This is a log of the second week of Brian and Kevin's
Machine Crusade book signing tour: 9/21/03 - 9/27/03.
For additional entries, see:

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Click on the photos in this blog to view larger images.
For additional photos from the tour, please see the MC Tour Scrapbook.

A day off -- supposedly. At least Tor hasn't scheduled any manic work for us, but we've brought it on ourselves. We do get to sleep in for a few extra hours, and then Kevin does laundry in the sink while Rebecca goes to the exercise room to work out; Brian is also there. Kevin spends a few more hours editing HORIZON STORMS, and then it's off to lunch with Richard Rubinstein from New Amsterdam Entertainment, the producer of the DUNE and CHILDREN OF DUNE TV miniseries, and Steve Sheppard, the entertainment lawyer for the works of Frank Herbert. We have a nice lunch and conversation in a French café, Un, Deux, Trois. The two miniseries have been very successful, both in audience numbers and in fan reaction. We all hope there is more DUNE to come.

When Brian goes off to meet with the lawyer about a handful of Frank Herbert matters, Kevin, Jan, and Rebecca get some hours off. Kevin and Rebecca have dinner plans with Jaime Levine, Kevin's "Seven Suns" editor at Warner Books, to talk about the series and HORIZON STORMS. The laundry still isn't dry over the tub, hanging all around the shower bars and towel rack, but it has to be done soon; we have to pack and leave again by 6:45 the next morning for Connecticut.

Brian and Jan go to an excellent restaurant, Hell's Kitchen. As Brian and Jan return to the hotel, they see police taking down barricades that had been up earlier, for the filming of "Taxi NYC," a Twentieth Century Fox production.

Back at the hotel, a fire alarm goes off, and people evacuate to the lobby and street. Soon afterward, a very apologetic employee rushes around to assure everyone that the building is safe, that it was only a candle that fell over in the bar and set off the alarm. A few minutes later, however, the alarm goes off again. "Nothing to worry about," the nervous man assures everyone. "The alarm is just too sensitive." Everything turns out to be fine.

As a behind-the-scenes comment, Kevin's uncle Mike Anderson is running the web page, making sure the log gets posted "as daily as possible," depending on when Kevin and Brian can get it written and uploaded. Uncle Mike is a long-standing science fiction fan who now lives in Portland, Oregon. When Kevin was growing up in Wisconsin, he used to go across the street to his grandfather's house, where Mike's room was empty because he was away at college. Mike always had a fascinating science fiction paperback collection with great garish covers. Kevin remembers in particular something called BEYOND THE BLACK ENIGMA by Bart Somers (not sure if the author is correct), which he tried to read when he was eight years old. Many years later, he found a copy of the old book and bought it (sadly, the story wasn't exactly worth the wait). Now, Mike is managing and updating both the wordfire.com and dunenovels.com pages (and they would be updated more often, if Kevin could find the time to send him more new material!)

B & K

Sunday, September 21, 2003


Monday, September 22, 2003


Due to scheduling, we have to leave New York in the morning to go to Waterford, CT on Monday, then return to New York on Tuesday. It seems a hassle, especially with four of us and heavy luggage and sore arms and wrists (from carrying baggage and from all of the books we have signed), but we do manage to get one more drive-by signing and a formal signing in the evening, taking ibuprofen whenever in an attempt to diminish the ever-present aches and pains.

First, we stop off at a new Borders superstore, one that’s been open for less than a week, meet the manager, and sign our stock. Then we go to another mall where we will be autographing at a Waldenbooks. The store is crowded, and it seems that half of their books are DUNE novels. The supply is overwhelming, but Brian and Kevin sign them all. One of the high points, a man -- Adam -- and his wife come up to Kevin, carrying a new DUNE novel and battered old STAR WARS books. Adam says he wrote Kevin a fan letter when he was in 6th grade! “Did I answer it? I usually answer my fan letters.” Yes, he received an answer and has been reading the books ever since. Now Kevin feels old in addition to tired. . . .

Our hotel is new, nice, and clean, with high-speed internet connections, coffee makers, a pool, Jacuzzi, and exercise room. We all go for a brief swim in the afternoon, and do some laundry. Unfortunately, we are in the Land of the Shopping Malls and our hotel is on a frontage road, so we have the options of Chilis and Chuck E. Cheese’s for our meals. We eat lunch at Chilis, then dinner at Chilis, then go back to Chilis for a dessert after the evening signing. Brian and Rebecca both have a caramel-nut-cookie-ice cream thing, Jan has a rich chocolate thing, and Kevin (who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth) is much happier with a local microbrew, a Harpooner IPA.

