Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hallopalooza - Halloween Blog Scavenger Hunt Hosted by The Stiletto Gang

Welcome to Hallopalooza! You've arrived at Stop #3 in the contest being sponsored by The Stiletto Gang.

- quoting Evelyn David.

Do you have plans for Halloween? How about an on-line mystery Scavenger Hunt with free prizes?

On Oct. 30, 2009 at 8 AM, the 1st Annual Stiletto Gang Hallopalooza begins. Or at
least we hope it's going to be an annual event. Everything depends on you, our

What is Hallopalooza? It's an on-line mystery scavenger hunt. Twenty-three
of the best, most interesting, coolest blogs on the net have agreed to participate. There will be lots of great prizes! Lots of fun! Lots of clues!

Yes, clues. The Stiletto Gang has written a short story - did I mention it's a murder mystery - just for the event?

How do you play?

Let's start with when you play - the Scavenger Hunt starts at 8 AM Eastern on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. It ends at 5 PM Eastern on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009. Winners will be announced at noon eastern on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009.

What are you hunting? A killer! Okay, really you'll be hunting clues to the killer's identity and motive. You will move from blog to blog reading the mystery and gathering clues. Each blog will give you a link to the next blog in the Scavenger Hunt line-up.

You will start at The Stiletto Gang, then move to the next blog. There are 23 blogs in the chain. The winner is not the one who finishes first, just the one who finishes by the deadline with the correct answer. So you can come and go as you please during the three days of the event. Go Trick or Treating! Toilet paper a house! Party with goblins and witches! Then come back and celebrate with us.

What are the prizes? The Stiletto Gang is offering a grand prize of a $50 U.S. gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice - on-line or bricks & mortar. If you're not in the U.S., we'll send you an Amazon gift certificate and let you figure out how to use it.

If more than one person qualifies for the Grand Prize, then all winners will be put into a drawing for the $50 gift certificate. Runners-up will win an autographed book from a Stiletto Gang author, including Evelyn David's new book, Murder Takes the Cake. We will award up to a maximum of ten books. If there are more winners than books, we'll have a drawing among the Runners-up for the books.

And, here's the special part - you can win prizes on the individual blogs during the hunt too! The participating blogs will have contests/drawings for great stuff! Autographed books, promo items, and other "I won! I won!" things to make all your friends envious.

There is no charge to play or win. You don't have to buy anything. You just have to participate, solve the mystery, and tell us about it using the comment feature on The Stiletto Gang blog site or by sending an email to the Stiletto Gang at


Happy Halloween! Here's your clue, and the link to the next stop. Then, continue reading to discover my giveaways for this event. Have Fun and Good luck!

Meanderings & Muses – post #3

"And you are?" Milla was conducting her second interview in the well-appointed kitchen of Millionaire G. Winston Howard. The young twenty-something woman sitting across from her was athletic and over six foot tall. Her long blonde hair hung in a braid down to the middle of her back. She was dressed like an old fashioned zookeeper; beige pit helmet, khaki shorts and vest, black knee socks.

"Alana Carter. I take care of the mansion grounds and the conservatory."

Conservatory! That was the word Milla had been searching for earlier. Carla Jordan had been killed in the Howard conservatory, not a plain old greenhouse.

"You found the body at what time?" Milla had the details in her notes but she wanted to hear about the discovery directly from the gardener.

"Just after 2:00 a.m."

"You make a habit of going into the conservatory at that time of night?"

"No. My date and I had wandered out by the pool. We saw a light. The conservatory was off limits to the guests. Mr. Howard owns some very expensive, fragile specimens. He'd blame me if someone got in there and damaged anything."

"What did you see when you entered the conservatory?"

The gardener looked towards the kitchen door, then lowered her voice. "I saw

Mr. Howard. He was talking with someone."

According to Fletcher's notes, this was information the gardener hadn't disclosed in her first interview with the police. "You saw him with Miss Jordan? The victim?"

"No. I only found Carla, uh Miss Jordan, after they left. When I saw that it was

Mr. Howard in the conservatory, I stepped back outside and waited. When they left, I went in to turn off the lights and lock the doors. That's when I saw the body."

"Who was this other person? The one talking to Mr. Howard?"

The gardener shook her head. "I don't know. He or, I guess it could have been a tall woman…he was wearing a long black, hooded cape with a witch's mask."

Next Clue Location:


In celebration of Hallopalooza I'm giving away one book to one lucky winner. In Their Blood by Sharon Potts. Winning is simple. Leave a comment here WITH your email address. I'll email the winner the evening of Nov. 1. Have fun!!

Announcing Guests for 2010

Has it been a whole year?!

