Thursday, October 16, 2008

Looking Back and Ahead

by Wilfred Bereswill

Last time I blogged, I talked about the way the week was shaping up and how busy I would be. Well, I survived and reality is crashing back around me. Now it's time to reflect back and share some highlights.

On October 6th, authors Jo Hiestand, Paul Hornung and I presented a Community College Continuing Education class titled “How To Map A Murder.” The class was really small, but it was fun. The cool thing was when Paul, a detective, talked about the CSI effect on writing and in the courts. He also mentioned that most violent crimes are impulsive, not pre-meditated and many are crimes of passion. Something like 99% of murders are committed by somebody the victim knew which is why there is a huge push to identify the victim.

Wednesday I participated on a panel at the St. Charles County McClay Branch Library. The panel was sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime and titled “Chill Me, Thrill Me.” With me, there was Eileen Dreyer, Eleanor Sullivan, Angie Fox and Joanna Slan. Eileen was crowned "Queen of Clues" and is always a hoot. She had plenty of stories to wow the crowd on her own. Oh, I failed to mention that this was a costumed event where the participants got prizes for guessing the characters we portrayed. I was going to be Hannibal Lecture, but I couldn’t figure out how to drive in the straight jacket. See if you can guess who I decided on.

Then came Bouchercon. Fueled by 3 hours sleep and a Starbucks' Venti Triple Caramel Macchiato I crossed the bridge from the Radisson where I had just checked in and who do I meet first? Our own lovely Annette Dashofy. She led me over to meet the equally lovely Joyce Tremel. I was off to a fabulous start. Okay, so I grab a few cups of coffee and go to a few panels to get the flavor of things all the while knowing I’ll be up on stage at 3:00 PM without REALLY knowing the types of questions that would be asked on my panel. My FIRST panel at a conference. I kept reassuring myself that this was no big deal, I’ve been in more intimidating situations. Like late last year I presented a talk on the Environment in front of 300 Chinese using simultaneous translators. But who was I kidding? This was 10 times more intimidating.

So, an hour before my panel, I ran off to the Green room to talk to our moderator and fellow panelists. No moderator! The delightful Caroline Todd had gotten diverted elsewhere. But I got to meet my partners in crime, Stuart MacBride, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Andy Straka, and Stephen Booth.

That's me on the far right!

The crowd was much bigger than I imagined; about 150 or so. I saw a few friendly faces in the crowd, (Joyce and Annette) but, as normal with me, everything became a blur and my mind went on autopilot. I remember Yrsa, who is from Iceland, saying that she is not the typical writer and the only Civil Engineer she knows that writes mysteries. Well, as fate would have it, I’m a Civil Engineer by degree. I think I managed to answer all the questions in a semi-intelligent sounding manner. I think I even got a few laughs. (I honestly can't remember. Zoned out. Or in.)

Anyway, I survived and went off to the dreaded signing room. Dreaded because that’s where it becomes abundantly clear where you are on the food chain. It is the proverbial measuring stick. I had to push my way through the crowd (were they all here for me?) to get to my station. The crowd was for Laura Lippman and Laurie King. I had been warned about this phenomena by my dear friend Laura Bradford. I think she was worried about my mental well-being. Bless her heart.

My apologies to Laura Lippman, but I did guilt a few people in your line to buy my book. They thought they might be blocking my line. I let them believe that.

I already dropped all the names of the fabulous famous authors I had a chance to chat with on my own blog, so I’ll forgo that here (Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Laura Lippman, Lawrence Block, Barry Eisler, etc.). Okay, I couldn't resist.

There was one quote during a panel that I thought was hilarious. The panel was about P.I.’s and my friend John Lutz was on the panel. The question was, Do you use 1st person or 3rd person, and why? Well the first author used 1st and explained how he was able to get more intimate and really just type from his head. The second said he used both in the same story, not unlike James Patterson.

