Back when I was still in the planning stages of my trip to SoCal, Chris Grabenstein said, "you should really go to the Festival Pre-Party at The Mystery Book Store." He told me it was the place to be. So, I checked with my sister, and she said, "sure, I'll take a half day off of work." Me, being the ignorant Mid-Westerner that I am said, "oh, you don't have to take any time off. I don't have to be there right at 5." My sister informed me that the traffic would be horrible on a Friday evening going into L.A. The drive is already about 2 hours without Friday traffic. We left early and were still sitting in this:
But, that allowed me time to snap pictures of street signs. I was SUCH the tourist! But I was so excited to see the places I read about in my novels!
I'm not sure if you can see it in this last picture here, but the Culver Blvd/Culver City sign on the left reads "EXIT XT EXIT." Any L.A. folks who can tell me what an XT EXIT is?
But then when I actually GOT THERE! Wow! If you ever have the chance to experience one of The Mystery Book Store's Festival Pre-Parties, I highly recommend you do so.
I had the exciting pleasure of meeting so many awesome writers! And you know what? They all seemed happy to meet me as well. So, either they really were happy to meet me or they're great performers in addition to great writers! LOL
Two new writers I chatted with were Susan Arnout Smith and James Scott Bell. Very nice folks. I'll be adding their books to my TBR list.
I have been in contact with John Lescroart recently and he was there. So, I introduced myself to he and his wife. Super, super nice folks. And John's wife took this awesome picture. I think she must be experienced at this process! ;)
You'll have to be checking back to see when John shows up again on the blog!
Jeff Parker was in attendance later in the evening. Very cool to meet him as well.
It was exciting to hob nob with Gregg Hurwitz who made time to stop and chat with Michael and I. He's a transplant to L.A. but he definitely loves his adopted city. Still loves his Giants, but he's an Angelean at heart, now. He also shared with us how he met his wife - shamelessly hitting on her in a sushi restaurant. (Shamelessly was his word, not mine.) I also believe he said it was the "worst sushi restaurant"! Too funny. And of course we talked about Gregg's new book TRUST NO ONE that is coming out in a couple months. After THE CRIME WRITER, I'm definitely looking forward to TRUST NO ONE. Gregg's a fun guy and incredibly nice. If you have the chance to meet up with him some time, do it!
Most of you know that my desire to go to the L.A. Times Festival of Books stemmed from the desire to finally have a chance to meet Robert Crais. Well, when I found out the next two authors were going to be in attendance as well, I knew I'd died and gone to heaven! And for both of them to be at the pre-party Friday night, I'd definitely died and gone to heaven!
Chris Grabenstein, as you know, is the creator of my beloved John Ceepak series. In addition, he has been so great to this blog and to me. So, it was an absolute thrill to finally have the chance to meet him! We talked quite a bit throughout the night. And he was telling me that for the MIND SCRAMBLER release party in NYC, they're having a magician. He's done something unique for all of the book releases, and he is a master at unique, isn't he? Blasted I wish I lived closer to NYC. Cool stuff goes on in NYC!
And you have to give credit to someone who is tolerant enough to put up with all my signature requests. I bought two new books that he signed: one for me and one for my precious dog sitter. He also signed a book I brought from home, the page for my scrapbook AND the elephant poo paper bookmark I bought at the zoo. That's not a joke either! :) And he can rest assured that these will NEVER show up on eBay! He was telling Michael and I how some of his autographed books have shown up there. I can't fathom that; books that I have signed are so special to me, but I'm a sentimentalist. I'll never be able to part with them! :)
I was getting a little nervous that I wouldn't have the chance to see this guy because he didn't show up until a little before 8. But, I'm not complaining one bit because when he showed up, I happened to be very close to the entrance and accosted him RIGHT AWAY! And because I did, my copy of THE DARK HORSE was the first copy he signed - ever! (The bookstores received permission to sell THE DARK HORSE early for the festival - it isn't due on bookshelves until the end of May.) Well, I'm sure he signed arcs of the book (which by the way, he gave all of his arcs to librarians this year - is that cool or what?), but for the actual hard cover "hot off the presses" first edition, mine was the first he signed. Oh yeah, did I mention that this is CRAIG JOHNSON!!!!
He told me his hat looked better on me, but I don't know. I think he's a rather dashing fellow with and without the hat! Regardless, this picture just became my Facebook profile picture. I just love this guy. I'll be talking more about him tomorrow, too, since I attended his panel at the Festival. And I'll be talking more about his books after that since I read two more on vacation! Since it was vacation, I made time for books I really wanted to read, not necessarily the ones I NEED to read! ;)
One final note to make about the pre-party on Friday night. I also got to meet my friend and fellow blogger, Michael Alatorre! He's responsible for many of these great photos both today and tomorrow. He hung out with me at the party and at the festival. It was wonderful to meet and talk; as I've mentioned before, he's just a super person and I'm honored to call him my friend! Thank you, Michael, for helping to make this one of the most memorable weekends of my life! You're the best!
I walked out of the Mystery Book Store on Cloud 9. Literally. I don't think my feet were touching the ground. Kudos to the staff at the store for a WONDERFUL evening.
Check back tomorrow for all the skinny on the actual festival Saturday. Happy Reading!