Monday, November 02, 2009

By Pat Remick

There were two "fun" things on my list of 2009 goals: seeing a moose in the wild and meeting author Dennis Lehane. I figured that fulfilling either would be fascinating – and I was correct.

I met goal No. 1 in June when, using the “but it’s my birthday” excuse, I dragged Husband No. 1 and Son No. 2 to northern New Hampshire to find not one, but four, of the magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. (Click here for the recap.)

I figured tracking down Dennis Lehane would be more difficult. Although he lives part of the year in the Boston area, which is about 50 miles away, I don't believe he's made many public appearances since the 2008 publication of “The Given Day,” his epic set in Boston around the time of the 1919 policemen’s strike. One presumes that’s because he’s been at his desk writing or in Florida teaching.

Many people are familiar with the films made from three Lehane books: the incredible “Mystic River” with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins; “Gone, Baby, Gone” with Casey Affleck and Morgan Freeman; and the upcoming “Shutter Island” due out in February and starring Leonard DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley.

I am a huge fan of most of Lehane’s work. I was blown away by “Mystic River” and hated “Shutter Island.” But I have never wavered in adoring his gritty mystery series featuring smart-mouthed Boston Private Investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. “Gone, Baby, Gone” is the fourth of five of those books. When he decided to end the deliciously dark string, I was devastated. I blame my grief for not previously reading “The Given Day” or “Coronado,” his short story collection.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was recently to learn that not only will his next book resurrect my favorite series, he was going to sign the new paperback version of “The Given Day” at my local chain bookstore. That night I lined up with about 45 other fans -- plus camera-toting Husband No. 1. To my dismay, store management was so apprehensive about the potential size of the crowd that it downgraded his “reading” to a “signing.” Nonetheless, I was still going to meet Dennis Lehane – and my goal.

When it was finally my turn to bring my book to the desk for his autograph, I told him about my goals to see a moose... to which he interjected “that’s cool” … and to meet him, to which he said, “awwwhhh” as if he were truly touched (although maybe he just thought I was “touched,” as in mentally unbalanced).

In any case, it made it easier to issue an invitation for him to make his first appearance at the annual New England Crime Bake Conference for mystery writers and readers, which I’m on track to co-chair in November 2010. However, our conversation continued longer than the store personnel and fans preferred. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Husband No. 1 snapping photos while the manager seemed to be wavering between calling security and tackling me himself. Apparently the manager didn't understand that I had goals to meet.

I finally moved on after Dennis wrote down his assistant’s contact information. A few days later, she e-mailed that next year’s Crime Bake is on his calendar.

With two months still to go until the end of 2009, I am delighted to have already met my “fun” goals and contemplating the 2010 list. It’s much more enjoyable than dwelling on those pesky objectives I’m still trying to meet – like finishing my novel and cleaning my home office. 

Did you set any “fun” goals for 2009? Did you accomplish them? What motivates you to accomplish the not-so-fun goals?


Annette said...

Pat, I think both of your goals were totally cool. And even better to have accomplished them both.

Good luck with Crime Bake! I can appreciate the task you're about to undertake better than most, having been conference coordinator for the 2009 Pennwriters Conference. Snagging Dennis Lehane is terrific!

My main goal for this year was to finish my manuscript and I did at least manage to get the first draft done. As for 2010, I haven't started thinking that far ahead yet. But your post has encouraged me to begin my list. I'll get back to you...

Pat Remick said...

I think the key is to choose goals that have some chance of being achievable -- and still provide some sense of satisfaction (and fun!). For example -- saying I'm going to write a best-selling mystery novel in 2010 isn't even possible because with most publishers, there's no way it would even get on the shelves by the end of the year.

And winning a million dollars? Well, highly unlikely though it would definitely be fun!

Jennie Bentley said...

That's really cool, Pat! Way to go on achieving those goals. The moose one was my husband's goal one vacation, too, but we didn't manage to make good on it, unfortunately. The moose were there, but we missed them by twenty minutes (according to my cousin). They came wandering along after we left. One of these days I'll find him a moose, though. They're very impressive animals. As for Crime Bake, I'll have to make it up there one of these years. Combine it with a visit to my (other) publisher in NH and a side trip to Maine to do some research...

Karen in Ohio said...

Pat, what fun, to go on a moose hunt. That was my goal, too. I've now seen them in three states: New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Colorado, all in the last two years. The most exciting was this summer, when we spotted one on the other side of a meadow while on a horseback ride in a Wyoming river valley. I almost fell off the horse I was so thrilled.

My goal this year was to attend Bouchercon, which I did, although it was only for one day. Wow, it was so exciting to be with all those other readers and so many wonderful authors. Next year I hope to attend a conference for more than one day.

And I'm signed up for NaNoWriMo, which is enough of a goal for the rest of this year. Annette, remember when we had a month-long challenge earlier this year? I'm determined not to be a fall-down this time!

Joyce said...

Nice post, Pat. Thanks for filling in for Will today.

I've never seen a moose unless you count watching Rocky & Bullwinkle on DVD. Or a nun back in high school that everyone used to call The Moose.

Gina said...

Joyce -
I had a nun in high school that we used to call Moose, too, but I can't remember her real name right now. She was a Sister of Charity. Could it be the same Moose?

Anonymous said...

Pat, what fun goals and congrats on meeting both of them. How very cool that Dennis Lehane will be at Crime Bake next year!

I have a hunch this con will be an annual event for me. I'm looking forward to meeting you! Wow. Less than two weeks to go. I'll be coming in a day early.

Paula Matter

Joyce said...

I can't remember the Moose's real name either. I'm not ambitious enough to go up to the attic and find my yearbook, either. She was at least 6 feet tall and "big-boned."

She nailed me once for wearing argyle socks instead of plain navy blue ones. It didn't matter that our gray pleated skirts barely covered our butts (this was the in the 70s), but heaven forbid you wear the wrong socks! I had three days detention helping in the library after school. What a punishment! All those books!

Gina said...

Back to the topic:

My fun goal for this year was to meet my favorite actor. [Yeah, that's gonna happen.]

My serious goal was to pay off my car ahead of time. That I've accomplished.

My writing goal was to revise and submit some of the stuff that is "finished," but I got side-tracked into taking film classes and working on this screenplay . . . [not to mention the chilling effect of major surgery and the major medication that went with it] Excuses, excuses.

Maybe I should just go out and try to see a moose.

PatRemick said...

Gina -- who's your favorite actor? There's still time left in 2009!

Love the moose stories -- those nuns sound a lot scarier than real moose, which by the way are incredibly huge! We had to go to a part of NH that was so far north and remote near the Canadian border that there were no utility poles for miles. Loved it, though, and that the teenager even put on the moose hat for photos -- a good son.

Crime Bake is going to be incredible this year -- and next. Some of the hard-working folks on the Crime Bake Committee have been doing it since the beginning and their vision has resulted in a fabulous conference. (But as a committee newbie, I have to say it's a TON of work -- which I'm sure Annette understands.) Looking forward to meeting Paula there!