Tag: International Thriller Writers

International Thriller Writers

What's on your bucket list?

 Do I have a bucket list? Not really. I’ve done many things in my life, lived in a number of wonderful places, traveled to amazing destinations. Of course, there are other thing I’d like to do, but the list is in flux and I don’t feel prevented from doing them, it’s more a decision about timing and life balance. That changed when a few weeks ago I realized that I have perhaps missed the underlying meaning of a bucket list. I do have things I’d like to do, but know I won’t. Is that what is on a bucket list? What’s holding me back? Me. (Technically I think I may like the IDEA of doing these things more than the actual experience. No…. as I type these words I think, that’s wrong. I would love them. Okay, one of them might turn out to be a REALLY bad idea. You decide. But the other would be amazing.) The first is to travel the Silk Road. There are probably several ways to do this, however, one is organized by a well-respected travel group as a 47 day journey from China through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey. I don’t need to explain why this would be amazing. Upon review of their material I know that I could handle the basic requirements: decent health and the ability to drive a Range Rover. They state very clearly that they provide clean water throughout the trip (a plus). I’ll skip the other details, which outline what would surely be the most incredible trip of a life time – of anyone’s lifetime really, including Marco Polo’s and he started the whole adventure. (Let’s exclude astronauts from the “anyone’s lifetime” list. They get their own category.) Why am I not signing up to travel the Silk Road? Fear. Geopolitics. When I fly OVER some of these places in a commercial airline I am relieved to note we’ve ascended to 42,000 feet (which I have been assured is above the range of certain missiles). If traveling ABOVE these countries is a questionable notion, then driving on the ground with my American passport, is probably not a good idea. I know that the people there are wonderful as individuals, but….. geopolitics intrude and this trip qualifies as don’t do anything that will get your picture on CNN. Call me chicken.  I have another trip I’d like to make. The Peking Paris Road Rally. Clued in by the old-fashioned name? The Rally is a 8,510 mile, 36 day trip (drive? journey? slog?) across 11 countries from Asia to Europe undertaken in a pre-1975 automobile. China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, and France. Think about it! Technically there are two divisions, pre-1975 and then pre-1945. Seriously? I would have to go pre-1945. Imagine cruising across Mongolia in a 1920s Silver Ghost!Here are the rules. Each team (duo) must carry its own weight, and the organizers mean that literally. Tents, sleeping bags, spares, and supplies must all be loaded onto the rally car itself. (Again, the Silver Ghost seems like an excellent choice. Roomy.) Period attire is encouraged and vehicle modifications are a no-no. As the organizer points out: “Cars must be prepared in a period-style. No alloy-boxes on the back, no modern-looking ski-boxes or roof-top boxes. Appearance matters. Ratchet straps come in black and are preferable to bright blue, but leather straps do the job just as well and are more in keeping with the spirit of the event…. Crews must remember! Prince Borghese is looking down!”Prince Borghese was winner of the inaugural 1907 Peking-to-Paris race—although it’s said his chauffeur did most of the driving. Cleary the man was a stickler for style and authenticity.What’s holding me back? A near total lack of knowledge about cars or engines. I would need to acquire an appropriate car and bring an experienced mechanic as my travel partner (don’t forget that some nights are spent sleeping in the car, or at best in the tent…..choose your partner wisely). On the other hand, maybe I’ll get lucky and someone will want a travel partner and pick me! They can provide their favorite vintage car, do the mechanical part and I will provide support and a willingness to chat, or be silent… or read aloud. I can already drive any vehicle with a clutch – no matter how tricky – and could fit in some pre-travel mechanic’s lessons. Plus, I’m fearless (forget everything I said about the Silk Road trip….it doesn’t apply here). Maybe I should convince the Mystery Writers of America to challenge the International Thriller Writers and sponsor a bunch of cars (with mechanics). Think of all the good stories…. What is on your bucket list? Join the MissDemeanors on Facebook and share!   What is on your bucket list?

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Bite-sized Bouchercon

 I started this post a few days ago. Now I’m sitting in Toronto Pearson International Airport waiting to board my flight back to the U.S. I’m manning the International Thriller Writers’ table at my first Bouchercon, feeling…overwhelmed. This conference is huge. I ran into Hank Phillipi Ryan in the elevator and joked there were more people in the hotel than there were on the streets. 1700 registrants. Wow. 1700 authors, editors, agents, bloggers, reviewers, readers, all gathered to celebrate mystery. Double wow. No danger of not finding enough to do. The opposite. Activities run non-stop from 7:30 am until 11 pm, or later. Hard decisions must be made to choose what to do without overdoing it and making yourself crazy. Try to do everything and, in addition to discovering you’d need to clone yourself to be in multiple places at the same time, you’ll collapse from exhaustion. Here are a few suggestions, based on what worked for me. If you’re on a panel, it’s easy. Start with that. Block out your time slot so you don’t inadvertently schedule yourself to be someplace else while you’re supposed to be on the dias. Dont forget, a 30 minute booksigning follows your panel. Next, find your friends’ (and agent’s and editors) panels and mark those. We members of the mystery community are friends with each other. The only throats we cut are on the page. We support each other. But at Bouchercon, support has to be rationed. At least two of your friends will be on concurrent panels. Attend one friend’s panel and buy the other a drink later to make up for it. You could spend the entire conference going from panel to panel to panel but I advise you not to. Panel fatigue will set in quickly. Break up the routine by volunteering for a shift at a table promoting one of the many writers’ organizations and fan societies represented at Bouchercon: Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and several others. Or volunteer to help Bouchercon itself. The volunteer table lists opportunities to serve. Plus, depending on what you sign up to do, you get to sit for a while and let people come to you. Finally, leave some time for fun. Cocktail and dinner parties abound. Or get away from the conference completely and be a tourist. Experience what your host city has on offer. Fellow Missdemeanor, Susan Breen, and I went on a ghost walk (led by Ryan of The Haunted Walk Toronto) through the Distillery District. We learned a bit of Toronto’s distillery past, discovered that Canadian ghosts are more polite than their American counterparts, and had a free sample of beer at Mill Street Brewery. I became a Fluevog shoe convert and celebrated my shoe-shopping victory with a tasting at Spirit of York distillery (sadly, not available in the US. Yet.) and at Soma chocolate. I also squeezed in a visit to the Guillermo del Toro exhibit, At Home with Monsters, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I marveled at pieces from his apparently endless collection of books, movie memorabilia, paintings, photographs, and sculptures, all related to the people” places, and things that inspired him and accented by his quotations on creativity and belonging (or not). So, those were my tips for navigating Bouchercon. Pick and choose and break it into smaller pieces so it’s easier to wrap your hands, and your brain, around.

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