Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Mystery Fan Guest Blogger: Cheryl Delano




In the immortal words of Monty Python, "And now for something completely different...", a huge fan of the mystery genre, Cheryl Delano, has agreed to be a guest on my blog to talk about her mystery conference experiences. It's a timely topic since we're in the middle of the spring conference season. Cheryl also sent me photos of herself with a couple of her favorite authors, one with Tim Maleeny and one with Barry Eisler. Here's what Cheryl has to say.
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I have always been a reader, but when I retired from teaching (32 years of 7th, 8th and 9th grade English and reading), I vowed I would never again read what I was “supposed” to read. I would read what I wanted to read. I spent about two years with romance novels. Yes, the good old bodice rippers, and particularly time travel, but that wore thin. Slowly, I moved into the mystery section. It wasn’t a drastic move since I had grown up with Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton. I have gone from cozies to thrillers and am now familiar with most aspects of the genre.

Much of that familiarity comes from attendance at various conferences during the last few years. I had heard about them, read other fans’ blogs and thought about attending, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Then in 2004, Bouchercon was held in Toronto, which is about a 90 minute drive from my home. I couldn’t resist; I registered and made arrangements with my son to feed the cats for five days. Needless to say, I became hooked. Names that I had only seen on book covers suddenly had faces, voices and personalities. I met authors I had never even heard of, bought loads of books and got their signatures in my program.

Things slowly expanded from there. I stayed with Bouchercon in Chicago and Madison. Each year, I knew more people, collected more hugs and expanded my reading interests. My signed programs became signed books, and I now have two full bookcases dedicated to signed copies. I added Left Coast Crime in Seattle, went to Thrillerfest when it moved to New York City and attended Love is Murder in Chicago. I now regularly attend three conferences each year.

Why? You ask. Because it’s fun!! I enjoy the panels and learn a great deal, but now I can sit in the hospitality room or the lobby with a cup of coffee and have people (both writers and other fans) stop to chat. These informal talks are great, and I have found that knowing the authors makes reading their books twice as interesting. I can hear the author’s “voice” as I read and I can call a number of them “friend.”

Writers come to these conferences to make readers aware of their product. They are approachable and interesting. Those who aren’t quickly find that no one is buying their books or waiting in line to have them signed.

If you get the opportunity to attend these conferences, I can only say GO. You won’t regret it, and if you see me sitting there with a cup of coffee, come on over and introduce yourself.

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What a great article, Cheryl, and doesn't it make everyone want to sign up for a mystery conference right away? I'll be attending the Malice Domestic conference next weekend and the Festival of Mystery on May 3rd, and I can't wait! So, readers, which is your favorite mystery conference? And do you have a meet-and-greet story to tell of finally meeting a favorite mystery author face-to-face? Cheryl and I would love to swap conference tales with you.

27 comments:

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today, Cheryl! One my favorite mystery authors is Donna Andrews, and I still remember finally meeting her face-to-face at my first Malice Domestic conference and solidifying that friendship a few weeks later at Mayhem in the Midlands (http://www.omahapubliclibrary.org/events/mayhem/124-mayhem-in-the-midlands), a smaller conference that allows a lot more one-on-one interactions. Donna is a joy to know, and her books are a joy to read.

KK Brees said...

I met JA Jance at PNWA in Seattle a couple of years back. We chatted at her book signing table and when she finished her keynote speech, ended it with a Janis Joplin's "At Seventeen." Told me later she sang it for me! Wow!

Leann Sweeney said...

Oh, Cheryl, what a great post! We may have even bumped into each other at Left Coast in Seattle. I sure hope you'll make Malice sometime. Since I have some health issues that involve fatigue, that's the only conference I attend anymore. The writing takes up most of my energy. I am so glad you found that mysteries are the best thing to read!
Leann Sweeney--(I write about cats in trouble and have an adoption PI series, too)

Cheryl Delano said...

Beth, thanks for having me. I met Donna Andrews at LCC in Hawaii, and we had breakfast together. She is delightful.
LeAnn, I am sure our paths crossed in Seattle. I have at least one of your books on my TBR pile. I am a cat owner and lover.

Joni said...

I have to say that as a fan, I've enjoyed all the ones I've been to, including Bouchercon, Left Coast, and the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate, England — but Malice will probably always be my favorite. it's just the right size (like Baby Bear, I want everything "just right"), and the people there are almost like a big family. Although Malice celebrated the traditional mystery, the fans read all across the mystery board — so if you love books that don't fit within the "cozies" label, you can still find people to talk to who share your tastes.

Carol said...

I am a network friend of Cheryl's from an online mystery book discussion board and followed her breadcrumbs to this blog. We've met at Bouchercon conferences in Chicago and Baltimore, and it is fun not only to meet and greet authors (Harlan Coben, SJ Rozan and Lee Child are faves), but to meet people I've exchanged posts with on various book boards. Cheryl, I can't wait to tell the gang about your former career as a romance novel reader!

Camille Minichino said...

What a terrific idea to have Cheryl visit your blog, Beth. Most of us writers are dying to know how the fans are doing, what they like or don't like about conferences, but hardly ever stop to ask!

Thanks, Cheryl! I hope to see you at Bouchercon in SF.

