Coastal Magic Travels

I don’t travel much, unless you count taking the train into Chicago to see a show. So going down to Florida was a big deal for me. I learned some things:

Pens set off the alarm at airport security, resulting in them unpacking your bag to make sure you’re not transporting weapons of mass destruction. Plus, the rivets on the pockets of my jeans also set off red flags. So I got my junk patted. Coming and going.

The hotel was still under repairs from hurricane damage. This meant the restroom near the convention rooms wasn’t working. Long walks to go pee.

And I had a marvelous lunch, set up by Sue from GraveTells, at Doc Bale’s Grill at the hotel. Oddly, though, the restaurant gives you NO choice as to what to eat. They had fish and vegetables. If you didn’t want fish and vegetables, tough nuggies. And I’m not talking varieties of fish. You ate the one dish, or you ate nothing. I thought that was bizarre. I’m not a fish guy, but this dish was tasty. When I told my buddy Matt about this on the phone, he stated that he’d have looked at the waitress and said, “I’ll have the steak.”

Woke up Friday morning with seagulls buzzing around my window. I pondered why, and the phone rang. It was security, asking me to stop feeding the birds. I told them it wasn’t me. Not sure the guy believed me. But for a few minutes I felt like Tippi Hedron.

An Epic Convention and an Epic Meeting

Over the last several days, I attended the Coastal Magic Convention down in Daytona Beach, Florida. I’ll post more about this wonderful convention later, but right now I just want to leave this, about my first meeting with Brandilyn Carpenter and William Cooper.

I got to the hotel about 2:00, but the convention didn’t start until 4. So I had 2 hours to kill. I sat down in a little alcove to read. I set out a copy of Raven’s Rest because I knew Sue from Grave Tells wanted to add a copy to her raffle basket and she needed it ASAP. Two people came up and asked if they could sit with me. I said sure. We chatted a little. Turns out they were Brandilyn and William.

Apparently, during their car trip they listened to several audio books, and in all of them, dogs died. Jokingly, Brandilyn told William that the next time they would listen to a story with zombie dogs, so Brandilyn put out a Facebook message asking for books with zombie dogs for William to listen to. Parker Williams responded with something like “hey, check out Stephen Osborne’s Duncan Andrews books. Zombie bulldog.”

William looks at his phone and then at me. Brandilyn and he confirm that I’m Stephen Osborne. William says, “Well, that’s creepy!” and adds a comment on Facebook: “We’re sitting with him!”

My anxieties have anxieties…

Well, I’m making preparations for my trip to Florida for the Coastal Magic Convention. I’m looking forward to going, and I’m not. I don’t like to leave my dog for any length of time. I feel guilty taking the time off work (even though they give you things like vacation days just for this purpose). And going involves getting into an airplane. One of those big things that fly in the air. Yeah, I’m trying not to think too much about that part of the journey.

Wednesday I’ll be driving to Chicago and checking into a hotel near O’Hare (a park and fly affair). That night I’ll be seeing Debra Cox in The Bodyguard (I have doubts about the musical, but I’ve seen her before, and she’s good…so there’s that). Then back to the hotel where I’ll hopefully catch a few hours of sleep (ha!) before heading over to the airport VERY early to catch a flight to Atlanta, where I’ll wait an hour before going on to Daytona.

And in Daytona, I’ll be at my first convention. I’m sure it will be lovely and fun. It certainly sounds like it will. I’m quite certain I’ll forget to pack something important. Or that I’ll get there and the hotel will say, “I’m sorry, Mr. Osborne, but we have no reservation in your name..” despite receiving a confirmation email from them. Or there will be a horrible storm, and the plane will be diverted to Chattanooga, TN.

Does anyone know of anything to do in Chattanooga?

Deep breath. You’ve got four more days of worrying about this stuff.

Memories of a reader and writer

When I was a kid, my favorite place to go was a bookstore. I quickly graduated from the Hardy Boys (who didn’t last long for me) because I read a little story by Arthur Conan Doyle called The Adventure of the Speckled Band. Oh, the feels! I think I was in the fourth grade at the time. The story was in a book at school (for extra reading, not an assignment), and my teacher told me it was part of a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. Goodbye, Hardy Boys, hello Baker Street!

My parents weren’t readers at all, but they encouraged me to read (it kept me quiet), so they took me to the bookstore and I bought The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. My allowance for the next few months went for more Holmes adventures. When those were gone, I was at a loss. What to do? I branched out. Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie, and Erle Stanley Gardner quickly became favorites. I didn’t discover my favorite writer, Rex Stout, until much later.

But I remember how excited I was when I had some money and was let loose in a bookstore. Oh, the mysteries that awaited!

Some years ago, I wrote my first book. It was a collection of ghost stories and legends called South Bend Ghosts. I was working at a Barnes and Noble at the time, and we, of course, carried the book. I remember one time I was working the cash register, and a family came up to check out. A boy in the family, (he was Hawaiian, not that it makes any difference) had my book in his hands. Mom asked me if I knew if the book would be appropriate for a twelve year old to read. I assured her, as the author, that it was. The kid’s face lit up. “You wrote this?” He was so excited he almost peed himself.

Of course, I signed the book for the kid. I don’t remember his name, but I understood his excitement. The family left. The kid wouldn’t put the book in a bag. He couldn’t let it out of his hands.

A few hours later, I looked up and the kid was standing there again. Alone. No family. He said they’d been eating lunch, and he’d read the first chapter and he loved it and could he take a selfie with me? I almost cried.


My first convention…arrrgghhh!


It’s getting frighteningly close.

I’ve never done a convention before. I don’t travel much, other than taking the train to Chicago to see a show every couple of weeks. I hate to leave my dog, even though I know she’ll be well looked after.

So I’m cutting my eye teeth (What the hell does that even mean???) with Coastal Magic. It’s a small-ish convention, which I think will work best for me. Maybe I won’t feel like I’m lost in a crowd.

All that aside, this does sound like fun. Spend time with authors, book signings, some panel discussions (I don’t know what I’m participating in quite yet) and other shenanigans.

Come join us. We’ll have fun.