Archive for the 'Conventions' Category

Recap: Romantic Times 2013

Hello folks!

I’ve been meaning to get this out for days, but I’m enduring the second most stressful time of my entire life. Good stress, yes! But stressful. The first most stressful time of my life was when we were selling Tempest Rising, and like that time, I’m doing a load of awesome things that are sort of killing me.

Like winding up the semester at the same time I do a huge convention, buy a house, move into that house, and release a book.

I’m not whining! I know how lucky I am to be able to do all of these things. But they’re still MAYBE gonna kill me. Luckily I’m being helped out along the way by all my awesome friends, both old and new. There’s nothing like busy times to remind me how lucky I am to have my tribe–a tribe I plan on growing in Pittsburgh, when I get in my new house.

But all of that is for a different blog post. THIS blog post is about the 2013 RT Convention, and how great it was! I’ve gone to RT now for four years running, and it gets better with each year. This year I was very busy, with four panels in total: two “craft” panels for aspiring writers and two “reader” panels for fans. My first panel was bright and early the Wednesday the convention started, and I worked steadily through till the huge signing on Saturday, when the con ended (at least for me).

It was a lot of work, but it was also fun, of course. I love hanging out with my peeps, and the nice thing about my recent con schedule is I’m seeing the same friends at everything. So even though we live in different parts of the country, we’re able to feel like we’re all part of each others’ lives. And they’re so inspiring, funny, creative, warm people. I come away from these things feeling like I’m ready to tackle the world.

Which is good, because I’m sort of planning on doing just that this summer. ;)

So here are some highlights from the trip. Kansas City turned out to be RAD, although it SNOWED. So my #amwalkies were curtailed, which sucks as that’s normally the time I get to indulge my traveler’s soul and really see a city I’m visiting. But we still got out, and Pierpont’s at Union Station was one of the best dining experience of my life (and I’ve had good ones). We also had an AMAZING dinner at Nica’s 320, which was a super fun Cajun-Asian fusion joint. We went because they had a cocktail called a “Necromancer,” and we stayed because they had a huge beignet menu, including stuffed beignets. Our awesome server also didn’t bat an eyelash when we said, “Do you have a cocktail called a ‘Werewolf?’” He said, “What is that?” We said, “We don’t know, but it probably has bourbon.” He thought about it for a second and said, “Yes, would you like a Werewolf?”

They were delicious.

Here are some pictures.

Now I’m off to take some very rainy, wet walkies before I have to robe up for graduation. So excited to have this semester over with! The rest of this week will see me packing, frantically, then the big move to Pittsburgh.

This summer is mine, just to warn you. All mine.

It’s gonna be incredible.

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Dallas, I AM IN YOU!

Hey folks! Just a reminder that I’m in Dallas this week for Dreamin’ in Dallas 2013. I’ll be leading workshops on such things as time management (FYI, my PowerPoint is definitely too long), deep point of view, and hot seating. Should be fun! For those of you not signed up for the con but who would love to come see all of us, there is a group signing this is open to the public. Here’s the poster:

dreamin

In the meantime, I am doing some pretty furious brainstorming/catching up/writerings with the lovely Jaye Wells. I also plan on eating my weight in Tex-Mex and gas station BBQ and enjoying the glorious weather. I better get back to spring, Pittsburgh, you hear me??????????? xoxo

 

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Back To Bahstahn!

Hey folks!

This weekend finds me traveling again, this time to Boston, where I’ll be presenting at AWP (the Association of Writers and Writing Programs).

I’ll also be catching up with old friends and spending the weekend getting up to no good in my old stomping grounds. The birthplace, really, of my getting up to no good.

For anyone going to the con, here’s what I’m doing officially:

Hynes Convention Center, Room 110, Plaza Level

S136. Women in Crime. (Toni Margarita Plummer, Sophie Littlefield, Linda Rodriguez, Nicole Peeler) Boasting diverse voices and writing in settings varying from academic to rural to paranormal, three women discuss their choice to build a crime series around a female protagonist. These authors discuss crime and life from the female perspective, focusing on issues such as domestic abuse, divorce, parenthood, gender roles, sex, and justice, as well as the female sleuths and authors who inspired them. Moderated by one of the top acquiring editors for crime fiction, a Q&A session will follow.

