I attended two writers’ conferences in 2022 in Las Vegas. The Public Safety Writers Association conference was held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino mid-July. It was intimate, with around fifty attendees. The other was 20Books Vegas 2022, held at Bally’s—a cozy 1,900. Both are reasonably priced.
PSWA has a first-day master’s class followed by two and half days of lectures and panels. For the most part, the attendees write crime, mystery, and thrillers. The catered lunches were fantastic.
I highly recommend PSWA, especially if you want to meet and get to know authors in your field.
Here’s the link for the 2023 conference if you want details:
Join Us for the PSWA Conference (policewriter.com)
20Books Vegas begins on Monday with a vendor’s day. Tuesday-Thursdays the presentations start at 9:00 a.m. (sharp); all sessions are forty-five minutes with a timer and are recorded.
While most attendees seem to work in fantasy and Si-Fi, there are more than enough sessions for the mystery and crime writers. The problem for me was that there were as many as ten sessions at a time, making it impossible to see all the presentations I wished to attend. One of my favorite presenters was Maxwell Alexander Drake. He was so valuable I attended four of his lectures. You are on your own for all meals—great room rates well below what you would typically expect to pay.
I recommend 20Books if you are interested in solid craft presentations. There are several meetups for crime, mystery, and police procedural writers.
Conference Sign Up – 20 Books Vegas Registration opens 7 a.m. Pacific Time January 2, 2023
I plan to attend both in 2023.
Glenda Carroll is the author of the Trisha Carson mysteries that take place in the diverse San Francisco Bay area, from the tree-lined streets of Marin County to the fog-covered Golden Gate Bridge and the ‘play ball’ atmosphere of Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. They include Dead Code, Drop Dead Red, and Dead in the Water. Currently, Glenda is working on the fourth book in the series, Dead to Me. The underlying current in the series is open water swimming. When she isn’t writing or swimming, she tutors first-generation, low-income college-bound high schoolers in English.
Glenda authored an article, Why I like Michael Connelly’s Bosch, for the September 2022 issue of the Northern California Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America newsletter, Line Up. I’m sharing what she had to say about Harry Bosch with her permission.
When everything shut down at the start of the pandemic, I discovered Bosch, a police procedural series streaming on Amazon Prime. The seven-season crime series about Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch is based on the books by Michael Connelly.
I liked the character of Bosch immediately. He was more than the tough on the outside, marshmallow on the inside detective. He didn’t talk much—he liked jazz.—and had a dog named Coltrane. His past was complicated. His mother was a prostitute who loved her son, fought for him, and was murdered. He ended up in the foster care system. Then, he married and divorced an FBI agent who morphed into a risk-taking professional gambler. Their daughter loved them both but understood that Harry, who spent evenings going over his cases and listening to jazz, was the stable parent. That complicated backstory came into play in each episode, while Harry took extra (and sometime not-so-legal) steps for the homeless and addicted.
It was that personal understanding and internal warmth that set him apart from the usual hardcore detective. He’d been there, down in the trenches, and never forgot it. The part of Harry Bosch couldn’t have been more perfectly cast. Titus Welliver, an actor I had never heard of before, stepped into the persona perfectly.
Somewhere during all this television time, I realized that Bosch was adapted from several police procedurals written by Michael Connelly. I wondered how true to the books the scripts were, so I became a steady customer of the San Rafael Public Library, reading the 20-odd books that Connelly wrote that featured Harry Bosch. To my surprise, the plots were followed, twist by twist. Even some of the dialogue found its way into the scripts. I thought about this for hours, and I really couldn’t say which was better—the books or the streaming series.
When Bosch concluded (you can still find it on Amazon Prime), another series, Bosch: Legacy popped up on Freevee with the same characters and tight plots.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen every episode of both series at least twice. I am currently Boschless, waiting for whatever comes next.
“(Trisha Carson is)…a smart, steadfast gumshoe who continues to flourish… Carroll’s writing bounces off the page.” Kirkus Reviews
Books are available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and Kindle
You can reach Glenda at:
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/glenda.carroll
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Ms.-Glenda-Carroll/e/B00CIJ7HJ8/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Brian Lush is a music journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the founder of Rockwired.com and was the founding editor of Rockwired Magazine, which ran from 2012 through 2017. An enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in Southeastern South Dakota, he studied Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico.
Yankton Sioux writer Brian Lush spins a grim tale of war, occupation, and oppression in his debut novel Roger’s War – a gritty, dystopian coming-of-age story with a Native perspective.
With a war between Russia and Ukraine and a lull in a global pandemic, who wants to get lost in a tale of a world gone mad? It wasn’t exactly the kind of territory that writer Brian Lush wanted to mine in what would become his first novel, Roger’s War.
