Unconventional Conventions

April 14, 2011

Let me say first that I really enjoy conventions. I’ve gone to conventions for mysteries, science fiction, comic books, romance, fantasy, circuses, anime, writers, psychologists, and collectibles. I can’t remember a one that I don’t have fond memories of. But as convention season gets underway–Anime Boston the weekend after next, and then Malice Domestic–I’ve been remembering some convention sights that were less…conventional.

Under the circumstances, I’ll be filing off serial numbers and such. Most of the oddities had nothing to do with the conventions themselves, merely with the attendees, so I don’t want to give any con an undeserved bad rep.

Spider bite?

At a romance convention, my husband Steve and I ran into a woman in the hallway who was almost in a panic. She said she’d been bitten by a poisonous spider in the hotel room, and was sure she was going to die. Plus she indignantly said the sheet on her bed had semen stains. Steve and I tried to get her to call a taxi or talk to the hotel desk and she said she didn’t have any money and the people at the front desk wouldn’t believe her. We loaned her our cell phone, thinking she was going to call 911, and she called “Daddy” and told him he needed to sue the hotel because they were being mean to her and the aforementioned semen stains. (Yes, this was a GROWN woman.) She forgot to mention the spider bite–retribution was clearly more important. Finally we handed her off to hotel and convention management, and gave her twenty dollars for a cab. It was well worth the bucks to get rid of her. We never say her again, and we really don’t know if the spider bite got her, or her father rode to the rescue.

What world is this?

I’ve attended several science fiction conventions, and the costumes are often breathtaking. But sometimes it’s more of a gasp of disbelief than awe. I remember a woman who’d semi-covered her fairly unimpressive, saggy breasts with metal spiders. The body of the spider covered the nipple, and the legs kind of made up a cage around the breast, but offered neither coverage nor support. That was a shame, on both counts.

Then there was the guy in the audience of a panel where Tarzan was being discussed. Somebody made a Cheetah joke and he scornfully said–with more disdain than I can possibly convey–“There was no ‘Cheetah’ in the books.” He was absolutely correct, of course, but it was still a funny joke.

At one convention, I saw some people in very nice black latex costumes for a vampire roleplaying game. I was extremely impressed when I saw them soon after my arrival one Friday night. I was less impressed when I saw them in the same costumes on Saturday, and then on Sunday. You see, latex does not breathe. Neither did I when I had to share an elevator with the vampires.

Life is a mystery…

At one mystery convention, I was chatting with a guy while in line for an ice cream social. We started out talking about mysteries, but at some point he started telling me about his and his wife’s experiences in polyamory. In other words, they as a couple had girlfriends. To this day I do not know if he was just chatting or inviting me. I just nodded, said something like “How interesting,” and then mentioned that I really enjoy monogamy.

At another convention, we apparently got mixed up in a dispute between management and labor. The guest of honor was giving her speech in the lobby (the meeting room was having climate control issues, and it was too hot to sit in there), and in the middle of it, a maintenance worker went to the wall with an electric drill and started drilling holes in the wall. I went to the desk to complain while Steve went to the guy to ask him to stop. The desk clerk was slow, and the maintenance guy would only say, “I have to put up this picture. Right now.”

Then were was the time I went into the suite that was being used as a hospitality room. Canned drinks had been left in ice in the bath tub, which was fine. But as I reached for a Coke, I saw that the toilet had been used recently, and not flushed. There was a floater. I passed on the Coke.



With memories like these, how can I possibly resist attending conventions? My only worry is that someday, somebody will be blogging about some strange thing I did or said at a convention.


Whoops! Make that a triple release day!

April 8, 2011

I totally forgot an anthology release on Tuesday! Brilliance Audio also released the audio version of Crimes by Moonlight!

Mea culpa! I haven’t seen a copy yet, and it just slipped my mind.

Anthology Release Day–Times Two

April 6, 2011

Though I spent most of the day at home with two sick kids, out in the great wide publishing world, I had two anthology releases today: one expected and one surprise.

First up was the trade paperback release of Crimes by Moonlight, the MWA-sponsored anthology edited by the fabulous Charlaine Harris.

