Back from Arizona, wasn’t even asked for papers once!

So last weekend was my Arizona signings.  Last year John Brown and I did the rounds, signed some books, and met some book sellers. This year John was unavailable, and I really didn’t want to go by myself, so Nightcrawler volunteered to come along for the ride.  Now that would have been a hilarious vehicle to attempt a carjacking on!

First thing first, I’m a little disappointed in you Arizonans. After months of bleating and squealing from the news media about the horrific terror of your racist laws, I was fully expecting (as a wise Latino) to have to present my papers at all of your many racist checkpoints (that MSNBC specifically told me would be popping up on every corner!) or face immediate beatings and deportation.  Sadly, my only dealings with law enforcement consisted of getting a friendly warning for breaking a traffic law and then a member of the Arizona Rangers gave me a t-shirt.

It’s like you guys aren’t even trying down there. Keith Olberman will be very upset to hear about this!

 I love Arizona. It would be on my list of states that I could live in, except for that whole getting up to 147 degrees in the summer thing you’ve got going on down there.  Though it was nice to leave the mountains of Utah (where it was snowing), to go hang out in 80 degree weather for a couple of days.  

Arizona is a long way from Utah. You wouldn’t think that, since they actually touch each other, but when you live in the mountains up at on the north end of Utah, and you drive all the way to Phoenix, which is sorta in the middle of Arizona, and back, in one weekend, it makes for an epic drive.  Last year when I did book signings there I just flew, but I really wanted to see what northern Arizona looked like, since I’d never been there before.  It sure doesn’t look like the rest of the state at all.

Flagstaff is actually very nice, kind of in the forest, and there was a surprisingly large number of hippies wandering around between stores that sold chakra beads, crystals, and hemp.  Luckily it turned out that the manager of the Flagstaff B&N was a huge fan, and they’d sold a pile of my books there. Very nice.

The plan in Phoenix was to hit as many bookstores as possible. Walk in, meet a manager, sign all the books in stock, try to find some staffer who could be a fan, repeat. Stores that I have a fan or two on staff tend to sell way more books than those where the staff has never heard of me.  I’ve got a few stores where they love me, and so they sell a correspondingly absurd number of books.  Those I love. So in the Phoenix area stores, my presence either merited a solid “woot” while others gave me a “meh” at best. 

The first one on the north end on the way into town was kind of embarrassing. They still had a single autographed copy of MHI from LAST YEAR.  D’oh! Talk about sad.  Luckily that only happened once, and just about everywhere else I’d been selling well, and a few I’d been selling great.  Just like in prior years and other states, B&N loves Larry Correia way more than Borders does. B&N usually stocked way more copies, their staff was much happier to help, and they were just generally a lot more chipper. Borders usually had a copy or two. That was it, and they weren’t usually very enthusiastic.  Compare that to some of the B&Ns or Book-Stars, who once they knew I was coming, they’d order many extra copies for me to sign so they could build an end-cap display. Autographed copies just plain sell better.

There was a single indy store that had never heard of me at all… But then again it appeared that most of their business consisted of beads and pseudo-Buddhist trinkets to sell to the local chai-swilling hipsters, so I probably wasn’t a real good fit anyway. 

I did a signing at the Tempe Marketplace Barnes & Noble on Saturday and was mobbed the entire time by a squadron from the Monster Hunter Nation. The two hour event turned into three hours of people trying to wheedle spoilers on the next couple books out of me. It was totally awesome.

Saturday night we did dinner at a Japanese steakhouse with the Arizona contingent of Thurnlund even bought me dinner, which is saying something, because I got steak, shrimp, and sushi, all while the chef made big saki powered fireballs. Dinner ended up lasting from 7:00 until they tossed us out at midnight.  What a cool bunch.  

Sunday was the event at the Poison Pen. I’ve got to say that I love the Poison Pen. They are one of the neatest bookstores around, and getting to sign there is a real treat.  Last year was the first time I met them, and I think they were surprised by the number of fans that came in to see John and I, and also how much fun we all had. This year they were eager to invite me back. Also, I made their Top 10 list for the year, which was very neat, because these people read a TON of books.

There were five other authors present, S.S. Wilson (Tucker’s Monster), Weston Ochse (pronounced Oaks, Empire of Salt), Sam Sykes (Tome of the Undergates), and James Owen (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica).  We had a two hour discussion/Q&A with the audience, and then signed an absurdly large number of books.  Poison Pen wanted to be stocked up because they said that the Monster Hunter series has been selling extremely well there.

From L to R, James Gandolfini tells a fascinating story about his nose to James Owen, Sam Sykes, Weston Ochse, and S.S. Wilson

The other authors were witty, fun, and there wasn’t a snob in the bunch, (which does occasionally happen with us authorial types) I bought copies of everyone else’s books.  

One interesting note for the many gunnies of the Monster Hunter Nation, S.S. Wilson is the dude that wrote the screenplay for the Tremors movies. Yes, I got to hang out with the man that created Burt “You broke into the wrong rec-room!” Gummer, patron saint of gun-nuts.  We ended up having a good talk afterward, because he wanted to quiz me about how he could get the internet gun forum/blog community to know about his novels.  (I have a bit of a rep, you know.)  My response was “BURT GUMMER! You created one of the most popular movies amongst my tribe EVAR! Go forth and register on the following forums and tell them I sent you,” and then I gave him a list.  Seriously, if anybody can pique the interest of gun forumite novel readers, it’s the guy that made up Tremors. “Why do you have cannon fuse? For my cannon.”

After shooting the bull with the other writers for awhile, Mike and I set out for home. No deer were run over, so I call it a win. Overall, considering how far I drove and how often I’d look down to see that I was doing 95 in a 75, I only got pulled over once, (for passing a tractor when I really shouldn’t have tried to pass) and I got off with a warning. Yay!  (I was very contrite, because it had been a bad call on my part, but I think the warning was because Mike had his backpack with his U.S. Air Force name tape on it in the back seat, so Go Air Force!)

So this year’s Arizona trip was a rousing success.  Next up, the Great Grimnoir Tour. I don’t have it planned yet, but I’ll be flying to Minnesota in May, and then after that I’m going to road trip it through six states, hitting a different city every single day.


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