Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Bouchercon 2022 recap

Morning hangout with fellow B’con authors, including Linda Johnston, Christine DeSmet, and Priscilla Paton

It’s been a week since Bouchercon, the international mystery readers and writers convention. This year it was in Minneapolis, basically in my backyard (even though I’m a little more than an hour away). What an event!

Over 1300 people registered and attended. So many panels, so many authors, so many readers! I was on one panel, and had the opportunity to sit in on many others, from writing the first draft to humor to crime in a small town to using setting. I got to see a number of our Twin Cities Sisters in Crime members in person for the first time in two years. (We still haven’t gone back to meeting in person yet; the place where we meet has changed their procedures for groups using the space, and since I live over an hour from the place, I’m waiting until I’m in the Cities to coordinate a “this is how we do it now” session with them).

And I caught up with a lot of the authors I met this spring at Left Coast Crime. The authors I had on the LCC panel I moderated were there (I didn’t catch up with one of them, but she was there), and so many others I’d spent some time visiting with. I met local authors and others from farther away, and of course came home with a much longer TBR list.

Some of the most enjoyable panels were one on humor, moderated by our very own (and very funny) Jessie Chandler, and one on setting, moderated by Matt Goldman. The humor authors included Charlaine Harris (yes, that Charlaine Harris), Catriona McPherson, Matt Goldman, and Craig Johnson (of Longmire fame). Dang, they were all funny, especially Charlaine and Catriona.

Matt’s panel about setting and weather was a study in international writers (and accents!). Catriona again (from Edinborough and now in CA), Alexander McCall Smith (England), Jo Nesbo (Norway), Caro Ramsay (Glasgow), and Stan Trollip (South Africa). I didn’t realize the rivalry between Edinborough and Glasgow, either, until Catriona and Caro started their verbal joust (all in good fun).

I didn’t take as many pictures as I’d intended, because I always forget until the opportunity is past. However, there are a lot of pics on FB from other attendees like Jess Lourey and Jessie Chandler. So much work, so many volunteers, and what a great convention! The local committee did a fabulous job!

I enjoyed it, and I know other members of our SinC chapter enjoyed it; it was their first convention, and they came because it was local. I wouldn’t have gone if it hadn’t been local; next year’s B’con is in San Diego, where two years ago LCC was for a day before they had to shut it down because of Covid. Haven’t decided if that will be on my list of conventions yet.

One thing that was tough (compared to LCC, which is less than half as big) was finding the people you knew who were there and you wanted to catch up with. It took me a day and a half to find a couple author friends who were there. At LCC I probably would have found them in the first half of the first day.

I met some old friends, some new friends, and helped my writing teacher plot her next Door County Fudge Shop book. I met an author now writing a 3-book series about a 450-lb crime-solving pig (based on a real-life pig). I crossed paths with research resources I can tap when I need some information, and I know whom I can ask when I need blurbs for my books.

I’ll be in Tucson next spring for LCC 2023 for sure, but I haven’t decided yet about B’con in San Diego. I might have to go since my last visit to San Diego was cut short and I missed the opportunity to meet up with B. In any case, if you have an opportunity to go to a convention, whether it be a readers/writers convention or a writers conference, go. You never know who you might meet, whether they be future critique partners, or editors, or a new favorite author. Or just people you get to see every year at the annual convention.

Check one out. I predict you’ll have a better time than you expect.

Have a great writing weekend!


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Getting ready for the ‘con (Bouchercon, that is)

OMG! I cannot believe Bouchercon is in less than a week! Wasn’t it just the Fourth of July? Geez.

On the one hand, I kinda dread it, because downtown Minneapolis, traffic, lots of people (waaay more than at Left Coast Crime (LCC) this spring). On the other hand, I can’t wait because I’ll get to see a lot of the authors I met at LCC, and bonus: my writing teacher will be there! Yes, I did just see her at the reunion, but it’ll be fun to see her at B’con.

