This is a log of the fourth week of Brian and Kevin's
Machine Crusade book signing tour: 10/5/03 - 10/8/03.
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.

After a morning in the room editing, we head out in search of a dry cleaner for Brian (to repair some unfortunate cleaning perpetrated by one of our hotels in a different city). Nearby, Kevin spots a White Castle hamburger joint; White Castles are legendary in the Midwest, but Kevin's never eaten one. He tries to convince Brian that this is a cultural experience, an important slice of Americana, but Brian isn't buying any of it and insists that Kevin drop him off at a Quizno's sandwich shop. After swinging by the White Castle to pick up an order to go, Kevin comes back to join Brian for lunch. One of the workers at Quizno's (we call her the "table police") is offended that Kevin would bring White Castle into her respectable establishment, but we both act dumb and innocent, and she decides not to throw us out "this time." Brian offers to leave her a tip, and she has to go into the back to get her tip jar; she's had to hide her jar from the customers because people keep stealing it!

We get back to the hotel with half an hour to change clothes before our afternoon signing (Kevin changes in five minutes, then spends twenty minutes doing four more script pages in THE ORC'S TREASURE). When we get to the car, we see the window and doors dotted with migrating ladybugs. Brian points out that some cultures consider this a sign of good luck, so we have high hopes for the signing. On the way to the bookstore, we cross over "Astronaut David Wolf Bridge," which we consider another auspicious sign.

As with our previous Sunday's event in Columbus, Ohio, this one draws a very large crowd, including another short story author Kevin knows, Byron Tetrick. While we are signing and talking, another man waits quietly for his turn and then introduces himself to Kevin -- it's an old college classmate, John, who attended the University of Wisconsin honors thesis program in astronomy. Kevin hasn't seen him for twenty years, and this is a big surprise. They talk about barely remembered classes and professors; John now teaches mathematics at a college in Terre Haute, Indiana, and spotted our upcoming signing on the website; he drove eighty miles to get to the bookstore.

With a little time off in the afternoon, Brian does some writing in his room, while Kevin goes swimming and calls Rebecca while sitting in the hotel's jacuzzi -- it just seems like too clichéd a movie scene to pass up! Later, he does more editing on HORIZON STORMS, and finally crosses the half-way point on the final read-through of the manuscript, a good milestone.

That night we have dinner at a truly excellent seafood restaurant (yes, excellent seafood in Indianapolis!), the Bonefish Grill. They fly in fresh fish every day, and the quality of the food is apparent with every bite. Our waiter, Wayde, is an aspiring artist and tells us about his work. We are so impressed with the restaurant, we're both very pleased to learn that several other Bonefish Grills are opening up around the country this year. Kevin remarks that the dinner was even better than his White Castle experience for lunch.

During dinner we have an extraordinary brainstorming session about DUNE 7, with numerous "light bulbs" and breakthroughs. Brian has his laptop on the table, taking notes (and the hostess chides Brian for working during dinner!) When we get back to the hotel, we're still fired up -- Brian calls Kevin's room twice before bedtime with additional brainstorms. (Next morning, Kevin also meets Brian in the gym to tell him several other ideas that occurred to him during the night.) This is really going well -- and we'll have a long drive from Indianapolis to Chicago in the morning to keep discussing the project.

Sunday, October 5, 2003



Monday, October 6, 2003



We leave Indianapolis after picking up Brian's dry cleaning and then eating a quick lunch at Quizno's again (this time without being yelled at by the table police). The drive north from Indianapolis crosses open plains and cornfields with plenty of spots for road construction. When we drive past the small Indiana town where Kevin's editorial assistant at Warner grew up, he calls her to describe the countryside.

We make a brief stop at the historic Tippecanoe battlefield, where William Henry Harrison fought a Shawnee named "Prophet" (the brother of Tecumseh) in 1811, and decades later used it for one of the most famous political slogans in his presidential campaign, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." Then we drive north to Gary, Indiana, on the shores of Lake Michigan, and then into Chicago, following detailed Mapquest directions.