It has!

Champagne, everyone!

Meanderings and Muses was launched October 15th of last year with my post about Bouchercon 2008, along with two guest blogs I had done earlier with Murderati and The Stiletto Gang. The first blogs I ever did. and now, Lord help us - you can't shut me up.

It does not feel like a whole year has gone by, does it?! 'Course, I have to say, now that I'm "of a certain age," I've come to learn that time does seem to pass more quickly than it did when we were growing up and summer vacations seemed to be slow, leisurely and almost never ending.

But. It has been a very good year. Meanderings and Muses has been a fun and fulfilling thing for me. It has been made much more meaningful due, in no small part, to the guests who have been a part of it. The guests, AND those of you who drop by to leave a comment or send me an email about something you've read here. You have all graced my life and I thank you.

So, warm hugs to each of you. Many of you who were guests this past year will be back for 2010 and that is just a kick! You have made Meanderings and Muses what it is, and for that I am extraordinarily proud. And grateful. I am also very proud to have each of you as a part of my life, some in a much larger way than I ever could have dreamed. I made a few boo-boo's here last year, and I appreciate you pretending they didn't happen, or that you didn't notice, and trust me enough to try again.

Here's next year's line-up, as it stands right now. There will, of course, be changes, additions and drops. Trying to schedule for an entire year can be a bit daunting, but surprisingly enough - this has been a breeze! That said - if any of you notice that your schedule and my schedule don't jive, let me know and we'll get it fixed.

One more thing!!!

A note to guests. This is just an idea - let me know what you think, please.

Many of you are familiar with the book by Jill Krementz - THE WRITER'S DESK. There are other books and articles of a similar nature. Snapshots of where a writer does his or her work. I'd like to try to do something similar this year. Not limited to our writers, and not limited to where you work. I'd like to include with everyone's post, a photo of a favorite spot; either where you work or where you read, or a spot that fills you with that special feeling of peace. Or, the place you seem to feel the most creative. The photos we included last year were terrific, and we'll continue with that - absolutely! This new idea for the "special place" photo is something I hope you'll also consider sharing. (many thanks to Jan Kozlowski who posted about this book recently at DorothyL and reminded me how much I love it).

O.K. - here we go.

