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Assuming the world continues spinning on its axis for the next 24 hours or so, I’ll be at a book signing tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 19). Here’s the skinny:

Red Lodge Books, 11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, Montana, from 3 to 5 p.m. You should certainly come for The Summer Son, but if that’s not enough to sway you, owner Gary Robson has a killer lineup of cigars and makes a mean cup of tea. You won’t want to miss that.

My first week back on the terra firma of Montana has been a bit of a whirlwind. A recap:

I offered up my advice to the lovelorn in this month’s issue of Magic City magazine. The value of that advice is debatable, but perhaps it might squeeze a belly laugh out of you.

Charles Apple, the relentless blogging machine at the American Copy Editors Society, featured a Q&A with me at the Visual Side of Journalism. And I totally wasn’t lying when I said I enjoyed being edited. I promise.

And it feels so good!

Largehearted Boy, one of the coolest blogs out there, featured The Summer Son in its Book Notes series, where authors pick a playlist for their book. And despite the presence of Randy VanWarmer, Robert John and, God help me, Peaches & Herb, it’s not as schlocky as you might imagine.

Novelist Linda Sandifer brought me aboard her Writing Out West blog for a Q&A.

And then, just today, as if I weren’t growing weary of my own words, I have a piece up at Genna Sarnak’s Reading, Writing, & The World of Words on the useless distinctions between literary and genre fiction.

This book could be yours. Signed and everything!

Also, just as a bit of a housekeeping chore:

A reminder that a giveaway of a SIGNED copy of Jonathan Evison’s brilliant West of Here is still going on here at the ol’ blog. Just cruise over to the original post and leave a comment, and you’re entered (U.S. and Canadian residents only, please). This will be one of the “it” books of 2011. It made its debut on the New York Times bestseller list this week at No. 35. Expect it to climb.

If you’d like to double down on your chances of reeling in a copy of this book, cruise over to David Abrams’ The Quivering Pen, where he’s offering it as his Friday freebie.

As I type these words, the release of my second novel, The Summer Son, lies just a week away. During the first couple of weeks of release, some friends and fellow book bloggers are going to be helping me get out the word about the new book. In exchange for their generosity in letting me hang around their sites, I’ll be giving away signed copies of the book at each stop.

Here’s the lineup. Please do these folks the courtesy of visiting their sites, now and during the upcoming appearances. My guess is you’ll find plenty to interest you at each one:

Monday, January 24: I’ll kick things off at A Word Please, hosted by author Darcia Helle, with an essay on the meeting of fact and fiction in The Summer Son.

Tuesday, January 25 (release day): Billings Gazette arts reporter Jaci Webb will host a Q&A with me at the 5:01 blog.

Wednesday, January 26: At The Book Inn, hosted by Natalie Wadel, I’ll write about fathers and sons, the major theme of the book.

Thursday, January 27: At Straight from Hel, hosted by Helen Ginger, I’ll write about the 20-month stretch in which I wrote and sold my first two novels, a burst of creativity that I’m not likely to mimic anytime soon.

Friday, January 28: The first week will wrap up with a visit to The Visual Side of Journalism, hosted by Charles Apple, where he’ll pitch some questions at a guy (me) who works in the production trenches of a daily newspaper but writes fiction on the side.

Monday, January 31: Cherie Newman, host of the excellent “The Write Question” on Montana Public Radio, gives me the keys to her blog of the same name and lets me hold forth on what it means to write in and of Montana.

Tuesday, February 1: This will be a little different. My friend Jim Thomsen will host a Q&A with me in the form of a Facebook note. But don’t worry: if you’ve so far resisted the siren song of the social network, the interview will be simulcast on two authors’ blogs: R.J. Keller’s Ingenious Title to Appear Here Later and Kristen Tsetsi’s From a Little Office in a Little House.

Wednesday, February 2: One Book at a Time blogger Page Eberhardt gives me the floor for an essay on where stories come from, as if I have any idea.

Thursday, February 3: The fellas over at 3 Guys, One Book let me pitch in with an entry in their ongoing series “When We Fell in Love.”

Friday, February 4: I wrap up at Coffee, Books and Laundry, hosted by Melissa Vasquez, where I’ll write about balancing readers’ expectations with following the muse wherever she leads.

So please (please!) make plans to follow along each day, and be sure to throw in for a chance at a signed book at each stop.

The week before Thanksgiving 1991, I piled my meager belongings — mostly clothes and a few electronic items, like an alarm clock — into a big blue bag intended to hold golf clubs. My parents drove me to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and, nearly a decade before 9/11 took such simple things away from us, sat with me in the boarding area while I awaited a flight to Seattle.

I don’t remember what we said. It doesn’t really matter. My emotions were all over the place. I was sad to be leaving the place I had called home for 18 years. (Odd to think that I’ve now lived elsewhere for as long as I ever lived in North Richland Hills.) I was thrilled to be heading off to my first real post-collegiate job, as sports editor of a small paper in Alaska.

In Seattle, I was joined by my grandmother, who had flight privileges on Alaska Airlines because my grandfather, by then 11 years dead, had been an executive with the company. She was coming north to help me get settled, and she ended up doing so much more than that, buying me a car. (It was an ’84 Escort wagon, if I recall correctly. Brown. Oh, yeah.) For three days, she stayed with me in a world gone white and cold. And then she went home to Washington.

That was on a Sunday. Four days before Thanksgiving. I’ve never felt such crushing loneliness.

So why am I thinking of this at 5:34 a.m., 18 years later, while I sit in the dark of my house, with those I love most sleeping a room away?

Strangely enough, it’s because I’m thinking of a friend I’ve never met who’s a world away from his loved ones on this day of giving thanks. Of the many ways in which life has changed since I sat alone on Thanksgiving in a studio apartment in Kenai, Alaska, perhaps none is more notable than the technology that binds us even as we seem more adrift than ever from one another in time and physical distance. I can read Charles Apple’s blog and see the things he sees in South Africa, know what he’s had for dinner, experience his frustration and his jubilation as he does hands-on work with a newspaper there. I can flip over to Facebook and read my friends’ most intimate thoughts about what they’re thankful for, all because they’re compelled to say it and the Web site can move it from their fingertips to my eyes in an instant.

Let me tell you, it’s pretty damned glorious.

Nineteen ninety-one was undoubtedly a simpler time. If I view it through the hazy lens of nostalgia, I sometimes yearn for those days, when I was younger and my world seemed more pregnant with possibility. That can be dangerous, I think. Eighteen years ago, I had to swallow my loneliness; even a phone call home, in the days before unlimited cell phone minutes and flat-rate long distance, had to be short and bittersweet.

Today, I can think about Charles Apple and write down my half-baked thoughts and beam them out to anybody who cares to read them. Charles is going home Monday, and I can only imagine how happy his wife and daughter will be to see him after his two months away. It seems to me that will be a day of thanksgiving, regardless of what the calendar says.

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