I actually took notes so I’d remember all this stuff for my blog. That’s right, I love my readers that much. And also, I may not officially be a reporter at the moment, but I just can’t seem to shake the habit.

In no particular order:

  • Everyone seems to be commenting on what a “weird year” it is at ICRS this year. Attendance feels down somewhat. Tough economic times appear to be catching up with the industry.
  • This morning people kept forcing flyers and postcards into my hands. And I kept dropping them in the trash. No offense to struggling writers out there (cause I are one too), but the last thing anyone at ICRS needs is something else to carry around or take home.
  • You wouldn’t believe how many guys are wearing shorts and girls are wearing capris. Probably because we’re in Florida and the air here is 80% water. But I kinda dig “the dressing down of ICRS.” It’s refreshing. Why shouldn’t we all be comfortable?
  • The different sections of the show floor are separated and color coded this year. It’s very neatly done. All of the book vendors, for example, are on blue carpet. All of the gift vendors are on green carpet. Personally, I give the green carpet a wide berth. Something about the gifts just creeps me out. Though I did pop inside this “New Product Showcase” thing that was right in the middle of the book section, and found some indescribable stuff (which you can see in my Facebook photo album). I think my favorite was the leather pillow with a Bible verse inscribed in it. You have to see it to believe it.
  • I keep running into people I know while wandering the show floor. It’s fun. Invariably, they ask: “So what are you up to?” And my stock answer: “I’m trolling for books. I’m not going to lie. It’s all about the free stuff.”
  • Speaking of freebies, I tried to score a brand new NLT Study Bible, which looks exceedingly cool (I’ve always liked the New Living Translation) and just hit the market, but a very nice Tyndale rep apologized and said they only had 100 of them, and they were for retailers only. I totally respect that, but hey, you can’t blame a guy for trying.
  • If you’ve ever been to ICRS, you know the following is true. And if you plan on going in the future, here’s an important survival tip. In conversation, you will hear so many names that you don’t know, constantly being tossed around by people you do know. Just pretend you know who these mystery people are. “So I was talking to John Smith the other day, and he mentioned how commercial ICRS is becoming…” I just nod and say something like, “Oh yeah, he’s great.”
  • I saw Relentless in a few different places on the show floor. Once in the International Pavilion, on the bookshelf there. Also spotted it at a discount book seller. Hrm.
  • Ran into the irrepressable Sharon Hinck, and was so glad to see her here. We had several occasions to hang out and talk, and it was just a blast. She was a little down in the dumps but I think I managed to cheer her up a tad, and then later in the day she met her #1 fan, which cheered her up a LOT, methinks. I also learned that she worries about the feelings of inanimate objects. Seriously. She said that she worries about her sweaters. Like, if she wears one for too long, the others might feel neglected. I could add a punchline here, but frankly Sharon’s just so sweet I can’t bring myself to do it (and it doesn’t really need a punchline, does it?). Check out her books. She’s an excellent writer. I loved hanging out with her today. Great fun.
  • Finally got to meet mister Michael Snyder in person. That was a special treat, because his short story, “My Name Is Russell Fink,” was originally published at INFUZE a couple of years ago, and it even won the contest we ran to determine entry in the short story & poems compilation book we put out. Since then, Mike’s gone on to sign a publishing deal with Zondervan, and he’s turned the “Russell Fink” short story into a novel by the same name. I read the first chapter this afternoon during a little downtime and was laughing out loud all by myself. Mike has a natural talent for writing witty, off-kilter comedy, and I highly recommend checking it out.
  • My book signing this morning went GREAT. We never had long lines, but the line was steady and constantly replenished itself, and by the end of the hour, we’d run completely out of books. Woohoo! That’s 3 for 3. Nicole C. Mullen even showed up and picked up copies of all three books for her husband David. David, if you read this, I’d love to hear what you think of them! Email me.
  • I did an interview this afternoon with WBMI Radio from Chicago, which is part of the Moody Broadcasting network. Very cool. I wasn’t expecting it, but the interviewer really gave me a chance to hop onto my soapbox about the design flaws in the various “Christian” industries, and I totally took the bait. Couldn’t resist. (Once you get fired up, it’s hard to stop.) She seemed to love it, so I think it went quite well. No idea how people will react when they hear it. Hopefully I won’t offend anyone. I’d love to tell you when it will air, but she didn’t know yet. Oh, and we also talked about Merciless. :)
  • Jesus is at ICRS. Seriously. There’s a guy wandering the show floor dressed as Jesus. He’s super groomed, too, kind of metrosexual-like. His hair is no stranger to the product. I couldn’t figure out what company he was there representing, because every time I saw him, he was either on the move, or standing in a different part of the convention center. But I saw him repeatedly. Got a picture, too. (It’s on Facebook with the rest.) Also spotted a couple of gladiators, and a few Berenstain Bears. I understand that Po, the main character from Kung Fu Panda, put in an appearance at the Word booth, but I wasn’t there.
  • I’m not sure, and I have no proof, but I think Karen Kingsbury did signings today at every single booth in the exhibit hall. That woman gets around like nobody’s business.
  • The Baker Publishing annual dinner was tonight at EPCOT. (Bethany House, my publisher, is a subsidiary of Baker Books.) Very nice, very fun. Good food, fun company. Afterwards we went outside and watched the 9:PM fireworks and light show. (Yep, you guessed it: pictures are on Facebook.) It was so humid I was little more than a dress shirt in a puddle by the end.
  • Tonight at the Baker dinner I met a very cool guy I’ve met a few times in the past, but this was my first opportunity to really get to talk to him at length. His name is Paul Higdon, and he is the graphic design artist who created the covers to all three of my novels. He told me that the process used to create the shiny, metallic cover for Merciless was actually a first for the publishing industry! I was so jazzed to hear this — I knew it was cool, but I had no idea it was a first! I can’t do justice to his description of how it was done, but basically there were various color passes done overtop of this foil cover, and no one even knew if it would work until they tried it. Apparently it cost a fair bit of money to do it, but Paul took the initiative to do it all on his own, simply because it was the last book in the trilogy and he wanted it to have a special look to it. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to him for putting his special touch on this book cover. It’s a fantastic cover and I LOVE him for going out of his way to do something really unprecedented to signify the “grand finale” of the trilogy. (If you haven’t seen the cover in person, photos don’t do it justice.) I’m in awe of Paul and his talents!

Off to bed now, at last… More tomorrow.