What I Loved About 2010
Like so many of my friends and colleagues, I can’t wait for 2010 to vamoose. I’ve already written about the reasons why it was a tough time for me over at Criminal Minds, so I don’t want to revisit that territory. Instead, as the year draws to a close, I’m thinking about the things I’m grateful for. There are actually quite a few:
Publishing my first novel: The fact that Forge published THE DAMAGE DONE was enough to make my year. The reception it got from readers, reviewers, media, and booksellers was beyond what I’d dreamed. I don’t even know where to begin with the thank-yous for this, because so many people have been so kind. I’m grateful to you all.
Attending my first Bouchercon: It was everything I was promised and more. I got to meet so many amazing people (Lauren O’Brien, Ruth Jordan, Judy Bobalik, Eric Beetner, Matthew Funk, Cameron Ashley, Pop Culture Nerd, Russel D. McLean, Greg Bardsley, Chuck Wendig, Dan O’Shea, Jimmy Callaway, Jason Duke…), and got to hang out with wonderful people I’d been lucky enough to meet before (Vince & Rosemarie Keenan, Sophie Littlefield, Rebecca Cantrell, Reed Farrel Coleman, Kathy Ryan, Carla Buckley…). I also got to be on a terrific panel moderated by Jen Forbus — with Brad Parks, R.J. Ellory, and Douglas Corleone — and to moderate a panel of talented writers (L.J. Sellers, Mike Black, Lou Allin, Doc Macomber, and Mike Lawson). I loved every minute and can’t wait for the next Bouchercon. You’ve signed up for St. Louis, right?
Meeting my online friends: 2010 was the year I finally got to put faces to names… and Twitter avatars. Some of this was thanks to my book tour: I finally got to meet Jen Forbus when I went to Pittsburgh, Dave Zeltserman in Boston, “Evil Ray” Latiolais in Houston, Keith Rawson and Lesa Holstine in Scottsdale. Much of it was thanks to Bouchercon (see above). Also, Noircon (finally met the amazing Patti Abbott, the death-march averse Steve Weddle, the reluctantly photogenic Jed Ayres, and the peripatetic Peter Rozovsky; Noircon also let me spend time with Dennis Tafoya, Sarah Weinman, Cameron Ashley… that was great). Some were lured to New York by the Edgars (Jon Jordan, Jennifer Jordan) or by ThrillerFest (Josh Corin, Brad Parks). Whenever, wherever, I felt very lucky to meet so many great people, however criminal.
Receiving surprising acts of kindness: Dan O’Shea running the “Hilary’s Scar” flash fiction challenge, and all of the writers who entered it. Holly West driving me from LA to Huntington Beach for a bookstore event. Jen Forbus and Lauren O’Brien surprising me with the gift of every writer’s dreams: a bouquet of signing pens recommended by different authors. My new friend Liisa in Scottsdale who guided me to gluten-free restaurants there, and my old friend Tuhin who got a Houston friend to list every celiac-friendly restaurant in the Houston area for me. My friend Sue Shapiro hosting a party for me in New York. All of the friends who blogged about THE DAMAGE DONE (Chris F. Holm, Julie Summerell, McDroll, All-Purpose Monkey, B.V Lawson, to name just a few) and who spread word of the book. Steve Weddle running the Ava Gardner/Neil Young flash fiction challenge. Trish Snyder, who got Book City to carry the book, and David Hayes, who got Nicholas Hoare to. People who traveled long distances to make it to an event (Jen Forbus, Ilana Rubel, Ed Mattingly…). Media friends who covered the book, who interviewed me for an article or a blog, or who offered advice. Writers who were very generous with wisdom.
Going to party after party: I really mean “bookstore events,” but the terms are now interchangeable in my mind. I had a fantastic launch party with Joelle Charbonneau and Josh Corin on September 28th, and a lot of fun at every bookstore event this fall. The biggest party was the one in Toronto, at Sleuth of Baker Street. It was a little bit like an episode of “This Is Your Life,” in the best possible way. My reading events with other writers were always fun, though some were more dangerous than others (note that Jeri Westerson brings a sword to her events, including our joint reading in San Mateo, CA). Reading with Todd Ritter in West Chester, PA, was excellent, and arguably safer.
Winning the Spinetingler Award for “Insatiable”: Still psyched about this, and about the fact the story is now in the amazing BEAT TO A PULP: ROUND ONE anthology that David Cranmer and Elaine Ash edited.
Reading with the Thuglit crew: Thuglit is where I got my start in publishing fiction. My first three short stories appeared on the site. I’ve written before about my debt to the Thugs, so it felt like a special honor to have a story, “Son of So Many Tears,” in the third Thuglit anthology, BLOOD, GUTS, & WHISKEY. Reading with Kieran Shea, Justin Porter, Glenn Gray and others in New York was a joy — but the best moment was meeting Todd Robinson, Allison Glasgow, and Baby Thug in person for the first time. Also, Big Daddy Thug can really sing!
Joining the Criminal Minds blog: I always wanted to sail on a pirate ship. Now I’m on one with Kelli Stanley, Rebecca Cantrell, and an incredibly talented crew, all of whom rock.
Discovering great bookstores across North America: The Mystery Bookstore (LA), The Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale), Murder by the Book (Houston), Mystery Lovers Bookshop (Pittsburgh), M Is for Mystery (San Mateo, CA), Chester Country Books & Music (West Chester, PA), Book Revue (Huntington, NY). I can’t say I discovered Sleuth of Baker Street (Toronto), McNally Jackson (NYC), Partners & Crime (NYC), or The Mysterious Bookshop (NYC) this year, but I was reminded of their greatness.
Reading great novels, anthologies, and short stories: I believe there is a list of my favorite 2010 reads going up on another site, and I don’t want to repeat myself. Let me just say that, on the short-fiction front, there are some writers — Chris F. Holm, Steve Weddle, Patti Abbott, Sandra Seamans, Stephen Blackmoore, Nigel Bird — and some publications — Needle, CrimeFactory, and Beat to a Pulp — that never disappoint. Reading their work was definitely one of the year’s pleasures.
My greatest fear with writing a post like this is leaving out names, and I know I’ve left out a bunch with this one. Let me just say how grateful I am to everyone who helped get me through this year. Wishing you all the best for 2011!