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This morning, my wife and I went to a church 'Jumble Sale,' kind of an indoor yard sale, and then to a resale shop in Harrow. As you'd expect, whenever we go to ay of these places, I gravitate immediately to the books. There are certain books I always see at these things - books by James Patterson, Clive Cussler, Sidney Sheldon, for example, plus Harlequin Romances. Almost always though, there will be a book I want, that I didn't really expect to see. Today there were two. A book of short stories from the Vinyl Cafe - a collection from the story exchange part of the show, and a book by P.C. Doherty.
Like me, Doherty is a High School principal, almost certainly retired now. Unlike me, he's written dozens of books in a number of different series - all historical mysteries. My favourite series is the Hugh Corbrett series - wonderful medieval mysteries. They are the only books that, upon picking up, I read the last page before buying. Once, a number of years ago, I bought a Hugh Corbrett mystery, only to find out that he died at the end! Shot by a crossbow!
I was in a funk for weeks! I liked Hugh Corbrett a lot! And even though, if he were a real character, he would have been dead for eight hundred years or so by now, maybe more, I expected him to die a well deserved death in bed at eighty-something. Not being hit by an arrow from a crossbow! My guess was that Doherty was either tired of writing the Corbrett books and wanted to end them, or he wanted to receive a bunch of fan mail begging for Corbrett to return.
Anyway, a couple years later, a new book came out in the Hugh Corbrett series. He hadn't died, and had been nursed back to health so he could catch another ne-er do well. Because I usually pick up Corbrett mysteries at re-sale shops and yard sales and libraries, I don't always know if I've read them before. (I really don't mind. I enjoy reading them a second time.) I just don't want to read about Corbrett getting killed again.
I hadn't intended to tell you all that. I really wanted to tell you that, in addition to looking for a book I wasn't expecting to find, I've also started to look for my book when I go into one of those places. I look for my favourite writers, as always, but I also take a look in the 'G' section, and the humour section, for a copy of The Principal Chronicles.
I don't know yet if it will make me happy or sad to find it. I don't know yet if I'll buy it, or if, as I often do, suggest to a patron I don't know that this would be a good book to pick up. I do that for several books if I find them in a resale shop. "What sort of book are you looking for? Oh! Have you read this one yet? It's great!" I also don't know yet if I'll fess up and tell the person that I wrote it. Maybe I'll just look to see if it's signed and then ask the kid working at the till if I can sign it before putting it back on the shelf. "Gee Sir, I don't know. I mean, it's not your book anymore..."
In any case. I didn't find a copy of The Principal Chronicles. Maybe next time.
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It seems a bit strange to be wishing you a happy new year in April, but I was just looking over the events I've taken part in this year so far, and I realized that, in the main, for me as a writer, it has been a happy new year. The UniCom class I taught on my book was a hoot! I met some great people, was very well received, and I've already been invited back for next semester! My book reading at the John Muir Library was fantastic, attended by forty people of all ages! In fact, every book reading has been well received, and I've realized that this is one of the most rewarding parts of being a writer. Reading a story and having the attendees laugh at the appropriate spots, and tear up at the appropriate spots is a joy! I was featured in an article in The River Town Times on March 1st, and will actually 'grace the cover' (Note the quotes. I doubt any picture of me 'graces' anything.) of a magazine this month! The book continues to sell well, and I've had enough time to pretty much finish writing the second installment of The Principal Chronicles!
All good stuff! So. A Happy New Year, Everyone!