Unofficially, I’ll be schmoozing, carousing, debauching…or what I like to call, NETWORKING. It’s all work, people. Really. And I can’t tell you how badly I need a weekend of networking right now. I’ve had a pretty insane month, with a lot of work, a lot of things shuffled all over, making some big decisions, nearly buying a loft, losing the loft, realizing I gotta be adult regarding stuff about which I’d rather be immature, and trying to stick to my guns and be brave about everything. So, yeah, a weekend away with old friends is exactly what the Doctor ordered.

Dr. Peeler, that is.

But I’ll be back soon. And then I’ll be in Texas! Doing some MORE Networking. Yay!

In the meantime, here’s a musical treat from my new favoritest band:

 

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Things You Need To Know!

Hi folks!

These aren’t upates…these are things you NEED TO KNOW. Like you need to know not to drink Drano. Or that I like vanilla cake for my birthday, thank you.

The first thing you NEED TO KNOW is that Sophie Littlefield’s much anticipated new novel GARDEN OF STONES is finally out today!

This book has all the critics raving and target picked it as their Book Club pick this month. I’m SO excited to read this as Sophie’s one of my favorite writers and this is supposed to be amazing. So yeah, go buy it before everyone starts talking about it.

The second thing you need to know is that we’ve officially added a signing in Austin to the little tour I’m doing with Mark  Henry/Daniel Marks, Liliana Hart, and Jaye Wells. Click that sentence to read about the genesis of this disaster waiting to happen tour and click here for more specific info about where/when we’ll be.

Mark/Danny, however, has this warning (it’s in the first few minutes):

So you have been warned! Expect inappropriate behavior. Unbelievably awesome, inappropriate behavior.

The third thing is that I’ll be in Boston next week for AWP! I have no idea what I’m doing as I’m so busy I haven’t even looked at my schedule, but I’m sure I will be AT THE BAR. AT ALL THE BARS. A LOT. Cuz that’s NETWORKING, PEOPLE. Info about the con is here!

In other news, I am looking for a loft in Pittsburgh. I’m still working at Seton Hill, but I have decided to bite the bullet and commute. I NEED A CITY.

So I’m all a-twitter with exciting things. But here are your marching orders: Go buy Sophie’s book! And come see me in Boston or in Texas! You have four beautiful cities to choose from. . . I KNOW YOU WANT TO! ;)

Have a great week! xoxoxoxo

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Travels Past and Future! or, Come See Me At RWA!

Hello my pretties! I’m just back from London. I was up with the birds, and have been impatiently waiting for the soup fog surrounding Greensburg to lift, so I can take my walkies.

In the meantime, I will say hello to all of you. ;)

HELLO.

Being in the UK was fab, as ever. I’ve got tons of pics up on my Facebook (feel free to add me as a friend), but here’s a wee album for you in the meantime:

That first morning at Heathrow, I met up with Heather Osborn, of Samhain Publishing fame. She was in town for a Romance convention in Wales, so we shared an apartment. That night my friends came over and we played Cards Against Humanity, which was AMAZING.

The next day we went to Highgate Cemetery with Suzanne McLeod. It was so much fun and very inspiring. That night we met up with people from her publishing company, and we were also met by my friend from York, who came down to spend the week with us.

The following afternoon we went out to all the comic and books shops, then we met up with one of my fave human beings, Philip Palmer, and our wonderful editors from Orbit UK.

Friday Heather left for Wales, and I had a girls night out with my friends. It was wonderful to see them and catch up and be a bit mad together. Saturday, he and I went shopping for SHOES, and then we went to see Agatha Christie’s The Moustrap, the oldest running play in history. It was very fun, and good research for both of us.

