Tag Archive for: Terry Shames

Bouchercon 2015 Redux

By Kay Kendall

I know, I know. You may be asking yourself right now…”What in heck is a Bouchercon?” When I was new to the mystery-writing scene, I asked myself that too. Now I know it’s the world’s largest mystery fan-and-writers conference, held yearly in different cities, and offering one fattening feast for the mystery-lover’s soul!

Actually the full name of this beloved conference is quite a mouthful: Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention. No wonder it is AKA Bouchercon! This yearly event honors Anthony Boucher (pseudonym of William Anthony Parker White, 1911-1968). He was a writer, editor, and critic of science fiction and mystery who became known as the cornerstone of modern mystery analysis. He championed crime-writing greats long before the mainstream literary establishment recognized their talents and remained an indefatigable fan and insightful reviewer of all kinds of crime fiction.  From the 1940s until the end of his life, he reviewed mysteries and science fiction for The New York Times and other US papers. He helped found Mystery Writers of America in 1946 and served as its president in 1951. The Anthony Awards are also named for him and are given out each year at, naturally, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention.

Panel discussions held on a wide variety of topics form the backbone of the conference and are designed to encourage interaction among readers and writers. Typically four or more panels are concurrent, and my heart broke when some of my faves were up against each other at the most recent Bouchercon, held in Raleigh NC October 8-11.

In the last five years I’ve attended four Bouchercons–the first two as an aspiring author and the last two as a published author. At both of these last two cons, I’ve participated on a panel.

This year I moderated a panel on historical mysteries, called The Past Is Never Dead. Author-panelists Joyce Elson Moore, Rosemary Poole-Carter, Deanna Raybourn, and Holly West spoke passionately about the historic periods and characters they write about, and the audience responded enthusiastically. The large room was packed, and no one left. And that fact alone is amazing. Afterwards members of the audience came to tell us how much they enjoyed our talk, and we five left on a high, eager to have a repeat performance at next year’s Bouchercon.

GAYLE LYNDS, queen of spy fiction

Speaking of which–the overall buzz is already high about Bouchercon 2016, to be held in New Orleans September 15-18. The conference hotel is almost filled up, a whole year out, which is almost unheard of.

No doubt next year’s location will be terrific, but the event itself will have a hard time matching this year’s programming. Many famous authors were there, but if forced to pick a favorite panel I’d choose the one about espionage fiction, before and after the Edward Snowden top security breaches. Everyone on this panel had some experience in the spy field, from a former CIA analyst to a US marshall retired. Authors were Gayle Lynds (called the queen of spy fiction), Terry Shames, Marc Cameron, Susan Elia MacNeal, and moderator Mark Greaney. The book I’m writing now has a spy theme so you know I was really enthralled. And if you’ve never attended a Bouchercon before, I encourage you to consider going one of these years. You are guaranteed to be equally enthralled.


Kay Kendall’s historical
mysteries capture the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. Kay’s degrees in Russian history and language
help ground her tales in the Cold War, and her
titles show she’s a Bob
Dylan buff too. DESOLATION ROW (2013) and RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015) are in her
Austin Starr Mystery series. Austin is a 22-year-old Texas bride who ends up on
the frontlines of societal change, learns to cope, and turns amateur sleuth. Kay
lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel
Wills. In her former life as a PR executive, Kay’s projects won international

Ice, Snow, and Being Part of a Caring Community (Part II) by Debra H. Goldstein

In my last blog, I wrote about the caring community created by the twenty-five of us stranded at the YWCA. What could have been a horrible experience became a warm and wonderful time as we all helped each other make it through our unexpected stay.  As I struggle to find my voice and place as an author, I have found that writers also create caring communities.

Whether offering manuscript advice, methods of researching and expressing ideas, or simply how to find one’s way around at a conference, I have observed best-selling authors and peons joining together as a community.  Those who are successful give shout-outs and support to those climbing the ladder – and make sure the platform is wide enough for all to share.

For example, at Malice Domestic 2013, I had the privilege of riding an elevator with Carolyn Hart. I’m a pretty confident person, but as the elevator went up, I stumbled over my words telling “Ms. Hart” how much I enjoyed her books. During the conference, where she was honored with the Amelia Award, she told the audience how her writing career failed take off immediately. In fact, her first few books either were not published or didn’t sell well, but she kept writing. When she became an overnight success, it had been a long night. 

Our paths crossed a number of times during the conference and at the Sisters in Crime breakfast. Ironically, we were in the elevator together again leaving the conference. This time, I congratulated “Carolyn” on her award and we actually laughed about spending the conference in the elevator.

Thinking back on the difference in my behavior during our elevator rides, I realize that the change in my attitude came from being impressed with her writing abilities and with her persistence and willingness to help other writers. Even during the hour interview tied to her award at Malice, she took the time to give a newer writer, Terry Shames, a shout-out. It takes a big person to share one’s limelight with others. Carolyn’s work ethic and her generosity during that conference demonstrated how a little bit of caring behavior enhances the community of writers.

Because of Carolyn Hart’s shout-out, I made it a point to read Terry Shame’s book, A Killing at Cotton Hill.  I loved it.  I’m looking forward to reading her new book, The Last Death of Jack Harbin.

My personal writing journey also reflects an ever-expanding community of generous writers.  2012 IPPY award winning Maze in Blue, a murder mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s originally was published and now will be reissued by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries as a May 2014 book of the month because other writers opened or suggested doors to go through.  Similarly, Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! which appears in the new short story anthology, Mardi Gras Murder, would never have been written nor submitted if another writer hadn’t generously posted the open call for submissions on two listserves.

I am thankful for the community of writers who care enough to help me.  Have you been given or extended a helping hand along the way?

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Debra H. Goldstein’s debut novel, Maze in Blue, received a 2012 IPPY Award.
She writes fiction and non-fiction pieces.  Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! was included in the Mardi Gras Murder short story anthology in February 2014.  A Political Cornucopia was featured in the November 2013 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.  An upcoming issue of Mysterical-E will include her short story The Rabbi’s Wife Stayed Home.