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Another Night, A Birthday Party
G. Miki Hayden

In 1901, when the New York Yacht Club clubhouse opened-on dry land, between Manhattan's Fifth and Sixth Avenues--not much else was along that stretch of 44th Street. The 3,800 square foot Model Room was built to hold and serve 300 people comfortably, about the number of Mystery Writers of America guests attending tonight's birthday bash.

The event was organized by Marianna Heusler and Renee Gardner, two of the "doers" in the organization-people who have done a little of this and a little of that, from editing the chapter newsletter, to putting on the early symposiums, to being on the New York chapter board, to everything else. With both of them now on the national board, each has taken on further duties as well-Marianna, a young adult author (also previously an Edgar nominee for one of her books), is chair of the MWA's Kids Love a Mystery program, which acknowledges children for reading mysteries. And Renee, whose first, very funny book is about to come out, is the national treasurer.

Why do we do it, do all the work? For the same reason so many people convened at the party. We're all trying to stand out in a stand-out crowd. We writers have a mania to hit it bigger. We want to be paid (more) and we want to be read. We want our work to be enjoyed and ourselves loved and appreciated. As hopeless as it sometimes sounds, it's worth a shot.

First off I ran into Society Hill Playhouse (Philadelphia) producer Deen Kogan, who was happy to say that Jeanie Linders' Menopause, the Musical has been running on her main stage (223 seats) for 30 weeks. Deen's husband Jay was a big mystery fan and after his death, Deen took up the cause, running an annual or biannual Mid Atlantic Mystery Fair. Then one year Deen put on a Bouchercon-an international mystery conference-in Philadelphia and was hooked. She recently put one on in Las Vegas and the Chicago conference in September is all her doing. Bouchercon is a fan event, but about one-third of attendees are the authors. Authors who generally spend most of their time alone with their computers love to convene now and again, such as at Bouchercon. Everyone is already talking about September and you can read the list of registered attendees at the website: http://www.bouchercon.net/.

Coming in from about two and a half months of intermittent traveling was Michele Martinez (Campbell), assistant United States attorney in the Eastern District of New York for eight years, responsible for prosecuting major drug cases. Her Most Wanted, from Morrow/Avon/Harper Audio, came out in February and was a featured alternate for Doubleday, Mystery Guild, and Literary Guild. (Michele's website is www.michelemartinez.com) . The book is about to come out in Spanish, too, under the title Se Busca (HarperCollins, Rayo). Michele, a genuinely nice person, looked lovely too, and admitted she's a bit nervous of going around giving talks in Spanish, afraid that she'll open her mouth and nothing will come out. Michele's trip included the Sleuthfest mystery writers conference in Ft. Lauderdale and the Texas Library Association annual conference. She named all the bookstores she had been to for signings, such as Remember the Alibi Mystery Bookstore in San Antonio; Murder by the Book in Houston; Book 'Em Mysteries in South Pasadena; and more.

One thing authors have to do these days is to cultivate the mystery booksellers, a relationship that's seen as quite important. If an author can't arrange a signing-they cost the stores money for many incidentals, including advertising-then the authors always see if they can simply drop by in order to sign stock. Sometimes the publisher will pay for a tour and sometimes not. HarperCollins paid for part of Michele's trip, she confided.

I stopped and said hi to Chris Aldrich, the business manager and co-owner of Mystery News, dedicated to book reviews, interviews and such-- www.blackravenpress.com/. I always run into Chris at mystery events and we've done panels together. Mystery News, she said, is going strong.

I spoke to Dr. Doug Lyle's agent, Kimberly Cameron of Reece Halsey North in Tiburon, California, here to lend Doug her moral support as his Forensics for Dummies is up for the Best Fact Crime Edgar. We tried to figure out if we knew one another and, if so, from where. I do see her name around everywhere. If we don't know one another, we nearly do.

Then Twist Phelan, the tall blonde author of the Pinnacle Peak Mystery Series from Poisoned Pen Press came along and shook my hand. We've certainly met a million times online, but this was the first I'd met her in person. Twist who is way too young to be a "retired" trial lawyer, nonetheless, is. She's also an endurance athlete and as part of her research for one book bicycled from the Pacific to Atlantic coast in less than four weeks. Go look at Twist and see if she looks retired to you: http://www.twistphelan.com/.

I did so talk to some men this evening: Eric Pace, a former NYTimes reporter, a published mystery author in the 1970s, who is about to start another novel; author of the Treviscoe of Lloyd's historical mystery stories, James Lincoln Warren; Parnell Hall, who writes the Puzzle Lady and Stanley Hastings mysteries; and process server Robert Hoyden, president of the Northwest chapter. And tomorrow I'll try to find a few others to speak to as well. I will report back.


G. Miki Hayden
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December 19, 2014
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