Sunday we went to a BBQ at my friend’s in Whitton, after meeting some of his friends at a comic expo near Russell Square. We came back to Heather, returned from her own travels. Monday he went back up north to prepare for my impending visit, and Heather and I went to the V&A. It rained all day, so we weren’t able to do some of the things we wanted, but we still had a very touristy day wandering Knightsbridge and going to Harrod’s.

Tuesday Heather left for the US, and I left for York, to stay with the boy for a few days. We had a wonderful time wandering around to our favorite haunts in York and discovering new ones. We also took a day trip to Scarborough again, and I beat him at crazy golf. The day was windy and gorgeous, and I absolutely adore the seaside. So it was, altogether, just a little bit perfect.

I finally had to leave, though, and I had a typically harrowing experience of broken down trains, being towed by a recovery engine named Thunderbird (!!), barely making my flight, getting hung up at Newark for an extra few hours, then coming home to find my suitcase had been brutally gang inspected by TSA. I didn’t get home till around 2 AM that night, but as if to make up for it my car service sent a stretch limo. Watching the driver put my raggedy ass taped up suitcase into the back of that limo made up for everything, and I giggled for at least five seconds before I passed out in the backseat.

But I’m alive, although already missing the UK rather desperately. Luckily I have much to distract me, like a SHIT TON of work and, even MORE distracting, RWA is coming up!

Yes, my friends, in two days I pack up again and go the other way! I’m flying to Oakland, where I will be meeting up with Rachael Herron and Juliet Blackwell to drive to Anaheim, where RWA and Sophie Littlefield await. Our gang will be back together, undoubtedly causing havoc, and I can’t wait.

I will also be taking part in the charity literacy signing! Here’s the info:

2012 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing

Wednesday, July 25, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Anaheim Convention Center, Ballroom (third floor)

http://www.rwa.org/cs/literacy_autographing

Proceeds from book sales go to ProLiteracy Worldwide, Read Orange County, and Literacy Volunteers—Huntington Valley.

No outside books are allowed in the event.

I’d love to see you there if you can make it!

In other news, Denise Townsend’s latest selkie erotic fiction is coming out shortly. Do check it out. I think you’ll love it.

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Moderator: Moderate Thyself!

Last weekend I was at Malice Domestic, where I moderated a fun panel of paranormal writers. I love moderating and I’m pretty good at it, not least because it’s what I do for a living. In many ways, teaching at the university level, at least in the Humanities, consists of moderating giant discussions. So if you can moderate a class discussion involving 30+ people, moderating four people on a panel is child’s play.

That said, moderating is not easy. I’m lucky to have lots of experience in other types of moderating that I can apply to my panel moderation. I’ve also been in the audience for a lot of panels, not only for fiction conventions but for academic conferences. Through these experiences of moderating and watching moderation, I’ve picked up some valuable tips I thought I’d share with you. After all, moderating is a skill, it’s not just something you should jump into. Not least because if a panel isn’t that great, oftentimes (and sometimes unfairly) it’s the moderator who gets blamed. So here are some things to think about as you accept a position as a moderator:

1) Your Energy Defines the Space: For anyone with theater or classroom experience, the exact same actor-to-audience energy exchange that occurs during a performance occurs in moderating. Only it’s even more important for moderators to have a good energy, because they also have their panel to think of. In other words, a moderator’s energy will “infect” both the panel they’re working with and the audience, itself. Then, in that great reciprocal exchange actors understand, the audience feeds energy back to the panel and the moderator, thus creating an ideal synergy. What this means, as a moderator, is that your energy sets the tone: do not be too low key, but don’t be hyper, either. If you’re too low key, the panelists will respond in kind, giving out only a little energy to the audience. The audience, in turn, will not be able to work up much energy to return. Synergy will not be achieved.

On the other hand, if the moderator takes off like a rocket, I’ve seen many panelists react by trying to calm a hyper moderator’s energy, knowing they can’t keep up with it. So they end up as low key as they would have if their moderator had taken a Valium beforehand. Again, the audience has nothing to work with, plus they have the weird situation of an overly excited moderator and a dull panel, which makes the moderator appear definitely ineffective and possibly crazy.

