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* — Incomplete in the sense that, at various points, I forgot to take pictures. I did manage, however, to make it to Missoula and back safely, which was my prime objective.

Tuesday, April 19, I left Billings for the 345-mile drive to Missoula, where I had a reading scheduled for Fact & Fiction that night. The next morning, I headed back home. In between: visits with friends, road food, inclement weather and alcohol.

Join me, won’t you?

Less than a block from my house in Billings, this was my view. I woke up Tuesday to find my SUV covered in snow.

Forty miles into the trip, I stopped for breakfast in Columbus. Norman Mailer, in Tom Grimes' "Mentor," said "You gotta eat eggs on the road." So I did.

The worst of the weather occurred between Columbus and Big Timber. For a few miles there, the passing lane was covered in snow and ice and the snow was encroaching on my lane. I was afraid I'd have to turn around ...

... but then, after Big Timber, clear roads returned.

In Bozeman, I stopped and visited with my friend Ariana, the new owner of the Country Bookshelf.

I stopped for lunch in Butte (where I met my friend David Abrams) and noticed that I had an ice-encrusted front bumper.

After lunch, I followed David through some hellacious road construction to his beautiful 1920s house in Butte.

While in Butte, I stopped by Books and Books, another wonderful indie bookseller.

Doesn't everybody take a picture of himself in a roadside restroom?

Missoula! Fact & Fiction! Yes!

Wednesday brought a beautiful day for driving home. And so I did, rapidly.

What did I leave out? Lots of stuff: pictures from the reading in Missoula, hosted by Fact & Fiction’s wonderful owner, Barbara Theroux; my reunion with old friend Robert Meyerowitz, the new editor of the Missoula Independent; my kind hosts, Lisa Simon and Jason Neal and their wonderful home in the woods; cats Maynard and BeBe, who tolerated my intrusion. During the best parts of the trip, I put the camera down — which says little for my photojournalism skills but does commend my ability to fully live in the moment. I’ll take that trade.

Sorry.

There’s been little to say of late, and so I’ve gone against character and said little. So before I disappear again, I’ll take the opportunity to do a little bit of self-serving promotion and to drop a teaser out there. Hang tight, please.

My busy April started in the waning days of March with a reading and signing at the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, where a fine time was had. God, I love our wonderful indie bookstores — Thomas Books here in my hometown of Billings, Barbara Theroux’s Fact & Fiction in Missoula, Mary Jane and her crew at the Country Bookshelf and some others (see below) that I’ll be visiting in the coming days. I do hope that if you’re fortunate enough to have an independent bookseller where you live — someone who hand selects the books he/she stocks and promotes not just the titans of the literary world but also local and regional authors — that you’re generous with your time and money in such places. They are treasures, in every sense of the word.

Here’s a look at my upcoming schedule:

Thursday, April 8: I’ll be back in Bozeman for the Montana Book Awards. Jamie Ford’s lovely debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was the big winner this year, and 600 Hours of Edward was fortunate enough to be selected as an Honor Book, along with Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn, Reif Larsen’s The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet and Wallace McRae’s Stick Horses. My publisher, Riverbend, and I are richly gratified to see the novel get this recognition, particularly given the stellar company. We’re looking forward to a wonderful evening.

Saturday, April 10: I’ll be in Helena at the Montana Book Co. (another indie!) to sign copies of 600 Hours of Edward. The event runs from 1 to 3 p.m. at 331 North Last Chance Gulch.

Saturday, April 17: I’ll be at the Madison Valley Public Library in Ennis, 328 Main Street, at 11 a.m. to chat about 600 Hours and to give a reading to the Friends of the Library.

Sunday, April 18: Another day, another Friends of the Library group, this one in Livingston at the Livingston-Park County Public Library, 228 W. Callender Street. That starts at 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 24: I get to go to one of my favorite Montana towns, Red Lodge, for a signing at Red Lodge Books, 16 N. Broadway, at 3 p.m. Really looking forward to meeting Gary and his patrons.

Saturday, May 8: I’m headed to Butte and Books and Books, 206 W. Park Street, for a signing that begins at 2 p.m.

By the way, you can always check out my upcoming schedule at my Web site, CraigLancaster.net.

That’s it for now. There’s some other news percolating — some of it big, all of it exciting. When it’s ready for release, you’ll be able to find it here. *

* — Yes, this is a blatant teaser.

A few new appearances have trickled in this week …

Tuesday, March 30: I’ll be at the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman for a signing that begins at 7 p.m. The address is 28 West Main.

Saturday, April 10: The Montana Book Co. in Helena, 1 to 3 p.m. 331 North Last Gulch.

Saturday, April 17: I’m doing a presentation for the Friends of the Madison Valley Public Library in Ennis beginning at 11 a.m.  328 Main Street.

There should be some news about a Livingston event in the near future. Stay tuned. And, of course, you can check out my calendar any time by visiting my newly revamped Web site.

While I cannot promise I'll wear a suit to any of the above events, as you can see from the picture, there's always a chance.

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