Monday, November 15, 2010

Who Knew Crime Could Be So Much Fun!

Those who follow this blog know I’ve just recently discovered I am a mystery writer, having chased the romantic dream for more years than I care to remember. I’ve gone to a gazillion romance writers conferences and had a blast at every one of them. Last weekend, I flew to Boston for my very first mystery writers’ conference – the Crime Bake.

OMG!! Those people know how to party!!

Friday started with my flight getting in late. By the time I got a taxi and headed for the hotel, we were right in the middle of Boston rush hour traffic. There were two master classes that I had paid forty bucks each for, and I missed the first one. Bummer! I went to the classroom at the end of the session to see if there were handouts, and the wonderful Jan Brogan gave me ALL her lecture notes! My day was picking up.

And then I went to my second Master Class and learned how to put acting techniques to use in my writing. At the bar afterwards, I met up with Cassy Piccard (from this blog), Rochelle Staub, Pete Morin (all clients of Book Cents) and Lindsay Downs, a fellow writer and daily commenter on this loop. I had already hooked up with Laura Morrigan, a writer friend from Florida who also just discovered she was a mystery writer.

After a few drinks, my agent, Christine Witthohn, and the rest of us moved to a vacant room where we sat around a round table and had a séance. Now, mind you, I’m not a believer – never have been – but I needed to know how it was done for a scene in Book Two. My dear friend, Rochelle, lit three candles, and we had to take off our jewelry as we sat around the table. Seems the spirits don’t like metal!

Unbeknownst to Christine who doesn’t like Ouija boards and stuff like that, Rochelle had downloaded a scary audio on her iPhone and set it to go off ten minutes into the séance. So, we’re all talking to my sister who died several years and it’s getting intense. At the exact precise moment when we waited for my sister to let me know something, the phone went off, and we all cracked up. The laugh was on us, though, as it still had a minute and a half to go before it was supposed to go off. Do do do do……..

We ended up closing down the bar.

Saturday was terrific with agent/editor panels, lunch with Charlain Harris (True Blood and Sookie Stackhouse series) and book signings. Here I am with Charlaine and with Dennis Lehane. OMG! Dennis Lehane of GONE BABY GONE, MYSTIC RIVER, SHUTTER ISLAND and many other books.

On to the Red and Black Ball on Saturday night. Donna Cummings (another BC Babe) drove up to go with us, and we had a blast. A lot of people dressed in their vampire best as there was a contest. Here’s the winner – a Vampire Lobster with my friend Laura who came as a dominatrix.

There was a lovely meal with chocolate volcano cake as desert…..heavenly and very rich. Then the DJ started playing the best music ever and we sang every word. Here’s Rochelle and Cassy doing Sweet Caroline!!

We got a few glasses of wine into Pete and got him out on the dance floor with 4 women (me, Rochelle, Donna and Laura)….and we couldn’t get him back in his chair!! For a lawyer, the guy has some moves.

Here’s the BC gang – me, Pete, Donna, Cassy, Rochelle, and Christine. Don’t we clean up well?

Anyway, my first mystery conference was a roaring success, and I’m ready to send in my check for next year’s event. Kudos to everyone who had a hand in making Crime Bake so great. There were about 350 people there which made it intimate. After going to romance writers conferences where there is a 99% female to male ratio, I was surprised to find about 40% of the attendees were men at the mystery one.

We ended the night in the bar where the senior editor from TOR did a tarot card reading for me. Seems I have a great creative mind but I’m having a problem making a decision about something. When I confessed I was worried that my Berkley editor wouldn’t like Book One of my series, he nonchalantly said, “If she doesn’t like it, send it to me.”

Now that’s my idea of schmoozing!!

And what better way to close out the conference than with Laura and I dancing on a table.

Oh, we closed the bar down again on Saturday night, and talked until after two. I had to leave for the airport at six that morning. Hubby wants to know what the hell those people did to me. Except for watching the Cowboys game yesterday, I slept all day.

You gotta love writers! And Crime!!


Lindsay said...

