Michael Haskins

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Michelle Gagnon and I will sign at the Mystery Bookstore in LA

On the weekend, Bobby McCue from the Los Angeles Mystery Bookstore called and set a time for my July 19th signing, 2 p.m., and asked if I'd mind sharing the time slot with California writer Michelle Gagnon. I am so honored to be signing in one of LA’s oldest and most prestigious bookstores that I would sign with the devil, just to be included.

Well, I Googled Michelle (and you should too) and found a very attractive young lady and, if reviews are any way to judge, talented too! I am glad she’s not the devil, because I would be happy to sign with her anywhere, any day! That's Michelle to the right, and below is a quote from her webpage:

“Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, freelance journalist, personal trainer, model, and Russian supper club performer. To the delight of her parents, she eventually gave up all these jobs for an infinitely more stable and lucrative position as a crime fiction writer.
“Her debut thriller THE TUNNELS was published in the United States and Australia, and was an IMBA bestseller. Described as ‘Silence of the Lambs meets The Wicker Man,’ the story involves a series of ritualized murders in the abandoned tunnel system beneath a university.
“The following book in the series, BONEYARD, depicts a cat and mouse game between dueling serial killers in the Berkshires. “Michelle is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.
“In her spare time she runs errands and indulges a weakness for stale cinema popcorn and Hollywood blockbusters. Hopelessly addicted to Scrabulous, she's seriously considering a twelve-step program. She lives in San Francisco with her family.”

I’m reading “The Tunnels” now, but should have saved it for the flight to LA, because, I am told, you can’t be afraid of flying if something else is scaring you! How, I have to find out, did someone who looks so gentle write this book? I have to find out and it is somewhat out of jealousy!

I hope, if you are in the Los Angeles area on July 19th, you’ll stop by and say hi to both Michelle and me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Book-signing tour troubles, thanks to gas prices

This weekend I will need to gas up the Miata and, for the first time, pay more than $4 per gallon! My friend Lee Fairchild is visiting from Ohio, where he said gas prices are still within the high $3 range. I assured him it would be closer to $4 by Memorial Day.

The price of gas has blown my book-signing budget. I knew going into this that signings didn’t pay for themselves in sales, so I budgeted for gas, food, and, where needed, lodging. Signings sold books but, more important, got my name out there for the next book and that was okay, while I could afford the loss. Now, I am not so sure I can.

I am still waiting to hear back from Barnes and Nobel in Ft. Myers, Florida, and Glendale, California. Ft. Myers is about five hours by car. I don’t know what that calculates in gas dollars. I am not even sure how disappointed I will be if the deal falls through and I don’t have to make the drive; that is sad.

I already have my airline ticket for Los Angeles, and three signings arranged and two more possible, so I have to make that trip. I will need to rent a car and gas in LA has been $4 for a while! I am staying with my sister, so that will help cut down expenses, but I hadn’t budgeted for all the local gas increases and that will hurt my pocketbook in LA.

I have filed an application to be in the Vero Beach Book Festival in November and I have already been invited to the Florida Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine, in September. Fortunately, that St. Augustine festival pays for my gas and hotel and I have a friend, Bob Soos, in Vero.

In today’s Miami Herald, there was a story on how gas prices are affecting food prices and how low-income families are coping; apple sauce instead of apples for the kids, milk at one meal only, etc.

Down here, at the end of the road, food prices have always been higher than in the mainland, but now it’s even worse. Market prices are up, restaurant prices are up; it seems everything but salaries are going up. $4.09, I’m sorry, four-point-zero-nine, and nine-tenths is the average price per gallon here.

What’s up with that 9/10th of a cent? Are we stupid or what? $3.99 & 9/10th isn’t $4? You have to give the greedy-little-bastards credit, because they have stayed way ahead of the public in all this. They’ve know how far to stick the knife in our back and turn it slowly until we said ‘thank you.’ And we are smiling as the blood is siphoned from our bodies, one precious drop at a time.

Like most Americans, I am looking at ways to save money. Less eating out, more planning before heading out in the car, car-pooling on weekend trips to Old Town. We have even talked about staying on the sailboat Friday nights, if there’s a reason we need to be back in town on Saturday. Of course, who would feed the dog and rabbit? It’s always something!

If you are doing something to cut back, so you can afford gas, write and let me know. For now, I’ll just get back to finishing my novel. I am only a couple of chapters from the ending and then there’s a short story I’ve outlined ready to be written, but what do I do after that?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My tribute to the greedy-little-bastards or, why high gas prices are good for writers

I have left my Jeep under the house (I live in a stilt house, I didn’t bury it) and bought a 2001 Miata. The Jeep got 15 mpg, on a good day, and the Miata gets 30 mpg most any day. I have gone from almost $100 a week in gas to about $30. That’s a pretty good savings. I am also a lot more aware of my running around in the evenings and on the weekends and schedule things now, like dinner, movies, a trip to the Hog’s Breath.

According to my friends, and reports on the news, I am not unique in this. People have begun to put the gas-guzzlers in the garage and turned to more gas efficient vehicles. Here in the Florida Keys that includes scooters and bicycles. I live 15 miles from downtown (not much in miles if I were still in LA, but miles and miles here in the Keys) and it’s too far, and unsafe, to ride a scooter on US1, or a bicycle.

Before we all began to support the new robber oil-barons, I might have driven to town and had breakfast on Saturday morning at Harpoon Harry’s and then come home to write. Now, thanks to gas prices and the greedy-little-bastards who bought the White House, I stay home Saturday morning and write or read.

I dislike big cities, but I suppose if I lived that kind of lifestyle, my daily routine may not have changed as much because of gas gouging, since there are so many places you can walk to (and face the possibility of being mugged) when you live in the heart of an overcrowded metropolises.

So, I can thank the greedy-little-bastards who are pillaging our savings, driving food prices to skyrocket and keeping many of us from taking driving vacations, because I am staying home writing the last chapters of my novel’s sequel and catching up on reading. If I had to guess, I’d say I am only about three-years behind in reading, where last year at this time I was five-years behind!

I’ve even stomped around under the house with a cigar and Jameson on the rocks, plotting out a short story built around the recent Key West Songwriters’ Festival and think it is workable! If gas had been less than $2 a gallon (yeah, get real, we’ll never see that price again!) I would probably have driven downtown, stopped at Finnegan’s Wake, Schooner Wharf, and the Hog’s Breath, and maybe not been so far along in the short story idea.

So, this is my tribute, and thank you, to the greedy-little-bastards for keeping me at the computer writing as they rape and pillage the American dream, horde their billions in quarterly profits, eliminate the middle class, while they tremble because they realize it could all come to an end in January ’09.

Of course, if the Democratic Congress lack of cajones is example of what the next administration holds for us, it is the American people who should be trembling, because there is less and less for us to lose and the plundering may not be stoppable.

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