The Business of Being Personal

BOUCHERCON BAG CONTEST

Bouchercon Book Bag - Grand Priaze

Bouchercon Book Bag – Grand Priaze

Whew!  I must have stumped you well last week!  I only had one person able to answer the questions.  Congratulations, Sharon from Littleton, CO for guessing these contest questions right:

  1. What was Anthony Boucher’s full legal name?  William Anthony Parker White
  2. When and where was the first Bouchercon? 1970 – Santa Monica, CA
  3. Who is the main suspect in Liesa’s upcoming novel, “Sliced Vegetarian?”  Brian Hughes – the special needs worker at Gigantos Supermarket (and Ginny Caerphilly’s boyfriend)

Better luck next time, my friends.  By the way, what kind of contests do you prefer: raffles, trivia, puzzles, other?  I’d like to do more of these, but will probably do them in my quarterly newsletter, which I’ll be starting to send in January.  Please let me know if you’d like to be on my mailing list.

‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE SOCIAL

RMMWA 2014 Holiday Tree

Happy holidays, my reading and writing friends!

If you are an aspiring author, chances are you’ve been inundated with the concept of “author platform” over the past few years.  An author platform is a fancy way of saying “personal branding.”  I may be opening a can of worms here, but in yesteryears personal branding was pretty much handled by a resume and a handshake.  Today, we’ve replaced that minimalist effort with social media.

As authors, we are supposed to engage with multiple social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  The list goes on…and on…and on.  I could see an author getting stuck in social media and never writing anything for real consumption again (please don’t ask how my book’s coming!).

But the bigger question is, with all this personal advertising and letting total strangers get to “know” us, are we any better off? Hmm.

I like to write this journal on-line, because I feel like I’m being a pen pal.  I love hearing from and responding to you individually.  But with Goodreads, I’m not really fond of reviewing books by others (everyone should get five stars just for going through the publishing process in my mind), and saying “something” in 140 characters for Twitter 1,000 times a day is truly noise pollution from my perspective. Sheesh! What’s an author to do?

With so much noise on the Internet, I am finding that connecting with others is a more personal mission.  It isn’t a game of “who’s following me?” but the more genuine back and forth of building personal binds between potential friends and true acquaintances. This “belly-to-belly” approach isn’t efficient, but much more rewarding.

Littleton Writers Holiday Party

Social Media at its finest is a one-to-one connection.

The Internet is a “safe place” for introverts to hang out.  We only have to post our opinions and comment a few times here and there to build reputations in our chosen communities. But when we truly buy into our areas of interest, and the people who populate those areas, we must make a personal effort, have good timing and embrace good luck.  In the ’80s we called it “networking.” Before that, it was simply “good business.”

This reminds me of the “Christmas Carol,” where one of the ghosts reminds Scrooge, “Business? Business?  PEOPLE are your business!”  In the spirit of that people focus, I’m attending a few holiday parties this year.  Not my area of strength, but people are indeed my business and I find that the more I put into this effort, the richer my life becomes.

It’s no good to go to a party, convention or business gathering and make the excuse, “I’m shy” to not engage.  We need to reach out, shake hands, have our photos taken and be involved.

The Littleton Writers’ party was on Sunday. Small turn-out, but I had the chance to engage not only with my writing friends, but with their interesting and wonderful spouses.  John talked about education in the south, Dave talked project management, and I always enjoy Marta’s dialog on public relations and the light rails going around our cities in the Denver metroplex.  How cool is that?

Edgar Holiday Ornaments

Being social can be crafty.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the local chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  Because I volunteered (something cynics among us think of as a waste), I got to play with arts and crafts, I’ll be reading a snippet from my second book to the group, and I had the chance to get to know the chapter president and a few other people much better than before.  Every person in this group is not only a potential reader, but someone who may promote my book, or give me a book review.  This is HUGE!

On Saturday, I may miss a function.  These parties are, after all, “work” for authors.  But my sister is coming in from Detroit, and I have wanted to chat with her for a while.  Family is priority one to me.  But if she slips off with her daughter, I may go to the RMFW holiday party.  If I do, there’s probably someone I haven’t met yet who may become a friend or at least friendly acquaintance.

Author platforms. We build ’em one plank (or friendship) at a time.

Contest & Celebrating

As of 12.7.14 – 7:00am – I don’t have two winners yet-there’s still time to enter! Send me your trivia answers (Liesa @ all abuzz .net) & I could be sending you a book bag from Bouchercon!

Don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to like to do things early–especially when it involves opening presents.  Just to make sure your fingers and wrists are in shape for the holiday unwrapping season, and celebrating my 200th blog post a couple of weeks early, here’s a trivia contest for you:

Bouchercon Book Bag - Grand Prize

Bouchercon Book Bag – Grand Prize

Prizes!

I have two prizes for this contest.  They are gifts from my Bouchercon experience.  Hope you like them:

  • Grand Prize — Bouchercon canvas book bag with two books.  This bag is pretty cool, with a zipper top and enough room to hold a bunch of books or other treasures within.
  • Second Prize — An Agatha Christie book bag with open top and again, plenty of room for hauling good stuff.  On the back of this bag is a marvelous quote: “Oh dear, I never realized what a terrible lot of explaining one has to do in a murder!”–Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie Book Bag Prize

Agatha Christie Book Bag Prize

Rules of the Game

I know there are all sorts of rules and regulations about age of contestants, and not being members of the company etc. that go into every contest.  Please follow them as best as you can. Then, please understand that this contest is limited to the United States, because there are more rules, regulations, and expenses when you go outside this geography that I can’t begin to understand.