“This was where the muse led me,” says Lush. “The roots of his dystopian coming-of-age story stemmed from the nightmarish events of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shootings and the belief by some that teachers should be armed. “It was pretty wild to imagine high school teachers being armed and yielding that kind of control over kids. Children! Back then, I thought I had at least a short story on my hands. However, life got in the way, and I had other commitments, and the story never saw the light of day. The idea was in the back of my head and then snowballed. The pandemic, and then this little story I had in my head about the abuse of power became this huge novel on how one young boy survives.”
Roger’s War is a tense and frantic narrative that illustrates the life of a young man coming of age in a frightfully repressed society. The country once known as the United States of America has descended into a second civil war. Emerging from the devastation is a rogue nation called Heartland – a totalitarian theocracy under the rule of a maniacal, self-proclaimed prophet known simply as Father and his lethal military. Plucked from the ashes of a war-torn America is a half-Native/half-black fourteen-year-old named Roger Bretagne.
After losing his family to Heartland’s devastating blitzkrieg, Roger is rounded up and matriculated into this stark, repressed, and dangerous new world. His new parents are powerful predators, the quiet country town he lives in is an oppressive hamlet gripped by fear, and his school – under the control of the beastly schoolmaster Brother Isaac – emphasizes brutal indoctrination. Somehow, sanity must prevail. In cautiously navigating the rocky road of this toxic milieu, Roger finds love, allies, and a burgeoning resistance movement hellbent on destroying Heartland and building a glorious future. Whatever that entails.
Roger is not a first when it comes to first-person narratives in worlds gone mad, but his half-Sioux/half-black lineage is a definite first in Native American fiction. Roger is a character that was very unexpected to me. There were a lot of surprises in the writing of this book, but the character of Roger felt like a revelation. While I took great pains to create a character and not put myself or anyone I loved in a fascist society, I feel like I ended up putting myself there. Roger was more than just a window into this world. We share the same heritage. It feels like I’ve got skin in the game.
Roger’s War is available on Kindle and paperback through Amazon.com.
Phone: (505) 239-2666
Rita A. Popp is a mystery writer who has worked as a newspaper reporter, public relations account executive, university writer and editor, and community college instructor. She and her husband divide their time between Colorado and a cabin in the New Mexico mountains.
Rita’s debut novel, The First Fiancée: A Bethany Jarviss Mystery, is due out from The Wild Rose Press on December 14, 2022, in e-book and paperback formats. It will be available to order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers, including local bookstores. In this classic whodunit, the discovery of human bones near a remote New Mexico mountain village sets a worried sister on a treacherous path to solve a murder. Bethany Jarviss fears her sister’s fiancé killed the long-missing young woman. He was first engaged to her and swears he thought she left him to pursue a singing career. News of the murder swirls as the newly engaged couple gets set to open their bed-and-breakfast inn right before Christmas. Bethany, who once solved the murder of a college girl, gives in to her sister’s pleas to investigate this case. Soon she meets many locals besides her future brother-in-law, who had motives for killing his beautiful, thieving, secretive first fiancée.
What brought you to writing? I wrote a short story for a high school English class. On my handwritten effort, the teacher jotted an “A” and one sentence: “You could be a good writer.” He was the only teacher I recall assigning students to write fiction as well as read it. Most teachers probably didn’t think we could earn a living by making stuff up. So I shelved that idea and settled for being an avid reader. I enjoyed literary works in class, but at home, I read mysteries. My uncle gave my dad a cardboard box filled with books from the Detective Book Club series. Each book contained three mystery novels. I devoured those and also read as many Agatha Christies as I could get my hands on.
Early in my career, I focused on journalism and public relations. Then, in my early thirties, while working as a university writer, I was entitled to take a free class each semester. I enrolled in a creative writing class, wrote my second short story, and earned a master’s degree in English. My thesis consisted of several stories. Much later, I tried my hand at mysteries.
Can you name some favorites of your works and writers? I love stories with some sort of twist at the end. The Open Window by Saki is delightful. I first read it in school and still get a kick out of the final sentence. As for novels, I have almost complete collections—mostly dog-eared paperbacks—of the works of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, P.D. James, and Elizabeth George. While I admire their male detectives, I adore the female amateur sleuths Jane Marple and Harriet Vane. If I only had time to re-read two mysteries in my life, I would likely pick 4:50 From Paddington and Gaudy Night. Both are real puzzlers that end on a high note.
You’ve published your first mystery novel. Do you still write short stories or write in any other genre? I write short stories, two of which have appeared in Sisters in Crime Guppy anthologies. My flash fiction pieces have earned honorable mentions in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine contests. And one of my six-word mysteries won the Police Procedural category of a contest annually sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America Rocky Mountain Chapter. A long story of mine, Passing on the Farm, is scheduled for a spring 2023 release by The Wild Rose Press.