We also leave off signed posters and postcards for one of the lunch waiters, who could not attend our evening signing.

A day of grouches.

Early in the morning, we checked out of our hotel in New London and crammed ourselves and our luggage into one taxi -- which has not always been possible. At the train station, we got into the wrong waiting area (there were no signs), and had to scramble down a ramp at the last minute to board, with our huge, heavy bags full of promotional material. An assistant conductor hurt his arm lifting one of Kevin’s bags, which we have named “the purple stone.” This very large man started swearing and complaining that the bag weighed “a hundred pounds,” when it really only weighed ninety or ninety-five pounds.

The train car was what the Amtrak people called “a leaker,” which earned its name when we traveled through a constant downpour. The grouchy assistant conductor got into an argument with an old man and with a younger business traveler, and for several minutes it kept escalating. Fortunately, the participants separated, but kept muttering.

In New York city, the traffic was horrible, since President Bush was appearing at the United Nations, and there were also some big conventions in town. This made our limousine drivers (two separate trips) very surly and aggressive. As Brian sat in the front seat looking through the windshield, it looked like a video game with pedestrians dodging and fleeing our drivers. We complained to the drivers, and this only made them worse. Fortunately, a jaywalking blonde with the cup of coffee made it to the curb, so did the people in the crosswalk. It takes us two hours to go from the train station to the hotel, which is only a mile or so away.

We had lunch at the Tor offices where we signed books for the employees and chatted with all the people who have been helping to promote and publish the new DUNE novels. For four years in a row on our DUNE tours, we have had very successful signings at a specialty store in San Diego, Mysterious Galaxy. Since we were on the east coast this year, “MG” arranged to have all their 144 copies waiting on the table, which Brian and Kevin autographed for shipping directly to San Diego. Then, in a different building, Brian and Kevin met briefly with their agents to talk about future DUNE projects and their other books, by which time it was too late to go to the hotel (which we’ve never seen), so we went directly to the book signing.

It was a day filled with business meetings, culminated with a great dinner at an Indian restaurant (Tamarind), hosted by our publisher, Tom Doherty. Unfortunately, we’re now running on about four days in a row with four hours of sleep per night. We don’t get to our rooms until 11:30 PM, and we have to wake up at 6 AM to go to Rhode Island the next day. . . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Another stressful day -- our fourth in a row with less than four hours of sleep each.

Get up at 6 to get to the train station, then have a blessedly comfortable 3-hour train ride, during which we finally get a chance to work for a while on our laptops. (It's how both Brian and Kevin relax, by writing -- decompressing by putting all the ideas in our heads down into text. Kevin edits more of HORIZON STORMS; Brian writes some letters and works on his mainstream novel.)

In Providence, we are met by Sally, the same driver who took us from Waterford on Monday, but this time she has a minivan, which is a lot more comfortable for five people and a mountain of heavy luggage.

We do a noontime signing at a Barnes & Noble in a suburb of Providence. Subway sandwiches for a quick lunch, then a drive to Boston, where we check into the hotel and have half an hour before Brian and Kevin do a TV interview with a charming "well connected" old Boston Brahmin couple, Dick and Smoki; they film a local talk show in a fabulous old house that reminds us of a Hobbit hole, it's so full of books and artwork and antiques. Though we're practically falling asleep in the chair, we finish the interview in a reasonably coherent fashion, and go back to the hotel to gather our wives and then head off to the Harvard Coop for the evening talk and signing. We haven't had a chance to eat anything, and the signing goes until almost 9:00.

A former diplomat named Richard introduces us in grand fashion, comparing the universes created by God and by Frank Herbert. (Brian asks him to put his intro down on paper, and we hope to be able to include it here on the website.) One of the audience members is a young man, Carl, whom Kevin met in Crested Butte, Colorado at a book signing early in July. He lives in Massachusetts and has made a point of coming out to get other books signed. As we speak afterward and field questions, the highly educated audience is entertained, but we are both struggling to do our best because we're so tired.

The main jolt of adrenalin we receive comes with a phone call from our publicist Heather right before the signing -- DUNE: THE MACHINE CRUSADE has debuted at #7 on the New York Times bestseller list, our best debut ever. We'll keep our fingers crossed for next week.

