Top Ten Things Not To Do Out of Town if You Are An Author

Top Ten not to do


The inspiration for this list was a trip to Phoenix Arizona this weekend to attend the birthday party of my best friend.

10 If you are an author out-of-town, do not try to keep up with your e-mails. If you do, at best in your haste you’ll trash many e-mails that you want to read. At worst, you will delete your entire e-mail account including the copy of the publishing contract and acceptance letter from Simon & Schuster. (They wanted to hear from you in a week, Eduardo. Oh well, maybe the next book.)

9 If you are an author out-of-town, do not think Tiny the WWF champ is going to excuse you taking all the armrest space on the flight as you work on the next draft of your book on your computer. If you do, at best you may lose the feeling in that arm. At worst, the plane will be diverted to an alternate airport as the Air Marshals attempt to subdue Tiny who keeps yelling something about “limb from limb.” (You never knew Tiny had such an uneasy feeling about an arm in his face did you, Ellis?)

8 If you are an author out-of-town, do not start reading the hijack scene from your book during your flight. If you do at best, your whisper will be unheard. At worst, some well-meaning passenger will have you in a hammerlock before you can explain. ( I think it was the part about “this plane is under control of the Taliban empire that got the guy upset don’t you, Esteban?)

7 If you are an author out-of-town, do not try your latest dialog on a fellow bar patron. If you do, at best you will be met with stony silence. At worst, the patron will think you are handing out a pick-up line and your face might be met with the business end of a gin and tonic. (Wow that was a surprise, huh Emilio? I think the bouncer is headed your way.)

6 If you are an author out-of-town, do not think you can openly try to explain your next book to a hapless passenger waiting for a flight in the terminal. If you do, at best you might recognize the eye glaze in enough time to avert embarrassment. At worst, You will have gone one step over the line and your victim will be anxiously trying to get the attention of the security folks. (Looks like the story might need a bit of rework, Edison.)

5 If you are an author out-of-town, do not try to place a few of your books on the airport newsstand in the terminal next to a famous author. If you do, at best they won’t get tossed. At worst, the customer who picks up one of your books suddenly discovers they meant to get the famous author and now demands their money back. (It seems they are quite vocal, Eliot. The clerk cannot find the stock number in the register and the security is headed this way.)

4 If you are an author out-of-town, do not try to crash another author’s signing just because you don’t think anyone will recognize you. If you do, at best you will be asked to leave quietly. At worst, your next door neighbor just happens to walk in and wonders loudly why you are there. (Looks like the author has noticed you there in the back of the room, Ewan. Looks like he is not pleased and maybe you should have not picked an ex SEAL’s party to crash.)

3 If you are an author out-of-town, do not try to create a new story out of the location of your stay if it is a commonplace. If you do, at best it will be a dead-end story. At worst, once the story is finished you will realize how boring the location really is. (Would have been nice to discover this earlier huh, Elgin.)

2 If you are an author out-of-town, don’t think you have to write every sight and conversation in your notebook. If you do, at best you will miss a real experience. At worst, the guy you have been profiling might suddenly catch on. ( You have awakened a sleeping giant, Egan. Too bad the giant is in a witness protection program due to testifying against a mob boss and thinks you made him.)

1 If you are an author out-of-town, do not miss your flight while trying to get that last paragraph critical to your story written. If you do, at best there is another flight in an hour. At worst, you just missed the last flight and now must spent the night in the terminal. (Looks like the only spot to sleep is the floor, Errol.  I don’t like the looks of that guy in the hoodie. Do you?)


  1. Phoenix is a favorite destination for certain of the ‘businessmen’ who used to rule . . I mean live in my old neighborhood. So yanno . . I hope you took your own advice as per Rule 2. 😉

    1. Yes I did. Thanks, Marc. I ran into your neighbors many years ago.

      1. I no longer send Christmas cards to them. For obvious reasons . . .

      2. Smart man. Nothing like a Yuletide horse head in your stocking.

      3. That Coppola has some imagination, tell you what. That kind of thing . . . umm . . it never happened. Understand?

  2. Gwen Plano · · Reply

    Great list, John, as always. Thanks to you, I actually worry about #8 when I’m writing anywhere other than my desk. Scenes involving terror can become terrorizing for a writer. 😀

