It’s hard to believe my first Bouchercon was only two years ago in Anchorage, Alaska. It was my first time in Alaska and my first ever big mystery conference (my very first conference was No Crime Unpublished, put on by the wonderful Sisters in Crime Los Angeles every two years, and now known as The California Crime Writers Conference). The release of my debut novel, NOX DORMIENDA, was almost a year away.
That first Bouchercon changed my life. When I received my publishing news in January of 2007, I was a complete neophyte. I didn’t know the business, I didn’t belong to Sisters in Crime or any other organizations, and I literally didn’t know anyone (I’d just graduated with my MA, which had taken up a lot of time!).
In Anchorage, not only did I learn a lot about the business—not only did I forge friendships that I knew would endure throughout my life—but on the creative side, my Bouchercon and Alaskan experiences inspired me to plunge ahead and write the novel that had been percolating … a novel that became CITY OF DRAGONS.
My goal then—and my goal still—is to make writing my life. To make a living from my books, to be able to not split my time with a day job. And I knew that my chances of being able to do that would improve tremendously if I could move to a larger publisher with better distribution. Five Star is wonderful—I’m tremendously grateful to them for giving me my first chance, and for just being some of the nicest and most supportive folks in the industry. But with the logistics of the business side—I knew larger distribution was a must.
I also discovered—thanks to a quick education at Bouchercon—that it’s very difficult to approach another publisher about taking over a series. So—given the hard-headed pragmatism of wanting another saleable book—and the inspiration I received from listening to writers talk about writing (a highlight was Diana Gabaldon’s blessing)—I took a deep breath and wrote CITY OF DRAGONS while doing everything I could to get the word out about NOX DORMIENDA, which was published in July of 2008. Last October, I traveled to Baltimore, and enjoyed another Bouchercon—again, learning, connecting, being inspired.
By the time CITY OF DRAGONS was ready to be shopped by my wonderful agent, it was January of this year. That was an amazing month for me. I was blessed and honored beyond belief by a nomination and for the Bruce Alexander Award. And within three weeks, we sold CITY OF DRAGONS to Thomas Dunne/Minotaur Books and my incredible, fabulous editor, Marcia Markland.
Subsequent months went by in a blur. At Left Coast Crime—another conference that has meant so much to be, personally and professionally—I won the Bruce Alexander. I was nominated for a Macavity. I have a short story—a prequel to CITY OF DRAGONS—coming out in June, in an International Thriller Writers anthology called FIRST THRILLS, which teams best-sellers with up-and-comers.
And so, when it came time for me to write the dedication for CITY OF DRAGONS, in addition to my family, I dedicated the book to my “other” family … the community I first came to know at Bouchercon, Anchorage.
As of this writing, we’re also hoping to get my first series placed with a larger publisher. My dream is two series a year, with the occasional stand-alone … a graphic novel … and other projects, too. In just a few weeks, I’ll be heading back to the fountain of dreaming, the big, bold, wonderful and always different, but always amazing conference called … Bouchercon. I hope to see you there!