Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hardboiled Heroes & Cozy Cats Conference

Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats is the annual conference for Mystery Writers of America, Southwest Chapter. What a terrific success. So many talented people giving up their time and expertise to impart wisdom and speak from the heart.

Jeffrey Marks, moderator of Murder Must Advertise, gave helpful advise delivered in a warm, friendly tone. Easy to approach with any questions, he was generous in his replies. I wanted to rush to Murder By The Book, who were set up to sell the books of the presenters and everyone else who attended and had a book. David Thompson and McKenna are a great couple. You can tell they love books and authors and do everything possible to encourage sales and spotlight the authors.

I learned the different ways of marketing from Jeffrey Marks, Body and Mind from Kara Lennox, writing query letters and marketing your book and from my wonderful publicist, PJ Nunn, getting past the dreaded middle from Sandy Steen, poisons from The Poison Lady, Lucy Hansson Zahray, and how to write action scenes from Rob Preece and his assistant. I missed a few others - Jeff Crilley, Dee Sturart, Patricia Springer, Jan Blankenship, Jim Gaskin and Dep-Wah Davis, but you can't be in two places at once.

I really enjoyed my friend Sylvia Dickey Smith and learning how to write settings. The rest of the time we gathered in the bar and discussed the writing life.

Lunch and dinner were punctuated with motivation from Jeff Marks, Jan Burke (one of my favorite people and a great mystery author), and our lovely and talented Chapter President, Deborah LeBlanc who flew in just in time for the Saturday banquet.

What about Kristen Weber, editor from Penguin NAL Obsidian, and Jim McCarthy, agent with Dystel and Goodrich? Both so young, so eager and passionate about their work. Kristen wants paranormal and cosies with a hook. Jim is open for anything. They will get submissions from practically everyone at the conference. That's the reason most go to conferences like this. But I went to mingle, talk, get inspiration with fellow writers who are struggling the same as I. It was worth every moment.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Final Twist at Murder By The Book

What a great time we had May 24 at Murder By The Book. Friends, writers and readers filled the bookstore meet the writers of The Final Twist, Houston chapter of Sisters In Crime. We celebrated Texas Mystery Month with delicious snacks - veggies, cheese, crackers, cookies and awesome red velvet cake balls. Wine was served at the end.

They came to hear us view our opinions and answer their questions as a panel. The subject was "What Came First ..." We covered characters, plot, location, past experiences, and writing styles. Mark and Charlotte Phillips write, fight and live together as a husband and wife team, and explained how they were able to work together with very different styles. Loretta Wheeler acts out scenes - sometimes violent - with her Aussie husband, sometimes shocking their neighbors who can view their antics through open windows. Gayle Wigglesworth writes off travel expenses when she sets her mysteries in exotic locales. Pauline Baird Jones prefers to write her way, and explains why she doesn't go the way of the New York publishing houses. I explained how the locale of my book, LESS DEAD, affected the story and told how my go-go dancing years gave me story ideas. Cash Anthony writes screenplays and knows just the right questions to ask to bring out interesting facts about the authors.

I look foward to seeing The Final Twist anthology "A Death In Texas" come out in September with a short story by yours truly entitled, "Searching for Rachel" about teen runaways and the sex trade. I'm betting the launch party at Murder By The Book will be a big success.