Meanderings and Muses 2010 Guests

January 7 - Wendy Barlett

January 11 - Liz Zelvin

January 14 - L. J. Sellers

January 18 - Sandra Ruttan

January 21 - Rob Walker

January 25 - Toni L. P. Kelner

January 28 - Lou Allin

February 1 - Kelli Stanley

February 4 - Morgan Mandel

February 8 - Jenny Milchman

February 11 - Melinda Wells

February 15 - Robin Burcell

February 18 - Hank Phillippi Ryan

February 22 - JT Ellison

February 25 - Sandra Parshall

March 1 - Clea Simon

March 4 - Marilyn Meredith

March 8 - Jen Forbus

March 11 - Cornelia Read

March 15 - Mary Welk

March 18 - Earl Staggs

March 22 - Karen Olson

March 25 - Libby Fischer Hellmann

March 29 - Kris Neri

April 1 - Lesa Holstine

April 5 - Bo Parker

April 8 - Alan Orloff

April 12 - Jane Cleland

April 15 - Patricia Neely-Dorsey

April 19 - Vicki Delany

April 22 - Chester Campbell

April 26 - Barbara Fister

April 29 - Mary Reed

May 3 - Elaine Viets

May 6 - Larry Karp

May 10 - Suzanne Adair

May 13 - Kathryn Wall

May 17 - Laura Childs

May 20 - Jeff Cohen

May 24 - Meredith Cole

May 27 - Chris Grabenstein

May 31 - Elizabeth Spann Craig

June 3 - Alexandra Sokoloff

June 7 - Marcia Talley

June 10 - Julie Hyzy

June 14 - Julia Buckley

June 17 - Carola Dunn

June 21 - Bill Cameron

June 24 - Sarah Byrne

June 28 - Ben Small

July 1 - Mary Jane Maffini

July 5 - Shane Gericke

July 8 - Radine Trees Nehring

July 12 - Molly Weston

July 15 - Evelyn David

July 19 - Patty Andersen

July 22 - Pat Browning

July 26 - Lonnie Cruse

July 29 - Cathy Lee Carper

August 2 - Dean James

August 5 - Mike Orenduff

August 9 - Neil Plakcy

August 12 - Toni L. P. Kelner

August 16 - Bill Crider

August 19 - Toni McGee Causey

August 23 - Shirley Wetzel

August 26 - Robert Fate

August 30 - Jennifer Stanley

September 2 - Nancy Dillingham

September 6 - Ellery Adams

September 9 - Beth Groundwater

September 13 - Gary Corby

September 16 - NJ Lindquist

September 20 - Nikki Strandskov

September 23 - Kenneth R. Lewis

September 27 - Vicki Lane

September 30 - P.J. Coldren

October 4 - Jonathan Quist

October 7 - Jeri Westerson

October 11 - Barbara Fradkin

October 21 - Alan Cook

October 25 - Robin Minnick

October 28 - Louise Penny

November 1 - Margaret Maron

November 4 - Tony Burton

November 8 - Chris Roerden

November 11 - Sharon Wildwind

November 15 - Mark Coggins

November 18 - Lillian Stewart Carl

November 22 - Irene Fleming

November 29 - Caryn St. Clair

December 2 - Maggie Barbieri

December 6 - Twist Phelan

December 9 - Nancy Means Wright

December 13 - Gillian Roberts

December 16 - Shelley Costa Bloomfield

December 20 - Deni Dietz

December 23 - R. J. Harlick

Note: To everyone reading this - if you happen to bump into Mr. Lee Child - would you mention to him please that we're saving him a spot . . .

any excuse to post this picture one more time . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Colloquy in Black and White: Poems by Nancy Dillingham

I am honored to present Nancy Dillingham and her poetry.

Nancy has a new book of poetry out from Catawba Publishers, titled Colloquy in Black and White: Poems by Nancy Dillingham, and she is gracious enough to allow us to reprint a couple of them here.

I love Nancy's work. She's from my part of the world, and I think she allows us to view it with poignant, heartbreaking clarity.

Writer and educator Nancy Dillingham is a sixth-generation Dillingham from Big Ivy in western North Carolina. Her poems, short stories, and commentary have appeared in various literary journals and newspapers such as The Arts Journal, Bay Leaves, Asheville Poetry Review, A Carolina Literary Companion, Half Tones to Jubilee, The Lyricist, Victoria Press, Raleigh News & Observer, Asheville Citizen-Times, Mountain Xpress, Western North Carolina Woman, Weaverville Tribune, and Big Ivy News. She is the author of five books of short stories and poems: New Ground (1998); The Ambiguity of Morning (2001); First Light: Poems (2003); Thanks for the Dark but That’s Not Home: Poems and Stories (2006); and, her latest, Colloquy in Black and White: Poems. She is co-editor, along with Celia Miles of two anthologies: Christmas Presence from 45 western North Carolina women writers and Clothes Lines from 75 western North Carolina women writers. She also co-edited, with Irene Dillingham Richards and Ken Richards, The Family Named Dillingham: 375 Years in America--1630-2005. She lives in Asheville.

Clearing the Clutter

I am clearing the clutter
a real dust up
that both elevates and deflates:

just when was I size 8
and am I still in love
with graffiti, mufti, and ink?

For the life of me
I don't know why
I feel so luckless

as I come and go in my intent
measuring out my life
in cardboard boxes and lint

Am I not glad to be free
raising windows, throwing caution
and curtains to the wind?

Maybe I'll settle then
erase traces
of all paltry rebellions

adjust to my robe and scuffs
and just one comfy chair
jettisoning my load

like the lone lush peony
in the glass bowl
on the table in the hall

soft pink petals

Elvis Redux

is Elvis growing up in Tupelo
in a close-knit family with little money
attending the Assembly of God Church

music and preaching registering deeply
moving to Memphis with his parents
living in public housing and low-rent homes

roaming Beale Street for clothes
absorbing black blues and gospel
wearing his hair long

letting his sideburns grow
roaming the halls of Humes High
dreaming of singing with the Blackwood Brothers

working after graduation at Parker Machinist Shop
Precision Tool then Crown Electric Company
driving a truck and going to night school

dropping by Sun Studio
making a demo for his mother
then later cutting “Big Boy” Cruddup’s

“That’s All Right, Mama”
backed by “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
rebuffed by the Grand Ole Opry

officials suggesting he go
back to driving a truck which he does
but not before appearing on

“Louisiana Hayride,” the Opry’s rival
meeting Colonel Tom Parker, ex-carney
refusing his contract

walking into the induction center
speaking courteously
“Sorry, Sir, I’d like to serve

but my mama’s got this heart condition
and my daddy needs me”
holing up in his cab on a layover

reading the Bible
listening to pop tunes
and country music radio

seeing Ann-Margret, Swedish sex kitten
on a billboard
on a long haul to LA

lusting for a moment, then coming home
to his doe-eyed wife Pris
and daughter Lisa Marie who favors him

all full lips and limpid eyes
sometimes sermonizing
in a white frame church

on Sunday morning
singing with the quartet
letting the sweet, sweet Spirit lift him up

sitting on the front porch swing
of his doublewide
strumming his guitar

in the honeyed twilight
of grace land
hair white like Vernon’s

an ironic smile playing on his face
wondering only once in a while
what might have been

an angel hovering

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bouchercon 2009

I was the teeniest bit concerned that this year’s Bouchercon might prove to be a bit of a disappointment. After last year’s event in Baltimore, I guess I thought it would just have to be a bit of a let down. That little worry coupled with the fact that some of my favorite writers weren’t going to be attending niggled at me a bit.


