Here’s how a guy author prepares to go out on the road to support a new book:

1. Pack shaving kit, clean shirt, underwear and socks.

2. Drive to airport.

Here’s what I’ve done in preparation for the Heartland Booksellers Association Trade Show in Minneapolis on October 1:

Three weeks before:

1. Recognize that bootcut jeans are OVER, whereas boyfriend jeans and skinny jeans and leggings are everywhere.

2. Consider whether it is dignified for a 64-year-old with a Ph.D. and five bestsellers to wear jeans at all.

3. Ditto leggings.

4. Search for alternate ways to cover 64-year-old ass and legs.

5. Despair.

6. Reconsider boyfriend jeans. Discover that straight-leg design is not so bad. Go back to #2 above. Decide: Screw it. I’m still built better than 72% of the people I see in airports.

7. Go back to #4 and reconsider leggings with long tops. Dither.

Two weeks before:

1. Begin ordering vast numbers of shoes from Zappos VIP, hoping to find flats and/or booties that look right with leggings, in the event that I decide I can wear leggings with very cool top.

2. Despair.

3. Reconsider skirts. With tights maybe.

4. Find one pair of ballet flats that are reasonably comfortable and could look good with either leggings or skirt with tights.

5. Return 5 giant boxes of rejects to Zappos and wonder how that company stays in business with customers like me.

One week before:

1. Prepare an 8-12 minute talk about Epitaph to deliver to the evening gala while laboring under the burden of knowledge that these booksellers can make or break a novel, so this is intensely important but has to brisk, funny, emotionally engaging and intellectually intriguing, humble but exciting, and convince everyone in the room to shove this book into the hands of anybody who walks into their store and asks for a recommendation.

2. Haircut, with glossing, so hair looks silvery and cool.

3. Schedule mani-pedi for next week so nails don’t chip before the event.

4. Revise talk, time it. Repeat.

5. Get brows done.

6. Continue to try on clothes and shoes.

7. Despair.

Two days before:

1. Snarl to husband about how “Men don’t have to do all this shit. They just pack underwear and socks and a clean shirt.”

2. Delay working on speech by writing blog.

3. Cancel mani-pedi. Nobody’s going to see my toes; I’ll just buff up my fingernails.

4. Start to pack one under-the-seat roll-on.  This will involve trying on 15 outfits and rejecting 15 of them.

5. Pick least bad outfit for the talk and remind self that the booksellers aren’t there for a fashion show. Decide to wear boyfriend jeans with loafers, a nice top and good jewelry.

6. Change mind about outfit. Repeat.

Morning of trip:

Print out speech, pack, and drive to airport.