9 DRAGONS Book Signing at Vroman's & SPECIAL GIVEAWAY
It was a dark and stormy night, and traffic out of downtown L.A. was snarled in every direction. It is a truism that Los Angelenos forget from season to season how to drive in the rain, so everywhere were fender benders, stalled cars, Sig alerts, and generally weirded-out drivers who drove either too slow or too fast for conditions and swerved unexpectedly to avoid puddles. However, I, your intrepid blog reviewer, ventured bravely into the melee and the rain for what should have been a 20-minute drive to Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena.
An hour later, after having had to go a long distance out of my way on surface streets to avoid a Sig alert on the 110N, I finally arrived at Vroman's. Nerves frazzled, hair limp from the rain, and annoyed that a number of vehicles parked in the lot behind the bookstore were taking up two spaces, but armed with cameras and excitement, I climbed the stairs to hear Michael Connelly talk about his newest novel, 9 DRAGONS.
I came in on the last few minutes of his talk and missed even more because the crowd was so great that I had to go around to the other side of the room in order to even see the podium. After hiding my umbrella and raincoat under the Christmas tree (!), I pulled out my little digital point-and-shoot and scurried up to the front of the room in time to snap off a couple of shots of the crowd as it dispersed ~ some folks leaving but most waiting patiently to get in line for their moment in the sun when they would get their books signed.
I wandered around, shamelessly eavesdropping on conversations and occasionally breaking in to ask questions. Everyone agreed Connelly gave a heck of a talk and that 9 DRAGONS sounded really good, some adding that they couldn't wait to get home so they could start reading it. It seems that most had read all of Connelly's prior Bosch novels. One woman said she'd just finished THE LINCOLN LAWYER and loved it, though it didn't have Harry in it. I was able to assure her that THE BRASS VERDICT was even better, and she got out of line to go the stack of Connelly's books and pick up THE BRASS VERDICT then and there. Another woman showed me a copy of THE CONCRETE BLONDE and remarked that it had been her first Connelly (coincidentally, that was also the first Connelly I'd ever read) and she wanted a signed copy of it in her library. One man in line had a half dozen copies of 9 DRAGONS, and I couldn't help wince to think of how Connelly's hand would feel in the morning after signing so many books. Then I met a woman with a bag full of books ~ "One of each of his novels, and a copy of each anthology in which he has a story." Ouch! That's a lot of autographs!
As I waited in line, I watched Connelly interact with his fans. It seemed to me that he had changed and was different from how I remembered him a decade ago. Though the charm was still there, he seldom cracked a smile, yet the quality that shone through was the way he listened to each fan with complete concentration, ignoring everyone and everything else in the room. He seemed to be truly interested in what each one had to say and responded easily to their questions and praise.
When I got to the front of the line, after having bought a copy of 9 DRAGONS for him to sign, I told Mr. Connelly that I was participating in his blog tour and that I would be posting some pictures of the book signing on my blog, along with my review of 9 DRAGONS, which I told him I thought was awesome. He was completely focused on me and what I had to say, and even asked me for the name of my blog! In that moment, I felt truly special.
I also lost my sense of purpose. I'd come as a "reporter" of sorts, but I failed to follow up on a number of comments he'd made, one directly to me! I'd asked him if he ever planned to get on Twitter, and he said, "I'm trying to finish a book and can't afford the distraction of Twitter right now." I should have asked him WHAT BOOK? What's it about? What's the ETA for release? Instead, I blathered on a bit longer and then, feeling I'd taken up enough of his time, said thanks and made way for the next fan. So, reporters everywhere: there is no need to worry about your jobs. I am a total failure as a reporter. But I did get a couple of really nice pix. And an autographed copy of 9 DRAGONS.
Which brings me to the next point: As a way of thinking all my blog readers for their loyal following, I am going to give away an autographed copy of 9 DRAGONS to one lucky follower who comments and tells me what their favorite Michael Connelly novel is. I'm also going to include a matchbook (you'll understand when you read the novel), a package of Gold Candle (TM) scented bookmarks and a scented candle.
You must be a follower of Just One More Page...Or Two, have a street address (no p.o. boxes, please), andleave me your email address so I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry. I'm going to pick a name using http://www.random.org/ on October 31 (the day before NaNoWriMo starts). This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. Good luck!