Les, the cab driver, gunned it. We were going to Nampa, ID — a town at the other end of the Treasure Valley. The sky was dark and the highway empty, save our car’s lights on the bumpy asphalt. I clutched the whipped cream can and prayed we’d make it in time.
You see, I hadn’t looked closely at the television station’s address. KIVI–Channel 6 (find Heather Skold and Eric Harryman) wasn’t in Boise at all. That’s not something you want to find out at 5:10 a.m. when you’re dressed — complete with make-up — and expected to knock on the security door no later than 5:40.
We made it. I just wish I’d remembered to recharge my digital camera’s battery. You would have seen me grinning with the two fun — and mighty cute — anchors of the morning news show. Instead, you’ll have to trust me on this, I’m big in Boise.
It started with the article in the Idaho Statesman, my mug gracing a feature about the upcoming Murder in the Grove conference. Then came the television interview (including a link on the station’s website to my website). Then, came the radio interview on KBOI (I spoke with Chris Walton).
Wow. That’s a ton of media for any person (and, by extension, the conference) in any town. Still, no one stopped me on the street. I wasn’t asked for my autograph at the Basque (Leku Ona) or Japanese (Koi) restaurants I enjoyed so much.
But, I am taking some credit (along with the hardworking PR folks I’ve hired and UNM Press) for some of the crowd at the mass book signing at the Barnes and Noble, and, maybe, for a registration or two more at the conference.
That’s the thing about public relations though — I’ll never be sure how much any of this coverage affected, and will affect, sales or heighten my visibility in a meaningful way. Yes, I did have a couple of people tell me they came to the signing because they’d seen or heard of me through the paper/tv/radio — but beyond that, well, it remains to be seen.
Still it was a pretty cool ego stroke . . .
About Murder in the Grove
Right now, I’m writing this post after too little sleep and too much mirth, but I wanted to comment on Murder in the Grove.
If you’re looking for a smaller conference in an absolutely wonderful city — this is a good option. MITG has more of a writers’ focus than other cons I’ve attended (it’s similar in this way to the Hillerman Conference in Albuquerque). There are indeed a few nonwriters there– the pure readers — however they’re in the minority. If "fan" conventions are your thing, I’d suggest you stick with events like Bouchercon/Malice/Murder in the Magic City or LCC.
For me, MITG was a great opportunity to hang out with good friends and spend time with authors that I’ve seen at other events but have never really gotten to know well. I also spoke with many future authors and certainly hope to be reading some of their works soon. Spending time with them reminded me how fortunate I am to have a good publisher, a great agent, and two books under my belt so far.
Among the authors with whom I had enlightening/fun conversations were the ever marvelous Deni Dietz. Aside from having a blast with her myself, I admired her willingness and ability as an editor (yep, she does this as well) to encourage new writers. Speaking of encouragement, Jo Grossman is a new agent actively looking for clients. She’s just started on this side of the business but already exhibits an impressive savvy; she’s also nice and wants to treat each and every query with respect. I’ve had enough rejections in my career to know that many agents don’t make this a priority.
I had a fab dinner and drinks at a Tapas restaurant (Tapas Estrella) with Kirk Russell, Con Lehane, and J.D. Rhoades — and am grateful to get to know these three fine authors better. Other highlights in an intense and interesting conference were talking with Twist Phelan, seeing Deborah Donnelly, Ann Parker, Anne Perry, C.J. Box, Carolyn Wheat, Sylvia Hubbard, and sharing the panel stage with Mary Buckham, Kelly Jones, Joanne Pence, Catherine Mulvaney and Denise Swanson.
A word about Boise: This is a great city. I was really surprised at how cosmopolitan it was. I don’t think I’ve eaten better in any town in decades. The downtown area has beautiful art deco buildings — along with older ones — plenty of public art and a very lively feel. I was absolutely impressed.
In all, I’d recommend MITG without hesitation.
Below are a few pix — I forgot to run them through the red-eye filter. Just pretend we all really look this tired . . . we probably are.
Agent Jo Grossman and author/PR pro
Robert Weibezahl mug for the camera.
Deborah Donnelly has been living in Boise for the past five years — but a move might be in her future. She’s posing at the Barnes & Noble event. I’m amazed she’s smiling; she had a horrid sinus infection this weekend.
Meet Valerie Acosta, a private detective and "spy mom."
The goofy lady on the right is me.
l to r. Carolyn Wheat, Twist Phelan (twisting, of course), Con Lehane and J.D. Rhoades
Doesn’t J.D. Rhoades look proud? I think this was just before he went to get us some brownies. If you look directly behind him, you can see Denise Swanson, Twist Phelan and Anne Perry (she’s in green).
This image was taken from the airplane at about 6:45 am. It’s the island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. After flying into Salt Lake City for the first time today, I now understand where this body of water got its name; it’s an astounding geographic feature . . . just gorgeous from 15,000+ feet in the air.