After a brief hiatus while I enjoyed some family time at the beach, I am back with another installment in the Summer 2013 Thieves’ Quarry Blog Tour.  Today’s post comes on the eve of my departure for Calgary, Alberta, where I will be leading a writer’s workshop and appearing as Guest of Honor at WhenWordsCollide.  I’m very excited for my return to Calgary, and to mark the occasion I have written a piece about my preparations for the writer’s workshop, with an emphasis on patterns I have seen as I have read manuscripts.  The post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain, under the name David B. Coe, with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, Mindy Klasky, John Hartness, and James Tuck, among others. Today’s entry is called “Lessons Learned While Preparing for a Writer’s Workshop.” I hope you enjoy it.

Yesterday was a travel day, so I neglected to post about the latest developments on the Summer 2013 Thieves’ Quarry Blog Tour.  But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have posts go up.

First, in case you missed it, Black Gate Magazine put up my Interview With Ethan Kaille (composed with Dominick Swennen).  It’s a really fun interview and you can find it here.

Also, I have another Q&A up with my friend and Magical Words colleague Diana Pharaoh Francis. We covered a good number of topics relating to writing and research.  The interview is here.

Finally, I thought I would mention that the Summer 2013 Thieves’ Quarry Signing Tour is also still going on.   Tonight, Faith Hunter and I will be signing at the Books-A-Million in Gastonia, North Carolina, and tomorrow night I will be reading and signing at Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville, NC.  Stop by and say hello.

Signing books at Between Books in Claymont, DE.

Signing books at Between Books in Claymont, DE.

Fourteen days, ten cities (well, okay, some of them were towns), 2,930 miles, seven signings, a class on writing taught at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, a business lunch in New York City followed by drop-ins at a couple of NYC Barnes and Nobles, where I signed a bunch of books for stock, visits with wonderful friends and beloved family, and even a couple of truly memorable meals.  I would say that the THIEFTAKER Summer 2012 Signing Tour — my very first signing tour ever — was an unqualified success.

I have to admit that as I was preparing to leave for this trip I was intimidated by the scope of what I was doing and afraid that I was setting myself up for one disaster signing after another.  What’s a disaster signing?  That’s when you sit in a store, in front of a table piled high with your books, and no one shows up to buy them.  No one speaks to you.  No one comes near you, because they’re afraid that if they do, if they so much as make eye contact, they’ll HAVE to buy a book that they don’t want.  Disaster book signings happen to just about all of us at one time or another.  I’ve had more than my share of them.
But this time around I had none.  Not a single disaster.  This is not to say that I had people lining up out the door and around the block to buy copies of THIEFTAKER.  Far from it.  But I did have solid foot traffic at every signing.  And I’m so grateful to every person who came to hear me read, and/or buy a copy of the book.  I hope you enjoyed the various events, and that you’re enjoying the book itself.

Signing at Books-A-Million in Charlotte with Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price.

Signing at Books-A-Million in Charlotte with Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price.

Mostly, I want to thank everyone who made the tour possible — my terrific publicist at Tor Books, Leah Withers, who put much of the tour schedule together; my brother, Jim, who let me stay at his home and came to my Albany signing; my friend, Alan Goldberg, with whom I had a memorable musical afternoon, and who also came to the Albany event; my friends Elyse Poller and Gerald Dunne, who hosted me in Storrs, and told so many friends about the signing that we very nearly sold every copy of THIEFTAKER in the store; James Tracy, the headmaster at Cushing Academy and my closest friend from my graduate school days, who not only offered me the chance to stay in the lovely town of Ashburnham, but also invited me to speak to a creative writing class at the school — those kids and their teacher then accompanied me to my signing at the Somerville Public Library; my cousin, Lynne Gold-Bikin, who let me stay with her in Pennsylvania, as I made my way from New York to a signing in Claymont, Delaware; Faith and Rod Hunter who hosted me for three wonderfully fun days in Rock Hill, South Carolina, who took me out on the river for a glorious few hours on Monday, and shared a late-night jam session Tuesday; and A.J. Hartley and his charming family, who hosted me for my last night on the road.

Speaking at the Somerville Public Library.

Speaking at the Somerville Public Library.

And of course, the folks at the various stores where I signed: Maria Perry and her staff, at Flights of Fantasy, Suzy Staubach and her staff at the UConn Coop, Maria Carpenter at the Somerville Library, Greg Schauer and his volunteers at Between Books, Mike Pruett and Alison at the BooKnack, Mel and Rae and the rest of the staff at the Harbison Court Barnes and Noble, and Sonya and her staff at the Cotswold Mall Books-A-Million.

It was as fine a tour as I could have imagined, and I have a pretty good imagination.  How good?  Well, I’m already starting to envision my next tour . . .  Again, thanks so much to everyone who had any part in it.

On My Way to Marcon!

April 5, 2012

I’m on my way to Marcon, where I will be a literary special guest.  I’m staying tonight in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I had dinner with my wonderful friend, Faith Hunter.  Faith and I will be driving up to Columbus tomorrow morning (while her husband, Rod, kayaks!) and joining up with our terrific agent, Lucienne Diver.

