I'm stealing the above photo from Lee Goldberg's website. That's the SoCal contingent of MWA who attended the Edgars in NYC on Thursday evening.

The past seven days have been absolutely nuts, especially to think I was just sweltering at the L.A. Festival of Books last Sunday. It's just been seven days of books, books, and more books--giving me a very unrealistic view of the world since reading and book buying are reportedly down. I did notice that there seemed to be less people on the first day of LATFOB, Saturday. Even pretty big stars (except for folks like Connelly, Wambaugh, and Ellroy) sat in signing booths without any lines for some time period. Top bestsellers during this economic time period will be doing fine, but I get the feeling that the "midlist" (whatever that is) will expand to include those who have been on regional bestseller lists. I think for a time period midlisters will have to depend on their niche audiences more than ever. So rather than go for mass audiences, these folks (myself included) will have to hit specialized audiences hard. (I'm actually happy that after my middle-grade book comes out in August, I won't have a book for adults released until the beginning of 2010.)

I went to two panels during LATFOB (I believe that your festival experience will be enhanced tenfold if you go to a panel or talk, not to mention to get to be inside out of the sun for an hour). Sarah Weinman moderated the "Literary Mystery," and it was awesome to see a crowd of 300 or more lined up to hear the topic and speakers, which included Peter Robinson, April Henry, and LA's own Sherlockian Les Klinger. Sarah, especially for being a twentysomething woman, is so damn smart and well read it's scary. Really. She had done her homework and asked insightful questions, sometimes so insightful that it stumped the panel for a few moments. People around me were scrawling notes, which I think was a good thing.

The other panel I attended was an interview with LAT Book Review editor David Ulin and Maxine Hong Kingston. Somehow I always get a little more out of these one-on-one sessions with authors. I find Kingston's take on myth ("I wanted to write about the Chinese American's myth about China") fascinating. I know some of my more academic-minded, history scholars wouldn't like her approach on writing myths (she discovered that she had made a mistake about writing about a China farming village after she had gone to China. In her book, she had envisioned it to be more like American farms, with an individual farmhouse surrounded by farmland vs. a collection of huts together). But I do think that there is definitely something valid in what she does. It reminded me a little of Kafka's Amerika, in which he describes U.S. and its people without actually knowing much about them. So Kafka's book is actually more about the attitudes of Eastern Europeans in the early 1900s (and the global view of the U.S.) rather than America itself.

Other highlights of the festival was the prefestival MWA party at the Mystery Bookstore--my first time to go. It was so much fun to meet folks like Michelle Gagnon who I had met via Facebook or on listservs. And to chat with New Yorkers like Sarah Weinman and Johnny Temple in L.A. A few of us had mediocre Chinese food in Westwood afterwards--Brett Battles, Robert Gregory Browne, Stephen Blackmore, and the author of VOLK'S GAME, Brent, and his wife. A good time was had by all.

I also enjoyed hanging out in booths of my other niche--Asian American/Japanese interests. Kinokuniya, as usual, was doing gangbuster business selling Japanese pens, folder covers, and manga. It was good for me to see what young people are interested in. And I loved chatting with the authors at Heritage Source, which specializes in Asian American books. Feels like home, for sure.

NYC was crazy. It really did us in. In fact, the husband and I are down for the count with 100 degree temperatures (next time, JetBlue, JetBlue, JetBlue!). I worked my butt off--met with three editors, my agent, and a publicist; taught a character class with S.J. Rozan; spoke to a group of Japanese Americans/Japanese nationals and sold more than 40 books!; visited two NYC bookstores (the new Kinokuniya near Bryant Park is awesome); and went to Edgars agents and editors reception and banquet. And in between we ate pizza in Brooklyn and met these awesome artists at the League Treatment Center/LAND, which works with people with disabilities (www.leaguetreatment.org). Husband bought two drawings that featured Michael Jackson--awesome!

So I'm sick now, but getting better fast. Congrats to all the Edgar winners! It was a great night. Saw Megan Abbott and Susan Straight win and Al Roker spew out obscenities on stage. This may take me some time to process.

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