Friday, May 28, 2010

I Need Some Sleep

BookExpo America is over. I’m sure I had a great time. I’m sure I met a lot of fantastic readers, writers, and industry folk. I’m sure I learned a lot about the business. I’m sure I signed a lot of books.

I’m sure I’m tired.

(Of course, I wrote this post before I left for the conference, scheduling it to run today, knowing I’d be on the road. But I’m still pretty sure I had a great time!)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yay, BEA!

DIAMONDS 72 Tomorrow and Thursday, I’ll be at BookExpo America (BEA).

On Wednesday, I’ll be signing in the autograph area, table 12, from 11:30 – 12:30.

On Thursday, I’ll be signing at the MWA Booth (#2953) from 12:45 – 1:15.

If you’re going to be there, come by and say hi. And get your very own copy of DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD!


Monday, May 24, 2010

When Did You Know?

stack-of-sharpened-pencils When I was a teenager and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I often shrugged (I was a big shrugger back then). Maybe an inventor. Or an engineer. Or maybe I'd like to own my own business. (This is in contrast to my brother who wanted to be a bear when he grew up. In his defense, he was only about four years old when he said it.) Beyond those generalities, though, I didn't have much of a clue. And I have to admit, those were merely vague ideas. A lot of things interested me, but I couldn't really pinpoint any one that I wanted to devote my career to.

So I went to college and majored in mechanical engineering, figuring that would keep me on track for any of my career choices (besides, I was always good with math and science). Four years later, I had my degree and took a job in manufacturing, as an engineer on the management track.

Ho hum. The jobs were mostly boring; a smattering of interesting things here and there kept them from being full-out terrible. But after a few years of moving around the country, supervising assembly workers in factories, I'd had enough.

So I went to business school. I could still become an inventor and I could still start my own business.

Two years later, MBA in hand, I found myself back in the working world, toiling at jobs that were mostly boring, scintillating parts few and far between. Ho ho hum.

So I quit and started my own newsletter company, writing and editing environmental newsletters (called, strangely enough, Environmental Newsletters, Inc.). That held my interest for eight years or so, but with the coming of the Internet, my business model was changing fast. I could tell that charging for information, with so much free stuff coming on-line, was going to be a tough sell.

So I sold the business, and now, years later, I find myself writing fiction.

If you told me I'd be writing fiction when I was in high school, I would have looked at you funny (right before I snorted milk out my nose). Writing? I hated English class. I hated reading all those "classic" books. I hated discussing themes and character motivations and just about anything else writing-related. Sure, I liked reading science fiction novels, but that was about it.

I always envied those people who knew what they wanted to do with their lives, professionally, since high school. They always sounded so positive, so confident, in their choices. How could they know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives? I barely knew what I wanted for lunch.

I guess life is just one big story with plenty of surprising twists.

Just like my books, I hope.

What about you, writers? When did you know you wanted to write when you grew up?

(This entry “simul-posted” on InkSpot.)


Friday, May 21, 2010


I’m interviewed by Don Helin on the International Thriller Writers website. Click on over to see what I have to say about, uh, different stuff (hopefully, my answers are a lot more eloquent than that!).

Thanks, Don!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Way Cool!

I’ve lived in the DC suburbs most of my life. DC is a great place, full of history and politics, museums and monuments. Whenever I get a chance to go into the city, I’m always impressed by/amazed at/proud of my “hometown.”

When I was a kid, we’d take field trips to the museums.

When out-of-town friends come to visit, I take them sightseeing (I still haven’t taken a tour of the White House, but now that a friend of mine works there (no, not the Big Guy), I think I’ll be getting a private tour soon).

Sometimes, my wife and I take the kids in to see a special exhibit at one of the museums or art galleries.

On occasion, we even brave the crowds and take a walk amongst the cherry blossoms.

So I’m super-duper thrilled to be having a book event at one of the country’s most prestigious institutions.

On Thursday (tomorrow, May 20), I’ll be discussing DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD at the Library of Congress.Library of Congress

Yes, THE Library of Congress.

The talk begins at noon, and it will take place in the Pickford Theater in the Madison Building (3rd Floor). If you’re in the area, please come by and join the fun—I’d love to see you there!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Good Surprise, Bad Surprise

Saturday, I spoke at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. My presentation went well and I sold some books. I had a terrific time.

The weather was great, the event was extremely organized and well-attended, and the roster of participating authors was awesome. Some family members came out to support me, and I got a chance to catch up with several writing friends.

Hoffman, Ashman, and me at GburgI had the pleasure of meeting a Pulitzer Prize winner (David Hoffman), pictured here with me and Festival Chair Jud Ashman in the center (Kudos to Jud for a fantastic event! BTW, he donned his blue blazer shortly after this picture was taken.)

I also met two sports writers I admire (John Feinstein and Fred Bowen), and got a chance to hear Keith Donohue, Alice McDermott, and Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore) talk about their books.

I met the mayor of Gaithersburg.

I met and talked to a slew of other writers and readers and book lovers.

But the highlight of the day for me?

My 12th grade Calculus teacher showed up for my presentation.


Just wow.


And in other news, when I got home from the Festival, there was a note waiting for me on the counter. It read, "Raccoon in toter." (For those of you who don't know, a toter is a big plastic trashcan that you wheel out to the street.)

Part of me just wanted to pretend like I'd never seen the note. But, responsible soul that I am, I leaped into action.

First, I tried tipping the toter on its side so the creature could leave on its own. Nothing happened.

Then, I took a hockey stick and banged on the side of the toter, trying to "inspire" the raccoon to leave. Nothing.