I can only TOTALLy agree with the marvie Liz about the conference. This was my first also. And it was really nice to see that I wasn't the only guy there. Not that I'm complaining about the female to male ratio at romance conferences.
Both the seance and Tarot card reading were interesting, to say the least or is it the most. I do know that I've become a bit of a believer.
The workshops were great, well run and most of all informative.
I met and made new friends-Laura, Pete, Donna. Touched base with friends I haven't seen in a long time-Liz, Christine, Cassy.
And I'm glad you didn't get any pcx of me.
Like you Liz, I've got my check in hand waiting to sign up for next years conference.
Of course, having a bedroom that I can smoke in sure didn't hurt. I know Liz, My Bad. But what can I say.
Is it time for the next Crime Bake.

Cassy Pickard said...

I'll chime in here, too. CrimeBake is a great conference. This was my second one; I'm still sorry I missed last year's. They cap the attendance and every year it sells out. They also have the fantastic ability to attract big time writers who are so so willing to sit and talk throughout the whole weekend.

Because the conference is small, you really have the sense of getting to know people and always running into old friends.

As Liz said, it was really great. And, I learned some points on writing too!

Tonya Kappes said...

LOVE your pic Liz!! I hear Crime Bake is fantastic. NEXT YEAR you get to sign!!! I'm thinking about going to Malice next year . . .BUT I know what you mean about you didn't know you were a mystery writer. I thought I was a romance writer too, then Misa Ramirez and Heather Webber (two critique partners) were like HELLO!!! MYSTERY WRITER and I love it!!!

petemorin said...

I would like the record to reflect that it does NOT take "a few glasses of wine" to get me on a dance floor. Three women will do it, though.

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, the only reason your picture isn't here is because you hid your face every time you saw a camera!!

And you really do need to give up the cigs!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Cassy, it was great seeing you again and kudos for coming. Loved meeting your hubby - hunky Jon!!

And yes, we will definitely do this conference again.

Liz Lipperman said...

Tonya, I didn't realize you recently "came out" as a mystery writer, too. I'm thinking about Malice next year, too. Right now, I'm still on a Crime Bake high and could be talked into anything that involves parties and writers.

Liz Lipperman said...

Pete, welcome to M & M. I guess since I posted these pictures for the world to see, I no longer have leverage for blackmailing you with them!!

We did have a blast, and kudos to you for having the cojones to stick it out in what was your initiation conference to the BC bunch.

Cassy Pickard said...

Please don't write to Jon and tell him he's the Hubby Hunky Jon. I'll never get him to cook dinner again!

And, Pete, I owe you a thanks for the wine you provided at dinner for me.

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Next spring, when Mme. Moreno and I are celebrating Passover with her hubby's family, we will chant, "Next year in Boston!"

Oh, how we wish we'd been there. Thank you, Liz, for reporting. We both especially loved your accounts of the seance and the tarot reading.

We may just skip this year's birthday appointment with our astrologer and hold out for a seer at Crimebake!

Donna Cummings said...

I had such a great time hanging out with all of you. I wish we could do it more often. :) Such a fun bunch. We even talked about WRITING every once in a while!

Although it's harder to stay away from Liz's camera than I realized--she's got some paparazzi genes in her DNA. LOL

Edie Ramer said...

Looks like you had a blast! Great pics! I especially liked the photo of you and Laura on the table.

Kari Lee Townsend said...


I am for sure going next year, darnit!

Did you get to meet your editor Faith Black?

And, Liz, I do believe you're turning into me with the camera :-) Love it!!!

Anita Clenney said...

What a hoot! Oh I wish I'd been there. I'm glad you had so much fun and that you took pictures to share. Liz, you are the bomb!

Tiffinie Helmer said...

Wow, I'm saving up for next year. I'll just have to catch more fish this summer to make it happen.

Great recap, Liz. They ought to put you on advertising for this thing.

Liz Lipperman said...

Cassy, never never let a man know he's hot. It will come back to bite you in the arse. So, yes, your secret is safe with me.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mozart, I can't wait to meet you in Boston next year. There was a man in the lobby attempting to play some of your songs. Maybe you can show him how it's done.

And don't forget to bring Mary with you!

