Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love is Murder

I was mentioning this morning about having a case of the grumpies. This is about the time of year when I've taken all I can take of the winter. I have a very passionate disdain for winter to begin with, but after three to four months of snow, cold and darkness I really hate the season. So that's why Love is Murder was such a welcome reprieve. For one weekend I didn't have to worry about shoveling snow or how ugly my gas bill is. Instead I hung out with great writers and wonderful friends at Chicago's Intercontinental Hotel.

I had to know the weekend was going to be great when the first one to greet me was Dally:

Is she not the cutest little bundle of fur you've ever seen? We became fast friends, especially after she was so generous with her kisses. And she loves to snuggle.

I attended a bunch of panels and for me, they just never get old or stale. I don't think I've ever walked out of any panel having not learned at least one new thing about the authors involved.

The very first panel I attended was related to "Writing Fight Scenes." My good friend Tom Schreck was on this panel along with Jamie Freveletti as the moderator. Then I saw for the first time: Jon Land, David Case and Michael Black. Case and Black both have first hand experience in law enforcement and of course Tom is a boxer. Jamie is involved in the martial arts, both in her own practice and as an instructor. The panel discussed their pet peeves about literary fight scenes, their favorite examples and their least favorite examples.

The other session I attended on Friday was Dana Kaye's session on "Spreading Your Marketing Virus" where she shared some excellent tips on how authors can effectively market their books. She included great ideas for both social media and grass roots approaches, emphasizing the idea that you must make yourself known. She also offered up suggestions on how you can be creative and think outside the box with your marketing approaches.

Saturday I made use of the whole day attending sessions all day long. The first panel was called "Agents of Thrills: Not Cops, Not PIs, But Still on the Job for Someone Else." This one included Joe Finder, Andrew Grant, Jon Land, Laura Caldwell and the moderator Austin Camacho. It was lively and fun as the panelists shared information but also joked good-naturedly with each other as well.

The "Movie Mania" panel may have been my favorite panel. The content was enlightening and the panelists were definitely energetic. They included James Strauss, Jon Land, Marcus Sakey, Joe Finder, Hal Ackerman and Raymond Benson as the moderator. James Strauss and Jon Land spoke rather passionately about their negative experiences while Hal Ackerman and Joe Finder were much more positive. Marcus claimed he bribed his way onto the panel and he likes simply associating his name with Tobey Maguire's.

The last panel before lunch dealt with telling a good story versus having a "high concept" plot. Dana Kaye moderated this panel with Marcus Sakey, Andrew Grant, Patrick Hunt and Hal Ackerman. This was my first opportunity to hear Patrick Hunt. He has written a trilogy that deals with a portal that is allowing alien technology to enter Earth. I'm not usually intrigued by content that leans toward sci-fi, but I found this book concept very intriguing.

After lunch I found the "Thrills and Horror: How to Get to the Oh! No!" This panel was moderated by Scarlet Dean and the panelists included Jamie Freveletti, Shane Gericke, Marcus Sakey and F. Paul Wilson. This was another fun panel because the panelists worked well together, shared fun stories and all had great senses of humor. Definitely interesting stories about writing. For example, each writer gets about 200 pages into a book and then starts to feel like they've written crap and want to throw it all out. All the writers, with the exception of Paul Wilson, agreed the second book was the hardest to write. And everyone on this panel, except Jamie, outlines.

I have to admit that I attended the PI vs. Police Procedural to see exactly why they assigned Tom Schreck to it. Tom writes an amateur sleuth. He was joined by David J. Walker, Michael Black and a self-published author named Lee Williams. This panel was moderated by David Case and I was taking notes because Case really did a nice job as moderator, but otherwise I was pretty baffled on the construct of this one.

The final panel I attended was Sunday morning and I'm going to save that panel for it's own post on Friday. I have pictures and video, so we'll give it its own highlight.

Some names that aren't mentioned above in the panel events but who made the weekend great are of course the Jordans. And this weekend I had the chance to hang out with Jen Jordan really for the first time. I wish she were my sister, but at least I get to claim her as my Crimespree family sister. Super wonderful woman. Also Jill Thompson and Brian Azzarello who are fascinating and funny. Ben LeRoy and Alison Janssen from Tyrus Books, more wonderful people I want to add to my immediate family. I didn't get to see Bryan Gruley on a panel, but I always enjoy any chance to see him. What a fun guy. And my bestest roomie who puts up with my constant fangirl, my coughing in my sleep, and waking up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym...Judy Bobalik.

Of course, a conference simply can't be great unless you make new friends. I met Keir Graff and Darwyn Jones. Now I can count myself a richer person!

An all around fun weekend that definitely helped the winter uglies. Thanks for tolerating my ridiculously long post today. Hope the pictures made up for my blathering.

Happy Reading!


bermudaonion February 9, 2011 at 7:39 AM  

What a perfect way to spend a winter weekend!

Naomi Johnson February 9, 2011 at 8:07 AM  

You're a whirlwind! I bet I don't see you more than 5 minutes at B'con. I just move too slow.

Jules36 February 9, 2011 at 8:49 AM  

Thanks for ALL your kind words and reflections on the Love Is Murder conference. Comments such as these make all the year-plus work and planning worthwhile! Hope to see you again in 2012.

Dana Kaye February 9, 2011 at 10:28 AM  

Great recap, Jen. I'm impressed that you got to all those panels and still managed to hang out at the bar afterwards! I'd need a nap!

And if anyone rid you of the winter grumpies, it's Dally :)

Darwyn Jones February 9, 2011 at 10:45 AM  

It was a grand weekend, indeed. See you at Bouchercon St. Louis?

Dorte H February 9, 2011 at 12:20 PM  

I could have used that panel on marketing books :D

Well, following creative writers´ blogs gives you lots of ideas.

Lesa February 9, 2011 at 3:31 PM  

What blathering? That was accurate, informative reporting, Jen! Really enjoyed the comments. Thanks for covering Love Is Murder.

Poncho February 9, 2011 at 8:04 PM  

Seems like you had a blast! I certainly need to find me something like that around here in Mexico.

The good thing is we don't have snow.

Thanks, Jen. Great post!

Jen Forbus February 9, 2011 at 9:07 PM  

Don't count on that Naomi...I'm bringing you everywhere with me!

Dana, I don't want to know that person that can't be cured of the grumpies by Dally. A few kisses and you are under her spell...which I have no problem with, by the way. :-)

Darwyn, YES!! I can't wait to see you Bouchercon if not before.

Thanks all! It was a very fun weekend and I definitely feel rejuvenated. I would still like the snow and cold to move out, but this was definitely a therapeutic weekend.

Naomi Johnson February 9, 2011 at 10:22 PM  

Jen, besides Carolyn and me there are about 6 more people going from the book club here.

Christine February 17, 2011 at 5:59 PM  

Great recap, Jen!

I was thinking the along the same lines as Naomi, particularly in regards to B'con. May need to set camera on "Action" setting if I'm going to get photos of you in St. Louis! ;-) The photobooth may be our only shot, Naomi, of getting a still pic with Ms. Jen.

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