After the signing, it's a major decision whether to eat something or just go to bed with empty stomachs. Since we're in Boston, however, Brian and Kevin feel it's mandatory to get baked scrod at the famous Parker House restaurant, which is delicious, but it's so late and we're so tired, and our wives are tired, that it's difficult to enjoy the meal, make articulate conversation, or even stay awake. Walking into the restaurant before dinner, we are so fatigued that we are afraid that the staff will think that we are drunk. But the meal keeps us awake and we manage to get to our rooms and go to sleep.

No train this morning, no obligations for interviews, nothing on the schedule until 3:00 in the afternoon -- which means that we can finally get a few extra hours of rest!

At the hotel, we sign two extra copies of THE MACHINE CRUSADE for the hotel library, at their request. Like a number of hotels around the country, they like to keep signed copies of books by visiting authors. We also go to two bookstores within walking distance and sign copies of the books that are on hand. At one of them, our paperback of THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD is in the Number 14 slot on their bestseller list.

Our media escort is a terrific fellow named Jim who is filling in for his very busy wife. Jim wears the elegant bow tie of Boston gentry and drives a Mercedes, but he is completely unpretentious. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of American history and has produced a number of important documentaries. As he takes us around Boston showing off many landmarks and then drives us north to our signing in Milford, New Hampshire, he points out where Henry David Thoreau walked, where great revolutionary battles were fought, and he quotes Robert Frost and Shakespeare at the drop of a hat. He is interested in doing a documentary on the life of Frank Herbert, so Brian gives him a copy of DREAMER OF DUNE.

The signing goes extremely well, with standing room only. For the first time in days, the well-rested authors are operating on all cylinders, bouncing ideas and stories back and forth. From the front row, a young man named Nico (age 12) asks a series of incisive questions that cause the authors to reach deep for answers.

Our dinner is at a country inn called Mile Away, in a very old, charming building. (An adjacent building dates back to 1746.) We are joined by Colleen and Mitch Mitchell, friends of Brian and Jan who now live in Kennebunkport, Maine. The dinner is excellent, and the atmosphere is enhanced by news (received that afternoon) telling us that THE MACHINE CRUSADE is debuting at #7 on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list and #9 on Barnes & Noble. Additionally, we are #35 on the USA Today list, which includes paperbacks, non-fiction, children's books, and other works that are not direct comparisons; our publicist at Tor tells us that we are really the #6 fiction hardcover on that list.

As the familiar song goes, "some days are diamonds and some days are stones." This is definitely a diamond day. And we get to have another full night of sleep!

Thursday, September 25, 2003



Friday, September 26, 2003


A travel day. Rebecca is flying home this morning, after spending two weeks on the tour with Kevin. He and Rebecca get up early enough so Jim can take them for a little more sightseeing before she goes to the airport. Boston is one of the most beautiful cities we have seen so far and we hope to come back with a little more flexible schedule to enjoy all the historical and architectural landmarks.

At the airport, Kevin helps Rebecca get the bags checked, says goodbye, then heads off to the train station where he meets up with Brian and Jan, who have also done a little sightseeing before departure time. (You have to take it when you can!) The train will take us from Boston to Cleveland after about a 15-hour ride. We get on the train, scuttle off to our separate compartments, then spend most of the day each working on our laptop computers. Kevin finishes all of the revisions to HORIZON STORMS at last and is now ready to start with one last draft, beginning from page 1. Brian completes a long analysis for the Herbert Estate lawyer. Jan uses a laptop watercolor set to capture some of the beautiful New England scenery, where the leaves are just beginning to turn.

All in all it's a quiet day, and we go to sleep early, climbing into our respective Amtrak bunks (which involves doing gymnastics to climb and squirm up into the pull-down cot-sized bed) and try to doze off to the rattling and swaying. We have to get up at 3:00 AM, before the train hits Cleveland. 

Sleeping on Amtrak is like trying to sleep inside the trunk of a moving car, with bumps and rattles, jerks and stops, and a joyful maniac up front who gleefully toots the train's horn every time he sees a piece of gravel, apparently. Kevin's sleeping compartment has an interesting glitch: Whenever the train comes to a stop (which it does frequently), all the lights in his room come on -- which is not very conducive to a good night's sleep, to say the least. After the second time of climbing back down out of the bunk, getting dressed, and rousting the attendant to reset the fuse, Kevin gives up and digs out a blindfold mask buried in his computer case. Later, Jan says she hopes the mask marks wear off of Kevin's face before the book signing tonight! Then, to make matters more fun, the conductor forgets to wake us up a half hour before our Cleveland arrival. Luckily, Brian saves the day by setting his own alarm; we rush to get ready, and then the train stops . . . delayed.

