Monday, September 26, 2016

Bouchercon Recap


Last week I was at the 2016 Bouchercon convention held in New Orleans. I spent 7 days there and on the fourth day I became sick. Anything that happened after that I do not recall as I was in a zombie-like stage following the flow.

I arrived in New Orleans a couple of days before the start of the convention to get in some sightseeing. First on the agenda was a 2-hour highlights tour of New Orleans. We stopped at Willies for our first taste of New Orleans foods eating Chicken Fingers and it was delicious. Then onto our tour where we saw the sights and sounds of New Orleans that included a stop at St. Louis Cemetery #3, a stop in City Park where we had our first taste of beignets amid a thunderstorm and lightening. Then off to tour Katrina and it's aftermath. Our final meal of the day was at Creole House where I had the Taste Of The Bayou which is a combination of bayou traditions: Chicken & Andouille Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffée, Red Beans & Rice and Cajun Jambalaya.

The next day we walked to the Aquarium only to find it closed. Then we took the railroad to Jackson Square. We strolled in several of the stores on our way to Café du Monde. We sat in Jackson Square Park and enjoyed the shade and then headed back to the hotel. We had lunch at Palace Café and for our evening meal, we went to Mimi's for TAPAS. I always wanted to know what it was. I. ATE. DUCK. I also sampled salmon and broccoli, the steak and I ate the grapes from the fig and date dessert.

Tuesday was my day to volunteer, so I helped stack books for the Book Bazaar and was impressed with how it was set-up. Then we took a trip to Central Grocery, home of the Original Muffuletta Sandwich. A traditional-style muffuletta sandwich consists of a muffuletta loaf split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. Then a group of use headed to Napoleon House where I. ATE. ALLIGATOR. It was very gamey but good as I ate all of it while left the regular sausage on my plate.

Wednesday, I went on another on another 2-hour tour, this time St. Louis Cemetery #1, where we saw plenty of mausoleum and shrines. We even saw the tomb that actor Nicholas Cage has built. Then it was off the the BOLO Books soiree where we dined on appetizing snacks and imbibed Lemoncello. A good time was had by all.

Thursday was the first official day of the convention and my panel was at noon. We were given a 3-section room and I was surprised that it filled up as it did. The opening ceremony featured the guest arriving on floats. That was fun.

Saturday I attended Ellen Byron's book launch for Body on the Bayou at Hall-Barnett Gallery where the appetizers were appetizing and the drinks flowing. Another good time was had.


Have you ever attended an author/reader convention?

Friday, September 23, 2016

What I Want from Life

What I Want from Life by Debra H. Goldstein

Do you ever wonder what you want from life? 

Lately, I’ve been in a pensive mood, giving that question a bit of thought. Don’t worry, I’m not thinking about death or aging, but simply being selfish about my own desires. The topic doesn’t require me to delve into the meaning of life, only what I want from it.

 When I started brainstorming a response, I immediately blurted out: “I want my family to be happy, healthy, and prosperous.”  My second answer, after listening to our present political catfights and catching a re-run of Miss Congeniality was “World Peace.” Both were nice comments, but neither addressed the specificity of the question.

So, taking my wishes for my family and the world out of the equation – what do I want?

A successful career? I think that one has been satisfied between my legal career and now following my passion to write, but then again, I don’t write every day and I haven’t made the New York Times bestseller list.  Admittedly, there is room for this goal to be expanded upon, but I’m pretty content knowing two novels, Should Have Played Poker and Maze in Blue, as well as eighteen short stories have been published in the past few years, and that the challenge of making the bigtime is just over the horizon. After all, recently, the mail brought a check for my first sale to Alfred Hitchcock Murder Magazine.

A break to veg and read?  There could always be more time for reading, but according to my Goodreads Challenge tally, I’m ahead of my projected reading schedule. This week alone, I’ve already knocked out Dark Money, the new Harry Potter book/script, and my backlog of periodicals.
Talent without envy of others?  I’m still at the bottom of the learning curve, but there are so many gifted writers out there.  What my friend, TK Thorne, can do with a phrase or an image constantly stops me in my tracks and shows me how elementary my skills are.  Yet, whether it be from TK, Linda Rodriguez, or so many others who have been generous with their time, advice, and patience, I can’t even verbalize how much I’ve gained as a writer and a person. So, yes, I envy their talents, but appreciate them too much for there to be more than a mild form of jealousy.

Happiness? I’ve had my share and it continues to come my way. 

Friends?  I’m blessed in that department, too. I hope all know, even when I’m oblivious or overbooked, they are my lifelines, support, and cheerleaders --- and that it is reciprocal (even if you have to make me stop long enough to sense a need).


