Went up to BEA in New York this past Saturday, signing copies of Body Trace with the Mystery Writers of America.

I rode up with Citypaper strongman and man of (many) letters Duane Swierczynski and Inquirer book reviewer Ed Pettit. The drive up flew by, mostly because Duane did all the driving, but also because of the good company. (There was some talk about sharing the driving, but Duane is, after all, The Wheelman.) The conversation was a fascinating mixture of lowbrow (picture me waxing eloquently about the role of SpongeBob in a post-Ren-and-Stimpy universe) and the highbrow (picture me blankly nodding my head and quietly wishing I had majored in literature instead of communications).

Duane and I were both signing at the MWA booth, artfully organized by Margery Flax and everybody at MWA. Margery was phenomenal, running things with an amazing mixture of efficiency, humor and calm. I was signing with Ronald Tierney and James R. Benn, who were both charming and delightful but with whom I exchanged no more than half a dozen words each. People were lined up before we were even seated, which was great, and it was probably twenty minutes before there was enough of a lull for us to turn and introduce ourselves to each other.

I learned a lot of important things about the industry, not the least of which was, just because there’s a stack of something sitting there, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can take one. But probably most important was the sage advice of Ed Pettit, who, inspired perhaps by the Arapaho, said, “Take only what you need.” Unfortunately, he didn’t share this with me until I had already dislocated both shoulders lugging my four brimming tote bags back to Duane’s car.

Luckily, it was conveniently parked just outside. Just outside Hoboken, that is.

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