A month later I received an email stating I'd been picked to moderate the panel "Writing Different Cultures." This was good, but even better was the list of multi-award-winning authors I was able to email and ask question to be well informed and come up with good questions for the panel. (See previous post about this panel) They all replied to my emails and questions and I couldn't wait to meet them.
Then I received word that because my book Double Duplicity was a finalist in the Chanticleer Reviews, Mystery and Mayhem contest I would be featured along with other finalists at a night-time event, Friday during the conference. I private messaged author Wendy Delaney (Working Stiffs Mysteries) who had participated in this event last year. I asked if I needed books to sell. She said she sold one book but gave away a lot of promotional stuff. So I put books back on the shelf and shoved promotional items into my suitcase.
I arrived in Phoenix, hitched a ride on an airport shuttle, and discovered the hotel I'd book was only two blocks from the Hyatt where the conference was being held. Yes, I'm that kind of person. I prefer my privacy and it was half the cost. To my delight the Hotel San Carlos was built in 1928, was gorgeous, and had a comfortable bed. The down-side to the hotel, I didn't find them very customer friendly.
|Melissa Yi in Red|
From there we moved into the Ballroom for the Opening Ceremonies and Welcome Reception. Buffet tables were set up here as well. This was a Mexican fare. Tortillas, beef, chicken, and pork, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cabbage, chorizos, pear and cheese brioche. It was yummy! The toast master for the whole event was Catriona McPherson. Yes, she's Scots and I loved listening to her talk! And, by the way, you say it Ca-treee-nah. She is funny! And well worth a listen if you ever have the chance.
|Catriona McPherson Interview Saturday|
Friday morning I arose early to get my books put in the bookstore. I arrived at 8:30 to find out the book store wouldn't open until 10:00. Waiting to put my books in the book store, I sat close by the doors. I didn't want to drag the books around.There were close to 40 people tried the doors or read the sign. Several making comments about how were they to buy books if the doors weren't open. The one thing at the conference that wasn't run well was the book store. The only open times coincided with the panels. They didn't stay open during the cocktail hour when people are loosened up and looking for something to do before the next event or in the morning before the panels started and people were milling around waiting.
While waiting for the book store to open, I read the event pamphlet and discovered a Canadian author who is part of Windtree Press, the author co-op I'm in, was presenting at the panel, Jewish Noir. When I could finally dump my books, I slipped in, listened to the panelists talk about writing Jewish fiction and how they each had a story in a Jewish Noir collection. After the panel, I went up and introduced myself. Melissa Yi-Yuan is not only an author of fiction and non-fiction she is also an ER doctor. Meeting her gave me more insight into who she is. We discussed her books and the co-op before she had to sit down to sign books. I headed to the panel, Cherchez La Feme, Women Overturning the Stereotype: Strong female sleuths as role models. This was an interesting panel, All female but for one male author who had a strong female secondary character. Since I write strong female characters I thought it would be enlightening. It was entertaining. ;) I ran into my friend Alison, we had lunch together, and I asked her if she had any Advil. The angel that she is, she did and she shared it with me until I could get to a pharmacy.
Before I left for the conference my hubby came down with something. Friday at conference I felt it coming on! After lunch, I worked two hours at the registration desk signing people up to sit at author hosted tables for the awards banquet. Then I attended one more panel, Romance Under the Gun. It was a panel of all ladies and the topic was how much romance is too much in a mystery. And while I've been docked in reviews that my mystery books have too much romance, mine are mild compared to several of these ladies. What I came away from this panel with is if it works for the characters you can be as heavy or as light as you want with the romance.
|At Blue Rooster Event|
From that panel, I headed to my hotel and asked for directions to a pharmacy. The desk clerk said go two blocks that way turn left and you can't miss it. I followed her directions and didn't see a thing. I tried to use my phone, but had left my glasses in the room. I stood on a corner in downtown Phoenix and my phone rang. Daughter #2 asked me what I was doing. I said, standing on a street corner in Phoenix. Without a pause she said, "I guess no one there would recognize you." Yes, this is my husband's side of the family humor! Anyway, I wandered around, didn't find the pharmacy and headed back to the hotel to change and get things packed in my little wheeled bag to take to the Chanticleer Reviews Blue Rooster Saloon Event.
