Bouchercon 2017: It’s In the Books (so to speak)

Bouchercon 2017

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bouchercon, here’s a quick primer: it’s the annual convention for mystery and thriller readers and writers from all over the world. Named in honor of Anthony Boucher, an acclaimed mystery critic, editor, and author, it bills itself as the “World Mystery Convention” and it attracts over a thousand attendees each year. This year, in fact, I heard the number was close to seventeen hundred.

Bouchercon 2017 was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is just a memory at this point, but a good one and I would like to share some takeaways I gleaned while I was there.

  1. I do not work hard enough.
  2. I do not read enough.
  3. Another standalone novel might be in my near future (or as near as possible in the writing world) (and, yes, I have an idea for a story).
  4. There are way too many great authors out there whose books I haven’t read yet (more on that below).
  5. Bouchercon seems geared more toward thrillers than the types of mysteries I write, but I still learned a lot and I hope to apply that knowledge in my work.
  6. Bouchercon is a great place to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
  7. When my son uses all our cellular data for the month it is impossible to send photos to my email from my phone, hence the absence of photos in this post.
  8. My husband is awesome (this is not news to me, but I was reminded of it). He made reservations at the restaurant at the top of the CN Tower and took me there for a surprise dinner.

I always come away from conventions with a curious mix of feelings: inadequacy and inspiration. I spend my days meeting authors who are far more prolific than I, but I go home with an urgency to get to work with new ideas and renewed energy. All in all, it’s a good feeling.

Here are some authors whose books I have resolved to read asap: Ruth Ware, Linda Landrigan, Ragnar Johasson, and Kelly Armstrong.

And here are some titles I’ve added to my TBR:

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (no, I haven’t read that before {hangs head in shame})

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Green for Danger by Christiana Brand

The Last Child by John Hart

Have you read any of these books or authors?

Until next time,

Amy

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Author Spotlight: Kristina M. Stanley, Part Two

Today on Reade and Write I welcome Kristina M. Stanley back to the hot seat. You may recall her last visit, during which she discussed her book Avalanche (which I’ve read and can highly recommend). You can read that post here if you’d like. Kristina is here today to talk about her new book, Look the Other Way. Welcome, Kristina!

Tell me about your new book.

LOOK THE OTHER WAY: A year after her Uncle Bobby mysteriously disappears in the turquoise waters surrounding the Bahamas, Shannon Payne joins her grieving aunt to trace his last voyage. Shannon hopes the serenity of the sea might help her recover from a devastating breakup with her fiancé.

Sailing their 38-foot catamaran, A Dog’s Cat, is Captain Jake Hunter, a disillusioned cop who has sworn off women. While Shannon tries to resist her growing attraction to the rugged captain, she uncovers some dark truths about her uncle’s death that might send all three of them to the depths.

Who is the audience for the book?

Look the Other Way is for mystery readers who like to read books with a little adventure and a little romance.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

I wrote the first draft during the summer of 2012, but long before that my life had already started to influence what I would write. In the fall of 2009, my husband, Mathew, and I started our journey across the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas. We were aboard our catamaran, Mattina, feeling pretty good about the day…

But no matter how much you plan, the weather can sneak up on you.

We set out from the Florida coast at 11 at night in flat seas, low winds and a perfect weather forecast. Just enough wind to keep our sails up and the boat moving at 6 to 8 knots.

By the next morning, the wind and seas grew. You can see by the foul weather jacket Mathew is wearing that we knew a storm was coming.

Little did I know this day would be research for Look The Other Way.  Bigger seas, stronger winds. Too bad I’d put the camera away.

The bilge pump started – which it shouldn’t if the bilge is dry – and my adrenaline rose. Did we have a leak? Were we taking on water? Now, I can’t ruin the surprise, because I used this adventure in one of the scenes in Look The Other Way

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Keeping track of the wind direction and what tack the boat was on.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

I’d love to see Jennifer Lawrence play the part of Shannon Payne.

Tell us about your other books.

I’ve written the Stone Mountain Series. DESCENT, BLAZE, and AVALANCHE are the first three in the series. They take place in the depths of the British Columbian Mountains. All three are mysteries. I guess I love to write about places I’ve lived.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I write best when I’m alone. I have beta readers, but I don’t belong to a critique group. I live in the remote mountains of British Columbia, Canada, so there aren’t many writers around. There are a lot of bears, but they don’t help much…

Do you write every day?

