On the road

photo[1]You might know that I was on book tour this week, out in the heartland. My publisher hired a car service to shuttle me to and from the airport, hotel and bookstores, and two of my drivers were aspiring novelists, so we had a great talk. One guy, named Loyal, had this gorgeous head of white hair and the nicest Missourian accent. Charles had a porkpie hat, and Glenn was waiting for his first grandchild to arrive.

Hotel_Arista_roomThere’s a surreal sense about this part of my career: being driven places, staying in lovely hotels. Most of my work days are spent in the company of my dog. McIrish and Dearest Son might pop in to say hi, but I’m alone all day. No makeup, slippers instead of heels. That’s the writing life. Book tour…that’s the author life. And it’s fun, I won’t lie! It’s like I’ve been let out of my halfway house or something. The bathroom at that first hotel was glorious. These are the important things when you travel, you know? Soft towels and good-smelling soap. I had a little balcony at the second hotel, but it was raining pretty hard, so I just opened the slider and let in the fresh, damp air.

One charming hotel concierge and I had a long conversation: I have a “Tell Me Everything” face, which is helpful if you’re a writer. He told me about his rather tough childhood, growing up poor, having the electricity turned off, having to eat at friends’ houses because his family didn’t have enough food. “I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “That all made me who I am today, and I’m a happy guy.” He sure seemed to be.

Unknown-1I loved the neighborhoods I got to see; lots of bungalows and pretty yards. Good for trick or treating. Charles, one of my drivers, told me the real estate prices; the Midwest is a lot more affordable than the East Coast. The leaves weren’t quite as brilliant as ours are at home, not yet, anyway. It rained inches in Kansas City, but it was gorgeous in Chicago.

Then, of course, are the readers who drive for hours in some cases, which is such an honor that I can’t really put it into words, how humbling and thrilling that is. One lady brought in her little doggy to meet me, and he was such a sweetheart. I also called her daughter, who’s in college up north, and chatted with her. People brought me presents from their towns, and my dear friend Kim brought me soft, silly socks and lots of chocolate. (I ate a candy SonaliKristanMeloniebar for breakfast Thursday morning, being the Nutrition Queen. Don’t tell Evil Boxing Trainer.) Sonali Dev, Melonie Johnson and Joyce Lamb, who are fellow writers and friends, came out to see me in Chicago. I received gifts for McIrish and Willow. When I had my usual wardrobe malfunction, one reader had a safety pin, so I didn’t end up flashing anyone (thanks, Jayshree!).

Best of all is getting to meet you, gang. Thank you for your warm welcome, your notes, your posts and tweets and gifts and hugs. I’m so lucky to have you!

And now, back to work, back to the doggy and the big goofy chair, back to my silly socks and shark slippers. Home, sweet home! Until I go to Easton, PA on Tuesday, and then Boonsborn, MD, on 11/1, and then, thrillingly, Europe. But for now, the laptop, the chair, and the Hershey Nuggets.

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