|Visiting with readers.|
By the time I was ready to crash, I was coughing, had chills, and my throat was aching. If I'd been smart, I would have asked the man to wait, went up to my room and grabbed my purse and had him take me to a pharmacy. But I wasn't thinking clearly. I took a hot bath, downed sinus pills and didn't crawl out of bed Saturday until 9 when the maid knocked on my door. I asked her if she could get me some medicine, she told me to call the desk. I called down, they told me. "No," I put clothes on, hit google maps, and found a pharmacy in the opposite direction the desk clerk told me to go the day before. I hobbled there with my blistered feet and bought $50 worth of drugs and band-aids. I put the band-aids on my feet outside the store and hobbled back to the hotel. Took the meds and slept some more. I was determined nothing was going to keep me from my panel on Sunday morning. I'd prepped and prepared and it was to be my big moment at the conference. I finally got up in time to go to one of the last panels of the day, Psychology of Murder. It was interesting and insightful. There were two retired policewomen and three Psychologists. The way they presented the information made me feel like I'm not overstepping the bounds of reality for some of the reasons my characters murder. Because I'd paid the extra for the banquet meal, I was determined to go to the meal. Not only did I care about the money, I also wanted to reconnect with Dorothy Black Crow, an author I met last year who writes Native American mystery and Melissa Yi-Yuan were sitting at the same table. I told the author hosting the table, Dorothy, and Melissa, I was only staying long enough to eat and then I was going to my room, take some Nyquil and sleep until morning, so I would be well for the panel.
I woke Sunday morning with a fireball in my throat and barely any voice. I didn't know what to do. Should I contact someone and have them find a new moderator? No, I wanted to this. I dressed, swallowed Ibuprofen, grabbed a bottle of water and my throat lozenges and headed to the Hyatt. I stood outside the room, waiting for people to arrive. Carole Sojka, one of Ladies of Mystery blog partners who I'd visited with a couple of times during the conference came up to me, smiling. I smiled back and whispered, "This should be interesting I don't have a voice." She gave me her sweet smile and said, "That's what the microphones are for. Go kill it!" I could have hugged her! And Danita Cahill knows that's showing how much Carole's words meant to me!
I went inside and eventually the other authors arrived. I explained, I had barely a voice, to please bare with me. Kent Krueger and Shannon Baker were the first to show up. They said, no problem. I asked one of them to field questions when we got to that part of the panel because as moderator was was supposed to repeat question from the audience because the panel was being taped. Jeffery Siger arrived. He was hoarse. He is allergic to feathers and after sleeping two nights on feather pillows discovered why he'd lost his voice and was having out issues. Then Timothy Hallinan arrived. I repeated my problem, and he croaked back, me too. It turned out to be a good panel discussion. I couldn't put in as much as I would have liked, sticking to only the questions I'd jotted down, but the others had been on panels before and knew each other well. Their camaraderie, quick wits, and Kent stepping in and filling blank air time made the event click.
When the panel was over, I stayed about fifteen minutes to sign one book, gathered my unsold books from the book store, and headed to my hotel. Packed and spent 8 hours sitting in the Phoenix airport sipping tea, popping throat lozenges, writing, reading, and watching people. The stress was over.
All in all the conference was good, considering I didn't mingle as much as I should have. But I didn't want to give my crud to everyone I came in contact with. I sat in the last row in the corner of the rooms with my bag on the seat beside me so no one got close enough to catch anything. I hope. But on Sunday, poor Alison looked how I'd felt on Saturday. She'd come down with something. I hope she was able to get home okay and get well.
In our moderator packet, we were told to thank our panel members after the conference. I sent out the emails today and had some wonderful responses! They literally made my day!
Last night when my hubby picked me up at the airport, I said the best part of the weekend was the 8 stress-free hours at the airport, but today, writing this post, seeing what I did, and who I met, I'd say the best part of the weekend was meeting new author friends and learning about their journeys to publication. The only readers I'm positive I interacted with were at the Blue Rooster Saloon event.