I’ve never been a person who writes every day, except when I’m participating in Nanowrimo (for those of you who aren’t familiar with this reference, it’s National Novel Writing Month–November).

What authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I read almost exclusively mysteries, but I don’t have a favorite author. I like to read as many different authors as I can. I find a lot of them through my Mystery Monday series where other authors give writing tips and talk about their latest book. If anyone is interested in guest blogging, just let me know. I’m now scheduling for 2018.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

I like to be with my husband anywhere we can be active outside.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write a lot. It’s like anything else you do. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Describe yourself in three words.

I’m going to give you a sentence instead of three words: Do the fun bits first!

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Feedback Innovations, a company started to help writers rewrite better fiction. I love the self-editing process and want to help other writers learn how to do a structural edit on their own work.

Where can readers connect with you?

www.KristinaStanley.com

Https://Fictionary.co 

Where can readers find your books?

All of my books are for sale on Amazon.  (http://amzn.to/28Qxdcs)

Thanks for visiting, Kristina! Good luck with your new book–I’m really looking forward to it!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Iris Chacon

Good Tuesday morning! Today on Reade and Write I welcome Iris Chacon, another member of Mystery Authors International. You may remember recently I featured another MAI author, Nicole Fitton (you can read that post here). Iris is here to talk about her book Duby’s Doctor.

Take it away, Iris!

When he can steal time away from his undercover assignment (as an arms dealer’s bodyguard), Agent Yves Dubreau jogs with all the other muscular Coconut Grove athletes. He enjoys the morning tai chi group in Peacock Park, and he quietly remains on the fringes of the Grove’s art scene — until he blows his cover and gets himself murdered. When resuscitated, he is a scarred, nameless giant with no memories, no language, and only his drawings with which to communicate. Of course, he still has the same deadly enemies he had in his former life; he just doesn’t know it. Neither does naive, lady surgeon, Dr. Mitchell Oberon. Soon, Duby’s unscrupulous supervisor forces the unsuspecting Mitchell to shelter this recovering “John Doe” in her home and begin teaching him how to live again. Both Duby and Dr. Oberon will learn a lot about living— they just may not be living long. A murderous arms dealer will soon be stalking them.

Tell us about the inspiration for the book.

Duby’s story was inspired by the landscapes, art culture, elaborate mansions, and live-aboard sailboats of Coconut Grove. For years I passed through the magical Grove community on my way to work in the high-rise offices of Miami. The unique aura and ambiance of the Grove always launched my imagination into a happy stratosphere of quirky characters and exotic locations. Sometimes the girls in my carpool would simply stop in the Grove and watch the panoply of beautiful people (mostly male) passing by. Thus, a secret agent, who lived on a boat and worked undercover in an arms dealer’s mansion, was born. And if he lived in Coconut Grove, he had to be an artsy type, so Agent Yves Dubreau, a/k/a Duby, became a talented sketcher and painter.

Got an excerpt you can share with us?

Sure. Here’s the context: Mitchell picks up John/Jean from his maintenance job at St. Luke’s Daycare.

“He’ll be right out,” the nun said. “He’s all right. We were just cleaning him up. It looked worse than it is. The bleeding seems to have stopped—”

“Bleeding?”

“—and the paramedics said—”

“Paramedics?”

“—they don’t think Mister Kavanaugh’s ribs are broken, just bruised—”

“Who?”

“—and the police said, since nobody seems to want to press charges, — ”

“Police?”

“—that we can just forget about it. Of course, Jean had to be punished for hitting—”

“Hitting?”

“—so he had to run laps. And that started the nosebleed again. But everything’s all right now. Here he is.”

Jean limped out of the back room, holding a bloodied washcloth against his nose.

Sister Elizabeth sighed. “It’s been an exciting day.”

Mitchell studied Jean from head to toe, incredulous. She pointed at his swollen left knee. “You ran on concrete? And hitting? You were hitting! The children?”

“Oh, dear, no!” said Sister Elizabeth. “He was hitting Mister Kavanaugh.”

Mitchell stared at Sister Elizabeth and back at Jean. “You ran on concrete and you hit Mister Kavanaugh? Who is Mister Kavanaugh?”

“Debbie’s father,” answered Sister Elizabeth.

Mitchell was looking at Jean. “Excuse me, Sister, but unless Kavanaugh cut his tongue out, I’d like to hear Johnny answer something. John, why did you hit Debbie’s father?”

Jean pulled the washcloth away from his face to say, “He hits Debbie.”

After a pause, Mitchell muttered, “I told you never to run on the concrete.”

