Sunday, October 23, 2011


My father was a truck driver—he drove thousands of miles during his driving career—maybe millions.
He knew that the road can be a scary, unpredictable place—a mental and physical minefield. He developed strong opinions about road food. There were truck stops and cafes he frequented, because he knew the food was good and the coffee was hot and black and served up in bottomless cups. He drove and drank coffee and smoked unfiltered Chesterfields, in an ongoing duel between nicotine and caffeine.
Me, I don’t use nicotine—but I’m like my father in other ways. Caffeine is important to me—especially when I’m on the road, and time changes and exhaustion require a boost from my drug of choice. I’m not someone to swill down energy drinks or stimulant pills—I prefer my caffeine delivered in coffee, iced tea, or Coke Zero. Diet Pepsi in a pinch.
To be precise—I mean fresh, high quality coffee with real cream or milk (no sugar,) brewed (non instant) unsweetened iced tea, and Coke Zero in a bottle (no fountain drinks, please.) When I’m in a hotel, I like a little refrigerator to keep my Coke Zero in.And I'd love to pour it into a real glass.
Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. 
Well, in at least one hotel I stayed in, it seems you can special-order a glass. 
I hate those hotel mini-bars that are designed to keep you from putting any of your own stuff into them. In case you don’t get it, they usually carry strident warning signs—“Don’t even think of putting any of YOUR stuff in here. And if you touch any of OUR stuff, you WILL BE CHARGED.”

You know they know what you want—that’s why they have that sign. And typically all the food in the mini-bar is laden with sugar, salt, and fat, and the beverages are too expensive.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Some hotels have figured it out.

I love having a coffee maker in my room—it allows me to take a caffeine hit before I meet the public—which is good for both me and the public. But sometimes you’re better off doing without.
I don’t care for Styrofoam cups—I can’t help but imagine the foam dissolving into my coffee, creating a chemical cocktail. And I despise those little condiment packs with the powdered creamer. Read the ingredients sometime if you want to make your heart go pitter-pat. Stir that into your coffee and the grayish scum result is hardly appealing.

Many in-room coffee-makers brew a cup at a time while producing a mountain of packaging debris. 

Want to heat up your coffee? You have to make another cup. They know it’s annoying—that’s why they have the little sign.

Does that remind you at all of this?

There seems to be a decaffeination trend in the Denver and San Francisco airports. Last time I was there, all the coolers in the gift shops and newsstands contained bottled water and fruit juice. 

Maybe it’s part of some kind of health initiative, but I noticed that the Ghirardelli and ice cream and deep fried food vendors were all still there. 
Never mind that the fruit juice is full of sugar and calories that I don’t need. I had to walk from shop to shop to shop to finally locate pop in bottles.
As if life on the road isn’t hard enough!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sign Up Here for Email Updates About Me and My Books!

I often hear from readers who've missed some critical bit of news--for example, that I'm visiting their town. Or I've just signed a deal for two more Heir books. Or that there are actually FOUR books in the Seven Realms series instead of three. Or there's an opportunity to win free books or other swag.
And people ask me: Couldn't you email me when your next book comes out?

Well, I have trouble keeping track of family birthdays, so you know I'm unreliable when it comes to notifying thousands of people.
GoogleGroups to the rescue! If you'd like to receive occasional updates (I'm thinking 3 or 4 times a month) about author events, honors, new releases, movie rumors--whatever--you can sign up for my Google mailing list.
See the sign-up box on the upper right!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Interview and Fantasy Writing Workshop

Here I'm interviewed by Bill Kenower of Author Magazine at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA.

October 20, 2011 6-8 p.m.

There's still time to sign up for a free fantasy writing workshop at the Chagrin Falls Library.
More info is here.