In downtown, we surrender our rental car and meet up with the Chicago-area media escort, Judy -- who immediately earns a spot in our daily weblog by telling us she was Frank Herbert's driver during his tour for THE WHITE PLAGUE.

At the time, Frank Herbert had his wife Beverly with him, and Judy recounts that he told her, "I always bring my wife on my book tours, because she reminds me that I, too, am human, and that I should not believe my press releases." At a lunchtime signing at Kroch's & Brentano's on Wabash Avenue in Chicago, the Frank Herbert fans were lined up out onto the street. Fans asked Frank Herbert, "Could you please give me a note (of excuse) for my boss?"

After checking in to our hotel, we have a few minutes to unpack and relax (i.e., a few more pages written or edited on each of our laptops), and then we head out to Naperville, a suburb of Chicago where we have a signing at an independent bookstore, Anderson's Books. Kevin thinks the name of the store is quite an auspicious sign; the owner, Tres Anderson, is not only a DUNE fan, but is also hooked on Kevin's "Seven Suns" books and asks many questions about the series.

It's another big crowd, with a surprising percentage of younger readers. We've noticed on this tour more than the previous ones that many teenagers are now picking up the DUNE series. One man is unable to attend, so he sends his wife and daughter; they call him on his cell phone and hold up the microphone so he can listen to our talk from a distance.

We are finally hitting the home stretch. After tonight, there's only one more official signing with the two of us together. Kevin has given away all but a very small stack of his newsletters; there's just enough left for tomorrow's event. When starting out from home, he had a thousand copies crammed into one very heavy suitcase; now they're almost all gone. [If anybody wants to be on the free mailing list, please send us your name and mailing address to dunenews@dunenovels.com. You'll receive a regular newsletter about DUNE and various other projects, but we will also send you a postcard if we're doing a signing in your area.]

We eat dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and Kevin gets a nice and gooey Chicago pizza, which is absolutely delicious, though it weighs like a brick in the digestive system for the next several hours. Brian behaves himself and eats a healthy salad instead; Kevin is counting down the days to get back to Colorado where he can go hiking again. We will miss seeing the fans and booksellers, though, since the response has been quite gratifying -- and we're glad to get so much feedback.

Ten bookstores in a single day. This is the last day of our combined book tour, the Brian & Kevin Show, although we will make individual appearances when we return to our home states.

We are not scheduled to be picked up by our media escort until 2:00 PM, so we both get in some good writing time in our hotel rooms. Kevin finishes the 180-page script for THE ORC'S TREASURE, at last.

At lunch Kevin also goes out for another pizza, but Brian prefers local deli sandwiches. He eats a very good Reuben at a neighborhood restaurant called Carton's, where he learns about a famed delicatessen named Ada's . . . but that will have to wait for a future trip to Chicago. This is a great city, full of interesting nooks and crannies. Brian also goes into the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church and admires the architecture, the cloister, the statuary, and the stained glass. With his interest in religion, Brian has enjoyed visiting interesting cathedrals and churches all across this tour.

There is a garbage strike in Chicago, but we don't see too many uncollected piles, and the winds are favorable in the Windy City. It is, in fact, a beautiful 70+ degree day, as our stalwart media escort Judy spends the afternoon taking us to nine bookstores for drop-in signings -- our record so far. After signing #8, we are approached by a street poet, who recites a rather good poem for us. We give him a little money and wish him well. The drop-in signings today have been a blur. We have met wonderful bookstore employees named Katey, Sean, Michael, and many more. We also answer questions for customers, including a lady named Vickie, who buys her first DUNE books.

This tour seems to be as much work as writing the 700-page novel in the first place!

At almost every signing, Brian has received excellent feedback from fans who have read DREAMER OF DUNE. Several fans buy it to learn the writing tips that Frank Herbert gave to his son, or the saga of the attempts to film the great novel DUNE, or the story of a struggling author, Frank Herbert -- who almost didn't find a book publisher for his great novel. DREAMER is part biography, part memoir, part literary criticism. It's also the love story about Frank and Beverly Herbert, who were both professional writers.

That night we have some competition. The Chicago Cubs have made the baseball playoffs, and many people are either at the game or following it closely. Only a few blocks from our store signing, Sting is giving a concert. Since Sting was in the original film of DUNE, we feel he should send some of his audience our way. . . .

