Every time I think it’s safe to go to Yemen to research my next John Corey novel, there’s a new outbreak of civil unrest. The good news is that tourism is down to zero, so I won’t have a problem getting a hotel room anytime I want to go.
I was at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival in Ft. Myers on Saturday, March 19 as announced, and I had a wonderful time. I gave two talks, the first with my Audiobook narrator, Scott Brick, and the second with bestselling author Ted Bell. Both talks attracted over 500 people, and the crowd was
enthusiastic and very welcoming. I also did two booksignings at the Festival and signed hundreds of books, including some of my own. All in all, it was a great experience, and I thank everyone who attended, and everyone who put the event together for a good cause.
The night before my talks and signings, there was a reception and dinner for all the authors and guests from the community. I went to this reception directly from the airport with my good friend, Dan Barbiero, who had flown with me from New York to Fort Myers. At the reception, we were escorted to a table where five men and one lady were sitting. I began to introduce myself to the people at the table, then I realized I knew these men. They were, in fact, five guys I served with in Vietnam in 1968. I was absolutely floored. They’d heard I’d be at this event and they decided they needed to surprise their old lieutenant after 43 years. The amazing thing was that I recognized them. None of
us had aged a day.
Here’s who they are: Jerry Frease, who put this surprise reunion together, and who helps keep everyone in touch; Paul Sadowski, who was the last man of my platoon who I saw in November 1968 as I was leaving base camp for my long journey home; Jesse “Smitty” Smith, my radio operator whose most important job was to remind me to keep my head down; Ed “Doc” Copps, my medic, who saved a lot of lives; and Phil Hamm, who was badly wounded in both legs and still suffers from his injuries.
It was a wonderful reunion—happy and sad—and we reminisced and caught up on life.
Dan Barbiero served with the Third Marines not far from where we’d been stationed in 1968, so he had a lot to talk about, too.
Smitty had brought his wife and she was a good trouper, listening to a lot of war stories.
The unit we’d been with in Vietnam was the famed First Cavalry Division—made more famous by the movie Apocalypse Now—and at the end of the evening, my guys presented me with a beautiful cavalry saber, inscribed from my platoon to me.
Thank you gentlemen, and welcome home.
And now for some NEW announcements: I will be participating in BookHampton’s annual event called Mayhem. This is a weekend of booksignings and other activities at BookHampton’s three bookstore locations on Long Island. I’ll be doing a talk and signing at the Sag Harbor store at 1:00 pm on Sunday, May 15. Click here for more information. This is a fun weekend, and if you’re in the area, stop by.
I’ll also be at Hunter College Writers’ Conference (NYC) on Saturday, June 4 at 12:30 pm for a talk with the famed Lewis Burke Frumkes, followed by a booksigning. Click here for more information.
And finally, what will probably be my last booksigning of 2011—the East Hampton (Long Island) Library’s 7th Annual Authors Night event, on Saturday, August 13, 5:00-7:30 pm. This is held under a big tent and attracts rich and famous authors and much richer guests, plus the rest of us. It’s a nice evening with wine and cheese, and the proceeds go to the East Hampton Public Library. For more info, click here.
As I’ve mentioned in my last two Newsletters, I was honored to be chosen as the editor of the 2011 Mystery Writers of America Anthology, titled The Rich and the Dead. You can pre-order this book from your favorite online retailer right now—I’ll wait—and it will be delivered to your door on or about publication day, which is May 2. Or you can pre-order from your favorite bookstore, and beat the crowds on May 2 who will be fighting for the last remaining copies on the shelves.
And don’t forget, if you’re in New York City on Tuesday, April 26, you are invited to the launch party of The Rich and the Dead, 6:00-8:00 pm at The Mysterious Bookshop, located at 58 Warren Street. There will be pre-publication copies of The Rich and the Dead available for purchase, and many of the short story contributors will be there—myself included—to sign your copy at no extra charge. The proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop is my good friend, the legendary Otto Penzler, who has ordered a case of squirt cheese and a box of crackers whose sell-by date is also April 26. The crackers expire at midnight, so get there early. You’ve heard of jug wine and box wine, but have you heard of Hefty Bag wine? Otto has a bag of red and a bag of white which will flow all night. Bring your own straws, ladles, or plastic cups. Hey, the New York literary scene also got hit hard by
the recession. The eighties are over.
In conclusion, one more thanks to my brave and trusted men who fought a hard and unpopular war, but who kept the faith and loved their country. And to the men and women who are serving now around the world to keep us safe at home—thank you, and safe home to you.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover!
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