Then it came to John. He said, “John uses 3rd person and now John will tell you why.” There was a delay as that sunk in before a rousing laugh. John went on to explain that 1st person tends to be linear and he likes the freedom of giving the reader information to build suspense that he couldn't give if using 1st person.

I had the chance to sit and chat with several agents, Janet Reid, Scott Miller and Lucienne Diver. My thanks to them for the good and honest advice.

I have to tell you, I went through a range of emotions. I talked about this on my own blog. Walking into the bookstore at Bouchercon, I had one dealer, Big Sleep Books, carrying A Reason For Dying. I was the little fish in a REALLY BIG pond. But I’ve got to say, the mystery writing community is one of a kind. They are generous and caring and I’m proud to be part of it. My thanks are heaped on the pile for Jon & Ruth Jordon and Judy Bobalik. It was an unbelievable experience.

My shout out to the following:

Murderati, The Good Girls Kill For Money Club, The First Offenders, The Graveyard Shift, The Little Blog Of Murder, Cozy Chicks , and The Outfit. I enjoyed meeting many of you and look forward to meeting the rest.

Next Friday I’m off to Magna Cum Murder, sponsored by Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. After Bouchercon, it will feel like a family gathering, which will be a nice change of pace. By the way, Jim Huang, owner of The Mystery Company in Carmel, IN is organizing Magna and will be organizing Bouchercon in Indy next year.

I’ll be out on the golf course today taking my frustrations out on a little dimpled ball. I’ll be checking in early afternoon.


Tory said...

My, Wilfred, you have been a busy boy!

I have to say, if I had had that schedule and I got a day off, I wouldn't be hitting any dimpled little balls. I'd be sleeping.

Joyce said...

Sounds like you recovered more quickly than I did. I'm still dragging!

Joyce said...

And I must add that you look simply dashing in that fedora!

Annette said...

I'm still dragging, too, Joyce, but it's getting better.

And since Will is the first guy to call me "lovely" in a very long time, he's now my new all-time favorite author.

Dana King said...

Dr. Jones,
I was at your morning session; you were a worthy inclusion to the discussion. (I agree that John Lutz's third person line was a highlight.)

As a Burgh native, I looked for Joyce and Annette, alas, without success. Next year in Indy.

Annette said...

Dana, I spotted you--or rather, your name tag--a couple of times, but it was through the crowd, one of us going one way, the other one going the opposite direction. Madness. I'd have reached out and grabbed your arm, but I figured we'd bump into each other at a more opportune time. Rats. Lesson learned: at Bouchercon especially, seize the moment.

Jennie Bentley said...

Sounds like a great time was had by all. Wish I could have been there...

Dana King said...

Lesson learned: at Bouchercon especially, seize the moment.

Or at least sieze the arm.

We'll hook up in Indianapolis. Or maybe I'll be in town visiting my parents when you're at an event.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Tory, you don't realize how relaxing it can be to bash the daylights out of something. Kind of like shooting targets at the range with a big-ass gun.

Thanks, Joyce. I even grew a three day old beard to be authentic. It's all in the details.

Annette, my dear, you are lovely. Of course, I'd call my uncle lovely if it would increase my sales.

Why thanks for the vote of convidence Dana. I wish we sould have met. You know, sieze the arm.

Jennie, we missed you badly. How was that book festival? By the way, my daughter wants more. She really liked the manuscript. I asked her to write some thought down.

jnantz said...

"Thanks, Joyce. I even grew a three day old beard to be authentic. It's all in the details."

Ah, but did you staple the fedora to your head to avoid it coming off during your stunts, as Harrison Ford used to do?

Egad, I hope not. Even moreso, I hope you didn't have to do any of those stunts while on the panel...that running from a boulder thing looked like it'd be a lot of work.

Tory said...

"Tory, you don't realize how relaxing it can be to bash the daylights out of something. Kind of like shooting targets at the range with a big-ass gun."

You're right, Wil! I'd STILL rather sleep.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Jake, no staples, no glue and I don't do my own stunts. I've seen too many Jackie Chan outtakes.

Tory, you don't know what you're missing.