Next, using the hockey stick, I flipped the top of the can up. Nothing leaped out. Unfortunately, from my angle (behind the toter), I couldn't tell if it was just waiting until I showed my face before it sprang out at me. I decided not to test that theory

Instead, I took my wife's suggestion and got in the van so I could back out of the garage and get a clear view into the toter. So, for the first time ever, in 19 years of living in the house, I clipped the side of the garage with the passenger-side mirror, because I was focused on not running over a crazy, rabid, man-eating raccoon.

Turned out he was long gone. D’oh!


Friday, May 14, 2010

So Sorr-ay

This Wednesday was Limerick Day,
Every year—the twelfth of May,
It passed me by,
I don’t know why,
But I’m really very sorr-ay.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pop Quiz

What do the following writers have in common?

Alice McDermott - Winner of the National Book Award and three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist

David Hoffman - Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize

Wes Moore - Rhodes Scholar and recently on Oprah, The View, and Meet The Press

John Feinstein - Author of 26 books

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor - Author of 135 books and winner of the Newbery Medal and Edgar Award

Alan Orloff (me) - Came in second place in the Volleyball Serve during 6th Grade Field Day when I was eleven

Give up?

We are all featured authors at the Gaithersburg Book Festival this Saturday (May 15)!

I know, right?

The festival is an all-day affair, featuring many well-known local writers (and me, too). There will be workshops, seminars, presentations, signings, poetry readings, music, food, fun, and books, books, books!

Admission is free!

My presentation begins at 10:00 a.m. in the Dashiell Hammett Pavilion. After I finish, stick around to hear Meredith Cole, author of the Agatha-nominated POSED FOR MURDER and the newly-released DEAD IN THE WATER, speak at 11:00 a.m. in the same pavilion.

For all the details, including directions and parking info, visit the Gaithersburg Book Festival website.



Monday, May 10, 2010

The Tavernier Stones

Stephen Parrish is a talented writer/blogger/man-about-town (well, two out of three, I’m sure of). He’s also a fellow Midnight Ink author and cyberpal of mine, who has just released his debut novel, THE TAVERNIER STONES.

Tavernier StonesWhen the well-preserved body of 17th century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius floats to the surface of a bog in northern Germany, and a 57 carat ruby rolls out of his fist, treasure hunters from around the globe race to find the Lost Tavernier Stones of popular European folklore.

According to legend, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was robbed of a priceless hoard while returning from his final voyage to the Orient in 1689. The hoard reputedly includes some of the world's most notorious missing jewels. Among them the 280 carat Great Mogul Diamond and the 242 carat Great Table Diamond, the largest diamonds ever unearthed whose whereabouts are unknown.

John Graf is an Amish-born cartographer who has never ventured out of Pennsylvania, let alone embarked on an international treasure hunt. David Freeman is a gemologist who has done his share of prospecting, but little of it within the boundaries of the law. Between them they have all the expertise necessary to solve the mystery. They also have enough differences to derail even the best of partnerships. And ahead are more obstacles: fortune seekers equally qualified and every bit as determined.

The race spans two continents. The finish line is in Idar-Oberstein, the gemstone capital of Germany. There, in chambers beneath an old church, where unspeakable events took place in centuries past, winners and losers alike find answers to age-old questions about the Lost Tavernier Stones.

Stephen Parrish Stephen is a very creative guy. So, not surprisingly, he’s come up with a very creative book promotion. He’s holding an “armchair treasure hunt.” The really cool part? The treasure is an honest-to-goodness one-carat diamond. That’s right, a rock. Bling, bling. (Diamonds seem to be quite popular in mystery fiction this season!).

For details on how to participate, and how YOU can find this amazing treasure, go here. Make sure to buckle the seatbelt on your armchair, because I’m sure you’re in for a wild ride!


This is me, admiring a copy of THE TAVERNIER STONES (which later became MY copy of THE TAVERNIER STONES).


Friday, May 7, 2010

Reston Rocks!

Last night, I had my first bookstore signing event at the Reston (VA) Barnes & Noble.

I’ve been patronizing this store for many years, and it was such a thrill to be speaking at it. As a published author. With my books on the shelf! In a word: AWESOME!

We had a nice turnout—most of the seats were taken—and we sold some books. Also nice. But it was even nicer meeting such wonderful readers and talented local writers (and a few folks just there for the cake—I don’t blame them a bit!).

I had a blast!

I’d like to thank my two hosts for the event, Ginna and Martina. Two nicer and more supportive ladies you will never meet. And so knowledgeable, too. If you ever have any book questions, you now know where to go. Tell them Alan sent you. (While you’re there, you could always pick up a signed copy of DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD. Just sayin’)




(At my talk, every time I looked up, I saw THE TAVERNIER STONES out of the corner of my eye, on a nearby end display. Which is a good omen, I think, because next Monday’s blog post will focus on that newly-released book!)


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Coming Up For Air

As you might have noticed, I’ve missed a few “regular” blog days (I’ve been “on the road”). And I don’t have much prepared for today’s post either, beyond mapping out some blog topics for the upcoming few weeks.

I’ve been doing a lot of promotion (and that will continue the rest of the month), so I’d like to recap some of those experiences (the Kensington Book Festival, the Malice Domestic mystery convention, the Oakmont Festival of Mystery, and my Reston (VA) Barnes & Noble book signing (tomorrow night, May 6 at 7:00 pm—please stop by, there will be cake!)).

I’ll be “introducing” Stephen Parrish’s debut mystery, The Tavernier Stones.

I’ll be evaluating my recent Diamonds for the Dead World Blog Tour—what worked, what didn’t, what I’d change for next time.

And I’ll continue to blog about whatever strikes my fancy.

Thanks to all my regular blog readers for stopping by—I appreciate it!