Tag Archive for: True Blood

The Generosity of Mystery Authors

by Kay Kendall
The first conference for mystery fans that I attended
was Bouchercon 2011 in St. Louis. Previously I’d only attended writers’
conferences where would-be authors pitched manuscripts to agents and sat at the
feet of those hallowed gods/goddesses called published authors. Bouchercon,
billed as the
World Mystery and
Suspense Conference
,“ was an entirely different breed of cat. I couldn’t
get my mind around what was going on.  
And then I got it! The published mystery authors weren’t there to tell us
how to write, how to sell, or how to win an agent. No, they were there to talk
about their writing and their writing worlds. Once I figured that out, I soaked
up every tiny detail that came my way. And I loved it.

I’m holding Charlaine’s LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS,
 the second Sookie Stackhouse book,
and she holds my debut mystery, DESOLATION ROW. 

The session that stands out, still to this day, was an
afternoon panel of new authors. One man exclaimed his astonishment over the
generosity of mystery writers. He said they supported each other and even him—a
newbie. But he was shocked to discover that mystery writers do so little
backbiting. Then he leaned over and leveled a hard look at us in the rapt
audience. “Poets are not like that,” he said. “I’ve attended meetings of poets
with a relative, and they’re just awful.” The audience howled.
While I can’t comment on poets, I can say from experience
that mystery authors are indeed generous. At Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland I met
two authors who later agreed to blurb my debut mystery, Desolation Row. First,
thriller writer extraordinaire Norb Vonnegut gave key advice that helped me through
final edits. Whenever I need advice from
a seasoned pro, I still turn to Norb. Janet Maslin, influential book review at the
New York Times, calls him “the author of three glittery thrillers about fiscal
malfeasance” in which “he is three for three in his own improbably sexy genre.” 
The second author was Hank Phillippi Ryan, to whom I
was introduced only in passing. Yet brief as that encounter was, this
multi-award winning mystery author agreed to blurb my debut effort when I asked
As well, Stiletto Gang member Linda Rodriguez reached
out to me as an online pal to offer help setting up a bookstore event in the
Kansas City area. (Her writing career began as a poet so she may disagree with
the opinion I quote above.)
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Mystery
authors are a benevolent group. At heart they love the genre we write in and
seem to understand that the success of one does not take away from the others. In
fact, a whole organization has been founded on that principle, the
International Thriller Writers. After attending Bouchercon 2004 in Toronto, ITW
founding members decided to reach down and pull up writers who needed help in
climbing the slippery slope to publication, “providing
opportunities for mentoring, education and
collegiality among thriller authors and industry professionals
A much older organization is the Mystery Writers of America founded in 1945. It underwrites MWA-University, one-day seminars led by
experienced authors who share their how-to advice for a minuscule fee. The session
I attended last weekend in Dallas was, as the under-30s would say, “awesome.” The
attached photo of me with Charlaine Harris was taken at that event. When this
creator of the Sookie Stackhouse series of paranormal mysteries (on which the
HBO series True Blood is based) wished me success like hers, I almost fell
over. In truth, I’d be pleased with one percent of her enormous fan base.

Traditionally the holiday season is when we are encouraged
to be more big-hearted and giving than usual. As I contemplated blogging about generosity, I remembered the mystery authors I’ve been privileged to meet. While I can’t
thank each one individually because they’re too numerous, I can offer this
posting as an ode to them collectively. Both their writing and the generosity
of their spirit serve to inspire me. 

Kay Kendall
To celebrate the conclusion of 2013, the year in which my debut mystery was published, I will give away one copy of Desolation Row to someone who leaves a comment here about the joys of reading mysteries . . . or how you feel about mystery authors . . . or, heck, anything that you think is related! 

Is it Thursday? Already?

Time for me to blog again.

And again, my thoughts are scattered. Just got home from Oklahoma City. I was there for the day to meet with my federal counterparts. The topic was hydrology structures on coal mining sites and the need to correct a conflict in the text of our state regulations. Sometimes figuring out the mystery of environmental regulations that were drafted and passed 30 years ago is impossible, even for a mystery writer.

My new office (remember the move I mentioned a few weeks ago?) is still not finished. All our desks, files, computers, etc. are in storage. My staff and I are working from our homes, vehicles, and another field office located about 50 miles away. Although working at home sounds like fun – for me it’s not. I already have an unorganized mess in my living room involving the next Evelyn David book and the promotion materials for the one published last month. Adding in mining reports, mining mail, and copies of regulations and forms, has pushed me right over the edge. My living room is officially a national disaster area.

Tomorrow morning I will drive 15 miles to the new office space, stand outside the half-finished building, tap my foot and glare at the contractor. Then I’ll head to the post office, pick up the agency mail, date stamp it and log it into a notebook while sitting in the parking lot, then drive home. After some lunch (or a late breakfast), I’ll return phone calls (all our office calls are being forwarded to our Oklahoma City office) and deal with e-mailed mining inspection reports that I have to approve.

Since it might be two more weeks (sigh) before we can move into the new space, I’ve set up a weekly Tuesday meeting with my staff at the Pizza Hut. The meeting conditions are primitive (no buffet except on Fridays – the buffet being another causality of the poor economy) but we’re a hardy bunch. We’ll manage.

It was raining off and on all day. My two hour drive home was grey and long. Since my work routine has been totally destroyed, I’m having trouble keeping track of what day it is. I think the painting is supposed to start tomorrow on the new office. And since tomorrow is my blog day, it must be Thursday, which is also trash day – meaning I need to go outside tonight – in the rain – and drag the trash bin to the curb.

On a positive note, both Evelyn David books are selling well. So well they keep going out of stock at Amazon and Ingrams. This means when I promote the book, 50% of the time the buyer has to wait, which makes both halves of Evelyn David very nervous. Our publisher told us today that we had two choices: sell less books or mentally learn to deal with the “out of stock” issue. I may have to take up some kind of meditation or maybe medication! (Note: Barnes & Noble still copies of both Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake available to ship now.)

I got my latest Amazon order in the mail today. No, I’m not the one buying up all the copies of Murder Takes the Cake! In a mad splurge, I ordered season one of True Blood on dvd and a book recommended by the DorothyL listserve – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. The book looks good! It’s a hardback, yet didn’t come with a dust jacket. Is that a new practice? Or did Amazon just forget to send it to me?

On an unrelated note – buyers beware. I purchased a blackberry curve from T-Mobile. After three months I’m still waiting for my $100 rebate. Several weeks ago, they wrote and asked for another number off the cell phone box. I think this is the point where most people give up, having tossed the box after filling out the rebate form. Not me. I kept everything. It was still in a pile near my desk. I put the additional information in the next day’s mail to T-Mobile. I also kept copies of all the correspondence. I’m going to get that promised rebate! The rest of my life may be out of control – but if necessary I will make getting that rebate my mission in life! Hear that T-Mobile? You’ve been warned!

Next week I’ll blog about something important. Maybe North Korea and those two American journalists that are being held hostage there. Or maybe the economy. Did I mention the state agency I work for just got a 7% budget cut for next year? It seems clear that in Oklahoma the economy is going to get worse, before it gets better.

Nothing seems to come easy anymore. Maybe it never did and I just didn’t notice.

I’m sure tomorrow will be a better day.

Right! At least it will be a different day.

Evelyn David