I was frettin’ over nothing.

The organizers and volunteers did a fantastic job. It was a terrific event! Well and lovingly planned with the exacting care to detail that this convention has become known for. And an event Jim, Mike, and all the other people involved can be quite proud of.

And I'd like to thank each of them.

and I send them each a huge virtual hug.

It was wonderful.

Donald and Harley dropped me off at the Greensboro Airport with a hug (Donald) and a lick (Harley) on Wednesday morning and I met up with B’Con Traveling Buddy Extraordinaire – BG Ritts. I really don’t enjoy flying any more, so it was nice to have someone to chat and giggle with from Greensboro to Atlanta and then Atlanta on to Indianapolis.

As I said, I'm not a fan of flying, and not a big fan of most airports - but the Indianapolis Airport was a surprise.
Not overly congested and in possession, apparently, of a sense of whimsy and humor as shown by some of their furniture art, which made me smile.

Meeting up with Molly Weston, Karen Kiley and Vicki Lane (who I am so very proud of for her Anthony nomination!!) we hopped into a limo and arrived at our hotels in style, I must say.

And the Welcome Wagon was in fine form as soon as we arrived at the Hyatt. We were collecting hugs from Judy Bobalik and Emily Bronstein before we even got checked in, and were immediately whisked off to the second floor B’Con Registration table. And so it began.

Roomie Mary Jane Maffini arrived just as I was collecting extra coffee and extra hangars. I explained to our
housekeeper that we’d be living on a lot of coffee and we’d need a lot of hangars ‘cause – well, ‘cause we’re women. Women who would be living in the hotel for the next four and a half days and would be changing clothes (and shoes!) at least once a day. Sometimes twice a day. Actually, I told her we needed them ‘cause Mary Jane always travels with a lot of prom gowns, but she acted as though she didn’t quite believe my tale. (imagine that). But. It made me and Mary Jane giggle and that giggle seemed to continue until the minute we got on different airplanes to return home. One long giggle broken up only by an occasional snort. Very lady-like snorts, mind you.

We met Liz and Sandy and Caryn and Vicki and Molly and Karen for

dinner at Buca di Beppo for a fun family style Italian dinner, topped off with some more hugs and giggles in the hotel bar. This was a bar which opened into the hotel lobby which had a lot of little conversation areas with comfy chairs and sofas, so there seemed to be plenty of room for everyone. You didn’t have to get into the crush of the actual bar if you didn’t want, but could still feel a part of the crowd. And, once again – a few attendees learned that you don’t have to have a drink to enjoy the camaraderie of the B’con bar.

My Thursday started off with a 6:30 a.m. breakfast with my friend Judy, who turned into my Fairy Godmother. I can thank Judy for some truly magical B’Con moments. And darn if she didn’t conjure one up before we even stepped into the restaurant for breakfast.

I walked into the hotel lobby at 6:35 Thursday morning all ready to apologize for being late only to spy Judy, Charlaine Harris and Reed Farrel Coleman sitting on a sofa looking about as relaxed as any three people could be. Y’all. Getting to spend a few minutes chatting and sharing a hug with Charlaine Harris and Reed Farrel Coleman at 6:30 in the morning the first morning of the convention was a bit mind boggling. Mind boggling, and oh so lovely. They were both just delightful. I did, however, feel as though my name might just be Alice and I had perhaps tumbled down the rabbit hole. Seeing a white rabbit dash by muttering words about being late would not have been any more astounding. Little did I know it was just setting the tone for what turned into a few days of pure and lovely magic.

After breakfast, at which BG joined us, I dashed off to find Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “Bouchercon 101” room. This was a perfect introduction to this particular convention and to the lovely city of Indianapolis. Hank, in addition to being gorgeous, sweet, kind and funny, is intelligent, articulate and one very smart cookie. She let everyone know that if this was their first Bouchercon they could rest assured that they would experience at least one magical B’Con moment. I must say I’d have to agree whole heartedly with Hank’s promise. I cannot imagine anyone finishing up the convention and going home without having experienced some magic. Bouchercon Magic is a phrase firmly planted in my lexicon, and in my heart.

