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Monday, January 28, 2008

Unexpected Delights

Life is full of unexpected delights. Last week I was in California, by way of Dallas, visiting colleges with my son and attending a business meeting with my husband. Along the way, I had some experiences that will keep me smiling for months to come.

College Visits for Michael

The colleges we visited were SMU (Southern Methodist University) and USC (University of Southern California). The folks at SMU were incredibly welcoming. The admissions director had read through Michael’s application and told him he was a “great candidate.” (Isn't that nice?) At USC, Michael was able to interview with an admissions director. Our goal was to get him “on their radar.” Frankly, I was overwhelmed by USC’s size. But I’m keeping my mouth shut. This is such an important decision, and I want Michael to make it without hearing my concerns. What may seem overwhelming to me might be perfectly comfortable for him.Michael wants to be a civil engineer, and he wants to attend college in a warm climate. I don’t blame him. The cold is hard for me in every way. In fact, I always feel poor when I’m cold, perhaps because when I grew up we had a coal furnace. That gaping maw in the basement had to be fed, and coal was a precious resource. We woke up each morning cold, and I’ll never, ever forget that. No matter how much my life has changed, cold still strikes a chord with me at a deep, emotional level.

Steinway Dealers Meeting

After our college visits, we went to the Balboa Bay Club for the annual Steinway Piano Dealers meeting. It’s always wonderful to connect with old friends—dealers, representatives, and artists. Steinway does it right. Everything is always first-class. We’ve known the new President of Steinway Americas Ron Losby for literally decades now—and Steinway couldn’t have chosen a finer man as a leader. It was also fun to see the Steinway owners Kyle Kirkland and Dana Messina. Dana’s wife gave birth to their second child, a daughter, this week and Dana was obviously a thrilled parent.

At the annual dinner, Steinway always has a guest Steinway artist as entertainment. One year it was Roger Williams, the greatest selling pianist of all time, another it was Randy Newman. This year we sat at a table with legendary artist Leonard Pennario, and Roger Williams dropped by to say that Leonard was the reason he’d become a pianist. How cool is that? By the way, Roger Williams is a real charmer.

Introducing Joja Wendt

This year, Steinway introduced us to Joja Wendt. He was extraordinary—young, amazing and personable. He reminded us all of Victor Borge. I was especially taken by his piece Asterius feat Dieter Falk. In fact, I loved it so much, I’ve downloaded it on my IPod. You have to imagine how fast his fingers moved as he played. You can hear it for yourself at:

A lovely independent bookstore

I also found time to take a long walk over to Balboa Island. There I found Martha’s Bookstore on 308 ½ Marine Avenue, Balboa Island ( and chatted with their manager Carol Crecelius. Carol loves mysteries, especially cozies. For any of you authors out there, make a note of her name—she’s a great contact.So…while my trip was hectic, it proved delightful. I hope you’ll check out Joja and Martha’s Bookstore. They’re a couple of real gems I uncovered on my travels.

I'll be at Love Is Murder

I'll be at Love Is Murder on Dark and Stormy Nights in Chicago, Friday February 1 through Sunday February 3.

On Friday, I'll be hosting a session called "How to be a Better Panelist." Here's the description:

How to be a better panelist. Or presenter. Or guest speaker. Do your knees knock when you speak in public? Are you scared you will make a fool of yourself? Would you rather die than appear before a group? We can help. (With the speaking part. The dying on the platform stuff is up to you.) Public appearances are an important promotional tool for authors. We’ll share proven ideas used by the top professional speakers. These ideas will make your presence memorable, enjoyable and profitable. Don’t miss the handout: Top Tips for Presenters.

Please stop by and say, "Hi!" (I'm bringing cookies!)

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