Monday, March 10, 2008

Left Coast Crime Report - Part 2

Friday, after giving my spiel at the New Author Breakfast, I spent most of the morning setting up the RMSinC hospitality suite and serving my 11 AM - 1 PM shift. I did catch the "Killing with Kindness: Traditional Mysteries" panel with fellow Five Star author, Barbara Graham. After a quick, much-needed nap, I caught Mike Befeler's group in the "Endless Conversation" room, then did my stint with my "Three Men and a Babe" group, including Steve Hockensmith, Mike Sherer, and Roger Sobin. Because of Roger's THE ESSENTIAL MYSTERY LISTS book, we ended up talking a lot about the different awards and how they are determined. I said I hope the book goes into many future editions, so I'll be included for my Agatha Award nomination!

After helping to break-down the hospitality suite for the day, I joined R.T. Lawton at his table in the Tower Exhibit Area where he was fielding calls from teams of cougars in his Surveillance Workshop who had lost their rabbits and wanted to know where to find them. I could commiserate because I'd been a cougar myself during a past version of R.T.'s workshop. The debrief from the teams of cougars and the wily rabbits during the MWA cocktail party was a howl--especially rabbit Twist Phelan's story about being accused of shoplifting when she was changing clothes to escape her cougar team. After socializing at the cocktail party, a wall of fatigue smacked me in the face, so I crawled into bed with a book and fell asleep early.

Good thing, because Saturday was a full day! I met with the panel I was moderating over breakfast, set up the hospitality suite, then sprinted to my 8:30 AM panel, "What's age got to do with it?" with Mike Befeler, Parnell Hall, Patricia Stoltey, and Simon Woods. Any panel with Parnell has got to be fun, and this was no exception, but I think the rest of us held our own and threw out some of our own zingers. After my signing time slot, I chatted with Roberta Isleib and Donna Andrews from the National SinC board about the new SinC Books in Print policy and how chapters might communicate better with each other and national. I found them to be very receptive to ideas and I enjoyed the time I spent with them. Then I caught the "What's not to like?" panel with Gwen Shuster-Haynes, JoAnna Carl, Carolyn Hart, Nancy Pickard, and Elaine Viets, and found nothing to dislike about it.

Saturday lunch was a stroll down the 16th Street Mall with Pat S. and Barbara G., and a quick stop for take-out salads to take back with us. Then I sat in on the "Murder on the Rocks" panel with Louise Ure, Sandy Ault, Kathy Brandt, Mark Cohen, and Vicki Delany for a fascinating discussion about the use of setting in mysteries. I hung out in the hospitality suite for awhile, then boxed up the leftovers and a bellman carted them to my room. After a quick-change into my Hawaiian costume, I sprinted for the Grand Ballroom so I'd make it in time for the contest. I was thrilled to be selected as one of the three finalists, along with Tiffany, with whom I was having a private challenge. She ultimately won, having the figure to pull off a coconut bra and grass skirt outfit complete with a monkey pirate on her back. She also had the marketing department at Five Star helping with her costume, which I might claim is an unfair advantage. :) At the banquet, I sat with my critique buddy Bob Spiller and had a very interesting conversation with a reader on my other side, with whom I shared a number of past experiences and interests. The food was wonderful, the auction was entertaining but long, and the speeches were mercifully short. For a list of the award winners, go to .

Sunday morning, I enticed breakfast participants to come to my 8:30 morning panel with offers of free leftover chocolates from the hospitality suite. I moderated Ellen Crosby, Michael Allen Dymmoch, and Margaret Tessler in the "Beyond Agatha Christie: Movements in the Traditional Mystery" panel, a wonderful group of interesting women. After that was a flurry of checking out, saying goodbyes, collecting unsold books, carting stuff to the car, meeting up with Jan, and driving home to Colorado Springs. Thank goodness Jan was along to keep me awake! Now I've got enough tea and popcorn in my garage for at least two years of RMSinC chapter meetings. Anyone want to join us?

Many, many thanks and congratulations to conference chairs Christine Goff and Suzanne Proulx and their hard-working team of volunteers for putting on a really good show!

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