Ooh, sounds good. Thanks for visiting today, Iris, and best wishes with Duby’s Doctor!

Iris’ bio:

Iris Chacon has written for radio, television, motion pictures, and magazines for more than 30 years. She has taught writing-related courses at Christian schools from grade 5 through college, and she has worked as a musician. Duby’s Doctor is her fifth novel, and it carries on the Chacon tradition of good, clean fun, mystery, humor, romance, and a “sunshine state of mind.” Iris hails from the Sunshine State, Florida, where her ancestors have lived since Florida was a Spanish colony, before the United States existed. She is working on her next novel, which incorporates many of the adventures she has enjoyed in the American Southwest.

And here’s where you can find Iris online:

Website: https://www.authoririschacon.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoririschacon

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/IrisChacon1371

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2kmLxAq

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8551298.Iris_Chacon

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/guatemom578

Thanks for visiting Reade and Write, Iris!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Amy Metz, Part 2

amy-metz

Today on Reade and Write I welcome Amy Metz back to the hot seat. She’s been here before, back in June of 2015, to discuss her book Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction. She’s back now to discuss her newest release, Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction. For those of you who haven’t read any of Amy’s books, I highly recommend them. They’re chock-full of humor, mystery, and Southern wisdom. Good to have you back, Amy!

gpj4cover

Tell us about your new book.

Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction was released in May and is the fourth book in my humorous mystery series. The main characters are Wynona and Caledonia, two very different women, but two women who also have more in common than one might think.

How long did it take you to write the new book?

Forever. A least it seemed like it. Realistically, more like a year.

Do you write linearly, or do you write each scene separately and then piece them together like a puzzle? Or is there some other path you take to writing a novel?

I pretty much write linearly. Sometimes I write the first and last chapters and then fill in the middle, but I haven’t done that with the book I’m currently writing. Maybe I should try that.

Tell us a secret about one of your characters- something that’s not in the book.

Wynona has a mother who is a little crazy. Okay, a lot crazy.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes, the temperature has to be 74 degrees exactly. I need sweet tea with lemon, M&Ms—green only—and someone to rub my shoulders while I work. Just kidding. I don’t have any rituals that I can think of.

What time of day do you do your best writing?

Probably late at night.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? And if so, where did you go?

I don’t know that you’d call it a retreat, but I went to the Mad Anthony Writers Conference (http://www.writelikemad.com/) in Hamilton, Ohio, a few years ago. I learned a ton and wish I could go to more of them.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I’m working on book 5 in the Goose Pimple Junction series, Liars & Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction. I’m also working on a thriller titled Wax Man.

Tell us about the dedication in your new book, if you wish.

Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction was dedicated to a man named Robert, who I never actually met in person—we only knew each other online. I met him when I first started writing. He was the best beta reader I ever had and was instrumental in books one and two. He always had great suggestions, was brutally honest, and he kept me writing at times when I didn’t want to. I sent him chapters as I wrote them, and I think that immediate feedback helped me write faster than I do now. He passed away in January 2015 and never read Rogues & Rascals.

Do you prefer to read a physical book (with paper pages that really turn), or do you prefer an ereader, or perhaps audio books?

I actually read more audiobooks than any other form, because I listen to them in the car or when I’m puttering around the house. They also help me get to sleep. I like ebooks when I go somewhere and need to fill down-time while waiting for something or someone. But if you’re talking prefer, I prefer hardback books. I think each form plays an important role!

If you had an unlimited budget, is there something special you would do for your readers?

I’d love to be able to give away gift certificates to bookstores or even paperback copies of GPJ books. Right now it’s just not in the budget.

Remind us where we can connect with you.
Website: http://authoramymetz.com
Blog: http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmyMetz
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authoramymetz
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmyMetz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Metz/e/B008NA07X4/ref=series_rw_dp_un

Where is the new book available?

All four books in the series are available on Amazon.com.

Links:
Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction: http://tinyurl.com/zz6vl2l
Heroes & Hooligans In Goose Pimple Junction:
http://tinyurl.com/z45l93p
Short & Tall Tales In Goose Pimple Junction:
http://tinyurl.com/zl8ovc3
Rogues & Rascals In Goose Pimple Junction: http://tinyurl.com/zy9p85r

Goose Pimple Junction Mysteries: http://tinyurl.com/gnclb9y

goose-pimple-junction-mysteries

Thanks so much for joining me on Reade and Write today!

