How I Spent My Summer Vacation
"I retire at the end of every tour. When I'm on the road, I'm gritting my teeth and putting up with hotels and sleep deprivation and upset tummy. But when I'm off the road, the road suddenly sounds like a magical idea again...It's just the nature of the beast." Eric Clapton

Not that I'm Eric Clapton. No. I am Atomiko.

Got in last night at the end of the most tiring, vexing, horrible, wonderful successful book tour I've ever experienced. Readers who come here or follow Cinderella and me on Twitter know the story. I am, frankly, too tired and too charred to tell you everything. And I developed vertigo somewhere on the road, so this keyboard is lazily spinning through space as I try to write to you. But I'll give it a bit of a go. Won't have much time--going down to Chi tomorrow for my 10,000th NPR show in the morning; doctor on Wed. to make sure I have thwarted diabetes with my superhuman physique and workout regimen; then, to make sure the life extends for another week, we go to our trainer on Thursday. Not the optimum week as far a peace and quiet go, especially because we have to drive out of here for Aspen on Friday. Poor Cinderella. After all that, she will have to return to Seattle to continue to deal with the ghastly mom-death details.

Didn't Joe Walsh sing, "I can't complain but sometimes I still do"?

Life's been good to me so far...

All right. Let's see here. One terrible sad death. One funeral. Two weddings. Two receptions. Eight (?) radio shows. Chicago, Kankakee, Naperville, Phoenix/Tempe, Philadelphia, NYC, POrtland, Seattle, San Diego, Pasadena, San Francisco, Berkeley, Menlo Park, Capitola, Napa. Sorry, Washington, DC. Sorry, Printers Row, Chicago. And sorry, Elliott Bay Books in Seattle. We did what we could. Most days had three to four events--interviews, book signings, radio shows, readings at night. By the end of the month, we were down to our last bath-tub washed clean underpants. For sale on E-Bay! No, no. Gad. Just kidding.

For fans who get mad when I mention famous types, I will say that we met a lot of really wonderful writers. Heroes and new friends. Michael Connelly was a true gent. Saw lots of beloved old pals, too. Sherman Alexie and his wife Diane were bright lights at BEA for us--big hugs and love in da house. Spied on James Patterson and James Ellroy. And that "View" lady. It's like bird-watching. Saw China Mieville across the room because he's seven feet tall and rises like an alabaster tower of awesomeness. Were lucky enough to see Amanda Palmer sing, and Neil Gaiman lurking like Lestat in the shadows. Etc. Just so you know. Much fun available to you on book tour.

F'r example, let us examine the end of tour--San Fran Effin' Cisco. We were in rought, sad shapr, I'll admit. The funeral for grandma had been devastating, but sweet. I know Cinderella is going to piost a guest-blog here to try to answer the meny, many, many of you who wrote and tweeted us with such kindness and soul. It made us cry. Often.

What you don't always get in this career is a sense of family from your publishing house. Little, Brown and Hachette were, in every way, unfailingly generous and loving with us. From helping us with travel, to arranginmg for flowers to be delivered to us, to picking up our funeral hotel bill. They kept in contact with us all through that bad epoch. And Geoff Shandler offered me an out at any point in the tour. But WE REFUSED TO QUIT! No way, man. No. Not stopping. Tour discipline dictates that we finish. Besdies, poor grandma was so excited about Into the Beautiful North. Imagine how sad she would have been to destroy the tour. So we marched on. March or Die!

But Geoff offered to let me come home right to the last.

We got to SF after a brutal morning. Had to get up at 4:00 to catch a 6:30 flight. Uh-huh. You who know me know that was the time I used to go to bed. You don't go on book tour to sleep. Our charming escort, Alexandra (Alex! we love you!) picked us up in her 100 foot long Benz and started the Urrea marathon, going for hours anbd hours and miles and miles, from book store to radio station to book store to church hall to0 radio station to book store in every imaginable direction. I can't tell you where we went because I don't remember.

We stayed at my beloved Hotel Monaco. I have mentioned the Monaco in past blogs. I always stay there. You find The Kings of Leon or Chrissie Hynde in the lobby. But the staff knows your name, the rooms are really sweet, they have leopard-spot robes and naughty lingerie in the closets. A chihuahua mans the night desk and wags at you. And, if you're lonesome, they bring you a bowl with a goldfish. Stay there! The French restaurant next door is also excellent, and when the Mexican waiters figured out I was from Tijuana, they kept giving us extra goodies. We damaged ourselves with the food there. (Oh no--more treadmill, more sit-ups.)

In the middle of the occupation, we attended the delightful wedding of our pals Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry. You lit fans might recognize them from The Rock Bottom Remainders.

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