I always miss my family on these trips, but I also enjoy the chance to spend time with my writer friends and talk shop. That’s what Faith and I did over dinner, and no doubt will again during our drive tomorrow.  I hope to see some of you at the convention.  If you’re there, please find me and say hello.  I’ll be on panels, I have a reading on Saturday night, and I’ll be signing books Friday.  I’ll also be catching up with an old friend from home Saturday morning. Looking forward to a fun weekend.

Our eleven day, three state, nine college tour is over, and my daughter and I are back home with Mom and little sister.  We had a terrific week and a half:  few disagreements, nothing that could be considered a fight, and more laughs and giggles and candid conversations than I can count.  We enjoyed a few wonderful meals, took in the sights and sounds and tastes of Washington, D.C.  More to the point, she found four schools that she loved — she intends to apply to all four.  She was also able to cross several other schools off her list, which is valuable, too.

I’m glad to see her finding schools that excite her and have her thinking about her future.  I’m deeply proud of the maturity she has shown throughout this process.  And I’m grateful beyond words for the time we’ve just had together.  I will treasure the memory of this trip for the rest of my days.

Two more schools today — Duke and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  We also drove around the Davidson campus this evening, though our tour and information session there aren’t until tomorrow morning.

Duke’s campus is beautiful, probably the most beautiful that we’ve seen on this trip.  And UNC’s campus buzzes with energy; you can tell that there is always something great happening somewhere on those grounds.  But that said, it seems that neither school is right for my daughter.  Duke felt too spread out; UNC felt too crowded.  It’s becoming clear that overall (with a couple of notable exceptions) she prefers smaller schools.

Davidson should be interesting.

Old Friends

March 18, 2012

This trip has been all about taking my kid to visit colleges.  But it has also been about reconnecting with old friends:  One of my two best friends from college; a family who, until recently, lived in our town; and tonight, friends who left our little town years ago, leaving a gap in our lives that has been unfilled for years.

There is nothing like the company of old friends to remind you of where you have been, where you are going, and who you are.  Time to refill my wine glass….

We spent yesterday tromping around Washington, taking in sights and NOT visiting any schools.  Today we got back “to work.”  We visited Georgetown this morning and were both quite impressed.  My daughter had been predisposed to love it — Georgetown has been sort of her ideal for some time.  On paper, it’s a perfect match for her.  And she loved what she saw.  She’s there tonight, staying with a friend.  I have a feeling I’m never going to get her to leave.

We also visited George Washington University this afternoon.  It’s a far more urban campus (at least the Foggy Bottom campus is; the Mount Vernon campus is, from all reports, far more like a traditional suburban site) and was less scenic than Georgetown.  But my daughter was very impressed with it, as well.  I think it helps that both schools are in Washington, and that she has fallen in love with this city.

We have the weekend to play, and then we go to the North Carolina schools….

In no particular order….

I wish I could go to college again. In part I mean this facetiously.  I mean it would be great to study all day, to have a time in my life (again) when I could make my studies and my social life my primary concerns 24/7/365.  But I also mean it more seriously.  I think that when I attended college, I was too young to make good use of the resources at my disposal.  I made unwise choices, I allowed myself to take the easy way out too often, I didn’t apply myself the way I should have.  I’d like another chance to get it right.

There is no way in hell I could get into my alma mater today.  None.  Zip.  It is so much harder for kids who are applying today than it was when I was a teen.  And at the time my generation was being told that it had never been harder to get in to schools.  I guess it just gets more and more competitive.

College is really, really expensive.

Colleges have decided that certain things are really important from a marketing point of view, and so they all emphasize similar points in their tours and information sessions.  “Faculty accessibility — faculty are ‘there’ for undergrads.”  “Small classes and low student to faculty ratio.”  “Campus safety — real police rather than ‘rent-a-cops’.”  “Study abroad programs that don’t add to college expenses (which are high enough — see comment #3).”  “A broad spectrum of student organizations that allow students to do pretty much anything and everything they can think of.”  “Need blind admissions and financial aid that covers 100% of established need.”  “Lots of meal plans and ‘flex dollars’ that work at a variety of food establishments on campus.”  And more.   None of these things are bad; in fact all of them have the potential to be really good.  But the fact is, lots of schools seem to have them, and most of these schools present them as something special that only _____ University has.

We had seen a few schools before this trip.  We’ve seen three schools in the last three days (with seven more to go in the next week).  And so far, in order of preference, we seem to have the following:  University of Virginia, University of Richmond, College of William and Mary.

More as the week goes on.

Eleven hours in the car, 540 miles (and one really long traffic jam).  I’m utterly exhausted.  But I’m also excited:  Today marks the beginning of my first college tour with my older daughter.  We’re in Virginia, where we’ll be checking out several schools.  From here we’ll go to Washington, and then cruise through North Carolina.  I’ll post about our visits as the next week and a half unfolds.  But for now I’ll just say that we had a great drive, despite how long it was and despite the traffic.  We talked, laughed, listened to music, laughed some more.  Just the two of us — we’ve never taken a trip like this before.  Should be lots of fun.

Night all!

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