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Forty Dead Men
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It’s Been a Busy Month…

September 24th, 2008

in Tempe, Arizona. On September 16, I drove up to Fountain Hills, AZ, which is still part of the Phoenix metro area, but according to my trip meter, is 23 miles north of my house. I was invited to speak to the women of the Fountain Hills Book Club, who had chosen The Drop Edge of Yonder as their August/September book.

Fountain Hills is a beautiful town abutting the mountains. There is a lake containing the eponymous fountain right in the middle of town, and said fountain just happens to be the tallest in the United States. It shoots off like Old Faithful, 560 feet into the air, every fifteen minutes, and is a startling sight to say the least. I met my hostesses, Ann and Barbara, at Water’s Edge restaurant, which as you might guess is right on the lake. One entire wall is a window that faces the fountain, and we were treated to a regular aquatic display throughout the meal. After they treated me to a lovely gourmet lunch, Ann drove me through the winding streets of Fountain Hills to the Book Club meeting at Judy’s home, where I ignored the fact that I was full and stuffed myself with cookies while talking about myself and my books. The women were sharp and insightful, not to mention hospitable. All in all, my
dream situation.

Last Monday, Sept. 22, Don and I drove up to Glendale, AZ, 45 miles north of my house, according to the trip meter, where I spoke to a creative writing class at Cactus High School. This event was in conjunction with the Phoenix Big Read, which is going on here until October 13. The Valley Arts Council is arranging a bunch of mystery writing events at schools, libraries, and book clubs, since the Big Read book this year is The Maltese Falcon. Several Arizona mystery writers are leading discussions and conducting workshops, including Yours Truly. The authors who write noir are talking to clubs about Falcon. I’m presenting mystery writing workshops, since my books aren’t all that dark. I’ll be at Tempe Public Library and at a Phoenix Barnes and Noble bookstore in the next couple of weeks.

I actually used to teach high school English, (10th and 11th grades) back in the olden days, when the world and I were young. I haven’t set foot in a high school since I changed professions. The kids were fun and lively, engaged and well-behaved, but I did sort of remember why I moved into academia. Their teacher, Mrs. Hales, was of a generation infinitely closer to her students’ than to mine. Just as well. School teachers have to have the strength and endurance of an ox, I think, and the mental toughness of Al Capone. (Which reminds me of the movie The Untouchables, with Kevin Costner. Remember how Capone handled dissension in that movie? His technique would sure settle down a classroom. Of course the teacher would end up with a lethal injection, but I’m guessing that the temptation arises sometimes.)

On a final note, thank you to everyone who contacted me with information about and support groups for MEN 1. I am very grateful for anything you can tell me, Dear Readers.

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