My magic moments seemed never ending and I’ll be reliving them all for a long time to come.

While I was standing in the hotel corridor after Hank's presentation, pondering all my choices - panels, the
hospitality room (which was so much more than just a room), the book room or just a seat to do some people watching, Ms. Fairy Godmother Bobalik appeared in a “poof” and whisked me into a room to share in the experience of S. J. Rozan.

Oh my.

I’m not going to try to explain what happened to me in this room other than to say it was the beginning of some
embarrassing emotional puddles that seemed to hit at the damndest times. Just out of nowhere I’d have a flash of “I cannot believe I’m a part of this.” And up would pop the tears. The first happened while I sat in that room with a small handful of people and listened to one of the mystery community’s finest members share thoughts about her work and the process she goes through to give us beautiful stories. I fell in love with S. J. Rozan and came to understand what many people have known for years – that she is a treasure and to be cherished.

AND she’s funny as hell.

And real.

There’s no artifice when it comes to Ms. Rozan, I don’t believe. What you see is always what you’re going to get. A refreshingly honest, shoot straight from the hip woman in possession of a huge talent.

While still floating from all this, I scampered to meet up with a couple of my family members. WendySis and Jonathan; on-line friends for enough years for us to have experienced many ups and downs, happy times and sad times, and become family. We’ve experienced the same kinds of times that we all experience with our friends - even though we happen to be three friends who had never met face to face before this get together. After some loud squeals, some hops about, and yes, yes – of course, a few more tears, we settled in and had a lovely lunch, and actually very quickly it felt as though we’d been doing this all our lives. And along the way we snatched up Shelley Costa Bloomfield. I just adore Shelley Costa Bloomfield. I seem to have the wonderful luck of being able to make friends with smart people who love to laugh. Shelley loves to laugh and what on earth is more fun than spending time with people who can laugh from their very souls? Life is too short to not be able to spend a good bit of it engaged in laughter.

O.K. – here’s another magic moment.

After lunch we all toodled off in different directions. There were panels to sit in on. Hospitality rooms to visit. Book rooms to browse. People to meet. Pictures to snap.

I happened to be crossing a fairly deserted lobby and who did I see but Lee Child at the Registration Desk. By now, it’s no secret to most of you that I happen to be one of the 42 beezillion people who has a crush on Lee Child.

Luckily, none of them were around right then.

Just me.

Heh heh heh.

I’m going to stick to my story that he remembered my name (I’m absolutely sure it had nothing to do with the B’con name tag hanging around my neck). We shook hands and he gave me a little bitty peck on the cheek and we chatted for just a minute. I then floated off to a corner to grin and gloat. It wasn’t until sometime later that I casually reached up to brush my face that I realized I had a little piece of pizza stuck to my cheek. Not the cheek Mr. Child had given me a little peck on, thank GOD, but the other one which he surely must have noticed and just blithely ignored. So – do you love the man for being a gentleman and not mentioning the fact that you’re walking around the hotel with food on your face, or run find him and kick him in the shin?! Pfft. You laugh about it and just don’t worry about it. It surely could always be worse. Right?! So, okay – maybe it doesn’t belong in the “Magic Moments” column, but in the “O.K. – so you’re also gonna have some embarrassing moments at B’con column.” Whatever. We’re all about stories here, right?

Although I had intended to attend a couple of panel sessions on Thursday afternoon, the simple truth of the matter is that I just sorta walked around, collected a lot of hugs from people I hadn’t seen since Baltimore, had some lovely visits, enjoyed the hospitality at the pretty spectacular Hospitality Room, which – like the bar, extended well out onto the balcony surrounding the atrium of the hotel, and browsed the book room. And snapped a few more pictures.

Then I did attend the “O,Canada” panel and laughed till my sides hurt. I also ate well. They brought wonderful goodies – NOT just their fun headgear; but some yummies, snackies and baked goods that are representative of their Canadian culture. This was a fun group which included R. J. Harlick, Anthony Bidulka, Vicki Delany, Barbara Fradkin and Mary Jane Maffini . I got to sit with Neil Plakcy and have a bit of a visit. And I got to take some fun pictures. And I learned some stuff. If there are any American publishers reading this I have a little something I’d like to share. Please don’t assume that American readers aren’t interested in mysteries which are set in Canada. Au Contraire and shame on you. You’re underestimating your reading (and buying) public. You’re missing out on a group of very talented writers.

