Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Celebrating Readers and Writers

by Paula Gail Benson

KN Court Procedures Panel
The end of August and beginning of September turned out to be a banner time for indulging in my favorite activities -- travel and spending time with authors. Last year, at Killer Nashville, the wonderful Carol Wright proposed that a group of us, including Debra H. Goldstein, Bill Hopkins, and Carol’s husband, Bruce Murphy, present a panel about courtroom procedure at the next KN.

KN Thriller Panel
We all signed on and I planned to go a little early to spend some extra time in the area and have another chance to hear Jeffrey Deaver’s marvelous presentation about writing.

As usual, KN was a terrific experience. I always advise people, if you want to leave a conference with a boost to your writing, then go to Killer Nashville. The event is very open -- facilitating communication among the participants. The encouragement and support comes in welcome waves. The sharing of information about the publishing industry is invaluable as are the discussions about craft and the forensic presentations. I had the privilege of serving on three panels: (1) the court procedure one I mentioned, (2) a consideration of legal and political thrillers, and (3) a conversation among short story writers. Not only did I learn a lot, but I made and renewed some terrific friendships.

KN Short Stories Panel

Also, and I’ve admitted this to KN’s founder Clay Stafford and his lovely wife, Jacqueline, I did something I usually don’t do at a writing conference: I played hooky. On Saturday, I wasn’t scheduled for any panels, so I took the opportunity to explore nearby Franklin, Tennessee, and visit its farmers’ market. It was an amazing experience. Musicians entertained those who purchased their breakfast from food trucks. I met a lady who sold chess pies based on a family recipe. I also had some incredible seafood, fresh from the Gulf.

Franklin, TN, Famers' Market

In the evening, I had dinner at a wonderful French restaurant with Debra H. Goldstein, who I convinced to play hooky with me. Then, we went to Garth Brooks’ late show at the Grand Ole Opry. Watching the audience was as interesting as the performances. Garth was truly magnificent, returning to play a half hour encore.

Garth Brooks
I was preparing to leave Killer Nashville, thinking this has been a great trip, when I noticed that Madeline Miller was appearing at the Decatur Book Festival, a premiere event held each year on Labor Day weekend near Atlanta, Georgia. While the Dragon Con folks storm Georgia’s capitol city, the bibliophiles take over the smaller bedroom community. Between the heat and the crowds, you have to be resilient.

Madeleine Miller
But, if you’ve read Miller’s Song of Achilles and Circe (I blogged about them earlier this year), then you know why I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see my new writing hero.

I arrived early, and can you believe, Miller came into the venue right behind me. I stood gawking like a true fangirl as I heard the event coordinators talking with her about her leaving soon after the presentation to catch a flight. When they asked if she would like to sign books in advance, I spoke up, asking if I could follow, holding up my copies, then babbling, “You’re the reason I’ve come. I love your work!” The most gracious Ms. Miller offered to sign mine on the spot, so I was able to get a seat up front while she signed for others.

Later, I returned to the same venue to hear Karin Slaughter, who drew a crowd of about 400. I had not heard her speak before, but she was captivating and seeing her in Decatur made up for the fact that I wouldn’t be attending Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she was one of the honorees.

Karin Slaughter
Another great advantage to attending the Decatur Book Festival and Killer Nashville was seeing my friends from the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Their booth this year was featured with a listed schedule in the festival program. I also loved having time to catch up with Dorothy McFalls/Dorothy St. James (we always seem to meet outside our resident state) and new friend Roger Johns. Both of them have some great new books recently released. Also, while with Dorothy, I had the opportunity to see Nicole Seitz and hear about her new anthology of memories about Pat Conroy.

Then, on the way home, I got to spend time with two of my favorite retired booksellers, Fran and Don Bush. There’s no better way to enjoy time with readers and authors!

What conferences and festivals have you attended and which ones do you recommend?



Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Busy summer! Thanks for your summary.

On Sunday, I heard Jane Friedman's four hour "The business side of writing" seminar at the Mad Anthony event in Hamilton, Ohio.

In March, I attended Murder and Mayhem in Chicago PLUS Deaver's incomparable "writing genre fiction" seminar.

In October, I'll attend Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis.

Warren Bull said...

Family get-togethers have kept me off the convention trail this year.

Gloria Alden said...

I go to Malice Domestic every year. Last year was my 12th year of attending there. It's my favorite conference. I've been to Bouchercon twice and the one in Boston once. I can't afford going to more than one conference a year so I'm sticking with Malice Domestic where I've met so many writers and friends over the year.

It sounds like you had a very good time there.

KM Rockwood said...

What great adventures!

I've been to several conferences, including Malice Domestic and Bouchercon. Family responsibilities are keeping me away for the time being, but I hope to be able to join everyone soon!

Paula Gail Benson said...

Margaret, I've been reading about Friedman's new book, which sounds terrific. All your events are ones on my "to be attended" list!

Warren, we miss you!

Gloria, I always look forward to seeing you at Malice. It wouldn't be the same without our getting together!

Kathleen, I hope to make B'con next year. It's delightful to see that it will be returning to NOLA in the future!