Liz Lipperman said...

Donna, I love meeting you, too. Christine has a knack for picking fun-loving writers. Wouldn't it be neat if we could all get together one weekend? We could have Christine give a workshop and write it off!!

All in favor...

And for the record, I supplied the camera, but it was my friend, Laura, who was everywhere snapping shots. That's why she's in so few of them.

Thanks, Laura.

Liz Lipperman said...

Edie, Laura is a blast. When I challenged her to dance on the table, she said she'd do it if I would.

All this in front to Christine talking to an editor who was interested in one of my stories. Crap! Bet she thought I was loaded. Wish I could tell her I'd only had half of a Bailey's on ice.

Then again, maybe it's better if she didn't that was normal behavior for me!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Kari, we missed you, too. You, Barbie and Danielle would have livened the party even more.

And no, Faith wasn't there...thank God. (I refer you to me dancing on the table!!)

Yes, you definitely need to go next year.

Liz Lipperman said...

Anita, we missed you, too. I'm still in favor of the BC Babe weekend.

And Kari, NOBODY comes close to you with a camera!! You should turn into your character Samantha with a camera instilled in your body!

Liz Lipperman said...

Ooh, Tiff, shine up that fishing pole. You definitely need to come next year. I'll let everyone know when to register. They only allow so many and they fill up quickly.

There were thriller editors there.

VR Barkowski said...

Crimebake looks amazing! The conference sold out by the time I knew for sure I could attend, but there's always next year.

Great pix BTW. You're all so darn cute! :)

Cassy Pickard said...

Okay, maybe this can be a BC event! But, for those of you who aren't in the BC Family, we are a real friendly group. Join us next year.

Mary Martinez said...

Oh my, now I'm really jealous. It sounds like all of you who were able to go had such a fabulous time. The Crime bake has been on my list of TGT (meaning to go to) conferences for many years. But it's such a bad time of the year for me. Maybe next year. I say that every year.

Donnell said...

Okay, so.... crime does evidently pay, and I am so going next year. Glad you had fun and learned lots! Although, I've been in Boston and wouldn't wish getting stuck in their traffic jams on anyone.

So here's a question for you, Liz. Compared to RWA and RWA Conferences would you say they are a) run about the same, b)it's a totally animal and doesn't apply, c)is there something either of these conferences could learn for each other?

I know, I know, you just got home and I'm going to make you think when you're tired.

Great blog, thanks for the information.

Cassy Pickard said...

Donnell: I'll chime in here. Liz, you say what you think- :-)

CrimeBake is different than RWA. RWA is huge, what? 2000-2500 people. This is about 350. It's in a smallish Hilton- easy to get around. The sense of familiarity is high. At RWA I hunt for a face I recognize; I get lost just trying to find my room; I am exhausted with all of the choices of events.

This is totally smaller. Often there is only one event at a time. The master classes and the simultaneous events do have parallel sessions, but again, there isn't a huge selection. Having said that, I have found it to be plenty.

The real difference for me is the access to friends, about-to-be-new friends, writer stars, and folks you have just put a face to the name you've been emailing for the past year.

My husband joined me this year (that's the hunky hubby Liz joked about, but I happen to agree) and even though he's not a writer, he fully enjoyed his time there.

You might want to go onto their website and check out the schedule ( I hope this helps.

Donnell said...

Cassy, it does! Thank you so much. Glad you had such a great time! As an introvert, I love smaller conferences, although there's nothing as rewarding and special then in participating in the Golden Heart and RITA festivities. I will definitely check out the Crimebake website ;) Thanks again!

Dale Mayer said...

Wow - don't you ladies look like you rocked the house! I'll look at it for next year. You sound like you had such fun!


Marilyn said...

Fun to see all of you--still smiling!


Liz Lipperman said...

V.R., you really did miss a good one. We'll definitely do Crime Bake 2011. My book will be out then and I can really schmooze.

As it was, Sisters in Crime put out a sort of scavenger hunt where you had to get people to sign a great big bingo-like card. Christine was on a panel and mentioned to the packed room that Rochelle and I had books coming out in 2011. After that, we were like rock stars signing that square.

