Thursday, December 25, 2014

Looking Back Over 2014

The end of another year is approaching. This is the time to celebrate accomplishments and to anticipate new beginnings.

Personally, I am grateful to bounce back after a heart attack in September of 2013. I’m fully functioning with no permanent damage. I’m thankful for my wife, three children, four grandchildren and good friends.

In the writing world, the sixth book in my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, Nursing Homes Are Murder, was published. I’m looking ahead to two new published books in 2015: Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse in January and Murder on the Switzerland Trail in September, and a year of new writing adventures.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Family Gatherings for the Holiday Season

We’re fortunate this year to be able to see all of our family over the holiday season. Since we have kids and grandkids living in other parts of the country, we don’t always see the whole clan.

We celebrated an early Thanksgiving when our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids came to visit. Then we’ll see our daughter and her boyfriend this month. Between Christmas and New Years our other son and his family will be here.

All in all a good season. Best holiday wishes to everyone.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Writers Conferences and Fan Conferences

I attend two different types of conferences: writers conferences and fan conferences. Writers conferences provide an opportunity to improve writing craft, meet agents and editors and learn how to promote books. Fan conferences focus on the readers of a specific genre, in my case, mysteries.

In Colorado I have attended four excellent writers conferences: The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold Conference, The Pikes Peak Writers Conference, The Northern Colorado Writers Conference and the Castle Rock Writers Conference. These are one to three day eventss. Early on, I paid most attention to the workshops on improving writing craft: plot, character development, setting, show don’t tell. Over time I started attending more panels on how to pitch to agents and editors and how to sell your manuscript. Finally, I graduated to sessions on promoting a book. I still go to at least one writers conference a year, often on the faculty to teach one or more workshops, but I also attend as many workshops as possible. I find it important to continue to improve my writing skills so I always sit in on a number of sessions on writing craft. I’m most loyal to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference because I sold my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, as a result of a pitch session to Deni Dietz of Five Star at the 2005 conference.
Fan conferences focus on the readers and are enjoyable because, as a writer, I have a chance to mingle with other mystery writers and fans who are enthusiastic about all flavors of mysteries. I go to at least one of these a year and have attended Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime and Malice Domestic. At Left Coast Crime this coming March I will again host the Meet the New Authors Breakfast, I have particularly enjoyed moderating this event because I have an opportunity to introduce newly published authors. I’ve been doing this since 2008, and it’s great to follow the careers of emerging authors.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stalag IV-B and the Bombing of Dresden

Stalag IV-B was one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in Germany during World War II. In early 1945 two prisoners held there were Kurt Vonnegut and my friend, Ed, whose biography I’m writing. A few months ago, I listened to the audio book edition of Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut’s book about time travel and the bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut survived the bombing because he was in the basement of a slaughterhouse while on a work detail. This morning I watched the movie that I had ordered through Netflix.

The reason I returned to Slaughterhouse Five was that Ed was in Stalag IV-B at the time of the Dresden bombing. He described how he could see flashes in the sky but couldn’t hear the sound of explosions, being approximately thirty miles away. To put this distance in perspective, I live in Boulder which is approximately that distance from Denver. At ninety-five years of age, Ed is a vital man with a sound memory of past events. He mentioned that one of his fellow prisoners commented, “Oh, boy, is Jerry getting it tonight.” Only later did he learn of the immense destruction to Dresden as a result of the bombing.