Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Ski Vacation Reward for Compiling Tax Info

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it! We had our traditional colored eggs and hot cross buns for breakfast. After church, I'm off to Breckenridge, CO with the family to go skiing for a week over my son's Spring Break from school. This trip is a great reward for the grunt work I've been doing the past week compiling all my expenses and income for my writing business over the the past week. I definitely lost money again last year, and my hope is that this year, with plans to only attend one conference (so far), I'll make a small profit. I've got to show one sometime! My two and a half page mileage log may be my biggest expense last year. I put over 6,000 miles on my car going to and from various writing meetings, signings, and conferences.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Social Networking Website Contacts

This week, I had two contacts with social networking websites. The first was a meeting with the Second Life Writers Group on Athena Isle (to navigate to the location, go to: ) in Second Life ( ), a 3-D virtual world. Cybergrrl Oh set up the event, created my avatar for me, and helped me learn the ropes—including teleporting me back to the conference table after I walked my avatar off the edge of the floor and plummeted three floors to the ground. :-) I’m glad that little maneuver happened before the participants showed up!

The meeting was a lively chat about how to get the most out of writing conferences, and boy, were my typing fingers sore by the end of the hour. The first photo is of my avatar (in the yellow skirt) chatting with Cybergrrl Oh about how to get up to the third tier of the clubhouse prior to the meeting. The second photo was taken during the meeting while my typing fingers were flying. To read a transcript of the whole meeting, go to: .

The second contact was an telephone interview with CommunityGal from the Eons social networking website ( ). We discussed my Top Ten Rules for Networking as a Writer and my writing career. CommunityGal will transcribe the interview and post it on the site in the next week or two. If you’re an Eons member, my Eons name is AuthorBeth and I’m an active participant in a number of groups. Send me a friend request! I’m also a member of the Facebook, Crimespace, and GoodReads social networks, so if you’re involved with any of those, look up my name and send me a friend request there, too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Left Coast Crime Hawaiian Costume

Here I am in my mu'umu'u for the Hawaiian costume contest at the Left Coast Crime banquet. I had crepe paper tropical fish and parrots hanging from my shawl and carried a crepe paper tropical drink. Thanks to Catherine Leonard Dilts for the photo!

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!

Left Coast Crime Report - Part 1

I had a wild and wonderful long weekend at the Left Coast Crime Conference, but had to take a day to recover before writing my report. The week started off with food pickups for the hospitality suite that the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Sisters in Crime (RMSinC) hosted at the conference, because I was the food chair. Also, I met my editor, Denise Dietz, who flew in early to visit a friend prior to the conference, for lunch and to buy book T-shirts together. Mine said "A Real Basket Case" on the front and "going... To Hell in a Handbasket" on the back. Needless to say, I got a lot of comments when I wore it at LCC on Thursday!

Wednesday, Deni and I drove up to Denver from Colorado Springs in the morning to arrive in time for a noon - 2 PM LCC preview signing at the Barnes & Noble store on the 16th Street Mall with seven authors from Five Star participating. We had a great time chatting with each other and selling books, and the store left an end cap up for us during the conference. It worked, because on Saturday when I stopped by to check, the four copies I had signed were all sold, so I signed four more. After checking in to the hotel with my roommate Pat Stoltey, Mike Befeler helped me cart all the food up to my room and we headed out to dinner with twenty other 4MA members at the Appaloosa Grill. I enjoyed matching faces to names, and I made plans with Jan Long, who needed a ride back down to CO Springs, to take her with me.

Thursday morning, I took Tiffany Schofield, the author representative and acquisition editor for Five Star, shopping for party supplies for our Five Star "meeting" that evening, then chatted with Ron & Nina Else of Who Else Books and Tom & Enid Schantz of Rue Morgue while checking books in with them. I caught the Sidekicks panel with fellow Five Star author Maria Hudgins, but missed the next set of panels while trying to straighten out some issues with the hotel about the hospitality suite. The "Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard" panel with friend, Mario Acevedo, was a hoot, as I knew it would be.

Thursday evening, I joined a group of about 30 led by the Elses to dine on fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the Denver Press Club. At 9, the Five Star party began, with drinks and snacks and a Q&A session with Deni and Tiffany answering questions from the 20+ Five Star authors in attendance. A contingent of 4 romance authors who joined us needed detailed directions via cell phone to locate the room in the world's most confusing hotel, but the intrepid explorers eventually found us. There were goodie bags for all of us, and again, I enjoyed matching names to faces. Pat and I stumbled back to the room after 11 PM.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Weekend with Jeffery Deaver

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? :-)

Jeffery Deaver arrived in Colorado Springs on Friday to conduct a workshop and give a dinner presentation the next day to Pikes Peak Writers. As Vice President of Programs for PPW, I and the Workshops Director dined with Jeffery Deaver on Friday evening. We showed him what rooms in the hotel would be used for the workshop and dinner and went over the next day's schedule, but the rest of the evening was pure entertainment.

He's a very interesting conversationalist--and person, and obviously highly intelligent. Thoroughly charming! He even bought me a drink and toasted my Agatha Award nomination (he who has been nominated for six Edgar Awards). The time just flew by, and we didn't realize how late we were keeping him. I also discovered that we two have some common friends/acquaintances in the software engineering community. And he graciously signed my copy of the The Blue Nowhere.

The next day was the Writing Workshop in the afternoon, followed by "An Evening with Jeffery Deaver". I was busy running errands and making behind-the-scenes arrangements a lot of the day, but I did get to hear his workshop presentation and dinner speech. I thought I did a lot of outlining work before I write a novel (3-4 months worth), but he works about 8 months to generate a 150 or so page outline before writing his novels. Of course, they are MUCH more intricately and brilliantly plotted than mine! Jeffery was very gracious about spending time with attendees during the breaks, at the bar, and at the signing after the dinner. We couldn't have asked for a better speaker and really appreciate his visit. I now have his Twisted short story collection on my TBR pile.

Today I'm prepping for the Left Coast Crime conference this coming weekend, and I hope to blog about it after my return.