2) You are NOT the Star:  This is the hardest thing for amateur moderators to overcome: the idea that the audience is NOT there to see them. Even if one does have fans in the audience, one signs a contract by agreeing to be the moderator that stipulates one takes the back seat. A moderator is there to facilitate the panelists discussion, and THAT IS ALL.

Now that I’ve said that, however, let me share the benefits of being the good moderator who sticks to the contract. If moderators do a great job, they come out looking like a star. Partially this is because there are so many bad moderators out there, but it’s also because people recognize a skilled moderation when they see one, and they respect the person who did a good job. After all, they’re there to see an interesting panel, and often it’s the MODERATOR WHO MAKES IT INTERESTING by asking good questions and raising the energy of the room. Obviously, panels sometimes have one or two “dud” panelists–usually people who won’t talk or who hog the microphone–but part of a good moderator’s job is to prod some decent responses out of the quiet ones and get the talkers to share their space. So we do have a lot of power to lead, as a moderator, and people respect when we get that done.

We also have a different format to show off our brilliance: by asking good questions, by summarizing responses in a way that sparkles, or by joking with the panelists in a way that doesn’t hog the spotlight. In other words, we actually get a lot of time to shine, as moderators, one just has to shine AS A MODERATOR rather than trying to shine as a panelist.

3) Let them Introduce Themselves: This is sort of a segue idea between 2 & 4, but I think it’s important enough to list on its own. I’ve seen a lot of moderators introduce the panelists themselves, and it’s a bad idea. I think part of the reason moderators do this is because they think it’s a way to have more of their own “air-time”–and it comes across that way. I sat in on a panel once where the moderator introduced every single person with at least five minutes of individual introduction. On the one hand, the woman was funny and energetic, and she obviously had done her research and enjoyed the authors’ works. On the other hand, no one was there to see her. So when the moderator finally said, “And now I’ll turn the panel over to our wonderful panelists,” the woman behind me mumbled, “it’s about time.” It’s not that the moderator wasn’t entertaining–she was! But she’d broken her contract by hogging the stage, and the audience was obviously (at least from where I was sitting) pretty pissed off about the fact.

Rule of thumb, then, is to let the people introduce themselves, and–even more importantly!–make a note for yourself where everyone is sitting. Then keep referring to this seating chart, even if you’re confident with who is sitting where. I’ve seen so many panels where the moderator flubs a name, and it’s always awkward, no matter how well they handle it or how gracious are the panelists. Just jot the names down in order of where everyone is sitting, and make yourself refer back to it.

4) Watch the Clock! Be sure to carry a watch or your phone with you, to check the time. If you’re like me and time sometimes gets away from you, set the timer for 15-20 minutes before the end of the session, to allow for questions. But don’t forget to set your phone to silent, especially if you’re using it as your watch.  The reason you want to be very careful to watch the time is so that you remember the following:

  • Save Time for Questions: Fans are often there to ask questions. But as the moderator, I may feel it’s okay not to get to questions, because I’ve done so much work preparing my own amazing talking points that I want to get through. To the audience member who came because they wanted to ask something specific, however, not making time for them seems incredibly rude.  In fact, thinking of yourself as a “host” or “hostess” is a great way to define your role as moderator. You’re there to make sure everyone has a good time and always has a metaphorical drink in their hand: time to talk about the panel theme, time for questions, and time for the space to promote.
  • Don’t Forget the Promo:  On that note, make sure you leave five minutes at the very end to let everyone say what their upcoming release will be. At the end of the day, no matter how interesting the panel is or how fun the convention is, the authors are there to sell books. Not to mention, this is a natural time, finally, to promote your own work. As the moderator, you should have the closing words, so it make sense that after all the other panelists have said what their upcoming release is, you share yours. But do not wax poetic–keep it simple. Then be sure to be gracious and thank the panel AND the audience. Lead all in a round of applause. Huzzah!