Even with these things stacked against us, we have one of our largest crowds ever. The store has large displays in several places around the floor, large posters, end caps, stacks near every cash register. Brian and Kevin arrive a few minutes early to get a head-start on signing some of their 300 copies of THE MACHINE CRUSADE.

A good friend of Kevin and Rebecca's, Leslie, shows up for the signing with gifts of Cubs baseball caps and a large bag of genuine Wrigley Field roasted peanuts. Since we're in Chicago (and since Brian's team, the Seattle Mariners, didn't make the playoffs), we show our solidarity by wearing the Cubs caps for part of the signing. Afterward, in the autographing line, Brian is very pleased to learn (by accident) that DREAMER is already in its third hardcover printing.

Leslie has worked her magic to get us reservations at Hugo's Frog Bar, a well-known seafood restaurant and local hangout, tied to the adjacent Gibson's Steak House (which purports to be the #1 steak house in the country). We are given a special treat, Hugo's most famous attraction -- we are seated in the "elevator room," a cozy enclosed restaurant booth made out of Winston Churchill's personal private elevator. It's very unusual. Our waiter, Michael, is a standup comedian who has performed at Second City and many other comedy clubs around Chicago and is just about to move to LA where he hopes to get his big break. He gives excellent service and entertains us as well. Since this is the last night of our tour, we celebrate and talk until well past midnight, but we have to get to sleep -- tomorrow morning we both leave for home.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003



Wednesday, October 8, 2003


Homeward bound for both of us. Today is Frank Herbert's birthday, so it seems an appropriate note for ending the long tour. We pack our bags for the last time, then meet Judy to take us to the train station (Brian) and O'Hare Airport (Kevin).

We're feeling good after last night's excellent signing. One woman came up to Brian at the event to tell him that DREAMER OF DUNE had saved her marriage, since it helped her to understand what it's like to live with a genius. In the car, Kevin reads aloud a heart-warming e-mail from a very enthusiastic fan who used HOUSE ATREIDES to reestablish a strong bond with his estranged father.

Brian and Kevin say goodbye at the train station. We've now written six complete DUNE novels together -- as many as Frank Herbert himself -- and the ideas and ambitions keep coming. We try to raise the bar with every novel, make the stories more complex and the writing more polished. We've got a few more edits to do on THE BATTLE OF CORRIN manuscript, and still more details to develop for HUNTERS OF DUNE and SANDWORMS OF DUNE. But even after so many days on the road, with too little time to write, we're energized to get going.

Judy takes Kevin to the airport where (isn't that just typical) our publicist has arranged one more last-minute book signing at a bookstore inside O'Hare. The manager Shannon whisks Kevin through security so he can get to the store and sign stacks and stacks of THE MACHINE CRUSADE. He is surprised to find that the paperbacks of THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD are already autographed, apparently shipped to Chicago from Koen Books, the distributor in New Jersey where we spent the afternoon signing cases! Shannon is really on the ball -- she has also stocked numerous copies of HIDDEN EMPIRE and A FOREST OF STARS, and she holds up the paperback of EMPIRE she herself is currently reading.

After signing the books, Kevin heads to the gate, taking just enough time to pick up a real Vienna Chicago hot dog (complete with relish, pickle, onions, and hot pepper), for the tour's last genuine local culinary experience. (At the moment, Brian is probably eating Amtrak food.) With one of the last bites, ketchup and pickles splurt all over Kevin's last semi-clean black shirt and pants. It only needs to last for a few more hours. . . .

When we get home, we each have numerous additional events. Kevin has two military base signings on Saturday, and a science fiction convention (Mile Hi Con) in Denver in a few weeks, as well as a talk at a Colorado library festival, not to mention several other book signings. Brian has a full calendar of further promotion back in Washington. But at least we'll be sleeping in our own beds for a change. Kevin checks the newspaper; his next free day is Sunday . . . and it looks like good hiking weather. Unless somebody sets up a new book signing. . . .

Thanks for reading this journal. We hope you've enjoyed it.


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