Thursday, October 10, 2013

Portland and Back

Whew. The husband and I are both somewhat sickly at the moment (just colds, but they're dragging on and on) which didn't stop us from making a day and a half trip down to Portland. Not just because it was booked, and we're terribly frugal and wouldn't let a booking go by without serious cause, but because my publisher was sending me there to sign things.

(By things, I mean Advanced Reader's Copies of Engines of the Broken World, henceforth [should it come up again] ARCs)

We boarded the Bolt Bus southward. I can kind of recommend it, if it's in your area (the Northeast, the Northwest, and very soon expanding to California's more notable throughways.) It was fast, efficient, terribly cheap--that's the bits I can recommend easily. It was also, despite possessing very new buses, not particularly comfortable. There's something about the angle of the seats, and there's not quite enough padding, and there's no really good way to get completely relaxed. It didn't seem like a big deal at first but by the end of the ride it was bothersome. Not bad enough to make me regret twelve dollar tickets, mind you. Just something to keep in mind.

For the second time we put up in the Mark Spencer Hotel, which is kind of a dream destination. Cookies. Wine. In-suite kitchens. I would live there if it was possible. It helps, too, that it's right downtown, a block from Powell's, which if you don't know, you must learn.

Powell's is called the City of Books, and it's definitely just that. Filling an entire city block, it's split up in a bunch of color-coded rooms (Rose and Red and Gold and so on) that are each as big as a bookstore might normally be. I have worked for many years in a good sized bookstore that would vanish into Powell's and might not be noticed by a casual visitor if that happened. You can drift through it for hours without even necessarily finding what you're looking for (that would be mostly your own fault; it's there, whatever it is you're seeking, but probably you got distracted. Or lost. That's a valid problem, getting lost there.) So we went there three or so times, for varying length visits. Short, each of them, but that's because I'm easily fatigued by too many books.

Which made it odd to cab over to a hotel out by the airport and go to the PNBA annual conference, a thing that I attended last year as a judge for a prize committee, and this year as an author. PNBA (the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association) is a friendly group of book store owners, workers and friends (authors, publisher reps, editors, etc.) who meet once per year for a weekend of books, books, books, and some more books, possibly with some wine and/or breakfast thrown in. My publisher got an invite to have me come and sign ARCs there (yes! I got to use it again!), and I wasn't about to say no. I mingled and spoke with this person and that, and then sat at a table next to other authors also signing and practiced my signature. It needs the practice, by the way. But they took almost all the ARCs (again!) my publisher had sent, and I bagged up the handful of leftovers and now have them to give away myself as needed, and then I went to meet up with the husband in town once more and have some lunch at a delightful theater where he had filled up his time with a documentary (20 Feet From Stardom, he recommends it if that's of interest at all.)

Bolt Bus back to Seattle in the gloaming, and we spent all of yesterday just napping. Colds and too much travel in too short a time. But we're improving now.

Anyway. It was fun, and I'm very grateful that Henry Holt/Macmillan sent me down there. I'd do it again in an instant.

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