Cross Dressing was originally scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2000 but various forces (primarily Rupert Murdoch) conspired to move the date back to June. So the Lovely Spring Cross Dressing World Tour 2000 to which I had been looking forward turned into the Hot ‘n’ Sweaty Cross Dressing Forced March Across This Vast Nation In The Summer Tour 2000.

with Mary and Barry at Book ‘Em Mysteries

It began on June 3 at Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks, CA with my pal Audrey Moore. Temperatures were in the upper 80’s and nothing to complain about. I was on jury duty for the next week or so, sneaking off for a signing at the Barnes & Noble in West Los Angeles on the evening of June 8. Following that was my final event at the original Mystery Bookstore location. Sheldon bought the store from Otto and has since moved to new digs in Westwood. All future events will be held here.

Next was a signing at Book ‘em Mysteries in South Pasadena with the fabulous Barry Martin and Mary Riley.

with Lita Weissman at Borders in Sherman Oaks

A few nights later I was at the Borders in Sherman Oaks with my all-time-favorite Community Relations Co-ordinator, Lita Weissman. Among those in the crowd was writer Scot Sothern whose terrific and funny novel “Hog Heaven” ought to be published by someone!

The Author with Writer Scot Sothern and his mother.

The tour then went south for two events in San Diego. First at Mysterious Galaxy and later that night at Borders in Mission Valley.

Four days later, with temperatures creeping into the 90’s, I was back in Pasadena for a warm afternoon signing at Crime Time Books with lovely proprietor Linda Bivens.

The Author at Borders Books Mission Valley, San Diego.

The following weekend I headed north to The Bay Area. As I approached San Mateo I tuned into a news radio station for traffic reports. Instead the first thing I heard was, “Fitzhugh remains behind bars on $10 million bail.” Naturally I thought of my brother first, but it turned out to be the story of failed real estate developer Kenneth Fitzhugh who was the prime suspect in the death of his wife in Palo Alto. (Cops speculate money problems led him to kill her after which he attempted to make it look like an accident. Ken’s real estate training was of no use in helping him stage the ‘accident’ — as a result, he’ll have plenty of time to improve his staging skills while in prison.) At any rate, I got a traffic report and made it on time to the signing at M is for Mystery.

The next night my brother (who was not behind bars on $10 million bail) and his lovely wife (who was alive and well) invited a houseful of their friends over for a Margarita party before we all went over to the fabulous Diesel Books on College Avenue for a signing. This is another of the many great independent stores that supports wankers like me and for that I say, “Thanks!”

A week later I was in Seattle for three signings. First it was up to 3rd Place Books in Lake Forest Park (just north of Seattle) where I was hosted by the beautiful and charming Judith Chandler. Fellow authors traveling in the great northwest — trust me when I tell you to do an event here. It’s like a combination book signing and dinner theater. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Kendall in New Orleans

The next day I had a nice visit with my pals at the Seattle Mystery Bookstore followed by an event at the Borders downtown where I was surprised by the appearance of two old friends (Mike and Polly) with whom I had lost contact about thirteen years earlier. Fortunately no one else came to the signing so we got to sit and do a little catching up.

The following weekend Kendall and I flew to New Orleans. That’s right, New Orleans in July — talk about your sweaty cross dressers… It was in the high 90’s with humidity in the 130% range. While there my beautiful and elegant Aunt Augusta took us out to dinner with my cousin Clark. We also dropped by Cafe du Monde as always for tasty beignets and coffee.

The Author with cousin Clark, Kendall and Aunt Augusta.

Next day we drove up to Bay St. Louis for a cool gathering in Susan Daigre’s fabulous store, Bookends. Two days later we were at the new Barnes & Noble in Gulfport.

The next day we drove up to Hattiesburg for a signing at the University of Southern Mississippi where I spent a couple of years. It’s also the home of the Golden Eagles who won this year’s Mobile Alabama Bowl by upsetting #13 TCU 28-21 when Jeff Kelly tossed a 29-yard touchdown pass to freshman Kenny Johnson with eight seconds left. The signing was at the USM HUB Bookstore which wins the Best Window Display Award of 2000.

The Author with Susan Daigre at Bookends in Bay St. Louis.

At Barnes & Noble in Gulfport, MS with (l to r) my brother John, BF, Rose (my niece), Sharon (my sister-in-law) and their pal, Tracy Heggins

Also while in Hattiesburg, we were invited to the local NBC affiliate, WDAM-TV, for the mid-day show with Brenda Parker.

The next day we were in Jackson for the mother of all events, at the store John Evans built: Lemuria Books. We had the typical Jackson turnout, hundreds, maybe thousands of friends and fans, okay, maybe a hundred, but very high quality.

The Mannequin

After the signing, we all retired upstairs to the MusiQuarium Lounge for drinking and reading. Up to that point I had to admit to a small disappointment — someone I had hoped to see had failed to come to the signing.

But then SHE arrived. The Sweet Potato Queen her own self, Jill Conner Browne. I have it in writing that I am the only man she ever REALLY loved! I also have The Promise in writing. If you don’t know about The Promise you need to be reading Jill’s books. Authors take note: If you haven’t done an event at Lemuria followed by fun at MusiQuarium, make plans to do so.

The Author with Jill Conner Browne the Sweet Potato Queen her own self.

The next day we drove up to Oxford for a fabulous event at Square Books. Another note to authors: if you haven’t done an event at Square Books, make plans to do so. Especially if you do it on Thursday night when they do the Thacker Mountain Radio Show. It’s like Prairie Home Companion moved to Oxford. A snappy MC, a great house band, a guest musician, and a slot for the visiting author to read from his or her work. For authors (like myself) who are used to very small turnouts, this is a terrific change of pace.

After that it was back down to New Orleans, where we picked up another sack of beignets and did a drive-by signing at Beaucoup Books. We followed that with dinner at Commander’s Palace and a good night’s sleep before heading back to LA the next day.

A week later I had an event at Borders in Montclair, CA. Three days later, I was back in the Bay Area signing at the Best West Coast Signing of 2000 — Kepler’s in Palo Alto! The next day it was up to the City for the Borders on Post Street. A week after that, we wrapped it up at the Borders in Albuquerque on July 29th, followed by a drive-by signing at Bound To Be Read where I hope to do a signing for Fender Benders.

After sitting in my office all year writing a book, it’s great fun and a great relief to get out and see friends and meet the booksellers who keep me going. Thanks to everyone who took time to come out and visit. I hope to see you in 2001 for Fender Benders!

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