5) Hold a conversation: My final bit of advice, which will be the hardest for many to stomach and/or put into action, is to resist the urge to over-moderate. What I mean by over-moderation are any of the following activities: a flurry of emails in which you pester your panelists with questions, preparing a dozen questions you send to your panelists a month before the panel, insisting on meeting and/or talking to your panelists beforehand.

Now, these are all very common things for moderators to do, and some conventions encourage this behavior. The problem is, I’ve never seen any correlation between quality of panel and this form of “preparedness.” In fact, some of the worst panels I’ve seen have been moderated by people who were super prepared–but moderating isn’t really about being “prepared.” Think about the word, itself: it’s a noun that comes from a verb. Basically, then, it’s an action–we are moderators because we moderate, not because we think about moderating.

What happens when a moderator over-prepares can be one of two things: they a) inflate their role or b) they lead by a script. By inflating their role, I mean that they forget that the point of the panel is the panelists. We’re facilitators, as moderators, not the stars (see #2). I was just at a panel where the moderator had sent my friend that aformentioned flurry of emails (which my friend resented, being a busy woman with a lot of stuff on her plate already). The questions, however, my friend admitted were good. And come time for the panel, the moderator obviously thought they were good, too. Because she answered every single one, herself.

Don’t get me wrong: every once and a while, a moderator can insert something particularly clever he or she has come up with. But the moderator should not talk through 2/3rds of the panel, as this moderator did. And while her answers were clever and fun and she’d obviously thought long and hard about her questions, no one was there to see her, and the panelists weren’t there to be her wingmen as she talked. Meanwhile, there is nothing more painful than watching an hour of five bored or angry  authors flanking a blathering moderator.

As for leading by a script, this comes back to the idea of “conversation” that I started with. It’s great to have a question or two lined up. These should be used to:

  • begin with
  • fill any sudden gaps in conversation (often occurs when someone say something utterly batshit you can’t come back from)
  • hit on a major issue you think definitely needs to be discussed

But if you only have a few questions lined up, what do you talk about? The answer is easy: you talk about what the panelists are talking about. In other words, you actually listen to their responses. You note down anything they say of interest. And then you riff off those answers. Let’s say the theme of your panel is the use of the Paranormal in contemporary cozy mysteries and your kick off question is, “What do you think the paranormal adds to your own work?” Let’s say someone says something about how escapist the paranormal is, so it makes an already escapist genre even more escapist. That’s exactly what happened at my panel at Malice, and that comment fit in so well with my thoughts about the issue. So my follow up question was basically, “Is all of this entirely escapist? After all, look at Charlaine Harris’s use of the metaphor ‘coming out of the closet’ for her vampires. Through this metaphor, the whole book becomes an exploration of the idea of tolerance in our society. How do you think this idea of metaphor works in paranormals?” We had a rousing discussion, in which I continued to ask them questions based on their responses, taking moments to summarize what I’d heard and apply it to the next issue they’d inadvertently raised that I wanted to explore more.

Doing this means that the conversation was fresh. They weren’t reading off the responses they’d written a month ago, to the questions I’d sent a month ago. And if they said something fascinating, I could linger on that idea and explore it more, rather than ignoring such gems to move onto the next question I’d written a month ago.

On a Machiavellian note, I think this format also keeps the panelists on their toes. They’re responsible for some of the energy in that room as well, obviously, so you don’t want them staring at pre-prepared notes and reading their responses in dull voices. You want them paying attention and engaging with their fellows’ responses, and this helps keep them actively participating.

This is not to say one doesn’t prepare. I thought about the issue of the paranormal a lot since I learned I was moderating that panel, I read or at least skimmed over the books my panelists sent me, and I prepared those couple of kick-off questions. I also had a general idea of major themes I wanted to hit upon. And then I held a conversation, which everyone seemed to enjoy, at least from comments from both panelists and audience afterward.

So those are my tricks to moderating. I think most of being a good moderator is having the right mindset and acknowledging your true role. Doing so means that you can really shine as a moderator, a paradoxically bright spotlight. For if you do it well, people will really take note.

I hope these ideas help you go forth and moderate with more confidence and more panache. Do let me know if you have any questions.

