Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bouchercon Book Bag - Sneak Peek

One of the best parts of Bouchercon is the book bags. Here is a stunning sneak peek at the wonderfulness that's starting to arrive for convention attendees. 

California Love: Six Awesome Reasons Why Southern California is Bouchercon-Perfect

By Rachel Howzell Hall

Yeah, yeah, traffic and smog and organic-vegan-gluten-free-blahblahblahs.  You’re not coming to Southern California for that. As an L.A. native, and a three-year former resident of Long Beach, I know why the good folks in the Bouchercon offices are bringing us Los Angeles County for this year’s conference. 

1. Weather. Haven’t you heard? We’re in a drought. Ain’t seen rain since… since…. So paint your toenails! Pack your cargo shorts and that vintage be-dazzled ‘I Love L.A.’ tank top you bought off Etsy two summers ago. It’s cool. You’re cute. You’re in L.A. now.
2. Food. A writer’s gotta eat. So, leave the hotel and venture out. In Long Beach, Hof’s Hut makes these delicious cinnamon- roll pancake things, and the meat on Johnny Reb’s barbecue ribs just fall off the bone. Head north and… what’s that? In N Out? A national treasure. Pink’s Hot Dogs, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles…? Chicken and waffles? Eaten together? Bonus: you can eat all of this glorious food while wearing sandals and sunglasses. (True story: L.L. Cool J sat in the booth behind me at Roscoe’s. He ordered chicken.)
3. The Pacific. Nothing like our ocean. The Atlantic’s nice but our waves are bigger and badder. And we have sea lions! And sharks! And the Queen Mary! And our beaches range from ‘Aah, Paradise’ to ‘OMG, Did You See What Just Happened to That Guy Over There, Is He Okay?!’ Our beaches alone are three Moleskins worth of story ideas.
4. People. So diverse. Everybody’s here. Every color, every body type, every mental capacity. Just… sit somewhere and populate your novel by people-watching. Don’t worry—we’ll ignore you. Cuz we ignore everybody… unless you’re driving too slow on the 405 and then we’ll ride your bumper until you move to the right. Ha ha. Just kidding. Seriously, though. Move to your right.
5. Mysteries. Real-life head-scratchers abound in Southern California. How did that tourist wind up in the hotel’s water tank? Why did that successful movie director jump from the Vincent Thomas Bridge? Who killed the Black Dahlia? What will happen to me if that cop pulls me over? Writers gon’ write, so might as well find inspiration in the real, right?

6. Big. This place is HUGE. With 527 miles of freeway and 382 miles of regular highway, you can drive and drive… and STILL be in Los Angeles County. Live here forever—and never visit 60 percent of it (our unofficial, provincial motto)! Mystery writing is about discovery—and Southern California boasts enough towns and burgs with their own rules and their own cultures for you to never be bored or see the same thing five times.
So. Enjoy the weather. Wiggle your painted toes. Find inspiration on the 405—you’ll be sitting there long enough. Move to the right. Oh, and welcome to the LBC.

RACHEL HOWZELL HALL is a writer/assistant development director at City of Hope, a national leader in cancer research and treatment. She lives in Los Angeles.

Meet Rachel and many other great Forge authors at the hospitality suite on Friday afternoon, where there will be coffee, author signings, and fun giveaways!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Wide World of Mystery

By Mary Vesel White

I didn’t know what to expect from my first mystery convention. I often tell people, after all, that my first novel is a mystery that’s not really a mystery. When I wrote The Qualities of Wood, my idea was to play around with the genre a little, by writing a story with a mystery in it that would end up being about discoveries of another nature. Some called it a literary mystery, so I took the opportunity to dip my toes in the mystery pond by signing up for that first convention. I wondered if I’d feel like a fish out of water, whether I’d be accepted amongst the writers of “true” mysteries. This was a couple of years ago, a gathering much smaller than Bouchercon. But to me, it still felt like a pretty big crowd. It was also the first fan get-together I’d attended. I’d been to several conferences—some of them geared towards aspiring writers, almost all of them inclusive of all types of books. I’d never seen a group of readers gathered to celebrate a certain type of story. Because mystery readers love them some mystery, don’t they? Everywhere I went at that convention, I met readers who were so enthusiastic, so welcoming and curious, I couldn’t help but feel at ease. And most of them read A LOT and not just mystery, but all sorts of things. 

I discovered that mystery didn’t just mean one thing, not at all. In fact, there are so many subgenres, it’s hard to imagine you can ever know all of them. From cozy to historical, from romantic suspense to police procedural, from crime to noir to legal to amateur sleuth, and the endless variations if you decide to mix these sub genres—I discovered the world of mystery is a wide and deep one, and pretty inviting even to someone like me, who had written a literary novel with a mystery in it. I learned so much at that first conference, made new friends and discovered new writers, and I can’t wait to test of the waters of this larger pond, Bouchercon. It’s another first time, but I know there will be room for me, room for all of us. Aside from the panel and signings I’ll be participating in as an author, I imagine it’ll be difficult to plan the rest of my time as a reader, because of the variety of presentations, interviews and panels, and the many, many types of mystery books to learn about. But this is one mystery I’m glad to solve. Counting down to next month, can’t wait!