Writing is a solitary activity. Conferences offer us a chance to break away from our isolation to mingle with our peers and fans. Many writing groups and loops exist in cyberspace. We often have not connected faces to the people we chat with regularly online. At Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina, I met readers, writers, editors, reviewers, and friends. Some were happenstance hallway encounters, while other conversations took place during the many organized events.
In today's blog, I list my six favorite Meetings, and I talk about my Moment as a panel moderator.
1) Sisters in Crime - I am a member of SinC. The professional writing group holds a breakfast at conferences like Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, and Malice Domestic. The business meeting is a good excuse to meet in person the far flung members of this national group. I sat next to Verna Suit, who writes crossword puzzles for Mystery Scene Magazine.
2) Hallway - Even though I knew many Colorado authors were attending Bouchercon, we do not travel together like a herd of elk. I was delighted when I ran into R. T. Lawton and his wife Kiti in the Marriott Hotel between workshops. R. T. has published nearly 100 short stories, a third of them in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
3) Short Mystery Fiction Society - The short story is catching on. Again. Once a popular art form with many outlets, the mystery short story had fallen on hard times as magazines folded and reader interest faded. That has changed. One proof of the revival of the never-really-gone short story was attendance at the SMFS lunch at Bouchercon. I met with Judy Penz Sheluk and several other SMFS members. We walked to the Plaza Café, a small Indian deli. As I got in line, I met author Pamela De Voe. We would be on a panel the next day. Forty plus people attended the lunch, where Art Taylor had us introduce ourselves (including a few non-SMFS deli customers who played along). When I told Terrie Farley Moran I was a fan, she happily autographed her newest story in Ellery Queen Magazine.
4) Death By Chocolate - Author and friend Liesa Malik joined me for the Southeastern chapter of Mystery Writers of America sponsored Death by Chocolate reception. While waiting in the hallway for the doors to open, I glimpsed a familiar name on a badge - James M. Jackson. The author and blogger, and his wife Jan, chatted with me and Liesa at length as the crowd grew restless. James does fun author interviews on his blog, My Two Cents Worth - Before Inflation. Once the doors opened and the ravening chocolate hounds burst in upon the chocolate feast, I met other folks. Bibi Sandstrom, librarian and reader, wore T-shirts with funny grammar-themed messages. Liesa and I met Bouchercon first-timer and aspiring author Lindsay Carlson. Lindsay won a book in the MWA drawing.
5) Fan-girl - I played room monitor for the Choose Your Voice panel. My friend and author Patricia Coleman discussed with other panelists how authors decide whether to write in first, second, or third person. After the panel, I noticed Chris Roerden, author of writing craft book Don't Murder Your Mystery, in the audience. I had the chance to tell her how helpful her book was for improving my mystery writing skills.
6) Starbucks - What's a writing conference without a trip to a coffee shop? I met with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine editor Linda Landrigan in the Marriott Starbucks. Linda has published four of my mystery short stories in AHMM. I had met Linda in person at two other conferences, but this was my first chance for a one-on-one chat. By the way, my story Industrial Gray is in the current issue (December - with the boat dock on the cover) available in many bookstores now.
Moment: Authors aspire to be on panels, or to present workshops, at conferences. This gives them a chance to reach new readers, and justifies the expense of the conference. (Yes, all but the mega-star featured authors pay their own way.) My moment at Bouchercon 2015 was serving as the moderator for a panel on Taking the Reader on a Journey. Panelists Pamela De Voe, Janet Hubbard , Dennis Tafoya, G. M. Malliet, and Kathy Lynn Emerson (Kaitlyn Dunnett) told how they created unique worlds for their readers, from ancient China to vineyards in modern France, from gritty South Philadelphia to England in both modern and historical times. I recommend you put each of these folks on your To Be Read list!
I enjoyed my Bouchercon 2015 adventure. Now I'm going to hide in my writer's cave and get some work done!
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