1-A-Day Blog, Day 99: ALA Mode

January 7th, 2011

This is the weekend of the American Library Association’s conference in San Diego, so here I am.

The ALA is one of the great book shows of the year, with every publisher in the world here wooing librarians — tens of thousands of them — from all over America.  As you can imagine, it gets pretty rowdy.

It’s also paradise for book baggers.  There are free books EVERYWHERE, and publishers even give you bags to put them in.  It’s a good thing I’m not flying back to LA, because I’d have to pay hundreds of dollars for overweight baggage.

Wherever publishers and librarians gather, writers also congregate.  So here I am, one of those little birds that rides around on a rhino, shoving my way into the convention on the backs of HarperCollins and an impromptu group of enterprising mystery writers headed by Naomi Hirahara, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Rosemary Harris.  HarperCollins will have me signing books in their booth on Sunday — the last time I did an ALA conference I signed more than 250 books in an hour — and tomorrow, thanks to the forceful wills and organization skills of the writers named above, will be Mystery Day at ALA.

What, you may ask, is Mystery Day at ALA?  It’s an ongoing event featuring panel discussions, signings, general mystery juju. and discreet self-promotion.  We’ll be at the Mystery Day location whenever we’re not all off stealing books.

Some wonderful writers will be involved.  In addition to Ryan, Hirahara, and Harris, we’ll have Harley Jane Kozak, Kate Carlisle, Jeri Westerton, Dianne Emley, Sue Ann Jaffarian, T. Jefferson Parker, Ken Kuhlken, Gary Phillips, Kelli Stanley, Vicki Doudera, Sophie Littlefield, and yours truly.  Some really good people there.

(By the way, I still have to pinch myself sometimes that I get to hang around with these people.)

I’ll be on a couple of panels, “Tough Guys,” which I guess is about the kind of two-fisted protagonist I wish I could write, and “S is for Series,” which is about why readers love series. I am not exactly the best example of a series writer large numbers of people love (at least, not enough to buy tens of thousands of my books) but I made the cut for the panel anyway.  Anyway, if I were rich and famous, I’d be much less interesting.  And a lot richer and more famous.

This evening (I’m writing this late Friday night) we had a great event at Mysterious Galaxy, the best mystery bookstore in the city, and one of the best anywhere.  I had actual fans turn out, even though one of them said to me, “Has Timothy Hallinan showed up yet?”  Maybe I’ve outgrown my author photo.

None of this has anything to do with writing, but I did go to the Starbucks next to Mysterious Galaxy this afternoon and write 1700 words of the toughest scene in the whole of PULPED so far — the first prolonged conversation between Simeon and Madison.

And I like it.  So I CAN do more than one thing at a time.

Will be tweeting from the convention whenever 140 characters present themselves to me.

14 Responses to “1-A-Day Blog, Day 99: ALA Mode”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Sounds like you’re having a blast.

    The image of rowdy librarians is hilarious.

    They aren’t really rowdy are they?

    About your fan not knowing it was you they were talking to, I don’t think it would matter what your photo looked like because if they only have a tiny author’s photo to go by it is kind of hard to tell what someone really looks like in person. I don’t think I’d recognize most of the people I love to read if I shook their hand.

    Just you wait Tim, one day you’ll be wishing you could return to the good old days when you could sit writing in the local coffee shop and no one would bother you.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip down to the ALA.

    Don’t think I haven’t noticed the new titles each day. Fun.

  2. barbara macdonald Says:

    books, writers, librarians, books

    a heavenly weekend

  3. EverettK Says:

    ALA: Alphabeholic Librarians Anonymous

    [in whining seven year-old’s voice]
    I’m jealous, Tim, you get to do all the fun stuff!

  4. Gary Says:

    Hope you get to sign LOTS of books. And revitalize the Kindle sales.

    When your fan finally recognized you, did he do it? “Hey, Tim, write The Man with No Time!”

  5. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    First of all, some of those folks are pinching themselves because they’re hanging with you. I am totally jealous, I subscribe to some other news letters (full disclosure here), and having been getting notices about this. Libraries are my favorite places, where I got to “meet” you all for the first time. I worked in a very small library as a volunteer a long time ago. It was housed in an old Victorian-nothing like your beautiful picture-and we used manual daters. It was a joy. For me more fun than a candy store. Hope you’re enjoying yourself-and the applause.

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Everett-How does one access those archived blogs? I tried on my own, honest, but I am at sea. Can you help out? When you get over your seven year old snit-which I share also.

  7. EverettK Says:

    Lil: If you click on the links that I provided, that should cause your browser to start downloading the files. The files are in a couple of different formats, to make them accessible to as many people as possible.

