Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Schmoozing at the Festival of Mystery

by Annette Dashofy

I love books and I love author events. The Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA puts over 40 authors and their books in one venue for an evening of schmoozing. It doesn’t get any better.

Someday, I hope to be sitting behind one of those tables with my novels piled in front of me. For now, I go to help out anyway I can.

And to schmooze.

Okay, so I bought some books, too. But the joy is seeing old friends from near and far.

In the “near” category is Pittsburgh’s (and Working Stiffs) own Kathryn Miller Haines looking oh so cute.

Other Pittsburgh mystery writers in attendance were Nancy Martin, Kathleen George, Lila Shaara, and Heather Terrell. Working Stiffs Joyce Tremel, Martha Reed, and Paula Matter were all spotted with armloads of books, too.

I didn’t do a very good job of getting photos during the Festival. My job this year was manning the ticket sales with Kathy Sweeney (of The Lipstick Chronicles fame). We had a blast.

Did I mention the bags of books? The first people through the doors receive a free bag of books. Folks began lining up at 1PM in a driving rain. The doors didn’t open until 4PM. It looked like the lines of fans waiting to buy tickets for Bruce Springsteen. Kathy and I agreed it gives us hope for humanity. The bags of books were gone in under nine minutes.

When the Festival finally wound down around 8PM, we adjourned to the annual pizza party back at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop. And I finally managed to snap some pictures.

Okay, rule number one: never take pictures when people are eating.

Our hosts for the event were Richard and Mary Alice, owners of Mystery Lovers. I can’t imagine the workload they deal with putting the Festival together each year.

Here I am with my dear friend John J. Lamb, author of the Teddy Bear Collectors Mystery Series. We share an agent and John was one of the first people I asked to present a workshop at the Pennwriters Conference when I accepted the coordinator job. He accepted without hesitation. So we’ll see more of him next week.

And here I am with my fellow Guppies (Great Un Published. However, it appears that I am the only one in this group without a published novel). Left to right: Sheila Connolly (who also writes as Sarah Atwell), Lorraine Bartlett (who also writes as Lorna Barrett), Meredith Cole, and yours truly.

My final task of the evening was escorting Toni Kelner to the Pittsburgh Airport Marriott (which next weekend will be home to the Pennwriters Conference). I hadn’t met Toni before the Festival, but we had a lovely conversation in the car and I think it’s fair to say I have a new friend in the writing community.

Actually, I think it’s fair to say I have SEVERAL new friends in the writing community.

Thanks, Mary Alice and Richard, for giving readers and writers a chance to mingle.

And schmooze.


Joyce said...

I had a great time, too, and met lots of nice people. I look forward to the festival every year, but I really hope I'm on the other side of the table soon!

Annette said...

You and me, both, Joyce.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I miss so much by being stranded in St. Louis.

Kathy said...

It was a great time - thanks for the recap and the photos, Annette!

Next year I am going to make buttons that say either "Virgin" or "Veteran".

It really is like a reunion every year! I was at the store last night for regular book group and I hear the sales were better than ever!

Hope to see you - you too Joyce - on 'the other side' next year!

Joyce said...

Will, didn't I tell you to look for a job in Pittsburgh?

Annette said...

By the way, a little birdie told me today is Will's birthday. Happy Birthday, Will!

Annette said...

Kathy, great idea for buttons!

Someone snapped a picture of the two of us at the ticket table. I'd love to find a copy of it.

Meredith Cole said...

Joyce and Annette--I can't wait until you have your books for sale, too! Thanks for helping to make it such a wonderful event. I sold lots of copies of POSED FOR MURDER, and loved meeting so many mystery fans. And thanks for not printing the picture of me eating, Annette. You're a true friend.

Annette said...

Meredith, there were several other folks in that picture that looked far from their best, too. I try hard not to make enemies in the writing community. That picture would have been the death of me. LOL!

Jennie Bentley said...

What Will said. (And if it's your birthday, Freddy m'love, congratulations!)

Lovely photos, Annette. I think I see my buddy and fellow Berkley Babe Mary Jane Maffini's profile in one of them...

Now, how can I - and Will - get an invitation to this shindig next year? I've got a book coming out in May 2010...

Dana King said...

As John McFetridge was gracious enough to point out to me at Bouchercon last year, you are not unpublished. You are pre-published.

Keep the faith.

The event sounds like a blast. My parents live a few miles from Oakmont. If only this was on a weekend, I'd be a regular.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Thanks all, Annette is correct. It's also Willie Mays' birthday.

Kathy, I'd go with Veteran. The other will draw a whole different group.

Patg said...

There's this marvelous invention called an airplane and it carries people from all kinds of odd places like STL to other weird places like DCA and PIT all the time. I've even heard of vehicles called trains and buses, though I'm way to modern for them.

Anonymous said...

It was great to see you, Annette and Joyce. I had the pleasure of meeting Meredith Cole. Unfortunately, I couldn't buy her book 'cause I'd already won and read it! I'm looking forward to her next one.

Happy birthday, Will!

Paula Matter

Annette said...

Pat, you crack me up!

Jennie, yes indeed, that was the lovely Mary Jane Maffini. Love her.
As for the invitation, contact Mystery Lovers and beg. ;-)

Will, you missed the performance. When someone came in to the Festival who had never been there before, Kathy went into her "Oh, you're a VIRGIN" routine and proceeded to explain the experience they were about to encounter. It was hysterical.

Dana, I've used the pre-published line, too. But I am published (short fiction), just not in novel length...YET. I'm workin' on it!

maryalice@mysterylovers said...

Sales for this year's Festival were up 15%!! We could never do it without all the help of our wonderful staff and the tireless volunteer efforts....thanks Annette and all.
Mary Alice

queenofmean said...

I didn't realize this event was happening so close to home. (I live in Penn Hills). I'll have to visit this site more often. Are the events listed on the MLB's website open to everyone? I am very pre-, pre-, pre-published.

Kenna Coltman said...


I'm so sorry I missed you at the Festival - we arrived late (6:30), and I had to cut the kids off before they spent all of my money!

I would absolutely love to come down and help with the event, if there's anything I can do from ~2 hrs away. I went to the Mystery Lovers Bookshop for a book signing this year and fell in love, but the drive is a bit of a deterrent to regular visits!

Hopefully I'll get to meet you next year. I did see Sheila, and Lorraine, and Meredith - it was so neat to get to put faces to names. What a wonderful, wonderful event!


Annette said...

Yep, all events are open. Some of them require reservations and/or tickets which can be purchased online or over the phone. And, you can purchase all your books through Mystery Lovers online, too, with almost completely free shipping!

Okay, Mary Alice, I've done your sales pitch for you.

Kenna, we'll bump into each other one of these days, I'm sure.

Kathleen said...

Books, authors AND pizza! It sounds like a great time!

Irishembi said...

This is TOO weirdly coincidental. I was just thinking about an old friend I met on a True Ghost Tales forum years ago who wrote a book I enjoyed very much entitled San Diego Specters. I even googled John Lamb to see what he is up to these days, not knowing he had moved on to the Teddy Bear mysteries.

Then I stop by your blog on my Reading list and who should I find here?

I must have been meant to read your blog tonight!

Annette said...

You'll probably see and hear more about John here in the next week or so, too. He's one of our special guests at the Pennwriters Conference next weekend.