City of Dragons Tour – on the way to LCC!

So last we met, I was in San Diego. Now I’m about to leave for Los Angeles and Left Coast Crime.

What happened??

Well, I’ve discovered a new law of physics. Time bends when you’re on the road, true … but when you get home–and try to continue a book tour from your own sweet domicile–time really messes with your head. It’s also more tiring by far … because you’re having to juggle your “normal” life (in my case, a day job, taking care of springer spaniel Bertie, buying toothpaste, etc.) with your “writer” life (driving all over to events and signing your book).

In short, everything snuck up on me, and I still haven’t really caught up from the long distance part of the CITY OF DRAGONS march. But I did download some wonderful photos of the desert, and will post them soon … I promise. In the meantime, here’s a recap, from the middle of February to now:

Mysterious Galaxy is a wonderful store–known as the Cheers of the mystery world and for good reason! I had a blast hanging out with Patrick and Michael, and was sorry to leave … but can’t wait to return. They’re the best!!!

The next day (February 13th) we made a beautiful and really incredible drive across I-8, skimming along the US/Mexico border through California and southern Arizona. The geographic landscape was jaw-dropping. Craggy, desert mountains with piles of giant reddish boulders that looked like some gargantuan god piled them up to skim along a now-dead lake … I yelped when I saw my first saguaro cactus, multiple arms stretching toward the sun. Ocotillo too, looking like desert-dancing seaweed against the dry, vulnerable earth. I fell in love with the desert on this ride, and can’t wait to go back.

We stopped for lunch in Yuma, easily imagining either Glenn Ford or Russell Crowe alongside the still prominent train that runs right through the town … but the only thing criminal we found was the sinfully delicious Mexican food at Tacos Mi Rancho. Truly–the best, the very best, Mexican food I’ve had anywhere–including Texas. Yuma, I take off my hat to you!

A bit later, we stopped at Dateland, Arizona, which is a wonderful little oasis that serves fresh date milkshakes and sells all kinds of dates. A grove–with grapefruit trees in front–looms in the distance over the diner and gift shop. It’s one of those old-fashioned tourist places that are sadly disappearing, getting swallowed up in homogenized conglomerates disguising themselves as mom and pops (Starbucks, anybody?). We loved it! (and the milkshake was delicious).

We turned north on a state highway, and finally made it into Scottsdale as the sun was setting. A beautiful place, and the land is so … delicate. And beautiful. And gentle, too, at least in winter.

Next morning, we had a great breakfast at a place called Butterfields, and then to a signing and Valentine’s Day party at the Poisoned Pen! I am a big, big fan of Barbara and Rob, and it was an honor to be there … and an honor for CITY OF DRAGONS to make four of their “pick” lists, including the Hardboiled Club. I loved meeting everyone, and had a grand time, followed by dinner at a fabulous pizza place just down the street.

The next morning we were off again, this time along I-10 to LA. Not as dramatically beautiful, but lovely nevertheless, and a mid-day stop in the fascinating little waterhole known as Quartzite, Arizona, is worthy of its own post. We also rested for a bit at the I-10 equivalent of Dateland, called the Chiriaco Summit–which houses not only a vintage-style diner, shop and tiny post office, but a George Patton museum.

We finally made it to Culver City, our home away from home, and stayed in the Clark Gable suite at the Culver Hotel, which was a real treat. Gable must have helped sprinkle sleep dust, because we woke relatively refreshed, and ready for an equally long drive back to San Francisco up 101.

Since arriving home, I’ve been on the road around the Bay Area, doing upwards of two signings a week, plus signing stock at Barnes and Noble … and the tour isn’t over. Tomorrow I fly to Left Coast Crime … which is where I came in. 🙂

I’m wrestling a cold right now, but plan to prop myself up on tea, Vitamin C and adrenalin, at least long enough to have a great time on a panel tomorrow afternoon and at a reading/signing at Book Soup tomorrow evening.

Thanks for reading — and hope to see you somewhere along the journey! 🙂