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Romantic Times Roundup

Hi folks! Another Romantic Times has come and gone, and I’ve got the spinning brainz to prove it. :-) Here’s a picture round up of the bulk of the action. The first day I got in, I spent a lot of time with Heather Osborn, Jaye Wells, Suzanne McLeod, and Liliana Hart. Here’s some photographic evidence:

Jaye and I had to be on relatively good behavior, as our Editrix, Devi, was in attendance. Here she is doing her Eye of Sauron impersonation, if Sauron got excited about his new (adorable) bag:

I of course found myself wearing another mustache:

And Suzanne and Jaye ended up in the pokey:

Not least because Jaye nearly threw herself at Anne Rice. Here she is vaklempt at signing next to Anne on someone’s tote:

Meanwhile, I’m all professional, and shit:

Not least as I was on Sheriff duties the Samhain Stampede:

For all our hard work, Zombie Joe brought us cupcakes:

And all in all we had a brilliant time. Here’s me, Richelle Mead, Jeanne C. Stein, and Heather Osborn. We spent a lot of time in Heather’s room, watching Ambient Videos and doing dramatic readings of amazing smut. It’s how RT is supposed to be spent, really.

Can’t wait to see you guys next year. Thanks for the laughs!!!!

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It Is Upon Us: Romantic Times 2012!

Hi folks! Tomorrow I leave for RT 2012! YAY!

It’s in Chicago this year, and I’ll be busy. Here’s my schedule for those of you interested in coming to see me. Remember, too, that the big book fair on Saturday is open to the public!

Thursday, April 12:

10-11 AM

URBAN FANTASY: TRENDS — WHAT’S HOT, WHAT’S NOT & WHAT’S NEXT IN UF PANELISTS: Kelley Armstrong, Jennifer Estep, Melissa Marr, Nicole Peeler, Jaye Wells MODERATOR: Lucienne Diver (The Knight Agency)

Location: Florence

4-6 PM

E-Book Expo — Denise Townsend will be signing!

Location: Entry Level, Grand Ballroom A, B, C

Friday, April 13

1:30-2:30 PM

SEVEN MINUTES IN URBAN FANTASY HEAVEN HOSTS: Richelle Mead, Suzanne McLeod, Kristin Painter, Nicole Peeler, Jeanne Stein, Jaye Wells

Location: International 5

2:45-3:45 PM

BOOKS, BODS AND BREWS HOSTS: Dana Marie Bell, Stephanie Draven (AKA Stephanie Dray), Nicole Peeler, PJ Schnyder

Location: International D

Saturday, April 14

10:45 AM – 2 PM

GIANT BOOK FAIR (open to the public!)

Location: Entry Level, Grand Ballroom

You can download a copy of the Convention schedule by clicking here, and that also contains instructions for those of you who want to visit just for the book fair. The book fair is free to registrants and $5 for the general public.

Besides these events I have meetings with my publishers and my friends and my readers and my friends AND my family, since I’m from outside of Chicago, originally. So it should be a great con, personally as well as professionally, and I’m really looking forward to being (sort of near) Chicago for the week.

Also, if you’re at RT and see me wandering around looking irritated (I often wander around looking irritated), feel free to stop me and say hello! I’m generally not actually irritated, although I’ve cultivated quite the scowl. ;-) In truth, I go to these cons to meet fans and readers, and I love it when people say hi. Do tell me who you are, and how I know you (tell me your Twitter handle, for example, if we tweet quite a bit). Or just say, “I read your books!” In my google stalkings of myself (so narcissistic!) I’ve come across people who said they saw me and wanted to say hi, but chickened out. But I’m very nice, and very approachable (scowl and all) and love to talk to readers. So please do stop me.

I look forward to meeting some of you, and for those of you who can’t be in Chicago, I might be near you soon. Check my appearances page to find out where I’ll be and when. ;-)

In other news, I finished the rough draft of book six. So I’ll be spending my mornings holed up in my hotel room, revising. I splurged on a big double room for just myself, on purpose, so that I do just that. I will hopefully have #6 banged into reasonable shape to send to my critique partner and my betas, soon. Crazy!

