Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New cylon model spotted at Bouchercon 2011

Since I forgot to take a picture of my lovely panel on Thursday, I spent the second half of Bouchercon stalking them and pouncing.  Here they are at last.

PJ Parrish (for all your adrenalin needs) and Jess Lourey (Minnesota Tourist Board's Public Enemy No1).

Donna Andrews (a hard woman to hate, but if I did hate her it would be because her suggested cure for procrastination is to write more books - seriously).

Sarah Shaber (a glittering example of how to write historical fiction stuffed to the gunnels with perfectly researched details . . . and have none of the research show (would hate her too if I could (but I can't))).

And Sandra Balzo (who else has ever set a snow-bound, Christie-esque locked room mystery . . . in a strip mall?).

Ands as well as these wonderful women, there was -

Michael Ayoob, who won the first novel Edgar for In Search of Mercy (Minotaur Books - yeay!).  How can anyone so young have written a book, you say?  And bear in mind this photo was taken at a party, well after midnight, when all the rest of us could have gone on without make-up as extras in The Name of The Rose.  Well, he only looks young; actually he's fifty-four.

Other kindred spirits included -

Esri Allbritten, another Minotaur author, whose Chihuahua of the Baskervilles, introducing Tripping: a paranormal tour company, (yeah, I know, yet another paranormal tourist chihuahua book; they're worse than vampires) broke my self-imposed B'con rule.  I told myself I wasn't buying anything.   I was noting down names and buying them at home afterwards in The Avid Reader.  But Esri's cracked me.

With Esri is Debi Huff, super-reader, good egg and wise woman.

Doesn't everyone look happy?  For balance, then, here's the tartan contingent on Sunday morning.

Val McDermid, Russel McLean and me, looking miserable, belligerent and hammered (variously) and so covering all ethnic stereotypes between the three. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

hanging out with murdermongers . . .

. . . and loving every minute of it, here at Bouchercon 2011 in St Louis.  It's a rough crowd, but we all look the better for being in this gorgeous old Grand Hotel.

And don't think I'm not working.  Look at all these bags full of books:

Okay, I didn't fill them, or stack them, but look at me balancing on them for a photo!

And yesterday, I spent an hour - a solid hour! - asking questions that interested me of sharp, funny, talented women that I really like.  (Of course, being without identified use so far, I forgot to take a picture of them.)  But Donna Andrews, Sandy Balzo, Jess Lourey, PJ Parrish and Sarah Shaber gave me the easiest job in the world when I moderated their panel. 

And as though that weren't enough toil, today I spent another hour - another solid hour! - in conversation with more of them.  Them and their generosity, and their advice, and their gorgeous accents and their couldn't-make-it-up life stories:

LtoR - Gwen Mayo, an inspiration, Carolyn Wall, wise woman, DM Pirrone, making it look soooo easy, and Charlotte Hinger.

Yeeeeees, Charlotte Hinger, who's given me probably my favourite quote of Bouchercon so far.  She recounted the time when her mother was dying and got to talking about past times.  Another relative asked Charlotte to put a question to the old lady.  "Did Aunt X kill Aunt Y?"  Her  mother answered, "Well . . . I always thought so.  Ask Aunt Z."  (Imagine all of this in the softest, sweetest of Kansas accents.) Charlotte asked Aunt Z who answered: "Charlotte, honey.  We may be murderers but we are not gossips."

Other contenders for Quote of the Conference come from SJ Rozan, talking about her feelings re. the fact that a really good crime novel is often described as transcending the genre:  "they take the cream off the top and then complain that the milk is skimmed!"  Don't you love that?  Doesn't that sum up everything wrong with snootiness and indeed snottiness about genre fiction?

And finally, Todd Ritter, talking about Alfred Hitchcock yesterday, said: "he taught me that it's okay to write entertaining books about murder.  We're not committing it; we're just enjoying it."

