By Lonnie Cruse
Last weekend I attended the Killer Nashville mystery conference where I spoke on two panels and worked as a volunteer under the direction of Beth Terrell (who did a fantastic job of keeping things up and running!) And I schmoozed with the other authors and readers, always fun. Maggie Toussaint and I were "room hostesses" which meant we spent time sprinting up and down the hallway with name plates and water for the authors. She's faster than me, but then, she's younger. I also manned (womaned?) the registration table and info table and hung out with the authors there. Allan Ansorge kept me laughing the entire time. It's all his fault I'm this sick.
Let me just set the record straight here and now. I was falsly accused of dragging people in off the street to check out the book room, forcing them to buy books. Anybody's books. The truth is I only kidnapped two ladies who were headed down the hallway anyhow, to another conference. They were mystery fans who didn't know we were scheduled to be there, and they seemed thrilled to meet authors and buy books. Really.
I'd been battling the sniffles for several days and the hotel was REALLY COLD but I still had a great time. And, more to the point, sold and signed books!
One of the highlights of the conference was lunch with my friend and chauffeur, Debby, and friend and author, Mary Saums (THISTLE AND TWIG, her first in this series, and her newest, which I bought and had her sign, MIGHTY OLD BONES.) We ate at a place with outdoor seating and spent most of the time talking about audio books we each love listening to. I'm the proud owner of a new iPod (bright pink, thank you very much, which color apparently makes my grandson gag) and just learning how to use it.
Another highlight of the conference for me was waltzing into the book room Saturday morning to find an older man hunched over a table in the corner, furiously signing a huge stack of books. On inquiring who he was, I found myself in worshipful distance of Dr. Bill Bass, he of the famous body farm in Tennessee. I've heard of the farm, admired its work, but never thought I'd meet HIM in person. The second he stepped away from the table, I swooped in and yanked his first book about the farm, DEATH'S ACRE off the gigantic stack and dashed to the cash register. Barnes and Noble's CRM, Robbie Bryan, asked if I wanted the book personalized to me. Of course I did, I assured him, but I didn't want to disturb the great man. The great man, on overhearing this, insisted on personalizing it for me. He really is great! And I'm loving the book. Not a dry, dusty, "how to" by any means, it's written with candor and humor. Can't wait to read the second. Dr. Bass also has a mystery series written with Jon Jefferson (Jefferson is also co-author of the non-fictions) under the pen name Jefferson Bass.
Friday morning Forensic Anthropoligist Hugh Berryman gave a facinating program on ancient burial grounds in the Nashville area. As you can see, I'm into this kind of thing. Hog heaven.
Killer Nashville is a terrific small conference (growing each year) so if you have the opportunity, plan to attend next year. And spend time in the book room. You never know who you'll meet there. Bring a jacket . . . in case the temp in the hotel drops below freezing. Again.