A lot of our Sisters in Crime (SinC) chapter members (Twin Cities chapter) will be there. It’ll be the first time I’ve seen some of them since, well, you know, the whole pandemic thing. We are intending to start meeting in person again, but for me, as chapter president, I live over an hour away from our meeting place. They changed their procedures for groups gathering, so for me to take a day to drive all the way there to go over the new stuff for 15 minutes, then drive all the way back home is not the best use of my time or gas. I need to check to see if someone can be there when I’m in the area. I have a couple author events in the Cities (where our meeting place is) in October, so maybe I can work something out then.

It’ll be a good time. I’ll be busy with some volunteer stuff, and a panel, and if I’m lucky (unlucky?) I’ll get to moderate other panels–I’ll be a “floating” moderator just in case.

So why spend four days with almost a thousand people at a convention? Networking is a primary reason. Need an author to write a blurb for you? Because of LCC and SinC, I know a lot of authors who I could ask to write blurbs for me; in fact, I already have one for Book 2, whom I met at LCC. And an author you ask for a blurb is probably a little more likely to give you one if they know you. And even better if they just had some success with their latest book.

In some ways, conventions like this are reunions. I looked through the list of registered attendees, and I lost count of the number of names I remember from LCC. And, I suspect, I’ll get to see a lot of them again next spring at LCC in Tucson. I’m looking forward to seeing those authors I met at LCC. Great people!

This is my first Bouchercon (sounds like “couch-er-con”), only because it’s in Minneapolis. Not sure how many others I’ll hit, at least in the near future. I don’t have to pay airfare for this one, so I don’t have to come in a day early, or get transport from the airport to the hotel and back. I’ll see what it’s like; almost a thousand attendees is probably close to twice as many people as at LCC.

Anyway, don’t be surprised if I miss a post next week. I’ll be at B’con, and may just wait to post until I get back home. We’ll see.

To those in the US, have a wonderful holiday weekend! Labor Day signals the end of summer fun, or at least the summer travel season. Oh, and the start of the school year.

Happy Writing!

Juniper after playing hard


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Introvert much? #amwriting #amrevising

Summer Solstice this week!

So as I’m trying to figure out what to write for this post, I keep thinking about the writerly part of my life. Writing and revising, sure, but there is a lot more to “being” a writer.

I think most writers are introverts. We’re so much more comfortable huddling at home with our notebooks, pens, and computers than we are at in-person events like book fairs, writing conferences, and writer/reader conventions.

Okay, that last one comes from knowing that Bouchercon, THE mystery writers/readers convention, is being held in Minneapolis this year. This convention is to all flavors of the mystery genre as Comi-con is to comic books, sci-fi, and superhero stuff. Well, we don’t dress up as our favorite characters … of course, our favorite characters aren’t blue, or wear robes with light swords, or have pointy ears, and we usually don’t debate which Spiderman or Batman actor was the best.

As writers, the craft is our focus. One thing writer conventions have is the opportunity to expand our knowledge of the craft. Is it enough for introverted writers to venture out and gather with hundreds of other writers? Eh, maybe. But hundreds?? The thought alone is enough to keep an introvert at home where it’s nice and quiet.

If we’re serious about getting that elusive book deal or pulling the trigger on self-publication, we know the whole introvert-stay-at-home-away-from-people thing isn’t going to cut it. Not only do we have to sell our books somehow, but one thing that can help on the book-selling front is a blurb from an author who is better-known than you are.

And that’s one of the things that should inspire writers to get out and meet other writers. It’s actually the most fun part of conventions, if you ask me. Talking to other writers–what’s more fun for a writer than talking about writing with someone who enjoys it as much as you do? Yes, being a member of a writers’ group like Sisters in Crime or Mystery Writers of America is good for access to other writers in the same genre, but meeting them in person?

Granted, you probably won’t be meeting James Patterson or Michael Connelly or Lee Child, but you could meet Brian Freeman or William Kent Kreuger. Or Kellye Garrett. Or Rachel Howzell Hall. Kellye, by the way, is an amazing people person. And Kent is one of the nicest people.

