Tag Archive for: San Francisco

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and All Things Social Media

By AB Plum

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I can write this blog a week ahead of its due date, schedule it, and take off tomorrow for a fun-and-frolic vacation in San Francisco. 

I’m writing the day before the Comey Testimony. (I capitalize testimony b/c it’s almost as if Mr. Comey’s appearance is a TV program or movie or book title).

I am also writing before President Trump tweets about the upcoming testimony or during the testimony itself.

Either the testimony or tweet content could provide enough commentary for dozens of riveting blogs. But. I’m going to take advantage of the scheduling feature on this blog and leave posting the excitement/amazement/disgust/disbelief/etc. following the event to others to wax on about.

I am going to SF without my laptop or any other handheld devices. Except for one. Because I have kids (adults, true) in other cities and a friend watching over the home front, the need to take my cell phone will win out. But … no calling or tweeting or texting except in an emergency.

Admittedly, sending a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge will be tempting, but I hope to resist. My grown kids have walked across the span many times. Some of my relatives, like my house sitter, have never taken a single step on this engineering marvel. 

Here’s my rationale: Even if I send my relatives or the house sitter a picture, they’ll probably all be too busy watching The Testimony. Or the analyses of The Testimony. Or the late-night panning of The Testimony. 

Whatever …. I’ll catch up when I return home. Until then, I’m about to retreat to Luddite Land.

How about you? When was the last time you “unhooked” from your electronic wonders? Do you remember a time when we didn’t text? Didn’t tweet? Didn’t share pictures of our vacations via Facebook?

AB Plum lives off the fast lane in Silicon Valley, where she writes about mayhem and murder in her psychological suspense series, The MisFit. If she doesn’t overstay her vacation, she plans a late summer release of The Lost Days and The In-Between Years, Books 2 and 3 in the series.

My Bouchercon Report

I took this photo while on a cable car tour of San Francisco, showing one of many steep, steep streets in this most beautiful city and the setting for this year’s Bouchercon.

Bouchercon is the largest mystery con there is and I’ve been to several in various cities: my first was in Monterey, CA, and hubby and I went together to Madison and Milwaukee, WI, Austin TX, and a couple of other places I can’t really remember right off. One of the pluses is visiting places you might never choose as a destination.

If you ever wanted to meet a particular famous mystery author Bouchercon is the place to do it. This year some of the greats in attendance were: Lee Child, Laurie R. King, David Baldacci, and someone spotted Sara Paretsky, and so many more.

However, that’s not the reason I went to Bouchercon. I also didn’t go to sell books as I knew the competition would be horrendous. There’s nothing worse than attending a signing with long lines heading to Michael Connelly (yes, he was there) and sitting alone and forlorn with no one waiting for you to sign a book. In order to have books in one of the bookstore displays, I would have had to bring mine. This year, I decided that I wasn’t going to worry about selling books, though I did hand out my card with my latest book cover on it to new people I met, my main purpose would be to have fun.

Having fun I did, from the 3 hour cable car tour all over San Francisco on cable cars that had been transformed into busses, to attending the Private Eye Associations award dinner where Marcia Muller was given an award. (Marcia Muller was the first author I ever met in person years and years ago.) She was in attendance with her husband, Bill Pronzini.

With my roommate, Gay Kinman, I walked all the way to the hotel from Chinatown at 10 p.m. at night. Fortunately, the road was downhill all the way. Also with my roommate, I toured the wharf area and all the shops and ate delectable meals in some upscale restaurants.

The Sisters in Crime, No-Cal MWA branches Hospitality Room was a great place to meet people–as was the bar. I was invited to eat breakfast with people I didn’t know-and soon became friends.

I participated in a Continuing Conversation titled Procedural Pros with DP Lyle, Robin Spano, Michael Black, Dennis Palumbo, Laura Caldwell and Michael Norman. Though I’ve never considered myself a pro, I think I held up my end pretty well.

Yes, I had a good time. One really big plus was meeting a fellow Stiletto Gang member, Rachel Brady. We had a short chat when the cable car made a brief stop.

Going to a Bouchercon is an experience. It is not necessarily a great place for a small press author to promote books, but it is a place to meet a lot of people, talk about mystery writing, and have a really fun time.


Reentry is a…

…well, if I have to spell it out…

Anyway, I’m back from San Francisco, the City by the Bay, and my favorite next to my hometown, New York. The trip was fun-filled, exercise-filled, food-filled. We are ful-filled, as a result. The first part of the trip was work, if you consider talking about yourself and your books work. (I don’t.) A piece of advice: if you live in the Bay Area and can get yourself to San Mateo, run, don’t walk, to the M Is for Mystery bookstore on Third Avenue. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to do a signing/reading there (a shout out to my two new friends, Judi, the Millbrae librarian and Kevin, a fellow East Coaster now West Coaster) and was amazed by their stock, their staff, and all of the extras they offer. I got a lovely M Is for Mystery baseball hat which I sported around San Francisco while I was there. The store is owned by a charming man named Ed Kaufman and he is a mystery aficionado. Anything that you might want, he has. He has the most impressive collection of signed first editions (including Extracurricular Activities!) I’ve ever seen and I was fortunate to pick up a copy of Lisa Lutz’s second book, Curse of the Spellmans (more on that later).

Since I was traveling with two teenage girls, most of our trip was spent shopping and eating, although we did manage to get in some culture while we were there, hitting the DeYoung museum. The DeYoung is a nice, manageable museum in terms of size and boasts a tower from which you can take in a panoramic view of San Francisco. It’s not high enough to be scary for those of us who fear heights, but it is high enough to get a bird’s eye view of this fabulous city. But I still wouldn’t get too close to the glass. I did that at Coit Tower and managed to bang my forehead right into the protective plexiglass, alarming the other Tower-goers and forcing my two teen companions to disavow any knowledge of me as a person.

