to wind up with some generic-looking cover that someone slapped together in an afternoon. I've been very lucky so far. I've pretty much loved all my covers. And since I work in a world with many artists and designers (and count them among my friends), I have very strong opinions about such things. Hence, I'm not that easy to please. But I am pleased.

Big kudos to everyone at Harper Paperbacks. First and foremost, my editor Jen Pooley, whom I know thinks and thinks and thinks about these things (I can tell by the midnight e-mails from her); Robin Bilardello, who did the lovely cover design; the photographer Andy Reynolds, as well as the author photograph by my friend John Roe of Roe Photo. Thank you all. And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go pet my book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thank you, Schuler Books.

The folks at Schuler Books (a prominent Michigan Indie Bookstore chain) have released a list of their favorite books of 2009 and I'm proud to announce that THE LEISURE SEEKER is on the list. The folks at Schuler have always been very kind to me. I did events at two of their Lansing area stores last year. It's always a good crowd and a lot of fun. Here's the list:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Radio Interview

I was interviewed on WJRW radio in Grand Rapids yesterday on a show called "Vision Grand Rapids." We talked mostly about THE LEISURE SEEKER, but also about my upcoming reading/signing at, yes, the Camper, Travel & RV Show, which is apparently the largest in the state. As I said earlier this month in this blog, it's not the kind of literary event that I'm accustomed to, but I'm really looking forward to it. They're doing a great job with promotion, so I'm hoping we'll have a crowd. (You never can tell though.) Here's the clip for the archived interview.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My first blurb. I'm so proud.

I just wrote a blurb for a new book of short stories by a Michigan writer, Adam Schuitema. FRESHWATER BOYS is a fine book coming out in April 2010 from Delphinium Books. It was a pleasure to read, but it was also cool since no one has ever asked me to write a blurb before. (Okay, I did write one for a friend's chapbook once, but I'm not so sure anyone ever saw it.) I'm hoping that this means that I am now moderately blurb-worthy (at least in Michigan and possibly the midwest).

It's actually kind of nice to do it for someone else after all the time I've spent hounding other writers to get them to blurb my work. Good to give a little something back. I've always been very thankful when someone writes a blurb for the back of one of my books. (Have I told you that you're awesome, Pagan Kennedy? Well, you are.) But I always feel like I need to do more. "Should I send them a muffin basket or one of those little bouquets in a coffee mug?" I never get around to doing that, mind you, but I do feel guilty about it. I guess the best thing to do is to just pass the blurb along and do it for someone else. Strange business, this world of literature.

Anyway, here's the blurb. I think it turned out well. Maybe a tad long, but I figured his editor could just cut it down and use whatever s/he wanted. I like to give people a choice. It's the copywriter in me.

“Travel brochures, postcards, and license plates from decades past touted Michigan as ‘The Water Winter Wonderland!’ And in Adam Schuitema’s stories, it is just that: a wonderland where men and boys collide with sand and snow, flora and fauna; where nature is not only somewhere to explore, but a place to hide. In his Michigan, deer frolic through urban areas, old men pilfer sand dunes, and the woods are the best place to hide your Playboys. From childhood to adulthood, these guys struggle to do the right thing — searching the woods, gazing out at the lake, sifting the ashen sands — for a clue as to how to become the men they need to be. Schuitema’s Freshwater Boys is the literary equivalent of an early spring leap into the still icy waters of the bay: shocking, refreshing, cleansing. The best way to rouse a spirit drowsy from an endless, arduous winter.”

—Michael Zadoorian, author of The Leisure Seeker and The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit

And if you'd like to learn more about Adam's book, go here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Upcoming Events

On Tuesday January 5th, I'll be appearing at the Detroit Historical Museum with fellow WSU Press authors Dorene O'Brien and Bill Harris as part of a special Scholar Series. Everyone will read some of their work and answer questions. (Will we have a big all-star writer jam at the end? You never know.) It should be fun. I haven't done an event in a few months. Frankly, it's been nice to take some time off, but I'm ready to get back to it. Here's the official description from the facebook page:

"Come enjoy reflections on life in and around Detroit with Dorene O'Brien, author of Voices of the Lost and Found; Bill Harris, forthcoming author of Birth of a Nation; Or the Half Ain't Never Been Told; and Michael Zadoorian, author of The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit. Each author will share select readings from their works in this twist on a classic Scholar Series evening.

The Detroit Historical Society Scholar Series is an academic approach to Detroit's history. Offered bi-monthly, presenters cover the causes, meanings, outcomes and possibilities that sound events and places in our community's past, present and future. Admission is free for Society members and $10 for guests. Advance registration is requested but walk-ins are welcome.
Register online at or Call (313) 833-1801 to register by phone."

On the other end of the literary spectrum, I'll also be appearing at the RV Show in Grand Rapids on January 16th. I'll be doing two readings for the new trade paperback edition of THE LEISURE SEEKER at 2pm and 5pm. My pals at Schuler Books will have it two weeks before the street date.

This should be interesting as well. I've never done anything like an RV show, but I was really excited when they invited me. Everyone thinks that "literary events" need to take place at museums (see above) or libraries or bookstores, but why can't they take place at an RV show? (Especially when the literary work features an RV.) You know there's going to be a lot of people there. Hopefully, we'll get a good turnout for my readings. Here's the link. Just scroll past the NASCAR driver and the travel author. If you get to the minister, you've gone too far.