T Minus One Week ...

... until, well, you know. And this next week or so news of the anthology is probably all I'm going to be sharing. Like I should remind you that there is still time to enter the Ultimate Flash Fiction Package Giveaway. All you need to do is share the link on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc, and put that link in the comments section. It's that easy. No excuse not to do so. And of course there is the giveaway going on right now over at Goodreads. Even if you've pre-ordered a copy (and if you have, thank you very much), why not sign up for a free copy too? The Hint Fiction anthology is like a Lay's potato chip; you can never have just one. Now, as I mentioned last week, I went up to New York City Friday for the very first Monkeybicycle Lightning Round! Reading Series. I got into the city around noon and met briefly with my agent, which consisted of about 10% business, 90% BS -- always the best meetings. Then I had about two hours to kill before my meeting at Norton. So I walked up Madison Avenue and eventually made my way to Fifth, and there I took shelter in a Barnes & Noble. There is, of course, a massive presentation of Nooks just inside the entrance. There are also the tables with the green and white signs announcing NEW ARRIVALS. I glanced at these tables, thinking I might see the anthology. No luck. So went upstairs and, lo and behold, look what I found.

So yes, while the official release isn't until next Monday, the anthology, like many books, has begun to creep its way into stores a week or two beforehand. And while it was cool to see the book right there on the top shelf next to Granta and the Best American Short Stories (you can see it there off to the right), I was a bit paranoid. You see, I was wearing a backpack, and in my backpack was a handful of my own copies of the anthology. And if you're at all familiar with big stores in New York City, you know that security is everywhere. So here I am, staring at the store's copies of the anthology and worried that for some reason one of these security guys is going to stop me and check my bag and find my copies. Luckily, though, I made my escape without arousing any suspicion ... though saying escape makes it sound worse, doesn't it?

Then I headed over to the Norton offices. My editor, unfortunately, was out on other business, but that was okay, because I had come to meet with Jessica Purcell (Senior Publicist) and Steve Colca (Manager of Internet Marketing). After discussing how the promotion of the anthology was going and what more could be done (hint: there are some exciting things in the works), it was time to leave. I wanted to drop off copies of Eight Hints at my editor's office, and asked Jessica if she could lead us out past my editor's assistant's office (the Norton office, you must understand, is like a maze). So we cut through the conference room, where I saw what was probably the coolest thing ever: the ironic bird of W. W. Norton hanging suspended above their conference room table.

Then it was back outside, where I headed downtown and passed by the New York Public Library, and would you believe what I noticed one of the stone lions guarding?

(Well, okay, you caught me -- that copy of the book wasn't really there to begin with. I placed it there beside the lion and snapped the photo a second before the wind sent it flying away. There, I confessed, are you happy now?)

Anyway, around this time my cell phone started to die. I had hoped it would stay powered until at least a little later in the evening. So then I was in search of a Sprint store, which I eventually found and where I purchased a travel charger and then sat by one of their available outlets and let my phone charge while I picked through what I was going to read. It was as I was sitting there, paging through the handful of stories I'd brought with me, that I noticed what looked like Ben Affleck hurrying down the stairs leading into the 23rd Street Station. Unfortunately, my phone was charging and not in the best place for me to grab it and try to snap a photo, so I can't share one. But this, in case you weren't aware, is what Ben Affleck looks like.

(Okay, so he may or may not have been lugging around a large punching bag, I forget.)

Eventually I found myself going down the same stairs into the same station where I got on the N train and rode that down to 8th Street and walked the rest of the way to the KGB Bar on East 4th. I had come an hour early but the place was still closed up (apparently they didn't open until 7, which was when the reading was supposed to start), so I wandered over a block and had a beer at Dempsey's, which I remembered coming to years ago when I visited some HWA friends (for the record, they were in the HWA, not me). Dempsey's was in the midst of Happy Hour, which meant two for one beer. I hung out there for about a half hour and then wandered back around the block where I ran into Hint Fiction contributor Kathleen Ryan, who had been so very kind enough to come and check out the reading. We talked briefly outside, then went inside where they still hadn't opened the bar yet. More and more people began to converge around the door. Finally the bartender let us inside, and you know what? The place is tiny. I've always heard about the KGB Bar and all the events they host, and I always imagined something completely different. Yet, despite its small space, it was a great place to have the reading, even if it did fill up quickly and was almost impossible to walk from one side to the next. It was literally standing room only, with some people even waiting outside in the hallway.

The reading was a lot of fun. I read an unpublished piece called "Fright X."  The rest of the readers read a lot of great stuff. Many thanks to Steven Seighman and Shya Scanlon for hosting the event, and to Kathleen for coming out.

Halfway through the reading, I got a text message from my sister-in-law. She'd sent this picture with the caption "woohooo! bought in exton":

Now as he's my brother-in-law, he already has a copy of Eight Hints. But if he wasn't and e-mailed that picture (or sent me a scanned receipt from an independent bookstore), then a copy of Eight Hints would be in the mail to him right now. Come on, you know you want one.