Michael Haskins

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vero Beach Book Signing - Friendships are priceless

(Lynn Greene Waldenbooks mgr.)

My signing at Waldenbooks in Vero Beach, Florida, the first of October went very well. Bob Soos interviewed me on his Morning Magazine radio show Friday, Oct. 3, and we talked about my book, "Chasin’ the Wind," and the signing. Bob gave three copies of the book away to people who could answer Key West trivia questions he came up with.

(Michae, Gina & Bob Soos)

I first met Bob, and his wife Gina, when he was the general manager of US1 Radio in Key West, and Gina was in its sales department. With his Keys background, Bob had no problem coming up with trivia questions.

Two things you should know about Bob. During Hurricane Georges, Sept. 1998, Bob and his station staff stayed on the air 24/7 and were the only contact many of us had with the outside world for days after Georges kissed us and skedaddled. Second thing you should know is you can spell Bob’s name forward or backward and it’s still right!

(Book winner Marie Mack, Bob & Michael)

I stayed with Bob Friday night.

Bob has been gone from the Keys for a few years, but we kept in touch. He was a member of our Monday Luncheonaires and even today remains on our mailing list and we were on the Crime Stoppers board together. I didn’t stay in touch with Bob because I was expecting to stay with him after he interviewed me and I was in Vero for a book signing. No. I kept in touch because he was a good friend. And sometimes friendships can pay off in unforeseen ways!

Soon after I posted on my website – http://www.michaelhaskins.net/ – that I was going to be in Vero, I received an email form Miss Vero Beach. Seems she’s a fan. She’s also somewhat of an enigma in Vero and her blog – http://www.missverobeachhouse.blogspot.com/ – is scathingly popular. Add to that, that no one really knows who she is! And she likes it that way. Her comments about me are also posted on my website.
(Darlene Schade)

Okay, so I talked about how important friendship can be, let me now make a comment on belonging to networking groups, like the Mystery Writes of America. I am a member and have been since the ‘80s. Now I belong to the Florida chapter and we have a Yahoo group that discusses most anything to do with writing and sometimes if Don Bruns - http://www.donbrunsbooks.com/ - gets on we find out a little something we didn’t know about music, or an award he deservedly won in Nashville, or Bob Morris - http://www.bobmorris.net/, or his blog: http://www.surroundedonthreesides.blogspot.com/ - will pass along a new recipe – sometimes for food and sometimes for rum! Bob also blurbed my book, thank you!

But this time, Nancy Cohen - www.nancycohen.com - passed along a little info about Lynn Greene from the Waldenbooks in Vero Beach being a mystery fan and she welcomed mystery writers to sign in her store. I had an email out to Lynn before Nancy shut her computer off. And Lynn got back to me just as quickly and in a matter of hours of my first email, we had a signing date for me at Waldenbooks in Vero!

I had met Nancy at SleuthFest a few years back and she even was nice enough to give me a great blurb for my novel. So, as you can imagine, I support joining MWA even if you are not a published writer. I joined in Los Angeles, attended luncheons, workshops, funerals, beach parties, all before I was published, and continued my membership when I moved to Key West. Today, I still keep in touch with some of the SoCal members and read its monthly newsletter.
Friendships, professional or otherwise, and networking pays off, as my Vero Beach signing proves.

Now, Miss Vero did show up and I would gladly tell you her name and what she looked like, but she wouldn’t tell Bob or me her name and she wore a disguise. Knowing what a gossip I am, she expects me to tell you she’s a buxom blonde bombshell, but my trained writer’s eye picked up small telltale signs that the Dolly Parton hairdo was wig and the buxom part, well across the food court of the mall is a Victoria Secrets, so I question the buxom part, too. I can report that she is an attractive woman, her blog is fun to read, and someday Bob and I would like to take the real Miss Vero to lunch. Maybe when I call Lynn about my next book and arrange a signing, she’ll join Lynn, Bob and me. So until then, all you Miss Vero fans can ignore the buxom blondes, that ain’t her. The little sprinkling of freckles across her nose would make me think red head, but it’s only a guess.