Cheryl Delano said...

Joni, most of the cons I have gone to have been the latger ones, but the smaller and more personal ones are great, too. Malice is one that I have looked at, but the timing is not the best for me.

Carol, your comment posted with no problem. I'm glad you followed my breadcrumbs. I guess my secret is out.

Camille, I am registered for Bcon in SF. I will be sure to look for you.

Beth Groundwater said...

I'm loving everyone's comments and having a great time reading them. Carol, I hope that after finding my blog, you'll come back from time-to-time to read it. I hope to post reports and photos from the Malice Domestic conference and the Festival of Mystery after I return.

June Shaw said...

Malice is my favorite mystery conference. Everyone is like family there. I loved getting to meet lots of Sisters in Crime and Guppies.

Carol said...

Beth, I will indeed pop in from time to time to see what is up. Good luck on your blog.

Kathleen Ernst said...

I agree, the best part about conventions is the opportunity to put faces to names. I love connecting with readers and other authors. Thanks for the post!

Maryann Miller said...

Enjoyed reading the report, Cheryl, made me nostalgic for the Mayhem in the Midlands con I attended for several years. Met some great authors there, including Dennis Lehane, as well as picking up a few readers for my very first mystery, Doubletake.

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks for having Cheryl guest blog. She's a great supporter of writers, and I love meeting up with her at conferences. Great post.

Cheryl said...

You're welcome, Kathleen. It was fun to write.

June, I am just going to have to work out a trip to Malice.

Maryann, I've never been to Mayhem, but I have met Dennis Lehane. I loved Mystic River .

LJ, I always enjoy seeing you, too.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, what fun to post on Beth's blog!

I too started as an online friend of Cheryl's from a discussion board for those who love mysteries and thrillers. I was able to meet her in person at Bouchercon in Chicago, Baltimore and Indianapolis. I will see her again in San Francisco this October. Mystery conferences are very fun. The panels are interesting and usually are quite humorous, showing the funny side of writers who deal in somewhat dark subjects. At Indianapolis I attended a panel with Beth Groundwater and it was that panel that made me want to seek out her first book. I really liked it and an now awaiting the second to arrive via ILL at my local library. See you in October! Jan

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds great. I wish I could sign up, but I'll enjoy the experience vicariously through this.

Beth Groundwater said...

Yes, mystery conferences are great fun, but I've had a lot of fun reading everyone's comments about them, too. Jan, I'm so glad you enjoyed A Real Basket Case, and I hope you enjoy To Hell in a Handbasket just as much. I hope to post some news very soon about the future of that series. Stay tuned!

Kaye George said...

Thanks for introducing Cheryl, Beth. This was a fun article. I wish she were attending Malice! But maybe I'll meet her somewhere else. LCC in Santa Fe (2011)? That ought to be a tremendous one.

Molly MacRae said...

Chery, it's nice to meet you! We might have bumped into each other at Love is Murder, which is always a good time. But have you considered attending Magna Cum Murder in Muncie, Indiana? (magnacummurder.com) It's a wonderful mid-size convention where readers and authors have ample opportunity to mingle - a warm, friendly get-together. Beth, thanks for a fun blog. You always come up with a great new twist for blogging and promotion.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Terrific post, Cheryl! I enjoyed meeting you at all these conferences too. Thanks for letting people know about the fun and connections that can be made at mystery gatherings. Truly something special.

See you at Malice and Festival of Mystery! MJ

Cheryl said...

KK, sorry I didn't respond to you yesterday. I've never met J. A. Jance; Maybe someday. Each conference brings someone new to the table.

Jan, thanks for following me here. I will see you in SF.

Sheila, a lot of authors blog about and post pictures of the conferences. It's a vicarious pleasure, indeed.

Kay, I have not registered yet, but I am planning on LCC in Santa Fe.

Molly, I am familiar with Magna Cum Murder although I have never been there. I'd love to be able to attend all of them.

MaryJane, glad to see you here. I still remember fondly the dinner we had in LA.

Beth Groundwater said...

Like Cheryl and Kaye, I'm planning to attend Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe, New Mexico since it is driving distance from my home in Colorado. Also, I'm on the board of the Rocky Mountain chapter of MWA, which includes both states, and we plan to host a hospitality suite there. From the early indications, it looks like the organizers are going to put on a fun event, and Santa Fe is a lovely place to visit with lots of museums, historical sites, and a vibrant arts community. I hope anyone who plans to come adds on a couple of extra days for sightseeing.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Thanks so much for this post, Cheryl and Beth. It's great to hear from a reader and be reminded how fantastic readers are!

Cheryl said...

You're welcome, Conda.

I have really enjoyed this experience. Readers do have a different perspective. I will gladly support writers. I purchase their books, and I recommend them to my friends. Writers have to do one thing; they have to entertain me. Mystery conferences are a way to accomplish this and build the relationship.

jenny milchman said...

Cheryl, I really enjoyed hearing about these events from your perspective--Beth, great idea for a post! I hope to be one of those approachable writers who gets to say hello to you (both) one day...you've given a terrific roster of must-not-miss conferences!

Cheryl said...

Jenny, can I assume you have a work in progress? I hope you get an opportunity to come to a conference soon.