Games Creatures Play

July 28, 2013

Just an update on Games Creatures Play, the forthcoming anthology from Charlaine Harris and myself. As the cover copy says, “Sports fans live and die by their teams’ successes and failures—though not literally. But these fifteen authors have written spirited—in more ways than one—new tales of killer competitions that would make even the most die-hard players ask to be benched.”

The book won’t be out until April 1, 2014—just in time for some season for baseball season.  Until then, you can check out the all-star team members we’ve assembled and the sport or game they’ve written about.

Jan Burke—Dodge ball
Dana Cameron—Pankration
Adam-Troy Castro—Hide and seek
Charlaine Harris—Softball
Toni L.P. Kelner—Candlepin bowling
Caitlin Kittredge—Darts and other bar games
William Kent Krueger—Hide and seek
Ellen Kushner—Fencing
Mercedes Lackey—Stock car racing
Joe Lansdale—Boxing
Laura Lippman—Ice skating
Seanan McGuire—Roller derby
Brendan DuBois—Lacrosse
Brandon Sanderson—Cops and robbers
Scott Sigler—Baseball

They’re all MVPs to us!


An Open Letter to Nate Bell

April 20, 2013

I haven’t posted here in ages, but here’s something my erudite husband Steve sent to nitwit Nate Bell, who is a blight upon the lovely state of Arkansas. It makes me proud of Massachusetts, and particularly proud of my husband.



Dear Sir:

Part of my family came over here with the Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom. Another part fought in the Revolutionary War. Another fled persecution under the Tsar and came here during WWI. I am myself a proud son of New England, and without the people of Boston and Massachusetts, especially John Adams, you would not be living in the United States today. Both Washington and Jefferson said that Independence would never have happened without John Adams, truly one of the original Massachusetts liberals, a proud and gutsy man who even defended the Redcoat soldiers of the Boston Massacre, because it was the right thing to do.

That same kind of pride and bravery showed itself on the day of the Marathon bombing, when hosts of those “Massachusetts liberals” you demean ran toward the explosions, to help people. And those same Massachusetts liberals took in those who had no place to go. One Massachusettsian was so tough that after having both legs blown off, as soon as he woke up he wrote a note about the bombers he had seen, and spoke to the cops, in accurate and telling detail. (

We weren’t “cowering in [our] homes.” And your so-called apology for the timing and not the content does not satisfy me, nor will it the many brave people of Massachusetts who are wholly uncowed by terrorists, and who, even as I write this, are hunting them down. We shut down our city to go after them. Mess with this city and these people at your peril.

I strongly suggest you apologize for your insults to the people of Massachusetts; whether we share your political views or not, your implication of cowardice is better aimed at the terrorists than our citizens. Perhaps you would have cowered under your bed without your AR-15, but we wouldn’t, and we didn’t.

Shame on you.

Stephen P. Kelner, Jr.

The Next Next Big Thing

December 6, 2012

As with last week, I’m blog hopping or perhaps, hopping blogs. I was tagged to share the answers to the following questions about my forthcoming book, and will tag another writer to share news about her new book.

My tagger was my good friend Dana Cameron. We beta read for each other, meaning that we read the other’s works-in-progress to make suggestions. I’ll confess that Dana has kept me from making many bad writing choices. (I’m not having her beta read this post, though–she’s taking it on faith.) One thing I beta read for her was her upcoming novel Seven Kinds of Hell, so I can brag that I was one of the first to read it. Don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to catch up very soon, and you’ve got a treat in store for you.

Before I get started, I want to explain something. In her blog hopper, Dana referred to my forthcoming book The Skeleton in the Armoire. That was indeed the title last week. But the publishing world is a dynamic place, and yesterday it morphed into A Skeleton in the Family. With either title, the book will be coming out under my pen name Leigh Perry.

Now for the questions:

Where did the idea for this book come from?

Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is when.

In May of 2004 I sent an email to Dana telling her about this idea I had for an ambulatory skeleton named Sid who would solve his own murder. Dana patiently  gave me background information about skeletal specimens in universities and museums, and I wrote a few passages. About two weeks later, I sent a note to Charlaine Harris, my other beta reader. “I’ve got an idea for a new story or book–don’t know which, yet–and want to see what you think.  It’s probably too silly for works, but since you and Laurell and Dean and Maria have the vampire market by the throat, I thought I’d try something new.  Would you read this snippet and see what you think?” Then I pasted in a piece of what has become A Skeleton in the Family.