Yes, I know William Kent Kreuger. Check out his Cork O’Connor series.

I can hear you say it: Sure, but all those people! I can’t do crowds like that!

Neither can the rest of us. But for four days we can hang out and meet people. Why? It’s called “networking”. When my book 2 is ready (soon 🙂 ), I can ask authors I know personally for a blurb. Doesn’t mean they’ll give me one, but knowing them personally gives me an advantage over someone they’ve never met.

Blurbs aren’t the only reason to network. Knowing someone who knows someone is valuable! Looking for a cover designer? Check in with that author you met at Left Coast Crime who has amazing covers and ask who they use. Looking for an editor? Ask around for recommendations. How about reviewers? Again, ask around.

And when you join a group of authors who are rebooting a local “meet the author” series, knowing someone like William Kent Kreuger or Matt Goldman or Brian Freeman is gold. Nothing like getting a NYT-bestselling local author to help the visibility of an author-reader venture!

More on that to come. In the meantime, stay cool this week (it’s going to be ugly-hot in most of the country for the next week or so) and keep writing!


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I’m baaack–what a con(ference)! #amwriting #lcc2022

My very first time as moderator for a panel. L to R: Me, Tori Eldridge, Margaret Mizushima, Linda L Richards, Faye Snowden. Great authors! (photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuhn (yes, I copied it from her FB post))

I flip to yet another fresh sheet in my notebook. The tough thing about a synopsis is picking out the most important points of the story–out of 300+ pages. I’ve got the inciting incident, and the climax (I think). Oh, and the midpoint reversal. So, now I need a couple more points to transition between each, right?

The back door to my writer’s office opens, letting in a crisp breeze–and a couple stray leaves. “Damn it, shut the door. It’s frickin’ cold and windy out there.” Sheesh. Would never guess we’re halfway through April by the weather.

My Muse peels off his jacket and hangs it on the coat rack. He’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater with his worn-well jeans. He exchanges his sneakers for those big fuzzy bearpaw slippers.

“Cold feet?” I ask. “Those things are kind of ridiculous, you know. They clash with that ‘just off the set of a GQ photo shoot’ thing you’ve got going.”

He tosses me a wry grin, the divot in his chin deepening. “I knew you liked my slippers.” He settles a hip on the corner of my desk. “I see you’re finally back to work.”

I lean back in my chair. “Hey, I’m finally feeling almost normal again. Nothing like getting back from a trip and getting slammed with a wicked head cold. Hell, I couldn’t see through the brain fog for two days.”

“Uh huh.” He doesn’t sound impressed.

“Just because you never get sick. Just how wild did you and the other muses get during your own convention in Albuquerque? I didn’t see you around.”

He crosses his arms on his broad, sweater-covered chest. “Our convention was great. You, on the other hand …”

“I had a great convention. I met some great authors. I have more options for blurbs. My very first panel I moderated went surprisingly well. My panel went well. I even managed to avoid making a fool of myself at the new author breakfast with my 1-minute pitch. So, yeah, it was a great convention. I even got to talk to William Kent Kreuger. Nice guy.”

“Uh-huh. And what did he tell you, love?”

“He writes every morning, even when he’s on the road.”

My Muse just stares at me with those incredible blue eyes.

“I can do that. Maybe not always in the mornings, but in the evenings. I’ve done it before. It’s how I draft all my books.”

He sighs. “You need to focus, love.”

Goes without saying. “You need to help me with my synopsis, which I haven’t worked on since I got back because head cold.”

So before I settle in to work on my synopsis, just want to toss out there if you ever get an opportunity to attend a writing or genre conference, try to do it. It’s a wonderful experience, and a great way to network.

Have a Happy Easter/Ramadan/Passover/what have you! May Spring decide to get serious and stick around for a while!

Furry belly Tibbers and Nyx