Back from the Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, Maryland, and as usual after a conference, I’m exhausted. It’s great to see friends, talk to readers, sit on panels and sell lots and lots of books. But it’s great to be home, too, where I can rest my voice and my feet and wear my jammies and my fuzzy slippers instead of dressing like a grown-up.
What did I learn at the mystery-focused conference? I’ve been think
ing about that. For what it’s worth, here’s what I picked up:
Book-themed books are big. Thinking about writing a mystery series? This weekend, I met authors who are writing books about libraries, book collectors, literary agencies, you name it. If it’s about books, it’s popular.
E-books are making authors some nice money. Own the rights to an old book? Want to write a new book or a short story? E-books might be the way to go. (That being said, I haven’t put up any of the books I own the rights to yet. Maybe when I’m done writing the book I’m working on.)
Book reading and buying is a subjective thing. We all know this. And I guess that’s what makes publishing so interesting. I talked to readers who HATE certain books. I talked to readers who LOVE those same books. It’s kind of comforting, isn’t it? We don’t have to please everyone all the time. We just have to please the people who like the kinds of books we’re writing.
James A. Garfield is hot. OK, not in the literal sense. The president has been dead for more than one hundred years. But I did a panel on using real people in fiction and since my book "Tomb with a View" featured the ghost of JAG, his name, naturally, came up. It sparked a lively discussion that included a whole lot about the man and I announced at the end of the panel that I think his name was mentioned more in that hour than it had been in the last hundred years. So here’s to my bringing history to life! Even with ghosts.
The Crime & Punishment Museum in DC is very cool. I ducked out on the conference and visited it on Saturday afternoon. Great exhibits on the history of punishment (including Medieval torture–yuck!), a whole exhibit on the mob and Las Vegas, some great police memorabilia, a crime scene that visitors can investigate and an autopsy room that teaches about evidence, dental records, etc. It was great fun, and very interesting. I visited with another mystery writer and at one point (looking at an exhibit about poison) found myself saying nice and loud, "You know, I really need to poison someone. I haven’t done that in a while." Really must watch making those kinds of pronouncements in public!
PS--Shirley, lots of readers asked about you. I reminded them about your new book and told them it was coming out soon!