    The Open Office .odt files are for…wait for it, Open Office, the open-source (freeware) office suite that replaces (for many people) Microsoft Office. You can download it (about 75 Mbytes, if memory serves) from:


    If you don’t have it (and don’t want to install it), then the .PDF files can be opened by Adobe Acrobat Reader (or any other program that can view .PDF files, of which there are quite a few).

    The .rtf (Rich Text Format) version of the index can be opened by just about any word processor or text viewer program that’s worth it’s salt.

    If you still have problems viewing the archive or the index, send me an email at everett@kaser.com and we can work out the details without Tim in-between us. 🙂

    Not that I don’t LIKE having Tim in-between us, but Munyin might get jealous.

    Not to mention MY wife.

  8. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Trust me, there’s no danger of me getting in between anywhere. I’m dangerously close to old lady status. I’ll try Adobe and if I’m still lost, I’ll get back to you, and thanks for the help.

  9. leigh Says:

    Are you referring to James Costigan’s wife at one time? I somehow feel certain that you’d made her acquaintance.

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, everyone, and sorry not to have written back earlier. The ALA was exhausting and fun at the same time, but I had zero energy left.

    Hi, Zanna — no, they’re not really very rowdy, although some of them are in suspiciously high spirits. I signed for one woman today who burst into cause-free laughter (as far as I could see) three times in the minute we talked and I wrote in her book. And I’m so glad SOMEONE has noticed all the titles. I’m actually having more fun thinking up the titles than writing the blogs.

    barbara, it IS heavenly, although with a more interesting bunch of people. I actually gave up on the free books today and just took five I couldn’t resist.

    Everett, alphabaholic? Puhleeeeeze. It was fun, although truly exhausting.

    Gary, The guy who asked me whether I was there yet was set right by a really good writer named Ken Kuhlken, who said, “You’re talking to him,” and then the poor guy stammered about how much he loved the books to try to apologize or something until it got really embarrassing for both of us. But he followed me around all evening anyway. No, he didn’t demand that I redo one of my greatest hits (so to speak) on the spot, but he wanted to know EVERYTHING about the next Poke which is, of course, unwritten, which means he knows as much about it as I do.

    Hi, Lil — Librarians are the salt of the earth. All they really care about is bringing books and people together. I must have signed 50 books over the past two days to “The XXX Library, with best wishes” so they could be put in the collection. Some of these people were toting two or three big bags of books, most of which were probably on their way to library patrons in this age of budget cuts. Your Victorian house library sounds almost too good to be true, although there’s a great mystery bookstore in Ohio, Foul Play, that’s in an old Victorian. Amazing store.

    And isn’t Everett pathetic? Jeez.

    Except, of course, that I’m fairly blown away that he’s archiving all this stuff, which gives new dimensions to the word “ephemera,” and making it available to an eager public. Well, an indifferent public that doesn’t know what it’s missing. If anything.

    Hi, Leigh — I don’t think Costigan was ever married. I had the definite impression that he was uncomfortable around people, and I really doubt he ever had a wife. Rosemary Harris (a different one) may have been in one of his plays, though, because now that you mention it, I seem to connect the names, too.

    Captcha: Ickery LebensJesu

  11. EverettK Says:

    Tim said: And isn’t Everett pathetic? Jeez.

    You’d better be careful, Tim, or I’ll stop proofreading your books! Er…um… wait a minute… there AREN’T any more to proofread. 🙁 C’mon, man, quit going off on these boondoggles and get busy writing!


  12. leigh Says:

    He wrote “Love Among The Ruins” after a dream about her.

  13. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Everett, there WILL be new ones to proofread, God willing. PULPED is coming very well even though it’s littered with land mines because it’s (sort of) cross-genre, what with the “supernatural” element, and it sometimes makes me feel like I’m trying to invent things that other writers have already refined and discarded. Oh, well.

    Leigh, that’s a tremendous piece of information. I may have known it at one time, but like so much else it’s been lost to the rear-view mirror. As amazing as Hepburn was, it’s sort of too bad Rosemary Harris never got to act it.

  14. EverettK Says:

    Tim said: PULPED is coming very well even though it’s littered with land mines because it’s (sort of) cross-genre, what with the “supernatural” element, and it sometimes makes me feel like I’m trying to invent things that other writers have already refined and discarded. Oh, well.

    That’s the price of trying something new (to you), of stretching yourself, of growing into your future you. I always enjoy growing pains much more when they’re in the body or mind of someone else.

    Thanks, Tim, for being my pain-host!

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