Obviously, at some point there must have been a moment when I said, “I think I’ll write a mystery about an ambulatory skeleton,” but I don’t know what led to that moment. Maybe too many daiquiris?

What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery, or to be really specific, cozy woo-woo. In other words, it’s a traditional mystery with paranormal elements. Sid the Skeleton is the paranormal element.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

The only way A Skeleton in the Family could make it to the screen would be as animation or using serious CGI. So I’m going to pick Andy Serkis, famous for his portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. He’s the only one I can imagine playing Sid.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Georgia moves back home and has to deal with the family skeleton–an actual skeleton named Sid. He walks and talks and makes bad jokes, and now he wants to solve his own murder. (I know, that’s two sentences. I suppose I could have faked it with really creative punctuation or CGI…)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

A Skeleton in the Family will be published by Berkley Prime Crime, and I’m represented by Joshua Bilmes of the JABberwocky Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Eight years. Or eight months. It depends on what you count. You see, I wrote bits of the book in summer of 2004, but got pulled away to work on other projects. In February of 2011, I pitched the idea to my editor, Ginjer Buchanan, and included an excerpt an synopsis. But it wasn’t until March of 2012 that I really sat down to write. I finished the first draft in October.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think I’ve got the skeleton mystery market all to myself. In terms of a ridiculous person in a normal world, I think A Skeleton in the Family is more like the Francis the Talking Mule movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and TV sitcoms like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See the above overly detailed explanation of where the idea came from. Once I got started, I was inspired by stories I heard of adjunct faculty members and how it can be a precarious way to make a living.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Georgia, the protagonist, is a single mother with a teenaged daughter who works as kind of itinerant academic. She’s just started work at a New England college, and in the course of the book visits an anime convention and a carnival, fights with her perfect sister the locksmith, reluctantly adopts a dog, and has a romance. So there’s a lot going on. But the fact is, if the walking, talking skeleton doesn’t grab you, I may as well give up. Ditto if it puts you off.

These are the fascinating people that Dana tagged along with me:

Kat Richardson’s novel Seawitch was #3 on the Locus Hardcover Bestseller list for November! She lives on a boat, which is just nifty.

Christopher Golden is the award-winning, best selling author of (deep breath!) fiction, non-fiction, adult and YA, collaborations, and comics. I don’t think he sleeps.

Elaine Viets has two ongoing series: the Helen Hawthorne “Dead End Job” mysteries, and the Josie Marcus “Mystery Shopper mysteries.”  Elaine and I are both members of the Femmes Fatales (as is Dana), and she’ll be posting her Next Big thing blog there.

And here’s the writer I’m tagging next!

Deborah Meyler and I met online through mutual friends–one of the joys of the internet. The Bookstore, Deborah’s first novel, will be out in August 2013, and sounds like tremendous fun. If you read both The Bookstore and A Skeleton in the Family, you will note that we both use the phrase “enamel chili.” I don’t think we’ll say why that is…

The Next Big Thing

November 29, 2012

Have you heard about The Next Big Thing blog hop? It’s a chance for authors to let the world know about their newest writing project, whether it’s something already published or coming soon to a bookseller near you or even just in the works. I was invited to participate by the effervesecent short story author Barb Goffman, who blogged as one of the Women of Mystery, and now I’m answering the same batch of questions here.

What is your title of your story?

My most recent short story is “Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost,”, which appears in An Apple for the Creature, the fifth anthology I’ve co-edited with Charlaine Harris. Ace published it in September, just in case back-to-school sales weren’t scary enough for you.

Where did the idea come from for the story?

All my stories tend to be Frankenstein-monster-like in their creation–I sew on a piece from here, and a piece from there, and eventually there are enough pieces for a story. In this case, the initial inspiration was the anthology theme: supernatural creatures and school. You’d think that since Charlaine and I were the ones to come up with the theme, I’d already have a story in mind, but no. Apparently my editor brain is completely separate from my writer brain.

Anyway, I started with schools. Then I remembered my story “Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park”, which I wrote for a previous Charlaine-and-me anthology (Death’s Excellent Vacation). I really enjoyed the characters, and since the protagonist Joyce had only recently been turned into a werewolf, I thought she might well attend a seminar about lupine-American life. As for the Captain’s ghost, I was at my daughter Valerie’s drama class, and the teacher said he’d love to be in a story. His name is Bob, and I figured that would be easy enough to fit in. Then he said, “Can it be my nickname: Captain Bob?” That was going to be a pain, so I killed him. Not the real guy, but the character, and he became Captain Bob, the really annoying ghost.