Then another fun dinner with yet another fun group of folks – Mary Jane, Shelley, Wendy, Jonathan and my friend and fellow North Carolinian – Linda Gerber. We had a lovely dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s, but it ran a little longer than we anticipated and we missed getting to the Extravaganza. But I didn’t miss having my evening cup of coffee in the bar with good friends.

Friday morning I meant to attend the Bouchercon 101 sponsored by William Morrow and Avon Books so I could get a few ARCs from a few of my favorite writers. But. I slept right through it. Sooner or later you just have to catch up a little bit on your sleep, I guess. I had not intended that to happen, but it did. Not exactly a magic moment, but certainly not one to pitch a hissy over.

But then – guess what.

Magic moments over breakfast.

How lovely it was to enjoy the view I had while having my breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

Mystery writer Mary Jane Maffini across the table from me.

Mystery writer Craig Johnson at the table to my right.

Mystery writer Laurie King at the table directly in front of me.

Mystery writer Louise Penny at the table to my left (is there anyone here who isn't aware of how much i love Louise Penny?! Adore her books, and adore her. I think she's one of the best writers writing right now, and she is one of the nicest, most sincere people you'll ever hope to meet. Being able to spend a few minutes with her and getting a hug was a Mega Magic Moment.).

All heroes of mine.

I ask you – how much better can a breakfast get than that?!

Then it was time to get myself to the lobby in time to greet my friend Jen Forbus who would be attending her very first Bouchercon. Understandably, she was a tad nervous. I know exactly how she was feeling, and know that it can be very intimidating to walk into a convention of this size where you know you’re going to be bumping into people you admire and look up to and who, frankly, are legendary. I knew something Jen had not learned yet. That all these people would embrace her. Most of them already knew her through her terrific blog, where so many of them have been reviewed and or interviewed, and where so many have participated in her Six Word Memoir project which has been a HUGE hit.

After hugs and squeals, we rode up the escalator to the 2nd floor and up again to the 3rd floor so she could get a feel for the lay of the land and before she knew it she was officially a member of the tribe. And she’s had more hugs and pictures and magic moments than any young woman could possibly imagine. I was over the moon tickled to have been the first person to welcome our Jen to B’Con 2009.

This seemed to be my “too pooped to pop” day and I just stuck close to home. Drifted up to my room fairly often for little R&R breaks and quiet time. And it turned out to be a good day for little quiet sit downs or stand- arounds with friends over coffee in the Hospitality Room, and the book room.

It was also a day of magic moments. You just never know who you might bump into in the corridors, or who
might be having an unannounced signing in the book room. Like maybe S.J. Rozan and Louise Penny. Now how very lovely is that?!

Those wonderful little opportunities just pop up unbidden at B’con and there you are – walking through the best of times sprinkled in fairy dust with a gentle quiet nod at whatever good things you’ve done in your life that allows such bounty.

And Friday evening was truly one of the most memorable magic moments ever.

Last year at my first Bouchercon I did not attend the Shamus Awards Banquet. This is a banquet which isn’t an official part of Bouchercon, but is held as a concurrent event with Bouchercon every year. Pretty special event, and one I don’t ever intend to miss whenever I’m attending a B’Con.

Fairy Godmother Bobalik invited me as her date. Donald allows me this sort of date with smiles and good will and blessings. Donald Barley is a dream husband. Truly. Every day, twice a day, he listened with the greatest possible patience as I told him detail by minute detail what I was doing and what had made me laugh out loud, or puddle up. He did laugh a little louder and longer than necessary, I thought, about the pizza on my cheek . . . . . .

This year’s Shamus Awards Banquet was held at The Slippery Noodle. What a terrific place this is! Love it, love it, love it. From the website: "The Slippery Noodle Inn was originally founded in 1850 as the Tremont House. It is Indiana's oldest, continually operated bar in the original building. The Noodle is listed in the National Register of Historic Places." It was the perfect spot for this dinner. Randy Randisi and Christine Matthews know how to throw one heck of a party. I can’t imagine it being any more perfect.

Judy and I sat with her friends Reed Farrel Coleman, Michael Wiley and Jason Pinter. I must say – this little group managed to make me feel like I was THE most special person on God’s green earth. Seriously – this could have, with a different group of people, easily turned into a situation of me becoming totally invisible, or feeling as though I had intruded into a group where I was just not accepted, and not a good fit. Instead, I was included with grace and great charm.

There wasn’t a person who entered the restaurant that this lovely group didn’t make sure I was introduced to and able to have a photo snapped with. Including Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky.


Star Struck? Me? Pfft. You better believe it.

S. J. Rozan joined our table for awhile and when Judy and I shared with her how goofy emotional I’d been she had the perfect line and the perfect solution. Looking me dead in the eye with a smile on her face she simply said.

