I should have known what kind of night it would be when I saw the booth set up next to the authors' table on Fort Lauderdale Beach: Save Your Tattoos.
I'm sure there are some areas of the country where tattoo aficionados are also big readers of light, funny mystery novels. Fort Lauderdale is not one of them. Along the famous ''Strip'' in my hometown, tattoos tend to go hand-in-hand with pit-bull walking and F-bomb dropping, not with trading sparkling bon mots about books.
Coming up this fall on my one-year anniversary as a published novelist, I've compiled a pretty good list of what works and what doesn't when it comes to selling books. Conferences and conventions where mystery writers and readers gather, like Killer Nashville, where I'm speaking this weekend? Good.
A book-signing on the Strip? Not so much. Despite the best efforts of city leaders to recast Fort Lauderdale Beach's image, it's still known for its raucous heyday as the beer-guzzling, wet T-shirt-contesting, college spring break capital of the world. We authors warred with bands, beer and bikinis for the attention of passers-by last weekend. Guess who lost?
Nonetheless, I'll be back on the beach next Saturday night, Aug. 22, just south of the famed Elbo Room, across from the ocean. I'll go because the beach is an amazing resource, right in my backyard. I applaud the city leaders trying to make a go of this August festival, Saturday Night Alive. They hope family entertainment lures back those of us who've forgotten how beautiful Ft. Lauderdale Beach can be at night. Colored lights glow from the graceful, curving Wave Wall. The moon shines on a dark ocean. Palm fronds rustle in a sighing breeze.
I also appreciate being asked by Well Read Books to be among writers representing south Florida. On Aug. 22, I'll stand alongside the well-known Elaine Viets and Jilliane Hoffman, which ain't too shabby for recently minted me.
Come by and visit, if you're in the neighborhood of the intersection of Las Olas and A1A. I'll reveal tales of my own misspent youth on the Strip. Bring me a beer, and I might even tell you about my stint as a teeny-bikini contestant at Fort Lauderdale's once-notorious Candy Store lounge. Just look for the tattoo booth. We're right next door. And if business is slow again next Saturday, maybe I can finally get that Born to be Wild tat I've dreamed about.