Tag: mysterybooks


Authors and Books and Readers, Oh My

 Crime conference season is still in full swing. Thrillerfest takes place in New York City in a couple of weeks. (Yes, I’ll be there!) Bouchercon happens in Florida in September. Dozens of other events are scheduled worldwide between now and November. I counted 17 on Sisters in Crime’s upcoming events calendar. Libraries also kick off their summer reading programs this time of year. They host author events in conjunction with their efforts to encourage people to get out and read. This Saturday, June 30, from 1-3pm, I’ll be at the Dixon Public Library in Dixon, IL as part of their Summer Author Series. Author events and conferences have several things in common—authors, books, and readers. Beyond that, they’re as different as, well, authors, books, and readers. Some feature moderated panels. Several authors answer questions they may or may not have received in advance. Some feature interviews. Someone, usually an author, interviews the featured guest author in front of an audience. Authors read from their works at some events and give prepared speeches at others. Sometimes an author hosts a table. Readers may spend the entire event seated with the table’s host or they may move from table to table and meet several. These events usually involve food. Yum. This weekend’s event at the Dixon Public Library is a meet and greet and Q and A. Readers will ask me questions and I’ll try to answer them. What’s your favorite format for author events?

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  Literary award season is in full swing. We’ve had the Leftys, the Agathas, the Edgars, the Ippys. The Anthonys, the Barrys, and many others will be awarded between now and September to honor excellence in crime writing. But is excellence in crime writing the only thing that’s prize-worthy? This week’s question for my fellow Missdemeanors is, if you could invent your own literary, or any other, award, what would it be and to whom would you award it?      I’m awarding Agatha “Best Adaptive Use of an Ironing Board”   RobinSome mornings lately I feel like there should be a Meerkat Award for successfully coming out of my hidey hole and standing on two feet without collapsing and tumbling over my pack mates. MeCan I nominate myself for the Meerkat Award? TraceeI want to win the Meerkat Award and my focus on qualifying has made it difficult to come up with another suggestion. However…. Wouldn’t it be fun to have awards for best jacket copy? Or author photo (I would definitely keep a young version of myself for decades…..)? Or most deceptive jacket copy? I’m sure there are a few people out there who would like to see an award for book that was panned by reviewers but made multiple best seller lists! Not that these aren’t serious things, but at the same time a bit of potential levity during the presentation ceremonies. MeI like the best jacket copy and most deceptive jacket copy awards. How about an award for most outdated cover photo or photo that looks the least like the author? SusanI love stories about writers who have overcome all sorts of obstacles and rejections and then achieve success. Maybe an award for the most dogged, single-minded, persistent, relentless, determined writer out there. MicheleAt the New England Crime Bake banquet, we now invite anyone attending who has been nominated for, awarded, or received an honor of any nature to join us in a circle of celebration. This is a difficult business and we need to recognize and support one another whenever and wherever we can. I was a finalist in the  Malice Domestic first novel contest three times! I kept remembering one of my grandmother’s sayings. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” TraceeI think that’s a lovely idea! RobinI agree with Tracy, Susan, that’s a great idea. And I like that celebration at the Crime Bake. I also think every one of us – and most people but especially writers & artists – should pass around the Meerkat Award. Wrote some words that weren’t on the page before you got there? You win. Smiled and said “hello” to a stranger? You win. Made yourself a cup of coffee without spilling? You win. Thanked someone else for handing you a cup of coffee? You win. AlisonRobin set the bar too high for me with her Meerkat Award. Best. Award. Idea. Ever.  I’m awarding it to myself today because I made coffee *and* didn’t spill (plus no pack mates were harmed in the process)! TraceeI totally agree with the Meerkat Award. For me it was all over after that.  I may try to find that meerkat show on TV…. we all probably need a little more meerkat in our lives! MeHow about made it until noon before ticking anybody off? Does that win a Meerkat? RobinThat totally wins. Great job! [clumping sounds of meerkat paws applauding]  “Clumping” = combination of clapping and thumpingI think meerkats have become my new spirit animal. PaulaI am in the middle of moving us and my parents into a new big old house (1760) and I think there should be an award for all of us for not killing each other yet. TraceePaula, There’s still time 🙂  But with a house that old there is surely a ghost…. blame it on him/her. MePaula– Gold Meerkat What award would you give? Who deserves it? Comment here or post your prize idea on our Facebook page. And May the Fourth be with you. 