“Chill, dude.”

It was exactly right. Exactly the right tone. Exactly the right thing to say to a woman who could not, for love nor money, get a grip.

This entire group was simply graciousness personified and I will be forever smitten with the whole bunch of them.

Can I tell you how awesome it was to be sitting next to the man who was awarded the Shamus for best hardcover novel of the year? That would be our Mr. Coleman. He’s a writer whose work I only discovered this year after meeting him briefly last year in Baltimore. I quickly became a Moe Praeger fan and hope there are many more Moe’s to come. However. Whatever Mr. Coleman writes, it will be quickly swooped up as an “auto-buy” and brought home with my mind totally free of doubt that it might be a book that won’t be my cup of tea. He’s a master of words with the perfect touch of poetry beautifully blended into the mix. If you haven’t read the recent collaboration between Mr. Coleman and Mr. Ken Bruen – I urge you to run run run to your nearest bookstore and grab TOWER. 'Tis a thing of beauty, is TOWER. Not one which will be an easy read for some, but I loved it boundlessly, and I just know many of you will also.


What on earth could possibly be left that might be considered a magic moment?!

You would think they’ve about run themselves out by now, wouldn’t you? But – nooooo – not so. We have many more to come.

I walked back to the hotel from The Slippery Noodle with Judy, Gary Phillips (‘cause he was scared and needed us to protect him), Libby Fischer Hellmann, William Kent Krueger, Carl Brookins, Karen Olson, and Sara Paretsky. As we got closer to the hotel there was someone standing on the corner playing saxophone and it seemed to be the perfect touch to a perfect evening. It reminded Kent Krueger of a short story which he told me about and which I intend to track down. I adore short stories and this one sounds like the perfect little gem that short stories are, in my mind, supposed to be. Then when we got into the hotel I got to watch Sara Paretsky whisk Libby into a brisk little dance across the lobby. Magic moments.

On Saturday, I started my day with having books signed by Lee Child and by Deborah Crombie. Having another of my literary heroes remember my name and stand up for a hug and make a joke about a picture we had taken in Baltimore like Deborah Crombie did just made my head spin and my heart swell. I adore these people, and this community. I wish I knew the words to express how much.

I shared a giggle with Lee Child and didn’t even try to resist the urge to give him a kiss on the top of his head. Aside from being dishy and sexy, he’s just nice. Nice. And I like him. I think he’s kind, and generous to the
newer writers coming up, and decent and funny and smart. And I just like him loads.


I was lucky enough to be one of the winners of the essay contest which the Midwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America sponsored for The Bouchercon Hot Ticket event for Mr. Child. Magic Moment.

I joined a few other people in the same room I had enjoyed the S. J. Rozan Hot Ticket event, and I sat in the very same chair. Except this time, sitting in the chair immediately to my right was Lee Child. While we enjoyed prime rib, little new potatoes, asparagus, carrots, a salad and a cup of soup, followed by a yummy piece of chocolate cake (calories be damned this day), we listened to Mr. Child talk to us about his writing, about Reacher, and a wealth of other topics. He asked questions and we asked questions. He was warm and welcoming and gently humorous and put everyone immediately at ease.

I have already said lots and lots about our Mr. Child. He, like S.J. Rozan, is another of the mystery community’s treasures. To be cherished. And I must say – it was during this conversation that my crush turned from crush to a deep abiding respect for a man I do indeed like lots. Not to say he’s not still dishy and sexy – but there’s lots more to Mr. Child that that pretty face.

There was one little unexpected happening at our Hot Ticket Event. Mr. Child was aware that it was going to happen, and I was sorta aware – but not fully. My buddy BG Ritts (Queen of the Imps!) worked up a little Wanted Poster and a note of warning for Mr. Child to beware of sweet faced, white haired ladies. He seemed to enjoy it thoroughly and had a good chuckle about it. As the event was coming to a close, he showed it to me and asked me to sign it. Now, that was a kick!

(aren't these a HOOT?!)

By this time in the convention, I think I had pretty much just given up on panels. I kept meaning to get to them, and never quite making it, so my routine by now was to find out who was on which panels at what time, so that I could scamper into the book room and be early in line to have them sign their books for me. Last year in my B’Con blog I mentioned a fellow fan I kept ending up in the same lines with. William. Well, wouldn’t you know it. William and I met up yet again and had time for a nice chat. And here’s a small world story for you. William lives in California. I live in Boone, NC – which William noticed from my name tag. He asked if I worked at the University and then asked if I just might, just maybe, perhaps might know a man he knows. Pfft. Yep. Sure did.
Our mutual friend happens to be one of my faculty members and I see him at work every day.

