Tag Archive for: Jan Burke

How Not to Win Fans

Last week I told about my time at the Valley Authors Event and mentioned that afterwards, several writer friends and I went to dinner together.

One of the conversations was about authors each of us would never buy another book from because of their actions. Everyone had a story.

One told about hearing an author at a conference, enjoying hearing, buying the book and taking it to her to sign. The woman was in the book room at a signing table talking to the author next to her. She took the book, signed it and handed it back without interrupting her conversation or even acknowledging the person who’d bought the book.

Another told about a rather well-known author who won’t even talk to people even those she’s met before.

And yet another, bad-mouthed authors from small presses and blamed them for a smaller turnout than anticipated at a large mystery conference. Hello, small press authors buy books too.

And then there are those who can’t stop talking about their own books and greatness when on a panel, never giving anyone else an opportunity. This is really bad when that person is the moderator.

I’m sure we’ve all had those experiences.

On the other side of the coin, some of the most famous and well-known authors are friendly to everyone.

Years ago I met Mary Higgins Clark at a small mystery conference. Nearly twenty years later I saw her at a cocktail party in New York during Edgar week. I spoke to her and told her where we’d met, she insisted she remembered me and introduced me to her at the time new husband. She also asked how my writing was coming.

Any time I run into Jan Burke she’s as friendly as can be. We once spent a long afternoon in an airport together with our husbands waiting for weather to clear and had a great discussion.

William Kent Krueger is another author who always remembers everyone he’s met, or at least acts like it, and if he really does know you, you’ll probably get a big hug.

Our own Susan McBride is another one who is always friendly–a joy to see at any time.

I’ve also met 1/2 of Evelyn David who is sweet as can be.

I’m heading to San Francisco for Bouchercon tomorrow, I hope I mostly run into friendly authors.

I could name lots more authors who are always charming whenever you have the opportunity to meet them.

Of course I’m not a famous author, but I do hope people perceive me as a friendly one. I honestly love to meet new people and I’m thrilled when they buy one of my books and even more so when they let me know they enjoyed reading it.

Have you got any stories about authors whose books you won’t buy any more because of how they acted? Or how about the other side, authors who make you feel like they are your friend.


Mayhem in the Midlands

Evelyn has given her take on Mayhem, here goes with mine.

What I like best about Mayhem in the Midlands, always held in Omaha on Memorial Day weekend, is the many mystery fans. Oh yes, there are lots of mystery authors but the readers far out number us.

Unfortunately, there was a snafu with the hotel who over-booked the meeting rooms, causing all sorts of problems, especially for the book sellers. It’s never a good idea to upset the booksellers. Because I’ve attended Mayhem eight years in a row, hubby and I have made a slew of friends. One who we always look forward to seeing is Pat Lang, a teacher, resident of Omaha, and serves on the Mayhem committee. Mom and daughter, Sara Weiss, from Texas, like Pat, have also been friends of ours since we started visiting Omaha.

We got to see some of our favorite authors too, like Jan Burke, who is a sweetie, and Twist Phelan, one of my hubby’s favorites–take a peek at her photos on her website and you’ll see why.

Omaha is one of our favorites towns, and Ahmad’s Persian Restaurant, our favorite place to eat. However, we tried some other places this year too including the Bent Fork, an Indian place, and a Brewery–all had wonderful food. Because the hotel where the convention is held is right across from the Old Marketplace, there are lots and lots of shops and wonderful restaurants. (Because we don’t have many good restaurants near us–eating out is a big treat for us.)

While I’m at Mayhem, I make it a point to meet new people–especially readers. After all, how can a reader know about you and your books unless you tell them? I also like to single out people who seem to be all alone and invite them to sit with me and whoever I happen to be with for a meal. I’ve been to cons where I had a hard time meeting people–and I don’t want anyone to feel like I did then.

It was a pleasure to see Evelyn David again and I watched her in action on a panel about the taboo against killing animals in books. She did wonderfully well, up against some formidable authors. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to really visit her as much as I would’ve liked to.

And if I’m able I certainly plan to return to Mayhem in the Midlands.


Mayhem Diary

Mayhem in the Midlands – Friday Morning – May 23, 2008

I arrived in Omaha, Nebraska yesterday evening. Had an uneventful drive from Muskogee, Oklahoma – 450 miles give or take. Rented a car with good gas mileage for the trip (my old Ford Explorer is a heavy gas drinker and is better left in the driveway for now). I hope gas prices don’t double before I leave on Sunday.

The Omaha Public Library puts on a great event. I attended last year and really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and well-coordinated conference. Mayhem in the Midlands is held in the Embassy Suites – Downtown. The hotel staff is friendly and very helpful with dealing with everything from internet connections on my laptop to helping me get all my luggage and important “stuff” from the car to the room. Couldn’t ask for a nicer location.

The first panels start at 9:00 am. I’m hoping to get my act together and sit in on a few (several dealing with crime lab information and analysis) before my panel at 3:00 pm – Casting Call: Creating Real Characters.

More later. Right now I need some breakfast – or at least coffee. I also need to check out the silent auction baskets (Evelyn David donated one) and leave some bookmarks at the bookstore.

Mayhem in the Midlands – Friday Evening – May 23, 2008

Just got back to my hotel room. Ready to kick off my shoes and drink a Pepsi One (I brought some from home and loaded the hotel room refrigerator.)

This year Mayhem is doing something a little different by running a series of panels concerning “real life” crime labs. The first panel I attended was entitled, “Crime Lab/Crime Scene: Behind the Scene, the Real Crime Scene.” Jan Burke (author of the wonderful Irene Kelly mystery series) and Chicago author Alex Kava interviewed David Kofoed, the head of the Douglas County Crime Lab. He talked about processing a scene and how what he and his team do that is different from the tv CSI show. It was very interesting to hear how his job has changed since he began in the early 1980s. DNA is a big factor now, but because of the expense and backlog for testing, much of the best crime scene analysis is done with photography, blood splatter analysis, and meticulous observation and documentation of every detail of a crime scene.

The second panel I attended was entitled, “Crime Lab/Crime Scene: Inside a Real Case File: The Jessica O’Grady Case.” Leigh Ann Retelsdorf, Douglas County Attorney and Prosecutor, and Dave Kofoed gave a presentation of a real Omaha case where the victim’s body was never found but they were still able to get a murder conviction. It was a fascinating look at a real crime scene and how it was processed. They used a power-point presentation with actual photographs of the crime scene. I learned a lot about blood splatter analysis and building a murder case.

At 3:00 pm I sat on the panel: “Creating Real Characters.” I spoke about Murder Off the Books and the characters in Evelyn David’s fictional world. My co-panelists were: Craig Johnson and Debra C. Thomas. Suzanne Arruda moderated. Craig Johnson writes the Sheriff Walt Longmire novels. His latest book Another Man’s Moccasins will be released by Viking Press on May 29. Debra C. Thomas writes short stories that have been published in Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine. Suzanne Arruda (a former zookeeper and science teacher turned writer) is the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series. Her books are set in Post World War I Africa.

The panel was informal and fun. The audience asked lots of great questions. After the panel, I autographed copies of Murder Off the Books and answered questions about when the sequel would be published. Right now, we’re hoping for fall 2008.

Star Watching: While going to and from the panels I spotted Charlaine Harris, Jan Burke, Chris Grabenstein, and two of the nicest women you’ll ever hope to meet – Honora Finkelstein and Susan Smily (co-authors of The Chef Who Died Sautéing). I also caught up with fellow Stiletto Gang blog sister, Marilyn Meredith. She and her husband always look like they are having a good time!

Tomorrow I’m on another panel – “Pet Peeves: Killing Animals vs. Killing People in Mysteries.” Should be interesting!

Stay tuned.

Evelyn David