So, what do I want out of life?  Probably nothing more than I’ve been given, except maybe
developing a better sense of style. I noticed in this recent picture that the legs of my pants might be a bit short.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Clicking Our Heels – Death Be Not Proud or Coming Back for a 2nd Ride

Because I’m dead tired from being at Bouchercon and on tour with Should Have Played Poker, I thought the only appropriate question for this month’s Clicking Our Heels is “If you could come back for a day as someone else, who would it be?” My answer is simple – anyone who gets to hibernate for a few weeks – Smokey the Bear?  -- Debra H. Goldstein

Jennae M. Phillippe – Aretha Franklin.  I would love to be able to sing like that, and have that kind of presence.  She defined Diva.

Sparkle Abbey – It would be fun to come back as someone’s guardian angel.   (I know I’m not supposed to comment on other people’s quotes….but I’d get in line for these two as my guardian angel…dhg)

Marilyn Meredith – Mary Higgins Clark.  I think she is one of the most caring and friendly big name authors there is.

Bethany Maines – Only a day? Do I get to pick the day? I think I’d like to be Twitch of Magic Mike and So You Think You Can Dance.  It would be amazing to move like that.  https://youtu.be/ybm0bJIWUzs

Linda Rodriguez – I’ve actually never really wanted to be anyone but myself, but perhaps the alternate Linda who made all those different choice that I didn’t make throughout my life.
Juliana Aragon Fatula – Robin Williams remains my favorite actor/comedian.  He had skills that I can only aspire to possess.  He was loved by so many.  I just want to ask him why he chose to take his own life and leave us.

Kay Kendall – Eleanor Roosevelt led an interest life and did remarkable things.  I would like to see what it was like to be her for one day, preferably during the darkest days of World War Two.  I would like to know what it was like at the White House under all that stress.

Paffi Flood – No one, really.  Although I can think of accomplished people who I think I’d like to come back as, but I also know they dealt with sadness and challenges, in ways incomparable to mine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL

by Kay Kendall

Many readers of the Stiletto Gang blog know that Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, was held last weekend in New Orleans. It's an annual gargantuan event that brings together fans, authors, publishers, agents, booksellers, and even critics of crime fiction for a long weekend of learning, awards, and fun. The name honors Anthony Boucher, the distinguished mystery fiction critic, editor, and author. He helped crime fiction gain credibility back when it was considered merely "pulp fiction."

Where do Bouchercon authors hang out? In the book room of course!
 (l-r) Lisa Alber, Barry Lancet, Laura Elvebak, Manning Wolfe, & me Kay Kendall
Naturally, in New Orleans, the entertainment and fun were stellar. Those of us who attended are still marveling at how the good times rolled and the hospitality was rampant, and some of us are just too tired to type...but type I must.

The first Bouchercon took place in 1970 in Santa Monica, California. Since then, Bouchercons have been held in many cities across the United States and in Canada too. In fact next year's event begins in Toronto on October 12, 2017. The fiftieth anniversary event will be held in Dallas, Texas. Thousands of totally volunteer hours go into making each Bouchercon a success--a fond memory to cherish and a shimmering event to attend again in the future.

While on the one hand many writers of crime fiction are deeply introverted, on the other hand most throw caution to the winds and revel in the comradeship of fellow authors and fans when at a Bouchercon. Included here are photographs to convince you of this truth.

Megastars chat--on left David Morrell (papa of Rambo) and Lee Child (dad of Jack Reacher)

My first Bouchercon took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2011. I'm not an introvert, but even I was initially taken aback by the hootin' and hollerin' as friends greeted each other after a year's absence. I expected to remain excluded from that for years. But I was wrong, thank goodness. The mystery crowd is famous for its inclusivity, its friendliness, and its supportiveness.

At the conference in St. Louis an author on his first Bouchercon panel expressed his astonishment. He had expected to see competitiveness and criticism, like he found when attending his wife's professional poetry events, where meanness abounded. The friendliness of Bouchercon amazed and pleased him. That was five years ago, and the kindness and support have only grown and expanded since then.

Writing is a lonely gig. Self-doubt is your constant companion. The worldwide publishing situation is super tough. Meeting up with other authors and readers, however, is a balm to your soul. If you are a crime fiction fan or writer and have never attended a Bouchercon--or a smaller conference perhaps nearer to where you live--I urge you to attend. "Just do it." Friendship, support, well-meant advice, and fun all await you.. It is truly one for all and all for one. We crime authors may write about mayhem and murder, but in real life, we are all (well, say, 99% of us) as gentle as lambs. And so, to close, I'll reference another famous ad slogan--"Life is meant to be good."

~~~~~~~

Kay Kendall’s Austin Starr mysteries <http://www.AustinStarr.com> capture the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. DESOLATION ROW (2013) and RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015) show Austin, a 22-year-old Texas bride, set adrift in a foreign land and on the frontlines of societal change. Austin learns to cope by turning amateur sleuth.