What genre does your story fall under?

Mystery and/or urban fantasy.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Nathan Fillion of Castle and Firefly for Pirate Dave. Not that he looks like Pirate Dave in any way, but (1) he can do anything and (2) I might get to meet Nathan Fillion. Nicholas Brendon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Captain Bob in his younger form–he’d need makeup for the older form. No idea for Joyce, the newbie werewolf. I don’t have any female actors I’m dying to meet, so that limits me.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?

It’s hard enough to make friends when you’re a newly turned werewolf, and having a vampiric boyfriend doesn’t help, but it’s being haunted by a cranky ghost that really keeps Joyce from blending into the pack.

Was your story self-published or represented by an agency?

Whether wearing my editor hat or my author hat, I’m published by Penguin and represented by the JABberwocky Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About three weeks, or a bit more if you count sitting-staring-at-the-wall time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Favorably or not? I’d love to be compared to Charlaine’s Sookie Stackhouse series, but I’m not holding my breath. I tend to compare it more to the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Deadlines! Seriously, part of the deal of the anthologies is that I contribute a story. So once the school theme was set, I had to be inspired.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Speaking of the whole anthology, and not just my story, we all know how scary school can be. Adding a vampire, demon, or werewolf isn’t that much of a stretch. Even if my story doesn’t sound like your favorite class, check out this honor roll of contributors: Charlaine Harris, Ilona AndrewsAmber BensonRhys BowenMike Carey, Donald Harstad, Steve HockensmithNancy HolderFaith HunterMarjorie M. LiuJonathan Maberry, and Thomas E. Sniegoski. Talk about the cool kid’s table in the cafeteria!

Thanks again to Barb Goffman for inviting to participate in this blog hop. You can read her blog hop post here.

To keep the hop going, here is another author who’ll be blogging next week about his next big thing: Stephen P. Kelner, who is working on a 10th century Viking mystery! (Yes, that last name does sound familiar, doesn’t it?) Steve will be guest blogging right here. 

Readercon Bound

July 9, 2012

Readercon, one of my favorite science fiction conventions, starts up this Thursday. My husband Steve and I attended the very first Readercon, and I was in awe of the caliber of writers just walking around. As if they were normal people! There were some admin problems–I seem to recall them passing the hat on the last day to help pay some of the bills. But from those humble beginnings, the con has grown into a much-respected science fiction convention. The organizers were even nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2010.

This is the twenty-third year, and while I haven’t attended them all–having babies kind of put the kibosh on my regular attendance–I’ve had a fabulous time whenever I have attended. I’ll never forget the feedback from Readercon workshops moderated by Barry Longyear and at one run by the Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop. Meeting Sarah Smith at that second workshop was just about the best thing that happened to me in my early writing career. When I was shopping around my first mystery, Sarah offered to read my manuscript and make comments. Her suggestions were exactly what I needed–thanks to her, I was able to rewrite and sell Down Home Murder, my first novel.

And I’m still in awe of the caliber of writers just walking around.

This year will be my second year actually appearing on panels, and I’ve got some great ones scheduled, including two panels and a kaffeeklatsch with Steve. If you get a chance, come on by. I’ll just warn you that given my renowned co-panelists, I may be awed into silence. (Don’t worry–I’ll have plenty to say in the bar later!)

Just FYI, advance memberships are sold out, so if you haven’t signed up, come early on Friday. They’re probably going to sell out early. However the Thursday night events are FREE!

Thursday, July 12 

8:00 PM  Managing Motivation to Write. Alexander Jablokov, Steve Kelner (leader), Toni L.P. Kelner, Matthew Kressel, Ben LooryKipling (an SF writer himself) wrote: “There are nine-and-sixty ways/of composing tribal lays/and every single one of them is right!” Science fiction writers should know this better than most, yet most people don’t realize just how different the creative process is for different writers. Join a panel of writers discussing how they keep themselves going, the underlying reasons for why a given tactic works for them, and how it might (or might not) work for others.

