My West Coast Trip

People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles. This is the first thing I hear when I come back to the city. Ben Loory picks me up from LAX and mutters this under his breath as his car drives up the onramp. He says, "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles." Wait -- what?

Okay, I'm getting my trip and Less Than Zero mixed up. But anyway, Ben Loory was kind enough to pick me up at LAX from my flight which did not, as I had hoped, have WiFi. From there we ended up at the Chipotle in Pasadena, where we discussed writerly things, then we headed over to Gay Degani's house, where we discussed even more writerly things. Gay lives in a beautiful house with her husband and daughter and her daughter's dog Rodeo.

Gay and her family were kind enough to allow me to spend a few days at their humble abode. That night I went out to dinner with Gay and her husband at a place called Smitty's Grill and we talked about, among other things, books.

The next day Gay and I took a trip down to Irvine for some sight-seeing. Then we drove back to Pasadena and I took a nice nap -- jetlag can be a bitch -- and then got ready for the reading at Vroman's.

If you have never been to Vroman's before and are headed out to the Los Angeles area, make sure to visit. It's one of the biggest and classiest independent bookstores around. The staff, I was told when I arrived, loved the anthology, which is always nice to hear. I met up with the contributors who had come to read and who, I found out, had come from very far away: one from Washington, D.C.; one from Seattle; one from Las Vegas; another from Minneapolis.

The reading went very well. All the contributors did a great job. After the reading, the audience lined up and the contributors signed some books. From left of the table to the right: Jeremy D. Brooks, Gay Degani, Robin Rozanski, Jenn Alandy, Daniel A. Olivas, and Andrea Slye.

I've included more pictures at the Hint Fiction Facebook page, but what's interesting to note is that, according to the events coordinator, we had a pretty big turn out. Which was surprising, she said, because Wednesday nights is when Dancing With the Stars airs. You see, the level of attendance at any reading fluctuates based on whatever is on television that particular night. Lovely, no?

Later a few of us wandered to a bar across the street and continued the party.

And then the next day I flew back and there was still no WiFi on my flight. Which really sucked, because the couple behind me who apparently met via JDate (seriously, they kept talking about the service) wouldn't shut up for one second, and at one point the woman narrated the entire plot of Up in the Air, only when she was done she couldn't remember the title and she and her boyfriend were going back and forth, trying to figure it out, and it was one of those excruciating moments when you know the answer but you don't want to insert yourself in somebody else's conversation because that might make even more conversation....In the end, the pilot made the announcement that electronics could be turned on, and you better believe I threw my headphones on faster than anyone else on the flight.

So, despite the flight back home, my West Coast trip was great. A big thanks to Gay for taking me in and Vroman's for hosting the event and everyone, contributors and readers alike, for coming out to support the anthology.

And thanks to David L. Ulin of the The Los Angeles Times for giving the book a nice notice last Friday.

And thanks to "The Empress" for hosting a Hint Fiction contest at the Washington Post. (She's looking for humorously witty stories in 25 words or fewer, so send something!)

Finally, on a non-Hint Fiction related note, the folks over at Every Day Fiction had some trouble with the site over the weekend, so if you happened to click the link for my story "My Brother's Death Note" and nothing happened, it should work now.