We also made a trip to the Palace of Fine Arts, a spectacular structure, in my opinion. There is a hands-on science museum on the grounds called The Exploratorium, and any fears that I had that this would skew young and not be interesting to the teens were soon squashed. While they ran around the museum taking in all of the experiments (including one which challenges your sense of convention by having you drink from a toilet that has been configured into a water fountain), I sat on a bench and people watched, which is probably one of my favorite hobbies. The parade of Bermuda shorts paired with sandals and socks was just too spectacular to miss.

Our afternoons were spent refueling (the girls) and reading (me). (I wore them out, what with my insistence that we climb every hill in the city.) While I was traveling, I started reading The Spellman Files, Lisa Lutz’s first novel about a family of San Francisco private investigators, which couldn’t have been a better pick, not only because it was set in the city I was visiting but because it was one of the most entertaining reads I have consumed in a while. If you have a chance, get yourself a copy (now in paperback). This is not your ordinary family—one of the family members begins her P.I. career at the tender age of six—nor is it your run-in-the-mill story or plot. I promise you that you will be entertained. I started the second book, the aforementioned Curse of the Spellmans, during the trip as well and enjoyed it equally, if not a bit more because I had gotten acquainted with the characters already.

The best part of the trip was reconnecting with two old friends (shout out to Rose and Chris!) who attended the book signing, shuttled me around San Francisco and Sausalito, and made my trip very special. I can’t begin to tell you both how much I appreciate your support.

So back to reentry…it’s tough (I’ve cleaned up my act a little bit…but the old profane Maggie will return soon). I still have jet lag four days after arriving home, I can’t find my phone charger, my suitcase is still open in my bedroom filled with dirty clothes, and I’m way behind on work. Was it worth it? Without a doubt.

Maggie Barbieri

The Week in Review

I’m leaving for San Francisco on Saturday and for all of you West-Coasters/Bay Area denizens, please stop by M Is for Mystery in San Mateo, on Sunday, June 29th, at 2:00. I’ll be signing, reading, chatting, and having a great time talking about my second Alison Bergeron mystery, “Extracurricular Activities.” I hope to see you!I’ve been in that frantic pre-trip frenzy, getting ready to leave for a week. I’m leaving the computer at home and am wondering just exactly how I’ll stay in touch with the world. But whatever—I’ll be in San Francisco, the city that ranks right behind my hometown, New York City, as the best in the world. (And, oh yeah, Paris. And of course, Miami…I’m fickle.)

But in the midst of all this preparation, I’ve been thinking about the past week and had a few thoughts on a couple of topics/people. Ready? I thought so.

1. The death of George Carlin: OK, God, you took Russert, and now Carlin. I can’t even imagine who’s next and am not going to name names in case it gives you any ideas. You’ve got the smart guy, and now the funny/smart guy. No more. And by the way, I’m sure you have access to YouTube up in heaven; couldn’t you have contented yourself with watching old bits from Carlin and left him with us for another twenty years? Favorite bits: STUFF (your house is just a big receptacle for all of your STUFF); driving (why is the guy going slower than you a moron and the guy going faster than you a maniac?); intelligence (think about the average American and then remember that half of the population is dumber than that). That’s all I can think of for now and of course, I’ve taken literary license. We’ll miss you, George. Hope you got to meet Joe.

2. And speaking of Russert: Tom Brokaw subbed on “Meet the Press” this week and it sounds like he will be the guy until the election (and hopefully after). We needed Brokaw back. I’m just sorry it came about the way it did but his presence on television can only be considered a positive.

3. Michelle Obama: I never watch “The View” (I’m working, people!). But I took time out last week to watch her just to get a sense if all of those maniacal talking heads who have branded her a militant (the way that word is used…in the words of the Northern half of Evelyn David: Oy!), caustic, rigid, fist-bumping terrorist were right. Not only were they wrong, they now look like fools. She was warm, gracious, real, and unpracticed (or maybe that’s just my gullibility showing). She’s got a husband who she’s crazy about, despite the fact that she initially did not want him to run for president. She’s got two adorable daughters. And that dress she had on? Perfection. If I had a muscle in my upper arms, I would go out and buy it. Never did a $119 dress look so perfect. Go, Michelle.

4. Cindy McCain: Beer heiress Cindy showed her humanitarian side last week. And I liked it. Who’s with me that the women are going to outshine the men in this election? One can only hope…

5. Following your dream versus getting a job: A friend read my post called “Perception versus Reality” a few weeks back and then attended her son’s college graduation. The speaker was a young broadcast journalist who we all know who implored students to “follow their dreams.” My friend, who’s had enough of dream following to last a lifetime, reflected on my post and wrote me to chat about it. Very gratifying. But it got me thinking: what happened to that idealistic college grad that I was back in 1800? I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not a dream killer, I just think you should have a job while pursuing your dream. Spoken like a mother, right? I’ve sold out. I’m THE MAN. I’m BIG TOBACCO. I’m THE ESTABLISHMENT. When did that happen?

And on a strictly personal note, thank you to all of you who read and comment on these blogs. I was talking to a fourth-grader the other night who told me that her dream is to be a writer and she asked me what it takes. While I said,“write every day,” her mother chimed in with “read everything you can get your hands on.” Those are the two main keys, certainly. And by allowing me to blog every week about any variety of topics, my writing has become clearer, sharper, and more focused. I’m writing more than I’m reading, admittedly, and that’s fine. I’m building up those Stephen King “writing muscles.”

I’ll catch you up on my trip when I return. Now I’m going to try to tackle packing a week’s worth of clothing into a carry-on bag. Wish me luck!