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!

IT’S BOOK LAUNCH DAY!! Thank You, Thank You!

I’ve been awake since about 4:30 this morning, waiting like a kid on Christmas for the day to begin.

Faith on the Rocks Book Cover

My first novel’s launch is today!

LAUNCH DAY!

Today is the day Daisy Arthur steps away from the publisher’s desk and onto bookshelves around the country. I’m not sure what is supposed to happen on a launch day, but I’ll take notes and let you know, should anything at all exciting occur.  Here are some bookstores that, to the best of my knowledge, have agreed to carry “Faith on the Rocks:”

  • Amazon.Com – They aren’t shipping until mid-July, but you can pre-order at this date.  Check this link to see the page online.
  • Barnes & Noble – Again, no shipping until July, but yes, you can pre-order here as well.
  • Who Else! Books – This is a small bookstore on Broadway in Denver.  I’ll be doing a book signing here on July 13th.  Owners Ron and Nina have been supporting local authors for years, and they are a delight to work with.  Stop in and see them when you get a chance.
  • Three Chimneys Natural Surroundings – Located in the heart of old town Littleton, this wonderful gift shop has books and much more to browse through.  I’d save at least a half hour in your day for a visit to this shop.  You’ll find a clean, fun-filled array of items to delight the eye and capture your interest.

“FAITH ON THE ROCKS” BOOK REVIEWS:

So now, the question becomes not “when” but “is it worth it?”  To help you decide, here are some of the reviews I’ve received so far:

Publishers Weekly Review 4/5/13
This title publishes JUNE 2013
. . . entertaining first novel . . . Gabe, the single father of one of Daisy’s special-needs students, lends some romantic interest . . . cozy fans will look forward to seeing more of Daisy.
Kirkus Review 4/15/13
This title publishes JUNE 2013
A Colorado widow with dreams of a writing career finds that sleuthing just might be her métier. Malik’s debut mystery offers some interesting characters along with enough motives to make everyone in Littleton look suspicious.
Gumshoe Review 6/13/13
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432827137
“Daisy is a likeable if inept sleuth. Her humanity, humor, and determination will endear her to readers.”
Joan Johnston, New York Times bestselling author of Wyoming Bride:

“Malik shows great promise as a debut novelist.    Her characters are fun and quirky, and I kept chuckling right through to the end.  A great read!”  

SPECIAL THANKS

No project great or small is the result of one person’s efforts alone.  Life wouldn’t be worth living and projects wouldn’t be successful without the generous spirit of the people in our communities.  So here is my meager effort to acknowledge people who have made “Faith on the Rocks” possible.  Thank you to all my friends, including:

  • Rocky Mountain News where the story behind the story came from
  • My GREAT family – sisters, brother, husband, children, glorious granddaughter – you give me my spirit
  • My family of friends both next door and afar who ask about my work and keep their fingers crossed for my writing success. I am humbled by the wonder of community
  • My dear Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers friends. The learning I have had in your care has been wonderful.
  • Writer’s Digest – I have subscribed to this magazine for most of the 35 years I’ve spent interested in becoming a “real” published author.
  • My SUPERB critique group from the Southwest Plaza mall.  My Thursday evenings over the past ten years have been a delightful journey not only in skill development, but in reading some great works of art.  I only wish I could have mentioned every one of the 70 or so members from this group in my book’s acknowledgement section. I can’t thank you enough for all of your help.
  • FIVE STAR PUBLISHING – Especially Deni Dietz who is a successful author, editor, and all round special person who had the faith in me to keep me going.  Thank you Tiffany Schofield for your patient and superb direction of this project from the minute Five Star acquired this manuscript to today.  Thank you to Alice Duncan and Tracey Matthews for your terrific edits, and to the great marketing and sales department who have given me a wonderful book cover, publicity, and (fingers crossed) super sales prospects.

A FAVOR TO ASK

If you are reading this, and believe in “Faith on the Rocks” I hope you will send a link of this post along to your mystery-reading friends.  New “unknown” authors have a limited budget for promotion, so the help of well-meaning friends is invaluable in their success.  Thank you for coming along with me on this journey to first publication.

