Festivals and Conferences and Awards...OH MY

I’ve had a busy year so far. A year ago I’d volunteered to be the book seller liaison for this year’s Pennwriters Conference. I hooked up with Laurie Stephens, the new owner of Mystery Lovers Bookshop who agreed to handle the Conference book sales.  

As we met and made plans for that event, she offered me a job with the book store as author liaison for the Festival of Mystery!

What fun! I had the opportunity to work with all the authors coming to Pittsburgh for the Festival, including one of my favorites, Deborah Coonts, a newcomer to the event.

I also worked closely with Margo at the store, researching all the books, publishers and publication dates prior to ordering stock. I was given access to Ingram’s database, which was one of the most educational experiences I’ve had in ages.

Ingram, by the way, is one of the major distributors of books. By scouring their database, I learned about the deals offered by different publishers to the book stores. Things like discounts and return policies. Fascinating stuff. I could bore you with an entire blog on the subject. But I won’t. Lucky you!

Anyhow, the Festival was a blast. It always is, but being an “insider” made it all the more fun.

I had piggybacked my Festival duties with my Pennwriters Conference duties quite nicely, which was fortunate considering the Conference was less than two weeks after the Festival. This past weekend, Pennwriters held its 26th Annual Writing Conference. And it was incredible as always. We’re just one big family reunion of writers.

My friends Hank Phillippi Ryan, who just won the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and Ramona DeFelice Long, who is editing our local Sisters in Crime chapters upcoming e-anthology, were in attendance and looked smashing in their color-coordinated outfits.

Agent Donald Maass gave an incredible pre-conference workshop on Thursday and an equally incredible keynote address Friday night.

I was thrilled to finally get to meet my fellow Working Stiffs alum Jennie Bentley AKA Bente Gallagher. Here she is at the booksigning chatting with Mary Sutton.

Saturday morning was exceptional for me. I was presented with the 2013 Pennwriters Meritorious Service Award. I would have put money on me NOT winning it. There are many, MANY deserving volunteers in this organization. I was so convinced I was NOT going to win, I had no speech prepared. As if my brain hadn’t already gone to mush the moment I realized Ayleen Stellhorn was talking about ME in her introduction, the membership gave me a standing ovation as I stepped up to accept the award. 

Somehow I choked out a few brief, but heartfelt, words of appreciation. Don’t ask me what I said. I have no idea.

So now I’m trying to bring my feet back to earth, my head out of the clouds, and my tush back to my chair to get some writing done. 


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