A very productive day, I must say. It was nice to run into Guppies Chris Roerdon and Beth Groundwater, and author Neil Plakcy and many others who seem to be growing aware of my name (could it be that networking thing works?)
The first thing we did (and I mean first thing at 7:30 in the morning!) was go to the New Author's Breakfast, where 20 authors who's books came out since the last LCC to this one, were celebrated. Each had their own table and guests were invited to sample the Continental breakfast and sit with the authors at their tables. I sat at Beth Groundwater's table. My goal at these conferences is to not only network with fellow authors but more importantly to visit with potential readers and let them know about the books. (Though many of the attendees also frequent online lists like Dorothy-L and have already heard of me. Sweet!) Hey. This is what it's all about. Connecting with readers and building that base.
Here's a sampling: "Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon" by Dan Fredsti--the author calls it a hard-boiled theatrical thriller; "Pushing Up Daisies" by Rosemary Harris--gardening, a baby's body, and murder; "A Real Basket Case" by Beth Groundwater--a middle-aged woman and a dead massage therapist; "Vinnie's Head" by Marc Louis Lecard--the not so Wise Guy from "Longiland". Many others, many books.
After breakfast we broke off to go to the different panels and the first one for me was "Over medium: Soft-boiled v Hard-boiled" with Carl Brookins, J.m. Hayes, Roberta Isleib, RichThompson and Paul Anik, Moderator. The first thing the moderator asked the panel was to define the terms "hard and soft boiled." Isleib said that it entailed how much sex and violence was on the page. But Hayes disagreed, saying it was in the "eye of the beholder." He said there was a lot of blood and sex in his novels but that one reviewer called it "the best madcap cozy to hit the genre."
Brookins brought up what many authors wrestle with now, that labels are deficient to define what one writes and they are more marketing tools than accurate takes on what is there between the book covers.
It was an interesting back and forth on different takes on defining what they wrote and then the mod concluded by asking each author to write an opening paragraph--in the character of their protags--based on the scenario of being in that room faced with us as an audience. Interesting.
Next up was Killing with Kindness: Traditional mysteries with Leslie Klinger (m), Ellen Byerrom, Barbara Graham, Steve Hockensmith, Craig Johnson. Again, the prevailing theme seemed to be labels. Johnson cautioned that authors not "get too hide-bound by genre. Tell whatever story you want to tell" and that character development was the most crucial part of the picture.
I was on to Past Perfect: Historical Mysteries with Frederck Ramsay (m), Aileen Baron (who writes archaeological mysteries set in the '30s), Rhys Bowen (her Molly Murphy series is set in the early 1900s and her newest is in the '30s), Beverle Graves Myers (Venice in the 17th century), Kelli Stanley (Roman Britain Noir--more on her in a minute.)
A few thoughtful questions for this panel (it's gotta be so hard to come up with something new yet interesting) "Could you have written your novel in the time period you write about?" "What's the biggest challenge in writing what you do?" that sort of thing. We were joined in several panels by fifth and sixth graders from the local arts school and I couldn't help but think that was cramping the style of the answers. Also, no matter how smart you are, when you're ten and eleven, this has got to be deadly dull. But in this panel, two kids asked very intelligent questions: "What do you like about writing historicals?" and "Do you have any connections to the characters in your book?" Baron was an archaeologist and Bowen said that in Her Royal Spyness, she used some events from her own life and used them for her character Georgie as when she had tea with the queen and did a spot of modeling.
I took a long lunch before my own panel. I was pretty nervous because I didn't know what the moderator was going to ask. We met in the green room and chatted a bit before lumbering over to the room. Since the questions were pretty standard, I simply called upon my theatrical training to relax and be "me". It went very well, I think. Keith Kahla my editor came up after and I finally met the man face to face. Nice to put a face to the email! More on that in a minute. I had some interest in my bookplates and signed a few programs. I later grabbed hold of Kelli Stanley with the Roman Brit Noir and suggested we join forces at Bouchercon to do an historical noir panel and she was all for it. Are you listening B'con preparers?
I had a bit of time before the St. Martin's cocktail party and when I tromped up to it, I met other Kahla authors Toni McGee Causey, Steve Hockensmith, and Mark Zubro. I chatted briefly with my publicist Hector Dejean and with Keith and then I met Keith later for dinner. We ate at Vesta, a nice little grill down the road and he filled me in on all the details of where my book was now and where it was going along the conveyor belt of "the process". A bit on time frames and such. Looks like the book will not be out for Bouchercon (bugger!) and will probably hit the streets in November. But perhaps this is better for Christmas sales. I know what everyone's getting in their stockings this year.
Keith and I seemed to hit it off well and I enjoyed our time together--except for the moment when some apparently strung out individual joined us in the empty seat at our table. We sort of puzzled about the man's arrival for a moment when we flagged the waiter and I told him that this gentleman was not in our party. He was ushered away without fanfare. As we walked back down the mall of fairy-lighted trees, bicycle rickshaws, horse-drawn carriages, and Starbucks every few feet, a group of young men summed it up for us: "It's fucking Denver, dude!" I think that's my new catchphrase.