Spent the weekend at something called Crimebake. I was given to understand it was only their 3rd such conference. The first had about 60 members; they are now pushing 200. I blame this partially on their marvelous choices for guests. (Besides me, Robert B. Parker AKA the Floor Show was there. I found this amusing because I’ve only attended two mystery-oriented conferences this year — the other was Sleuthfest — and he was GoH at both.)
Arrived Friday night after driving two hours and change through crappy weather wondering how everyone else in New England seems to forget how to do this during our short summer months. To the guy in that SUV that tail-gated me in the slow lane, your momma should teach you some manners. Nice room – albeit far too close to the elevator. *ding!* After watching “Joan of Arcadia,” attendees discovered in pub-like area of hotel. Socializing and mixing occurred. Had nice dinner of filet mignon stuffed with boursin and lobster. The green beans were actually crisp. Not bad for a hotel restaurant.
Saturday morning – was given lovely tote bag with shiny red lobster pictured on it. My collection of convention totes is getting to the ridiculous point. Introduced all around – got to eat very chewy bagel at “continental buffet.” (Though the restaurant was decent; the catering was not. In fact, when we got to lunch, I had to go beg for something else as I simply could not bring myself to eat what they were serving.) Jumped right in to panels. They are still at only a single track of programming level, so one got to hear all the other attendees. Double-edged blade. Heh. Morning panels were “Mystery Writing 101” and “New Kids”. The former expounded on elements required for a decent mystery; the latter on what new writers could expect (or not expect). Much discussion of agent relationships from author p.o.v. Before the afore-mentioned crummy lunch-break, Robert B. Parker took questions, and was generally entertaining with his insights into the writerly life. The afternoon panels included one that was all editors, one that was all agents (I was on this one), and another focusing on short stories. My fellow panelists seemed articulate and well-organized. I think we gave good panel. However, the woman introducing us made a comment about how we looked like ordinary people and didn’t have god-like powers. Neither of these are the case, of course. Heh. Just before evening, there was an hour of editor/agent appointments. It went very fast. Each appointment was only 5 minutes long, and I was booked the full hour. I later told the committee that I thought five minutes was too short and put an unnecessary amount of pressure on both the authors and the agents/editors. I’ve never done them that quickly before. Comments were made comparing it to speed-dating. Afterwards, the committee took all the guests out for a nice dinner-party at a restaurant called Cobblestones. Good, solid American colonial fare. Much good conversation. And I got to sit near Captain Joe of the Maine police force and hear all sorts of great stories.
As I’m now getting tired of summarizing and sounding chatty (I can tell how this day is going to go), I’ll simply list out the Sunday panels:
CSI Boston Style
Not Dead, Only Sleeping: Cold Case Squad
Waking Your Muse
We’re Not Making This Up: True Crime
If I’d Known Then What I Know Now: Writers in Mid-Career
About halfway through the day, the committee let me in on the sad news that Al Blanchard, the president of the New England MWA and the organizer of this convention, had passed away suddenly that morning. Most of the conference attendees didn’t find this out until programming had ended and announcements were being made as they felt he would have wanted them to finish what he started. I only knew him brielfy, but I get the sense that they were right about that. I met Al this spring at Sleuthfest and would likely not have attended Crimebake otherwise. He was a charming person, and an accomplished short story writer. I found myself far more deeply affected than I thought I had a right to be, and the drive home was a very pensive one. The last couple hours of my evening last night, I huddled in my office listening to sad music and trying to tidy up for the work week.
I think I’ll only be getting into things slowly today. I really wish I could take the day off since I worked through the weekend but I’ve far too much to do. I need to finish drafting a contract. I need to write up some editorial notes to clients. I need to keep (finish?) negotiating a deal that’s been on the table since Wednesday. And I need to come up with descriptions for my presentations at a conference in the spring. I also need to mop the kitchen floor.