Of course, I'm saying nothing about what Val McDermid reported overhearing in the Harrogate Turkish bath, but having spent many steamy, eucalyptus-scented hours in there myself, I believe her.

Nor am I talking about what those two women said they'd like to do with Russel McLean.  Yet.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fruits of the diving season (dumpster, that is).

And a fine season it was too.  Here's the haul.

Trip 1
Steelcase office chair, washing-up basin, wooden rack, rug - all for the porch or potting bench

which brings me to Dumpster-Diver's Rule No.1: any fabric you can wash on a hot setting is fine.

On the second trip, I netted and landed . . .

Trip 2
Bathmat  (DDR1), plate, cutlery, two plant pots. 

This is a good time to mention DD Rule 2: if it looks like someone's grandma gave them something to take to college and now the ungrateful wretch has hoyed it into a skip, take it home for grandmas everywhere.  This pretty old plate with the parrot tulip on it fell under DDR2.

Trip 3
Bookcase (for use as shoerack in scullery), genuine ancient Roman column (wired for a lamp, but destined for the garden), garden table, garden bench, humungous plant pot, Bellotti coffee pot, oven mitt/flannel glass-cloth/paisley tablecloth (all DDR1), 2 glasses, ceramic pot, safety goggles.

Now, the safety goggles almost fall under DDR3: no hats, hairbands, combs, wigs or earrings.  But they looked brand-new and when you're wearing safety goggles you're usually more disgusting than anything I've ever found in a skip so . . .

Trip 4
(which lasted so long it was dark when we returned so the pic of the catch was taken in the garage)
2 chairs (possible DDR2), 2 cache-pots, 2 cushions (DDR1), 2 diner mugs, garden lantern, watering can, wrapping paper, scissors, t-shirt (DDR1) and Bill Clinton and his Family Dressing Dolls.

The t-shirt passed DDR1 and also came under DDR4: good clothes in bad places should be saved.  This top wasn't in the clothes donation box from where it might have gone to Goodwill.  It was in a dumpster with oleander clippings.  And I liked it.  And it fits me.  I don't care.  I do know; I just don't care.

Trip 5
Garden table, enamel frying pan with lid, colander, chip clip (for if I ever open a big bag of crisps and don't finish it (unlikely)), fly-swatter, knitted creature (DDR1 & DDR2) and . . . a green Toile de Jouy armchair.

Now this chair fails DDR1 (boilwash), clearly.  And it would be a stretch to say it qualifies under DDR2 (grandma).  And since you can rest your head against the high back, it probably fails under DDR3 (nits) but . . . it smelled okay, it was for the porch, I love Toile de Jouy, so home it came.  I'll happily tell fastidious friends to let me sit in it instead of them: it's quite incredibly comfy.

So, that's it for Davis Dumpster-Diving 2011.  Favourites?  In third place:

which matches the free-cycled chairs, which face west in the garden.  Somewhere to put feet and cocktails while the sun goes down.

The runner-up has to be (since I bent so many rules for it):

But the winner, by a clear margin, is:

No, I haven't forgotten that this isn't a garden blog.  And no, not the colander.  The winner of the "Great Free Stuff Stakes 2011 is a late entry, not actually out of a dumspter at all, nabbed on the way home yesterday. 

Now DDR5, which should possibly be DDR1, is NO FOOD.  But it doesn't cover road-kill tomatoes. Last night, a lorry took a corner too fast coming out of a field and suddenly the tarmac was a sea of red.  I hopped out with my Wigtown Book Festival book-bag and picked up four pounds; another woman pulled off going in the other direction and filled her boot.  When I passed again this morning there was nothing left but the squished ones.  I roasted them with garlic, chillies, basil and courgettes (of course) from the garden and they're in the freezer now, waiting for a winter's evening when pasta and spicy tomato sauce will remind us of summer and its dumpsters.

And if I see a lorry full of cantaloupes going along at a good lick, I'm following.