So, this entry is being written at 3:40 AM on a stalled train after we've had very little sleep. If any readers are wondering why this journal may seem a bit raw and unpolished at times . . . consider the circumstances!

So the train sits five miles outside of the Cleveland station for two hours, biding its time. We have crawled out of our bunks at 3:00 AM, and now we wait, half dozing, until the train finally gets into the station at 5:30 (instead of the 3:30 scheduled arrival time). It's pouring rain when we get off the train, hauling our luggage and splashing through puddles. The sign over the open station, barely visible in the downpour, is WELCOME TO CLEVELAND. We get to our hotel, check in, and crash, sleeping for most of the morning. It's like sleeping in a split shift, half the night on the train, the other half in the hotel.

Later, awake and refreshed again, we go outside to explore for the few hours we have off. Now it's sunny, and Cleveland is a very pleasant surprise. This is a beautiful city on Lake Erie, with great architecture, fountains, statues. Brian and Jan marvel at the impressive churches everywhere and how well the city is laid out. Kevin goes for a walk to explore (searching in vain for a Starbucks, or even an open coffee shop), and then goes back to the room for a few hours of reading and responding to e-mail, and editing HORIZON STORMS.

Since Brian and Jan have heard that Cleveland is the rock 'n roll capital of the universe, they go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, down by the lake. They spend an enjoyable time admiring the guitars, record jackets, and clothing of the stars, and even posing for pictures in front of giant guitars outside. They also contact close friends by telephone, Glen and Marilyn Peters, who were in the Caribbean when the "Brian and Kevin Show" rolled through New York state, and were unable to attend. The Peters are a delightful couple that the Herberts met while going around the world a couple of years ago aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.

Kevin receives e-mail comments from his Marvel editor about the first STAR-JAMMERS script, which he delivered the day before setting out on tour. He works to rearrange some of the panels and captions, and is quite pleased to see the sample drawings and designs submitted by the artist. The hotel room, however, does not have high-speed internet access, so downloading the pictures takes a while over the phone line. One drawing in particular -- of a space luxury yacht that will be attacked by space pirates -- perfectly matches Kevin's vision. This is going to be a fun series; the first issue will be in stores in February.

That night we do a book signing at a Borders in Cleveland Heights. The crowd is enthusiastic and so is the bookstore staff. Several of the DUNE fans have some great jokes: One wanted to be a Guild navigator, but was afraid he wouldn't qualify for anything better than a Guild flight attendant; another said he would try to fold space but ended up doing nothing more than wrinkling it!

At the signing, Brian personalizes books for the local fans that "Dune rocks in Cleveland." His wife Jan is our official photographer and also helps to process the piles of books and other articles that cross the table in front of the authors. Brian quips that he and Kevin are the "Dunamic Duo," which elicits a good natured groan from the audience. (Groaning at puns is an American cultural phenomenon; in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, people simply laugh).

One father brings his teenage son Jason to the signing; Jason wants to be a writer and asks for our advice. Both Brian and Kevin give the young man suggestions, including Frank Herbert's technique of beginning work on a new project immediately after sending a story out in search of a publisher -- that way the writer is not worrying so much about selling the old project, since the new project fills his mind with hope. DREAMER OF DUNE also includes a lot of advice to writers from Frank Herbert. Jason, beaming, receives his signed copy of DREAMER, as well as THE MACHINE CRUSADE , along with posters and other memorabilia. We wish him well in his writing career.

Afterward, Kevin finally gets a chance to pick up two new CDs he's been waiting for -- new releases by Meat Loaf and A Perfect Circle (it's doubtful that anyone else in the world bought THOSE two on the same day . . . but there's nothing wrong with eclectic tastes!).

Our friends Geoff Landis and Mary Turzillo, fellow writers, come to the signing and we go out to dinner afterward. Geoff has just won the short story Hugo Award this year (and has also previously received other major awards), and Kevin has known Mary for almost twenty years. We all go to the Great Lakes Brewery restaurant and, being such a huge fan of microbrews, Kevin is in hog heaven.

The tour is over half over, and we feel like we're getting our second wind. Next stop, Columbus, OH.

Saturday, September 27, 2003


Continue With Week 3

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