The plan was a good one. I would join the Book Club and sneak in quietly, becoming inconspicuously a part of the scenery. Once people knew me, they would read BEAUFORT FALLS and love it for what it is, a funny, satirical look at another part of the country that has a serious message lightly sprinkled in. The store in question is a tiny one but one that attracts the very best talented and new authors from all over the country, or the world, for that matter,and their bookshelves hold books by dozens of authors I love to read.

Phase one, Leighton Gage, whom I've met here on crimespace and like very much, was signing at this prestigious little bookstore only six blocks from my home. I wanted to meet him anyway! Perfect opportunity. I ordered my book, and appeared at the given time, requesting my book at the front counter. "You're Mari?" the woman at the front asked. All I had done was to open my mouth, but I knew I was sunk. My cover was blown. I had ordered my book online and given my place of work as the number to reach me. They had to have called and heard me on the answering machine. My Southern drawl is unmistakeable, even when I speed it up, as I consciously do when speaking here in Sunny California.

I eased into a front row chair and Leighton cheerfully announced "Mari Sloan! Author of BEAUFORT FALLS! How are ya?" Maybe not quite like that, but close. He has a wonderful, friendly face and a warm, booming, voice. Yep. I'd been "outed". It's okay. I never seem to stay incognito for long. In the next forty-five minutes I found myself mesmerized by his account of life in Brazil, experiences his beautiful and talented Brazilian wife and he have had as a part of a country that still has land wars, a frontier version of justice, and child prostitution, all happening in a land of civility, pristine beauty, culture and class. Brazil is a place where a revolution is won with only a single death, but you take your life in your hands to travel in some areas if you stop for red lights. Almost everyone has been a victim of crime, robbed at gunpoint or experienced it second hand through the experiences of friends and relatives, and most of the people who are residents know someone who has been murdered. To Leighton's credit, it was easy to feel the incredible charm and beauty of a place where life there is WORTH the risk.Now, more than ever, I can't wait to read his book!!!!

I have a feeling that I am going to enjoy the bookstore's Book Club, too, and I will love the place whether or not I ever do a signing there. This is a great place to be, where the people I most want to meet actually come to me. What more could I ever want?

:-) Mari

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