Photo courtesy of Jeff Urban of jurbanphotos.com

Well. That was a good time.

Granted, it was probably not smart of me to plan a book launch, a tour stop, and then decide to, you know, pack up and move eleven hundred miles in between these two events. But, that’s how it all worked out. I threw the book launch for Windswept on one Sunday, drove my family to Seattle the following morning, then had a Welcome-To-Seattle-Please-Buy-My-Book party the following Sunday. I think everyone had a great time, but I wouldn’t recommend this tactic for your book launch, Dear Reader.

Let’s start with the obvious question: why didn’t you do these things at a book store?

First, it’s because the bookstore where I really, really wanted to do a book launch is no longer there. I was so stoked when Mysterious Galaxy opened a second store in Redondo Beach because, like every writer, I had dreams. One of them was to read from my book to a bunch of people who would probably want to buy my book in a bookstore that catered to books like mine. It was a bold dream, one that was crushed by the reality that not enough people went to that store. Mysterious Galaxy is still a force to be reckoned with in San Diego, but in Redondo Beach? Not so much. The store closed. I was bereft.

And then something cool happened: Sunny Blue opened a second store.

Sunny Blue?” I hear you say. “Isn’t that the place on Main Street that sells those stuffed rice balls you’re always talking about? Also, wait, what, you moved?”

I’ll get to that part, Dear Reader. First, let’s talk about Sunny Blue. You know. That place on Main Street that sells those stuffed rice balls I’m always talking about.

When Grace was around two years old, she did an art class at Joslyn Park, and it always ended around lunch time. Once, rather than pack a lunch or rely on riding home straight away, I consulted my phone and found a place nearby that had omusubi (or onigiri, if you call them that). You scoop rice in your hand. You put some stuff in there, like salmon or pickles or both, then you press the rice into a ball. They’re a great snack, but Sunny Blue makes them to a meal. Three words, friends: chicken curry omusubi. Oh, so good. The food and the friendly welcome from Ian Foster, the manager, were enough to turn us into regulars.

Flash forward a few years, and Ian told us they were opening a second store in Culver City. We went to the opening, and it was serendipity, because this place had room. There was a patio. Thanks to the magic of zoning codes, the place had a driveway and a parking space that was being used by tables and chairs and hungry customers. I took one look at it and thought, I will have the launch party for Windswept here. Not only because it was a cool space, and not only because the food would be awesome, but because food and awesome spaces were important to Padma Mehta. After a career of being crammed into starships and ingesting NutriFood™, Padma embraced the dining and spacial possibilities of Santee Anchorage, Windswept’s setting.

That was also the reason why I wanted to do a mini-tour that took place in bars and restaurants and distilleries. How we eat is an important part of being human, which is an important part of Windswept. I wanted to celebrate the world of my book in a way that would have made sense to its characters: at places where people gather for good food, good drink, and good company. I asked Ian and Keiko, Sunny Blue’s owner, if they were open to the idea, and they enthusiastically said yes.

Somewhere in there, my friend Leo connected me to Jim Romdall, who runs a rum bar in Seattle. Bingo! I now had two awesome venues, plus an excuse to visit the Great Wet North. Throw in my visit to Sasquan and an invitation to read at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, and bam! Book tour!

Then we moved.

For those of you who are new readers to this web site, I have lived in Santa Monica for nineteen years (I no longer count that one year in Big Bear as a residency. Let’s face it: in my heart, I never left Santa Monica during that time, and I had the worn tires to prove it). I have lived in Southern California my entire life. But a whole lot of things happened at once, and my family had an opportunity to move somewhere else that was affordable, livable, and wet. The drought and global warming have me seriously freaked out, and the State of California’s responses to both left me worried about my family’s future. There were a lot of places we could go, but Seattle was always high on our list. In late July, we decided to make it happen. Labor Day was the day we could start the drive.

Labor Day, aka the day after the book launch party.

I don’t recommend the compressed packing-and-moving timeline we used. It was stressful. It was crazy. It meant we still have stuff strewn about our old garage that we’ll have to take care of in the next few weeks. However, there is something liberating about going through nineteen years of stuff and realizing that a lot of it can go, either to the Assistance League or to the trash. Old furniture, old clothes, embarrassing comic books: all gone. We threw a farewell party in our backyard on Saturday, we threw a book launch on Sunday, and then we took off at the crack of dawn on Monday.

Our entry into Seattle has been relatively smooth, though we had some bumps, thanks to the recent teachers’ strike. But even those bumps were smoothed, thanks to the amazing family and friends we have up here. There will still be adjustments as we settle, but I’m feeling good about our new home. It helped that the book event at Rumba turned into a Hi-We’ve-Just-Moved-Here party, with old friends showing up and chowing down on tacos and empanadas alongside the people who came in off the street (including Paul Constant from the Seattle Review of Books, though I did invite him so it wasn’t totally random. But, still! Thank you for coming!) to hear me read from the first chapter of WINDSWEPT, thanks to the power of my voice and Periscope.

“Wait, what?” you’re saying. “Periscope?”

Yeah. I couldn’t use my mini-PA in Rumba, so I had to improvise. I stuck my lapel mic in my phone and started broadcasting via Periscope. Everyone gathered around the place had my Periscope broadcast running on their phones. I walked around, reading to small groups, trying to forget that I had a phone in my hand. I haven’t watched the archive broadcast, mostly because I know it’s going to be video of the floor, but what the hell. I have a new tool in the kit for the next time I do this.

Reading in person and on the internet. Used courtesy of Mark Teppo.
Reading in person and on the internet. Used courtesy of Mark Teppo.

Some quick notes about the book launch:

1) Holy crap, am I lucky to have such awesome friends. People packed the back patio at Sunny Blue, and they packed the mezzanine at Rumba. They bought books. They drank beers and ate omusubi and empanadas (and rum punch). They laughed at the funny bits. Thank you, everyone, for coming. Even though things did get a little awkward toward the end of the day.

2) Holy crap, am I lucky to have met some awesome booksellers. Mysterious Galaxy and Elliott Bay Book Company were on hand with copies of WINDSWEPT. While they didn’t completely sell out, they sold enough to make it worthwhile. You should buy books from them. ALL THE BOOKS.

3) Holy crap, am I lucky to know people who run such awesome restaurants. Thank you Keiko and Ian at Sunny Blue and Jim and Kate at Rumba. You should eat there. ALL THE FOOD.

And now I’m getting ready to hop on a plane to San Diego so I can eat tacos with Fran Wilde and Greg Van Eekhout. At some point, all the fun will slow down, and we’ll be in the day-to-day rhythm of our new home. I miss Santa Monica, and I still feel the need to write about leaving and what I learned from living there, but not yet. Why? ‘Cause I still have WINDSWEPT: BOOK 2: TITLE TBD to finish (though I know that Sam and I are happy with the new working title WHICH I CANNOT REVEAL YET BECAUSE MARKETING). That part of the job goes with me wherever I am, and I want to keep this job. WINDSWEPT was the interview for that gig. With your help, I think I’ll get to keep it. Thank you.

WINDSWEPT: It will keep your neck warm.
WINDSWEPT: It will keep your neck warm. Used courtesy of Jeff Urban at JUrban Photos.