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Which book next?

 I’m fascinated by how people select a new book. I have a few obvious ways myself: books by a favorite author or one written by a friend. Of course, this doesn’t explain why the favorite author was read in the first place. I like in-person recommendations. Particularly from book sellers. They know what I’ve written, therefore the recommendation is about as personalized as you can get. I also fall for book covers. Glancing at my shelves it is possible I am attracted by books with blue covers. This isn’t a scientific assessment, but pretty close. Frightening, really. Is that all it takes to close the deal at the sales counter? Still, I wonder how I found my ‘old favorite’ authors. Elizabeth George and Martha Grimes come to mind. I didn’t start with the first in their respective series; however, at some point I joined the ranks of their followers. What I know for certain is that I didn’t learn about them from reviews (on line or in print) or from a friend or family member. I suspect it was a mixture of luck and the prominence of their books on the store shelf. That is one advantage of a series: a nice long row of titles that draw the eye. Reviews are everywhere today – online newspapers, bloggers, store reviews, reader reviews. I like that there is a discussion about books, but I don’t turn to this for my choices. (How do I know? I never read reviews before purchasing a book. Same with movies but more on that later this week.) I suspect that I am a ‘blink’ buyer. There’s something about the book that appeals to me. Title, cover, or basic premise and I’m in, ready to give it a chance. (A publisher once told me that books with the Eiffel Tower on them sell better. I pretended to be shocked and dismayed, not wanting to admit I fall into that trap EVERY TIME.) I rarely, if ever, read a few pages. I skim the jacket copy. Maybe, after decades of buying many books, my blink reflex knows me better than I do. I purchase the equivalent of a few books every week all year. Do I often make a poor selection? No. I may not read the book right away, but when the time is right, I usually have something on hand that suits my mood and interest. Join the MissDemeanors on Facebook and share how you decide. (And does anyone have a recommendation for me? It doesn’t need to have a blue cover!)

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Connecting With Readers

So, the AMA on Snapchat was fun yesterday. More than thirty readers weighed in with questions asking everything from how I create characters to my personal political views (it’s Twitter, where so much tends to skew Trump. What can you do?). You can check it out here.   In keeping with the social media-centric posts this week, I asked the MissDemeanors to weigh in on their favorite tools were to connect with readers. Here’s what they said.  Susan Breen: I love twitter. I’ve come to the conclusion that I see the world in 140 character bites. I love the whole retweeting thing, which allows me to interact with people I might not otherwise. It’s a sort of living diary, for me. Alexia Gordon: I like Facebook and Instagram as my go-to social media tools. Conferences are how I meet readers face-to-face. Paula Munier: I interact with readers on Facebook and twitter—and that’s fun. But I really love meeting readers (and writers!) in person at conferences and bookstores and library events. Robin Stuart: Twitter is my go-to for online interactions. I’ve tinkered with InstaFaceSnap but have had the most consistent experiences with readers and writers on Twitter. I also agree with Paula. The networking and mingling at conferences and workshops can’t be beat. I meet a surprising number of crime fiction fans at Sisters in Crime and MWA events. Prior to joining the organizations I expected the events to attract only writers. Meeting and hearing from enthusiastic readers is a happy bonus. Another tool that I like (and keep hoping mentions my latest book) is The Skimm. A daily email that summarizes the news for its five million readers, The Skimm also highlights books of interest on Fridays. The newsletter was started by two, now 30-something, NBC News producers for millennials that need to know what’s going on in a nutshell before heading to the office.     

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