Okay, what have we learned form this, other than I am two weeks late posting?

One, I hope, is that friendships are priceless.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

6 Things about me and books . . .

Joan Reeves, from Slingwords.blogspot.com, tagged me to write “6 things about me and books.” She also tagged: Sweet But Sassy Adina, Bill Crider, Cait London, and L. C. Hayden.

Books, as I look over my computer desk I have four room-length bookshelves above me, filled past capacity with books I’ve read and, laying on their sides, books on my ‘to read’ list. So 6 things . . . here goes . . .

1) In high school, I was anything but a motivated student. I think it was the ninth or tenth grade, while in study class, in the English teacher’s classroom, I pulled a book from a rack called “Men Without Women” by Hemingway. Mr. Carlin, the teacher, came up to me and said something like, to paraphrase, “put the book back you aren’t bright enough to understand it.” He may have been kinder, but I was insulted (you can’t hurt a teenager) and went home to borrow against my allowance and bought the book the next day. I soon devoured all of Hemingway’s books I could find at school (not many) and the library. So, I guess, I turned an insult into a bad habit, reading and buying books!

2) When I was young, before God decided to call dirt, dirt, magazines of all sorts had at least one short story in it. I got in the habit of going through all my mother’s magazines, looking for short stories; that soon had me going through the short story anthologies in the library.

3) Somewhere, out of place, I discovered the Beats! The movement was almost over, but I couldn’t relate to hippies and dropping out. I loved to read about the Beats and their writings and adventures. Of course, that led to Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” I think I’ve read all of Kerouac’s works and many of the other Beats, including the poetry. It was about this time I decided I wanted to be a writer and, in many cases, unfortunately, it had to do with the way Hemingway and Kerouac lived!

4) During high school, I got a weekend job on the Boston Record-American/Sunday Advertiser as the midnight-8 a.m. office boy. Yeah, I know, it’s political incorrect today, but back then, that’s what I was. Following in Hemingway’s footsteps, right? I learned more about journalism those years than I ever did from higher education! I read all I could of books by journalists like Jimmy Breslin, and, of course, Damon Runyon. I wanted their style and today I will still watch “Guys & Dolls” when it’s on an old movie channel!

5) I will always be a short story fan, but by the time I moved to Los Angeles, I was reading mysteries and discovered LA had a hatful of mystery writers, long after Raymond Chandler had died. I also discovered Mystery Writers of America, SoCal Chapter and joined. Hell, the list of writers I met at the socials and dinners is too long to print here and I would probably miss more than one writer that was good to me and listened to my questions and gave answers. It was a great time in my life and got me to start writing my own novels. Of course, I had a draw full of short stories no one would publish, too.

6) Fast forward to my leaving LA and moving to Key West, end of the road – or the beginning, depending on your vision. I had come full circle; I was the business editor/writer for the daily rag, the Key West Citizen. I found time to write, while I lived on a floating home in a local marina – think of a two-story, one-bedroom house on a barge and that was my home. Come 1998 and Hurricane Georges blew the floating home out to sea and it was never found! Everything I had, including a great collection of first editions – many signed – were lost. I began to rebuild my library, but it was hard because I was living on a sailboat. But I had joined MWA Fla. Chapter and got to meet many talented mystery writers and began attending their events – 150 miles north of Key West. And I kept writing. A couple of years ago, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine bought and published my short story, “Murder in Key West,” and a few weeks later I received a contract from Five Star for my book, “Chasin’ the Wind.”

It took a lot of books and time to get from high school to Key West and published. Books are as much of a passion as is writing, in fact, I believe, as does Steve King, if you don’t’ read voraciously, you can not write.

Now, there are 6 things about me and books you could probably have lived a good long life without knowing, but I was asked to participate, so I did. What 6 things about you and books don’t we all know? Why not tell us?

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