    1. That is true. I coud see you doing a scene and then screaming. 😀

  3. Fantastic list, John! So, did you try #5? 🙂 Happy Monday!

    1. No I thought of it while standing in the kiosk, though.

  4. Not being an author, I could sit back and laugh at the rest of you guys in this post!!

    1. Could have fooled me. Okay I should have titled it writer. You’re in this too. Thanks, GP

  5. #5 was suggested to me once, but I didn’t try it. Warning bells in my head said that wouldn’t go over well, especially since my name is on the book. I’ve actually stopped trying to work on airplanes. Part of it is because of my motion sickness, but the other is that I seem to always draw attention from a talker. So, I get nothing done while listening to a total stranger tell me about their book ideas.

    1. I have been there as well. Best to just catch upon reading.

  6. One of your best, John. Tiny yelling “limb from limb”, and whispering aloud the highjacking scene is hilarious!!

    1. Thank you, Jennie.

      1. You’re welcome, John.

  7. This is a great list, John. As for #3, lots of interesting stuff happens in an Motel 6, but I think it’s a different genre from your specialty. I might also add trying to clandestinely snag a photo at the bar, but I’m not sure why that comes to mind.

    1. Ha haha. Yes, the Motel 6 stuff is outside my comfort zone. Caught doing photos might be dangerous. Thanks, Dan

  8. Shoulda come seen me!

    1. Ha ha ha I could just see me dropping in. “Hey Luanne.”

      1. Yes, you could have!

      2. You are sweet. 🙂

  9. Given that you write thrillers, perhaps #8 comes from experience? 😉 Great list, John, and LOVE the cartoon!

    1. Thank you, Marie. 😀

  10. #10 is nearly impossible. I try to stay on top of the emails, but I swear they multiply.

    1. They multiply in the dark. 😀

  11. I usually give up the whole idea when I’m travelling. Makes for some good reading time though.

    1. Good idea. Thanks, Craig

  12. Ah, number 6. Been there, done that!

  13. D.L Finn, Author · · Reply

    I hope I never am on a flight next to Tiny…lol. Another great list that had me laughing. Hope you had a wonderful trip and celebration John!

    1. I did Denise. Bad weather coming back though. Flying through Oklahoma is always a bear.

      1. D.L Finn, Author · ·

        Never a fan of bad weather when traveling, but glad to hear you had a great time!

  14. Lol! Love #10. I try to keep up with emails while I’m out of town, but that darned small screen on my phone causes my eyes to cross. 🙂

    1. I know. I did most of mine on the phone as well.

  15. Another great top ten idea, John. I will definitely try to avoid these.

    1. Thank you, Robbie. 😀

  16. Maybe I should print these out so I won’t step on any toes? Not that I’m headed to Phoenix any time soon, of course! Hope the party was a success!

    1. Ha ha ha. Keep a list so when you do travel you’ll have it handy.

  17. Hysterical. How do you come up with all these? What? Oh, you’ve done it all. Of course! I’ll admit to #10 and #9. Well, yes, #8 and #6 too. I haven’t tried #5 yet, but what a good idea!! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Pamela.

  18. Hug the guy in the hoodie & read him ur book while waiting 😂😂

    1. Ha ha ha. I like that idea, Ray. 😀

  19. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Here is another great Top Ten list from John Howell. This one is the top ten things not to do out of town if you are an author. Check it out in this post from the Fiction Favorites blog.

    1. Thank you for the reblog, Don

      1. You’re welcome.

  20. Hilarious! Memorized this list. I know I’ll need it.

    1. Excellent, Ibeth. 😀

  21. This is too funny!! You forgot to mention trying to sell a copy of your book to the passenger beside you since he/she is a captive audience and just might buy one to shut you up. It only worked for me once, but every sale counts. I might try number 6 next time.

    1. Ha ha ha. Good one, Darline.

  22. I loved #8. That’s very likely to these days with all the problems on flights. He’d be lucky to only have one passenger try to subdue him. I was told about two businessmen joking about bombs as they boarded their flight. Airport security was called and their employer had to bail them out. I can only imagine what happened after that. They no doubt had to update their resumes. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. What a story, Suzanne. Those two guys take the stupid award. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Put your favorite fiction or non-fiction in writing. I would love to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: