Monday, November 10, 2014

New England Crime Bake 2014

This past weekend at Crime Bake was the best so far! Every November for the past five years, I've driven with my friend Dianne to Dedham, MA for the Crime Bake weekend, but we both agreed that this conference outdid the others. The guest author was Craig Johnson.

For all you fans familiar with the Longmire series, its author Craig Johnson does the cowboy persona proud. From the top of his hat to the tip of his boots, Craig is a good looking and gracious gentleman from Wyoming with a dynamite sense of humor. 

In keeping with the western theme, the workshops had titles like: Desperadoes Waiting for a Train: Why Do We Write Crime Fiction?, I Shot the Sheriff: Lawmen & PIs Getting It Right, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys: Ordinary People in Extraordinary Situations, Home on the Range: When Setting Becomes Character, and Don't Fence Me In: Big Press, Little Press, ePress, Oh!

Four excellent Master Classes, agent pitches, and an actual crime scene set up by State Police officers added to a productive weekend. At the end of the conference, we learned whether we had guessed correctly about the clues in the crime scene and how the actual crime was solved.

Saturday evening we put on our cowboy hats and boots and headed to the Wordslinger's Ball and Barbecue. Yummy food, good company, and an introduction to country line dancing filled out our evening. I got up and kicked my boots with the rest of the crowd. I've never been that great at following instructions, but I kept at it, laughing most of the time.

Sunday morning, as we finished breakfast, the winners of the 2014 Flashwords Contest were announced. My story, Don't Go in the House, was one of the winners!!!! I stood up in front of all my peers to read it. 

My 150-word entry, using ten words from Craig Johnson's book titles: 

Don't Go In the House

“No way!”
“Come on, Joey. It’s Halloween.”
“It’s haunted by evil spirits.”
Chad coaxed Joey past “No Trespassing” signs and around the junkyard mess, but had to shove him through the door into the dark, empty house.
Minutes later, screams. The boys came barreling out, startling a huge crow.
Mrs. Bedloe saw them.
“What’s the matter?
Joey choked. “It’s awful.”
“Oh dear. Come in boys.
She gave them hot cocoa and a dish of cookies.
“We saw something bad.”
“Yeah,” Chad said, “A pile of bones.”
“Lord. You must have been scared to death. Drink up boys.”
Two heads nodded as they finished their cocoa.
Chad rubbed his eyes. “I’m getting tired.”
Joey gave a huge yawn, mumbling, “Someone was murdered.”
“Yes dear, I know.”
“You know?” But his eyes closed. He missed her next words.
“Indeed yes. That pesky old man. How did his bones get uncovered? Dogs, perhaps?

What a wonderful weekend. I spent most of the time with a happy grin on my face. I did lose it for a few hours before I gave my pitch, but got it back in a hurry when the agent, Paula Munier, asked for 50 pages of my manuscript. 

Next year, same time, same place, I'm there. And, the guest of honor for Crime Bake 2015 will be none other than Elizabeth George whose novels were adapted for British television in the Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

Remember, keep writing!