It Really Is an Honor To be Nominated

October 22, 2009

When I left for Bouchercon, I was a Macavity short story nominee for “Keeping Watch Over His Flock,” (published in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and myself) and an Anthony short story nominee for “Skull and Cross-Examinations” (published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine). When I flew home, it was without either award.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. Of course I am. But after each award ceremony I smiled and applauded. That’s part of award etiquette. I hugged the winners, too, because they’re both really nice and good writers to boot. And when people offered their condolences, I smiled and said, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”

You know what? It’s absolutely true. It is an honor to be nominated. Just look at the people I was up against. For the Macavity, it was:

  • Sean Chercover for “A Sleep Not Unlike Death” (published in Hardcore Hardboiled)
  • Laura Lippman for “Scratch a Woman” (published in Hardly Knew Her)
  • Tom Piccirilli for “Between the Dark and the Daylight” (published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
  • Dana Cameron for “The Night Things Changed” (published in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe). She won, by the way.

For the Anthony, it was:

  • Dana Cameron for “The Night Things Changed” (published in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe).
  • Sean Chercover for “A Sleep Not Unlike Death” (published in Hardcore Hardboiled). He won this one.
  • Jane Cleland for “Killing Time” (published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
  • Laura Lippman for “Scratch a Woman” (published in Hardly Knew Her)
  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch for “The Secret Lives of Cats” (published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

I am honestly proud to have been in the same categories as these writers. I am delighted that people nominated me, and voted for me. Even though I didn’t win and didn’t have the opportunity to say so in public, I am grateful to the editors who published those stories (Charlaine Harris, Ginjer Buchanan, and Janet Hutchings); my agent Joan Brandt; my readers Charlaine Harris and Dana Cameron; and most of all my husband Steve, my first reader.

I offer my heartiest congratulations to Dana for winning the Macavity and to Sean for winning the Anthony, and I commend the other nominees.

I really am deeply and sincerely honored.

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Everybody’s a Fan at Bouchercon

October 22, 2009

In 1985, a supergroup of musicians called USA for Africa got together to record the song “We Are the World,” which was sold to raise humanitarian aid for Africa.  And by supergroup, I mean people like Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, Kim Carnes, Cyndi Lauper, and Bruce Springsteen.

That’s what Bouchercon is like for mystery writers.

This year’s Bouchercon was held in Indianapolis this past weekend. The hotel was a great choice, the outside venues fun and easy to get to, and the area was saturated with good restaurants. The panels were great fun, and how can you argue with honorees like Michael Connelly, S.J. Rozan, Wendelin Van Draanen, Al Hubin, and Kathryn Kennison? The convention committee did a terrific job.

Of course, the way I approach Bouchercon is not the same as that of the average fan. I spoke on a panel, went for drinks with an editor, went to my publisher’s cocktail party, ate lunch with two other editors, signed books, attended award ceremonies for the Macavity and the Anthony, recorded a podcast, met with a book packager, and discussed a forthcoming anthology. The other writers were just colleagues, so of course I didn’t take any particular notice of them.

And if you believe that, I’ve got some swampland in Florida up on eBay…

My gosh, do you know was there?  If the honorees weren’t impressive enough, there was C.J. Box, JoAnna Carl, Carolyn Hart, Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, Harlan Coben, Max Allan Collins, Heather Graham, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Loren Estleman, Dana Cameron, Peter Lovesey, Mary Saums… And that’s just a start. Do you seriously think I could wander through a hotel filled with talented writers like that without wanting to pinch myself? I was in heaven.

The fact is, I was a mystery fan long before I was a mystery writer. And one of the best parts about being a pro is the endless opportunities it provides for being a fan, for meeting these people at conventions and cocktail parties and panels. So you can bet that I brought home a load of autographed books, just like any other fan.

Come to think of it, I understand the musicians of USA for Africa signed autographs for one another, too…


Faire to Middling Historical

October 13, 2009

This weekend, my family and I–and my daughter’s friend Amanda–spent the day at King Richard’s Faire, a long established renaissance faire in nearby Carver, MA. It was a gorgeous New England fall day, and we saw amazing sights, including:

King Richard & Court

King Richard Himself, With Members of His Court

Jousts

Jousting

Pirate Percussionists

Pirate Percussionists

Tortuga Twins

The Tortuga Twins Storytelling Troupe (with an audience volunteer)

Bite Me

The Renaissance Vampire Musical “Bite Me”

You may be picking up on the fact that King Richard’s Faire is not strictly historically accurate. I understand that this is true of many renfaires. I like Neil Gaiman’s description from the comic book Sandman. Hob, an actual survivor of the renaissance, visits a modern faire and says, “It’s just someone’s idea of the English middle ages crossed with bloody Disneyland.”

I can’t argue with that. It’s not history. But we weren’t there for history–we were there for fun, and we had plenty of that. Besides, I suspect some history snuck in when I’m not looking anyway. I did get to see a knight actually walking and riding in armor, heard the sound of swords hitting, realized the amount of space it takes for a woman in that kind of gown, maybe learned a little bit of authentic vocabulary mixed in with the Monty Python accents. I didn’t mind a little bonus of learning as long as it was entertaining.

There’s a lesson there for writers of fiction. No, I’m not suggesting that we fill our work with historical inaccuracies, or even modern inaccuracies. Nor should we throw in vampires and pirates just because they’re popular–though I admit to doing stories with both. My point is that if you entertain the reader, you can sneak in a lot of facts without anybody minding. There’s a fair amount of TV trivia tucked into my own Curse of the Kissing Cousins, though it’s by no means a history of television. Okay, it’s not a grand epiphany, but didn’t I already tell you that I don’t go to renfaires to learn anything?

So to King Richard’s Faire, I offer a resounding Huzzah!


Death of a Cover

October 7, 2009

Or rather, the revision of a cover. Though we thought we were decided on the previously posted cover for the upcoming anthology Death’s Excellent Vacation, edited by Charlaine Harris and myself, upon further reflection we weren’t. After discussion, we realized the previous cover–though perfectly charming–was a bit subtle with the paranormal aspect and might discourage male book buyers. So the cat lady–or perhaps wolf lady, because she’s been called both–will be staying home, and the Grim Reaper will be going on vacation in her place.

death's_x_vac_reaper

It’s still the same stellar lineup of authors, and that’s the best part!