Friday, January 30, 2009

More from the ALA Conference

I ended up spending four days at the ALA Conference in Denver. Working the Bouchercon booth was a great team of Jim Huang, Boucherson co-chairman, authors Rosemary Harris and Bonnie Ramthun, author Craig Johnson’s wife Judy and librarian Barbara Bibel. Many librarians visited the booth to learn about the Bouchercon Mystery Conference. Wyoming mystery author Craig Johnson was signing at the conference and came by afterwards. He shared a story of driving too fast in Wyoming and being stopped by a state trooper. Fearing the worst, he handed over his driver’s license and was surprised when the trouper recognized him and indicated he had read some of his books. He escaped without a ticket but an admonition: “Mr. Johnson, please drive slower. We’d like you to be around to write some more books.”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ALA Conference in Denver

The last two days I’ve been attending the American Library Association Conference in Denver. I’ve been helping out in the Bouchercon booth, promoting the Bouchercon Conference that will be held in Indianapolis in October. Yesterday, four authors conducted a panel titled Women of Mystery. Erica Spindler who writes suspense/thriller/psychological thrillers described how she combines romance and mystery. Francine Mathews who writes both suspense and historical fiction under different names made the comment that when she’s not writing, she’s not as sane a person. I can identify with that. I’ve had all these ideas swirling around in my head for years. It’s great therapy to get them down on paper. Mary Jane Clark turned journalism into writing mysteries set in the broadcast news world. She mentioned how getting it onto the page is work and then she has a fallow time after a book is completed. She loves having written. I can also identify with that statement. There is a feeling of accomplishment when a novel is completed. Nancy Atherton who writes the Aunt Dimity series told how she is an organic writer, going with no outline and letting the book evolve from her characters. This approach keeps her energy and excitement up during the writing process. As you would expect with four writers, they all have different approaches and experiences but all have produced excellent mystery series.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Open Mic Night

Last Thursday I participated in a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Open Mic Night at the Borders in Flatirons Crossing. Dave Jackson organized the evening of entertainment by local authors and kicked off the event with a rousing guitar and vocal rendition of On The Road Again, intermixed with liver jokes (you remember how much you enjoyed liver as a kid). Betsy Dornbusch read from her vampire short story Kenna’s Song and Linda Berry read from her book Death and the Hubcap, describing a small town character who walks around town with a hubcap in his hands believing that he’s driving a car. Catherine Roy performed a performance art piece called Canary Me about a woman who misinterprets an Italian boyfriend, who rather than asking her to marry him actually suggested they go to the Canary Islands. Chris Devlin demonstrated her vocal and guitar skills with a U2 song. Robin Owens read from her novel Heart Fate. Mike Madigan read from articles he had written to commemorate 150 years of the Rocky Mountain News. One poignant story described the death of Baby Doe Tabor in a Leadville miner’s shanty where she froze to death in 1935. I pitched in with a humorous talk on geezer-lit mysteries. We had an enjoyable evening and provided an eclectic set of entertainment for the group of folks who attended.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kirkus Review for Living With Your Kids Is Murder

I recently received a copy of a Kirkus review for my second geezer-lit novel, Living With Your Kids Is Murder, coming out in April. After hearing about negative reviews from Kirkus for some books, I was very pleased to see this one positive:

A memory-challenged senior drives the police crazy perpetrating what looks like a one-geezer crime spree.

Paul Jacobson (Retirement Homes Are Murder, 2007) is still on the plane from Hawaii when it begins. Waking from a nap, he shoves the guy in the next seat off his shoulder and discovers that Daniel Reynolds, sales rep for Colorado Mountain Retirement Properties, isn't sleeping. He's dead. Too bad Paul can't remember a thing about the murder. His memory resets every time he falls asleep, so if he hadn't found the note he left in his own shirt pocket, he wouldn't even have known he was flying to Denver to move in with his son Denny and daughter-in-law Allison in Boulder. Denver's Detective Hamilton lets him go after questioning, but Boulder's Detective Lavino isn't so lenient, especially after Paul finds the body of Randall Swathers—another Colorado Mountain rep—in the parking lot of the Centennial Community Center. Soon Paul's a regular at the Boulder lockup. He's hauled in on suspicion of bank robbery when he gives a store owner a bill marked from a dye pack, accused by fellow geezer Nate Fisher of cutting down his tree, even fingered for leaving behind dog poop while walking the family pooch. It gets so bad that Paul's prepubescent granddaughter Jennifer volunteers to act as his lawyer, with payment in Hawaiian stuffed toys.

It's hard to beat a team that includes a wisecracking old fart and a straight-talking young sprout, and Befeler's second geezer-lit entry delivers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Both.and not Either/or

Life is full of dichotomies. We face many decisions: chocolate or vanilla, to spend time at work or with our family, to take the turn to the right or left. In Western tradition we become used to these binary choices whereas Eastern tradition embraces polar opposites: each positive has a negative and vice versa, the yin and the yang, you are and you are not. The overarching duality calls for us to be both individuals and members of humanity. Both aspect define our humanness. We all share a commonality, but each individual is unique. Science in the last century has also embraced both/and. It used to be thought that matter or energy existed in one state. Then along came the discovery that light acts like both a particle and a wave. The same dichotomy exists within our lives. We can embrace the opposites and not be restricted by an either/or viewpoint. We can learn to balance both work and family so we’re not sacrificing one for the other. Parents may bring children to work, take work home, set priorities and be successful in both roles. In business people get labeled as visionary or action-oriented. How about being both? How about having a clear vision about where a company is going while taking the steps to make it a reality? Rather than having to be either focused or aware of things around you, how about being both? Like a good firefighter who is concentrating on the fire but also aware of threats around him that may prevent him from quenching the fire. Do you need to either have an imagination or be pragmatic? How about both? How about dreaming up wild ideas and then implementing one with down-to-earth pragmatic steps to make it a reality? What about being either intuitive or logical? How about being both? Make the intuitive leap and then build the bridge, plank by plank that gets from here to there. Do you have to either accept your situation or improve it? No. You can both accept your current situation with a realistic assessment of all its warts, problems and challenges and then take the necessary steps to improve it. Embrace dichotomy. And by the way it doesn’t have to be chocolate or vanilla. You can order a swirl.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Our economy is suffering because people aren’t buying enough stuff. On December 31 my wife, daughter and I took a trip to one of our local malls. They happily shopped while I took my daily walk through the two levels of shops. I looked in the windows and watched all the interesting people strolling by and even made several forays into stores. I’m not a stuff person. When I get into a store, all the stuff overwhelms me and I have this mad desire to be up in the mountains or by the ocean instead of being confronted by shelves of clothes and electronic gadgets. I’m constantly amazed at all the stuff you can buy. Who wants all these things? And when I do need something like a new pair of tennis shoes, I want to go right into the first store, try on the first thing I see, have it fit, pay and get out of the store. Part of this may be a male thing. I read that women relax by browsing through stores. Browsing through stores raises my stress level. I like browsing along mountain trails to relax. So adding to my closet of clothes, buying new electronic toys or lugging home furniture has no appeal to me. Buying books on the other hand, that’s entirely different.