Friday had been my day to attend as many workshops and panels as I could. Saturday was going to be the day my roommates and I each enjoyed our moments in the spotlight at Bouchercon 2014. What we didn’t plan for were some spontaneous moments of fun.
The morning began with the Sisters in Crime breakfast. Patricia Coleman and I didn’t just show up for the buffet, although it was fabulous. Our main focus was watching our roomie Maria Kelson accept the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. Frankie Bailey presented the award, after which Maria gave a wonderful acceptance speech.
Then outgoing SinC president and Colorado author Laura DiSilverio passed on the Seal of Office to incoming president Catriona McPherson.
In the hallway on my way to the first panel of the day, I had to get my photo taken with Ingrid Willis, chair of Bouchercon 2014.
A Fine Palate for Death – Dessert, Wine, and Crime was an unexpectedly hilarious panel. Moderator and author Ovidia Yu threw her panelists curve balls with creative questions. The authors of novels involving cuisine of some variety responded with unconventional answers. The audience was in stitches.
The panelists did manage to give some serious advice to aspiring authors. Kathy Aarons achieved success when she was willing to tackle a different series. Nancy Parra advised keeping a story bible to keep characters straight, and to think about settings for multiple bodies and victims. Jennifer McKinlay recommended attending conferences, and to think of your story arc as longer than three books, in case it picks up steam. Carlene O’Neil said to be careful who you kill off and who you keep. Penny Warner told aspiring writers to be persistent. “Don’t give up.”
My author session was up next. I brought my prospector’s hammer and geodes to demonstrate an important element in my Rock Shop Mystery series. Things did not go quite as planned. I hammered and hammered on the geode, and nothing happened. Well, I shouldn’t say nothing happened. Lots of sparks flew off the geodes, and there was enough noise to wake the dead. Charlene Dietz even took a turn with the prospector’s hammer, but she had no better luck than me.
The twenty minutes went too fast, as I spent my precious time mostly hammering on the geode. People assured me it had been most entertaining. Sigh. I am sure my author session was unforgettable, although not perhaps in the way I intended.
I was determined to prove there was something inside the homely rock, so I went out by the pool with Liesa Malik, author of the Daisy Arthur Mystery series. We took turns whacking away with the hammer. I expected security to toss us out of the conference, but we had as much time as we needed to finally crack open that geode!
Liesa helped me carry my prospector’s gear and posters back to the hotel, and then I accompanied her to lunch. We are both Five Star authors, and we had a great time talking shop.
After that break (ha ha), I went to watch roommate Patricia Coleman on her panel, Whodunits in Every Era: the Crimes May Change, but Murders Stay the Same. Moderator Darrell James led the discussion with authors Charlotte Hinger, Robert Kresge, Linda Richards, and John Maddox Roberts. Patricia actually writes in three different eras – Regency, contemporary, and steampunk.
Now came the unexpected fun. Patricia, Maria, Liesa and I played hookey from the conference. We walked past the marina to the nearby beach. Palm trees, ocean, seagulls, and salt water. It was a beautiful diversion.
One enterprising bird tried to steal the daisy off Liesa’s bag. The flower symbolized Liesa’s Daisy Arthur mystery series. The bird did not seem to realize the flower was not real, but it gave up after a few beaky plucks at the flower.
We made it back in time for one more panel. I dropped in on Historical Sleuthing – Historical People Sleuthing versus Fictionalized People. This panel was a bit controversial. I had to consider whether I enjoyed the idea of actual historical figures being used in a work of fiction. As peripheral characters, I have no problem, but I’m not sure I would enjoy a novel with a historical figure as the main protagonist. I suppose I should read books by these authors to see how it plays out. Moderator Robert Kresge, panelists Emily Brightwell, Carola Dunn, Barbara Hambly, Francine Matthews (Stephanie Barron) and Holly West.
Liesa, Pat and I decided on dinner at a burger place. This was California – I knew there would be veggie burgers. We were fired up with all we had learned, discussed the business of writing, and gave each other motivational speeches.
I have to admit that by this point in the conference, I was dead on my feet. I had to muster up the energy to go to the Anthony Awards ceremony. Liesa and I were prepared to cheer for our Five Star editor Deni Dietz, who was nominated in the short story category. We were devastated when she did not win, but just being nominated is an honor.
After the awards, I dragged myself to the reception. I caught my second wind when I saw that quite a few members of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America were in attendance. We gathered for serious writer talk and photos.
Walking back to the hotel, I tried to soak up the beautiful warm evening, hoping to store it away for later remembrance during the cold days of winter. As a colorful fountain splashed, I enjoyed the camaraderie of other Bouchercon attendees who had experienced their own adventures that day. This was my last night in Long Beach. I didn’t want it to be over.
Sunday would be short, and couldn’t possibly have anything more to offer. Or so I thought.
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