Monday, February 6, 2012

South Pasadena! South Pasadena!

Final day of my hurried So Cal tour, and this busy day was a two-event one.

Despite the heavy afternoon schedule, we stole a little morning time to visit some favorite area spots from when we lived there. We savored breakfast in Chatsworth’s yummy Country Deli, where they have hilarious murals of Orthodox Rabbis settling the Old West. And we took Annabelle for a walk in Granada Hill’s Bee Park, where we walked our now-departed dogs for ages. Love the meadering paths and the little bridges that cross the creek there.

Then it was on to South Pasadena. I adore that downtown So Pas neighborhood, and it’s great to see how bustling and vital it’s become again. We found a newish bakery and bought sandwiches for the late night trip home. Much better than the fast food we usually eat when on the road.

But first there was my Book ‘Em Mysteries signing. Book ‘Em is another one of those bookstores that I really love to revisit, and where I always enjoy signing. Barry Martin, Mary Riley and their manager Jean Utley have created such a warm, inviting place, where it’s so nice to drop in and chat with an appearing author and where you’re sure to find any and every mystery that you’re looking for. It’s another place where this bookseller loves to browse.

It was so fun catching up with Jean and her customers, signing books for them, as well as all the old friends who also stopped by.

Then it was onto the South Pasadena Library Community Room, where the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime meets. It was such a treat to be back in my old SinC chapter, where I was president once upon a time. I have so many fond memories of sitting in that room, listening to great speakers talk about writing and mysteries, gazing serenely out the giant vintage leaded glass windows in that room, at a magnificent Magnolia tree just outside. You can see a bit of the tree in this photo:

This time I was there as the meeting speaker, discussing for a strong turnout — despite Superbowl Sunday — about mixing the paranormal into mysteries, as well as what editors expect to see in the various cross-genre fantasy forms that are popular today, and why mystery writers are so well placed to capitalize on this trend. Meeting reader Rochelle Staab and I enjoyed such brisk sales, the bookseller couldn’t shut down her selling station at the time when they usually close the room!

Now we’re home at last, after having visited our other, former home. Savoring the nostalgia of a former life. As a writing instructor as well, it’s always rewarding to me to catch up with my former students, learning how their writing is faring today. I got to spend good quality time with so many of them this trip, including Sharlyn and Shannon Harley, Chris Starkman, Jane DiLuccio, Susan Kosar Beery, Linda Nakamura, Diane Vallare and Evelyn Moore. I’m probably forgetting others, and I’m sorry about that — you can blame it on my aging, fatigued brain. It was also especially wonderful to see new SinC/LA chapter president Patty Smiley and my old fellow board member Kevin Gillogly — we three go way back together in SinC/LA. 

Still, there’s nothing like returning to your real home, to sleeping in your own bed. No matter how comfy hotel mattresses are, they’re never quite the same.

Best part? Our cat Philly didn’t even stay too mad at us for having left him. A good end to a great trip. Thanks to everyone who made it special.

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