Dateline: Crime Bake 2018

Another New England Crime Bake is in the books–and I’ve literally just arrived home from the Hilton in Woburn, MA. I promised everyone a recap and pix, which works out great because it just so happens it’s my turn to post! I apologize ahead of time for the quality of the photos (that oh-so-flattering hotel lighting, combined with my spiffy iPhone photog skills).


This is my tenth Crime Bake–I started attending the year I moved to New Hampshire–and the first one I arrived to on time. In fact, I was early. So early that they didn’t have a room ready for several hours. So I hung out by the fire, waiting for the workshops to start. I was also treated to sunny pictures from fellow Chicks Ellen, who was in New Orleans for a book festival, and Marla in Sedona, AZ, and Leslie, in freaking Hawaii.

For my first Master Class, I chose “Meditations on the Structure of Revelation” with this year’s guest of honor, the critically-acclaimed and bestselling author Walter Mosley (creator of post-WW II-Los Angeles hero Easy Rawlins. One of the revelations was that he devotes at least three hours per day, 365 days per year, solely to writing. During the Q&A session I asked how many hours he spent on the business of publishing (promotion, etc.). I kind of regretted that question.


My next workshop, taught by marketing consultant Glenn Miller, was quite illuminating. It’s difficult to keep up with all the changes in publishing, book marketing, promotion, and advertising, but he stressed that the most important thing (in addition to your author platform, website, and fave social media hangout), is to do things that bring you joy–and write, write, WRITE more books! Like, yesterday.


In the evening we had our welcome pizza party. I don’t have any pictures because I was late (had a meeting and then got caught up talking) and missed the pizza. Oh well. Many people went to agent/editor pitch practice and some went to the bar. I arrived at the Desserts to Die For party, once again, just as they finished clearing away the yummy chocolates. This year’s Movie Night featured Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress.

The next morning was chock-full of cool panels. One I attended was “New England is Murder.” It’s always fascinating to hear New Englanders talk about their region. There was discussion of weather and bad accents (car keys = “khakis”) and people “from away,” of course–not to mention a bit of good-natured rivalry between the states–but I was particularly interested this year because I’m currently working on two projects, one set in North Shore MA and the other in my home state of CT. My favorite piece of new-to-me info was that there is a movement in Salem, MA (home of the famous witch trials) called Ditch the Witch. Apparently some people there are fed up with the swell of tourists that descend upon them each October.


In the afternoon I was a panelist with Beth Kanell and Peter Abrahams (aka Spencer Quinn) on “Writing for the Younger Set,” moderated by the amazing Lea Wait. It’s been a while since I put on my YA-editor hat, but it was fun, and everyone asked great questions. I’m not sure what I was saying in this picture, taken by the wonderful Dru Ann Love of Dru’s Book Musings.

Here’s a pic of Dru hanging out at a book signing for Alexia Gordon and Dana Cameron, after their (with Len Rosen) panel “Mashups: What is It?,” moderated by Michele Dorsey:


Later that afternoon, I spent two hours in the “Drop in and Ask the Experts” room, hanging on retired-Portland, ME-detective-sergeant-turned-novelist Bruce Robert Coffin’s every word. Everyone at our table was completely enthralled, and left with plenty of notes. One of our biggest takeaways? Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. (And bears and coyote bat skulls around in the woods like balls.)

The focus of the annual banquet is honoring our hardworking Crime Bake Committee and the many achievements of our fellow authors this year. Here are some of them, being directed for their group photo by Maureen (“Mo”) Walsh. (I may have overheard her telling them kindergartners know how to do line up properly, ha!)


Here is someone who really knows how to pose: our Chicks buddy and debut author (for Deadly Solution) Keenan Powell, all the way from Alaska!


And, of course, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awardee, the lovely (and very young) Kate Flora. She wore the tiara the next morning as well. Wouldn’t you?


After the banquet festivities ended, some of us hung out. Here’s a pic of Kellye Garrett’s amazingly talented editor, Terri Bischoff. (She was kind enough to pose for several photos, many of them with me, but I don’t think anyone’s seen this one on FB yet):


Sunday morning rolled around faster than any of us expected. I was too far back in the room to get any photos, but one of the highlights for me was multi-award-winning investigative reporter and author Hank Phillippi Ryan moderating the panel “Writing Cinematically” with Walter Mosley, Joe Finder, and David Handler. Being the pro she is, Hank succeeded in pulling some very interesting answers (#TrustMe) about the possible connections (or not) between the creative processes of penning novels and writing for the TV and film industries. But here is a picture of me with our good friend Sherry Harris, just before we left. (Another good sport!)


So now it’s back to the writing desk for your faithful correspondent–and I have a brand new door hanger, courtesy of the freebie table. Until next year, Crime Bake–and hope to see everyone again soon in the meantime!


So what’s the next writer or reader conference you’re headed to? Or, if you could go to a conference or book signing somewhere, what author would you most like to meet? Let us know in the comments!


32 thoughts on “Dateline: Crime Bake 2018

  1. Going to any mystery author conference would be my idea of heaven! To listen to the ideas and tidbits you all have, the funny stories, share a drink or meal or just to chat and tell you how much your books mean to be would be amazing!
    I have been thinking of trying to go to Boucheron in 2020, so fingers crossed!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for sharing your Crime Bake experience, Lisa! It looks like so much fun and I hope to make it one of these times. The best part of any mystery conference for me is getting to see the Chicks and meet some of our fab commenter/reader friends in person! I do wish I could muster the grace and courage to talk to a writing hero, such as Sara Paretsky, without acting like a drooling idiot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely missed my Chicks! Speaking of writing heroes, Louise Penny is coming to the Capitol Arts Center in NH next month. It’s $38 for the talk and her new book but they’re only letting 150 people into the signing line. Wowza.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, inquiring minds want to know: So how many hours a week DOES Walter Mosley spend on marketing and promotion?

    Great post, Lisa! Sure wish I could go to Crime Bake some time, but it’s about as far away from Hawai’i as you can get in the USA… (Love the tidbit about bears and coyotes playing with skulls.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So nice to see you also! Hope we’ll get to talk more next conference. And thanks for saying the post was coherent. I was a bit worried when I woke up this morning, knowing it had already hit the Internet–was hoping it made some sense, cuz I am also moving slowly!


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