Event Review: Eat! Read! Party! holiday event at Mysterious Galaxy

Gini Koch talks about her book Alien Research at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Clairemont.

Gini Koch talks about her book Alien Research at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Clairemont.

I love bookstores. From used bookstores to quirky indie shops to tiny, cluttered stores with ceiling-high stacks of books to boxy superstores. All of them. A bookstore is more than a place to buy books or DVDs or CDs (do people still buy CDs?) or greeting cards or mugs or Kindles (or whatever else Barnes & Noble sells). A good bookstore creates a sense of community.

Mysterious Galaxy is one of those. Located on Clairemont Mesa Blvd, this independent bookstore sells books of “Martians, murder, magic, mayhem & more”. Surprisingly, I had never been there, despite my not-so-secret quest to visit all the bookstores of San Diego. I am so glad that I finally did. It is my new favorite bookstore in San Diego (Bookoff on Kearny Mesa Road is still my favorite-est because of their amazing $1 section!).

Despite the rain on that Saturday afternoon in sunny San Diego, Mysterious Galaxy was full of people. Thirteen authors were scheduled to be at this holiday event, and it was only going to be two hours long, so I wasn’t sure if there would be enough time for everyone. Owner Maryelizabeth Hart, who was hosting the event, had a solution: Everyone got three minutes.

Thanks to the time restriction, everyone kept their talk very short. Most authors introduced themselves very briefly, spoke about the current book they were promoting and shared news regarding their previous works. Hart said (and I agree) that any alphabetical order would be unfair to those whose names did not start with first or last letters of the alphabet and so began calling out names randomly from a list.

Weston Ochse (pronounced “oaks”), talked about his second SEAL Team 666 book, Age of Blood, in which the SEAL team battles supernatural threats in Mexico City. If that sounds like an awesome premise for a movie, starring maybe—I don’t know—Dwayne  “The Rock” Johnson, you would be right. Movie rights have been sold, and filming is going to start soon.

Next was the Barbara Galler-Smith, promoting Warriors, the third book in her Druids trilogy. She lives in Canada, and spoke about collaborating with co-author, Josh Langston, who is based in Georgia. Before the event began, Galler-Smith talked to me about her book, and about being extremely shy, while her doting husband clicked dozens of photos.

Mike Sirota, spoke about his latest book, Freedom’s Hand, about a white supremacist group in the American southwest, adding that the book was a cautionary tale because “psychos are all over the place” and how concentration camps still exist in many countries.

Terry Ambrose spoke next about his latest book, Kauai Temptations, his second McKenna mystery novel. Ambrose takes inspiration from real life crime stories and writes about true crime fiction on examiner.com. He talked about the latest scam he’s found out about: “Letters from Santa” companies that take money from clients but never send any letter. Following him, ex-cop T. B. Smith talked about A Fellow of Infinite Jest, his second police procedural book, in which protagonist Luke Jones tackles the aftermath of airplane PSA 182 crash in 1978 San Diego.

Michael Kingswood, an active duty US Navy office, introduced his book, The Pericles Conspiracy, and distributed copies of his novelette that includes the first chapters of the book. Kingswood is the author’s pen name, which he says he chose following the old porn name rule: middle name + street he grew up on.

Julian R. Vaca, spoke about his dystopian mystery, Running from Lions and S.B.K. Burns about her sci-fi romance, Entangled. Both the Middle Grade authors at the event, James Matlack Raney and Kevin Gerard, spoke about their second books: Raney’s Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, which had released the same day, and Gerard’s Dragons of the Dark Rift, second in his Diego’s Dragons series.

Also at the event were Gini Koch promoting Alien Research, ‘neighborhood author’ Marv Gold (he lives in Clairemont) who talked about Whirlwind, and Reina Menasche who spoke about how her new book, Twice Begun, was inspired by her own work as a social worker. Co-founder of NPR’s A Way With Words and columnist with the San Diego Union-TribuneRichard Lederer talked about his books about language, crosswords, humor, trivia, and his columns from the Tribune. Lederer was promoting his Big Book of Word Play Crosswords to celebrate 100 years of the crossword.

Hart’s three-minute plan worked out well: authors spoke about their books and then were free to talk to the people attending the event and to sign copies for fans (Mysterious Galaxy also has a section for signed copies of latest books).

The bookstore also held a raffle and gave away awesome-looking goodie bags. Sadly, I did not win one but I might just go and buy the t-shirt which was in some of them, the one that says Eat. Sleep. Read.

Dee B