Until next week,

Amy

Suffolk, Virginia Mystery Authors Festival

Before I get started, I’d like to let everyone know that Secrets of Hallstead House was featured as the Cool Book of the Week on Amy Metz’s blog, A Blue Million Books. I’d love for you to check out the post: you can find it at http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com/. You may have to scroll down just a bit, but I promise it’s there. Many thanks to Amy Metz for the opportunity to appear on her blog!

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Suffolk, Virginia Mystery Authors Festival, hosted by the Suffolk Division of Tourism in partnership with the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts and the Suffolk Public Library. It was a gathering of twelve very talented and prolific mystery writers, a literary agent (Dawn Dowdle), a freelance editor (Jeni Chappelle), several members of the Virginia chapter of Sisters in Crime, and hundreds of very happy readers.

suffolk poster and Amy

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with the likes of Ellery Adams, Mollie Cox Bryan (who shares my Kensington editor), Mary Burton, Erika Chase, Vicki Delany (who also writes as Eva Gates), Linda O. Johnston, Joyce and Jim Lavene (who write together as Ellie Grant and J.J. Cook), Maggie Sefton, Gayle Trent (who also writes as Amanda Lee), LynDee Walker, and Wendy Lyn Watson (who also writes as Annie Knox).

Many of these authors write cozy mysteries. The cozy is a sub-genre of crime fiction in which the main character, generally a woman, is an amateur sleuth with a day job that allows her to interact with members of the close-knit community in which the crime usually takes place. The cozy is populated with quirky-next-door-neighbor-type characters and the reader gets to know many members of the community as a cozy series progresses. Often the main character has a close relationship with a member of law enforcement (say, a brother, best friend, boyfriend, ex-husband, etc.) and you’d be amazed at how often cats, dogs, and other animals are important cast members. Cozies tend to be on the milder side of crime fiction and generally avoid strong cursing and graphic descriptions of violence and intimacy. It is common to find the main character’s job or hobby (such as knitting, scrapbooking, or animal rescues) as a theme throughout a cozy series.

But not all the authors I met write cozies: some write novels and stories that are a bit darker, such as Mary Burton’s Cover Your Eyes or her Texas Rangers series or Maggie Sefton’s newest political mystery Poisoned Politics. I’m happy to report that both Mary and Maggie are charming in real life and exude none of the danger they write about.

I wish I had time and space to write more about the books I discovered and the authors I talked to, but I will provide their website addresses below for you to check out.

The festival included presentations throughout the day that focused on everything from the History of the Mystery to a talk by Dawn Dowdle, literary agent, about the importance of finding an editor that fits a writer’s needs and genres. While the presentations were being held, many of the authors read from their most recent releases, which was a treat for the readers who attended.

If you ever have a chance to visit Suffolk, Virginia, I have a couple pieces of advice. First, try to avoid I-95 at all costs, even if it means walking the entire distance (you’ll get there faster if you walk, anyway). Second, get there on a day when the Suffolk Division of Tourism is hosting one of its tours, such as the Suffolk Ghost Walk (which I missed because I was sitting on I-95) or the Great Dismal Swamp Guided Nature Walk. Third, don’t leave until you check out the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts, which is housed in a restored high school and is a beautiful space that houses, among other things, art galleries, a gorgeous theater, a ballroom, and studios for dance, weaving, pottery, photography, and much more. The Suffolk Division of Tourism couldn’t have picked a more breathtaking and inspiring place to hold its Mystery Authors Festival.

Here’s that list of the authors’ websites:

Ellery Adams: http://www.elleryadamsmysteries.com/
Mollie Cox Bryan: http://molliecoxbryan.com/
Mary Burton: http://www.maryburton.com/
Erika Chase: http://www.erikachase.com/
Vicki Delany: http://vickidelany.com/
Linda O. Johnston: http://www.lindaojohnston.com/
Joyce and Jim Lavene: http://www.joyceandjimlavene.com/
Maggie Sefton: http://www.maggiesefton.com/
Gayle Trent: http://www.gayletrent.com/
LynDee Walker: http://lyndeewalker.com/
Wendy Lyn Watson: http://www.wendylynwatson.com/

Jeni Chappelle: http://www.jenichappelle.com/
Dawn Dowdle: http://www.blueridgeagency.com/

Sisters in Crime: http://www.sistersincrime.org/?7

Suffolk Division of Tourism: http://www.suffolk-fun.com/

I’m already looking forward to next year’s Mystery Authors Festival!

Until next week,

Amy