I wish you every success in your making your dreams come true and happy reading always.

xox,
Liesa

Left Coast Crime is Killer Experience

I’ve never been to a Left Coast Crime convention before, but I hope to attend more often in the future.  Readers, writers, editors, and mystery lovers of all kinds come together once a year in a spirit of fun and learning to explore the intricacies of mystery writing.  I had a great time meeting famous authors and librarians, lawyers and aspiring novelists.  Here are some of the highlights:

COLORADO SPRINGS

Colorado Springs from Cheyenne Mountain Resort

Colorado Springs from Cheyenne Mountain Resort

The venue for this year’s event was the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs.  Tucked into the Rocky Mountains, this resort had all the amenities one could hope for in a convention of this kind — lots of room, free parking, huge bar area with two pool tables, and a swimming pool that looked great.  I saw people swimming the first couple of days there, but with Saturday’s blizzard, that activity seemed to fall away as a big attraction.  Still, the warmth inside was enough to make up for any snow worries, and everyone seemed to have a great time in this super mountain resort.

SPECIAL WORKSHOP ON CHARACTER WRITING

David Corbett's Writing Workshop

David Corbett’s Writing Workshop

David Corbett, author of Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book) and Blood of Paradise (nominated for an Edgar award among others), gave a workshop on the Art of Character (another title of his).  For three hours he entertained, taught and played with the audience of 50, helping all of us to grow our characters with more depth and emotion.

“Emotional story is your authority–trust it,” said David.  He then gave us five ways to find that emotional story:

  1. What is your character’s greatest fear?
  2. What is your character’s greatest moment of shame?
  3. Where is the “I love you” moment?
  4. What makes your character say “you can’t make me do that?”
  5. What is your character’s moment of incredible fear?

Along with this presentation that was full of great quotes, instruction, and inspirational moments, we were each given a copy of David’s book, The Art of Character to take with us.  I can hardly wait to dig into that one.

PANELS, PANELS, PANELS!

Editors Panel Discussion at Left Coast Crime

Editors Panel Discussion at Left Coast Crime

Oh my goodness!  Have I mentioned the panel discussions?  There was everything from where the publishing business is headed to secrets of living with a writer.  I particularly liked Ask the Editors, with Deni Dietz moderating a panel of editors who talk about receiving manuscripts and what they look for.  The other panelists included Terry Bischoff of Midnight Ink, Diane O’Connell and Jodie Renner.

EDGAR AND FRIENDS

Edgar and Friends Catherine Dilts and Patricia Coleman

Edgar and Friends Catherine Dilts and Patricia Coleman

I could go on forever about the people I met or became better acquainted with during the convention.  Wonderful experiences all around.  I had particular fun with Catherine Dilts, whose novel, Stone Cold Dead, will come out in December.  Cathy brought a trophy from the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America group–a bobble head of Edgar Allan Poe, our organization’s mascot.  We played “where at Left Coast Crime is Edgar?” and enjoyed setting our hero in all sorts of interesting scenes.

READERS

I can’t say enough about the experience of meeting with people who don’t aspire to write, but love the written word.  They make me feel like there is hope for civilization yet.  There is no one I admire more than a person who reads, and reads widely.  At the conference I met three sisters who are also lawyers.  They spent a good deal of time with me talking about the special needs communities they help and the volunteer work they do.  And to top it off these sisters said there were six sisters all together, all of whom are lawyers!  Wow.

I also met a librarian who did me the honor of accepting a copy of my ARC (advanced reader copy of a novel), and seemed excited for the opportunity.  Talk about your ego-boost!  I hope she likes it, and I can go to her library to chat about writing mysteries.

There is so much more I’d like to tell you about; the seeing my bio in print, the evening at the bar, the thrill of being on a panel, and on and on.  Please know that if you have a chance to go to Left Coast Crime next year in Monterey, California, it’s well worth the trip.