So all in all it should be a great trip and I can’t wait. Yay RT!

 

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Debauchercon! I Mean, Bouchercon!

Hi folks! I’m happy to announce that I survived Bouchercon! It was so much fun, I don’t know where to begin. Okay, that’s a lie, as I know exactly where to begin: with Friday.

Friday I got in that evening, around 4:30. I went up to our room and let Sophie and Julie know I’d arrived. I then hopped in the shower, as I’d been up super early that morning to get some stuff done and was already feeling grotty. Sophie and Julie took coming home to a nekkid little wet girl very well, and there was much hugging and rejoicing. There was also some imbibing of “drawer whiskey,” the best whiskey ever invented.

After we had a thorough catch up, we did some turns around the bar. I then met my absolutely lovely friends Ervin and Gary, and we had dinner. It was so great to see them, although poor Gary’s car had its radiator blow up, so that meant they didn’t have a car to hang out Saturday. Which was a total bummer, although we definitely got in some good bonding time.

After dinner, I met up with the ladies at the hotel, where there were more turns around the bar. Julie and Sophie know everyone, and I mean everyone, so it was a blur of awesome new people. Everyone was really interesting, and I was loving meeting so many people with whom I had so much to talk about. It was also nice to be at a convention where men outnumbered women, and none of them were Cavemen in loin cloths. At least not that we could see.

To cap the night off, we ended up in our rooms with a bunch of people, a bottle of vodka and one of Laphroig, and there was much frivolity. I, however, am used to a 10:00 pm bedtime, so by midnight (central time), I was done. I went ahead and curled up on my cot and had a grand old time listening to everyone talk while I wrestled with sleep.

The next day was more of the same, but it was such great same. We talked, we worked, we networked, we bonded. I may have bought $20 worth of “gooey butter cake,” but can you blame me? I met the beautiful and graceful Victoria Laurie, who I really liked, along with the very wonderful Maddee, who designs our Pens Fatales blog as well as Sophie and Julie’s websites. They were both such great ladies and I had so much fun getting to know them better. I also did much bonding with the Charlatan’s Debi Murray and Murder by the Book’s Johnnie Cakes, whom I couldn’t love more if he were a saltine cracker.

OH, and this was the coolest thing ever. I MET THE REAL GOAT. Yes, Sophie’s gorgeous Sheriff Goat is based on a REAL MAN, a thriller writer, who came to our room party. He was adorable (and by adorable I mean haaaaht), and he really WAS Goat! *fans herself*

Saturday night after dinner, and another bar turn, we discovered there was a free photo booth! Many shenanigans ensued, a few of which I’ve included in this blog. Eventually, we ended up back in the room, where we had another  party. I curled up like a dead thing at midnight again, but everyone was very sweet about tucking me in and giving me cuddles. I think I brought out everyone’s parental instincts with my propensity to swaddle myself like a cocooning caterpillar, and it was lovely to be on the receiving end of a little TLC.

And that’s exactly what this weekend was. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely met some great people with whom I discussed our MFA and our visiting writer opportunities, and I did loads of great networking. But it’s hard to call that work when it’s so enjoyable to see lovely people like Charlaine Harris and her BFF Paula, whom I adore. So, basically I spent a weekend with kind, interesting, caring people, all the while meeting new people who turned out to be just as wonderful.

It was a great way to put everything into perspective, and realize how lucky, and loved, I really am. When I came home I ordered tickets to San Francisco so I can go to Julie’s halloween party. Viva la ladies!

I was my typical rubbish self at taking pictures, but I still got some fun ones. Mostly due to the photo booth, of course. First off, here’s me with Gary and Ervin. Could they be any hotter? Feel that sizzle.

Next, here’s me trying out a new look:

It made everyone want to pet my kitty. Next we have our first round of photo booth shenanigans. How many writers can you fit into one photo booth? It was like a clown car when we poured out.

And here we are abusing John. Poor muffin.