9:30 PM  
Reading. Toni L.P. Kelner. Toni L.P. Kelner reads from her story “Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park,” published inDeath’s Excellent Vacation.
Friday, July 13 
11:00 AM  Subversion Through Friendliness. Glenn Grant, Victoria Janssen (leader), Toni L.P. Kelner, Alison Sinclair, Ruth Sternglantz. In a 2011 review of Vonda N. McIntyre’s classic Dreamsnake, Ursula K. Le Guin quotes Moe Bowstern’s slogan “Subversion Through Friendliness” and adds, “Subversion through terror, shock, pain is easy—instant gratification, as it were. Subversion through friendliness is paradoxical, slow-acting, and durable. And sneaky.” Is subversion through friendliness a viable strategy for writers who desire to challenge norms? What are its defining characteristics? When do readers love it, and when does it backfire?

Saturday, July 14 

2:00 PM  No, Really—Where Do You Get Your Ideas?. Samuel R. Delany, Toni L.P. Kelner, Ellen Klages, James Morrow, Lee Moyer, Resa Nelson (leader). All writers have been asked this question. This panel takes it seriously, exploring the roles of accumulated knowledge, reaction, dissent, inspiration, influence, and skill in creativity.

Sunday, July 15 

10:00 AM  The Seven Deadly Myths of Creativity. Andy Duncan, Joe Haldeman, Steve Kelner (leader), Toni L.P. Kelner, Matthew Kressel, Jennifer Pelland, Luc Reid. What is creativity, really? How does it work? Many people think of it as somehow magical, but in fact there has been considerable neuropsychological research devoted to the process of creativity, and current evidence makes it clear that it is inherent in the human brain: everyone is creative; the question is how to harness it. There are many myths about creativity that not only are unhelpful but have actively blocked or inhibited writers. Fortunately, many of these myths are entirely explicable and avoidable. Stephen Kelner, a research psychologist who is also a professional writer, will give an overview of the myths and the realities, and discussion will further explore individual participants’ questions or challenges.
11:00 AM  Autographs. Jeffrey A. Carver, Toni L.P. Kelner.
2:00 PM  Kaffeeklatsch. Steve Kelner, Toni L.P. Kelner, John Kessel.

Spitballing for Fun and Profit

June 7, 2011

A while back, I was invited to contribute an essay and exercise for a book on writing mysteries. I wrote the piece, but ultimately retrieved it from the book’s editor because of a disagreement over terms. So I thought it would be fun to put it here instead.


In his books on screenwriting, William Goldman (author of the scripts for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princes Bride, and Misery, among others) refers to spitballing as a way to improve a script. It’s a form of brainstorming where you throw out random ideas and see what sticks. Though I don’t write screenplays, I’ve found that spitballing works just as well for revising novels and short stories.

A couple of years ago, I was writing a mystery story where I already had the plot (a teenager accuses another kid of breaking a school tradition), a setting (a high school), a protagonist (a teacher fresh out of college), and the twist to provide the reveal (I’m not telling you that!). I liked the idea, but every time I sat down to write the story, I got bored. Now, if the writer is bored, it’s a pretty good sign that the reader is going to be even more bored–obviously something was wrong.

So I tried spitballing, which is to say I started changing elements at random. First I tried moving the setting to a college or a big city high school or a futuristic high school. None of those worked with the other elements. Now I really liked the plot, and I needed the twist to go with, so all that left to play with was protagonist. Sure enough, she was the boring part.

I tried making her older, but that destroyed a sub-plot of her feeling intimidated by the school’s principal. Then I made her male, but that didn’t do anything. Finally, I made her a student instead of a teacher, and the plot structure was stronger and the emotional payoff was higher. Moreover, I could hear the character’s voice, which is key for me. From that point on, “Kangaroo Court” was a pleasure to write, and it sold to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

That’s why I use spitballing.

It’s worked for me time and time again. It can be as simple as changing a gender. A teenaged werewolf was boring when she was a girl conflicted about turning furry every month, but great fun as a boy who loved being the biggest monster on the block (“Keeping Watch Over His Flock” in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe). An earnest young zombie raiser didn’t work for one story, and neither did the old crotchety one, but when I made her less earnest and more snarky, the pieces came together (“In Brightest Day” in Home Improvement: Undead Edition).

Now the examples I’ve given are all dealing with characters, because that tends to be the place where spitballing really works for me, but the technique works just as well with changing other aspects.

The thing to remember about spitballing is to let yourself go wild. Pick the craziest settings you can think of, the quirkiest characters, the most outrageous voices. Not only will you come up with ideas that had never occurred to you before, but in rejecting some of those ideas, you’ll discover which parts of a story are the most important to you.


