Monday, March 29, 2010

Delta Blues and Close Encounters of the Famous Kind

Forgetting for the moment that I'm under a crushing deadline to deliver the sequel to BLOOD LAW, I ran off to the Mississippi Delta for a weekend of debauchery with a bunch of writer friends.

The drive up was interesting in that Mark, my Official Marketing Genius (O.M.G.), and I were in our new "tour bus." Yes, that is indeed a Smart car. In fact, it's Mark's every day, drive to work and putter around town car, but he had a special "wrap" applied just for me and BLOOD LAW. (Ain't he sweet? And, yes, that's the original book cover on the car. We'll swap for the new soon.) After making a few wrong turns, getting lost, and finding B.F. Egypt, MS (yes, there is a town in northwestern Mississippi named Egypt), we finally arrived at our destination: Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS.

GZBC played host to the DELTA BLUES mystery anthology launch party, aka Writer's Weekend of Debauchery. However, before the real party started, Mark and I met up with our friends Michelle and Alexis for a birthday celebration dinner in Mark's honor on Friday night. We headed over to Madidi, a restuarant also owned by Morgan Freeman, (Are you sensing a theme here?) and had a great time with great food. If you ever have an opportunity to eat at Madidi, order the garden spinach and parmesan risotto with the tempura shrimp.!

Saturday was a day of walking around downtown Clarksdale and taking in the sights. Of course, some of the best sights were in GZBC itself. Where else will you see this sort of decor? Yes, the patrons are encouraged to write on the tables, the walls, windows, blinds, curtains, and just about any other available surface. Thousands of people have left their names and notes behind. I even added my own name to the wall upstairs outside of the apartments.

Saturday was also the day the winners of the Delta Youth Writing Contest were announced. (Congrats to all of them!) On hand to extend his own congratulations to the winners was none other than Morgan Freeman! Squeee! Yes, I was in the same room as "god." Unfortunately, I wasn't able to actually meet him. (Photo of Mr. Freeman and Carolyn Haines with DELTA BLUES anthology snagged from Carolyn's Facebook page. Like I said, I wasn't able to get this close. He was long gone by the time I was able to get through the book sale line. *pout*) Following the awards ceremony, anthology contributors signed copies of the DELTA BLUES with $1 of all proceeds from the sale of DELTA BLUES benefiting the Rock River Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping the arts and literacy in the Delta. (Books are available in hardcover, paperback, and limited edition versions. If you were unable to make it to the launch party, please know that you can still help as $1 for each book sold will be donated.)

Saturday night began the true debauchery when the Blues Muse Band took the stage at GZBC. Made up of anthology contributors, the Blues Muse rocked the house. They even had groupies! Band members were:

Michael Utley—keyboard
Nathan Singer—guitar and vocals
Michael Lister—drums
Daniel Martine—guitar and vocals
David Sheffield—harmonica
Lynne Barrett—vocals
Charlaine Harris—back-up
Carolyn Haines—back-up
Alice Jackson—playing the box
Mary Saums—bass and vocals
Toni Kelner—vocals

The entire weekend was a blast! Thanks to Carolyn Haines for inviting me to come hang out with a bunch of great writers. It was much needed down time, and now it's back to work on the BLOOD LAW sequel! Wheeeeeee!

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