Talk about an ego boost.

Loved my tarot reading, BTW. I'll send you a private email later tonight.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mary, you definitely should plan for this one. It was the bomb.

Liz Lipperman said...

Donnell, Cassy pretty much answered your question, but I will add it is also a great place to place an ad for your book since it will out next year, too. It's reasonable and it appears not only on the website for CrimeBake but also in the printed program. It's really a good bang for the buck.

Check out this year's website and scroll down for ours.

That said, with the exception of my local chapter's Dreamin' in Dallas conference, I have probably gone to my last RWA one only because I get more out of the ones specific to my genre.

Liz Lipperman said...

Dale, we really did rock the house, but it was one of those parties where everyone threw out their inhibitions and partied like it was 1999.

Folks, Dale will return to guest blog next Monday with us, so be sure and come back.

Liz Lipperman said...

Marilyn, you missed a good one. thanks for stopping by.

Rochelle Staab said...

Well. I'm amazed that Liz, Pete, Donna, Cassy, Lindsay, and Laura were coherent enough to contribute this morning - I'm still recovering with a big smile on my face.

Here's a tidbit to keep in mind: Liz is the kid you love to hang out with who dares you to do things you wouldn't normally do and when you do, SHE TAKES PHOTOS.

YMCA is still doing an earworm in my head. How much fun was Crime Bake? Like crime camp with authors, agents, friends and family. It was informative, well-run, and a blast. MWA/NE did a great job. Applause to the committee and thumbs up to the attendees.

The best part was making new friends, meeting web-buddies, and hanging with the BC family in person.

petemorin said...

Since this is the only writers conference I've been to (and only twice), I have no frame of comparison, but just LOOK at those pics of Liz with Charlain Harris and Dennis Lehane! And she only had to stand in line for what, five minutes, maybe!

I walked into the hotel Saturday morning right before the panel with Dennis Lehane and ran into him at the coffee urn. No one else, just us. So I whipped out my personal hardback copy of A Given Day, told him about my experiences as a police union lawyer, and he signed the book, "To Pete - Serve and protect!"

How $%^&$ cool is that?

Donna Caubarreaux said...

It looks like you had a lot of fun, and even got some business done. Very productive. Way to go girl!!!

Laura Morrigan said...

Can I clarify that a corset does not a dominatrix make?
:) Really, Crime Bake was a blast. What a great conference. I came home with a cold (ugh!) but it was worth it!
Great authors, new friends... I'm inspired! Or would be, if I didn't feel like death on a cracker.
Wait, was that a cliche??????
You rock Liz!!

A. J. Pompano said...

Liz, I’m happy that you and the others enjoyed Crime Bake. My wife pointed out the two ladies dancing on the table and I thought that it was great that they were having such a good time. I started over to take a picture, but I was too late. I wish I had known it was you. I wanted to meet you and Cassy but didn’t get a chance. I’ll definitely look for you next year and have you sign a copy of your book.

Ang Pompano

Liz Lipperman said...

Rochelle, let me get something straight here. It was my camera, but it was Laura who took all the pictures. I just got you to do the stupid stuff!!

You guys are all the best.

Liz Lipperman said...

Pete, that's awesome. I find most writers are really generous and truly pay it forward. I found Lehane funny and knowledgeable. Charlaine was a blast.

And it's so true. I only stood in line five minutes!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Donna, we really did have a blast. Next year you should go.

Thanks for stopping by.

Liz Lipperman said...

Laura, as I mentioned in a private email, dominatrix is way more intriguing than just a regular wench.

Folks, she had on a $400 corset that made her waist look like it was 18 inches!!

All she needed was a whip and a jeweled dog collar.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ang, I wish you had come over. I know Cassy and I would have loved to say hello.

As I said in the blog, you guys know how to party!!

I'll definitely be back next year, and my guess is, a lot of the folks reading this will also be there. Do I get a discount for all the advertising????

A. J. Pompano said...

Yes, Liz you certainly are doing a good job in advertising for Crime Bake. I can’t promise a discount, but I can buy you a drink! I wish I had known that was you.