"April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom, holiday tables under the trees."
E. Y. Harburg
Well, we're not in Paris, but we are sprucing up Cherrywood Hall West to get ready to have those dinners under the trees and stars! The house is being painted, a new sun awning awaits, and comfy seating with a sparkly firepit are in the works as we prepare for May and the warm summer months!
Before we say au revoir to April, I wanted to share a few of my reflections on this fourth month of the year as it comes to a close--it's been one of excitement, reawakening, plans for new adventures, and a few lessons learned...
Let's start with some extremely, exciting news!
Bibiana Krall and I entered Hearth Fires into the Q1 Firebird Book Awards competition and... we won! Not 1, not 2, but in 3 categories--Paranormal Suspense, Ghosts and Haunted Houses, and Horror Anthologies! We're two for two now with The Haunted Series winning Firebird Awards, and so very grateful!
I also entered Christmas Bizarre, Rikkhe St. Claire: Hygge & Bisous Holiday Mysteries into the competition, winning for Christmas Short Stories, Cozy Mystery Tales, and Historical Mysteries! The Firebird Book Awards support a fantastic, charitable cause---check out the other winners here (and load up your #TBR):
I'm tickled pink (or should I say rose since we're at the vineyard?) to have this latest tale into the editing zone! Blood on the Vines was a long time coming, but I hope it will bring a few summer smiles to the readers. We're chilling the champers for its early June release!
I wanted to share a few comments on the Left Coast Crime conference I attended in Albuquerque earlier this month. I was a first-time attendee to this group and looked forward to finally getting back to a live conference setting. I attended many panel discussions to fuel my little gray cells with creative ideas and found some new cozy authors to follow in the process (a very good thing).
I was also pleased to briefly reconnect with Alexandra Sokoloff, a prize-winning, suspense/thriller author I had the pleasure of meeting many years ago at another conference here in SoCal. If you're interested in taking your books from print to screen, she offers great workshops I'm definitely going to look into. I kid you not, she knows her stuff! If this is of interest to you, check out her links here:
Now for the not so good news. There were a few things about this conference that were disappointing, the first being they did not allow Indie authors to participate as panel members for the discussion topics. I find this appalling really, especially in this day and age. I understand the ancient argument/prejudice of traditionally published authors versus indies and all the "concern" the publishing industry has voiced.
It's time to put this discriminatory argument to rest IMHO. The technology; editing, design, and publishing resources; talent; and professionalism of indie authors has certainly put them on par with many, if not most, of the traditionally published authors. The industry has changed, it's time to get on with new practices and acceptance of emerging talents and let go of the old biases.
Several of the sessions were less than successful because the panel participants (and in one instance, moderator) did not appear to be vetted, and quite frankly, the discussions were painful at times to listen to. A fresh perspective would have been a huge improvement, particularly if you're trying to attract new writers and readers to the group and the future conferences.
If you do plan on attending a conference this year, I'd strongly recommend checking out the venue where the event is to be held. At the time of registration, the hotel site was the Hyatt Regency. One week before the conference, we were told it was no longer a Hyatt property, but now the Clyde Hotel.
Since the hotel changeover was in transition, there was extensive remodeling going on which meant NO services for food at the hotel--including coffee...at a writer's conference! #GASP Elevator service was iffy, cleaning service non-existent (Note to hotels: if you're letting people assemble for a conference, COVID room cleaning policies of the past 2 years should be revised/eliminated), and safety was a concern after dark.
A word of advice to the conference organizers, attendees shell out loads of dough to attend these conferences (airfare, room expense, meals, taxis); make sure the venue can support the meeting. In this case, it did not. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be attending this conference again unless changes are made.
The trip to Albuquerque had its social upside; we had some fantastic meetups with friends and a few meals that were first class, dining experiences. It was good to be out in the world again, and I look forward to attending other conferences for sure. Next time, I'll be doing a bit more homework before I commit... It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:
Time for the next project!
One book 'done', time to start the next! This week I was excited to begin writing one of the stories for Wicked Mist, the 3rd book Bibiana Krall and I will have for The Haunted Series. This tale is titled, Diamonds & Ashes. Set on the central California coast, the story begins as we gather for a funeral...with dark, family secrets and greed out in full force. What can possibly go wrong?
Let's Get Historical: Tropes and Themes!
Authors Amy Reade and Cynthia Raleigh will be leading our next #MurdersWeWrite chat on the Clubhouse app. Join Amy, Cynthia, Bibiana, and me next Sunday, May 1 at 4 PM EDT as we chat about what it takes to write an historical, mystery tale!
A chilling legacy this week from the writers of Twitter...
Author Cathleen Maza, Watched, Soul Shepherds Book 2, 5⭐
Sisters Elise and Sarah have a family legacy they'd hoped had been put to rest, permanently. When an eerie stranger mysteriously appears, they know they must confront him to see what he wants. A decision must be made, impacting the future of the sisters as well as their children. Will they make the right choice? Or...
Author Maza continues the Soul Shepherds series with this frightening tale of a family's legacy that will chill and thrill fans of spooky tales! A highly recommended read...if you dare!
Next up in the reading queue:
Dare I hope?
Speaking of doing travel homework...In January I'll be celebrating the big 6-5 birthday and I'm looking at doing something fun, bigtime. We've found a Viking Ocean cruise that sails from Barcelona to London for eight, glorious days. We're thinking of adding on a few days in London at the end too, staying at the Courthouse Marriot. I spy, with my London Eye, a birthday bash in one of the pods! This story is developing...
Welcome to my world. Enjoy this final week of April friends!
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. I'm thrilled to see what Elon Musk is going to do when he takes over the reins at Twitter. His innovative spirit in the science and technology arena has inspired so many of us. Let's see what he can do with free speech on a public platform... What say you on this latest corporate acquisition? Gemma and Rikkhe approve 💖👑
*Statement courtesy of @ElonMusk on Twitter