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Summertime news

You're more likely to drive too fast on an exit ramp/frontage road because you've become accustomed to the higher speed of the freeway. Psychologists call this being "velocitized."

I'm feeling velocitized this week because my busy, busy life abruptly slowed down, and my brain hasn't caught up yet.

With the arrival of summer, a few items disappear from my schedule, including the class I teach at the University of New Mexico's Honors College. But the big difference is that I finished the first draft of a new crime novel, which had consumed me for the past nine weeks. I always take a little break between "The End" and the rewrites, during which I try not to think about the new book at all. That way, I have fresh eyes when I start editing it.

Hiking expert David Ryan talks at Organic Books.
The novel, currently called UPSHOT, is about a heist crew that hijacks cannabis couriers. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Our family-owned bookstore in Albuquerque's historic Nob Hill neighborhood, Organic Books, remains busy and growing, and I've been putting in extra hours there because one of our two sons is on vacation. We host events by local authors and poets on weekend afternoons, and I'm usually at the store then. Check out the schedule at our website.

My summer slowdown means more time for reading, and I've recently devoured books by William Gibson, Blake Crouch, Tana French, James Ellroy and Adrian McKinty. Next up is a Jim Harrison novel I somehow overlooked in the past.

One of the best parts of owning a bookstore is that it serves as your personal library. I can take home a different book every night if I want. How cool is that?

Hope you have a summer full of great reading!


Work, work, work, work, work

When you're a novelist, you do lots of things that aren't writing novels. For most of us, writing won't pay the bills, so we find part-time work to fill in the gaps.

Over the past three decades, I've worked as newspaper reporter, humor columnist, freelance editor and college professor, all while busily cranking out novels and short stories. During most of that time, I also was a househusband, doing the lion's share of the housework and yardwork while my wife pursued her careers.

These days, I'm essentially working FIVE part-time jobs:

1) Still a househusband. Doing laundry right now.

2) Looking after things for my Mom, who has Alzheimer's disease. She lives in a nursing home in Hot Springs, AR, and I drive there every three or four months and spend a few days. I'm on the phone a lot.

3) Still teaching my writing seminar at the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. The class meets only once a week, but it produces a lot of papers that must be graded.

4) Still an author, though I took a break from writing for much of 2018. I've started work on a new novel, but even when I'm not writing, I'm busy BEING an author -- email, social media, signing contracts, managing my e-book empire. (All my e-books are currently on sale on Kindle for 99 cents each!)

5) Working as one of the clerks/co-owners of Organic Books, the new used bookstore in Albuquerque's historic Nob Hill neighborhood. Business is good, and we just updated our website. We host events with local authors and poets nearly every weekend.

My pal Cecilia Wessinger stopped by the other day and snapped a photo of me with the prominent display of my books.

Though we've been open less than five months, Organic Books is one of the finalists for Best Bookstore in the Weekly Alibi's "Best of Burque" annual poll. You can see all the nominees (and vote) here. I'm also nominated in the Best Local Author category, which has never happened before. Guess it helps to have your own bookstore.

I'm just starting on the new crime novel (tentative title: HIJACKERS), so publication is probably a year away, but I will have short stories in three different anthologies during 2019. I'll update this blog with more info as we get closer to publication dates.

In June, we'll celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of my first novel LONELY STREET (the Bubba Mabry debut later made into a movie). Assuming I can finish it, HIJACKERS will be my 32nd published book.

Not bad for a part-time job.

Happy reading!


Time flies when you're selling books

Wow, it's been five weeks since I posted about the grand opening of Organic Books, our family bookstore in Albuquerque. The time has sailed past. The store has been busy with holiday shoppers and folks from the surrounding neighborhoods. Old friends and local authors stop by to visit. Next thing you know, it's nearly Christmas.

The photo shows our sons Seth (in hat) and Max working at the counter at Organic Books. They mostly staff the store day-to-day, though I'm usually there on weekday mornings and Kelly (who still has a full-time job!) fills in on weekends. We've been so busy, we often need two people manning the store.

Since the grand opening, the bookshop has been featured in super write-ups by the Weekly Alibi and the University of New Mexico news service, and we're all over social media, thanks to our supportive friends. You can join the fun by following Organic Books on Facebook and Twitter.

The Facebook page is a good way to keep up with coming events at Organic Books. Starting right after Christmas, we have lots of author signings and poetry readings scheduled at the store. I'm in charge of that calendar, so local authors who want to do events should write me at abqbrewer@gmail.com. I'm booking February now!

Hey, that's one of the points I'll make in my Jan. 5 speech at SouthWest Writers. The talk is called "I've Looked at Books From Both Sides Now." Though we're still new to retail, I've got some ideas about how authors can help themselves when dealing with bookstores. And the story of how things fell into place for Organic Books is a story worth telling. As with any successful startup, there have been lots of little miracles.

Happy holidays to you and yours. And happy reading!


Organic Books has its debut

The grand opening of our new bookstore on Saturday truly was grand, with hundreds of customers visiting and welcoming us to the Nob Hill neighborhood.

Other booksellers in town also visited, bearing gifts, which was much appreciated. We already feel like we're part of Albuquerque's book-selling community.

We sold a ton of used books, as well as lots of new books by local authors. Many of the authors stopped by for the grand opening and brought more books. Our 10-foot-long "Local Authors" table is groaning under the weight.

We've also received a number of donations -- dozens of boxes of used books -- that we're cleaning and pricing and preparing for the shelves. We have a trade-in policy for store credit, but most of the donors said they just wanted to help a new bookshop get started.

It's been many years since Nob Hill had its own bookstore, so residents are eager to support us. We feel like we've found the perfect niche.


Organic Books' Grand Opening Nov. 10

Organic Books is taking shape! We've worked furiously for the past week, getting 10,000 books onto shelves, and it's starting to look like a real bookshop.

We've still got lots of work to do, but we anticipate a "soft" opening in a week or so, in advance of our official Grand Opening on Nov. 10.

The store has been getting lots of interest from passers-by since the signs went up in the front windows. That's Max Brewer in the photo, posing with the logo he designed.

All those shelves in the background? They're full of books now!

Mostly, we'll carry all kinds of used books. But we have a long, antique table in the center of the store that we'll keep stocked with new books by local authors.

The Albuquerque Museum hosts its annual Author Fair on Nov. 3, and I'll be there as usual, but this time I'll be talking up Organic Books and encouraging local authors to drop by the store afterward to sell us their books.

Our website is still under construction, but you can see our origin story at www.organicbooks.net.

Nob Hill hasn't had a bookstore in years, and we're getting a great response from the neighborhood. Please help us spread the word.