Ten years ago, as the author of one self-published mystery, Who is Killing Doah’s Deer? and knowing little about either the craft or the business of writing, someone suggested I should go to Love is Murder, the mystery conference in Chicago. I was not convinced. After all, it was going to cost me hundreds of dollars in airfare, hotel and conference registration fees. Besides, it’s cold in Chicago in February. But a friend gave me a bit of advice. If you want to be a real writer, he said, you have to start going to the places that the real writers go. I went. And I’ve been going back ever since.
Love is Murder has become one of my favorite annual destinations. It attracts approximately 200 people, writers and fans alike, mostly from the Midwest. There are wonderful opportunities to network in the panels, in the halls and in the bar. In 2005, I met the acquisitions editor from Five Star, who later purchased the hardcover rights to my first traditionally published mystery, A Minor Case of Murder and then subsequently It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Murder.
In 2005, I also met my current publisher, Intrigue Publishing as a result of Love is Murder. We didn’t meet at the conference, but seven months later at the Baltimore Book Festival. Austin came over and introduced himself because I was wearing a Love is Murder Tee shirt. Nearly ten years later, Intrigue published Death and White Diamonds. So you will understand what I mean about opportunities to network.
This year I spoke on two fascinating panels. Here I am discussing strategies to balance a writing career, a day job and a personal life with Luisa Buehler, J. Michael Major, C.L. Shore, Kelle Z. Riley and Frances McNamara.
Fortunately there are no photos of me in the bar (at least none that I know of). But there may very well be a collaborative novel that will be the result of a late night glass (or two) of scotch. We shall see.
The highlight of the conference is always the awards banquet. Loveys are awarded for the best mysteries published in the previous year, including the Best in Historical Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Police/PI, Suspense, Thriller, Paranormal, as well as Best Short Story, Best First Novel and Best Series.
My congratulations to the 2015 Lovey Award winners – Molly Macrae, Lori Rader-Day, Denise Swanson, Raymond Benson, D.M. Pirrone, Tim Chapman, Zoe Sharp and Annie Rose Alexander. And a big thank you to the Midwest community of mystery writers and fans who decided that Death and White Diamonds was worthy of recognition. I am humbled to be the recipient of the 2015 Lovey Award for Best Thriller.