A serious story with a romantic subplot, it will be part of a new series titled Jelly Beans and Spring Things. I had fun making the candy and season integral to the story and munching on jelly beans as I drafted it.
Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? They’re a mashup of both. The First Fiancée takes place in a fictional, small New Mexico village named Sorrel. The town, the scary mountain road up to it, and the guest lodge outside of it are inspired by visits to the historic small towns of Mogollon, Hillsboro, Kingston, and Cloudcroft and stays at my mountain cabin.
Please tell us about your writing process. Usually, stories stew in my mind for ages. I’m an avid labyrinth walker, keep a journal of the labyrinths I’ve walked, and often imagine scenes for my fiction as I walk labyrinths’ winding paths. So far, none of my fictional victims have been found dead in a labyrinth, but that’s always a possibility! When I’m out in public, I scout locations and spy on people to create characters. Then I jot down on paper or my laptop whatever bits I might use. For a new story or novel, I type a character list and some initial ideas about setting and plot. Then I start writing scenes. My routine is to write weekday mornings, a cup of tea at hand, in my home or cabin office with the door closed. If my husband or golden retriever interrupt me, I growl at them! Everything else in life, I try to schedule for other times. But I did make an exception recently to drive my husband to his early-morning colonoscopy appointment!
What are you currently working on? I’m editing the manuscript of a second Bethany Jarviss mystery novel, The End of Promise, and drafting a third, The Middle of Nowhere. I’ve got a new mystery story in the hopper too.
Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Absolutely! I’ve learned so much from speakers, classes, critiques, write-ins, and the camaraderie of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Northern Colorado Writers, and other groups. I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month in November and weekly Shut Up and Write Zoom sessions. Without the support of other writers, The First Fiancée would exist only on my computer and printouts stuck in a bottom desk drawer.
How do your readers contact you? Besides bumping into me at a café, bookstore, or library? Through my website at https://ritapopp.com. I love to hear from readers and other writers!
Kirsten Weiss writes laugh-out-loud, page-turning mysteries. Her heroines aren’t perfect, but they’re smart, they struggle, and they succeed. Kirsten writes in a house high on a hill in the Colorado woods and occasionally ventures out for wine and chocolate. Or for a visit to the local pie shop.
Kirsten is best known for her Wits’ End, Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, and Tea & Tarot cozy mystery books. So, if you like funny, action-packed mysteries with complicated heroines, just turn the page.
Gingerbread Dead – Tea and Tarot room owner Abigail has her hands full for the holidays. But when a business owner on her street is murdered in her small California beach town, she and her Tarot-reading partner Hyperion are on the case. Now, with a cranky cop on their tails, the duo must find a way to solve the crime and stay out of the slammer. All before a killer cancels their Christmas.
Do you write in more than one genre? I stick to mystery novels, but that genre has been broken into several niches. I’ve written cozy mystery, witch mystery, urban fantasy mystery, and even some steampunk mystery/suspense.
Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? No, though the way I write them sometimes does. But that’s why I edit the heck out of all my books. That way, I can fix character and other issues before publication.
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? My stories are chock full of subplots. Since I write comedic mysteries, I usually rely on subplots for most of the humor. (Murder isn’t all that funny). And I like my heroes to have a life outside amateur detecting, something that will give them room to grow.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I work with a loose outline that allows me to plot my clues and red herrings but gives me enough flexibility to change things up a bit as I go along. Sometimes the best ideas strike as I’m writing. It feels like plotting and writing use two different types of thinking. Character actions or plotting ideas can seem obvious in the middle of a scene, but I don’t seem to catch those obvious twists and turns during the plotting process. Maybe I can get into a flow state while writing which allows easier access to the intuition, whereas plotting doesn’t get me there.
Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I like to stick to fictional locations based on real places. That way, if I mess up where a certain street or business is, no one will know! (And I most definitely will mess up actual locations).
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’m continuing to write in my Wits’ End, Tea and Tarot, and Paranormal Museum series. But I also have a literary fiction project coming out next year, tentatively titled The Mysteries of Tarot. It’s ostensibly a book on reading Tarot cards by Hyperion from the Tea and Tarot series, but it’s actually much, much more.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Successful writers are those who don’t give up, keep learning and writing, and just stick with it. So, stick with it!
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? Since it’s the holiday season, readers may enjoy picking up the latest in my Tea and Tarot series, Gingerbread Dead. It’s got a lot of humor and holiday scone recipes in the back of the book.
How do our readers contact you? I’ve got a contact form on my website at KirstenWeiss.com. At the same site, readers can also pick up a free eBook copy of Fortune Favors the Grave, a Tea and Tarot novella.
Where to buy Gingerbread Dead:
Apple Books: https://apple.co/3OS7VvL
Google Play: https://bit.ly/3Q7dxTW