Archive for April, 2008

A little poison in your tea, dearie?

This weekend I traveled to Washington DC to attend Malice Domestic, a convention celebrating the traditional mystery. The hotel was jammed with devoted fans and many authors who write the kind of books launched by Agatha Christie, where sex and violence occurs mostly off the page. A poisoned tea party, for example…

Sisters in Crime holds one of its two in-person board meetings before the conference, so as president, I was very busy! Here’s a photo of my fabulous board:

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From left to right, Judy Clemens, Nancy Martin, Marcia Talley, Beth Wasson, Kathy Wall, Donna Andrews, me, Mary Boone, Mary Saums, and Jim Huang. I couldn’t ask for a smarter, more energetic and dedicated group of volunteers!

It’s a great place to wander the halls and chat with favorite writers, who truly are lovely people! Below from left are mystery legends Carolyn Hart, Joanna Carl (AKA Eve Sandstrom), Margaret Maron, and Mary Saums.
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The Agatha awards banquet was held Saturday night, with teapots bestowed on best mystery, best first mystery, best short story, best children’s, and best nonfiction for 2007. Here is a glamorous-looking contingent from the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime, including Lois Greiman (the only mid-westerner), Hank Ryan, Ruth McCarty, Kate Flora, and me. We were delighted to watch Hank win the award for best first mystery for her book Prime Time. Below right she holds the teapot with her proud husband.

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Now back to the keyboard! Roberta

The Mystery of Romance

dsc00180.JPGA couple of my mysterious buddies convinced me to try something new this week–a trip to the Romantic Times convention in Pittsburgh, where the romance readers flock once a year to meet their favorite authors, dress up, and vote for Mr. Romance. Thirteen of us mystery writers banded together to form THE MYSTERY CHIX AND A COUPLE OF DIX (don’t even ask about how we got to that name), and hopefully to convert a few of these fans to mysteries.

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By now, I’ve been to tons of mystery conventions. The days are fairly similar–tracks of panels about writing and publishing and promoting books. Of course one noticeable diversion at RT is the presence of candidates for Mr. Romance 2008 circulating through the halls, and cover models in skimpy tees posing with fans for photos. And the nights–oh my! For someone feeling deprived of Halloween costumes since the onset of middle age, the night-time parties were amazing. Thursday night was the Faery Ball, peopled by gossamer wings, tiaras, and filmy gowns. And Friday brought the vampire ball, with the wings replaced by fangs, and horns, and dripping blood. I swear next time I go to RT, I won’t be traveling with carry-on luggage, because in the meantime, I’ll be scouring the second-hand shops for costumes.

Head on over to Jungle Red Writers later this week for tons of pictures.

Best Thing All Winter

I’m still catching up with the crazy winter I’ve had and found these photosmanitees2.JPG lodged in my camera. This was a totally cool experience–seeing my first ever manatees in Wakulla Springs, Florida.

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A Second Life??

Recently I was invited to appear as a book club guest on the virtual reality site, Second Life. I’d heard about this phenomenon in which participants create a virtual persona and then get involved with virtual families, jobs, activities and more. I was intrigued but skeptical: Honestly I can barely keep up with my first life! The instructions were several pages long and included the warning that people involved with SL do not consider it a game.

I can navigate around the Internet, but I’m no computer nerd. So I had to ask my host, Cybergrrl, to help me with step one: creating my avatar, the virtual me. Decision one: Did I want a realistic avatar or a furry one? As appealing as the furry character sounded, I reasoned that a realistic avatar made more sense if I was thinking about book promotion. So I emailed off a photo and waited for Cybergrrl to work her magic. She informed me that I’d be dressed in “Barracuda Boardroom” attire and that she’d had to purchase a pair of glasses from the Cat Eye Boutique. My curiosity was mounting.

After I’d chosen a name–Roberta Tellig–last names are selected from a list–CG told me to log on. Did I mention that weeks ago I’d been warned to be sure my computer could support the SL software? After a frustrating hour, it occurred to me that I was haplessly clicking on the Second Life website without opening the software. So I clicked on the SL logo and watched the new world open. My avatar–tall, blond, and curvy–was right where my host said she’d be, hands on hips with her back to me. Then the new world froze. And froze again. And again.

After some back and forth, CG persuaded me to try my husband’s computer. Finally I had the pleasure of meeting Roberta Gellig, with her low-cut blouse and cat-eye glasses. robertasavatar.jpg

“Your avatar is a bombshell!” said my husband, peering over my shoulder.

At the appointed time, the attendees appeared in the room. “Roberta, please sit down,” said my host, and told me to click on the chair. I clicked on a stool near a virtual laptop and my avatar sat.

“Roberta, can you sit with us so we can see you? See the chair?” I didn’t. “Roberta, sit.” I sat on another avatar’s lap, on the table, and finally made it to my chair. whew–I could finally take a breath and look around. The walls were decorated with huge posters featuring my real author photo and the cover of PREACHING TO THE CORPSE. And then we had a nice discussion about writing, Sisters in Crime, the advice column mysteries, and life, Second Life that is. CG said the system had a lot of technical problems this week or the attendance would have been much higher–just like a book talk in life number one, only the hitch would have been a snowstorm, or a traffic jam, or a celebrity in town.

I enjoyed the experience, but I have to say, it made my talk at the women’s league lunch at the church downtown seem like a breeze!