  1. Answer the three questions below to the best of your capability and as quickly as possible. Along with your answers, please provide me your first and last name, and a complete address of where to send any prize you might win.  I would also like to add you to my mailing list–but don’t worry.  I only send mailings via email, and my goal is to do a quarterly newsletter beginning January 2015.  I don’t have the bandwidth for bugging you more.
  2. Send your answers to Liesa at All Abuzz dot net (that’s .net NOT .com in the right email format)
  3. Wait for the winners to be announced next week. (By entering, I’m assuming you allow me to use your first name and the state you come from in my blog post about this)
  4. That’s it.  The winners are the first two people to send me the correct answers.  My email tracks received dates and times, and yes, I already know the answers. I hope you have fun with this.

AND THE TRIVIA QUESTIONS . . .

  1. What was Anthony Boucher’s full legal name? Hint: “Boucher” was his pen or pseudo name.
  2. When and where was the first Bouchercon?
  3. Who is the main suspect in Liesa’s upcoming novel, “Sliced Vegetarian?” Hint: the answer is on this website.  Oh, and just to let you know, Sliced Veggie will be out August, 2015.

I hope you have a good time with this trivia challenge and an even better time throughout the holiday season.

Talk with you next week.

Bouchercon and the Big Names

I’ve always been a bit of a star-gazer.  When I was little, I was sure Shirley Temple and I could be best friends (had no concept of what “re-runs” meant).  When I hit my teen years, I knew that Robert Redford and Paul Newman were a year or two “too old” for me, but what the heck, I was dreaming big on my way to the political aspirations I had, right?

And now, my daughter lives and works in Los Angeles.  There are stars on every corner there, to be sure. Well, almost.  I’ve visited several times and never met one yet.

Picture of Bouchercon BooksYou can imagine the feast I had at Bouchercon, then, when I actually had a word with William Kent Krueger, this year’s writer of the year.  Mr. Krueger seems to have won just about every writing award possible with his Ordinary Grace, and there I was, standing behind the registration desk, saying “hello” to the great man. His hallmark grin was pasted firmly in place as he replied to my question about how Doyle never seemed to get his comeuppance, and he said, “not in this book.” Ooh! Mr. Kruger has more up his sleeve?  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Jeffery Deaver, one of the guests of honor, and author of such well-respected mysteries as The Kill Room, XO, and The October List, came up and I was lucky enough to be the volunteer helping to get his friends registered. He was quick-witted, generous, and real. No fancy entourage, no extraordinary looks.  Just a man who happens to be a New York Times best-selling author and one of Bouchercon’s guests of honor.

Silent Auction Quilt from Bouchercon 2014

Silent Auction Quilt – wouldn’t it be lover-ly!

The whole weekend was like this–meeting people, ordinary people, with extraordinary talent, wit, and kindness.  Christine Goff, of the Birdwatcher Mysteries took me in hand and introduced me to more great writers.  Deni Dietz, my editor and Anthony Award nominee, shared lunch and advice at a quaint Irish pub nearby.

In short, if I were an author autograph seeker, this would have been a gold mine place to be.

But I don’t actively seek out autographs. I look for people and their stories.  And here I was richly rewarded as well . . .

Teresa pretty much oversaw all of my work at the registration counter.  She was there through just about every shift, helping drop-ins with last minute registrations, talking up Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh (where she’ll be in charge of registrations), and smiling, smiling, smiling.  I listened to her story of reading so many books my head spins just thinking about it.  On the last day of the conference I offered her a copy of my book in thanks, thinking it was a paltry thing after all of her work and kindness.  She looked at me as if I’d given her the best present ever, and when she asked me to sign it (and I misspelled her name!) she generously said, “I like it that way.”

Picture of author Robert Kresge

Author Robert Kresge – talk about great branding!

Another Theresa (this one with the “TH” clearly pronounced), told me about her life as a paralegal and how she lives for her reading.  She is someone who can read a book a day if the books are there.  How cool that each Bouchercon attendee received a bag full of books, as Theresa is one of several readers at the conference with this voracious appetite for a good tale.

I am in awe of the strength of those who read.  Even though literacy seems in trouble in the US (only 20% of adults read more than one book a year for pleasure), those who do read seem to do so abundantly.  It constantly took me aback when they would say “I’m just a reader,” like guest of honor, Al Abramson, who I bumped into during one of the many days worth of panel discussions.  Mr. Abramson was witty and kind to this newbie of Bouchercon, even though he has been a leader this organization since about 2000.

Book Carnival  with Faith on the Rocks

Carnival Books or Orange, CA, was kind enough to sell copies of Faith on the Rocks for me. Anne Saller (not pictured) is a terrific book store owner!

And then there was Lucinda and Stan. Lucinda was in charge of all of the volunteers and ran from place to place helping people find their way, filling in for missing volunteers, and generally smiling away with her lovely long grey hair flying by, a blue streak letting us know she was the person we sought.  And Stan, the volunteer in charge of balloting for the Anthony Awards, helped anchor the volunteer desk, and helped me find some friends of a woman who’d misplaced them.  He knew everybody by sight.

I have been in several communities in my life, but no where was I more comfortable than in this place where people come to talk, read, and find new mysteries, thrillers, and crime stories. Talk about a great reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season with a cozy little thriller or crime book on top.  Next week I’ll announce my Bouchercon contest.  Hope you win!