Deborah Crombie

I just spent a fun and hectic three days at Bouchercon, a mystery writers and readers conference. I had the treat of meeting in person and getting to spend time with Tasha Alexander, Andrew Grant, Sandra Lee, Scott Brick, Deborah Crombie, and Marcia Talley. (See Facebook for photos). It’s so great to finally meet writers whose books you’ve enjoyed and whom you’ve got to know online. As Tasha said, it seemed like we already knew each other.

I also had the fun of catching up with Candice Proctor (aka C.S. Harris and C.S. Graham) whom I hadn’t seen in years. I met people from my publishing house, Kensington, at a lovely cocktail party Friday night. I had the fun of showing off the Vienna Waltz cover, which I just received. I went to panel discussions on all sorts of writing topics, useful reminders of things like constantly raising the stakes for one’s protagonist as the story progresses, the difference between action and suspense, making villains believable, crafting denouements.

And, of course, I stayed up into the small hours talking with writer friends. To me that’s one of the most fun parts of a conference. so much of the time as writers we work in isolation. It’s so wonderfully energizing to spend concentrated time with a group of fellow writers, to chat about plotting, research, covers, websites, and myriad other topics that only fellow writers seem to understand.

As always seems to happen after a conference, I’m invigorated and excited to get back to writing. And to keep up with all my old and new friends online until the next conference.

What’s your favorite part about conferences, whether writing conferences or in another field? Have you been to Bouchercon or other writers/readers conferences?

Amidst the whirlwind of Bouchercon, I managed to write a new Fraser Correspondence letter from Melanie to Isobel. I loved having my iPad at the conference!

After some typical Bay Area summer days of bone chilling fog, it’s lovely and sunny today. A slight breeze, not too hot. The sort of day that cries out for lolling in a hammock or sitting by the pool with a good book. Of course I’ve spent the day in a whirl of Saturday errands (which included the fun of finding a great summer bag on sale at Nordstrom’s). Now I’m updating my website and I need to write at least 700 more words on my new book and a get a workout in somewhere. Between finishing Vienna Waltz revisions, working on my Waterloo book, Porchlight Theatre’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses production, and the start of the Merola Opera Program (we had our Meet the Merolini event last night, where we met the 2010 Merola artists), my summer so far has been a bit chaotic if fun.

But I’m at least dreaming of lazy summer reading time, and this seemed a good time to post a summer reading list. Most of my suggestions this year are series, perhaps not surprising as I write series myself :-):

The Lady Emily books by Tasha Alexander. Vivid characters, both real historical people and fictional ones. Exotic locales, exciting mysteries, a wonderful ongoing romance, and Lady Emily’s fascinating character development over the series, as she struggles to be independent amid the strictures of Victorian society.

The Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid series by Deborah Crombie. I had the fun of catching up on recently on several books I’d missed in this series. I used them as bribes–write 100 words, and I got to read a section. The page-turning plots kept me up far into the night, while the rich character development made me feel I was visiting old friends. I don’t cry over books often, but these stories brought tears to my eyes (sometimes happy tears) more than once. And though Deb is American, you absolutely feel you’re in contemporary London.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Compelling, surprising, tragic, and ultimately surprisingly hopeful. This historical novel set in 1907 Wisconsin drew me in from the first page, and I found it almost impossible to put down.

The Sebastian St. Cyr books by C.S. Harris. Wonderful series set in Regency London. Each book is its own intricate mystery, but there’s also a fascinating mystery about the hero’s life (and his relationships with his family and romantic interests) that runs through the series and makes one eagerly await the next installment.

The Julia Grey books by Deanna Raybourn. Another series I discovered this year and eagerly devoured. Wonderful Victorian atmosphere, a fascinating ongoing romance, and an intriguing deftly drawn ongoing group of supporting characters in Julia’s vivid, eccentric family.

The Pink Carnation books by Lauren Willig. Napoleonic spies. Adventure. Mystery. Romance. One of the best parts of my New York trip last fall was talking books with Lauren and getting a sneak peek of what’s to come in the series. If you haven’t already discovered Lauren’s books, go find them–now!

What’s on your summer reading list?

I’ve just posted a new letter from Mélanie to Raoul in the Fraser Correspondence. I’m having a lot of fun telling the days after Napoleon’s escape from Elba through my characters’ eyes.

I got a very cool email from editor this week. The Huffington Post does a regular feature on books people are spotted reading in public. This week, Secrets of a Lady was one of the books featured in the column. Someone was spotted reading it on the 6 train in New York.

Even though intellectually one knows people other that one’s friends and family are reading one’s books, it’s often hard to grasp this fact on a visceral level. I have writer friends who’ve seen people reading their books in public, but it doesn’t happen that often. It’s never happened to me. This was as good–better in a way, since it also made for some very nice publicity.

I love the idea of a column based on books people are spotted reading. As a writer, I always notice books people are reading in public. Airplane rides are particularly instructive, as one has a large group of people to observe, many of them with reading matter. In fact, after traveling, my writer friends and I will often analyze what books we saw being read.

If someone spotted me reading it public just now, they’d find me happily immersed in Laurie King’s The God of the Hive. I’m so enjoying reading this book after a year of anticipation from the end of The Language of Bees. In another week, I’d be seen reading Deborah Crombie’s Necessary as Blood (I’ve been having a lot of fun catching up on books of Deb’s that I missed as I anticipate the release of the next one next fall). And then there’s a new Elizabeth George to delve into…

Do you notice what books people are reading in public? What books would someone spot you reading these days?

Be sure to check out the latest Fraser Correspondence addition and let me know what you think of Gisèle’s take on Charles & Mel’s marriage.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, honorary moms, and future moms. And hugs to those of you who don’t have your mom to celebrate with any more. I hope, like me, you have lots of great memories.