QUIBBLES & BITS

Denise Dietz

It has come to my attention that my friends don’t know if/when I’m blogging. My first hint was when I received several emails that said: "When are you planning to start blogging, Deni?"

I think the confusion is my AKA, Beatrice Brooks. I posted her photo, rather than mine, because Bea is younger, the camera loves Bea, she’s thinner, and when she doesn’t have a potty mouth, she’s funnier.

So, from now on I’ll blog as Deni Dietz and introduce Bea when she posts.

My Quibbles & Bits today is "Pros and Cons."

This Thursday at 4:45 p.m. I’ll be landing at National Airport, then taking the shuttle to the Crystal Gateway Marriott for a mystery conference called Malice Domestic.  Upon arriving, I’ll hug all the authors and fans I haven’t seen since . . . my last conference.

Why attend a conference at all?

For a midlist author it’s not (and I hate this word) "cost-effective."  I sign lots and lots of books at conferences, but my royalties on book sales will barely cover one and a half good meals, much less airfare and hotel . . . so why go?

The answer, for me, is simple.  I want to put my fingers on the pulse of the fans.  Not just my fans, THE fans.  Sure, I can do that on the ‘net, but I’ll tell you something "funny," and, of course, this is just MY opinion, MY theory.  I belong to several mystery loops that aren’t "genre specific."  They aren’t cozy loops or thriller loops or hard-boiled loops, or stick-it-up-your-jumper loops.  I write three series with amateur sleuths.  I call them "amateur slueth mysteries."

Some people call my books traditional mysteries, some call them whodunits, some call them "witty psychological thrillers" (a designation I made up to sell my first series, upon learning that editors don’t like the word "funny"), and some call them cozies.  But what I’ve noticed is that the people who read books titled "Death By Crochet Hook" (or CHAIN A LAMB CHOP TO THE BED) tend to lurk on mystery loops.  And when they do post, for the most part they sound defensive or apologetic.  I wish I had a dollar for every post that begins: "I usually don’t read woo woo (cozies, humor, cat/dog/parrot mysteries) but . . ."

Years ago, a friend said (slurred), "Denise, why don’t you stop writin’ all that crap an’ write the Great American Novel?"  I said, "Define the Great American Novel."

My answer today might be, "Because there are very few conferences for Great American Novelists, and I desperately need my conference fix."

Last Sunday Jeff Cohen wrote a hilarious, albeit perceptive, blog about conference panels, so I won’t go there.  All I’ll say is that, as the moderator for the "Humor in Mysteries" panel, this Saturday at Malice, I don’t plan to ask, "Where do you get your ideas?" or "How long does it take you to write a book?" or even "Why don’t you stop writing all that crap and write the Great American Novel?"

My questions will be more along the lines of: "As humorous crime writers, could you have a future as a stand-up comic?"  Or: "What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a booksigning?"

Come to think of it, I have a bazillion answers to that one!

So does Bea.

Over and out,
Deni

5 thoughts on “QUIBBLES & BITS

  1. Elaine

    Well, said, Deni! The conferences are one of the most important lifelines writers have to meet with readers and get a pulse of what’s working and what isn’t. It’s also a great chance to connect with friends we only see maybe once or twice a year. But yes-for mid-list pbo writers like us – it isn’t cost effective at all. But, then most readers aren’t aware of that – so it’s a case of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. I’ve just decided to look at the cost of a conference as if it were a vacation. My husband wonders though how many vacations a year I really need. .

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  2. Elaine

    The Pulitzer, you ask? Ha! When those stiff necked judges get over the ‘ghetto genre’ mentality and take a look at some of our great crime writers and realize that social issues are rampant in many of their themes. It could happen. I mean, we can get to the moon, right?

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  3. Rob Gregory Browne

    Raymond Chandler, a writer of — gag — murder mysteries, was always looked down on by the critics. Many now agree that he was one of our greatest American writers.

    If anyone is in doubt about his talent, THE LONG GOODBYE should cure that. I’d certainly classify it as a Great American Novel.

    Reply

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