There are more, but they get increasingly more inappropriate.

Sunday morning, I shared a taxi to the airport with Sophie’s brother, Mike Cooper, whose debut is coming out very soon. He was so nice, and it was very cute seeing Sophie with her bro.

I got home nice and early Sunday, but I was wiped out. I watched much Doctor Who and basked in the glow of the weekend. It was lovely, and much needed, and will remain a great memory.

That was my Bouchercon weekend! How was yours? ;-)

OH, I almost forgot. Vote for me in the Bookies for AAD 2012!

 

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AAD: or, Philly, I Hardly Knew Ye!

Howdy folks!

I’m back in  Greensburg, believe it or not! I came home to a dusty, but intact, apartment. Yay! Then I had TWO FULL DAYS of meetings for the day job. It was intense! But great seeing my colleagues again, all of whom are awesome.

But that’s not what you want to hear about. You want to hear about Authors After Dark! And see all the pictures I took, right?

Wellllllllllll….imma tell you about my photography skillz.

I have none.

So I took all these wonky-assed, out of focus, ridiculously far away photos of stuff that amused me at the time, but now I a) can’t think why and b) am not really sure what they are.

Which is why there will be my USUAL DEARTH OF PHOTOGRAPHS on this blog post. Because I suck.

AAD, on the other hand, DID NOT SUCK. It was, in fact, SO MUCH FUN! So fun I have to use all caps AND exclamation marks. There was just such a great vibe at the con: everyone was super enthusiastic, eager to be there and meet each other and the authors, and generally just be happy and enthusiastic. I had a blast meeting everyone, and hanging out with people, and I don’t know what else to say except it was GOOD.

There was much laughter, quite a bit of food consumed, some raunchy readings, many panels, I put the slap down as a moderator on occasion, and incited some pinnings of pensises on our poor founding fathers. To top it all off, there was also a film crew, filming a documentary about the romance community. So all in all it was a surreal, but fabulous, experience.

I will definitely be rocking out AAD 2012 in NOLA, my fave city. That said, it’s gonna be hotter than the hubs of hell, but you’re supposed to sweat in NOLA. If you ain’t sweatin’, you ain’t doin’ it right. ;-)

So that’s all she wrote about AAD. It’s not that I don’t have more to say, but it’s already been AGES, and everyone else and their mother has done AWESOME blog posts on everything that happened (with pictures! That don’t suck!). So if you’re intrigued, just follow the #aad2011 hashtag on twitter and it’ll lead you to many blog posts.

But it DID rock, and if you’re on the fence about coming next year, don’t be. Get off that fence and get to New Orleans!

Now, because I don’t have any of my OWN GODDAMNED PICTURES BECAUSE I SUCK, I’m going to share with you what has to be my favorite piece of fan art yet. I know, I say every new piece is my favorite, but that’s because it is!

I bet you readers will know exactly where this scene comes from, no?

This was made by Regan Johnson (blog and website) and I adore it! It’s now my wallpaper on my laptop.

I totally get a kick out of stuff like this, so whenever you’ve made anything Jane related, lemme know! I’ll pimp it on the blog. Because one of the things AAD and RomCon reminded me of is that I have the coolest fans ever. They’re people I like hanging out with, people who inevitably get me since they get my books, and people whom I’m lucky to have in my corner.

So VIVA LA FANS! In honor of you all, I’m going to do a contest. Just comment here about anything you like that authors do. Do you like when we blog? Do book groups? Do you like newsletters? Tweets? What? Let me know, as I’m always trying to figure out new ways to reach out to you and get you the information you desire.

So comment below, and on Monday, August 22, at 8:00 AM ET, I’ll randomly pick THREE winners (lucky number three!) who can pick ANY MASS MARKET PAPERBACK (the kind that are $7.99 or under) on Amazon and I’ll have it shipped directly to your door. Sound good? That’s ANY mass market paperback: it doesn’t have to be mine, or UF, or whatever. I can also ship it to your kindle if that’s how you roll.

I heart you guys! GROUP HUG!!! *slobbers*

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