Bouchercon 2015–Raleigh and Readers

Liesa with Beth Ann at Bouchercon

Beth Ann from Jackson, MI is a great reader!

Last week, I had the chance to visit with readers from all over the country as I attended Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Activities spread between two large hotels, and I’d have to guess there were about 1,000 readers, writers, reviewers, and others from the publishing industry.  If you ever want to steep your soul in crime writing and reading, Bouchercon is the place to go.

The panel discussions were thoughtful, humorous, and sometimes provocative, as we listened to writers cover such topics as “Just the Facts: The Police Procedural,” “Mysteries: Small Towns/Big Secrets,” or “American Guests of Honor Spotlight with Kathy Reichs, Tom Franklin and Oline H. Cogdil.” More than three days of this left me with my head in a creative swirl and full of gratitude for the many readers who came, bought books and asked authors for autographs.

Moderator Catherine Dilts at Bouchercon

Great times with “Taking the Reader on a Journey,” and moderator Catherine Dilts.

Much of my time was spent with authors Catherine Dilts and Patricia Coleman as we visited each others’ panels and enjoyed a “death by chocolate” evening sponsored by the Raleigh chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Some of the take-aways for writing I garnered included:

  • Writing mystery is a great way to get to know the victim.  If you explore your victim’s life through the sleuths, suspects, and witnesses, your story has a richer texture for your readers–Oline Gogdill
  • When writing short fiction, find the one interesting thing that happens and focus on it in your writing–Pam DeVoe
  • The author gives a blank coloring book to the reader with his/her story. The reader has the crayons to color it in.  Keep the crayons in the reader’s hands–Chantelle Osman.
  • Great fiction comes out of problems–Tom Franklin.

Another reason to like Bouchercon is that so many writing recognitions and awards are announced there.  These awards include the McCavity, The Derringer, and, of course, The Anthony awards.

The McCavity is named for T.S. Eliot’s cat, McCavity, and is awarded by the Mystery Readers international group.  The Derringer is awarded for excellence in short mystery fiction as voted on by members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.  And the Anthony, named for William Anthony Parker White, pen name Anthony Boucher, is awarded by the people who come to the Bouchercon convention.

Stop, You’re Killing Me editors Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich keep an up-to-date list of all these writing awards on their site.  They were at Bouchercon again and helped people find more great reads.

Next year, Bouchercon will move to New Orleans.  Should be great.

More Shameless Self-Promo Work: Let’s Party!

Do you remember the movies where authors were big celebrities and were constantly at New York parties?  Have you ever been to a book launch at a book store?  The two events seem widely different.  The world of writing fiction is much different than all the glamour of the movies, and that can be a big disappointment–IF you’re a roll with the flow kind of person. Me? I want, and therefore am willing, to make good things happen.  And so are my writing friends.

So . . . 

pic of book launch cakeInstead of quietly launching our books to the same friends we drag with us to every writing event, we decided to join forces and increase the size of our book launches by each of the four of us inviting 10 friends to not a book launch, but a baby book shower.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a blast and our guests said they had fun too.  Here’s what happened:


Planning . . .

Back in May we began planning the event.  We designed an invitation to have pictures of our covers and a baby umbrella to boot.  We didn’t mention anything about selling or reading or signing our books.  This was designed as a day to thank our readers and friends who promote and support us.

Playing . . .

And then, on Saturday, Christine Goff, Catherine Dilts, and Pat Coleman each brought a baby shower game that they’d tweaked to be more in line with mystery/suspense writing to the event.  We had food, soft drinks and great attitudes to pull this off.  Thirty-five friends and well-wishers came.  No one knew everyone, but everyone knew we were all there because we love books.  How cool is that?

Word search at the partyPat Coleman led the way with a word search filled with words from each of our books.  The prize winner received copies of each author’s book and some tea and other tea-related items, because Pat’s new book is called Tea and Treachery. Yummy little mystery.

Catherine Dilts had us trying to cover ourselves up, by earning patches of cloth for bathing suits of the 1920’s.  You see, Agatha Christy was launching The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920 and our guests were invited to the beach party she was having.  Can you answer some of these questions:

  • Do you ever read more than one book at a time?
  • Have you given a book as a gift this year?
  • How much (in pounds) was Agatha paid for her Styles book?

Catherine’s book, Stone Cold Case, is the second in her Rock Shop Mystery series, and she gave away a very cool ammonite with our books.

Thanks for all the help!

We couldn’t have done this without the help of our friends!

Christine Goff, who is branching out into a new, thriller/mystery realm, wrote Dark Waters from the memory of visiting the middle east several years ago.  Lee Child wrote on her cover, that this book is “altogether terrific.” Wow.

Chris had us all on a scavenger hunt around my house, looking for middle eastern and thriller/suspense objects.  She even had one person wear one of the objects. And the winner of this game received a garden water and rain gauge inside their basket of books.

Lastly, I had people try to solve a mystery by looking at a “crime scene.”  I’m attaching my photos of the doll house I set this up in so that you can try your hand at solving this:

  • Who is the victim?

    dollhouse murder scene

    Who done it?

  • How were they killed?
  • What did the victim collect?
  • What other hobby did they enjoy?
  • Who is the prime suspect & why?
  • Who the heck decorated the house? (Okay, this was a freebie–except that no one would take credit for that house’s decor!)

If you want the answers to these questions, let me know and I’ll send them along.

THANK YOU to all my wonderful hosts, guests, and reading friends for helping to make this book launch a huge success.

Now, let’s hope the sales will follow.

Wishing you a great and creative week.