Saturday evening was Anthony Awards Ceremony time. The ceremony was held in the beautiful and historic Hilbert Circle Theater, with a reception afterwards. It was a lovely venue and it was a well done affair which I thoroughly enjoyed. Michael Connelly was gracious and mentioned that it felt wonderful to be back with family. I thought the ceremony was just right. And truthfully -the other winners, people I know a little better than I'll ever know Mr. Connelly, of course, were exactly what you'd expect - humbled, gracious and well deserving; every one of them. But Julie Hyzy. Oh my. If you weren't moved by Julie's joy then you're just not human. She is a lovely, sweet woman and I join everyone else in this community with nothing but good wishes for a continuing bright and shiney future. I was quite moved and gladdened to see Sean Chercover step up to the podium also. He's a very special person and remains "himself" with all the accolades he continues to receive - and he deserves them each and every one.

Then a group of us including Wendy, Shelley, Mary Jane, R.J. and Barbara had a nice dinner and then attended the B’Con Charity Auction in the Artsgarden.

Mercy Mercy Mercy.

If you EVER have an opportunity to watch Chris Grabenstein and Donna Andrews handle the B’Con Charity Auction, please don’t miss it. I thought I had already laughed as much as one person could possibly laugh at one convention.. Wrong. A charity auction just should not be this much fun. As many of you already know - Chris Grabenstein used to do stand-up comedy before his very successful writing career. Well, I am here to tell you. He hasn’t lost his talent for stand up comedy. Not one whit. This is the funniest man I have EVER known. He’s also one of the nicest. Another one of the mystery community’s treasures.

It is, indeed, a community full of treasures.

Then after the auction it was back to the bar, kids! With my cup of coffee. The last night most of us would have together till the next convention. This was also the night of the Reacher Creature party and once again – I missed it. I just seem to be entirely too tuckered out by the end of this convention to be able to do the whole party thing. But who knows – one of these days I’m going to attend that “do,” and I know I’ll be over the moon that I did.

Sunday morning was the Book Bazaar and then lunch, checking out of the hotel, some last minute hugs and goodbyes and then catch the limo to the airport time. And this was the day I ran into some people who I had not had the pleasure of seeing the entire convention. Sandra Ruttan made a comment last year which stuck with me - that there must be two parallel conventions going on. Otherwise, how on earth do you explain going all those days without ever once laying eyes on some people you know are there? And at the same time bumping into some of the same people at every turn. 'Tis a mystery.

There were some people I most especially hoped to see and it did indeed make my heart sing with it happened.

And I’ll bet you thought the magic moments had come to an end by now .

Oh no. Not yet.

After the con a bunch of us rented a limo to get to the airport, and it was a fun thing.

After hanging around with these crazy adorable women for awhile at the airport, the time came to make our way to separate gates. Well. Glory be. Guess who I spotted on my way to my gate.

But of course.

Who else could it possibly have been other than Mr. Lee Child, along with his wonderful assistant Maggie and some other people I did not know sitting at a table in a restaurant just off the concourse. Mr. Child asked where I was headed and we had just the shortest of conversations, but quite pleasant, and it made me smile to know I didn't all of a sudden become invisible to one very famous writer after the convention ended.

Then, lo and behold, when I arrived at my gate there sat Charlaine Harris and Dana Cameron and a gentleman I believe was Dana's husband, and again – everyone shared a pleasant hello. Then comes S. J. Rozan, who once again proved herself to be the epitome of grace - hugs all around, nice conversation, and big smiles. She & BG had interesting things to share with one another and S.J. said BG was the woman she herself would go to to double check things from her own books. Graciousness. Personified.

I would very much encourage new, young writers - and heck - even some of the old guard who have been around for awhile - to follow a page out of the books of two of our legends - Mr. Child and Ms. Rozan. It means worlds to your readers to be treated just as nicely outside the confines of a conference hotel as it does inside that hotel. Most of you will always be that nice, which is exactly what I think makes the mystery community the lovely and special place it is.

The trip home was long, and it was tiring. I think BG and I were in full agreement that being in our own beds sounded OH so lovely.

It was beyond lovely to see my Donald and be welcomed home with a big loving and comforting hug. Equally lovely was getting to the car and seeing Harley. Having Harley welcome me with sloppy kisses let me know I was truly home. Dorothy had it just right - there's no place like home.

Looking back, I do have one regret.

Looking at these pictures as I'm loading them I'm struck by how goofy I look in some of them. big sigh. The goofiness can't be helped I'm afraid, so that's not my regret - I've learned to live with that (kinda). But I could have at least tried to remember to put on a little bit of lipstick from time to time!!!