  1. Pick a story or novel that just isn’t working.
  2. Write down the key elements of the piece: setting, protagonist, time frame, reveal, and so on.
  3. Decide which ones can be changed. (Obviously if you’re writing something in a series or to specific requirements, you won’t have quite as much freedom to play around.)
  4. Pick one of those spitball targets, and go crazy. For a character, try switching the gender, age, race, personality, hobbies, even the name. For a setting, change from historical to present, present to futuristic, city to country, small town to Navy base, college to nursery school, office to fast food restaurant.
  5. Now imagine the ripple of changes that would result from that change.  Would the resulting story be better?  Would it have more pizzazz, stronger suspense, or a more powerful emotional punch?
  6. If the answer is an enthusiastic YES!, go ahead and revise your story.  If not, pick another aspect and start spitballing again.
  7. Repeat until you’ve got a story you’re going to enjoy writing, and that the rest of us are going to enjoy reading.

Book Expo America = Both Exhausting & Amazing!

May 29, 2011

I spent most of the past week at Book Expo America in New York City, and I’m still coming down from the high. Or is it resting up? Let’s say it’s a combination of the two.

I took the train to New York on Monday, getting into town in plenty of time to freshen up at my hotel, the Kimberly in midtown Manhattan. I’d stayed there twice before with Steve and the girls, and knew it was awesome. A nifty thing happened when I was checking in. A bobby walked by. You know, the British cop with the hat. He was followed by more British police officers. The desk clerk told me that not only were they really British, but they were from Scotland Yard! Can you be any safer than in a hotel filled with Scotland Yard officers?

The freshening up was so I could meet  Claudia, one of my husband’s colleagues in the NY office. We’d never met, but had exchanged e-mail about my BFF Charlaine Harris’s books, and I knew the office was near my hotel, so I’d asked if she wanted to get together for drinks. She did, and we had  great time that turned into dinner. Isn’t it great to meet somebody new and really get along with her? It was a lovely evening.

The next day was busy busy busy. I met Jodi Rosoff, the Ace Books publicist, downstairs at the Kimberly, and we were picked up by a car service car driven by the charming José. Then we headed for Charlaine’s hotel to get her on our way to the enormous Javits Center, where BEA was being held. As soon as we stepped inside the door, it was immediate sensory overload but in the best way possible. Picture an enormous hall filled with publisher booths and books on display and writers and people who love books as much as you do. It was just awesome!

We found the Mystery Writers of America booth, where Charlaine and I were scheduled to sign, then wandered around for an hour or so admiring forthcoming books and picking up swag. (I did try to control myself, honest! I only brought home three tote bags, about a dozen books, about the same number of comic books, some bookmarks and catalogs, and one pen. And the pen was a Rick Riordan pen for Valerie.) Then it was back to the MWA booth for Charlaine and me to sign copies of Wolfsbane and Mistletoe. I pause here for a moment to appreciate the unflagging energy of Margery Flax, who keeps the MWA running.

It was really gratifying to see the line of people wanting books. Now you’d think that getting a line for free books is no big deal, but there are so many authors at BEA and so many free books that it really is an accomplishment. We gave out 50 copies, and still ran out out of books before we ran out of people.

I can’t remember all the people we saw, but I know the list includes our agent Joshua Bilmes; writers Seanan McGuire (who gave us her new book), Darrell James (who gave me his new book), Ken Isaacson of the MWA board, and Sophie Littlefield; editors Ben LeRoy of Tyrus Books and Claire Eddy of Tor; and a quick glimpse of Temple Grandin.

Jodi, Charlaine, and I next headed off for an interview Charlaine was videotaping with Rome Quezada of the Science Fiction Book Club. The interview was at the Standard, an astoundingly trendy hotel in the Meatpacking District. How trendy? It has a bathtub right next to a full-length window, and that was in the bedroom. I particularly enjoyed the video installation in the elevator.

Next it was lunch at Dos Caminas, which serves the strongest strawberry margarita I’ve ever had. Well, I had half of. I had to give up in order to be sure I’d was able to walk afterward. I wanted to walk, because we headed back to the Javits to wander, admire books, and people watch. Among other encounters, Charlaine and I introduced ourselves to John Grace, who edits the audio editions of our anthologies for Brilliance Audio.

Finally our feet gave out, and we relaxed and gossiped…  I mean talked shop at Charlaine’s hotel until time to head for dinner with our editor Ginjer Buchanan at L’Ecole, which is the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute. May I say “YUM!”

