Posts Tagged ‘Bouchercon’


May 4, 2013

I haven’t been on a vacation since my first mystery novel (A VALLEY TO DIE FOR) was published in 2002.

Until that year, husband John and I went on yearly vacations in August.  The gift/decorating/antique shop where I worked closed for three weeks in August to have cleaning and painting done, and so I could take a vacation.  Since it was August and we were camping–sleeping in the back of our van–we went north for comfort.  We love the ocean, so most frequently headed for a northern coast in the United States or Canada, though we saw quite a bit of the Great Lakes and central Canada as well.  I have wonderful memories of all those vacations.

However, by the time my second novel, MUSIC TO DIE FOR (Ozark Folk Center State Park), had appeared, vacations turned into book research/and/or book promotion trips.  In some ways, these were mini-vacations as well.  Conferences and conventions?  We have seen Austin, TX at a Bouchercon Writers’ Conference, and El Paso at Left Coast Crime.  We fell in love with Omaha over and over during repeated visits to Mayhem in the Midlands, and enjoyed visiting the Washington DC area after a long trip by car to attend Malice Domestic.  We have seen some of  Indiana and Tennessee, several additional locations in Texas, plus Missouri and Kansas and, of course, Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Which brings me to another type of “vacation.”  Book research trips.  Since I site my novels at tourist destinations in the Arkansas Ozarks, most of my research is done on day trips.  One of the more distant exceptions is A TREASURE TO DIE FOR,  set in Hot Springs National Park. That required one two-week vacation stay, and two additional overnight trips. This was all the fault of my major characters, Carrie McCrite and Henry King.  Carrie wanted to attend what was then called an Elderhostel, sited in Hot Springs. (As did her creator, Radine. What a happy coincidence.)

John and I enrolled in the chosen Elderhostel.  Carrie, wanting to lure Henry into attending with her, followed friend Elinor Stack’s advice, and made a meatloaf, since (Elinor assured her) feeding a man meatloaf and oven potatoes was guaranteed to make him say yes to most anything. However, Carrie is no cook, and her road to meatloaf is covered, I hope humorously, in that novel.  The eventual result did the trick, and Henry agreed to go along. ( He may have had regrets later because he ended up in more pain and more danger than even Carrie, though she had trouble enough on her own.)  At the end of the novel, moved by many exterior and interior hazards lived through, he finally asks Carrie to marry him.

Which takes us to A WEDDING TO DIE FOR (The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Eureka Springs, AR), A RIVER TO DIE FOR (Buffalo National River), JOURNEY TO DIE FOR (A&M RR Passenger Excursion Train ride to historic Van Buren, AR), and A FAIR TO DIE FOR (War Eagle Craft fairs and Hobbs State Park).

Coming next year, A GARDEN TO DIE FOR.  Now that doesn’t require a long trip at all.

Radine, at



A new and different look at conventions.

March 12, 2012

When my husband and I were first married, he was expected to attend a national business convention in his field each January, and since these were held in interesting places like Miami, Las Vegas, and New Orleans,  I took my own vacation from work at the same time and went along.

This was back in olden times when business heads were male, therefore convention planners organized day-long events for wives who had come. I  can’t remember what was planned for the women, because I never attended. Though I wasn’t really involved in my husband’s business, I went to the men’s meetings as an observer, sitting silently in the back of enormous meeting rooms full of suits.

Of course there were the usual strategy speakers, discussions of advertising campaigns, and so on, and many were interesting.  But you know what I remember best? The comradery.

During breaks those guys, whether they’d met before or not, greeted, slapped backs, smiled, laughed, joked, and even had semi-serious discussions. No one was a stranger.  Passersby were invited in shouts to come join a group, offer ideas, tell a joke. I stood in corners and watched. It looked like loads of fun.

“It’s a guy thing,” I thought.

Many years later I attended a convention of my own. It was Bouchercon in Austin, Texas, 2002, and I was a newly published mystery author.  This was even bigger than my husband’s long-ago business conventions, and, unexpectedly, I felt bewildered and overwhelmed.  Everyone but me seemed to know a lot of people, and also know exactly where to go and why. A majority of the attendees this time were female, but I was still the observer, watching groups of women I didn’t know chatting, laughing, telling jokes, and having semi-serious business discussions. I walked up to a few groups, got smiles, but stood back as the conversations continued.  What was wrong here?

Was it me? Was I destined to be the always outsider?

At that Bouchercon, yes, I was. I was an introvert, uncertain of protocol. I had no mental guidelines based on previous contacts. In other words, I hadn’t a clue how to be a part of all this comradery!

Did this ever change?  You bet, because I did! At smaller conferences and conventions in my area, I learned.  I swallowed my hesitation, gulped, joined chatting groups, listened, and even dared ask questions or offer ideas.  In no time at all, I was a part of what was happening. I was an “insider.”

Since that time I’ve been to dozens of relatively small writer’s conferences (for learning), and conventions (learning and bookselling to fans), in the central United States where I live. I’ve spoken or appeared on panels at a majority of them. And I’ve loved enjoying sisterhood and brotherhood connections at all of them.  I’ve learned I can go up to folks I’ve never seen in my life and begin a conversation.  I can also have normal conversations (!) with those deemed most famous and favored in my profession without a single blush or hesitation.  At these events, we’re all real folks. We understand each other, and 99% of us are willing to extend a hand offering friendship and help to fellow attendees.

I love it!

In recent years I’ve attended three of the largest writer’s conventions in the world:  Malice Domestic in the Washington, D.C. area, Left Coast Crime when it visited El Paso, and, recently, Bouchercon in St. Louis.

The 2011 St. Louis Bouchercon was huge. Big, rabbit-warren of a hotel, meetings and panels on two floors, other events and conversations  scattered everywhere.  I had a wonderful time, (whether I got lost in the crowds or not),  and would go again in a heartbeat.

What brought me into full-time participation?  Simply understanding that, at these events, no one needs to play the part of a stranger.  If I want to confine myself to the position of observer, I can. But, introvert or not, I now leap into the river of humanity and swim as part of the whole school.  I act like a comrade, therefore I AM ONE, giving and receiving.  And I love it!

Meet me at a conference, or at