The stories are all mysteries with a supernatural or paranormal twist. My story is “Taking the Long View,” which is the second mystery featuring my vampire couple Mark and Stella. (They were first introduced in “How Stella Got Her Grave Back,” which appeared in Many Bloody Returns.) I’m delighted to be in a collection with so many amazing writers. Just check out this list of contributors:

Now that release has been scheduled for some time. The other anthology I’m in as of today came about much more quickly. On March 1, the amazing Carla Coupe asked if I’d be interested in contributing a story to an electronic anthology she was putting together for Wildside Press. Since she wanted a previously published story, on March 8 I sent her a couple that had been published in anthologies that were no longer in print. She accepted one of them on March 9, and sent along a contract. And now, just over a month later, The Mystery Megapack: 25 Modern and Classic Tales by Masters has already been released.

I didn’t know it was going to be out today until Google Alerts alerted me, and I certainly didn’t know my name was going to be on the cover.

My story is “Security Blanket,” about a volunteer security manager at a science fiction convention who isn’t sure she’s up to the job. When one of the other security volunteers dies, it’s up to Regina to find out what happened. (It was originally published in Riptide: Crime Stories by New England Writers, published by Level Best Book.)

Once again, I’m keeping some excellent company. The other contributors are:

Yes, I know that’s only 22 names, but one of the authors has 3 stories in the anthology, and then there’s me.

While it’s always fun to be in a collection with contemporary writers I admire, I find it amazingly cool to be in the same collection as the creators of Zorro, Father Brown, Fu Manchu, and Jules de Grandin.

So while I’m at home trying to keep sick children happy, my stories are out there doing my job for me. What more can a writer–or mother–ask for?

Doing the Dance of Joy!

April 4, 2011

So it’s a gray, rainy day in Massachusetts, and my younger daughter is home sick, and my husband is traveling, and I started the day feeling mighty glum. Then I got an e-mail from the amazing Joanne Sinchuk at the almost-as-amazing mystery bookstore Murder on the Beach. The store had just posted its bestseller list from March, and if you go to the very bottom of the trade/mass market list, there I am! Well technically, my book is there, but you get the idea.

Here’s the whole glorious list:

1. Live Wire by Harlan Coben, Putnam, 27.95
2. Someone’s Watching by Sharon Potts, Oceanview, 25.95
3. Night Vision by Randy Wayne White, Putnam, 25.95
4. Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey, Harper-Collins, 24.99
5. Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford, Harper-Collins, 24.99
6. Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, Oceanview, 25.95
7. Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein, Putnam, 26.95
8. Delirious by Daniel Palmer, Kensington, 25.00
9. Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer, St. Martins, 27.99
10. Free Range Institution by Michael Haskins, Five Star, 25.95

Trade/Mass Market

1. In Their Blood by Sharon Potts, Oceanview, 15.00
2. Angel’s Verdict by Mary Stanton, Berkley, 7.99
3. Reckless by Andrew Gross, Harper-Collins, 9.99
4. Illegal by Paul Levine, Random House, 7.99
5. Caught by Harlan Coben, Berkley, 9.99
6. Hell Gate by Linda Fairstein, Berkley, 9.99
7. Murder on the High Seas by Carol Cope, Berkley, 7.99
8. Money to Burn by James Grippando, Harper-Collins, 9.99
9. The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs, Berkley, 7.99
10. Blast from the Past by Toni Kelner, Berkley, 6.99

Amazingly, the day now looks a whole lot brighter!

I humbly accept this part of an award nomination…

April 2, 2011

Yesterday I got good news from the multi-talented Bill Crider, who published my story “Kids Today” in his anthology Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying. DND2 has been nominated for a Spinetingler Award for Best Anthology! The Spinetingler’s are given, appropriately enough, by Spinetingler Magazine.

The full list of anthology nominees is:

I’m really delighted to be included on this list, even though my story is only a small slice of DND2. Bill Crider and the late Dave Thompson are the ones who put it together, Ben LeRoy helped shepherd it through the last stages of publication, and of course, there are a whole lot of really excellent contributors. But that’s the good thing about award nominations–the more people who are involved, the more of us who get to be winners!

If you’re interested in voting for any of the Spinetinglers, go check out their site.