The Loneliest Job, or Book Touring 101

When you sit alone in your house and write a book, you never know how it will be received. Writing is bizarre — you work on it completely alone, then you send it out to be read by the public. Two extremes. It’s hard to guess how someone you’ve never met will react to the words you labored over, so intimately, for so long.

A book tour makes it clear.

The Sharp End of Life,” my most recent book, was published by Mountaineers Books on May 2. For the last few weeks, I’ve been on a book tour — so I thought I’d share some highlights of the experience.

From Sacramento, I went to several bookstores in the Bay Area. Without exception, store personnel and audiences alike were friendly, open, helpful and very receptive. When I drove up to Tahoe City for an event at Alpenglow Sports, I had to drive both ways through the 7,000ft+ pass in blizzard conditions (yes, almost June!). Haven’t driven through that kind of thick, wild snow since I lived in New York!

At this store, Adventure 16 Sports, in L.A., the manager said they’d never seen an audience at any of their events so completely attentive and quiet, so riveted by the author’s story. I guess something about setting massive goals in your senior years, and accomplishing them, resonates with people who — if they’re lucky — are all heading toward their senior years.

Sometimes the signing of books takes place in a crowd scene (if you’re lucky!)… and sometimes a more intimate setting — both equally satisfying. I love chatting with the people who read my work and respond to my adventures with some of their own, either completed or simply dreamt about.

Sometimes there are surprises — like when I spoke at Books Inc., in Berkeley, and the narrator of my audio book, Ann M. Richardson, was in the audience! So lovely to meet her and chat about her craft and my book.

And sometimes, it takes you to the most gorgeous places! When I signed books at the North Face Store high up above Telluride, CO, at the Mountainfilm Festival, I got to ride this incredible three-part gondola about 2,000 feet up from Telluride (seen here far below) to Mountain Village. A breathtaking ride!

I hope you enjoyed your tour of my tour! I’ll leave you with some just plain pretty sights that I got to savor while I was on the road. Books are great, but I always try to stop and smell some roses, wherever I am.

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Rose garden in Pasadena

Jacaranda tree in Glendale.

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