Me standing next to the one and only Anne Perry at the Love Is Murder conference in Chicago. Wow! During our assigned book signing time, Perry was seated at the table next to Tasha Alexander and me, and it wasn't long before we'd both abandoned our stations and scooted our chairs over to Perry's table to chat. Perry didn't seem to mind me bowing and scraping before her magnificence at all. She's a classy lady and fun to chat with at a conference. I've read nearly all of Perry's historical mysteries, not to mention her Christmas mysteries. I took my favorite hardback book, A CHRISTMAS SECRET, to have her sign and bought DEATH OF A STRANGER as well.
I am now the proud possessor of an Edgar Allen Poe action figure, complete with raven on his shoulder, also purchased in the book room at the Love Is Murder Conference. He peers down at me from atop my desk. Muwahahaha! Where was I? I also purchased several new books, including THE BECOMING by Jeanne Stein, and INTRIGUE IN ITALICS by Gail Wigglesworth. My TBR pile went down by one book read while at the conference and right back up by, um, let's don't go there. I can’t wait to dig into all of the fascinating reads.
Right before the conference, author Jeanne Stein and I were e-introduced by a mutual friend, and we hooked up the night before the festivies began. We had a great time getting to know each other and realizing we have the same problems with our writing. To wit, we are going to keep each other honest about writing rather than checking e-mail before ten AM each day. Of course, it will be a dead giveaway if either of us emails the other before that time.
I enjoyed visiting with Charlaine Harris again and I’m excited that she won a Lovey award for her book. I spent time with Tasha Alexander, Lori Devoti, Deb Baker, Claire Williams, Frankie Bailey, Mary Welk, and Poe sister, Julia Buckley, among others. Another Poe sister, Sharon Wildwind, donated a book to be given away at the banquet. Which I wanted to win and didn’t. Maybe next time.
I moderated a panel with J. A. Konrath, Deb Baker, Luisa Beuhler, and Sandra Balzo on book promotion. Each of the panelists had terrific suggestions for promoting our books without sending readers screaming into the night from, um, promotional overkill. Baker and Balzo have particular audiences they can target, Konrath devotes time to getting to know book sellers, who in turn recommend his books to readers, and Luisa Buehler attracts potential readers to her signing table with unusual items like a casket with a skeleton bride doll inside. Luisa discussed the differences in marketing and promoting, by figuring out where best to focus a writer's efforts. Something I certainly need to work on. And the panelists all agreed that writing a great book is, of course, key. I’m excited to have moderated such a terrific panel and to have appeared on two other panels with some wonderful authors. Barbara D'Amato, Libby Hellman, Luisa Buehler, Austin Comacho, Shane Gericke, and Steve Mandel. (Hope I didn't forget anyone!)
I’m sorry to say that one of the LIM board members, Rob Walker, became extremely ill during the conference and was hospitalized. He’d worked really hard to help plan and promote the conference, and having to miss most of it would be tough on him. My thoughts are with Rob, and I'm happy to be able to report that he’s now out of the hospital and back home. Luisa Buehler had a run-in with a collapsing ceiling in an elevator, but a quick trip to the hospital and she was back at the conference, working hard. Hats off to Rob and Luisa.
LIM is a small, intimate conference (of about 300 people) where you can meet new friends, hook up with old friends, pitch to agents and publishers, appear on panels, sell books, and just plain have fun. Plans are already in full swing for next year’s conference, and if at all possible, I’ll be at Love Is Murder #10 the first weekend of February, 2008. How about you?