We were still filled with energy, so changed into our clubbing clothes and hit a couple of the hotter dance spots in town. No, just kidding. I was worn slap out and was happy to be dropped off at the Kimberly to collapse.

The next morning Charlaine was one of the three honorees at a BEA breakfast, so I headed off to wander on my own, and ran into Seanan McGuire almost immediately. We joined forces to swag hunt…  I mean to explore the displays of forthcoming books. I understand there were plenty of show biz celebrities around–Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Sorbo, Diane Keaton, John Lithgow–but I managed to miss them all.

One speaker I did catch was Bill Willingham, who writes Fables, which is one of my favorite comics of all time. (You haven’t read it? Why not? It’s available in graphic novel format, so go get some.) He was talking mostly about his young adult novel Down the Mysterly River, which sounds like great fun. I’d hoped to get a copy during his signing a little later, but the line was as long as the Mysterly River, so I decided I would get one later on.

There were less formal encounters with Carrie Vaughn who I’d only met via e-mail, Harlan Coben who I’ve known for years, and Paula Munier who is actually from around here.

I know I didn’t see all there was to see, but I had enjoyed as much as I could stand, so I bid a fond farewell to the festivities and caught a cab to Bryant Park, where Charlaine was scheduled to be interviewed at the Reader’s Room. I’ll be honest here–Charlaine was only part of the draw. Oh, she’s a terrific speaker, but I have heard her before. What I was more interested in was hearing Melissa Marr doing the interviewing. Melissa is like Carrie, an anthology contributor I’d only “met” via e-mail, and I was looking forward to seeing her in person. That made the event a double treat, especially since she did a terrific interview. The gorgeous weather, the friendly Charlaine fans like Beth and Chris, and my new friend Claudia coming made it all just perfect.

After Charlaine signed a slew of books, and I got one signed by Melissa, Charlaine and I gave up on book stuff for a while and went shopping at Bloomingdales. Whee! It was great fun, even if we didn’t find the perfect necklace we were hunting for. We split up after that, with Charlaine going to get ready for a cocktail party hosted by People magazine and I was off to meet somebody else new.

A while back, I signed a TV option contract for the “Where are they now?” books with Rosalie Muskatt of Inwood Productions. Everybody knows how rarely these things come off–there’s so much good material floating around that the chances of any one project making it to fruition are microscopic. Still, having somebody intrigued enough by my work to want to make it into a series is pretty darned cool.

Rosalie is based in New York, and this was my first time to meet her. Even though I’d initiated the dinner meeting, I was a little nervous about it. I needn’t have been. She was charming and interesting and wonderfully enthusiastic. Now I really hope the project makes it because I’d love to see what Rosalie’s vision of Tilda would be.

After that, all that was left was to pack up and collapse again. The next morning I got up and headed back for Penn Station to take the train back home. (In Curse of the Kissing Cousins, Tilda takes the train to NYC, saying it’s the only civilized way to make the trip. I think she’s right.)

In looking at all I did and saw, I have a hard time believing I was only gone for four days. My head is still whirling. I keep thinking I should have some profound conclusions about where the industry is going, but I’m afraid I don’t. I just have a few observations:

  • Young adult books are still hot. I suppose that’s no surprise, given the success of the Rick Riordan books, the Harry Potter books, Twilight and its sequels, and the Hunger Games series. There seems to be plenty of excitement for Bill Willingham, too, given the length of his signing line.
  • Paranormal books are also still hot. That’s also not a surprise, given that Charlaine’s new book Dead Reckoning has been #1 on the New York Times best seller list for three weeks. But she’s got plenty of company: Melissa Marr, for one, whose first adult novel is out now.
  • There’s a lot of interest and activity in e-publishing, as I think everybody in the field realizes. Amazon’s foray into publishing their own books was much talked about. Nobody is quite sure how things are going to shake out in terms of the ratio of paper books to electronic books, but the feeling seems to be that there are a lot of opportunities for a lot of people.
  • Despite the talk of e-publishing, there are still plenty of paper publishers out there. There are the Big Six, of course, but some really excellent smaller publishers. In mystery alone, there’s Midnight Ink and Akashic among others.
  • Despite the truism that writing is a solitary occupation, it’s fascinating to see how many people are devoted to getting books to readers: agents, editors, publicists, cover artists, book designers, proof readers, marketing people, booksellers, librarians, readers for audio books, artists for comic books, and more.
So that’s my trip to BEA–it was exhausting and exhilarating all at once. There’s one last thing I came away with: I love being a part of the publishing world!