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June 11, 1988|DENNIS McLELLAN

Robert Ray, Irvine's self-described "guerrilla book marketeer," met his match at the recent American Booksellers Assn. convention in Anaheim.

Ray is the author of a series of mysteries featuring his Newport Beach-based detective, Matt Murdock, whose next exploit, "Dial M for Murdock," will be published by St. Martin's Press in the fall. Not one to overlook an opportunity for a little self-promotion, Ray planned to pass out 2,000 specially designed flyers ("The ABA Booksellers Guide to Murdock Country") to booksellers roaming the convention hall.

But the jig was up after he had passed out only 20 flyers in the book-signing area. Using language as terse as a character in one of Ray's novels, a security guard said, "You can't do that."

The mild-mannered author was more than willing to comply.

"There's a rule you have to have a booth to distribute material," said Ray, who dropped off the remaining flyers at the exhibit booth run by Penguin, which publishes the Murdock series in paperback.

Actually, before Ray was stopped in the autograph area, he already had handed out about 400 flyers in meeting rooms and at specialty luncheons. But the whole experience was sobering. Even for a "guerrilla book marketeer."

"It wasn't that good an idea: People were overloaded with paper," Ray said. "I'll just mail them out now to bookstores. But I learned a lot. I learned about rules and law and order. I think they're really right to do that because you don't want a bunch of people shoving stuff into your hand. I was happy to obey the rules."

His fictional detective, no doubt, would be proud.

"Oh, Murdock, he's very law and order," Ray said.

Deborah Nourse Lattimore will sign copies of her illustrated children's book, "The Flame of Peace" (Harper & Row), from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Little Professor Book Center, 14370 Culver Drive, Irvine. The Los Angeles writer's book is described as "a tale of the Aztecs."

On Saturday, June 25, from 1 to 3 p.m., five authors are scheduled to sign their books at the Little Professor: Elizabeth George ("A Great Deliverance"), Douglas Muir ("Red Star Run"), Bradley Lewis ("Confessions of a Grinder"), Neal Shusterman ("Shadow Box") and Alex Thorliefson ("Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace," which she co-authored with Scot Thorson).

"Hot Sand," a handbook of beach volleyball co-authored by Ray Obstfeld of Irvine and Jon Stephenson of Manhattan Beach, one of the world's top-ranked professional volleyball players, will be published by Windmill Press in July.

Obstfeld, himself an amateur volleyball player, says the $9.95 book contains 200 photographs, a full-color map of those Southern California beaches where volleyball is played (with information on each beach), interviews with top professionals and tournament directors, a step-by-step instructional guide, charts on how to run your own tournament and the rule books of the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals and the California Volleyball Assn., as well as grass rules.

"Hot Sand" is the first book to be published by Windmill Press. The Newport Beach-based publishing company is co-owned by Obstfeld, who is an author and creative writing teacher at Orange Coast College. The new firm originally was called Orchard Press, but Obstfeld had to make a last-minute name and logo change when he discovered another publishing house with a similar name at the ABA convention.

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